YEAR BORN: 1974
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: MEXICO
HISTORY: VIOLENT ADOLESCENT, STREET FIGHTER
I was born in Ciudad Mante, a beautiful region of the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico. In general, the city’s inhabitants are generous and kind. But sad to say, because of organized crime, the area was very dangerous.
I was the second of four boys. My parents had me baptized in the Catholic Church, and later I was part of the parish choir. I wanted to please God because I greatly feared being judged and burning forever in hell.
When I was five years old, my father left us. That caused me deep sorrow and left an emptiness in my heart. I couldn’t understand why he abandoned us when we loved him so much. My mother had to work long hours outside the home to provide for us four boys.
I took advantage of the situation and skipped school to associate with older kids. They taught me to swear, smoke, steal, and fight with my fists. Since I liked to dominate others, I learned boxing, wrestling, and martial arts, as well as how to use weapons. I became a violent adolescent. I was often involved in gunfights, and several times I ended up covered with blood and was left for dead on the street. How much sorrow I caused my mother when she found me like that and had to pick me up and rush me to the hospital!
When I was 16, a childhood friend named Jorge visited our home. He told us that he was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and that he wanted to share an important message with us. He began to explain his beliefs, using the Bible to do so. I had never read it, and I was excited to learn about God’s name and his purposes. Jorge offered to study the Bible with us. We accepted.
HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE:
I was greatly relieved to learn the truth about hellfire—that it is not a Bible teaching. (Psalm 146:4; Ecclesiastes 9:5) Once I learned that, I no longer felt a morbid fear of God. Rather, I began to see him as a loving Father who wants the best for his children.
As I progressed in my Bible study, I saw the need to make changes in my personality. I needed to cultivate humility and stop resorting to violence. The counsel recorded at 1 Corinthians 15:33 helped me. It says: “Bad associations spoil useful habits,” or, as the footnote states, “corrupt good morals.” I realized that if I wanted to transform my personality, I needed to stop associating with people who had a negative influence on me. So I replaced my old friends with members of the true Christian congregation—people who resolved their differences, not with blows or forms of violence, but by applying Bible principles.
Another passage of Scripture that had an impact on me was Romans 12:17-19. It says: “Return evil for evil to no one. . . . If possible, as far as it depends on you, be peaceable with all men. Do not avenge yourselves, . . . for it is written: ‘“Vengeance is mine; I will repay,” says Jehovah.’” I came to accept that Jehovah will take care of injustice in his own way and time. Little by little, I overcame my violent lifestyle.
I’ll never forget what happened one evening when I was returning home. A group of youths from a former rival gang attacked me, and the leader struck me on the back, shouting, “Defend yourself!” At that moment I said a brief prayer to Jehovah, asking him to help me endure the assault. Although I felt a very strong urge to retaliate, I was able to get away instead. The next day I encountered the gang leader by himself. Vengeful anger welled up in me, but again I silently begged Jehovah to help me control myself. To my surprise, the youth came right up to me and said: “Forgive me for what happened last night. The truth is, I would like to become like you. I want to study the Bible.” How glad I was that I had been able to control my anger! Thanks to that, we began to study the Bible together.
Regrettably, the rest of my family did not continue studying the Bible at that time. However, I made a firm decision to continue studying and not allow anyone or anything to hold me back. I knew that associating regularly with God’s people would heal my emotional wounds and give me the family that I needed. I continued making progress, and in 1991, I was baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
HOW I HAVE BENEFITED:
I used to be bitter at heart, domineering, and violent. But God’s Word has completely transformed my life. Now I share the Bible’s message of peace with anyone who will listen. I have had the privilege of serving as a full-time minister for the past 23 years.
For a time, I did volunteer work at the branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Mexico. While there, I met Claudia, a very dynamic young Christian woman, and we were married in 1999. How grateful I am to Jehovah for blessing me with this loyal companion!
We served together in a Mexican Sign Language congregation, helping the deaf to learn about Jehovah. Later, we were invited to move to Belize to teach the Bible to people in that country. Although our life is much simpler here, we have all that we need to be happy. We would not change it for anything.
In time, my mother resumed her study of the Bible and got baptized. Also, my older brother, his wife, and their children are now Jehovah’s Witnesses. Some of my former friends with whom I shared the Kingdom message now serve Jehovah too.
Sadly, some members of my family have died because they didn’t change their violent temperament. If I had continued down that same path, I probably would have ended up like them. I am grateful that Jehovah drew me to himself and to his worshippers, who patiently and kindly taught me to apply Bible principles in my life.