THE BIBLE CHANGES LIVES
“I Had More Questions Than Answers”
As told by MARIO ANTÚNEZ
Year Born: 1976
Country of Origin: Honduras
History: Church pastor
I was born in La Ceiba, Honduras, the youngest of five children and the only boy. I was also the only deaf one in the family. My family and I lived in a dangerous neighborhood, and we were very poor. Things got worse for us after my father died in an accident at work when I was about four years old.
My mother did the best she could to care for my sisters and me, but she seldom had enough money to buy me clothes. When it rained, I was often cold because I had no warm clothes.
As I grew up, I learned Honduras Sign Language (LESHO), which enabled me to communicate with other deaf ones. But my mother and sisters did not know LESHO, and they could only use a few gestures and made-up signs to communicate with me. However, my mother loved me and protected me from dangers. With the few signs she knew, she warned me to avoid vices like smoking and alcohol abuse. As a result, I am grateful that I grew up free of substance abuse.
When I was young, my mother used to take me to the Catholic Church, but I did not understand anything because nobody interpreted into sign language for me. I was so bored that I stopped going to church when I was ten. However, I still wanted to know more about God.
In 1999, when I was 23 years old, I met a woman from the United States who belonged to an evangelical church. She gave me Bible lessons and taught me American Sign Language (ASL). I liked what I learned about the Bible so much that I decided to become a pastor. Therefore, I moved to Puerto Rico to attend a Christian training center for the deaf. When I came back to La Ceiba in 2002, I established a church for the deaf with the support of some of my friends. One of these friends, Patricia, later became my wife.
As the pastor of our church, I gave sermons in LESHO, showed pictures of Bible stories, and enacted the stories to help the deaf understand. I also visited deaf people in nearby towns to encourage them and help them with their problems. I even made a missionary trip to the United States and Zambia. But in reality, I did not know that much about the Bible. I only told them what I had been told and what I understood from the pictures. Actually, I had more questions than answers.
One day, some members of my church began spreading lies about me. They said that I was a drunkard and that I cheated on my wife. I was disappointed and angry. Not long afterward, Patricia and I left the church.
HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE
Jehovah’s Witnesses had often called on Patricia and me, but we had always turned them away. However, after we left our church, Patricia agreed to study the Bible with a Witness couple—Thomas and Liccy. I was impressed that although they were not deaf, they knew sign language. So I soon joined Patricia for the study.
We studied for some months using videos in ASL. But when some of our friends accused Jehovah’s Witnesses of being followers of men, we stopped the Bible study. Even though Thomas presented me with evidence proving that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not follow human leaders, I did not believe him.
Some months later, when Patricia fell into a deep depression, she prayed to God to bring Jehovah’s Witnesses to her door again. Soon after, a neighbor who was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses visited Patricia and offered to ask Liccy to visit her. Liccy proved to be a real friend. She visited Patricia every week to encourage her and to study the Bible with her. Still, I had my doubts about the Witnesses.
In 2012, Jehovah’s Witnesses participated in a special campaign to offer the LESHO video Would You Like to Know the Truth? Liccy brought us a copy of the video. When I watched it, I was shocked to learn that many of the doctrines I used to teach, such as hellfire and immortality of the soul, were not found in the Bible.
The following week, I went to the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses to speak to Thomas. I told him that I wanted to teach the deaf the truth about the Bible, but not as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. My idea was to form my own new and separate church for the deaf. Thomas commended me for my renewed zeal but then showed me Ephesians 4:5, which highlights the need for unity in the true Christian congregation.
Thomas also gave me the video Jehovah’s Witnesses—Faith in Action, Part 1: Out of Darkness in ASL. This video showed how a group of men carefully examined the Bible to understand the truth about basic doctrines. As I watched the video, I identified with those men. Like them, I was looking for the truth. That video convinced me that the Witnesses teach the truth because they base their beliefs squarely on the Bible. So I renewed my Bible study, and in 2014, Patricia and I were baptized as Jehovah’s Witnesses.
HOW I HAVE BENEFITED
I like the congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses because it is clean, just as God is clean. Worshippers are clean in their speech and in their dealings with others. They are peaceable and encourage one another. The Witnesses are united and all teach the same Bible truths no matter what country they are in or what language they speak.
I have enjoyed learning what the Bible really teaches. For example, I learned that Jehovah is the Almighty God, the Sovereign over all the earth. He loves both the deaf and those who can hear. I treasure God’s love for me. I also learned that the earth will become a beautiful paradise and that we have the opportunity to enjoy everlasting life in perfect health. How I long to see the day when this will be a reality!
Patricia and I love talking to other deaf people about the Bible. We now study the Bible with some of the members of our former church. But I no longer have questions about what I teach, as I did when I was a pastor. At last, I found answers to my questions by studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Related TopicsThe Bible Changes Lives Experiences of Jehovah’s Witnesses
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THE BIBLE CHANGES LIVES