Joyful Service with Jehovah’s Organization
As told by Hazelle M. Krull
‘TRAINED up in the way I should go.’ This was my heritage from God-fearing, truth-seeking parents. True, they had been raised according to the Lutheran religion, but they were not happy in it. They hungered for something more satisfying.
I can recall that, when I was just a child, a man and his wife came to our home with three paperback books called “Millennial Dawn.” As it later turned out, they were colporteurs (now known as pioneer ministers) of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. I can still see their happy faces as they talked enthusiastically about the Bible’s message of hope, the thousand-year reign of Christ, and many other wonderful things. Mother accepted the literature. She was persuaded that this was what she wanted.
My father, always a student, began to read, and he too quickly recognized the genuine sound of God’s truth. Soon he was talking at every opportunity about the new things he was learning—to his children, to store customers, clerks, relatives and acquaintances. Yes, so much so that we often heard references to “Krull’s religion.” Everyone would want to know about the grand future outlined in the Bible, so father thought.
Then came some thrilling news for all of us. Charles T. Russell, writer of those soul-stirring books we had received, was scheduled to speak in Indianapolis, fifty miles away, on a most unusual subject—“To Hell and Back.” My parents made a special effort to be there and returned from the lecture bubbling over with excitement. Never had they heard such a talk! So happy were they that they gave little thought to the jeers and slurring comments of those who claimed that there is no return from hell. Father was completely convinced now. The Bible was always within arm’s reach, and though he had a reputation for punctuality, he would now often be late in coming home when he found someone who would listen to the “good news.”
About this time a Bible Student (as Jehovah’s witnesses were then known) and his family moved into our town of Muncie, Indiana. He called at our home because he had learned that father’s name was on the list of subscribers for The Watch Tower. He invited us to a Bible talk to be given in his home the next day, Sunday. All nine of our family were there, and that was the start of something we kept up through the years—attending meetings.
Our first share in the house-to-house ministry had to do with the distribution of tracts. Our territory was everything within a radius of thirty miles. Some days we would work from early morning till late in the evening. We would take advantage of county fairs, placing tracts in the vehicles, often having to dodge the hoofs of nervous horses or face the angry rebuff by persons not interested. But each day’s service ended with an indescribable satisfaction at having done what we could.
From colporteurs working in surrounding areas, and who often came to spend the weekend at our home, we learned many things. As they related their experiences, we grew to appreciate the value of discussing ways and means of effectively reaching people. We got to realize the need of organization in order to get results. Our minds were focused on service privileges, and soon we were considering how we, too, might taste the joys of the full-time preaching career as pioneer ministers.
The summer of 1908 brought with it a big event for our family. We attended the convention at Put-in-Bay, Ohio, and six members of the family, including father, mother and myself, symbolized our dedication to Jehovah, being baptized by our beloved brother in the faith, W. E. Van Amburgh. That same summer I took up the pioneer ministry, first in the hometown, and then later in nearby counties. The days were filled with new and stimulating experiences that were to stand me in good stead in the years that lay ahead.
Came then the exciting news that Pastor Russell was coming to our town to give a public lecture. How overjoyed we were! And we worked hard and long, painting signs and street banners, going from door to door with invitations and calling personally on businessmen of the community. Imagine our joy when the Opera House was filled to overflowing half an hour before the lecture was due to begin. For two hours the audience gave rapt attention. Afterwards, men and women lingered to express their appreciation of the things heard. And we rejoiced in these results of organized service.
Another feature of those days that always did much to help me maintain the status of full-time preacher of the “good news” was the visits of representatives of the Watch Tower Society known then as “pilgrims.” Happily, our home seemed to be always on the main route of those devoted servants of Jehovah. How we enjoyed the visits of J. F. Rutherford, A. H. Macmillan, H. H. Riemer, C. A. Wise, R. H. Barber, and scores of others! How these added to our ever-flowing stream of joy and to the riches of our faith! And how they aided us to appreciate Jehovah’s organization!
A period of my life that is very precious to me began when, in 1913, I was accepted as a member of the headquarters Bethel family at Brooklyn, New York. That year, too, the Photo-Drama of Creation was in course of preparation. It was made up of moving pictures and beautiful colored slides of scenes from the Bible story, synchronized with talks and music on phonograph records. It was presented in four parts, each two hours long.
The Watch Tower Society had purchased a partly finished theater building on West 63rd Street, just off Manhattan’s Broadway. Many devoted hands worked on the building day and night to get it ready for the dedication. It was called “The Temple.” Still greater was the joy we experienced that Sunday early in January of 1914 when we had our first showing there of the beautiful and instructive Photo-Drama.
Next day Pastor Russell assigned me, together with my brother and sister, to the twice-daily showing of the Drama at The Temple. Later the Society developed plans for the showing of the Photo-Drama in every town or city of 5,000 or more population. That was truly a busy year and a happy one.
During that year discussions at the dining table in Bethel became increasingly interesting. Often Brother Russell would keep us at the table long after the dinner hour discussing the end of “the Gentile times” and our hope in connection with it. I well recall his good counsel and earnest admonition to “hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” (Heb. 3:6, AV) He stated that the time feature had been reviewed and still seemed accurate, but if we were expecting more than what the Scriptures indicated, then we must be ready to adjust our minds and hearts in faith to Jehovah’s way and wait on him for the outworking of associated events. What fine counsel that proved to be!
Some years later any who attended our public meetings were encouraged, if interested, to submit their names and addresses so that calls might be made on them for further Bible discussion. Far into the night some of those calls would extend, as people showed interest in the organization sponsoring the lectures and in learning more about the wonderful Bible hope. Each day was like a grand adventure and kept one alert and prayerful to be “always ready to make a defense” for the hope we entertain.—1 Pet. 3:15.
Can you picture us engaging in the ministry on one of those busy evenings? We would carry along at least four sets of the seven volumes of Studies in the Scriptures. We might have to walk miles and miles before the trip was over. But what joy it brought!
TRIBULATIONS, THEN GREATER JOY
Faced with the complications of World War I when efforts were made to stamp out our Christian work and cripple the organization, we appreciated as never before the fact that God has an organization. I remember when we received the special Bible Students Monthly tract entitled “The Fall of Babylon.” We realized that this powerful message, with its cartoon showing Babylon’s walls tumbling down stone by stone, would take courage to distribute. Indeed, while sharing in its distribution one morning about twenty miles from home, mother and I and two other Witnesses landed in jail—incommunicado for a whole day and almost the whole night. A lawyer, in whose office we were held initially, exclaimed: “If these people are Christians, then this is a terrible thing that is happening here today.”
When, later, our Christian brothers at the Brooklyn Bethel were on trial and sentenced to long terms in prison, the times were surely trying. However, we took heart as the move got under way to circulate a petition for their release from unjust imprisonment. Once again I was arrested, taken this time to police headquarters for questioning behind locked doors. I was shown the file they kept on the Bible Students and was grilled at great length on the purpose and nature of our activity. Finally they accepted literature explaining our position, promising to read it through so they would know what to say when complaints were phoned in about our activities.
What a happy day it was when we learned that the officers of the Watch Tower Society had been released from prison and exonerated! How thankful to Jehovah we all were! Swiftly, then, came the evidences of a stronger, more devoted organization. An assembly was to be held at Cedar Point, Ohio. We had longed to see and talk with our spiritual brothers and sisters. And now the assembly gave us our wish and surely surpassed all our anticipations. And a big surprise! A new and powerful instrument for our ministry was released—The Golden Age, a Journal of Fact, Hope and Conviction, later to become known as Awake! It was a privilege to be among those assigned to accept subscriptions from the brothers assembled there at Cedar Point. Now, almost fifty years later, with undiminished joy we still present this wonderful magazine to the people.
Again in 1922 we were united in convention at Cedar Point. It was as though our feet were back on solid ground as we heard the words, “Back to the field, O ye sons of the most high God!” And what a thrill when the banner above the platform was suddenly unfolded and there we beheld our marching orders, “Advertise the King and Kingdom.”
PRECIOUS PIONEER MINISTRY
In 1926 my sister Helen and I got into the full-time preaching activity. How glad I was to resume these privileges! Hard times had come, though, and we often had to exchange Bible literature for whatever the people had to offer—chickens, corn, eggs, syrup, and so on. We even exchanged soap wrappers by the thousands, and in the evening, as we chatted over the experiences of the day, we would be cutting out the coupons.
In places where we located people truly interested in Bible study, we would arrange for a return call some convenient evening. We would plan to return with a recorded Bible lecture, and often were pleasantly surprised to find that householders had invited all their neighbors to come and hear.
In one small mill town the authorities objected to our Christian work, and Helen and I were arrested and placed in the mill jail, a place ordinarily reserved for drunks. This was at a time when many of our fellow Christians throughout the land were undergoing persecution. We got a trial of sorts and were sentenced. However, on appeal we were later cleared by a victory in the Supreme Court. Again Jehovah’s organization had come to our rescue. In all these experiences we were always aware of the close relationship that existed, isolated though we often were, between ourselves and our brothers at the Society’s headquarters.
By 1943 both mother and father had completed their course. They died in the happy satisfaction of having had so many privileges. True, we children were now without their help and encouragement, but now we were sufficiently strong, with Jehovah’s help, to meet the new circumstances. Our other sister, Maud, consented to undertake extra obligations so as to allow Helen and me to carry on as pioneers, now working close to home. Then late in 1966 Maud fell asleep in death, and once more we were faced with the challenge of rearranging our affairs so as to continue without letup in our chosen vocation. In our sorrow we were greatly comforted by the words of Psalm 116:15: “Precious in the eyes of Jehovah is the death of his loyal ones.” There was still joy in serving with Jehovah’s organization.
A few years ago it was thrilling to visit the Brooklyn Bethel again for a few days. It seemed as if the years between had dropped away and I was again a member of that wonderful family. The family had surely grown. However, I could still find familiar faces, a few who have continued loyally on the job since World War I. How heartening it is to see, though, that, regardless of individuals, Jehovah’s organization continues by his undeserved kindness to direct a prospering, worldwide ministry to his praise!
As the years pass, we have found that there is quite a diminution in strength and physical endurance, but, if anything, the joy has continued to increase. We have learned to be thankful for what we can still do and not fret over what we cannot now do. The magnificent flow of Bible truth through the pages of The Watchtower has imparted a strength to us continually, spiritual strength that sustains us and moves us to sing forth amid our human frailties: “O Jehovah, you are my God. I exalt you, I laud your name, for you have done wonderful things, counsels from early times, in faithfulness, in trustworthiness.”—Isa. 25:1.