Why I Left the Circus
As told by Marcelo Neím
I WAS born in Montevideo, Uruguay. Although my parents were God-fearing, they did not belong to any religion. My mother died in an accident when I was about four years old, and I was raised by relatives who tried to instill good principles in me. At the age of 20, I decided to travel to get to know different countries and cultures.
In Colombia I began to work in circuses as a helper. I observed how happy the performers looked when the crowds applauded, and I wanted to be one of them. So I practiced a bicycle act, gradually using smaller and smaller ones until I could perform on a bicycle only four and three quarters of an inch [12 cm] long—one of the smallest in the world. It fit in the palm of my hand. I began to enjoy a measure of popularity throughout much of South America. At the age of 25, I arrived in Mexico and worked in several circuses.
My Life Changes Radically
I loved the life of the circus. It involved traveling a lot, staying in the best hotels, and eating in exclusive restaurants. At the same time, I felt my life was empty, and I had no hope for the future. One afternoon my life changed. The master of ceremonies at the circus gave me a book that he had received, entitled Revelation—Its Grand Climax At Hand! * After the performance I read it until the early hours of the morning. Although the book was not easy for me to understand, the explanation of the scarlet-colored wild beast and the harlot of Revelation fascinated me. (Revelation 17:3–18:8) Then, while cleaning out a trailer that I had purchased, I found another book by the same publishers, You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth.* It was easier to understand, and right away I realized that I must preach. So I immediately began to share what I had learned with everyone I met.
As time went by, I felt a need to contact Jehovah’s Witnesses. The telephone number of the Witness girl who had left the book with my friend was in the Revelation Climax book. So I called, and her father invited me to a convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Tijuana, Mexico. I was impressed by the love shown there and was convinced that this was the true religion. Wherever the circus went, I attended the local Kingdom Hall and obtained literature to distribute informally.
Something happened that convinced me even more that I was on the right course. The Witnesses invited me to the Memorial of Christ’s death and explained how important it was for Christians to attend. But it was opening night at the circus, and I thought it would be impossible for me to attend. I prayed intensely to Jehovah about it, and something surprising happened. Two hours before the performance, the electricity went off! Thus, I was able to go to the Memorial and later return to perform. It seemed to me that Jehovah had answered my prayer.
Once I was giving out tracts while waiting in line at a bank. A Christian elder saw me and commended me for my zeal. He encouraged me to preach in an organized way, under the direction of a congregation. He lovingly explained that I needed to make changes in my life in order to do so. At the same time that I was contemplating these changes, I was offered a high-paying job with a circus in the United States. My heart was divided. I wanted to go to the United States, but if I accepted, I did not know what would happen to the path that I was just setting out upon. This was my first test, and I did not want to disappoint Jehovah. In spite of the incredulous reaction of my fellow performers, I left the circus, got established in a congregation, cut off my long hair, and made other changes in my lifestyle so as to be able to serve Jehovah.
A Satisfying Life With No Regrets
In 1997 shortly before my baptism as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I had a second test—another opportunity to go to the United States, this time to perform on a famous television program in Miami with all expenses paid. But I wanted to get baptized and fulfill my dedication to Jehovah. So I refused the offer, much to the astonishment of the program’s representatives.
Some people have asked me if I regret having left the life of the circus. My answer is that I would never exchange Jehovah’s friendship and love for the life I had before. Although my new career as a full-time Christian minister does not give me applause, fame, or fortune in this world, I no longer feel empty. I am filled with the precious hope of living on a paradise earth and of welcoming my mother back in the resurrection.—John 5:28, 29.
^ par. 6 Published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.