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 “The Loss of My Friend Shook Me Up.”—ROMAN IRNESBERGER

  • YEAR BORN: 1973
  • COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: AUSTRIA
  • HISTORY: GAMBLER

MY PAST:

 I grew up in the small town of Braunau, Austria. The area was affluent, and crime was uncommon. My family was Catholic and raised me in that religion.

An event in my early life had a big impact on me. In 1984, when I was about 11 years old, I remember playing soccer with one of my close  friends. That same afternoon, he was killed in a car accident. The loss of my friend shook me up terribly. For years after the accident, I wondered what happens to us when we die.

When I left school, I worked as an electrician. Although I became a habitual gambler and played for large sums of money, I had no financial problems. I also spent a lot of time on sports and developed a love of heavy metal and punk rock music. Life was disco after disco and party after party. I was leading a pleasure-seeking, immoral life but felt very empty.

HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE:

 In 1995, an elderly Witness knocked on my door and offered me a book that discussed the Bible’s answer to the question, What happens at death? The tragic death of my young friend still troubled me, so I took the book. I read not only the chapter about death but the whole book!

What I read answered my questions about death. But I learned much more. Because I was raised as a Catholic, my faith centered first and foremost on Jesus. However, my careful study of the Bible helped me to develop a close friendship with Jesus’ Father, Jehovah God. I was fascinated to learn that Jehovah is not secretive and aloof but makes himself clearly known to those who search for him. (Matthew 7:7-11) I learned that Jehovah has feelings. I also learned that he always keeps his word. That led me to take a deep interest in Bible prophecies and to investigate how they have been fulfilled. What I discovered strengthened my faith in God.

I soon realized that Jehovah’s Witnesses were the only ones I knew of who were seriously interested in helping people understand the Bible. I noted the scriptures mentioned in the Witness publications and looked them up in my Catholic Bible. The more I investigated, the more I realized that I had found the truth.

My Bible study taught me that Jehovah expected me to live by his standards. From what I read at Ephesians 4:22-24, I could see that I had to get rid of my “old personality,” which was shaped by my “former course of conduct” and that I had to “put on the new personality which was created according to God’s will.” So I gave up my immoral lifestyle. I also saw the need to quit gambling, since that habit encourages materialism and greed. (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10) I knew that to make those changes, I would have to stop seeing my old friends and seek new associates who shared my standards.

Making those changes was not easy. But I started attending meetings with the Witnesses at the Kingdom Hall and began making new friends in the local congregation. I also continued a careful study of the Bible on my own. Those steps led me to change my taste in music, alter my goals in life, and tidy up my personal appearance. In 1995, I was baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

HOW I HAVE BENEFITED:

 I now have a balanced view of money and material possessions. I used to be hot-tempered, but now I have become more even-tempered. I am  also no longer overly anxious about the future.

I love being a part of an international group of people who serve Jehovah. Among them I see people who struggle with problems but still faithfully serve God. I feel so happy that I now expend all my time and energy, not on trying to satisfy my own desires, but on worshipping Jehovah and doing good for other people.

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