THE BIBLE CHANGES LIVES
“I No Longer Feel Ashamed of Myself”
As told by ISRAEL MARTÍNEZ
Year Born: 1963
Country of Origin: Mexico
History: Street child; feelings of inferiority
I was born in Ciudad Obregón in northern Mexico, the fifth of nine children. We lived on the outskirts of the city, where my father managed a small farm. It was a pleasant place to live, and our family was united and happy. Sadly, when I was only five years old, a hurricane ruined our farm and we had to move to another town.
My father began to do well financially. But at the same time, he became an alcoholic. This affected his marriage and us children. We started smoking cigarettes, which we stole from my father. When I was just six years old, I got drunk for the first time. Soon thereafter, my parents separated and my vices got worse.
My mother took us with her when she went to live with another man. He did not give her money, and we could not live on what she earned. So my siblings and I did what work we could, but we barely made ends meet. I polished shoes and sold bread, newspapers, chewing gum, and other things. I also wandered through the city looking for food in the garbage cans of the rich.
When I was ten, a man invited me to work with him at the city garbage dump. I accepted the offer, quit school, and left home. He paid me less than a dollar a day and gave me food collected from the garbage dump. I lived in a hut that I built out of waste materials. The people around me used obscene language and were sexually immoral. Many were drug addicts and alcoholics. It was the worst time of my life, and I cried every night, trembling in fear. Because of my poverty and limited education, I felt very ashamed. I lived at the dump for about three years, until I moved to another state in Mexico. There I worked in the fields, picking flowers and cotton, gathering sugarcane, and harvesting potatoes.
Four years later I moved back to Ciudad Obregón. One of my aunts, who was a folk healer, gave me a room in her home. I started to have nightmares and got so depressed that I had suicidal thoughts. One night I prayed to God: “Lord, if you exist, I want to get to know you, and I will serve you forever. If there is a true religion, I want to know it.”
HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE
I always had a spiritual inclination. Even as a child, I went to many churches of different denominations, but I became disillusioned with them all. None of them said much about the Bible or helped me to fill my spiritual need. Some placed undue emphasis on money, while in others the parishioners were sexually immoral.
When I was 19, one of my brothers-in-law told me that Jehovah’s Witnesses showed him what the Bible says about the use of religious images. He read Exodus 20:4, 5 to me. It says that we must not make carved images. Verse 5 reads: “You must not bow down to them nor be enticed to serve them, for I, Jehovah your God, am a God who requires exclusive devotion.” Then my brother-in-law asked me, “If God uses images to perform miracles or if he wants us to use them in worship, why would he prohibit them?” That got me thinking. Thereafter, we had several discussions on Bible subjects. I enjoyed those conversations so much that time seemed to fly by.
Later, he took me to a meeting of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I was really impressed by what I saw and heard there. Even young people shared in the program, speaking fluently from the platform! I thought, ‘What an education people receive here!’ In spite of my long hair and unkempt appearance, the Witnesses welcomed me warmly. A family even invited me to have dinner with them after the meeting!
From my study of the Bible with the Witnesses, I learned that Jehovah God is a loving Father who cares for us regardless of our financial, social, racial, or educational background. He is truly impartial. (Acts 10:34, 35) Finally, my spiritual need was being filled. My emptiness was going away.
HOW I HAVE BENEFITED
My whole life began to improve dramatically! I stopped smoking, abusing alcohol, and using obscene language. The resentment I had felt since I was a child began to go away, as did my terrible nightmares. And I overcame my deeply rooted inferiority complex, which I attribute to the emotional traumas of my childhood and my limited schooling.
I have a wonderful wife who loves Jehovah and is a great support to me. I now serve as a traveling overseer of Jehovah’s Witnesses, visiting congregations to encourage and teach my spiritual family of brothers and sisters. Thanks to the Bible’s healing effect and the excellent education that God gives us, I no longer feel ashamed of myself.
Related TopicsThe Bible Changes Lives Experiences of Jehovah’s Witnesses
THE BIBLE CHANGES LIVES