Monday, July 13, 2009

Yearbook Experiences from Latvia

(photo of Jānis Folkmanis and Māris Krūminš on pg 207 of the 2007 Yearbook, and following experiences on pgs 204-207)
Jānis Folkmanis
Jānis Folkmanis was a USSR weight-lifting champion, and in his final competitions in March 1993, he became champion of Latvia. Jānis relates: “In 1992, a workmate, Jānis Cielavs, invited me to sit in on his Bible study. That experience changed my life. Three months after I became weight-lifting champion of Latvia, I became a Kingdom publisher. In August 1993, I was baptized. When I witnessed at the gym, my trainer expressed his displeasure. But I am glad that I did not shrink back. My friends Eduards Eihenbaums and Edgars Brancis will explain why.”
Eduards: “Jānis Folkmanis offered me a free Bible study. ‘If it really is free, we can start right now,’ I said. And we did! What I learned made sense, especially the teaching of the resurrection, which made more sense than the doctrine of the immortality of the soul. My wife too began to study, and we were baptized in 1995.”
Edgars: “Jānis witnessed zealously at the gym. Four times he offered to study the Bible with me, and each time I declined. But I did accept the Watchtower and Awake! magazines and the book You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth. Meanwhile, I kept asking myself, ‘Why would such a famous sportsman be interested in the Bible?’ My curiosity eventually won out, and I began to study. The result? I was baptized in 1995 and now serve as a special pioneer.”

Māris Krūminš
Māris Krūminš, who also serves at Bethel, had to make major changes in his life in order to serve Jehovah. “After serving in the military,” explains Māris, “I became disillusioned with life. Later, I was expelled from a university for missing lectures. Aimless, I got involved in crime, and one night after a drunken brawl, I was arrested. Sitting in my cell, I thought about the laws I had broken and concluded that many of them actually stemmed from the laws of God. For the first time in my life, I prayed to God for forgiveness and vowed to search for him.
“After being released from prison, I attended various churches but each time met with disappointment. So I started to read the Bible and other religious books. In 1990, while traveling on a train, I met a former schoolmate and learned that he was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. During that short journey, Jehovah opened up my heart as I listened to my old friend explain God’s purpose for mankind and the reason for the suffering in the world. I began to study and became a publisher in 1991. In 1992, I was baptized. A year later, I became a member of the Latvia Bethel family, and in 1995, I married Simona, a Finnish pioneer.”