FIRST-CENTURY Christians made great efforts to reach as many people as possible with the “good news of the Kingdom.” (Matt. 24:14) Some even traveled to foreign countries. For example, the apostle Paul went to the region where modern-day Turkey is situated and preached there extensively during his missionary journeys. * Some 2,000 years later, in 2014, Turkey was once again the focus of a special preaching campaign. Why was the campaign organized? Who shared in it?
“WHAT’S GOING ON?”
There are over 2,800 publishers in Turkey, but the country has a population of 79 million. This means that the publisher-to-population ratio in Turkey is nearly 1 to 28,000. As you can imagine, the publishers have been able to contact only a small number of the inhabitants of this country. The aim of the special preaching campaign was to reach as many people as possible in a short time. About 550 Turkish-speaking brothers and sisters from other countries traveled to Turkey and preached alongside the local publishers during the campaign. What was achieved?
A widespread witness was given. One congregation in Istanbul wrote: “When people saw us, they asked: ‘Is there a special convention here? We see Jehovah’s Witnesses everywhere!’” A congregation in the city of Izmir wrote: “A man working at a taxi stand approached a local elder and asked, ‘What’s going on? Have you increased your activity?’” Yes, the campaign was noticed.
The foreign participants thoroughly enjoyed the preaching work. Steffen, who is from Denmark, said: “Every day, I was able to preach to people who had never heard about Jehovah. I felt that I was really making Jehovah’s name known.” Jean-David from France wrote: “We preached on just one street for hours. It was wonderful! Most people didn’t know Jehovah’s Witnesses. At almost every door, we were able to start a conversation, show one of our videos, and leave literature with the householder.”
The 550 participants placed about 60,000 pieces of literature in just two weeks! The campaign did indeed result in a widespread witness.
Zeal for the ministry increased. The special activity had a motivating effect on the local brothers. Many started thinking about full-time service. In fact, the number of regular pioneers in Turkey increased by 24 percent during the 12 months following the campaign.
Participants from abroad expressed how the campaign affected their ministry even after they returned to their home countries. Şirin, a sister from Germany, wrote: “The brothers in Turkey witness informally with great ease. I am very shy when it comes to preaching informally. But thanks to the special campaign, the example of the local brothers, and many prayers, I was able to do what I couldn’t do before. I even preached and placed tracts in the subway! Now I am not as shy as before.”
“I learned some lessons for my own ministry,” said Johannes from Germany. “The brothers in Turkey really want to share the truth with as many people as possible. They give a witness at every opportunity. I decided to do the same when I returned to Germany. And now I really do preach to more people than before.”
“This campaign affected my personal ministry a lot. It helped me to be more courageous and to trust more in Jehovah,” commented Zeynep from France.
The publishers drew closer to one another. The love and unity among the brothers from different countries made a lasting impression. “We ‘tasted’ the brothers’ hospitality,” said Jean-David, mentioned earlier. He added: “They accepted us as their friends and as part of their family. They opened their homes to us. I knew that we are an international brotherhood; I had read it many times in our literature. But this time, I experienced it firsthand. I felt even more proud of being one of Jehovah’s people, and I thank him for this wonderful privilege.”
“Whether from Denmark, France, Germany, or Turkey, we were all one family. It was as if God had rubbed out all the national borders with a big eraser,” said Claire from France.
Stéphanie from France added: “The special campaign taught us that what unites us is not the culture or language but the love for Jehovah that we have in common.”
THERE HAVE BEEN LONG-TERM BENEFITS
Many of the foreign participants began to think about moving to Turkey to help with the tremendous work still to be done there. Quite a few have already moved. These need-greaters are very much appreciated.
Take, for example, a small isolated group of 25 publishers in one area. For many years, there was only one elder. Imagine the joy of the publishers when in 2015, six need-greaters from Germany and the Netherlands moved in to support them!
SERVING AT THE FRONT LINE
What do need-greaters who have been in Turkey for a while say about their life there? Granted, at times it is challenging, but life as a need-greater is very rewarding. Consider what some have said:
“Not having many material possessions to be attached to helps me to feel free, and it allows me to concentrate on the most important things,” says Federico, a married brother in his early 40’s who moved from Spain. Would he recommend this type of service? “Yes, absolutely!” he says. “When you move abroad with the purpose of helping people to get to know Jehovah, you are in reality putting yourself in his hands. You really feel Jehovah’s care more than ever.”
“It gives us tremendous satisfaction to serve at the front line, so to speak, and to share the truth with so many people who have never heard about it before,” says Rudy, a married brother in his late 50’s from the Netherlands. “Seeing the happiness of people when they accept the truth is a great source of joy.”
Sascha, a married brother in his early 40’s who moved from Germany, says: “Every time I am in the ministry, I meet people who are hearing the truth for the very first time. Giving such ones the opportunity to get to know Jehovah gives me tremendous satisfaction.”
Atsuko, a married sister in her mid-30’s from Japan, states: “In the past, I always wanted Armageddon to come immediately. But after having moved to Turkey, I thank Jehovah that he is still showing patience. The more I see how Jehovah directs matters, the more I desire to draw closer to him.”
Alisa, a sister in her early 30’s from Russia, comments: “Serving Jehovah in this kind of ministry has helped me to taste all his goodness.” (Ps. 34:8) She adds: “Jehovah is not only my Father but also my close Friend, whom I get to know better under different circumstances. My life is full of happy moments, exciting experiences, and generous blessings!”
“VIEW THE FIELDS”
By means of the special preaching campaign in Turkey, the good news reached many more people. Yet, there is still a vast untouched territory. Every day, need-greaters who moved to Turkey meet people who have never heard about Jehovah. Would you like to serve in such a territory? If so, we encourage you: “Lift up your eyes and view the fields, that they are white for harvesting.” (John 4:35) Could you assist in a part of the world where the fields are “white for harvesting”? If so, begin taking practical steps now toward reaching that goal. One thing is sure: Having an increased share in spreading the good news “to the most distant part of the earth” will bring you rich blessings beyond compare!—Acts 1:8.
^ par. 2 See the brochure “See the Good Land,” pp. 32-33.