Serving Jehovah with a Whole Heart
As told by Grace E. Lounsbury
WHEN I was a young woman, my mother died. This shocked me greatly, and I began to ask “Why? Why?” Two years later a friend died, and I attended the funeral, which was conducted by a Bible Student, one of Jehovah’s witnesses. My brother, who was interested in their Bible message, invited the speaker to stay overnight at our home. We asked many questions about death and received satisfying answers from the Bible; we learned about the grand hope of the resurrection of the dead.—Eccl. 9:5; John 5:28, 29.
From then on I began to read the Watch Tower Society’s books Studies in the Scriptures. I became so engrossed in them that I read late into the night.
Soon a decision had to be made. I decided to do Jehovah’s will wholeheartedly. When I was twenty-seven years old, I dedicated myself with all my heart to God, and in 1914 I was baptized in symbol of that dedication.
STARTING A NEW LIFE
From then on, my goal was to do God’s will wholeheartedly. My desire was to be a colporteur (pioneer), preaching God’s Word full time under the direction of the Watch Tower Society. In June-July 1914 I attended a convention of Bible Students at Columbus, Ohio. The Society’s president, C. T. Russell, was the main speaker. What a thrill it was to be at this assembly of about 2,000 fellow believers! Here I found a companion with whom to preach God’s Word full time in Canada, where I lived.
Our first assignment was in London, Ontario, where we served as ushers in connection with the showing of the Photo-Drama of Creation, a slide, motion picture and sound production outlining the divine purpose for the earth and mankind. We made visits on those who showed interest and left with them the volumes Studies in the Scriptures.
At the close of 1914 my companion got married, so I returned to my brother’s home in Saint Catharines, Ontario, where I continued in the full-time preaching work alone. Next year I received an assignment to preach in Niagara-on-the-Lake, a beautiful town at the mouth of the Niagara River. But, having no companion, I found it a big test to go alone and locate a place to stay, especially since no Bible Students lived there. I prayed for strength and help from Jehovah.
As I was leaving, I noticed a calendar on the back of the door. On it was a Bible text that read: “For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.” (Isa. 41:13) A thrill went through me. It was as though God had spoken and had taken me by the hand. When I arrived at my assignment, I had no difficulty in finding a place to live. That first morning in the field ministry I took orders for three sets of books. Since then I have learned that facing obstacles successfully strengthens heart devotion.
PREACHING IN QUEBEC
In 1918 I became very ill with the Spanish flu. When I recovered, I discontinued the full-time preaching work for a time. But in 1922 I attended the Cedar Point, Ohio, assembly and heard the stirring talk encouraging us to “Advertise, advertise, advertise, the King and his Kingdom.” I realized that I must get back to full-time preaching as soon as possible. In 1924 I was assigned to the province of Quebec as a full-time preacher. So I joined two of my Christian sisters in Saint-Hyacinthe. They had been stopped by the police from preaching in the city, so we packed our bags and lunches and walked long distances into the country, from farm to farm. We met many friendly persons who accepted Bible literature.
We preached in many small towns that summer. Having no car, we found moving quite a chore. After packing our suitcases and cartons of books, we would hire someone to take them to the station. We also ordered books from the Society to be shipped ahead of us so that we could get them from the freight shed upon arrival.
When the cold weather came, we moved to Montreal. Here there were many obstacles to preaching the good news. Arrests were common. Sometimes we were out on bail; sometimes we were released; sometimes children chased after us with mud or stones until we were forced to leave the vicinity—at least for the time being.
We had exciting times distributing the tract Ecclesiastics Indicted in the French language during the early summer of 1925. We were given a routing of towns and villages for ten days. Beginning at 6 a.m., we worked as quickly as possible, leaving the tract at every door. It was not unexpected when we met opposition.
While in the tract work in Thetford Mines, we had a threatening mob of some fifty persons follow us. We went to the police station, asking for protection. Reluctantly, the chief of police finally dispersed the mob.
In the summer of 1932, I had the privilege of doing rural witnessing in Quebec Province. We generally had four or five cars in the group, with two or three persons to a car. Often we experienced opposition. For example, a priest and the mayor of a little town once followed us from farm to farm, taking away the Bible literature that we had left with the people. When we found this out, we gave them the slip by running our car into some bushland until they had passed by; then we turned back, making our calls along another road.
In September 1933 we learned about a special distribution of Bible literature to be made in the city of Quebec. A large number of car drivers volunteered to go with four occupants to a car. We started distribution at 6 a.m., leaving three booklets at every door. By 8 a.m. thirty of us had been taken to the police station. We were held all day without food. Finally, at 5 p.m., we were charged with “seditious conspiracy” and locked up.
On the third day we were released on bail. At the trial five of us were found guilty. But on appeal, the case went finally to the Superior Court, where the decision was rendered in our favor.
WORKING UNDER BAN
We full-time preachers were assigned out of the Province of Quebec. In July we were startled with the news that the Watch Tower Society was banned in Canada. In September many Witness children in London and Hamilton, Ontario, were expelled from school for conscientious refusal to salute the flag. I was assigned, along with another sister, as a schoolteacher for these children. Although I was not able now to do full-time preaching, I would engage in the preaching work during the evenings and on weekends, using only the Bible. Preaching the good news of God’s kingdom is a work commanded in the Bible, and I was determined to “obey God as ruler rather than men.”—Acts 5:29.
In November we distributed a special booklet entitled “End of Nazism,” which plainly declared that God’s kingdom would destroy all totalitarian power. Our instructions were to start at 3 a.m. Four of us women left in a car to do three villages. We worked swiftly that cold, snowy morning, concerned that a dog might bark and arouse suspicion. When my companion and I passed a well-lighted store, a man came out and stared at us, but we kept right on walking. He must have wondered what two women were doing at that hour, walking out of the village into the blackness of a country road. We finished the distribution successfully. However, on the way to the next village, we had car trouble, and it was all that we could do to get back home.
RETURNING TO THE FULL-TIME PREACHING WORK
After the ban on the work of Jehovah’s witnesses was lifted, the way was open for me to return to the full-time preaching work. I was now in my sixtieth year, and the thought came to me: “Maybe pioneering will be too strenuous for you. Why not be just a good publisher?” But my Bible-trained mind said: “How can you say it would be too difficult till you have tried?” So it was that I became a full-time preacher of God’s Word in Toronto. What a blessed and happy time I had serving there for three and a half years! I saw five persons with whom I studied the Bible there symbolize their dedication to Jehovah.
In November 1950 I was assigned to Montreal, where I am still in the full-time preaching work. At first we still suffered persecutions and arrests. So we distributed pamphlets very carefully, taking only five or six at a time, and leaving one at every third or fourth door. Then we would leave the area as quickly as possible.
On returning from this distribution one Sunday morning I had just entered my living quarters when two policemen arrived, demanding that I show them what was in my purse and in the pockets of my coat. They seemed very disappointed when they found no Bible pamphlets at all.
I have been in an English-speaking congregation since then, and have had the privilege of helping many of those with whom I have studied to become witnesses of Jehovah. By now there are many congregations in Montreal, both French- and English-speaking, and I am happy that I have had a small share in contributing to this increase.
Having had a major operation four years ago, and due to advancing age, being in my eighty-seventh year, I have slowed up a little. However, with the help of Jehovah and his spirit, I am still able to pioneer. Every day I thank Jehovah for his undeserved kindness to me, keeping me close to his organization, and for his help to serve him with my whole heart. Truly, it is as the apostle Paul wrote: “For all things I have the strength by virtue of him who imparts power to me.”—Phil. 4:13.