YEAR BORN: 1978
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: CHILE
HISTORY: EXTREMELY VIOLENT
I grew up in Santiago, the capital of Chile, in a neighborhood where drugs, gangs, and crime were common. When I was five, my father was murdered. After that, my mother lived with a man who was cruel. He regularly beat us both. I still carry emotional scars from those years.
As I was growing up, I reacted to the negative influences by becoming extremely violent. I listened to heavy-metal music, drank excessively, and occasionally took drugs. I was regularly involved in street fights with drug dealers, who several times tried to do away with me. On one occasion, a rival gang hired an infamous hit man to kill me, but I managed to escape with only a stab wound. On another occasion, a group of drug dealers held a pistol to my head and tried to hang me.
In 1996, I fell in love with a woman named Carolina, and in 1998, we were married. After our first son was born, I became terrified that because of my violent temper, I would turn out like my stepfather and abuse my family. So I sought help at a local rehabilitation center. I received medical treatment and therapy, but to no avail. I continued to become infuriated over every little thing; I was out of control. In a misguided effort to stop hurting my family, I attempted suicide. Fortunately, I did not succeed.
I had been an atheist for many years, but I wanted to believe in God. So I associated with an evangelical religion for a time. Meanwhile, my wife was studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. I hated the Witnesses, and many times I screamed obscenities at them. But they always responded peacefully, which was not what I expected.
One day, Carolina asked me to look up Psalm 83:18 in my own Bible. That verse clearly states that God’s name is Jehovah. I was surprised to realize that in my religion I had learned about a god, but not about Jehovah. Early in the year 2000, I too began to study the Bible with the Witnesses.
HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE:
As I progressed, I found comfort in learning that Jehovah is a compassionate and forgiving God. For example, at Exodus 34:6, 7, the Bible describes Jehovah as “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and truth, preserving loving-kindness for thousands, pardoning error and transgression and sin.”
I found comfort in learning that Jehovah is a compassionate and forgiving God
Even so, it was not easy to apply what I was learning. I was convinced that I would never be able to control my violent temper. Each time I failed, Carolina lovingly encouraged me. She reminded me that Jehovah took note of my efforts. Her support gave me the strength to continue trying to please Jehovah, even though I often felt like a lost cause.
One day, my study conductor, Alejandro, asked me to read Galatians 5:22, 23. Those verses say that the fruitage of God’s spirit is “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control.” Alejandro explained that my developing those qualities did not depend on my own strength but, rather, on God’s holy spirit. That truth completely changed my viewpoint!
Later, I attended a large convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The order, cleanliness, and fellowship I saw there convinced me that I had found the true religion. (John 13:34, 35) I was baptized in February 2001.
HOW I HAVE BENEFITED:
Jehovah has transformed me from a violent man to a peaceable one. I feel that he has lifted me up out of the mire that had me trapped. Many people hated me, and I don’t blame them. Now, however, I enjoy peacefully serving Jehovah along with my wife and two sons.
My relatives and former friends cannot believe how much I have changed. As a result, several of them have shown interest in learning Bible truth. I have also had the privilege of helping others to come to know Jehovah. What a pleasure it has been to see Bible truth transform their lives as well!