UNTIL about five years ago, Choong Keon and Julie, a married couple now in their mid-30’s, served as regular pioneers in Sydney, Australia. “We had part-time secular work and lived a comfortable life,” relates Choong Keon. “Where we lived, the weather was great and the lifestyle easygoing. We enjoyed being close to our family and friends.” Still, Choong Keon and Julie felt uneasy. Why? They knew that their circumstances allowed them to do more in Jehovah’s service, but they hesitated to make the needed changes.
Then, at a convention in 2009, they heard a talk that touched them deeply. The speaker directed his words to those who could expand their ministry. He said: “Think of this: A driver can make his car turn left or right but only if the car is moving. Similarly, Jesus may direct us in expanding our ministry but only if we are moving
“Following that convention,” relates Julie, “we prayed to Jehovah to give us the courage to take the step to move to Taiwan.” She adds: “But we were scared. It felt as if we were about to jump into a pool at the deep end for the first time.” A scripture that helped them to make that “jump” was Ecclesiastes 11:4, which states: “The one who watches the wind will not sow seed, and the one who looks at the clouds will not reap.” Says Choong Keon: “We made up our minds to stop ‘watching and looking’ and to start ‘sowing and reaping’ instead.” They prayed
DISCOVERING THE JOY OF PREACHING
More than 100 brothers and sisters from foreign countries are currently serving in Taiwan in areas where the need for Kingdom publishers is great. They have come from Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Japan, Korea, Spain, and the United States, and they vary in age from 21 to 73. Among them are more than 50 single sisters. What has helped these zealous brothers and sisters to carry out their ministry in a foreign country? Let us find out.
Laura, a single sister from Canada, serves as a pioneer in western Taiwan. But until some ten years ago, she did not like the preaching work at all. Laura explains, “I went out in the ministry only just enough not to like it.” Then friends in Canada asked her to go with them to Mexico to share in the preaching work for a month. “That was the first time I spent any real amount of time in service, and to my surprise it was wonderful!”
That pleasant experience motivated Laura to consider moving to a foreign-language congregation in Canada. She enrolled in a Chinese-language course, served with a Chinese group, and set the goal of moving to Taiwan, which goal she realized in September 2008. “It took me about a year to feel comfortable in my new surroundings,” says Laura, “but now I can’t imagine going back to Canada.” How does she feel about the preaching work? “It’s a joy,” she says. “There’s nothing more satisfying than to see how Bible students change their life as they come to know Jehovah. Serving in Taiwan has given me the opportunity to taste that deep joy many times.”
DEALING WITH THE LANGUAGE BARRIER
Brian and Michelle, a couple in their mid-30’s from the United States, moved to Taiwan about eight years ago. At first, they felt that they had no meaningful share in the ministry. But an experienced missionary told them: “Even if you can only hand a tract to someone, you should remember that it will likely be the very first time that person receives a message about Jehovah. So you’re already having an important share in the ministry!” That encouraging comment greatly helped Brian and Michelle not to give up. Another brother told them: “To avoid discouragement, measure your progress in learning Chinese, not from day to day, but from assembly to assembly.” And indeed, they progressed and are proving to be effective pioneers today.
What may motivate you to take on the task of learning a foreign language? Try to visit the country where you would like to serve. Go to the meetings, associate with the local brothers and sisters, and accompany them in the preaching work. Says Brian: “After you observe that so many respond favorably to the Kingdom message and you experience the warm love of the brothers and sisters, you will be moved to take on the challenges of serving in a foreign land.”
WHAT ABOUT SECULAR WORK?
Several “need greaters” in Taiwan have been able to support themselves as pioneers by teaching English. Kristin and Michelle sell seafood. Kristin explains, “I had never done that before, but this line of work helps me to be able to stay in the country.” In time, Kristin found some regular customers. This part-time job enables him to support himself and his wife financially, and it leaves them enough time to spend in their primary activity
“ENJOY THE JOURNEY”
William and Jennifer, a couple from the United States, arrived in Taiwan about seven years ago. “Learning the language, serving as pioneers, caring for the congregation, and looking after some financial matters have, at times, been exhausting,” says William. What has helped them to succeed and stay happy? They try to set reasonable goals. For instance, by not setting their expectations too high while they were learning Chinese, they did not become overly discouraged when progress was slow.
William recalls that a traveling overseer once told him, “Enjoy the journey, not just the destination.” In other words, after setting a spiritual goal, we should enjoy the steps we take that lead to fulfilling the goal. Applying that advice, says William, helped him and his wife to be flexible, to listen to the counsel of the responsible local brothers, and to adjust their way of doing things so that they could make a success of their ministry in a new land. He adds, “It also helped us to remember to take some time to enjoy the natural beauty of our island assignment.”
Like William and Jennifer, Megan, a single pioneer sister from the United States, is ‘enjoying her journey’ while trying to reach her goal of speaking Chinese more fluently. Every weekend she joins a group of publishers who preach in a fascinating territory
SAFE, SIMPLE, AND EXCITING
Before Cathy, from Britain, moved abroad, she researched which foreign assignment would be safe for a single sister. She mentioned her concerns in prayer to Jehovah and wrote letters to several branch offices, inquiring about the possible dangers for single sisters. After that, she carefully considered the replies to her letters and concluded that Taiwan would be a suitable choice for her.
In 2004, at age 31, Cathy moved to Taiwan, where she lives as simply as she can. She relates: “I asked the brothers and sisters where the best places are to buy fruits and vegetables at low prices. Their good advice helped me to stretch my savings.” What helps her to maintain a simple life? Cathy says: “I often pray to Jehovah to help me be content with the simple food I eat and the modest clothes I wear. I feel that Jehovah answers my prayers by teaching me what my needs are and by helping me not to miss my wants.” She adds: “I enjoy my simple lifestyle because it helps me to focus on spiritual concerns.”
Cathy’s life, though, is not only simple but also exciting. She explains why: “I am able to preach in an area where many people respond to the good news. That’s a real joy!” When she arrived in Taiwan, there were two Chinese congregations in the city where she began serving as a pioneer, but today there are seven congregations. Says Cathy: “To see close up such amazing growth and to share in bringing in the harvest makes my daily life buzz with excitement!”
“THEY NEEDED EVEN ME!”
How have things turned out for Choong Keon and Julie, mentioned in the introduction? Choong Keon initially felt that his limited Chinese made him of little use in the congregation. But the local brothers felt otherwise. “When our congregation was divided into two congregations, I was given many additional responsibilities as a ministerial servant,” says Choong Keon. “At that moment, I really felt that I was serving where the need was greater. It was so great,” he says with a smile, “that they needed even me!” Today, he serves as an elder. Adds Julie: “We feel a sense of accomplishment, satisfaction, and happiness that we have never felt before. We came here to help, but we feel that we have been helped by this exciting experience. We thank Jehovah for allowing us to serve here!”
In many lands, there is still a need for more workers in the spiritual harvest. Are you finishing your secular schooling and wondering what to do with your life? Are you single and desirous of being more useful in Jehovah’s organization? Would you like to give your family a rich spiritual heritage? Are you retired, having a lifetime of valuable experience to share with others? You can be sure that rich blessings await you if you decide to expand your ministry by serving where there is a greater need for Kingdom publishers.
^ par. 3 See the book “Bearing Thorough Witness” About God’s Kingdom, chapter 16, paragraphs 5-6.