The Bible Changes Lives

WHAT motivated a gambler and burglar to break his addiction and change his lifestyle? Read what he has to say.

“I Was Passionate About Racehorses.”​—RICHARD STEWART

YEAR BORN: 1965

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: JAMAICA

HISTORY: GAMBLER AND CRIMINAL

MY PAST: I grew up in a poor, densely populated area of Kingston, the capital of Jamaica. Unemployment was high, and crime widespread. Gangs kept people living in fear. I heard gunshots almost every day.

My hardworking mother gave her all for me and my younger brother and sister. She made sure that we received a good education. I had little interest in school, but I was passionate about racehorses. I would skip school and go to the racetrack. I even rode the horses.

Soon I became heavily involved in gambling on horse races. I led an immoral life, becoming a serious womanizer. I smoked marijuana and committed robberies to pay for my lifestyle. I owned many guns, but I am thankful now that nobody was killed as a result of the countless robberies in which I took part.

Eventually, I was caught by the police and sent to prison for my crimes. After my release, I merely picked up my lifestyle where I had left off. In fact, I became worse than before. Although I had an innocent-looking face, I was strong-willed, irritable, and cruel. I cared for no one but myself.

HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE: During this troubled period of my life, my mother studied the Bible and became one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I saw positive changes in her personality and became curious. I decided to find out what made my mother change, so I began discussing the Bible with the Witnesses.

I found that the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses were different from those of other religions and discovered that the Witnesses backed up everything they said with the Bible. They were the only group I knew of who preached from house to house, as the early Christians did. (Matthew 28:19; Acts 20:20) I became convinced that I had found the true religion when I saw the genuine love they displayed for one another.​—John 13:35.

From what I learned from the Bible, I saw the need to make some big changes in my life. I discovered that Jehovah God hates fornication and that if I was to please him, I would have to give up practices that defiled my body. (2 Corinthians 7:1; Hebrews 13:4) I was moved when I learned that Jehovah has  feelings and that my actions could either hurt him or make him happy. (Proverbs 27:11) So I resolved to quit smoking marijuana, to give up my guns, and to try to improve my personality. Among the most difficult changes I made were giving up my immoral lifestyle and quitting my gambling.

At first, I did not want my friends to know that I was studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. But a turning point came after I read Matthew 10:33, where these words of Jesus are recorded: “Whoever disowns me before men, I will also disown him before my Father who is in the heavens.” That statement prompted me to tell my associates that I was studying with the Witnesses. They were shocked. They couldn’t believe that someone like me wanted to become a Christian. But I told them that I didn’t want anything more to do with my former lifestyle.

HOW I HAVE BENEFITED: My mother was overjoyed when she saw me start to live by Bible principles. Now she no longer worries about what bad things I might be up to. We talk about the common bond we have​—our love for Jehovah. At times, I look back at what I used to be like and can’t believe the changes that I’ve been able to make with God’s help. I no longer crave the immoral, materialistic lifestyle I used to lead.

If I hadn’t responded to the Bible’s message, I would be either dead or in prison today. Now, though, I have a wonderful, happy family. It gives me great joy to serve Jehovah God along with my supportive wife and obedient daughter. I am thankful to Jehovah for allowing me to be part of a loving Christian brotherhood. I am so grateful that someone made the effort to teach me Bible truth. And I value the opportunities I have to help others learn what the Bible teaches. I am especially grateful to Jehovah God for his loving kindness in drawing me to him.

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“I learned that Jehovah has feelings and that my actions could either hurt him or make him happy”

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I saw positive changes in my mother’s personality

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With my wife and daughter