YEAR BORN: 1960
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: FRANCE
HISTORY: VIOLENT DRUG ADDICT, DISRESPECTED WOMEN
I was born in Mulhouse, northeastern France, in a working-class suburb renowned for its violence. My childhood memories are of violent disputes among families in the area. In our family, women were looked down on and rarely consulted by men. I was taught that a woman’s place was in the kitchen, looking after the men and the children.
My childhood was not easy. When I was ten, my father died as a result of his alcoholism. Five years later, one of my older brothers committed suicide. The same year, I witnessed a murder during a family feud, and I was deeply shocked. Family members taught me how to use knives and guns and to fight whenever the occasion required it. A disturbed young man, I started to cover my body with tattoos and to drink.
By 16 years of age, I was drinking between 10 and 15 bottles of beer each day, and before long I started taking drugs. To pay for my vices, I sold scrap metal and resorted to theft. By age 17, I had already done prison time. In total, I received 18 sentences for theft and violence.
During my early 20’s, my situation worsened. I smoked up to 20 marijuana joints a day and took heroin and other illicit substances. Several times, I nearly died of overdoses. I started dealing drugs, so I was constantly armed with knives and guns. Once, I tried to shoot a man, but fortunately the bullet ricocheted off his belt buckle! When I was 24, my mother died, and my rage increased. Frightened pedestrians would cross the street when they saw me approaching. Because of fights, I often spent my weekends at the police station or in the hospital having my wounds stitched up.
At 28, I got married. As you might expect, I did not treat my wife with respect. I insulted her and beat her. We did not do anything together as a couple. I thought it was enough just to shower her with stolen jewelry. Then, something unexpected happened. My wife started studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. After her first study, she stopped smoking, refused to accept any more stolen money, and gave me back her jewelry. I was furious. I opposed her Bible study and would blow cigarette smoke in her face. I also ridiculed her throughout our neighborhood.
One night, in a drunken stupor, I set fire to our apartment. My wife saved me and our five-year-old daughter from the flames. When I sobered up, I was riddled with guilt. Deep inside, I felt that God could never forgive me. I remembered once hearing a priest say that the wicked go to hell. Even my psychiatrist told me: “It’s over for you! You are beyond redemption.”
HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE:
After the fire, we moved in with my wife’s parents. When the Witnesses came to visit my wife, I asked them, “Can God forgive me for all my sins?” They showed me 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 in the Bible. That passage lists forms of conduct that God condemns, but it adds: “That is what some of you were.” Those words assured me that it was possible to change. Then the Witnesses reassured me that God loved me by showing me 1 John 4:8. Encouraged, I asked the Witnesses to study the Bible with me twice a week, and I began attending their Christian meetings. I prayed to Jehovah constantly.
Within a month, I decided to quit drugs and alcohol. I soon felt that a war had erupted in my body! I suffered from terrible nightmares, headaches, cramps, and other withdrawal symptoms. Yet, at the same time, I sensed that Jehovah was holding me by the hand and strengthening me. I felt as the apostle Paul did. Concerning the help that God gave him, Paul wrote: “For all things I have the strength through the one who gives me power.” (Philippians 4:13) In time, I was also able to quit smoking tobacco.—2 Corinthians 7:1.
Besides helping me to get control of my life, the Bible also improved our family. My attitude toward my wife changed. I started to show her more respect and to say “please” and “thank you.” I also started being a real father to our daughter. After studying the Bible for one year, I dedicated my life to Jehovah and got baptized, following my wife’s example.
HOW I HAVE BENEFITED:
I am certain that Bible principles saved my life. Even my non-Witness family members recognize that I would probably have died from substance abuse or would have been killed in a fight.
My family life was completely transformed by Bible teachings that pointed out my responsibilities as a husband and father. (Ephesians 5:25; 6:4) We started doing things together as a family. Now, rather than confine my wife to the kitchen, I happily support her in her activities as a full-time evangelizer. And she is happy to support me in my role as a congregation elder.
Jehovah God’s love and mercy have deeply touched my life. I have a strong desire to talk about his qualities to those considered hopeless cases, for many viewed me as one. I know that the Bible has the power to help anyone find a clean and purposeful life. Not only has the Bible taught me to love and respect others, both men and women, but it has also allowed me to respect myself.