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They Serve the Christian Brotherhood on an International Scale

They Serve the Christian Brotherhood on an International Scale

 They Serve the Christian Brotherhood on an International Scale

HAVE you heard of the terms “international servants” and “international volunteers”? Witnesses of Jehovah who make up these groups volunteer their time and skills to help in the construction of facilities that print and distribute the Bible’s Kingdom message. Such volunteers also help in the construction of Assembly Halls and Kingdom Halls, which serve as centers of Bible instruction. Presently, these volunteers assist with construction projects in 34 different countries, mainly in lands with limited resources. What special challenges and joys do such ministers experience as they serve the Christian brotherhood on an international scale? How do they feel about the “sacred service” they perform? (Revelation 7:9, 15) To find out, let us meet some volunteers who served in Mexico.

Volunteers from abroad first arrived in Mexico in May 1992. Soon thereafter, they took the lead in expanding the branch, which supervises the activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Mexico. The expansion consisted of 14 newly constructed buildings, including residences for volunteers serving at the branch office, a printery, and an office building.

To assist in this construction project, more than 730 volunteers from Canada, Great Britain, the United States, and other countries served shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of volunteers from all parts of Mexico. In addition, over 28,000 Witnesses associated with some 1,600 congregations located in the general area of the branch office assisted with the construction activities during the weekends. All served with a willing spirit and freely offered their skills. They counted it a privilege to serve Jehovah in this way. Throughout the building project, they kept in mind the inspired words found at Psalm 127:1: “Unless Jehovah himself builds the house, it is to no avail that its builders have worked hard on it.”

Challenges They Face

What are the challenges that international volunteers face while they serve in a foreign assignment? Here are some of their  observations. Curtis and Sally, a couple from the United States, have helped with construction projects in Germany, India, Mexico, Paraguay, Romania, Russia, Senegal, and Zambia. Curtis relates: “The first challenge was leaving our daughter, who served as a pioneer [full-time minister], and our home congregation in Minnesota. My wife and I were associated with that congregation for 24 years, and we felt very comfortable there.”

Sally notes: “Living under unfamiliar conditions is a challenge, perhaps even more so for a woman than for a man, but I learned that it is possible to adjust. I even learned to put up with insects, lots of them!” She adds: “In one country, ten of us volunteers shared an apartment without a kitchen and with only two bathrooms. There I learned to be more patient.”

Learning a new language is another challenge that requires effort and humility. Sharon, who has served with her husband on construction projects in different countries, says: “Not knowing the language of the country where you serve is a challenge. In the beginning, it is hard to draw close to your spiritual brothers and sisters when you cannot freely express your feelings. That is frustrating. But the brothers whom we meet in our foreign assignments are very patient with us and are deeply interested in our well-being. Before long, we are somehow communicating.”

Sharing in the Ministry Takes Courage

While such self-sacrificing volunteers contribute much to the progress of the construction work, they realize that they are, first and foremost, preachers of the good news of God’s Kingdom. Therefore, they fully support the preaching work being carried out by the congregations with which they associate. Åke and Ing-Mari, a couple who assisted with construction projects in Guadeloupe,  Malawi, Mexico, and Nigeria, admit that using another language when sharing in the field ministry in a foreign country takes courage.

Ing-Mari relates: “At first our participation was limited, since we always accompanied local Witnesses and, out of embarrassment, often let them do the talking. However, one morning we decided to go out in the field service by ourselves. We set out on shaky legs and with rapidly beating hearts. We met a young woman who listened to my prepared presentation. I read a scripture and placed some literature. Then the woman said: ‘Tell me something. I have a relative who studies the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. How can I too get a study?’ I was speechless. Then I composed myself and offered her a Bible study.”

Ing-Mari adds: “Imagine my joy and my gratitude to Jehovah for blessing our initiative and our desire to share the truth.” This woman made good progress and was baptized as a Witness at a district convention in Mexico City. Åke and Ing-Mari summarize their ministry this way: “We very much value our assignments on the different construction projects, but nothing surpasses the joy and satisfaction of helping a person embrace the truth.”

A Self-Sacrificing Spirit

True, volunteers who leave family and friends make sacrifices to serve their brothers in foreign lands, but they also experience unsurpassed joys. What are they?

Howard, who has served with his wife, Pamela, in Angola, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guyana, Mexico, and Puerto Rico explains: “It is a privilege to meet brothers and sisters in different countries and to experience firsthand the bond of love that exists in our international brotherhood. We often read about it, but when you live and serve with others from different cultures and backgrounds, you appreciate our precious brotherhood even more.”

Gary, who has helped with construction projects in Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, and Zambia, also feels that this program has benefited him greatly. He relates: “The training I received over the years by association with mature brothers serving at the branches in the countries to which I have been assigned has helped me to be better equipped for challenges in my assignments. It has been faith-strengthening because it provides an opportunity to experience the unity that characterizes Jehovah’s worldwide organization​—a unity that transcends differences in language, race, or culture.”

Meanwhile, construction activity in Mexico was completed, and the expanded branch facilities were dedicated this year. Motivated by their love for God, international servants and international volunteers have greatly contributed to the expansion of true worship in Mexico and elsewhere. Their willing and self-sacrificing spirit to serve their Christian brothers on an international scale is much appreciated by Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world.

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Work begins on the new facilities at the Mexico branch

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The garden at the branch

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Below: Some members of the Construction Department in front of part of the new facilities

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Construction volunteers enjoy supporting the preaching work with local congregations