The Bible Changes Lives
WHAT did a man from Scotland find to be more rewarding than a successful business career? What helped a man in Brazil to put away an immoral lifestyle and quit smoking crack cocaine? How was a man in Slovenia able to give up his habit of binge drinking? Read what these people have to say.
“My Life Seemed Good.”—JOHN RICKETTS
YEAR BORN: 1958
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: SCOTLAND
HISTORY: SUCCESSFUL BUSINESSMAN
MY PAST: I enjoyed a comfortable upbringing. My father was an officer in the British army, so our family moved a lot. Besides Scotland, we lived in England, Germany, Kenya, Malaysia, Ireland, and Cyprus. From the age of eight, I attended boarding schools in Scotland. I eventually graduated from Cambridge University.
At the age of 20, I began an eight-year career in the oil business. At first, I did this work in South America, then later in Africa, and finally in Western Australia. After moving to Australia, I set up an investment firm, which I eventually sold.
The proceeds from that sale enabled me to retire at the age of 40. I used my newfound time to travel. I motorcycled around Australia twice, and I made a trip around the world. My life seemed good.
HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE: Even before retiring, I wanted to find some way to thank God for the life I was enjoying. I started going to the Anglican Church, in which I had been raised. But the church didn’t provide much instruction from the Bible. Next, I studied with the Mormons, but I was dissuaded by their lack of reliance on the Bible.
One day, Jehovah’s Witnesses knocked on my door. I could see immediately that they base their teachings squarely on the Bible. One scripture they shared with me was 1 Timothy 2:3, 4. Those verses say that it is God’s will that “all sorts of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth.” I was impressed that the Witnesses emphasized not just knowledge but accurate knowledge based on the Bible.
Studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses helped me to acquire such accurate knowledge. For example, I learned that God and Jesus are not part of some mysterious Trinity; rather, they are two distinct individuals. (John 14:28; 1 Corinthians 11:3) I was delighted to learn that simple truth. I was also annoyed that I had wasted so much effort in the past trying to comprehend the incomprehensible!
I soon began attending meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I was impressed by the friendliness and moral fiber of everyone there—they seemed like saints. Their genuine love convinced me that I had found the true religion.—John 13:35.
HOW I HAVE BENEFITED: After I was baptized, I met a wonderful woman named Diane. She had been raised as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and she had many fine qualities that I found attractive. In time, we were married. Diane’s friendship and support have been a true blessing from Jehovah.
Diane and I developed a strong desire to move to an area where there was a greater need for preachers of the Bible’s good news. In 2010, we moved to Belize, Central America. Here we minister to people who have a love for God and a real thirst for Bible knowledge.
It brings me peace of mind finally to know the truth about God and his Word, the Bible. As a full-time minister, I have had the joy of teaching the Bible to a number of others. There is nothing better than watching Bible truth improve someone’s life—just as it did mine. At last, I have found the best way to thank God for the life I enjoy.
“They Were Very Kind to Me.”—MAURÍCIO ARAÚJO
YEAR BORN: 1967
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: BRAZIL
HISTORY: IMMORAL LIFESTYLE
MY PAST: I grew up in Avaré, a quiet little town in the state of São Paulo. Its residents are mainly of the working class.
My father died while my mother was expecting me. As a young boy, I dressed in my mother’s clothes while she was out. I adopted feminine mannerisms, and people started to view me as gay. In time, I began having sex with other boys and men.
By the time I reached my late teens, I was actively seeking sexual partners (both male and female) wherever I could find them—in bars, nightclubs, and even churches. At carnival time, I would dress as a woman and dance in samba-school parades. I was very popular.
Among my friends were gays, prostitutes, and drug addicts. Some of them influenced me to try crack cocaine, and soon I was hooked. Sometimes we smoked all night long. At other times, I would isolate myself and spend the entire day smoking crack. I became so emaciated that a rumor went around that I had AIDS.
HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE: About this time, I came in contact with Jehovah’s Witnesses. They were very kind to me. One of the Bible verses they read to me was Romans 10:13, which says: “Everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.” Those words impressed on me the importance of using Jehovah’s name. Many times, after having smoked crack cocaine all night long, I would open the window, look up to heaven, and pray to Jehovah in tears, begging him to help me.
Worried about my anguished mother, who suffered deeply as she watched me destroy myself with drugs, I made up my mind to stop taking them. Soon after that, I accepted the Witnesses’ offer of a Bible study. They assured me that the study would strengthen my resolve to quit drugs—and it did!
As I continued studying the Bible, I realized that I needed to change my lifestyle. It was especially difficult to abandon my homosexual practices, as these had been a part of me for as long as I could remember. One thing that helped, though, was changing my environment. I ended my old friendships and stopped going to bars and nightclubs.
Although it was not easy to make these changes, I found comfort in learning that Jehovah cared for me and that he understood my struggle. (1 John 3:19, 20) By 2002, I had stopped all homosexual practices, and in that year I was baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
HOW I HAVE BENEFITED: My mother was so impressed by the changes I made that she also began studying the Bible. Unfortunately, she has since suffered a stroke. Nevertheless, she has continued to develop love for Jehovah and for Bible truth.
For the past eight years, I’ve been engaged in the full-time ministry, spending most of my time teaching the Bible to others. I must admit that I have had to fight improper desires at times. But I take courage in knowing that by choosing not to act on those desires, I can be pleasing to Jehovah.
Drawing close to Jehovah and living in a way that pleases him has boosted my self-respect. Today, I am a happy man.
“I Was a Bottomless Barrel.”—LUKA ŠUC
YEAR BORN: 1975
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: SLOVENIA
HISTORY: BINGE DRINKER
MY PAST: I was born in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. I had a pleasant childhood until the age of four. Then my father committed suicide. After this tragedy, my mother had to work hard to put bread on the table for two growing boys, my older brother and me.
At the age of 15, I moved in with my grandmother. I enjoyed living with her, as many of my friends lived in her neighborhood. I also had greater freedom than I did when living at home. At the age of 16, I started associating with people who went drinking on the weekends. I let my hair grow long, started dressing rebelliously, and later took up smoking.
Although I experimented with various drugs, I stuck with drinking, as I found it to be the most enjoyable. Soon I had gone from drinking a few glasses of wine to more than a bottle at a time. I became an expert at hiding just how drunk I really was. Often, it was only the smell of alcohol on my breath that indicated I had been drinking. Even then, no one had any idea that I had perhaps downed several liters of wine or beer—and mixed with vodka at that!
Many times, I was the one who helped my friends stay on their feet after a night at the disco, even though, in all likelihood, I had consumed twice as much alcohol as they had. One day, I overheard one of my friends say that I was a bottomless barrel—a derogatory expression in Slovenian for someone who can outdrink others. That comment really hurt me.
I started to think about what I was doing with my life. I was overcome by feelings of worthlessness. It seemed that nothing I did in life had any meaning.
HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE: About this time, I noticed that one of my classmates had changed; his disposition had become milder. Curious about his transformation, I invited him out to a café. During our conversation, he explained that he had begun to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. He shared some of the things he was learning, all of which were completely new to me, as I had not had any kind of religious upbringing. I began attending meetings of the Witnesses and studying the Bible with them.
Studying the Bible opened my eyes to many powerful, motivating truths. For example, I learned that we are living in what the Bible calls “the last days.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5) I also learned that God will soon remove bad people from the earth and grant good people the opportunity to enjoy everlasting life in Paradise. (Psalm 37:29) I felt a strong desire to clean up my life so that I could be among those good people.
I began telling my friends about the Bible truths that I was learning. Most ridiculed me for what I shared with them, but this turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Their reaction helped me to see that they were not true friends. I came to realize that my drinking problem was closely related to my choice of associates. All week long, they looked forward to the weekend so that they could get drunk again.
I broke off those friendships and replaced them with upbuilding association with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Being in their company was a source of great encouragement—these were people who sincerely loved God and who really tried to live by his standards. Gradually, I was able to give up my habit of binge drinking.
HOW I HAVE BENEFITED: I’m grateful to Jehovah that I no longer need alcohol to feel happy. I really don’t know where I would have ended up had I continued in my former ways. But I am convinced that my life is better now.
For the past seven years, I have been privileged to serve at the branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Slovenia. Knowing Jehovah and serving him has given my life true meaning.