Kingdom Proclaimers Report
‘Step Over and Help Us’
IN JULY 2000, a call went out in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland for German-speaking Witnesses to move to Bolivia. Why? Because in isolated farming colonies within a 180-mile [300 km] radius of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, German-speaking Mennonites were showing keen interest in the Bible.
About 140 Witnesses responded to the invitation. Some went for a few weeks, others for a year or more. In so doing, they displayed a spirit similar to that of first-century missionaries who heeded the call: “Step over into Macedonia and help us.”—Acts 16:9, 10.
What is it like to work in that territory? An elder in the local congregation explains: “Traveling to one of the 43 Mennonite colonies can take as long as eight hours over dirt roads in a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Visiting the more distant points often requires four days and sleeping in tents some nights. But it is certainly worth the effort, for hardly any of these people have ever heard the good news before.”
At first, many of the Mennonites did not welcome the visits. But repeated efforts have helped them to appreciate what the Witnesses have to offer. For example, one farmer said that he had been reading the Awake! magazine for a year. Then he added: “I know that many people here don’t agree with what you say, but I believe it is the truth.” In another colony, a man said: “Some of my neighbors say that you are false prophets, others say that you have the truth. I want to find out for myself.”
There is now a German-speaking congregation in Bolivia, with 35 publishers, including 14 full-time evangelizers. To date, 14 former Mennonites have become Kingdom proclaimers, and 9 others attend meetings regularly. One older man who was recently baptized said: “We clearly see Jehovah’s direction. He has sent experienced, German-speaking brothers and sisters to help us. We are very grateful.” The man’s 17-year-old daughter, who is also baptized, added: “The enthusiasm of the young brothers and sisters who have come here is contagious. Most of them are pioneers, spending their time and money to help others. It makes me want to do the same.”
Truly, those who reached out to “step over” to help are reaping great joy and satisfaction.