BEFORE going back to heaven, Jesus told his disciples: “You will be witnesses of me . . . to the most distant part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) How would it be possible for them to preach all over the earth?
Martin Goodman, a professor at Oxford University, says that the “sense of mission set Christians apart from other religious groups, including Jews, in the early Roman empire.” Jesus went from place to place to preach. True Christians had to imitate his example and preach “the good news of the Kingdom of God” everywhere. They had to look for people who wanted to know the truth. (Luke 4:43) That is why in the first century, there were “apostles,” a word that means those who are sent out to do something. (Mark 3:14) Jesus commanded his followers: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of people of all the nations.”
The 12 apostles of Jesus are not on earth anymore, but many servants of Jehovah imitate their example in the ministry. When they are invited to preach where there is a greater need, they say: “Here I am! Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8) Some, such as thousands who have graduated from Gilead School, have moved to faraway countries. Others have moved to another area in their own country. Many have learned a new language to help a congregation or a group. It was not always easy, but all these brothers and sisters were willing to make sacrifices to show their love for Jehovah and for people. So they planned carefully and used their time, energy, and money to help preach where there is a greater need. (Luke 14:28-30) What these brothers and sisters are doing is very valuable.
Not all of us can move where the need is greater or learn a new language. But all of us can be like missionaries in our own congregation.
BE A MISSIONARY IN YOUR OWN CONGREGATION
In the first century, Christians were zealous in the preaching work even though most of them stayed in their hometown and were not missionaries. Paul told Timothy: “Do the work of an evangelizer, fully accomplish your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:5) These words applied to the first Christians, and they still apply to us today. All Christians must obey the command to preach the Kingdom message and to make disciples. And even in our own congregation, there are many ways we can be like missionaries.
For example, when missionaries move to another country, things are very different, and they need to find ways to adapt to the new way of life. Even if we cannot move to where the need is greater, can we find new ways to preach to people? For example, in 1940, our brothers were first encouraged to do street witnessing one day every week. Have you tried to do street witnessing? Have you ever used literature display carts? The point is, Are you willing to try new ways of preaching the good news?
If you have a positive attitude, you will be zealous and enthusiastic for the ministry. Those who move where the need is greater or who learn a new language are often very qualified publishers and can be a great help to the congregation. For example, they take the lead in the preaching work. Missionaries also often take the lead in the congregation until local brothers are qualified to do so. If you are a baptized brother, are you “reaching out,” that is, are you willing to serve the brothers and sisters in your congregation as a ministerial servant or as an elder?
BE “A STRENGTHENING AID”
We can also help our congregation in other ways. All of us, young and old, brothers and sisters, can be “a strengthening aid” to fellow believers in need.
If we want to help our brothers and sisters, we need to know them well. The Bible encourages us to “consider one another,” or to think about the needs of our brothers and sisters, when we meet together. (Hebrews 10:24) This does not mean that we should try to learn details about the personal lives of others. It means that we should try to understand our brothers and sisters and what they need. They may need practical help, emotional support, or encouragement from the Bible. It is true that in some cases only elders and ministerial servants can help them. (Galatians 6:1) But all of us may be able to help elderly brothers and sisters, or entire families, who are facing problems.
Salvatore received that kind of help. Because of serious financial problems, he had to sell his business, his home, and many things his family owned. He worried a lot about his family. Another family in the congregation saw that they needed help. They gave Salvatore some money and helped him and his wife to find work. They also spent many evenings with his family listening to them and encouraging them. They became very good friends. Now the two families have happy memories of the time they spent together during that very difficult time.
True Christians do not hesitate to share their beliefs with others. We must imitate Jesus and let everyone know about the wonderful promises God has made. Whether we can move or not, all of us can do our best to help others in our own congregation. (Galatians 6:10) When we give to others, we will be happy and we will “go on bearing fruit in every good work.”