Pursuing My Purpose in Life
As told by N. H. Barber
I SHALL never forget the first time I went out in the service of the Most High God. It was a beautiful day in the Indian summer or autumn time of the year 1920 in Winnipeg, Canada. My brother and I were only distributing handbills, but the contentment and peace of mind I received from this slight service gave me assurance that the Almighty, unlike earthly masters, is well pleased with even imperfect and small services rendered toward him. Just as hearing the truth brings a certain joy and peace of mind, so the step of service brings a greater joy.
When later I engaged in distributing literature from house to house, I experienced greater joys and blessings. From that day to this I have never been out in the house-to-house work without experiencing personal kindnesses from some, appreciation for Jehovah’s Word from others and, above all, Jehovah’s blessing of peace of mind and contentment.
After being baptized in 1921, I began to pursue my purpose in life as a full-time praiser of Jehovah God. (Ps. 145:2) A request appeared in The Watchtower for young men to apply for service at Bethel. My application was accepted, and in May of the year 1923 my brother and I arrived at the Bethel home in Brooklyn to begin work in the Society’s printing factory at 18 Concord Street. That was the beginning of a strange and wonderful time for me. Since I was a little wild, it was not easy for me to settle down to the righteous requirements of a theocratic organization. Many things had to be learned and discipline had to be applied. There was much zeal among the brothers, with the desire of all to produce “better and more books.” Year by year I was privileged to witness the great expansion until, shortly, 18 Concord Street could not accommodate that beehive of activity any longer. In 1926 plans were set in motion by the Society to erect a new factory. By 1927 it was completed and we were moving into it. That set the pattern for the ever-increasing requirements of Jehovah’s organization, until today we see several big additions to that original building.
Although a person may enjoy the privileges of service Jehovah gives him, he may not follow the best course and stay where he is. So it was with me. In 1929 I foolishly left Bethel and tried the worldly arrangement of things. I quickly learned that there was less than nothing there for me. Some people may enjoy all that this evil world has to offer, but I was not one of them. After a little more than a year, I found myself wishing I had remained in Bethel, but there was nothing I could do about that.
I was very thankful when I was privileged to enter the pioneer work in 1930 and be in Jehovah’s full-time preaching service continuing to pursue my purpose in life. I really enjoyed the pioneer work. I never missed a meal even though this was during the depression. I never had true cause for worry. In 1944, I was made a special pioneer. Then in 1946 I was privileged to attend the winter class at Gilead. Like everyone else who has enjoyed that great privilege, I will always remember Gilead as one of the brightest and happiest periods in my life. I always give thanks to Jehovah for that wonderful arrangement and the privilege I had in being there.
Burma was the assignment given me after graduating from Gilead. If it had not been for the wise counsel given me by the theocratic organization, I might have doubted my ability to pursue my purpose in life in such a faraway spot. But serving Jehovah is what really matters. One place is just as good as another for doing it. If millions of people could live in Burma so could I.
I rejoice greatly in being a missionary in a land where the need is truly great. That fact, aside from my being here because of assignment from Jehovah’s theocratic organization, makes me rejoice that I am in Jehovah’s full-time service in a foreign field. Someone might say, Evidently Burma must be an ideal place in which to work. To this I should say, Not necessarily so. Of course, it all depends upon how you look at a foreign assignment. If a person rejoices to be used by Jehovah, then one place is as good as another to him. But if he looks at it from the viewpoint of how it is going to suit him, he may find it a lot more difficult to be happy.
I am thankful to Jehovah that I have been able to forget all personal likes and dislikes about this territory and look upon it as a boundless favor from God, a precious privilege of service. Frankly speaking, tropical weather is not my idea of the ideal weather in which to live. Neither is the way tropical people live the way I would personally choose to live. But there are more important things to take into consideration than such trivial matters. Being able to render aid to people who are really spiritually poor is a privilege beyond human powers to express.
These people are a polite, non-violent people. That fact is a great stimulant when presenting the good news of the Kingdom. Very, very few doors here are slammed in one’s face, and seldom does anyone get angry with a Kingdom publisher. Many are the cups of tea and other small expressions of kindness offered him. There is a joy in trying to master this strange, Oriental language that few westerners have come to know.
It was because of my missionary assignment to Burma that I found my marriage partner. I chose as my partner a pioneer sister who was born and brought up in Burma. This has helped me to continue pursuing my purpose in life in my foreign assignment. For the past five years my wife and I have been happily serving Jehovah together in this land where the spiritual need of the people is great.
I have always looked forward with eagerness to the international assemblies of the theocratic organization. From the one in 1924 at Columbus, Ohio, down to the last one in 1958 at New York, I have been privileged to attend all but one. Although I had to travel some eight to ten thousand miles to be at each of the last three, I did not hesitate to do so. Never to be forgotten is the greatest and best of all these joyful occasions, the Divine Will International Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses held in 1958. It was the greatest because never before had so many dedicated servants of Jehovah from all over the earth gathered together in one place. Jehovah’s spirit was certainly abundant at this wonderful assembly.
The theocratic standard was raised even higher at this grand assembly. False religion was denounced once again. I was truly glad to be a part of that great audience that adopted the Resolution that resolved faithfulness and separateness from the world.
Thanks to the timely and wise counsel given by the Society through its publications and with the help of Jehovah’s spirit, I have been able to pursue my purpose in life for the last thirty-eight years, twelve of which have been spent in a foreign land. Never would I pursue any other course in life. The longer I enjoy this great privilege the more I thank Jehovah for being kinder than any other master could possibly be and for having kept me and guided me. I want only to please him forevermore as I continue to pursue my purpose in life.