“I never imagined that I would be able to serve Jehovah so fully.” This is how Gwen, originally from England, describes her feelings about serving as a need-greater in Albania. a
Gwen is one of many Witnesses who have moved to Albania to help gather “the precious things of all the nations.” (Haggai 2:7) What motivates these evangelizers? What adjustments did they make so that they could move? And what joys have helped them endure despite the challenges?
Different Circumstances, One Desire
All the publishers who have come to help in Albania share the same motivation: They love Jehovah and want to help others come to know him.
Before moving, they took steps to expand their ministry, and this helped with the challenges of serving abroad. Gwen says: “I first joined an Albanian-speaking group in my hometown. Then I visited Albania for a convention. Later, I returned there for a little while to learn the language better.”
When she was 23, Manuela moved to a different region of her home country, Italy, to help a small congregation. She says: “I served there for four years. Then I learned that there was much to do in Albania. So I arranged to pioneer there for a few months.”
Federica was just seven years old when she heard a report from Albania at a convention. She says: “The brother giving the report said that publishers in Albania were starting many Bible studies and that interested ones came to the meetings. I began to tell my parents that I wanted to go to Albania. My desire took them by surprise, but my dad said, ‘Pray about it, and if it is Jehovah’s will, he will listen.’ A few months later, we were invited as a family to serve in Albania!” Many years have passed, and Federica is now married to Orges. They serve together as full-time ministers in Albania.
After Gianpiero retired, he moved to Albania with his wife, Gloria. He says: “We raised our boys in Italy. Three of them moved abroad to serve where there was a need. Our hearts were touched by a Watchtower article entitled ‘Can You Step Over Into Macedonia?’ We sat down to figure out how to use my pension to serve in Albania.”
They Planned Carefully
Need-greaters have to plan carefully beforehand and make adjustments to be able to move. (Luke 14:28) Among other things, they have to find ways to support themselves. While still in England, Gwen, mentioned earlier, first moved in with her sister to save money. Sophia and Christopher, also from England, recall: “We sold our car and some furniture. We were hoping to be able to stay in Albania for at least one year.” Happily, they were able to remain much longer.
Some publishers stay in Albania for a few months, return to their home country to work and save funds, and then go back to Albania. This was the case with Eliseo and Miriam. Eliseo explains: “Miriam is originally from a tourist spot in Italy, where it was very easy to find seasonal jobs. We would go to that area and work three months in the summer and then live in Albania on our savings for the remaining nine months. We did this for five years.”
After moving, need-greaters must adapt to new circumstances, but the advice and example of local Witnesses help them to overcome challenges. Sophia, mentioned earlier, says: “During winter in Albania, houses are much colder than what I was used to back home. I learned to dress differently by watching how local sisters dressed.” Grzegorz and his wife, Sona, came from Poland to help in the picturesque town of Prizren, in Kosovo. b Grzegorz says: “Local publishers are so humble, kind, and patient! They are helping us to learn the language and much more. For example, they pointed us to stores with affordable prices, and they explained how to shop for supplies at the local market.”
Many Reasons to Rejoice
Those who move abroad benefit from forming close friendships with local Witnesses and getting to know their background. Sona explains: “I have seen how powerful Jehovah’s love is. The brothers build my faith because I see how they completely changed their beliefs and their lives when they learned about Jehovah. In the congregation, we feel needed, and we see our place in it. We serve alongside brothers and sisters who have become our friends.” (Mark 10:29, 30) Gloria says: “I know many sisters who endured violent opposition from anti-Witness members of the community. It really touches me to see their love for Jehovah.”
Need-greaters also have the opportunity to learn valuable lessons they may not have learned at home. For example, they see that stepping out of one’s comfort zone to do more for Jehovah brings joy. Stefano puts it this way: “In my home country, I preached mostly by intercom, using brief presentations. But Albanians love to talk at length, especially while sipping coffee. As I am very shy, at first I was embarrassed, and I did not know what to say. However, over time, I learned to take an interest in people, and now I enjoy conversing with them. My preaching is much more satisfying.”
Leah moved to Albania from the United States with her husband, William. She comments: “Serving here has opened our minds and broadened our perspective. We have learned so much about hospitality, respect, and friendship! We have learned new ways to preach, reason from the Scriptures, and express ourselves.” William says: “Most people who visit Albania fall in love with the gorgeous beaches. I personally like hiking in the rugged Albanian Alps. But it is the people who really make me love it here! Many villages in our territory have had only a brief witness during special campaigns. When we go there, we sometimes spend a whole day just speaking with a couple of families.”
The greatest joy for these need-greaters comes from seeing people respond to the good news. (1 Thessalonians 2:19, 20) Laura, who moved to Albania as a young single sister, gives an example: “I served for a while in Fier. In just two and a half years, 120 new ones qualified to preach to others! I studied with 16 of them!” Another sister, Sandra, remembers: “I witnessed to a woman working at the market. She became a sister and moved back to her home village. At last count, she had started 15 Bible studies!”
Jehovah Blesses Their Endurance
Some need-greaters who moved to Albania years ago are still there and enjoy their service very much. They sometimes marvel when they see that their work bore fruit long after they planted the first seed. (Ecclesiastes 11:6) Christopher, mentioned earlier, states: “I ran into a man with whom I had started a Bible study when I first moved to Albania. I was touched when he recounted in detail our early conversations about the Bible. Now both he and his wife are baptized servants of Jehovah.” Federica, mentioned before, comments: “In one congregation, a sister approached me and asked me if I remembered her. She told me that I had preached to her nine years earlier. Some time after I moved to another town, she had started studying the Bible and progressed to baptism. I used to think that our first years in Albania did not yield results. I was wrong!”
Brothers and sisters who moved to Albania or Kosovo are grateful to see how Jehovah has blessed their efforts and given them a rewarding life. After many years in Albania, Eliseo summarizes his experience, saying: “As humans, we are easily fooled into thinking that we can achieve stability by relying on what this world considers stable. But it is an illusion. Jehovah’s principles, on the other hand, give us purpose and stability. My service as a need-greater helps me remember that. I feel useful and appreciated. I have true friends around me that work toward the same goals.” Sandra agrees: “When I moved to where the need is greater, I felt that Jehovah had given me the opportunity to fulfill my long-held desire—to be a missionary. I have never regretted moving to Albania. I’ve never been happier.”
b Kosovo is located northeast of Albania. In this region many speak an Albanian dialect. Witnesses from Albania, several European countries, and the United States offered themselves to help spread the good news to the people living in Kosovo who speak the Albanian dialect. By 2020, there were 256 publishers serving in eight congregations, three groups, and two pregroups.