“Now I Love the Ministry!”
I GREW up in the country town of Balclutha, on the South Island of New Zealand. As a child, I felt close to Jehovah and loved being in the truth. The meetings were never a chore, and the congregation was a warm haven where I felt safe and happy. Although I was not outgoing by nature, I enjoyed sharing in the ministry each week. I didn’t hold back from preaching to my schoolmates and others. I was proud to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and at 11 years of age, I dedicated my life to God.
I LOSE MY JOY
Sadly, as I entered the teenage years, my warm relationship with Jehovah cooled off. My schoolmates seemed to have almost limitless freedom, and I thought I was missing out. I felt burdened by parental rules and Christian standards, and spiritual activity seemed like hard work. Although I never questioned Jehovah’s existence, I started to feel spiritually hollow.
Yet, I avoided becoming inactive by giving Jehovah token service. When I did go witnessing, I was never prepared, so I struggled to start or hold a conversation. As a result, my ministry was unproductive and joyless, which only added to my negativity. I would ask myself, ‘How can anyone do this week after week, month after month?’
By the time I turned 17, I had an overwhelming desire for independence. So I packed my bags, left home, and moved to Australia. Seeing me leave was hard for my parents. They were concerned, but theythought that I would keep up with my spiritual routine.
In Australia, my spirituality waned even more. My meeting attendance became sporadic. I gravitated toward young ones who, like me, were happy to attend a meeting one night but then go out drinking and dancing in nightclubs the next. Looking back, I realize that I had one foot in the truth and one in the world, but I didn’t really feel that I belonged in either.
AN UNEXPECTED YET VALUABLE LESSON
About two years later, I briefly met a sister who unknowingly made me start thinking about where my life was going. I was living in a house with five single sisters, and we invited the circuit overseer and his wife, Tamara, to stay in our home for a week. While her husband attended to congregation matters, Tamara spent time with us girls and laughed along with us. I liked that. She was so down-to-earth and easy to talk to. I found it amazing that someone so spiritual could be so much fun.
Tamara bubbled over with enthusiasm. Her love for the truth and for the ministry was contagious. She was delighted in giving Jehovah her best, while I was unhappy giving him token service. Her positive demeanor and genuine happiness had a profound impact on my life. Her example drew my attention to a fundamental Scriptural truth: Jehovah desires that all of us serve him “with rejoicing” and “with joyful shouting.”—Ps. 100:2.
REKINDLING MY LOVE FOR THE MINISTRY
I wanted the kind of joy that Tamara had, but to get that joy, I needed to make some big changes. It took time, but I eventually started to take small steps. I began preparing for the ministry, and I auxiliary pioneered from time to time. This helped me to ease my nervousness and feel more confident. As I used the Bible more oftenin the ministry, I experienced a real sense of satisfaction. Soon I was auxiliary pioneering every month.
I began to be drawn to friends of all ages who were doing well in the truth and who enjoyed their service to Jehovah. Their good example helped me to reevaluate my priorities and to develop a good spiritual routine. I began to enjoy the ministry even more, and eventually I started to serve as a regular pioneer. For the first time in years, I felt stable and happy and right at home in the congregation.
I FIND A PERMANENT PIONEER PARTNER
A year later, I met Alex, a kind, genuine person who loved Jehovah and the ministry. He was serving as a ministerial servant and had been pioneering for six years. Alex had also served for some time where the need was greater in Malawi. There he associated with missionaries who left a lasting impression on him and encouraged him to continue keeping Kingdom interests in first place.
In 2003, Alex and I got married, and we have continued in the full-time ministry ever since. We have learned many wonderful lessons, and Jehovah has blessed us in countless ways.
A DOORWAY TO FURTHER BLESSINGS
In 2009, we were invited to serve as missionaries in Timor-Leste, a small country in the Indonesian archipelago. We were stunned, excited, and apprehensive all at the same time. Five months later, we arrived in the national capital Dili.
The move involved major changes in our lifestyle. We had to adapt to the new culture, language, food, and living conditions. In the ministry, we were often confronted *with the effects of poverty, poor education, and oppression. And we saw many who bore the physical and emotional scars of war and violence.
The ministry was incredible! For example, I once met a sad 13-year-old girl named Maria. * Her mother had died a few years earlier, and she rarely saw her father. Like many children her age, Maria had no direction in life. I remember one occasion when she cried as she poured out her feelings. However, I had no idea what she was saying because I could not yet speak her language fluently. I prayed to Jehovah, asking him to help me encourage her, and then I began reading upbuilding scriptures to her. Over the next few years, I saw the truth transform Maria’s demeanor, appearance, and life. She got baptized, and now she conducts her own Bible studies. Today, Maria has a big spiritual family and has found a new sense of belonging.
Jehovah is blessing the work in Timor-Leste. Although most publishers have been baptized in just the last ten years, many serve as pioneers, ministerial servants, or elders. Others work in the remote translation office and assist in producing spiritual food in local languages. It made me so happy to hear them sing at meetings, see the smiles on their faces, and observe their spiritual growth.
I COULD NOT IMAGINE A MORE ENJOYABLE LIFE
Our assignment in Timor-Leste was very different from life in Australia, but I could not have imagined a more enjoyable life. Sometimes we were packed into a little bus full of people, along with dried fish and piles of vegetables from the local market. On some days, we would conduct a Bible study in a hot and humid little home that had dirt floors and chickens running around. Yet, despite the challenges, I often thought, ‘This is awesome!’
Looking back, I am thankful that my parents did their best to teach me Jehovah’s ways and supported me, even during my difficult teen years. Proverbs 22:6 has proved true in my case. Both Mum and Dad are proud of Alex and me; they are happy to see us being used by Jehovah. Since 2016 we have been serving in the circuit work in the Australasia branch territory.
It seems hard to believe that I once found the preaching work to be a chore. Now I love the ministry! I have come to realize that regardless of life’s ups and downs, true joy comes only from serving God wholeheartedly. Indeed, the last 18 years of serving Jehovah with Alex have been the happiest years of my life. I now understand the truthfulness of what the psalmist David said to Jehovah: “All those who take refuge in you will rejoice; they will always shout joyfully. . . . And those loving your name will rejoice in you.”—Ps. 5:11.