YEAR BORN: 1981
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: GUATEMALA
HISTORY: TRAGIC CHILDHOOD
I was born in Acul, an isolated town in the western highlands of Guatemala. My family belongs to the Ixil people, an ethnic group of Maya descent. In addition to the Spanish language, I grew up speaking our indigenous language. My first years of life coincided with a savage period of Guatemala’s 36-year-long civil war. During this time many Ixil died.
When I was four years old, my seven-year-old brother was playing with a hand grenade that accidentally exploded. I lost my sight as a result of that accident; sad to say, my brother lost his life. Thereafter, my childhood was spent at an institute for blind children in Guatemala City, where I learned Braille. There, for reasons I did not fully understand, the staff prohibited me from conversing with other children and my fellow students avoided me. I was always lonely and longed for the two months each year when I could be at home with my mother, who was always kind and compassionate. Sadly, she died when I was ten years old. Feeling that I had lost the only person in the world who loved me, I was devastated.
At age 11, I returned to my hometown and started living with my half brother and his family. They cared for my physical needs, but no one could help me emotionally. At times, I would cry out to God: “Why did my mother die? Why do I have to be blind?” People told me that these tragedies were the will of God. I concluded that God must be insensitive and unfair. The only reason I did not commit suicide was that I did not have a means to do so.
Being blind left me physically and emotionally vulnerable. As a boy, I was sexually abused on several occasions. I never reported those crimes
HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE:
In my early teens, two of Jehovah’s Witnesses (a married couple) approached me during a school recreation period. One of the teachers at my school, who sympathized with my situation, had asked them to visit me. They told me about the Bible’s promise that the dead will be resurrected and that one day the blind will see again. (Isaiah 35:5; John 5:28, 29) I liked what they taught me, but it was hard for me to converse with them, since I was not used to speaking. However, despite my being very withdrawn, they kindly and patiently persisted in visiting me in order to teach me about the Bible. This couple walked more than six miles (10 km) and over a mountain to reach my town.
My half brother described them to me as neatly dressed but of little means materially. Yet, they always showed personal interest in me, bringing me small gifts. I felt that only true Christians would show such self-sacrifice.
I studied the Bible with the help of Braille publications. Although intellectually I understood what I was learning, emotionally some things were difficult for me to accept. For example, I struggled to believe that God really cared about me as a person and that others could share God’s feelings toward me. I understood why Jehovah temporarily permits wickedness, but I had a hard time seeing him as a truly loving Father. *
Gradually, what I learned from the Scriptures helped me to change my viewpoint. For example, I learned that God feels deep empathy for those who suffer. Regarding his worshippers who were being mistreated, God said: “I have certainly seen the affliction of my people . . . I well know the pains they suffer.” (Exodus 3:7) When I came to appreciate Jehovah’s tender qualities, I was moved to dedicate my life to him. In 1998, I was baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
About a year after I was baptized, I attended a course for the blind near the city of Escuintla. An elder in the local congregation found out about the challenges I was facing to attend the meetings while living in my hometown. You see, the nearest congregation was over that same mountain range that the Witness couple had navigated to study with me, and it was difficult for me to make the trip. To help me, the elder located a Witness family in Escuintla who were willing to take me into their home and help me to attend congregation meetings. To this day, they care for me as if I were a member of their own family.
I could relate many more examples of the genuine love that members of the congregation have shown me. Collectively, these experiences convince me that as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I am among true Christians.
HOW I HAVE BENEFITED:
I no longer feel worthless and without hope. Now my life is full of purpose. As a full-time minister in the Bible education work of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I focus on teaching others precious Bible truths instead of focusing on my disability. Also, I have the privilege of serving as a congregation elder and giving Bible discourses for the public in local congregations. I have even had the privilege of giving Bible-based talks at regional conventions where thousands of people are in attendance.
In 2010, I graduated from the Ministerial Training School (now called the School for Kingdom Evangelizers) held in El Salvador. This school prepared me to fulfill my responsibilities in the congregation better. Receiving this training made me feel deeply valued and loved by Jehovah God, who can qualify anyone for his work.
Jesus said: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.” (Acts 20:35) Today, I can truly say that I am happy, and although previously I never imagined it possible, I now feel that I can help others.
^ par. 13 For information regarding why God allows wickedness, see chapter 11 of the book What Does the Bible Really Teach? published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.