The Bible Changes Lives
HOW did a young woman with a tragic childhood find real meaning in life? What moved a violent political rebel to become a peaceable minister of religion? Read these accounts to find the answers.
“I Was Desperate to Find Love and Warmth.”—INNA LEZHNINA
YEAR BORN: 1981
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: RUSSIA
HISTORY: TRAGIC CHILDHOOD
MY PAST: I was born deaf to deaf parents. The first six years of my life were pleasant. Then my parents divorced. Even though I was very young, I understood what divorce meant, and it hurt me deeply. After the divorce, my father and my older brother stayed in Troitsk, while my mother moved to Chelyabinsk and took me with her. In time, she remarried. My stepfather was an alcoholic, and he often beat my mother and me.
In 1993, my beloved older brother drowned. The accident came as a big shock to our family. My mother took to drinking, and she joined my stepfather in mistreating me. I began to search for a better life. I was desperate to find love and warmth. I started attending different churches, looking for comfort, but I found none.
HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE: When I was 13 years old, a classmate, who was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, told me some stories from the Bible. I enjoyed learning about such Bible characters as Noah and Job, who served God despite difficult circumstances. Soon I was studying the Bible with the Witnesses and attending their meetings.
Studying the Bible opened my eyes to many beautiful truths. I was touched to learn that God has a name. (Psalm 83:18) I was impressed to see how accurately the Bible foretold conditions that would exist during “the last days.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5) And I was thrilled to learn about the hope of the resurrection. Just think—I will see my brother again!—John 5:28, 29.
However, not everyone shared my newfound joy. My mother and my stepfather were hostile toward Jehovah’s Witnesses. They tried to pressure me into quitting my Bible study. But I loved what I was learning, and I wasn’t about to quit.
It was not easy to cope with the opposition from my family. Another blow came when my younger brother, who had accompanied me to meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses, also drowned. Yet, the Witnesses were always there for me. Among them, I found the love and warmth that I had longed for my whole life. I knew that this must be the true religion. In 1996, I was baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
HOW I HAVE BENEFITED: For the past six years, I’ve been married to a wonderful man named Dmitry. Together we serve at the branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses in St. Petersburg. In time, my parents’ attitude toward my beliefs softened.
I am so thankful to know Jehovah! Serving him has given my life real meaning.
“I Was Troubled by Many Questions.”—RAUDEL RODRÍGUEZ RODRÍGUEZ
YEAR BORN: 1959
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: CUBA
HISTORY: POLITICAL REBEL
MY PAST: I was born in Havana, Cuba, and was raised in a poor neighborhood where street brawls were common. As I grew up, I developed an interest in judo and other combat sports.
I was a good student, and my parents encouraged me to go to a university. While there, I began to feel that the political system of my country needed to change. I decided to rebel. A classmate and I attacked a police officer, hoping to rob him of his gun. The struggle left the officer with serious head injuries. My classmate and I were put in prison for that attack and sentenced to death by firing squad. I was only 20 years old, yet I was about to die!
In the loneliness of my prison cell, I rehearsed how I would behave before the firing squad. I didn’t want to show any fear. At the same time, I was troubled by many questions. I wondered: ‘Why is there so much injustice in the world? Is this life all there is?’
HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE: Our death penalty was eventually commuted to a sentence of 30 years in prison. It was at this point that I met some of Jehovah’s Witnesses, who were in prison for their religious beliefs. I was impressed by the Witnesses’ courageous yet peaceable behavior. Though wrongly imprisoned, they were not angry or bitter.
The Witnesses taught me that God has a purpose for mankind. They showed me from the Bible that he will transform our earth into a paradise free of crime and injustice. They taught me that the earth will be filled with good people, who will have the opportunity to live forever in perfect conditions.—Psalm 37:29.
I enjoyed what I was learning from the Witnesses, but my personality had little in common with theirs. I thought that being politically neutral or turning the other cheek would be impossible for me. So I decided to read the Bible on my own. When I finished, I realized that Jehovah’s Witnesses are the only people who behave like the early Christians.
From studying the Bible, I knew that I needed to make some drastic changes in my life. For example, I needed to clean up my speech, as I was in the habit of constantly using swear words. I also needed to quit smoking. And I would have to stop taking sides on political issues. It wasn’t easy to make these changes, but with Jehovah’s help, I gradually succeeded.
One of the hardest changes was learning to control my temper. I still pray for self-control in this regard. I have been greatly helped by such Bible verses as Proverbs 16:32, which says: “He that is slow to anger is better than a mighty man, and he that is controlling his spirit than the one capturing a city.”
In 1991, I was baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The baptism was performed in a barrel of water in the prison. The next year, some of us prisoners were released and sent to Spain because we had relatives there. Upon arriving in Spain, I immediately attended meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Witnesses there welcomed me as if I had been among them for years, and they helped me to start my life anew.
HOW I HAVE BENEFITED: I am a happy man, serving God along with my wife and our daughters. I am privileged to spend most of my time helping others to learn the Bible. Sometimes I think back to that young man who was about to die, and I appreciate how much I have gained since then. Not only am I alive but I also have hope. I look forward to the promised Paradise—to the time when justice will prevail and “death will be no more.”—Revelation 21:3, 4.
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“I was touched to learn that God has a name”
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My husband and I enjoy sharing sign-language publications with the deaf