Recommending Themselves as God’s Ministers
In the Australian Tropics
THE apostle Paul, that pioneer Christian missionary of the first century, in discussing his commission as an ambassador of God substituting for Christ Jesus, stated: “In every way we recommend ourselves as God’s ministers, by the endurance of much, by tribulations, by cases of need, by difficulties,” etc. (2 Cor. 6:4, NW) That Jehovah’s witnesses in this twentieth century are recommending themselves as God’s ambassadors or ministers in a like manner is apparent from the following experience had by a couple who are full-time ministers of Jehovah God.
“Our field for the ministry was a town in the tropics of Queensland, Australia. We brought a tent with us in case we should not be able to find any rooming accommodations; and after exhausting all possibilities—having found that there was not only an acute housing shortage but also great prejudice against Jehovah’s witnesses—we resigned ourselves to continuing to live in our tent. All went as well as could be expected in our camp for about nine months, or until February, when the midwinter rainy season reached its peak. And when it rains in the tropics it pours. It’s only a matter of minutes before every crack in the ground, every gutter, drain and spout are flowing over and the town becomes just a lake of water.
“Our tent, after the hot sun had baked it for so many months, just could not take it, and so it was not long before water started pouring in everywhere, and we were forced to move into an old iron shed, after everything we had was soaked. As the rains continued, the rivers began to rise and flood warnings were broadcast.
“After staying in our ‘home’ for two days we decided that if we were going to meet our quota of 140 hours for the month as full-time ministers, we would have to get going. We started out, walked for half a mile and then came to water about a foot deep through which we plowed for some three miles before we reached the town in which we carried on our preaching work. Returning we found the water had risen half a foot higher. After several days of this we hit on the idea of walking along the railway; but as the waters kept rising it soon meant walking about half a mile through water three feet deep before we got to the railway and then pushing through water again at the end of the three-mile stretch along that way to get to our territory. It took two hours to make the trip each way.
“Walking along the railway line was not so bad for the first few days; but as the waters kept rising, inundating the countryside for miles around, the creeping things looking for a dry spot got the same idea we had and made for the railway line also. There they came, by the hundreds—brown and black snakes, rattlesnakes and death adders; red bellies and yellow bellies; some were only six inches long, others six feet; some as thin as a worm, others as thick as your arm. They would slither through the water until they got their heads just over the rail. It being smooth, they couldn’t pull the rest of their slimy bodies over it.
“For two weeks we kept on walking the half mile through the waters to get to the railway line, then three miles along it, killing snakes as we went, and then through water three feet deep for another half mile in order to get to our territory. By the end of two weeks there were so many dead snakes along the line it was hard to distinguish the dead from the living, so we had to be very careful. Just before the flood waters subsided our neighbor ran out of provisions and had to go to town. He had repaired his boat and yelled across the waters to ask whether we wanted a lift. We were only too glad to accept his offer, as by this time we were getting to be pretty tired.
“We rowed that day over farm fences, through streets and people’s backyards, four miles to town, and the stench of the water was enough to reach to high heaven. As we rowed beneath the trees we would see their tops filled with snakes, hanging from the branches, seemingly looking menacingly at us. We’d shudder and hope that they would stay up there.
“Life in our camp also left much to be desired those days. All the time the waters kept closing in on us until there were but a few square yards of dry land between us and the water. As a result there too we had to contend with all the creeping things imaginable, snakes of all kinds, frogs, rats, mice, etc. At night we had to tuck our mosquito nets tightly around our beds or we would find the creeping things getting into our clothes. And was the land black with mosquitoes! At times the mosquitoes were almost unbearable in spite of all the spray we used.
“Every cloud has its silver lining, so it is said, and so did ours. One day one of the folks with whom we were studying the Bible, after hearing of our experience, said, ‘You mean you have put up with all that just so as to be able to tell people like us about God’s kingdom? We have a nine-room house here; you can have a room and a veranda, and you can make it self-contained.’ We moved in promptly. That was the first time in more than nine months that we had slept under a house roof. And did we appreciate it! As a result of our moving in, before a month was gone the young couple were going with us into the service, preaching the good news from house to house.
“On our four-mile trek to town we had to pass a settlement of houses whose occupants had shown extreme prejudice to our work when we first called. But having seen us walk to town daily in spite of the flood brought about a change in them and thereafter when they saw us pass by they showed such friendliness that many opportunities opened up to give them a witness concerning the Kingdom. Our sticking to it was richly rewarded, for we were able to start many interesting home Bible studies in the homes of the people of that tropical town in Queensland, people who manifested themselves as being of good will, as belonging to the ‘other sheep’ of the Right Shepherd, Christ Jesus.—John 10:16.”