The Bible Changes Lives
HOW was a single parent in Russia who was addicted to drugs able to break the habit and improve her relationship with her children? How did a homeless man who lived in Kyoto, Japan, find the strength and courage to overcome the personal weaknesses that led to his poverty? What enabled an Australian drover (cowboy) to give up binge drinking? Consider what these people have to say.
“I Learned That I Have an Obligation to Support Myself.”—NELLY BAYMATOVA
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: RUSSIA
HISTORY: DRUG ADDICT
MY PAST: I grew up in Vladikavkaz, the capital of the Republic of North Ossetia (now Alania). My family was relatively wealthy. But despite having material advantages, my life was not a happy one. By the time I turned 34, I had already been through two failed marriages. I had a ten-year-long drug habit, for which I twice underwent treatment in a clinic. Although I had two children, I didn’t at that time feel any affection for them; nor did I have a normal relationship with my friends or family.
My mother had become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I often heard her crying about me and praying to Jehovah to help me. I thought: ‘How naive my mother is! How can Jehovah help me?’ I did try to give up drugs. But I didn’t have the strength to break the habit on my own. On one occasion, I had gone two days drug free. I then decided that I needed to get out of the house, and I jumped out the window. Unfortunately, I was on the second floor. The fall broke my arm and leg and injured my back. I was bedridden for over a month.
During my recovery, my mother looked after me and did not reproach me. She understood that I was in a fragile emotional and mental state. However, she did leave some Awake! magazines * next to my bed. I read one after another and found them to be very interesting and informative. I then decided to study the Bible with the Witnesses.
HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE: One thing the Bible taught me was responsibility. Rather than expecting my mother to support me, I learned that I have an obligation to support myself and my children financially. After doing just as I pleased for so long, getting used to the idea of steady work was not easy.
I also was really helped by the counsel at Deuteronomy 6:5-7, which tells parents to teach their children about God. I realized that I was answerable to God for how I raised my two children. That fact motivated me to begin spending time with them and to cultivate a proper love for them.
I felt a deep inner gratitude that Jehovah had permitted me to learn the truth about him. So I dedicated my life to him and was baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
HOW I HAVE BENEFITED: Because I learned to control my explosive temper, my relationship with my mother improved. My relationship with my children is also better.
Since I have developed a hatred for ungodly things, many of the problems caused by my former lifestyle have disappeared. I now find great happiness in helping others learn the truth about our loving God, Jehovah.
“I Feel That My Life Was Literally Saved.”—MINORU TAKEDA
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: JAPAN
HISTORY: LIVED ON THE STREET
MY PAST: I grew up in the city of Yamaguchi with my father and my grandmother. I never knew my mother. When I was 19, my grandmother died, and I continued living with my father. I was working as a cook, and my father too was employed in the food industry. Our work shifts were different, so we hardly saw each other. I fell into a rut of working long hours and drinking with my friends.
As time passed, I grew bored with my work. I fought with my boss and began drinking more heavily. Eventually, when I was in my late 20’s, I decided to leave home and travel. When my money ran out, I began working in a pachinko (gambling) parlor. I met a girl, and we got married. But we broke up after only two and a half years.
I was depressed and weak-willed and ended up deep in debt to money lenders. I ran away from the debt collectors and lived for a while in my hometown with my father, but I lied to him and damaged our relationship. I took money from his home and lived off my gambling for a while. Eventually, I fell into poverty and lived in a train station for a period of time. I moved to Hakata, then to Himeji, and eventually to the city of Kyoto. I lived on the streets for a couple of years.
HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE: In 1999, I was in a park near the Kamogawa River in Kyoto when two women approached me. One of them asked, “Would you be interested in studying the Bible?” I accepted the offer. Mature Christians from the local congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses studied the Bible with me and helped me to see the importance of applying its principles. They suggested that I try to find work and a place to live. To please them, I went on a couple of job interviews, but at first I did not try very hard. Later, though, I began praying for help and tried seriously to find work, and eventually I got a job.
Prayer also helped me through a very difficult test. The money lenders I ran away from tracked me down and demanded payment. I became very stressed. Then in my daily reading of the Bible, I found the text at Isaiah 41:10. In that verse, God promised his faithful servants: “I will really help you.” That promise gave me strength and courage. I diligently applied myself and eventually resolved my money problems. In 2000, I qualified to be baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
HOW I HAVE BENEFITED: What I learned from the Bible prompted me to try to repair my relationship with my father, and he forgave me for my past conduct. He was so happy that I had learned to live by Bible standards. I feel that my life was literally saved because I began to live by Bible principles.
In addition, I am able to work to provide for myself materially. (Ephesians 4:28; 2 Thessalonians 3:12) I have also found true friends inside the Christian congregation. (Mark 10:29, 30) I am thankful from the bottom of my heart for what Jehovah has taught me.
“It Was Not Easy for Me to Make the Needed Changes.”—DAVID HUDSON
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: AUSTRALIA
HISTORY: BINGE DRINKER
MY PAST: I was the 11th child born to my parents, Willie and Lucy. My family lived in an Aboriginal community named Aurukun, located in the far northern part of Queensland. Aurukun was built on the banks of the picturesque Archer River and close to the sea. My parents taught us children to hunt and fish to survive. At the time, we Aboriginals were under a government regulation that prohibited us from handling money, and we were restricted to living only in a designated area.
My parents did their best to instill in me good qualities and taught all their children to respect the elderly in the community and to share what little we had. As a result, we viewed all the elderly as our mums and dads and aunts and uncles.
My father died when I was seven, and we moved to an Aboriginal mission at Mapoon, which is about 90 miles [150 km] north of Aurukun. When I was 12, I began learning to handle horses and cattle, and until my late 40’s, I worked on many cattle stations as a drover (cowboy). The lifestyle was rough. I drank heavily and often. That led to many headaches and hardships.
During one of my binge-drinking sessions, I staggered out of a hotel and into the path of a speeding car. I spent the next two years in rehabilitation and physiotherapy—and my droving days were over.
HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE: During my time in rehabilitation, a lady friend of mine brought me some Watchtower and Awake! magazines to read. However, I did not have much schooling, so I could not read well. Then one day, an 83-year-old gentleman called on me during a very hot day. I invited him in for a drink of cold water. He gave me some Bible literature and asked if he could return and explain its contents to me. Eventually, we began studying the Bible together regularly. I began to see that I needed to make some changes in my personality and lifestyle if I was to please God.
It was not easy for me to make the needed changes. However, because of my mother’s teachings, I had deep respect for the elderly man who studied the Bible with me and for the spiritual understanding he shared. Even so, I hesitated to dedicate my life to God. I felt that I had to know everything that was written in the Bible.
As it turned out, a coworker helped me to correct my thinking on this matter. He was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and he referred me to the encouragement found at Colossians 1:9, 10. That passage says that we need to go on “increasing in the accurate knowledge of God.” My coworker helped me appreciate that I would always be learning new things, so I really had no reason to let my limited knowledge hold me back.
I was particularly impressed when I began associating with Jehovah’s Witnesses. I saw for myself people of all walks of life at unity in worshipping God. That unity convinced me beyond a doubt that I had found the true religion, so in 1985, I was baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
HOW I HAVE BENEFITED: My reading skills have improved, and I now spend many hours each week helping others learn to read and study the Bible. In addition, the lady friend who first brought me the Watchtower and Awake! magazines to read also studied with the Witnesses, got baptized, and is now my loving wife. Together, we find real joy in helping others in the Aboriginal community learn about Jehovah God.
^ par. 9 Published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
[Blurb on page 21]
My wife and I find real joy in helping others in the Aboriginal community learn about God