Where More Proclaimers of the Good News Are Especially Needed
“Step over into Macedonia and help us.”—Acts 16:9.
1, 2. What was Paul’s experience when he first visited Ephesus, and what did he recognize and promise?
FOR those who appreciate the Christian responsibility to proclaim the good news of God’s kingdom, it is a thrilling experience to find people who plead with them to stay and teach them the truth. Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, had this experience when he first visited the city of Ephesus in Asia Minor. It was about the middle of the first century of our Common Era. He stopped there briefly on his way back to Antioch, Syria, during his second missionary tour. When people in a synagogue heard him proclaim the good news, they urged him to stay so they could hear more.
2 Paul recognized that the need for preachers of the good news in Ephesus was great. He could not stay and help them at that time, but he promised to return, saying: “I will return to you again, if Jehovah is willing.” (Acts 18:21) This he did on his third missionary tour, staying there for three fruitful years. He built up a congregation in Ephesus that was specifically mentioned by the resurrected Jesus Christ more than forty years later. Jesus inspired the apostle John to commend the Ephesus congregation for its endurance and labor but also to rebuke it for having “left the love you had at first.”—Rev. 2:2-4.
3. How did Paul manifest the right attitude when he spoke with the Ephesians on his third missionary tour?
3 At the conclusion of his third missionary tour, Paul stopped at Miletus, a small town a little south of Ephesus, and he sent for the older men of the congregation in Ephesus. When they arrived he spoke with them and reminded them of how he had expended himself so they could learn the good news. From the moment he had stepped into the Roman province of Asia, which was an area that embraced the western part of the peninsula of Asia Minor and which had Ephesus as its capital, he kept preaching the good news despite persecution. This fine attitude is what persons today need who go to where the need for proclaimers of the good news is very great.
4. How did Paul respond to the plea to come to Macedonia and help people there?
4 On an earlier occasion Paul manifested his willingness to serve where more preachers were needed. This was on his second missionary tour. He was at the town of Troas in the northwest corner of the peninsula of Asia Minor. There he received a vision of a man of Macedonia entreating him to come over and help the people of Macedonia. (Acts 16:9, 10) Recognizing this as Jehovah’s direction to go to this territory where the need was very great, Paul promptly boarded a vessel and sailed to Neapolis in Macedonia. From there he went to the city of Philippi, which was on a trade route. It was always his policy to establish himself in cities that were on trade routes, evidently so the preaching he did would be carried by travelers to other cities. The congregation he formed in Philippi was always especially grateful to him for his labors and often sent gifts to him.
5. What example did Paul, Aquila and Priscilla set for us today?
5 Paul set a fine example for Jehovah’s dedicated servants today. He put the interests of God’s kingdom first in his life and was willing to go to other places where the need for preachers was great. This also appears to have been true of Aquila and Priscilla. Paul met them in Corinth during his second missionary tour, and when he left they accompanied him as far as Ephesus. There they stayed and preached. Persons who are dedicated servants of Jehovah today can manifest the same willingness to serve where the need for preachers of the good news is greater than where they are.
PLACES WHERE THERE IS GREAT NEED
6, 7. (a) How can a Kingdom publisher make his efforts more fruitful? (b) Should a Christian move to another territory if he is getting good results where he is?
6 There are many places today where the need for more preachers of the good news of the Kingdom is very great, and these places provide fine opportunities for dedicated servants of Jehovah to make their efforts in the ministry as fruitful as possible in the short time that remains to the present system of things.
7 Of course, if one of these dedicated Christians is having good results in the territory assigned to his congregation, and people are responding to the good news of the Kingdom by associating with Jehovah’s organization, he is needed right there. He has a fertile field for the ministry, and he might as well continue working it instead of going elsewhere. But suppose the territory is being worked frequently without much fruit coming from his efforts, what then? Should he slow down or quit? By no means! His endurance is pleasing to Jehovah God.
8. Why is it advisable to move, if possible, when a territory is not productive?
8 However, if he is in a position that permits him to help out in another territory where more preachers are needed, would it not be a wise move for him to go to that territory? A fisherman that finds that his boat is in a location where the fishing is bad will move his boat to fishing grounds where the possibility of a catch is more promising. He is interested in catching as many fish as he can before the day ends. As spiritual fishermen Jehovah’s witnesses today want to work where their efforts will be the most productive.
9, 10. If a person can move to another country, what are some of the countries where the need is very great that he might consider?
9 It may be possible that a family can arrange its affairs so as to go to another country where the need for preachers is exceptionally great. In the United States the ratio of publishers to population is one to 524, but there are a number of countries where the ratio is not as good, indicating a great need for more preachers of the good news of God’s kingdom. For example, in Bolivia the ratio is one in 4,222; in El Salvador it is one to 1,951; in Guatemala it is one to 2,298; in Colombia it is one to 3,021; in Ecuador it is one to 2,095; in Paraguay it is one to 2,963, and in Peru it is one in 3,007. These countries are all in Central and South America, where the “fishing” has proved to be very good. Some of them, however, still have entire cities without a congregation of Jehovah’s people.
10 Now suppose we take a look at Africa and see how great the need for preachers of the kingdom is there. In Burundi the ratio of Jehovah’s witnesses to population is one to 71,174; in Senegal it is one to 20,339; in Gambia it is one to 35,111; in Ivory Coast it is one to 9,513; in Kenya it is one to 11,094; in the Republic of Mali it is one to 700,000; in Niger it is one to 106,296; in Tchad it is one to 50,000, and in Uganda it is one to 98,234. These countries offer a fine “fishing” opportunity to dedicated servants of Jehovah who are able to move to another country.
11, 12. Describe what Witness missionaries are finding in some of the African countries.
11 There is so much interest in some of these countries that the Witnesses there have waiting lists of people who want to study the Bible with them. In Kenya, for example, they do not waste time with persons who fail to keep appointments. When a person fails to be home a few times when the study is supposed to be held, the Witness will discontinue the study and spend his time with someone else who shows more appreciation for it. If after a study has been discontinued the person promises to keep his appointments and wants the study to be renewed, he is put at the bottom of the list of those waiting for studies.
12 A missionary that went to Dahomey reported that in a little over six months she was conducting fifteen home Bible studies. She writes: “There is not enough time to cope with everyone who would like to study. We are getting well known in the town and people just stop us and ask if we will study with them.” The good “fishing” conditions in these countries are indicated by the fine increases in the number of those associating with Jehovah’s organization. These too are active in proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom.
13. What did a Witness find in the Truk Islands, and what question confronts you?
13 As might be expected, those who have gone to countries where the need for preachers is very great have had some stimulating experiences. One who visited some of the many islands in the Truk District found people who had never seen a Bible and had never heard the good news of the Kingdom. They eagerly listened to him. When he left an island after preaching to the people for a while, they repeatedly asked, “When are you coming back?” How like the people of ancient Ephesus when the apostle Paul first visited them. Can you respond to the plea of such people in various countries to “Step over . . . and help us”?
WITHIN ONE’S OWN COUNTRY
14. How can a person serve where more proclaimers of the Kingdom are needed within his own country?
14 If a family is not able to go to another country, it may be able to move to one of the isolated territories within its own country. Many Witnesses have done this with good results. Some have moved to territories a great distance from their hometown, and others have moved only a few miles away where more help is needed. In some instances the territory is isolated from a congregation of Jehovah’s witnesses. The interest there must be developed so a congregation can be formed. In other instances a congregation may be present but is small and weak. It is in need of help and encouragement. In other instances a congregation may need stronger leadership, and this provides opportunity for a mature minister in Jehovah’s organization to move his family to that town and help that congregation.
15. How can mature Witnesses help a small congregation?
15 Much good can be done by mature Witnesses who move where there is a small congregation in need of help. By taking a zealous lead in the ministry they can infuse new life into the congregation and help the local Witnesses to become more productive “fishers of men.” (Matt. 4:19) They can be a stimulating example to the local congregation, as Paul and his companions were to the congregation at Thessalonica. Writing to the Christians in that congregation, Paul said: “For we know, brothers loved by God, his choosing of you, because the good news we preach did not turn up among you with speech alone but also with power and with holy spirit and strong conviction, just as you know what sort of men we became to you for your sakes; and you became imitators of us and of the Lord.”—1 Thess. 1:4-6.
16. What special joy did the apostle Paul have, and how can Witnesses today share that joy within their own countries?
16 The apostle Paul found great joy in opening up new territories to the preaching of the good news of the Kingdom. In his letter to the Roman Christians, those living at Rome, he revealed this joy by saying: “In this way, indeed, I made it my aim not to declare the good news where Christ had already been named, in order that I might not be building on another man’s foundation; but, just as it is written: ‘Those to whom no announcement has been made about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.”’ (Rom. 15:20, 21) This can be the joy of Witnesses today who are willing to move to an isolated territory where there is no established congregation.
17. What kind of persons must those be who contemplate moving to where the need for preachers is especially great?
17 Those who move to where the need is greater must necessarily be persons who have a keen appreciation for the truth of God’s Word and who manifest this appreciation by zealous activity in the ministry. They need to be persons who are strong in the truth and able to “make a defense before everyone that demands of [them] a reason for the hope in [them].” (1 Pet. 3:15) They need to be persons who are willing to endure inconveniences, hardships and even persecution in order to carry on the ministry. This was the attitude the apostle Paul had. He said: “You well know how from the first day that I stepped into the district of Asia I was with you the whole time, slaving for the Lord with the greatest lowliness of mind and tears and trials that befell me.”—Acts 20:18, 19.
THOSE WHO CANNOT MOVE
18, 19. How can arrangements be made so those who cannot move can serve where there is great need?
18 But what about those who cannot move? How can they serve where more preachers of the kingdom of God are needed? It may be that within their circuit of about twenty congregations there is territory that contains many people interested in the good news, but perhaps the local congregation has too much territory to care for this interest. Arrangements can be made with that congregation for Witnesses in another congregation to come in and develop the interest. Why should they spend their time in unfruitful territory when there is better “fishing” in territory that another congregation holds but which is too much for that congregation to handle?
19 Witnesses in other parts of the circuit who can travel to such a territory could be assigned to develop the interest there. When interest is found they will want to start studies and to conduct those studies regularly. This, of course, will be an expense to them in time and money. If they are able to carry this expense they will be able to serve where more proclaimers of the Kingdom are needed without having to move from their homes.
20-22. Describe problems that may be encountered with accommodations and employment and how they can be overcome.
20 As might be expected, problems are certain to confront anyone who goes to a territory that is distant from his home or who moves to another city or country. For those who move it may mean they will have to content themselves with accommodations that are below their accustomed standard of living. This will require an adjustment in their thinking in order to continue preaching in that territory. It would be difficult to stay if they kept thinking about what they had left behind.
21 Finding employment may be another problem, but can we say that it is an impossible one to solve? In some instances the local Witnesses have been able to help a family to locate work. In others it has been necessary to take work that was different from what the person had been accustomed to doing. He may even have to take work that does not pay as well, but that may be necessary in order to stay there where the need for preachers is great. Here again developing the right mental attitude is important. Paul pointed out the view to take when he said: “Having sustenance and covering, we shall be content with these things.”—1 Tim. 6:8.
22 So the family that moves will do its best to get along on possibly lower income and perhaps less desirable accommodations so it can stay where more proclaimers of the Kingdom are needed. This would be putting the interests of God’s kingdom ahead of material interests, as Jesus recommended.—Matt. 6:33.
23. How can a person view the leaving of good friends so as to serve where more proclaimers of the good news are needed?
23 The difficulty of leaving good friends may be still another problem. Moving does not mean the end of their friendships but rather the opportunity to expand friendships. A family will find new friends to add to those it already has. Remember Jesus’ promise that those who leave relatives in order to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom elsewhere will receive relatives and houses a hundredfold. New friends who are also dedicated servants of Jehovah God will become as close as fleshly relatives. Because of their hospitality their homes will be open to such persons. Graduates of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead who have gone as missionaries to other countries have proved Jesus’ statement to be true.—Mark 10:29, 30.
24. What helps to make insignificant the problems of serving where there is need for Kingdom proclaimers?
24 No matter what the problems may be in trying to serve where the need for more proclaimers of the Kingdom is great, the joy of being able to help people come to a knowledge of the truths of God’s Word makes them fade to insignificance. It makes the effort and endurance worth while. There is an inner satisfaction of knowing that you are helping others and, above all, are doing what is pleasing in the eyes of God. Mature Witnesses know the satisfaction that comes when their efforts in the ministry bear good fruit. Think how much greater that joy can be when the fruit is abundant because of working in territory where the need is great. Certainly there is happiness in unselfishly giving one’s time and energy to helping people to learn about Jehovah, his Son and his wonderful purposes for mankind.
COUNT THE COST
25. Before moving, what is it necessary for a family to do?
25 Those who are dedicated servants of Jehovah ought to take stock of their situation and seriously consider going where more preachers are needed. If a family thinks it can move to another country or to another location within its own country it must necessarily count the cost and decide whether it can meet it or not. The reason why this is so necessary was explained by Jesus when he said: “Who of you that wants to build a tower does not first sit down and calculate the expense, to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, he might lay its foundation but not be able to finish it.”—Luke 14:28, 29.
26, 27. Why is it only sensible to work where our efforts will produce the most fruit, and how did Paul set an example in this respect?
26 Since the time left for this old system of things is very short, it is only sensible to work where our efforts will produce the most fruit. If we are in position to make a move, it is not reasonable to continue struggling with unproductive territory when the “fishing” is better in another territory that is short of preachers. But when a family moves it should be able to stay. So advance planning and counting of the cost are essential.
27 The apostle Paul saw the wisdom of moving to more productive territory when he found himself where the “fishing” was not good. It was for this reason that he did not remain longer in Athens. It was a relatively unfruitful territory. So he moved to Corinth, where he remained for one and a half years during his second missionary tour. This was what the Lord wanted him to do. In a vision he told Paul: “Have no fear, but keep on speaking and do not keep silent, because I am with you and no man will assault you so as to do you injury; for I have many people in this city.” (Acts 18:9, 10) This proved to be so.
28, 29. What is the procedure if a family decides it can move to where it can be more productive?
28 If a family, after counting the cost, decides that in one way or another it can serve where more preachers of the good news are needed, what should it do? Everyone in the family should take the matter to Jehovah in prayer, asking for his guidance and help in making the right decision. Then they can proceed to make all the necessary advance preparations so as to ensure their ability to remain in the new territory once they arrive. If possible, the new territory ought to be scouted out in advance, especially if it involves moving. Accommodations as well as employment need to be located.
29 Suppose the family decides to go to another country, what then? It can write to the branch office of the Watch Tower Society in the country where it wants to go, asking for whatever information may be needed. On the other hand, if the contemplated move is within the country where the family lives, it can write to the Society’s offices in that country. The Society will be happy to inform the family of places where more proclaimers of the good news are especially needed.
30. What is the best way to follow the example of Jesus Christ and Paul? Why?
30 It would be very fine if the family could spend most of its time in the ministry as pioneers. Much more would be accomplished, and it would be better able to care for the interest that is found. This is the best way to follow the example set by Jesus and the apostle Paul, who devoted most of their time to the ministry.
31. Of what evidence is the great growth of Jehovah’s organization, and how have people coming into that organization shown their gratitude that someone had preached the good news to them?
31 The tremendous growth of Jehovah’s organization just since the end of World War II is good evidence of how fruitful the proclaiming of the good news of the Kingdom has been. It is also a good indication that the method used is the best. In 1945 there were 141,606 Witnesses proclaiming the good news in 68 lands. By 1970, twenty-five years later, the organization had grown to more than ten times that size, to 1,483,430 active proclaimers in 206 lands. To these many people who heard the good news and responded to it the feet of those who brought it to them were “comely,” as the prophet Isaiah foretold. (Isa. 52:7) They are grateful that there are people in these modern times who are willing to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom even in distant places. They are showing their gratitude by also proclaiming the good news for the benefit of still others. In doing this they follow the way recommended by Jehovah’s organization.
32. How are we seeing now the fulfillment of Isaiah 60:22?
32 Here we are seeing the fulfillment of the prophecy at Isaiah 60:22: “The little one himself will become a thousand, and the small one a mighty nation. I myself, Jehovah, shall speed it up in its own time.” With the pace of response from the proclamation of the good news of the Kingdom rapidly increasing, it is clearly evident that this is the time when Jehovah is speeding up the growth of his earthly organization.
33. Why is it necessary for Jehovah’s witnesses to examine seriously how they can increase their productiveness as proclaimers of the good news of the Kingdom?
33 The ingathering is great, the workers few and the time left to do the work greatly reduced. If you are dedicated to Jehovah as one of his witnesses, seriously examine how you can increase your efforts in the great ingathering of people desiring Jehovah’s favor and the benefits of his kingdom. Seriously consider how you can increase your productiveness in the Christian ministry by working where more proclaimers of the good news of God’s kingdom are especially needed. Could it be that it is where you are now living?