YEAR BORN: 1928
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: COSTA RICA
HISTORY: CONSUMED BY PROFESSIONAL SPORTS AND GAMBLING
I grew up in and around Puerto Limón, a port city on the eastern coast of Costa Rica. My parents had eight children, of whom I was the seventh. My father died when I was eight years old. Thereafter, my mother raised us children as a single parent.
Baseball was always part of my life. I enjoyed the sport as a child. In my late teens, I joined an amateur league team. While I was playing in the amateur league in my 20’s, a scout asked me to play for a professional team in Nicaragua. However, because my mother had poor health at the time and I was looking after her, I did not want to live in Nicaragua. So I turned down that offer. Later, another scout invited me to play for Costa Rica’s national baseball team, made up of selected amateur league players. This time, I accepted the offer. I was on the national team from 1949 till 1952, and I played a series of games in Cuba, Mexico, and Nicaragua. I was a baseman and did well, even playing a stretch of 17 games without making a single error. I loved to hear the crowds chant my name!
Regrettably, I also led an immoral lifestyle. Although I had only one girlfriend, I was always involved with other women. I drank heavily too. One day I got so drunk that when I woke up in my bed the next day, I couldn’t remember how I had returned home! I also gambled on domino games and played the lottery.
While I was living that way, my mother became one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. She tried to interest me in her faith, but she was unsuccessful at first because I was completely absorbed in my sport. If I was on the field training during mealtimes, I wouldn’t even feel hungry! My mind was focused only on the game. I loved baseball more than anything!
However, at age 29, I suffered a serious injury while trying to catch a ball during a game. After recuperating, I quit playing professionally. Nonetheless, I stayed involved with organized baseball by training players in an amateur league team near my home.
HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE
In 1957, I accepted an invitation to attend a convention that Jehovah’s Witnesses were holding in a stadium where I had played baseball. As I sat in the audience, I couldn’t help but notice the contrast between the respectful conduct I saw among the Witnesses and the rowdy behavior I had seen among the crowds at baseball games. What I saw at that convention moved me to start studying the Bible with the Witnesses and attending their congregation meetings.
I was impressed by many of the Bible teachings that I learned. For example, Jesus foretold that in the last days, his disciples would preach the good news of God’s Kingdom worldwide. (Matthew 24:14) I also learned that true Christians do not carry out their ministry for financial gain. Jesus said: “You received free, give free.”—Matthew 10:8.
As I studied the Bible, I compared what it says with what I saw among Jehovah’s Witnesses. I admired their tireless efforts to spread the good news of God’s Kingdom worldwide. I saw in them the giving spirit that Jesus commanded Christians to display. So when I read Mark 10:21 and saw Jesus’ invitation, “Come be my follower,” I wanted to become a Witness.
It took me some time, however, to follow through decisively. For example, for many years I had played my “lucky” number each week in the national lottery. However, I learned from the Bible that God condemns worshippers of the “god of Good Luck,” as well as greedy persons. (Isaiah 65:11; Colossians 3:5) So I decided to stop gambling. The first Sunday after I quit playing the lottery, my “lucky” number won! People mocked me because I did not play that week, and they strongly pressured me to play again, but I didn’t. I never went back to gambling.
I faced another test of my “new personality” on the very day that I was baptized at a convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses. (Ephesians 4:24) That evening, I returned to the hotel where I was staying and found my ex-girlfriend waiting outside the door to my room. “Come on, Sammy,” she urged me. “Let’s have a good time!” But I immediately replied, “No!” I reminded her that I was now living by the moral standards of the Bible. (1 Corinthians 6:18) “What?” she blurted out. Then she trivialized the Bible’s view of sexual immorality and insisted that we resume our relationship. However, I simply went into my room and locked the door behind me. Today, I am happy to say that since I became a Witness in 1958, I have faithfully held to the changes I made in my lifestyle.
HOW I HAVE BENEFITED
I feel as if I could write a book about the benefits I have received from following the Bible’s guidance! Some of those benefits are that I now have many genuine friends, a life full of purpose, and true happiness.
I still enjoy baseball, but I have adjusted my values. In baseball I gained prestige and money, but these things did not last. However, my relationship with God and the brotherhood that I am a part of will last forever. The Bible says: “The world is passing away and so is its desire, but the one who does the will of God remains forever.” (1 John 2:17) Now I love Jehovah God and his people more than anything!