Kingdom Proclaimers Report

Getting to Know the Loving God

AT AGE 16, a Brazilian named Antônio was already disillusioned with life. Feelings of futility led him to drug abuse and alcoholism. He frequently thought about committing suicide. It was at these moments that he remembered what his mother had told him: “God is love.” (1 John 4:8) But where was this loving God?

In an attempt to recover from his substance abuse, Antônio sought help from the local parish priest. Though Antônio became very active in the Catholic Church, he still had many questions. For example, Jesus’ words, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” puzzled him. (John 8:32) What kind of freedom did Jesus promise? The church could not provide any satisfying answers to his questions. Eventually, Antônio drifted away and reverted to his old habits. In fact, his addictions got worse.

About this time, Antônio’s wife, Maria, started to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. While not opposing her study, Antônio dismissed the Witnesses as “an American religion serving the interests of American imperialism.”

Undeterred, Maria left around the house copies of Watchtower and Awake! magazines that featured articles that she thought might interest Antônio. Since Antônio enjoyed reading, he occasionally glanced through the magazines when his wife was not there. For the first time in his life, he found answers to his Bible questions. “I also began to notice the love and kindness that my wife and the Witnesses were showing me,” he recalls.

By mid-1992, Antônio decided that he too would like to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. However, he continued abusing drugs and drinking heavily. Late one night as he and a friend were returning home from a shantytown, the police stopped them. When the police found some cocaine in Antônio’s possession, they started to beat him. One policeman threw him down in the mud and placed a shotgun barrel close to his face. “Finish him off!” shouted the other policemen.

As Antônio lay in the mud, his life passed before him. The only good things he could remember were his family and Jehovah. He prayed briefly, begging for Jehovah’s help. For no apparent reason, the policemen left him. He went home, convinced that Jehovah had protected him.

Antônio began to study the Bible with renewed vigor. Little by little, he made changes in order to please Jehovah. (Ephesians 4:22-24) By cultivating self-control, he began to deal with his drug problems. Even so, he needed medical help. Two months in a rehabilitation clinic gave him the opportunity to read several Bible publications, including the book Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life. Antônio then shared what he had learned from these books with other patients.

After Antônio left the clinic, he continued his study of the Bible with the Witnesses. Today, Antônio, Maria, their two daughters, and Antônio’s mother serve Jehovah together as a happy and united family. Says Antônio: “Now I understand the true meaning of the words ‘God is love.’”

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Preaching in Rio de Janeiro