“VIOLENCE erupted in the wake of a contested election, forcing thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses to flee their homes,” relates François, an elder in a developing land. “Food and medicine became scarce, and what remained was extremely expensive. Banks closed, and cash machines emptied or went off-line.”
Brothers from the branch office quickly began delivering funds and emergency supplies to displaced Witnesses gathered at Kingdom Halls around the country. Rival factions set up roadblocks, but because both sides knew that the Witnesses maintain strict neutrality, branch vehicles were usually allowed to pass.
“On the way to one Kingdom Hall, snipers opened fire on our van,” says François. “However, the bullets passed between us. Seeing a soldier running toward us, weapon in hand, we jammed the van into reverse, turned around, and sped back to the branch. We were thankful to Jehovah that we were alive. The following day, the 130 brothers in that Kingdom Hall made it to safety. Some came to the branch office, where we looked after their spiritual and material needs until the crisis was over.”
“The branch office later received many letters from brothers across the country expressing profound gratitude,” says François. “Experiencing how their brothers elsewhere had come to their aid increased their confidence in Jehovah.”
In the face of natural and man-made disasters, we do not tell needy brothers and sisters to “keep warm and well fed.” (Jas. 2:15, 16) Instead, we seek to provide for their physical needs. Similarly, after receiving warning of a coming famine in the first century, “the disciples determined, each of them according as anyone could afford it, to send a relief ministration to the brothers dwelling in Judea.”
As Jehovah’s servants, we are eager to help needy individuals in a material way. However, people also have a spiritual need. (Matt. 5:3) To help them become aware of that need and take steps to satisfy it, Jesus commissioned his followers to make disciples. (Matt. 28:19, 20) We individually devote much of our time, energy, and resources to carrying out that commission. As an organization, we use some donated funds to provide material help, but donations are used chiefly to promote Kingdom interests and spread the good news. We thus show our love for God and for our neighbors.
Those who support the worldwide work of Jehovah’s Witnesses can be sure that their donations are used properly and effectively. Are you in a position to help bring relief to your brothers in need? Do you desire to support the disciple-making work? If so, “do not hold back good from those to whom it is owing, when it happens to be in the power of your hand to do it.”