JESUS foretold that his followers would enjoy an abundant harvest in this time of the end. (Matt. 9:37; 24:14) Consider how his words have proved true in a unique way in an area of Transcarpathia, Ukraine. Among just three neighboring towns in that area, there are 50 congregations and over 5,400 publishers. * Indeed, 1 out of 4 people of the combined population of these three towns is one of Jehovah’s Witnesses!
What is the preaching territory like? “People here respect the Bible, value justice, have strong family ties, and sincerely try to help one another,” says a local brother named Vasile. He adds: “They do not always agree with our beliefs. But when you show them something from the Bible, they will listen attentively.”
Of course, our brothers and sisters face some unusual challenges when preaching in an area that has such a high publisher-to-population ratio. For example, one congregation has 134 publishers but only 50 private homes in its territory! How do the publishers adapt to this situation?
Many brothers and sisters expend themselves in order to preach in areas where the need is greater. “The ratio of publishers to homes in our congregation’s territory is 1 to 2,” says a 90-year-old brother named Ionash. “I preach in the village, but until recently when my health deteriorated, I also traveled about 100 miles (160 km) to an unassigned territory, where I preached in the Hungarian language.” Publishers must make sacrifices to help out in other territories. “To catch the train, I got up at 4:00 a.m. and I preached until 6:00 p.m. when the train departed for home. I did that two or three times a week,” says Ionash. Did he feel that his efforts were worth it? “I found great joy in that form of ministry,” he says. “I had the pleasure of assisting an isolated family to learn the truth.”
Understandably, not everyone in the congregations of this area is able to travel long distances. But all, including older publishers, endeavor to cover the local territory thoroughly. As a result, in 2017, these three towns had a combined Memorial attendance of almost double the number of publishers—or half the entire population. Without question, wherever we may serve, there is still “plenty to do in the work of the Lord.”—1 Cor. 15:58.
^ par. 2 The names of the towns are Hlybokyy Potik, Serednye Vodyane, and Nyzhnya Apsha.