Pursuing My Purpose in Life
As told by Florence Manso
ON A hot summer evening in Chicago, shortly after my eighteenth birthday, my father tried to convince me with a beating that I was not to pursue the life of a minister. “Like other girls your age, your purpose in life should be to marry and raise a family,” he insisted. Thanks to Jehovah, I did not let go of the ministry and, as a result, Jehovah has blessed me with both the ministry and a lovable family. A fine lot of children they are: some of them quite young in the truth, and others mature enough to look after children of their own.
Learning the truth from the Bible began in my high school days. Due to the depression I was unable to continue my education in an expensive parochial school. As a result I had my first experience in mingling with classmates of other religions. It was not long until questions arose: Why did I have a meatless sandwich every Friday for lunch? Why did the Catholic Church omit the second commandment and divide the tenth one into two? Why is the word “purgatory” not to be found in the Bible? These questions and many others shocked me into the realization that I was brought up on credulity instead of faith based on accurate knowledge. In the process of searching for the answers I severed all my ties with the Catholic Church. Various Protestant teachings also came up for examination, to no avail.
The search ended one Sunday morning when an elderly Witness called at my door with the book Riches and the answers to my questions. Scripturally convinced, six months later I symbolized my dedication.
Opposition began at home and came to a head when, after turning eighteen, I positively asserted my ministerial rights. It was either compromise or leave home. I chose the latter. Six years later, in the fall of 1944, at the Society’s annual business meeting in Pittsburgh, the countenances and conversation of many pioneers became contagious. Finally I woke up. The following April I commenced pursuing my purpose in life as a pioneer minister in the service of our reigning King Christ Jesus. How happy I have been ever since!
Up to the present it has been one grand experience after the other. First, two delightful years of pioneering in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Then came Gilead, the eleventh class of which left nothing but pleasant memories of New World association and a renewed desire to follow through with pursuing my purpose in life. I was assigned to Korea, but for a year and a half we waited, special pioneering on Long Island in New York, all the time anxious to get started for Korea. When news of our sailing date finally came the four of us girls really did some rejoicing. Having set out from New York Harbor on January 14, we reached Port Inchon, Korea, fifty-eight days later. The Steeles, missionaries there ahead of us, and many smiling Koreans gave us a warm welcome on that cold Korean March day of 1950.
Just as we were getting settled down to work, North Korea declared war on South Korea on June 25. That day as our public lecture ended a policeman entered the school where we were meeting and made the startling announcement. Three days later we were forced to leave our Korean assignment. What a dreadful experience to leave behind our dear faithful Korean brothers! Rather than go into that, I would rather recall those three months before the war. In spite of very poor living conditions and many hardships, our Korean brothers never missed a meeting. Some of them came long distances on foot during bitter cold months, always well ahead of meeting time, and when the meeting was over, how reluctant they were to leave for home. During the meetings Korean housewives, many of them with little education, found texts in the Bible with great speed and paid rapt attention to everything that was said. I can still see the shoes sitting outside the Kingdom Hall, and remember being assigned to count the pairs for an accurate attendance figure. That was eight and a half years ago.
Now I am in Japan, which is home to me. Jehovah has been very good. There are trying moments, such as those presented by problems with the language, or when seemingly zealous studies suddenly lose interest at the sight of service responsibilities, or when others compromise because of opposition from their family, but Jehovah rewards our labors of love and the seed takes root on good soil. How often we call back on women who express the desire to know more about Jehovah but who feel they cannot pursue the matter any further because of their husband’s parents, to whom they must be absolutely submissive, according to their customs. The old folks say Christianity is all right for Westerners, but not for them. Some who yearn for righteousness see the folly of such reasoning and religious customs and take in the life-giving knowledge, which makes them strong enough to overcome these obstacles. Now upward of 1,200 persons in this mountainous country no bigger than the State of California, yet crowding 90 million people on its four main islands, are turning to Jehovah’s established kingdom as their only hope and are joyfully sharing with us in doing the divine will.
My first two and a half years in Japan were spent in Nagoya, then I went on to Gifu for another two and a half years, in both cases sharing in starting new congregations. With the marriage of my partner to another missionary in Japan, my assignment was changed to Tokyo, where I have been working with the Shibuya congregation.
Many things have happened while I have been serving in Japan. Happy events, such as attending the 1953 assembly in New York, the visits of Brothers Knorr and Franz to Japan, took place. But the most outstanding event of all was the privilege of attending the Divine Will International Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses in New York in 1958. Everything about it was outstanding. Travel arrangements made by the Society for us, the thrilling attendance at the public talk, the significant resolution that was adopted and to which I said “Aye,” the timely admonition and encouragement to keep on doing the divine will and, of course, the abundant instruction on what the divine will is—all added up to the most outstanding event in my missionary life.
Since that wonderful assembly my partner and I again have a new assignment, this time on the southernmost island of Kyushu in Fukuoka city. Although our territory is located in the poorer section of the city, by sticking to it and relying on Jehovah to direct us to his other sheep, in a short time we were rewarded with twenty different Bible studies between the two of us. Where can one find such a full rich life elsewhere? Pursuing my purpose in life as a missionary has brought true happiness and satisfaction in helping others even as we have been helped. Yes, we are serving people in every walk in life. How much more enjoyable it is than working at some secular work in this selfish materialistic world. If you are Scripturally free to do so, why not prayerfully consider how you also can join us happy missionaries? Truly, it is worth every sacrifice you may have to make in doing so.