Imitate the Greatest Missionary
“Become imitators of me, even as I am of Christ.”—1 COR. 11:1.
1. Why should we imitate Jesus Christ?
THE apostle Paul imitated the greatest Missionary, Jesus Christ. Paul also urged his fellow Christians: “Become imitators of me, even as I am of Christ.” (1 Cor. 11:1) After Jesus gave his apostles an object lesson in humility by humbly washing their feet, he told them: “I set the pattern for you, that, just as I did to you, you should do also.” (John 13:12-15) As present-day Christians, we have an obligation to imitate Jesus Christ in our words and deeds and in the qualities we display.—1 Pet. 2:21.
2. Even if you have not been appointed by the Governing Body as a missionary, what attitude can you have?
2 In the preceding article, we learned that a missionary is one who is sent as an evangelizer—one who brings good news to others. In this regard, Paul posed some interesting questions. (Read Romans 10:11-15.) Note that the apostle asked: “How . . . will they hear without someone to preach?” He then quoted the words from Isaiah’s prophecy: “How comely are the feet of those who declare good news of good things!” (Isa. 52:7) Even if you have not been appointed and sent forth to serve as a missionary in a foreign assignment, you can have the evangelizing spirit, imitating Jesus as a zealous proclaimer of the good news. Last year, 6,957,854 Kingdom publishers ‘did the work of evangelizers’ in 236 lands.—2 Tim. 4:5.
“We Have Left All Things and Followed You”
3, 4. What did Jesus leave behind in heaven, and what must we do in order to be his followers?
3 To fulfill his assigned role on the earth, Jesus “emptied himself and took a slave’s form,” leaving behind his heavenly life and glory. (Phil. 2:7) Whatever we do in imitation of Christ cannot be compared with what Jesus did when coming to the earth. But we can remain steadfast as his followers, not longingly looking back at what we had in Satan’s world.—1 John 5:19.
4 On one occasion, the apostle Peter told Jesus: “Look! We have left all things and followed you.” (Matt. 19:27) Peter, Andrew, James, and John quickly abandoned their nets when invited to follow Jesus. They left behind the fishing business and made the ministry their vocation. According to Luke’s Gospel account, Peter said: “Look! We have left our own things and followed you.” (Luke 18:28) Most of us did not have to leave all “our own things” behind so as to follow Jesus. However, we did have to ‘disown ourselves’ to become followers of Christ and wholehearted servants of Jehovah. (Matt. 16:24) Such a course has resulted in rich blessings. (Read Matthew 19:29.) Having an evangelizing spirit in imitation of Christ brings joy to our heart, especially if we have had even a small part in helping someone to draw close to God and his beloved Son.
5. Relate an experience that demonstrates what an immigrant may decide to do upon learning Bible truth.
5 Valmir, a Brazilian man living in the interior of Suriname, was a gold miner. He was an alcoholic who led an immoral life. Once when he was in a city, Jehovah’s Witnesses started to study the Bible with him. He studied every day, made many changes, and was soon baptized. When he saw that his work made it difficult to live in harmony with his newfound faith, he sold his lucrative business and moved back to Brazil to help his family find spiritual treasures. Upon learning Bible truth, many immigrants willingly give up jobs in affluent countries and go back to their homeland with the objective of helping their relatives and others spiritually. Such Kingdom publishers display a real evangelizing spirit.
6. What can we do if we cannot move to where the need for Kingdom proclaimers is greater?
6 A number of Witnesses have been able to move to areas where the need for Kingdom preachers is greater. Some even serve abroad. Personally, we may not be in a position to make such a move, but we can imitate Jesus by always doing our best in the ministry.
Jehovah Provides Needed Training
7. What schools are available for training those who want to enhance their ability as Kingdom proclaimers?
7 Just as Jesus received training from his Father, we can take advantage of the education that Jehovah is now providing. Jesus himself said: “It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by Jehovah.’” (John 6:45; Isa. 54:13) Today, there are schools especially designed to equip us as Kingdom proclaimers. Doubtless, all of us have benefited in some way from the Theocratic Ministry School in our local congregations. Pioneers are privileged to attend the Pioneer Service School. A number of experienced pioneers have had the pleasure of attending the school a second time. Elders and ministerial servants have attended the Kingdom Ministry School to enhance their teaching ability and the service they render to fellow believers. Numerous single elders and ministerial servants have gone through the Ministerial Training School, which equips them to help others in the preaching work. And many of the brothers and sisters who have received foreign missionary assignments have been trained at the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead.
8. How much do some brothers value the training that Jehovah provides?
8 Many Witnesses of Jehovah have made adjustments in order to attend these schools. To attend the Ministerial Training School in Canada, Yugu resigned from his secular work because his employer denied his request for a leave. “I don’t regret it,” said Yugu. “In fact, if they had given me a leave of absence as a favor, they might have expected me to stay with the company permanently out of loyalty. But now I am available for whatever assignment I might yet receive from Jehovah.” To take advantage of training provided by God, many have willingly sacrificed what they once valued highly.—Luke 5:28.
9. Give an example that shows the effectiveness of Scriptural teaching and earnest effort.
9 Scriptural teaching and earnest effort are very effective. (2 Tim. 3:16, 17) Consider what happened in the case of Saulo in Guatemala. He was born with a slight mental disability, and one of his teachers told his mother that she should not force the boy to learn to read, as that would only frustrate him. Saulo left school without knowing how to read. However, a Witness taught Saulo to read, using the brochure Apply Yourself to Reading and Writing. Eventually, Saulo advanced to the point of giving talks in the Theocratic Ministry School. Saulo’s mother later met his teacher in the house-to-house ministry. Upon hearing that Saulo had learned to read, the teacher asked her to bring him along the following week. The next week, the teacher asked Saulo, “What are you going to teach me?” Saulo started to read a paragraph from the book What Does the Bible Really Teach? “I cannot believe that you are now teaching me,” said the teacher. Unable to hold back her tears, she embraced Saulo.
Teaching That Moves the Heart
10. What excellent tool is available for our use in teaching Bible truth?
10 Jesus based his teaching on what Jehovah taught him directly and on instruction found in God’s written Word. (Luke 4:16-21; John 8:28) We imitate Jesus by applying his counsel and adhering to the Scriptures. All of us thus speak and think in agreement, and this contributes to our unity. (1 Cor. 1:10) How grateful we are that “the faithful and discreet slave” provides Bible-based publications to help us maintain unity in our teaching and accomplish our work as evangelizers! (Matt. 24:45; 28:19, 20) One of these publications is the Bible Teach book, now available in 179 languages.
11. How did a sister in Ethiopia overcome opposition by using the Bible Teach book?
11 Studying the Scriptures using the Bible Teach book can even change the heart of opposers. On one occasion Lula, a pioneer sister in Ethiopia, was conducting a Bible study when a relative of the student burst in and said that they need not have such a study. Lula calmly reasoned with the relative, using the illustration about counterfeit money in chapter 15 of the Bible Teach book. The woman calmed down and allowed them to resume the study. In fact, she was there for the next study and requested her own Bible study, even offering to pay for it! She was soon studying three times a week and made fine spiritual progress.
12. Give an example to show how young people can effectively teach Bible truths.
12 Young people can help others by using the Bible Teach book. When 11-year-old Keanu in Hawaii was reading this book in school, one of his classmates asked him, “Why don’t you celebrate holidays?” Keanu read the answer right from the appendix topic “Should We Celebrate Holidays?” He then turned to the book’s table of contents and asked the boy which subject interested him the most. A Bible study was started. Last service year, Jehovah’s Witnesses conducted 6,561,426 Bible studies, many of which put the Bible Teach book to good use. Are you using this tool on Bible studies?
13. In what way can studying the Bible have a strong influence on people?
13 Studying the Scriptures using the Bible Teach book can exert a strong influence on those desiring to do God’s will. A special pioneer couple in Norway started a Bible study with a family from Zambia. The Zambian couple had three daughters and did not want another baby. So when the woman became pregnant, they decided in favor of an abortion. A few days before consulting with a doctor, they studied the chapter entitled “A Godly View of Life.” The picture of an unborn child appearing in that chapter touched the couple so deeply that they decided against the abortion. They continued to make fine spiritual progress and named their newborn son after the study conductor.
14. Illustrate how living in harmony with what we teach can produce good results.
14 An important aspect of Jesus’ way of teaching was that he lived in harmony with what he taught. Many people come to appreciate the fine conduct of Jehovah’s Witnesses, who imitate Jesus in this regard. A businessman in New Zealand had his car broken into and his briefcase stolen. He reported this to the police, who said: “Your only chance of getting your property back would be if one of Jehovah’s Witnesses was to find it.” A Witness delivering newspapers found the briefcase. Notified of this, the owner came to the sister’s home. He was relieved to find that a document that was invaluable to him was there. The sister told him, “It was only proper that I return the property, especially as I am one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.” The businessman was amazed, remembering what the constable had told him that very morning. Clearly, true Christians are living according to the teachings found in the Bible and in imitation of Jesus.—Heb. 13:18.
Imitate Jesus’ Attitude Toward People
15, 16. How can we attract people to the message we preach?
15 Jesus’ attitude toward people attracted them to his message. For instance, his love and humility drew lowly ones to him. He expressed compassion for those who came to him and comforted them with kind words, healing many physically. (Read Mark 2:1-5.) We cannot perform miracles, but we can show love, humility, and compassion—qualities that help to draw people to the truth.
16 Compassion played a role when a special pioneer named Tariua called at the home of an elderly man named Beere, who lives on one of the more isolated islands of Kiribati in the South Pacific. Though the man indicated that he was unwilling to listen, Tariua noticed that he was partially paralyzed and felt compassion for him. “Have you heard what God promises for people who are sick and elderly?” she asked. Then she read a passage from Isaiah’s prophecy. (Read Isaiah 35:5, 6.) Intrigued, the man said, “I’ve been reading the Bible for years and have been visited by a missionary from my religion for many years, but I’ve never seen that in the Bible.” A Bible study was started with Beere, and he made fine spiritual progress. Yes, he was severely crippled, but he is now baptized, takes the lead in caring for an isolated group, and is able to walk all over the island preaching the good news.
Continue to Imitate Christ
17, 18. (a) How can you become a successful evangelizer? (b) What is in store for those who take their ministry seriously?
17 As joyful experiences in the ministry repeatedly demonstrate, we can be successful evangelizers if we cultivate and display the qualities manifested by Jesus. How fitting it is, then, that we imitate Christ as zealous evangelizers!
18 When some became Jesus’ disciples in the first century, Peter asked: “What actually will there be for us?” Jesus replied: “Everyone that has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive many times more and will inherit everlasting life.” (Matt. 19:27-29) That is certain to be our experience if we continue to imitate the greatest Missionary, Jesus Christ.
How Would You Respond?
• How is Jehovah training us to be evangelizers?
• Why is the Bible Teach book effective in our ministry?
• How can we imitate Jesus in our attitude toward people?
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When Jesus invited Peter, Andrew, James, and John to follow him, they responded without delay
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Such publications as the “Bible Teach” book help us to maintain unity in our teaching