Over 10,000 More Responded for Full-Time Service!
WHEN Jehovah’s witnesses began reading their copies of the 1969 Yearbook, which reports the results of their ministerial activities in 1968, their hearts became jubilant. There in the pages lying between its light-brown covers were glowing reports of increase after increase. These happifying increases that greeted their eyes told them that Jehovah their God was richly blessing their efforts to make known his purposes throughout the earth.
One of the most heartwarming and encouraging parts of the record they made last year was the fine increase in the number of persons who arranged their lives to spend their full time in the preaching work, either regularly or for a vacation period. Just think of it, each month 63,871 individuals, on an average, enthusiastically shared in this expanded activity! This is a monthly average of 10,107 more persons than in 1967. Such an increase is not merely a reflection of a normal rate of growth. Comparisons with the increases in full-time workers in previous years illustrate this, yes, they underscore how significant last year’s increase truly is!
For example, take the year 1964. The number of persons who engaged in full-time preaching was 3,913 more than the number who did so in 1963. The increase in 1965 was 4,915 over the total for 1964. In 1967 there were over 6,000 more full-time preachers than in 1966. So when Jehovah’s witnesses read that 10,107 more persons went preaching full time in 1968 their hearts leap for joy. They rejoice to see so many responding wholeheartedly to God’s urgent work today. The spirit of wanting to do more in the “harvest” work is as alive today as it was in the days of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Jehovah God is answering prayers that more workers be sent into his “harvest,” using his spirit to influence thousands to spend more time in the field.—Matt. 9:37, 38.
No doubt about it, Jehovah’s witnesses are aglow with God’s holy spirit, and their activities show it. They are putting forth great effort to get this good news of God’s kingdom preached in all the earth before the end comes. However, in their ranks are those who, being free and unencumbered, want to devote all their time to this most urgent work. Many have left their families to serve in other parts of the world. Others, including whole families, have sold their homes and gone preaching in regions where there are very few or no witnesses of Jehovah. Still others have arranged their affairs to spend more time preaching in the territory in which they live. No matter where they are or go, Jehovah blesses their efforts and they experience many, many spiritual rewards.
WHY THEY DID IT
To enter the ranks of full-time preachers requires adjustments and sacrifices. It means changing one’s daily routine of living. It often means taking time from things of less importance to concentrate on the far more important preaching work. Yes, it means having to do without certain luxuries and comforts; doing with less in the way of certain pleasures. However, these servants of Jehovah have gladly made these sacrifices, and many, many more are still doing so. They have the apostle Paul’s attitude toward this world and what it has to offer.—Phil. 3:8.
This does not make them ascetics. Probably one of them has visited you. You could not help but note the joy and confidence he radiated. Also you noticed that he was not shabbily dressed but looked neat. No, they are not depriving themselves of life’s necessities. They are simply content with their sustenance and clothing and are deriving immeasurable happiness from the far more important quality of godliness. (1 Tim. 6:6-8) Yes, they could be spending their time in making money or in trying to satisfy the desires of the flesh. However, they know that they would not find true happiness in this. They have weighed matters carefully and know which is the more valuable and wise thing to do during these critical times. In taking up the full-time preaching they are, in a most effective way, laying up treasures in heaven for themselves. What they are laying up there neither moth nor rust will consume nor will inflation devalue.—Matt. 6:19, 20.
Think about the mother of five children in the Netherlands Antilles. This woman, with all her family obligations, is a regular full-time preacher of the “good news” in her land. While she was expecting her sixth child she continued her activity. In her land many consider a pregnant woman blessed of God, and so when she talked to people many listened to her out of respect for her condition. Because of this her ministry may have been more productive than it would have been otherwise. Her continuing her full-time activity with such enthusiasm brought her many blessings.
Consider three young Witnesses in Grenada. Two of them held trusted positions in businesses that promised advancement and financial rewards. The third one was presented with the opportunity to go to Canada to attend one of the well-known universities there. They weighed the matter of their future carefully, and then what did they do? They all entered the full-time preaching work and are working with congregations that are in need of their assistance. Yes, they wisely chose to forgo the things of this world in order to strengthen their love for Jehovah and their Christian brothers.
One of them wrote how he felt about his decision: “There is no doubt in my mind that I have chosen the right way. I am absolutely certain that it is the best decision I have made and that blessings from Jehovah will come by being faithful to this decision to serve him full time. . . . I know there is nothing better, nor half as good as what I have found in the Bible, and I want to share it with others.” Truly, an admirable attitude!
THOSE WHO DEVOTED A SHORTER PERIOD
Not all of Jehovah’s witnesses can enter the full-time preaching work on a regular basis, because of their circumstances. Nevertheless, they too get the spirit of wanting to do more and they respond to it. How? Thousands do so each year by arranging their affairs to devote a portion of their time during the year to preaching full time. They may spend two weeks or perhaps a month or more in this happy work. Thus they too enjoy the privilege of doing the very best thing possible to help their neighbors.
On the island of Ponape in the Pacific two sisters-in-law who live together worked out a schedule whereby they could each spend two weeks in the full-time preaching work. During the first two weeks in April one of them went into the ministry, and during the last two weeks the other did so. While one was in God’s service, the other cared for the cooking, and by this cooperation they cared for their domestic responsibilities while enlarging their share in the witness work. Also on this same island another Witness spent his vacation preaching full time. For six weeks prior to April he did secular work on Saturday in order to build up enough extra time so that he could take two weeks for the Christian ministry. What God-pleasing faith!
Older persons have not held back from spending full time in preaching either. A seventy-seven-year-old man in Argentina spent his vacation in this work. He was a fine example for the younger ones in his congregation. In Brazil two elderly Witnesses took up full-time preaching for a vacation period and joined a group of other full-time workers. They all journeyed to a territory that required a three-hour bus ride. Though they returned home tired, they were full of enthusiasm to return another day.
Yes, these full-time preachers—10,107 more, on an average, each month in 1968—added their voices of praise to the shout that is being heard in 200 lands and islands of the sea. They rejoice that they could do a little more than the usual and help their brothers and sisters in this great work. Are you one of Jehovah’s witnesses who is planning to expand his share in the ministry in March or April this year? How commendable! If you are a dedicated and baptized Witness and have not thought about it, why not consider it? If you are young and free, why not seriously think about pursuing the full-time preaching work as a career? There is so much to do now and so much to be gained in doing this joyful work full time.
The thousands that are flocking to God’s organization to learn more about his purposes need spiritual attention. There is a need for more and more full-time workers. Those who respond wholeheartedly will receive an abundance of the good things now flowing from Jehovah’s bountiful hands.