YEAR BORN: 1954
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: CANADA
HISTORY: DEFRAUDER, GAMBLER
I grew up in a depressed area in the city of Montreal. When I was six months old, my father died, which left my mother with all the household responsibilities. I was the youngest in a family of eight children.
As I grew up, my everyday life revolved around drugs, gambling, violence, and association with criminals. At the age of ten, I began running errands for prostitutes and loan sharks. I lied often and took pleasure in manipulating people in any fraudulent way I could. It was like a drug for me.
By the time I was 14, I excelled in devising ways to trick people. For example, I would buy large quantities of gold-plated watches, bracelets, and rings, mark them as 14-carat gold with an engraver’s stamp, and then sell them on the street and in the parking lots of shopping centers. I was fascinated with making easy money. One time, I made $10,000 in a single day!
After I was expelled from reform school at age 15, I had nowhere to live. I slept on the streets, in parks, or in the homes of casual friends who took me in.
Because of my fraudulent activities, I was often questioned by the police. Since I was not selling stolen goods, I was never sent to jail. However, I did pay many hefty fines for fraud, false representation, and selling without a permit. Fearing no one, I even collected money for loan sharks. That was dangerous, and at times I carried a gun. On some occasions I worked with organized crime.
HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE:
I first came in contact with the Bible when I was just 17. I was living with my girlfriend when she began to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. However, I objected to the Bible’s moral restrictions, so I left her and went to live with another woman, whom I was dating.
The turning point came when my second girlfriend too started to study with the Witnesses! She made changes in her life, and I was impressed that she was becoming milder and more patient. I accepted an invitation to a meeting at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I was welcomed by people who were decent and kind. What a contrast to the world I knew! I had never felt wanted by my family; I felt deprived of affection and tenderness throughout my childhood. The warmth I experienced among Jehovah’s Witnesses was exactly what I craved. When the Witnesses offered to study the Bible with me, I gladly accepted.
What I was learning from the Bible probably saved my life. I had been planning a robbery with two partners in order to get free of my gambling debts, which amounted to more than $50,000. But how glad I am that I backed out! My former partners went ahead with the robbery. One of them was arrested, and the other was killed.
As I continued to study the Bible, I came to see just how many changes I needed to make. For example, I learned what the Bible says at 1 Corinthians 6:10: “Thieves, greedy people, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners will not inherit God’s Kingdom.” When I read that verse, the gravity of my situation brought me to tears. I realized that I needed to transform my life completely. (Romans 12:2) I was violent and aggressive, and my whole life was built on lies.
However, I also learned from studying the Bible that Jehovah is merciful and forgiving. (Isaiah 1:18) I prayed intensely, begging Jehovah to help me break free from my former lifestyle. With his help, I was able gradually to make over my personality. A key step came when my girlfriend and I legalized our marriage.
I am alive today because of applying Bible principles
I was 24 years old and married with three children. Now I had to find a legitimate line of work. Yet I had little education and no references. Again, I fervently prayed to Jehovah. Then I went to look for a job. I told potential employers that I wanted to change my life and do an honest day’s work. At times, I explained that I was studying the Bible and that my desire was to become a better citizen. Many potential employers refused to hire me. Finally, after I openly disclosed my troubled past during yet another interview, the interviewer said: “I don’t really know why, but something tells me that I should hire you.” I believe that this was the answer to my prayers. In time, both my wife and I were baptized as Jehovah’s Witnesses.
HOW I HAVE BENEFITED:
I am alive today because of applying Bible principles and living a Christian way of life. I have a fine family of my own. Convinced that Jehovah has forgiven me, I enjoy a clean conscience.
For the past 14 years, I have served in the full-time ministry, helping others to learn what the Bible teaches, and recently, my wife has joined me in the full-time ministry. Over the past 30 years, I have had the joy of helping 22 of my coworkers to begin worshipping Jehovah. I still go to shopping centers—but not to defraud people as I once did. Now when I go there I often share my faith with others. I want to give them something: the hope of living in a future new world that will be free of defrauders.—Psalm 37:10, 11.