YEAR BORN: 1964
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: ENGLAND
HISTORY: WAYWARD TEENAGE MOTHER
I was born in Paddington, a densely populated area of London, England. I lived with my mother and three older sisters. My father came in and out of our lives as a result of his problems with alcohol.
When I was a child, my mother taught me to pray every night. I had a small Bible containing just the Psalms, and I made up tunes so that I could sing them. I remember reading a phrase in one of my secular books that stuck in my mind: “Someday there will be no tomorrow.” Those words made me lie awake at night thinking about the future. ‘Surely there must be more to life,’ I thought. ‘Why am I here?’ I did not want to die!
I became very curious about the occult. I tried to talk to the dead, visited graveyards with school friends, and watched horror movies with them. We thought it was both exciting and frightening at the same time.
I started to go wayward when I was only ten years old. I began smoking tobacco, and I quickly became addicted. Later, I progressed to smoking marijuana. By the age of 11, I was experimenting with alcohol. Although I did not like the taste of it, I liked the effect of getting drunk. I also loved music and dancing. I went to parties and nightclubs whenever I could. I used to sneak out at night and sneak back in again just before the morning light. Tired the next day, I regularly played hooky from school. When I did attend, I often drank alcohol between lessons.
I received very poor grades in my final year at school. Mostly unaware of the extent of my wayward behavior, my mother was disappointed and angry. We quarreled, and I ran away from home. For a while, I stayed with my boyfriend, Tony, who was Rastafarian. He was involved in petty crime and selling drugs and had a reputation for being extremely violent. I soon became pregnant and, at just 16 years of age, gave birth to our son.
HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE
I first met Jehovah’s Witnesses while I was living at a hostel for unmarried mothers and their babies. I had been given a room there by the local authorities. Two female Witnesses regularly visited some of the other young mothers. One day I joined in a discussion with them. I intended to prove the Witnesses wrong. Yet they answered each one of my many questions calmly and clearly from the Bible. They were so kind and gentle, which I found very appealing. So I agreed to study the Bible with them myself.
I soon learned something from the Bible that changed my life. Ever since I was young, I had feared dying. Yet now I discovered Jesus’ teaching about the resurrection! (John 5:28, 29) Also, I learned that God cared about me personally. (1 Peter 5:7) I was especially touched by the words of Jeremiah 29:11, which says: “‘For I well know the thoughts that I am thinking toward you,’ declares Jehovah, ‘thoughts of peace, and not of calamity, to give you a future and a hope.’” I began to believe that I could have the hope of living forever in Paradise on earth.—Psalm 37:29.
Jehovah’s Witnesses expressed genuine love toward me. When I first attended one of their meetings, the atmosphere was warm and inviting—everyone was so friendly! (John 13:34, 35) That was a big contrast to the treatment I had received at a local church. The Witnesses welcomed me despite my circumstances. They gave me time, care, and attention, as well as much practical help. I felt as though I were part of a big, loving family.
From my Bible study, I realized that I would have to make changes in my life to meet God’s high moral standards. I did not find it easy to stop smoking tobacco. At the same time, I recognized that certain music increased my desire to smoke marijuana, so I changed the music that I listened to. Wanting to stay sober, I stopped going to parties and nightclubs where I would be tempted to get drunk. And I sought out new friends whose positive influence would help me in my new lifestyle.—Proverbs 13:20.
Meanwhile, Tony had also been studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. As the Witnesses answered his questions from the Bible, he too became convinced of the truth of what he was learning. He made major changes in his life: he withdrew from his previous violent associates, stopped his petty criminal activities, and gave up smoking marijuana. In order to please Jehovah fully, we also both saw the need to adjust our immoral way of life and provide a stable environment for our son. We were married in 1982.
“I no longer lie awake at night worrying about the future or death”
I remember searching out articles in Watchtower and Awake! * magazines with stories of people who had successfully made the changes I wanted to make. I was so encouraged by their examples! I felt strengthened to keep trying hard and not give up. I kept praying to Jehovah not to give up on me. Tony and I were baptized as Jehovah’s Witnesses in July 1982.
HOW I HAVE BENEFITED
Developing a friendship with Jehovah God saved my life. Tony and I have also experienced Jehovah’s support through difficult times. We have learned to rely on God through difficulties, and we feel that he has always helped and sustained our family.—Psalm 55:22.
I have taken delight in helping our son and daughter get to know Jehovah as I do. Now I feel similar joy as I see their children also growing in knowledge of God.
I no longer lie awake at night worrying about the future or death. Tony and I are fully occupied with traveling to different congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses each week to encourage them. We join them in teaching others that if they exercise faith in Jesus, they too can enjoy everlasting life.
^ par. 19 Also published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.