Over the past 28 years, more than 11,000 of Jehovah’s Witnesses have left their homes and even the country where they lived to construct buildings in 120 countries. All have happily donated their skill and energy full-time, without pay.
Many paid their own way to get to the project. Some used their vacation to work. Others took a leave from their regular employment, forfeiting considerable income.
They were under no compulsion to make such sacrifices, but they offered themselves willingly to advance the global preaching of the good news of the Kingdom. (Matthew 24:14) They have constructed offices, residences, and facilities for the printing of Bibles and Bible-based literature. Jehovah’s Witnesses have also built Assembly Halls with as many as 10,000 seats and Kingdom Halls with up to 300 seats.
This activity is still under way. Once the workers arrive at a project site, the local branch office provides housing, meals, laundry, and other daily needs. Local Witnesses also share in the joy of construction work.
To organize and coordinate this vast effort, an international program was set up in 1985. To share in this program, volunteers must be Jehovah’s Witnesses who are between 19 and 55 years of age and skilled in at least one construction trade. Typically, an assignment in the program will range from two weeks to three months, though sometimes it may extend for a year or longer.
Wives of construction workers have been trained to do such tasks as tying reinforcing steel together with wire, setting tile, or sanding and painting. Others help prepare meals for the workforce or clean their accommodations.
When volunteers return to their homes, some of them write to express thanks that they were invited to work. One couple wrote: “We want to thank you very much for the privilege we had to work at the branch in Budapest. The Witnesses in Hungary were so loving and appreciative! Saying good-bye to them after our month there was difficult. But that’s always the case, isn’t it? We hope to be able to go again in the spring. Each time we’ve gone on an assignment, it has felt like the best month of our lives.”