“THE harvest is great, but the workers are few. Therefore, beg the Master of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.” (Luke 10:2) These words spoken by Jesus some 2,000 years ago well describe the situation in Myanmar today. Why? In Myanmar, only some 4,200 publishers are spreading the good news among 55 million people.
However, “the Master of the harvest,” Jehovah, has touched the hearts of hundreds of brothers and sisters from different lands, and they have come to this country in Southeast Asia to assist in the spiritual harvest work. What caused them to leave their homeland? How were they helped to make the move? And what blessings are they enjoying? Let us find out.
“COME, WE NEED MORE PIONEERS!”
Some years ago, Kazuhiro, a pioneer in Japan, had an epileptic seizure, lost consciousness, and was taken to a hospital. The doctor told him not to drive for two years. Kazuhiro was shocked. ‘How can I keep on doing what I love—pioneering?’ he asked himself. He prayed fervently, begging Jehovah to open the way for him to continue serving as a pioneer.
Kazuhiro relates: “A month later, my friend who was serving in Myanmar heard of my plight. He called me and said: ‘In Myanmar the basic transportation is the bus. If you come here, you can continue your field service without the need of a car!’ I asked my doctor if my condition would allow me to go to Myanmar. To my surprise, the doctor said: ‘A brain specialist from Myanmar is visiting Japan right now. I will introduce you to him. If you ever again have a seizure, he can take care of you.’ I took the doctor’s reply as an answer from Jehovah.”
Immediately, Kazuhiro sent an e-mail to the Myanmar branch office and expressed his and his wife’s desire to serve in that land as pioneers. Just five days later, the branch responded, “Come, we need more pioneers!” Kazuhiro and his wife, Mari, sold their cars, obtained their visas, and bought plane tickets. Today, they happily serve with the sign-language group in Mandalay. Kazuhiro says: “Through this experience, we feel that our faith in God’s promise found at Psalm 37:5 has been strengthened: ‘Commit your way to Jehovah; rely on him, and he will act in your behalf.’”
JEHOVAH OPENS THE WAY
In 2014, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Myanmar had the privilege of hosting a special convention. A number of foreign delegates attended the event. One of them, Monique, a sister in her mid-30’s from the United States, says: “After returning from the convention, I prayed to Jehovah about the next step I needed to take in my life. Also, I talked with my parents about my spiritual goals. We all felt that I should return to Myanmar, but it took some time and many prayers before I reached my final decision.” Monique explains why.
“Jesus encouraged his followers to ‘calculate the expense.’ So I asked myself: ‘Can I afford to make this move? Will I be able to support myself in that country without spending more time on secular work?’” She admits: “I quickly realized that I didn’t have enough money to move to the other side of the world.” So, then, how was she able to move?—Luke 14:28.
Monique relates: “One day my employer asked to see me. I was nervous, thinking that I would be laid off. But, instead, my employer thanked me for my good work. Then she told me that she had arranged for me to receive a bonus, which turned out to be the exact amount of money that I needed to free myself of my financial obligations!”
Monique has been serving in Myanmar since December 2014. How does she feel about her ministry as a need-greater? “I am so happy to be here,” she says. “I am conducting three Bible studies. One of my students is 67 years old. She always greets me with a smile and a big hug. When she learned that God’s name is Jehovah, she was moved to tears. She said: ‘This is the first time in my life that I have heard that God’s name is Jehovah. You are a whole lifetime younger than I am, but you have taught me the most important thing I could ever learn.’ Needless to say, I too was in tears. Experiences such as this one make serving where the need is greater a very satisfying life.” Recently, Monique had the privilege of attending the School for Kingdom Evangelizers.
Another incentive for some to come to Myanmar was the 2013 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses account about this country. A sister in her early 30’s named Li already lived in Southeast Asia. She had a full-time job, but the Yearbook account prompted her to consider serving in Myanmar. “In 2014 when I attended the special convention in Yangon, I met a married couple serving as need-greaters in the Chinese field in Myanmar. Since I speak Chinese, I decided to move to Myanmar to support the Chinese group there. I teamed up with Monique, and we moved to Mandalay. Jehovah blessed us with finding part-time teaching jobs at the same school, and we found an apartment nearby. Despite the hot weather and some inconveniences, I enjoy my service here. People in Myanmar live a simple life, but they are polite and willing to take the time to listen to the good news. It is very exciting to see how Jehovah is speeding up the work. I firmly believe that it is Jehovah’s will for me to be right here in Mandalay.”
JEHOVAH HEARS PRAYERS
A number of need-greaters experienced the power of prayer. Take Jumpei and his wife, Nao, both in their mid-30’s. They were already serving in a sign-language congregation in Japan. Why did they move to Myanmar? Jumpei relates: “My wife and I always had the goal of serving as need-greaters in a foreign country. A brother from our sign-language congregation in Japan moved to Myanmar. Though we had only a small amount of money saved, in May 2010 we too moved. The brothers and sisters in Myanmar gave us a warm welcome!” How does he feel about the sign-language field in Myanmar? “The interest is great. When we show the sign-language videos, the deaf householders are amazed. We are so glad that we made the decision to come to serve Jehovah here!”
How have Jumpei and Nao coped financially? “After three years, we had used up most of our savings and did not have enough money to pay the rent for the next year. My wife and I said many earnest prayers. Unexpectedly, we received a letter from the branch office inviting us to take up temporary special pioneer service! We trusted in Jehovah, and we experienced that he did not abandon us. He has been caring for us in every way.” Recently, Jumpei and Nao also attended the School for Kingdom Evangelizers.
JEHOVAH MOTIVATES MANY
What prompted Simone, a brother in his mid-40’s, originally from Italy, and his wife, Anna, a sister in her late 30’s, originally from New Zealand, to move to Myanmar? “It was the 2013 Yearbook account on Myanmar!” answers Anna. Simone says: “It is a great privilege to be in Myanmar. Life here is so much simpler, and I can give more time to Jehovah’s work. It is thrilling to experience the care that Jehovah gives us when we serve in an area of greater need.” (Ps. 121:5) Anna says: “I am happier than I have ever been. We have a simple life. I spend more time with my husband, and we have become closer. We have also found precious new friends. People are not prejudiced toward the Witnesses, and the interest in the field is amazing!” In what ways?
Anna relates: “One day, I witnessed to a university student at the market and arranged to meet her again. When I did, she had brought a friend with her. The next time, she brought a few more. Later, she brought even more people. Now I am studying with five of them.” Simone says: “People in the field are friendly and curious. Many are interested. We simply don’t have enough time to take care of all the interest.”
But what about the practical steps involved in making the decision to move to Myanmar? Mizuho, from Japan, relates: “My husband, Sachio, and I always wanted to serve in a country where the need was greater—but where? After reading the 2013 Yearbook account about Myanmar, we were so touched by the heartwarming experiences that we began to consider if serving in Myanmar would be possible for us.” Adds Sachio: “We decided to make a one-week tour of Yangon, the main city in Myanmar, to spy out the land, so to speak. That short fact-finding trip convinced us that we should move here.”
CAN YOU RESPOND TO THE CALL?
Rodney and his wife, Jane, from Australia, both in their 50’s, and their son, Jordan, and daughter, Danica, have been serving as need-greaters in Myanmar since 2010. Rodney says: “We were deeply moved by the spiritual hunger of the people. I would absolutely recommend to other families that they try to serve in a place like Myanmar.” Why? “What this has done for our family spiritually is priceless! Many young ones are preoccupied with their phones, cars, jobs, and so on. Our children are busy learning new words to use in the ministry. They try to learn how to reason with those who are not familiar with the Bible and how to give an answer during the meetings of the local congregation, and they are absorbed in many other exciting spiritual activities.”
Oliver, a brother in his late 30’s from the United States, explains why he recommends this type of service: “Serving Jehovah outside my comfort zone has had many benefits. Moving away from home helped me to build my confidence and trust in Jehovah no matter what circumstances I find myself in. Serving with those whom I had not known before but who have the same beliefs that I do has really helped me to see that there is simply nothing in this world that compares in importance to God’s Kingdom.” Today, Oliver and his wife, Anna, continue to serve zealously in the Chinese-language field.
Trazel, a sister in her early 50’s from Australia, has been serving in Myanmar since 2004. She says: “To those whose circumstances allow, I highly recommend serving where the need is greater. I have experienced that if you have the will to serve, Jehovah blesses your efforts. I never dreamed I would be living like this. It is the most rewarding and satisfying life I could ever wish for.”
May these heartfelt words of need-greaters in Myanmar encourage you to consider helping honesthearted people in untouched territories. Yes, the need-greaters are calling out, “Please, step over into Myanmar and help us!”