Pursuing My Purpose in Life
As told by a Greek girl
I WAS born in Ramallah, Palestine (now Jordan), but I grew up in Athens, Greece, my family being Greek Orthodox. Soon after my family got established there, my older brother came in contact with the truth, and he became one of Jehovah’s witnesses. My mother showed interest in the truth, but she died two years later. My father, however, was very much opposed and obliged my brother to leave the house. My father always used to take me with him to church. So even after his death, one year before I finished high school, I was a regular churchgoer.
My attendance at church did not help me to find what I was looking for: more knowledge about God and his requirements. Never did I hear in the Greek Orthodox Church the admonition to read the Bible, and I had never read it myself. I was always feeling as if there was something empty in me. During all the years I went to church, only once do I remember the priest’s giving a sermon about the Gospel. The comportment of the priests, as a whole, was not inspiring either.
I decided to discontinue going to church, but I prayed to God for help to find his true worship. Although the answer was right there in our home through the numerous Watch Tower publications, which my brother sent to us, it was only after the beginning of World War II that, together with my sister, I started reading and studying them, as well as the Bible.
The progressive increase of the knowledge of the truth came to fill this empty feeling in me with the most satisfying and heart-cheering revelations of God’s will and purposes. What a wonderful protection from all the snares of Satan did it prove to be, snares so numerous in Greece in those dark days of World War II!
Dedication and baptism in 1943 were my next big steps. There was no pioneer service in Greece at that time. I was working at the Ministry of Finance and, like the other publishers, I tried to do my best in witnessing to people distressed by war conditions. Then in 1945, with the end of the war, my sister and I went to Cyprus, to stay with our brother there.
Conditions in Cyprus were completely different. The island had felt the effects of the war very little, and there were peace and great freedom for the work. We had very fine opportunities to serve from door to door, in the cities and in various villages. There I saw for the first time brothers and sisters in the pioneer service, even among my own relatives. While I considered this service good for others, the idea did not enter my mind that I also could be a pioneer. Then at the service meeting a letter from the Society was read. It presented the privilege and responsibility of all dedicated persons to engage in the pioneer service, if they could arrange to do so. That letter impressed me very much, and the desire to become a pioneer sprang up immediately in my heart, becoming all the stronger as the days passed.
HAPPINESS OF PIONEERING
Due to certain family obligations, I felt that if I started pioneering immediately I would not be able to continue for a long time. My desire was to make full-time preaching service my life’s career. So I presented the matter to Jehovah in prayer and waited confidently for his help. It was not really long before the mountainlike obstacles disappeared. I resigned from the bank in which I was working and returned to Greece to start pioneer service. Since Cyprus had a number of pioneers, I thought my service would be more profitable in Greece. I did not have any financial preparation or any stock in clothes, but I did not worry. I knew Jehovah is faithful to his promises and that he is inviting us to put him to the test.
When I returned to Greece, I was offered three different jobs in Athens with very attractive salaries, but I did not think even for a moment of postponing my decision to enter the full-time pioneer service. So on November 1, 1947, I started my pioneer service in Athens, pursuing thus my purpose in life.
The work in Greece was in its most difficult days then. The Orthodox Church had started a very hot persecution through the arm of the police. The work had to be done almost completely underground. But all this did not diminish the joys of the service. All the opposite! More than once Jehovah gave me as a territory in which to preach various police stations, courtrooms and prisons. Can you imagine my joy when, once in a police station, I found myself surrounded by more than ten policemen who were eagerly listening to the hope that is within me? Or when I had the opportunity to preach to women in prison and to show them the opportunity for repentance and the bright hope of the new world? Hard though these experiences might have been from the physical point of view, they are among the deepest and most cherished memories of my life.
I had many happy experiences during my pioneer service in Athens. Jehovah blessed my efforts, and quite a few of the people I had studies with took their stand with the New World society; and they are still zealously participating in the Kingdom service.
HAPPINESS OF BETHEL AND GILEAD
One day I was called to the Society’s branch office in Athens. I was asked to fill out the preliminary application for the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead for missionaries. Gilead was something I had kept very, very high in my mind, and I did not dare to think whether Jehovah would ever invite me to attend it or not. So I felt a sacred joy indeed when I later filled out the final application.
I was invited to attend the sixteenth class of Gilead, beginning after the Theocracy’s Increase Assembly in 1950. But since I was in New York from the beginning of April that same year, another privilege opened up to me before going through school: serving in the Brooklyn Bethel home for five months.
I find words inadequate to describe the blessings I received during the time I stayed there; and I think I can say, like Paul, that time would fail me to enumerate them all in this brief account. The friendly and clean faces of all, the unselfish and kind love of the sisters who did everything to help me feel at home, the humility and meekness of the older and responsible brothers, the zeal of everyone for the work he was assigned and the intensity with which everyone was working, together with the upbuilding and stimulating discussions on the daily texts and other Scriptural questions at the table—these are but a few of the blessings that left with me a very deep impression and helped me to appreciate Jehovah’s visible theocratic organization. To be a member of the Brooklyn Bethel family is a unique privilege indeed, and most blessed is the lot of all ministers serving Jehovah there!
The Theocracy’s Increase Assembly was a thrilling experience for me, especially since it was also the first large assembly I had ever attended. Gilead School started about a month later. I still remember the words of Brother Knorr in his introductory talk: ‘Did you ever desire to be somewhere where it is quiet and be without any worries and use your time just for the study of Jehovah’s Word? Well, this opportunity is here before you. Profit from it.’ These thoughts spoke to my heart, because that was the very thing I had been longing for ever since I learned the truth. The theocratic organization, like a tender mother, offered me that opportunity.
Every day was full of practical instruction and detailed study of different subjects that enabled me to see the truth brighter and brighter. This advanced theocratic training presented to us Jehovah’s organization with all its awe-inspiring order and beauty and helped me appreciate more than ever before the privilege of serving Jehovah in the full-time service. To leave Gilead after graduation was hard for us.
HAPPINESS OF SERVING WHERE NEEDED
Yet more happiness was in store as we graduates spread out into thirty-eight different countries. To be in a country where you have never lived before, where the greater part of the population speak a language you do not yet know and where the general way of living is sometimes difficult to understand, was a thing not so easy to cope with at the beginning. But how insignificant are these difficulties when you are in a place Jehovah wants you to be. If you look at it this way, believe me, soon this place becomes the most beautiful place in the world! The privilege and joy we felt while hunting for and feeding the many sheeplike people in a large and ancient city of more than a million inhabitants, coming from various religions and languages, made my companion and me soon feel at home, and that is the way I have always felt since.
Ten years full of hard and intensive work have passed. By Jehovah’s undeserved kindness and help, I am still in the same place. This makes me feel especially thankful to Him. So many blessings I never would have enjoyed had I always remained only a good publisher in Cyprus or Greece.
It has been heart-warming for me to watch, through these years, Jehovah’s blessing upon the sowing and watering work and to see a small group of forty increase to well over three hundred proclaimers of God’s kingdom!
Jehovah has been a wonderful Provider for my spiritual needs. Through his help I have not missed any of the big assemblies held since 1950. Thus in 1953 I had the privilege to attend the New World Society Assembly in New York, then three of the Triumphant Kingdom Assemblies in Europe in 1955 and, the most thrilling of all, the unforgettable Divine Will International Assembly in New York in 1958! The spiritual strength Jehovah provided for his servants through these assemblies has been a great stimulation for me to continue pursuing faithfully my purpose in life.
My trust in Jehovah for my material needs did not fail either. All these years, through loving relatives and brothers, He has provided so bountifully.
To know the truth of God’s Word and to serve Jehovah makes one happy, but to serve Jehovah full time as a pioneer makes one even happier. I can say this from my own experience, because the change the pioneer service made in my life is as big and blessed as the change made by the knowledge of the truth itself.