HIGHLIGHTS OF THE PAST YEAR
Giving Priority to the Global Preaching Work
ON Wednesday, September 23, 2015, the Governing Body informed the worldwide Bethel family of a number of organizational changes that were being made in order to make the best use of dedicated funds. Then, on Saturday, October 3, 2015, an announcement from the Governing Body explained: “At Philippians 1:10, we are told to ‘make sure of the more important things.’ In harmony with this wise advice, we [the Governing Body] desire to give priority to those activities that contribute the most to the spiritual welfare of God’s people and the advancement of the global preaching work.”
Stephen Lett of the Governing Body further explained on JW Broadcasting: “The Governing Body is so serious about advancing Kingdom interests in the field that we have reanalyzed ways we can cut back at all the branches so as to redirect more funds to the field. For example, many long-standing Bethel routines and services are being reduced or eliminated. This will result in fewer members of the Bethel family being required.”
Hence, since September 2015, some 5,500 members of the worldwide Bethel family have returned to the field. Although these changes have required big adjustments, Jehovah’s blessing has been evident, and the changes have invigorated the preaching and teaching work.
A couple in Sri Lanka who were assigned from Bethel to the field viewed the move as an opportunity to demonstrate their faith in Jehovah and their confidence in his organization. They wrote: “We were not sure what the road ahead would be like. But we knew for certain that Jehovah would not abandon us. So we prayed, ‘Please, Jehovah, whatever situation we have to face, help us to make adjustments so that both of us can serve as regular pioneers.’ During the first month, we had very little materially. However, we felt Jehovah’s love and care, and we now have a regular income to cover our expenses. We have a busy schedule including housework, secular employment, and pioneering. But we are able to manage our time well because of the training we received at Bethel. There is nothing more satisfying than helping people come to know the truth, and we are very happy that we can do this as pioneers.”
Some of the reassigned Bethelites in Colombia have learned a new language and have moved to distant areas to share the Kingdom message with isolated populations there. These brothers and sisters have been a blessing to their new congregations too. A circuit overseer wrote regarding a couple who were assigned to a congregation in the circuit he is serving: “Brothers and sisters in the congregation really appreciate their help. The congregation’s participation in the field ministry has improved, and local brothers are being trained to care for various responsibilities in the congregation.” Many former Bethelites have also made themselves available to serve at Bethel as part-time commuters one or more days a week.
A brother who had served at Bethel in Japan for 31 years was assigned to a congregation where there were only two elders. Since the congregation was scheduled to remodel the Kingdom Hall, he did not plan to do any secular work for two weeks. But just before the renovation, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit the Kumamoto area, where his congregation was situated. Because he had not scheduled his secular work, he was able to take the lead in the relief work and in the shepherding work following the earthquake. “Thinking back,” he says, “I can say that Jehovah put me in one of the places where the need would be greatest.”
Phil and Sugar, who had served in the Australasia branch, explain: “When we were reassigned, we were determined to keep a simple life. We prayed for Jehovah to give us guidance that would help us make gooddecisions and to bless any decision we made. All we wanted to do was make ourselves available for the ministry in a congregation in a foreign land. Jehovah surely has blessed our decisions and smoothed our path so that we can serve him whole-souled!” They now serve in an English group on Samal Island, Davao, Philippines, where there are 34 publishers and 9 regular pioneers. They now have about 120 addresses of interested persons to follow up on. “There is much enjoyable work to be done. We are happy that we relied fully on Jehovah. It has surely increased our faith and love for him!”
A single sister in Russia who was reassigned as a special pioneer relates: “Pioneer service allows me the opportunity to share more fully in the most important, never-to-be-repeated work of preaching about God’s Kingdom. I find much joy in being an instrument in Jehovah’s hands.” Currently she conducts six Bible studies. Her students include people from Iraq, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Syria, and Zambia.
Many Bethel family members in Zambia have been assigned as regular pioneers. They are finding it refreshing to have a greater share in the field ministry. “Within a short time after leaving Bethel, we helped two persons who were illiterate to read and write,” reports Andrew, who serves as a pioneer with his wife. “One of our students, a ten-year-old boy, will soon give his first assignment at the midweek meeting. One married couple to whom we witnessed attended theMemorial and have not missed the congregation meetings since. They are making excellent progress in their study of the Bible. We feel that all of this would not have been possible if we had not followed Jehovah’s direction, recognized his support, and waited for his blessing.”
Edson and Artness, who also live in Zambia, had been married for only a few months when they were reassigned to the field. Artness relates: “Our Bethel training has helped us to economize in the use of our limited resources and to remain happy and debt free. We do not regret having reached out for Bethel service. We have learned how to adjust spiritual goals and attain them with Jehovah’s help. Our faith in Jehovah has been refined, and we are prepared to continue being loyal to Jehovah.”