DO YOU know a brother or a sister who moved to a foreign country where there is a greater need for more Kingdom publishers? We often say that such Witnesses are need-greaters. Have you ever asked yourself: ‘What motivates them to serve abroad? How do they prepare themselves for this type of service? Would I be able to share in it?’ A good way to get answers to such questions is, of course, to talk to these brothers and sisters. So let us do that.
WHAT MOTIVATES THEM?
What caused you to start thinking about serving in a foreign country where there is a greater need? Amy, now in her mid-30’s, comes from the United States. She relates: “For years, I thought about serving in a foreign country, but it seemed to be a goal beyond my reach.” What changed her view? “In 2004 a married couple serving in Belize invited me to visit them and to pioneer with them for one month. I did
Some years ago, Stephanie, now in her late 20’s and also from the United States, took a close look at her circumstances and thought: ‘I’m in good health and have no family obligations. Really, I could be doing much more for Jehovah than I’m doing right now.’ That honest self-evaluation motivated her to move to Ghana to expand her ministry. Filip and Ida, a middle-aged pioneer couple from Denmark, always dreamed of moving to a territory where the need is greater. They searched for ways to make their dream come true. “When the opportunity presented itself,” says Filip, “it was as if Jehovah told us: ‘Go ahead!’” In 2008 they moved to Ghana and served there for more than three years.
Hans and Brook, a pioneer couple in their 30’s, are serving in the United States. In 2005 they assisted with disaster relief in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Later, they applied to help with international construction projects but were not invited. “Then,” recalls Hans, “we heard a convention talk in which it was mentioned that King David accepted that he would not be allowed to build the temple, so he changed his goal. That point helped us to see that it is all right to change one’s theocratic goals.” (1 Chron. 17:1-4, 11, 12; 22:5-11) Adds Brook, “Jehovah wanted us to knock on another door.”
After hearing fascinating experiences from their friends who served in other countries, Hans and Brook were motivated to try pioneering abroad. In 2012 they went to Ghana and were able to serve there for four months, assisting a sign-language congregation. Though they had to return to the United States, the experience of serving in Ghana deepened their desire to keep Kingdom interests first in life. They have since helped with a branch construction project in Micronesia.
TAKING STEPS TO REACH THEIR GOAL
How did you prepare for serving where the need is greater? “I did research in Watchtower articles related to serving where the need is greater,” says Stephanie. * “I also talked with the congregation elders and the circuit overseer and his wife about my desire to serve abroad. Above all, I often mentioned my goal in prayer to Jehovah.” At the same time, Stephanie kept her life simple, which allowed her to set aside funds to support herself while serving abroad.
Hans relates: “We prayed to Jehovah for guidance because we wanted to go where he directed us. We also included in our prayers the specific date we were going to put our plan into action.” The couple sent letters to four branch offices. After they received a very positive response from the branch in Ghana, they traveled there, intending to visit for two months. “We enjoyed working with the congregation so much,” says Hans, “that we extended our stay.”
George and Adria, a couple in their late 30’s from Canada, kept in mind that Jehovah blesses good decisions, not merely good intentions. So they took decisive steps to reach their goal. They contacted a sister who was serving where the need is greater in Ghana and asked her many questions. They also wrote to the branch in Canada and to the branch in Ghana. “And,” says Adria, “we looked for ways to simplify our life even more than we had already done.” Those decisions enabled them to move to Ghana in 2004.
What challenges did you encounter after you moved, and how did you cope with them? For Amy, her initial challenge was homesickness. “Everything was so different from what I was used to.” What helped her? “Calls from family members who said how much they appreciated my service helped me to keep in mind why I had decided to move. My family and I later started to use video chats. Because we could see one another, my family did not seem to be so far away.” Amy relates that befriending an experienced local sister helped her to gain insight into different customs. “My friend became my go-to person whenever I did not understand why people reacted in certain ways. With her help, I learned what to do and what to avoid, which was very beneficial in carrying out my ministry with joy.”
George and Adria relate that when they first moved to Ghana, they felt as if they had gone back in time. “Instead of using a washing machine, we used buckets. Preparing a meal seemed to take ten times longer than we were used to,” says Adria. “But after a while, the somewhat difficult situations really just became new experiences.” Brook says: “Despite the obstacles that we pioneers face, we live a satisfying life. When we put together all the upbuilding experiences that we have had, they form a beautiful bouquet of memories that we treasure.”
A REWARDING MINISTRY
Why do you recommend this type of Kingdom service to others? “Preaching in a territory where you meet individuals who are so eager to learn the truth that they want to study the Bible with you every day is such a joy,” says Stephanie. “To go and serve where the need is greater has been one of the better decisions I have ever made!” In 2014, Stephanie married Aaron, and today they serve at the Ghana branch office.
“It’s such a good experience,” says Christine, a pioneer from Germany who is now in her early 30’s. Christine served in Bolivia before moving to Ghana. She adds: “Being far away from my family, I always turn to Jehovah for help. He has become more real to me than ever before. I also experience the outstanding unity found among Jehovah’s people. This service has enriched my life.” Christine recently married Gideon, and together they continue to serve in Ghana.
Filip and Ida tell us what they did to help Bible students to progress. “We used to have 15 or more Bible studies, but we limited the number to 10 so that we could teach our students more thoroughly.” Did the students benefit? Filip relates: “I studied with a young man named Michael. He could study every day and prepared so well that we finished the Bible Teach book in one month. After that, Michael became an unbaptized publisher. On his first day in field service, he asked me, ‘Could you help me with my Bible studies?’ I looked at him in surprise. Michael explained that he had started three studies and needed some help in conducting them.” Imagine, the need for more teachers is so great that even Bible students are Bible teachers!
Amy relates how she quickly became aware of a great need: “Shortly after arriving in Ghana, we preached in a small village and searched for deaf individuals. We found, not one deaf person, but eight deaf persons in that one village alone!” In the meantime, Amy married Eric, and together they serve as special pioneers. They assist a sign-language congregation to help some of the more than 300 deaf publishers and interested ones in the country. For George and Adria, serving in Ghana allowed them to experience firsthand what it takes to be missionaries. So how happy they were when they received an invitation to attend the 126th class of Gilead School! Today, they are serving as missionaries in Mozambique.
MOTIVATED BY LOVE
It is heartwarming to see so many from other countries working hard alongside local brothers and sisters so as to bring in the harvest. (John 4:35) Each week of the year, on average, 120 individuals are baptized in Ghana. As in the case of the 17 need-greaters who have moved to Ghana, many thousands of evangelizers worldwide have been motivated by love for Jehovah to “offer themselves willingly.” They serve in areas where more Kingdom proclaimers are needed. How such willing workers certainly must make Jehovah’s heart rejoice!
^ par. 9 See, for example, the articles “Can You Serve Where the Need for Kingdom Publishers Is Greater?” and “Can You Step Over Into Macedonia?”