Year Born: 1975
Country of Origin: Mexico
History: Violent temper; convict
I was born in San Juan Chancalaito, a small town in the state of Chiapas, Mexico. My family belongs to the Chol people, an ethnic group of Maya descent. My parents had 12 children, of whom I was the fifth. When I was a child, my siblings and I studied the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Sadly, I did not apply the Bible’s counsel in my younger years.
By the time I was 13 years old, I was taking drugs and stealing from others. At that age I left home and drifted from place to place. When I was 16, I started working on a marijuana plantation. I was there for about a year when one night, while we were transporting a large shipment of marijuana by boat, heavily armed men from a rival drug cartel attacked us. I escaped their gunfire by diving into the river and coming out far downstream. Thereafter, I fled to the United States.
In the States, I continued trafficking in drugs and got into more trouble. At age 19, I was arrested and sentenced to prison under charges of robbery and attempted homicide. In prison, I joined a gang and committed additional violent acts. As a result, the authorities transferred me to a high-security penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.
In the Lewisburg prison, my conduct went from bad to worse. Since I already bore gang tattoos, I easily joined up with the same gang in this penitentiary. I became even more violent, getting into one brawl after another. On one occasion I was involved in a gang fight in the prison yard. We fought fiercely, using baseball bats and exercise weights. To break up the fight, the penitentiary guards used tear gas. After that, the prison authorities placed me in the special management unit for dangerous inmates. I had an explosive temper and used insolent speech. It was easy for me to beat people up. In fact, I enjoyed it. I felt no remorse for my behavior.
HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE
In the special management unit, I was confined to my cell most of the day, so I started reading the Bible to pass the time. Later, a guard gave me a copy of the book You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth. a As I read this Bible study aid, I remembered many of the things I had learned as a child when I studied the Bible with the Witnesses. Thereafter, I reflected on just how low I had sunk because of my violent personality. I also thought about my family. Since two of my sisters had become Jehovah’s Witnesses, the thought occurred to me, ‘They are going to live forever.’ Then I asked myself, ‘Why can’t I?’ It was then that I firmly resolved to change.
However, I knew that I needed help in order to change. So, first, I prayed to Jehovah God and begged him to help me. Next, I wrote to the branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the United States and asked for a Bible study. The branch office arranged for a nearby congregation to contact me. At the time, I was not allowed to have nonfamily visitors, so a Witness from the congregation started mailing me encouraging letters and Bible literature, which deepened my desire to change.
I made a major step forward when I decided to leave the gang that I had belonged to for many years. The gang leader was also in the special management unit, so I approached him during one of our recreation periods and told him that I wanted to become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. To my surprise, he said to me: “If you’re serious, do it. I can’t interfere with God. But if you just want out of the gang, you know the consequences.”
Over the next two years, the prison staff noticed changes in my personality. As a result, they were more considerate to me. For example, the guards stopped handcuffing me when escorting me out of my cell to bathe. One of the guards even approached me and encouraged me to keep up the changes I was making. In fact, the prison authorities transferred me to a minimum-security satellite camp close to the main prison for my last year in the penitentiary. In 2004, after I had been incarcerated for ten years, I was released and deported to Mexico on a prison bus.
Soon after arriving in Mexico, I located a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I attended my first meeting wearing my prison uniform—the only decent clothing I had. Despite my appearance, the Witnesses warmly welcomed me. When I saw their kindness, I felt that I was among true Christians. (John 13:35) At that meeting the congregation elders arranged for me to have a formal Bible study. I was baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses one year later, on September 3, 2005.
In January 2007, I began serving as a full-time minister, spending 70 hours each month teaching the Bible to others. In 2011, I graduated from the Bible School for Single Brothers (now called the School for Kingdom Evangelizers). This school was a great aid in helping me to fulfill my responsibilities in the congregation.
In 2013, I married my dear wife, Pilar. She says with a touch of humor that she finds it hard to believe the things I tell her about my past. I have never slipped back into my former ways. Both my wife and I believe that the person I am today testifies to the transforming power of the Bible.—Romans 12:2.
HOW I HAVE BENEFITED
I feel that Jesus’ words at Luke 19:10 apply to me. There he said: “[I] came to seek and to save what was lost.” I no longer feel lost in life. Nor do I go around hurting people anymore. Thanks to the Bible, I enjoy having the noblest purpose in life, peaceful dealings with others and, most important, a good relationship with my Creator, Jehovah.