PROFILE A polio victim who became a regular pioneer.
I GREW up crippled from the waist down, and I lived in a compound in Freetown with my mother and several other poverty-stricken families. Ashamed and afraid of how strangers might view me, I ventured outside the compound only once in 18 years.
When I was 18 years old, Pauline Landis, a Witness missionary, called at my compound and offered to teach me the Bible. When I told her that I could not read or write, Pauline said that she would teach me that too. So I agreed.
What I learned from the Bible filled me with joy. One day, I asked Pauline if I could attend a congregation meeting in a home about a block away. “I’ll walk there on my wooden walking blocks,” I said.
When Pauline came to pick me up, my mother and my neighbors watched me apprehensively. Gripping my wooden walking blocks, I reached forward and placed them on the ground. Then I swung my body up and past the blocks. As I made my way across the courtyard, my neighbors yelled at Pauline: “You are forcing her. She has tried to walk before and failed.”
“Jay, do you want to come?” asked Pauline gently.
“Yes!” I replied. “This is my decision.”
My neighbors watched quietly as I approached the gate. When I exited the compound, they erupted in cheers.
How I enjoyed that meeting! Next, I was determined to get to the Kingdom Hall. That involved “walking” to the end of the street, taking a taxi ride, and then getting brothers to carry me up a steep hill. I often arrived wet and muddy and had to change my clothes at the hall. Later, a sister in Switzerland kindly sent me a wheelchair, which allowed me to travel with dignity.
Reading the experiences of other disabled Witnesses motivated me to serve Jehovah more fully. In 1988, I became a regular pioneer. I prayed to Jehovah to help me reach my goal, which was to help someone in my family and someone in my territory to become a servant of Jehovah. My prayers were answered when I was able to help two of my nephews and a woman I met while street witnessing learn the truth.
Now my arms have lost their strength, and I depend on others to wheel me around. I also suffer from chronic pain. But I have found that one remedy for pain is teaching others about Jehovah. The joy it gives me eases my pain and comforts me because Jehovah raised me up, and now I lead a purposeful life.