Pursuing My Purpose in Life
As told by Alma E. Parson
EARLY childhood for me was saddened by the death of my mother and still later by the death of my grandparents who reared me. To find a hope of future life in happiness I tried to seek comfort in God’s Word. As I read the inspired Record of the life, teachings, miracles, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus, how often did I long to have lived in those wonderful days! Never did I dream it would be my lot actively to pursue my purpose in life and to live in even grander days!
It was late January of 1918. As a student in high school I was much interested in learning and getting an education. Already I had decided I wanted to become a missionary, live in a foreign land and speak another tongue. In that month I had my first contact with Jehovah’s witnesses, then known as Bible Students. I was boarding away from home with a lady who had a daughter who was a Bible Student. Circumstances forced her to come home to live with her mother, with her children. She faithfully witnessed to me. I was much impressed and realized she was the first person I had ever known who lived her religion. I knew she had ‘the truth.’ However, I considered my education of first importance and so continued my studies.
Early spring of 1922 found me in my second year of college. For some months I had been attending the Bible Students meetings. Now because of my association with Jehovah’s people and the study of his Word, I realized I must make my decision. I wanted to finish my education, yet I found myself losing all interest in my studies. Only the hope of the Kingdom and gaining life filled my mind. My life destiny was hanging in the balance and it was I alone who would determine it. How would I choose? Would not a college career better equip me as a Christian? Perhaps so in this old world, but would it equip me for life in Jehovah’s new world of righteousness? I considered the matter well. Above all, I wanted life and I wanted to be equipped to help others to gain it also. So my decision was made. I dedicated my life to serve Jehovah.
That following summer back on the farm I devoted every spare minute to study of the Bible and the literature. The convention at Cedar Point had been announced. The friends were enthusiastic about going and I wanted to go also. My father opposed my attending but I insisted upon going. At that convention I symbolized, by water baptism, my dedication to do Jehovah’s will. The joy I felt at that, my first convention, cannot be described in words. I felt like Peter, James and John on the mount of transfiguration; I did not want to leave.
That fall I did not return to college, as I had little interest in the philosophies of this world. I prepared to enter the pioneer service the following spring. My decision greatly angered my father, who began to oppose me bitterly. Another decision I had to make. It became a choice between the truth and my family. I must give up one or the other. I chose the truth and had to leave home. I entered the full-time service in April, 1923, and the joys of telling the hungry hearts of God’s gracious purposes overbalanced the sorrow I felt for the break I had made with my family. At times pride would loom up in my heart and I momentarily felt I should have finished college. But I continued on, being encouraged by Jehovah’s spirit, his Word and his organization, our faithful brothers.
As the organization grew, especially from 1925 on, so did my appreciation and joy. The work then was not as rich nor as easy as it is today because it was all house-to-house work. Back-calls and studies were not part of the work at that time. We planted, others watered, but Jehovah gave the increase.
In 1931 my health broke and I had to leave the service. After two and a half years I returned to the pioneer work again with an even greater appreciation than before. The work took on a more organized form, back-calls were stressed and the seed sown was cultivated. Thus one had a more personal part in aiding the “lambs” into the fold.
The stress of persecution of our brothers world-wide during the war years only gave me additional evidence that this was truly Jehovah’s organization and his people. The opening of the special work afforded the opportunity for pioneers to go into other territory, and such service was again my privilege. How thankful I was that Jehovah had upheld me, guided me and blessed me so that I had not turned back nor slacked my hand!
In the summer of 1944 I received an invitation to go to Gilead. Of course I had longed to have the privilege of attending Gilead, but would I be willing to leave my own country, perhaps never to return? Again Jehovah’s spirit, his Word and his organization helped me to decide.
My training and stay at Gilead were something out of this old world. One of the instructors said one day that never since the days of the apostles had Jehovah’s servants received such thorough training. My heart filled with appreciation as I realized Jehovah was having his kingdom proclaimed world-wide as a witness to gather men of all nations into his theocratic organization to form the nucleus of the New World society that would survive Armageddon to live on forever under the Kingdom rule.
In due time I received a foreign assignment, together with my faithful companions, to go to the Dominican Republic. We arrived there March 1, 1946, and were given a warm welcome by the few missionaries who had gone there some months before and by a goodly group of people of good will who had joined them in the work. Our assignment was in the second city, Santiago, in the interior. What a thrill it was to work in territory never before witnessed to in the history of the Theocracy! What a joy it was to be speaking a new language even in a limited way! I placed a book in the first house I visited. People were eager to hear the good news we brought them. It was easy to start studies. Jehovah had truly equipped us to serve his theocratic interests in the foreign field. The field, however, was no longer ‘foreign,’ for we were reclaiming or repossessing it in the name of the Theocracy. I felt very much at home.
That first month I had another serious breakdown in health. Again with proper diet and loving care on the part of my companions I recovered, after some months, to have a part in the work.
The success of the work and the incoming of the “other sheep” brought on great persecution. Sentiment instigated by the priests and the clergy grew hot against us. Then came the ban, a total one. Our Kingdom Halls were closed and the work prohibited. Many were the trials, sufferings, loss of employment and imprisonment of the dear ones there, but all this only served to bring the “sheep” to maturity. Jehovah’s guiding hand and protection were so clearly manifest so many, many times. The work continued underground. The missionaries were instructed to get secular work to remain beside the faithful “sheep.” After a time the Society removed several of the missionaries to other fields and I was one of those selected to go. To leave was one of the hardest things I ever did. But realizing that Jehovah always knows best I followed his instructions and left in April of 1953 to return back to the States after an absence of seven years.
It was truly good again to visit my homeland and to see an increase of more than 80,000 proclaimers of Jehovah’s kingdom from the time I left till my return. The faithful ones back home had not slacked the hand. The Theocracy was growing! Jehovah was indeed giving the increase!
After an absence of more than twenty-five years I again ventured to visit my family. I did not know whether I should be able to stay more than two or three days, because of my father’s opposition to the truth; but I resolved to go to see them, and if I could not stay longer, to spend the time with relatives and friends. To my surprise I received a royal welcome. They took me to see many friends and neighbors to whom I had opportunity to witness, but not as much as I should have liked. My brother and stepmother even seemed proud of me. I spent about six weeks with them.
Then I went to that great spiritual banquet at Yankee Stadium. How different from my first convention in 1922 and the then great crowd of 20,000 on the last day! Back there we realized that an enormous work was ahead because a great crowd of the “other sheep,” millions of them, would have to be gathered. They were present at Yankee Stadium, overflowing all bounds. But again back to the field, for many thousands must yet be found!
So now here in my second foreign assignment in Guatemala I find many strayed “sheep” desiring to enter the fold. It is a sweet privilege to instruct them in the way that leads to endless life in the new world of righteousness under the Shepherd-King, Christ Jesus.
In this old world of darkness, who is there to guide us? We travel principally on our own and alone. In the New World society Jehovah has made provision for our guidance through his Word, his spirit and his organization. Thus continuing faithfully with his people in his strength and through the merit of Christ Jesus, we shall come out victorious.
As I look back over the years and think what might have happened had I turned back at one time or another, or had I slacked the hand, I am thankful that I continued on in welldoing, pursuing my purpose in life. Only ‘he that endures to the finish is the one who will be saved.’
In the ages to come, long after Armageddon is past, I shall be glad to have had some part in the lifesaving work of gathering the “other sheep” into the theocratic kingdom fold in the “time of the end” of this old world. Then I shall be glad, even more than now, that I chose theocratic education instead of that of this old world. I shall be glad I chose the truth instead of my family, for I feel I am and shall be better equipped to help them to get life if there are “sheep” among them. And for all other privileges of service in the ages to come, may I always give Jehovah all the thanks and praise!