Volunteer Work With Lasting Benefits
JESUS CHRIST regularly performed good deeds for those in need. For instance, he fed the hungry and healed the sick. (Matthew 14:14-21) To which activity, though, did he give the highest priority? An incident that occurred early in Jesus’ ministry provides the answer. It is recorded in the first chapter of the Gospel of Mark.
While Jesus was in Capernaum, near the Sea of Galilee, he was taken to the home of Simon, or Peter. There “Simon’s mother-in-law was lying down sick with a fever,” and Jesus healed her. (Mark 1:29-31) Later a crowd including many people “ill with various sicknesses” began to gather at the door of Peter’s house, and Jesus cured them too. (Mark 1:32-34) Then night came, and everyone went to sleep.
The next morning “while it was still dark,” Jesus quietly got up and left the house “for a lonely place,” where “he began praying.” Before long, the disciples also woke up, looked out of the house, and saw a large crowd of people waiting at the door. But what were they to do? Jesus was missing! Quickly Peter and those with him tracked Jesus down and said: “All are looking for you.” (Mark 1:35-37; Luke 4:42) It seems that, in effect, they were telling Jesus: ‘What are you doing out here? Last night your healing the sick was a huge success. Today another great opportunity is waiting for you!’
But now note Jesus’ reaction: “Let us go somewhere else, into the village towns nearby, that I may preach there also.” This reply is significant. Jesus did not return to Peter’s house to heal others. He showed why when he said: “It is for this purpose [that is, to preach] I have gone out.” (Mark 1:38, 39; Luke 4:43) What was Jesus telling his disciples? Doing good deeds was important to him, but preaching and teaching God’s word was Jesus’ primary mission.—Mark 1:14.
Since the Bible urges Christians “to follow [Jesus’] steps closely,” true Christians today have clear guidance when it comes to setting priorities in volunteer work. (1 Peter 2:21) Like Jesus, they help people in need—as the preceding article illustrates. Also like Jesus, they set the work of teaching the Bible’s message about the good news of God’s Kingdom as their top priority.* (Matthew 5:14-16; 24:14; 28:19, 20) Why, though, should volunteering to educate people about the Bible’s message take priority over other valuable forms of volunteer work?
Why and How Bible Education Makes a Difference
An Asian proverb points to the answer. It says: “If you plan for a year, sow seeds. If you plan for ten years, plant trees. If you plan for a hundred years, educate people.” Indeed, when it comes to providing solutions that are long lasting, education is imperative because it develops a person’s ability to make decisions that will improve his life. That is why today over six million part-time and full-time volunteers are using their time, efforts, and resources to provide free Bible education to the public. This time-tested volunteer program conducted by Jehovah’s Witnesses is having an impact on communities around the world. How?
As people are helped to understand and follow the Bible’s practical counsel, they become better equipped to deal with the problems of life. They gain the moral strength needed to overcome harmful habits. Nelson, a youth in Brazil, stresses another benefit of Bible education: “Since I began to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses, I have known joy because I now have a purpose in life.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13) Hundreds of thousands of others—young and old—who recently began studying God’s Word share Nelson’s sentiments. In addition to helping students to find a satisfying purpose in life, the message of God’s Kingdom provides an uplifting hope for the future—a hope that makes life worth living, even under the most trying circumstances. (1 Timothy 4:8)—See the box “How God’s Kingdom Will Make a Difference.”
By providing Bible education, Jehovah’s Witnesses perform a volunteer service with long-lasting benefits. How long lasting? God’s Word states: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3) Imagine participating in a program with everlasting benefits—now that is a form of volunteer service that truly makes a difference! Is that not the type of program you would like to learn more about? If so, contact Jehovah’s Witnesses in your community. Acting on this invitation will be a step you will not regret.
Jehovah’s Witnesses view their preaching work in the same way as the apostle Paul did—as a necessity for true Christians. Paul said: “If, now, I am declaring the good news, it is no reason for me to boast, for necessity is laid upon me.” (1 Corinthians 9:16) Still, their preaching work is voluntary because they have freely chosen to become disciples of Christ, knowing fully the responsibilities that come with that privilege.
[Blurb on page 11]
“If you plan for a year, sow seeds. If you plan for ten years, plant trees. If you plan for a hundred years, educate people”
[Box/Pictures on page 10]
She Brings Help and Hope
Nadine, a 43-year-old French nurse specializing in tropical diseases, is one of the volunteers who has worked in Central Africa. “People ask me why I do this,” she said in a recent interview. “I believe in God, I love people, and I want to give of myself. And being one of Jehovah’s Witnesses incites me to bring both a remedy and a hope to those who suffer.” While volunteering in Africa, Nadine divides her time between providing relief work and participating in the Bible education work that is carried out there by local Witnesses.
Nadine in Africa
[Box on page 12]
How God’s Kingdom Will Make a Difference
Please read these scriptures in your own Bible, and see how God promises to fill man’s needs in the following areas:
Health “He will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”—Revelation 21:4; Isaiah 33:24; 35:5, 6.
Education “They will not do any harm or cause any ruin in all my holy mountain; because the earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea.”—Isaiah 11:9; Habakkuk 2:14.
Employment “They will certainly build houses and have occupancy; and they will certainly plant vineyards and eat their fruitage. They will not build and someone else have occupancy; they will not plant and someone else do the eating. . . . They will not toil for nothing.”—Isaiah 65:21-23.