In 2014, the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses gave direction regarding a new program to bring the Bible’s message to remote northern areas of Europe and North America. (Acts 1:8) At the outset, the program focused on selected communities in Alaska (U.S.A.), Lapland (Finland), and Nunavut and Northwest Territories (Canada).
Jehovah’s Witnesses had for decades been visiting these remote regions to preach. However, the Witnesses stayed for only brief periods, and their efforts were often limited to distributing Bible-based literature.
Under this new program, branch offices that oversee the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses in remote northern areas invite full-time ministers (pioneers) to stay a minimum of three months in selected territories. If a number of people in the community are interested in studying the Bible, the ministers may stay longer and even hold public meetings.
Of course, the North presents some unique challenges. Of the two pioneers assigned to Barrow, Alaska, one previously lived in southern California and the other in Georgia, U.S.A. During their first winter in Barrow, they faced temperatures that dipped as low as minus 38 degrees Celsius (-36°F)! Yet, within a few months of their arrival, they visited about 95 percent of the homes in that city and started four Bible studies, including one study with a young man named John. He and his girlfriend are studying the book What Does the Bible Really Teach? and he shares what he learns with his friends and coworkers. He also reads the daily text from Examining the Scriptures Daily using the JW Library app on his phone.
No roads lead to Rankin Inlet in the Canadian territory of Nunavut. So two pioneers flew to that tiny hamlet and started several Bible studies. After one man watched the video What Happens at a Kingdom Hall? he asked when we were going to build a Kingdom Hall in the community. He added, “If I am still around when you build, I will come to the meetings.”
“Temperatures are low and there is a lot of snow,” reported the pioneers assigned to Savukoski, Finland, where there are about ten times as many reindeer as people. Yet, they said that the timing of their arrival was perfect. Why? “We have been able to cover territories thoroughly,” they report. “Roads to villages and to remote areas are plowed and kept in good shape. Cold temperatures have caused people to spend more time at home.”
Our efforts to share Bible truth in remote northern communities have attracted attention. After two pioneers visited the mayor of one Alaskan city, she posted a positive message on social media relating her discussion with them and attaching an image of the tract What Is the Kingdom of God?
In Haines, Alaska, where two pioneers have welcomed as many as eight to the meetings held at the public library, the local newspaper reported that two men from Texas and North Carolina were in town offering home-based, one-on-one Bible education. The announcement concluded: “Go to jw.org to learn more.”