“Working Night and Day” to Make Disciples
“Having a tender affection for you, we were well pleased to impart to you, not only the good news of God but also our own souls, because you became beloved to us. . . . It was with working night and day . . . that we preached the good news of God to you.”—1 Thess. 2:8, 9.
1. (a) To what end does Jehovah’s organization work? (b) At what should God’s servants now busy themselves?
JEHOVAH’S organization works with a sense of urgency. There is a job to get done. In harmony with the prayer that Jehovah’s name be sanctified, devoted heavenly creatures “have no rest day and night as they say: ‘Holy, holy, holy is Jehovah God, the Almighty.’” (Rev. 4:8; Matt. 6:9) Likewise, throughout the earth in this “time of the end,” dedicated servants of God, although having human limitations, busy themselves in “holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion, awaiting and keeping close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah, through which the heavens being on fire will be dissolved and the elements being intensely hot will melt!” How wonderful God’s promise of righteous “new heavens and a new earth” that will follow that fiery “day”!—2 Pet. 3:11-13; Dan. 12:1-4.
2. What is involved in service to God?
2 Service to God is not the daily humdrum of an ordinary secular job. It does not involve just a day shift or a night shift. It is a service that is motivated by intense desire to give of oneself “night and day” in obedience to Jesus’ commands to preach and to make disciples, out of Christian love. (Matt. 24:14; 28:19; John 13:34) This does not mean that a person should ignore his need for rest and refreshment, as that would in time deplete his strength and health. But he should be willing and eager to help others spiritually at every opportunity, whether “day” or “night.”
3. How did Paul and his companions regard the congregation at Thessalonica?
3 The apostle Paul and his companions did just that! They were moved by “tender affection” for interested ones. When they formed a new congregation at Thessalonica, it quickly experienced trials and persecutions. But because of their integrity under trial, these new Christians “became beloved” to those who had studied with them. Paul and his fellow servants of God had been moved to impart, not only “good news,” but also their “own souls” on behalf of the Thessalonians. While they were with the young congregation, they worked hard “night and day” to care for their own needs and, besides that, they spent much time in teaching the new disciples. In this way, they truly poured out their souls in night-and-day service to Jehovah.
4. What realistic attitude should we take toward our service today?
4 Is our concern for “sheeplike” ones in our own area that strong? We know we have divinely assigned work to do. But most of us work at secular jobs so as not to be a burden to others, or we care for our families, or we go to school. At other times we share in the field service. But how concerned are we about interested ones that we find as we preach? Do we truly have “tender affection” for them? We may devote quite a number of hours to the field service, and we rejoice to leave some books or magazines with kindly-disposed persons. We probably make some return visits. But sometimes a month or two may go by without returning to see how interested ones are faring. Are we really thinking in terms of lives? So that they may find the way to life, are we “well pleased to impart . . . not only the good news of God, but also our own souls”?
5. What can we learn from Paul’s pattern?
5 Paul set a splendid pattern in expending himself on behalf of his new brothers and other interested ones. At his final parting with the elders of the Ephesus congregation, he said: “Therefore keep awake, and bear in mind that for three years, night and day, I did not quit admonishing each one with tears. I have exhibited to you in all things that by thus laboring you must assist those who are weak, and must bear in mind the words of the Lord Jesus, when he himself said, ‘There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.’” (Acts 20:31, 35) If we, like Paul, have genuine concern for the “sheep,” we will work heart and soul on ways to help them. We will endeavor to make return visits on them within a few days, if possible, or perhaps call them by phone to stimulate their interest. The Devil and his agents will try to destroy that interest, so we must be alert to help those “sheep.”—Luke 8:11, 12.
KEEPING BUSY “NIGHT AND DAY”
6, 7. (a) What expansion is taking place, and what challenge does this pose? (b) Why should we make calls and return visits in our territory?
6 Fresh interest is being found as we keep preaching the good news. Hence the volume of work is always expanding. New congregations are being formed and more Bibles, books and magazines are being distributed—a total of 313,229,157 publications during the 1974 service year. Additionally, 2,387,904 new subscriptions for The Watchtower and Awake! were obtained. There is urgent need to revisit those who receive this literature.
7 Some householders may not even accept literature. But they may make appreciative comments on the zeal of Jehovah’s witnesses in calling so frequently at their homes. The concern of such people over the worsening corruption and unrighteousness in the earth opens the way to give them further help. More and more, righteously inclined persons are coming to appreciate that the selfish, heartless society of our day holds out absolutely no hope for the future. (Ps. 92:7) By repeated calls on such persons, we may convince them of a realistic hope. With that in view, “we are working hard and exerting ourselves, because we have rested our hope on a living God, who is a Savior of all sorts of men, especially of faithful ones.”—1 Tim. 4:10.
8. What may result from applying the counsel of Ecclesiastes 11:6?
8 Keeping busy “night and day,” we may find good response when we talk with workmates, neighbors or fellow students.
A congregation in a university city reports that recently six students have associated regularly in the meetings. One of these is now enjoying the regular pioneer service while attending university. Another student to whom this new Witness introduced the truth has returned to her hometown to take up the pioneer service, and still another that she taught has just been baptized.
There is fine counsel at Ecclesiastes 11:6: “In the morning sow your seed and until the evening do not let your hand rest; for you are not knowing where this will have success, either here or there, or whether both of them will alike be good.” So by using every opportunity that comes along, “night and day,” to converse with others about the glorious hope contained in “this good news of the kingdom,” we will find here and there, and often in unexpected places, hearts responsive to the Kingdom message.
9. Why can we be confident of Jehovah’s blessing?
9 Jehovah ‘knows the hearts of all.’ If we will but preach and teach diligently, the message will take root in honest hearts, and Jehovah will keep “making it grow.” (Acts 1:24; 1 Cor. 3:6) We may meet with rebuffs and disappointments on the way, but we can look forward confidently to the fulfillment of Solomon’s words: “Send out your bread upon the surface of the waters, for in the course of many days you will find it again.”—Eccl. 11:1.
10. How may we work with a purpose?
10 Genuine concern should prompt all of Jehovah’s witnesses to follow through on interest found. When that is the case, they do not merely note the name of the person, and then put the record in a book bag, forgetting it. Rather, they are deeply concerned to give these new ones needed help. So they do as Proverbs 3:27 instructs: “Do not hold back good from those to whom it is owing, when it happens to be in the power of your hand to do it.” Yes, do it! By purposefully calling again, as soon as possible, to continue your Bible-based conversation with the interested person, you can ‘strike while the iron is hot,’ as it were, enlarging that interest before opposers have time or opportunity to quench it.
A Kingdom publisher made a return visit on an interested person just one hour after the initial call. In a little more than a week, three more return visits were made for answering Bible questions, and then a home Bible study was started.
11. What is the great need of the people, and how can the Christian help to fill that need?
11 Each year, many millions of publications, in more than a hundred and sixty languages, are left by Jehovah’s witnesses in the homes of interested persons world wide. But people need more than literature in their homes to be spared through the coming “great tribulation.” They need help in taking Bible truths into their minds and hearts. (Rom. 10:10-15; 12:1, 2) They need to receive the “mark” of the true Christian personality in their foreheads. (Ezek. 9:4; Eph. 4:24) It takes time to learn Bible principles and to put on this “new personality.” The Christian servant of God must continue to give loving, patient, understanding help, so that newly interested ones may really learn the requirements for everlasting life, and make their minds over to Christian living. Are you willing to give them that help? Having constantly in mind the urgency of the times, and that it is a matter of life and death, let us expend ourselves prayerfully in their behalf while there is time.—John 9:4; Phil. 1:9-11.
12, 13. (a) What adjustments did the apostles and others make in order to share in disciple-making? (b) How may we enjoy similar blessings today?
12 Someone may say, “I do not have the ability to conduct a home Bible study.” Or, “I just do not have the time to conduct a study with someone on a regular weekly basis.” True, some of us are new or inexperienced, or we have not had the best education. With others, the pressure of making a living in this modern society may seem to limit time for other things Still, can we not do the same as the apostles and other early disciples? Some of them had been occupied with fishing and other secular occupations. But they adjusted their way of life so that they could follow Jesus in learning how to preach and teach. They made time for it.—Mark 1:16-20.
13 Those apostles did not have great worldly education or knowledge. But they had God’s spirit, and they accepted the training that Jehovah provided. In a short time, their zealous preaching and teaching resulted in a remarkable increase to “about five thousand” believers in the city of Jerusalem. The opposing rulers could do nothing to stop it. “Now when they beheld the outspokenness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were men unlettered and ordinary, they got to wondering. And they began to recognize about them that they used to be with Jesus.”—Acts 4:4, 13; John 7:46.
14. (a) What is our big interest today, and why is it urgent? (b) Our belief in the prophecies should prompt us to do what?
14 Peter, John and the other disciples were interested in saving lives. That is our big interest, also, today. A doomed world stands on the brink of the “great tribulation”—“a time of distress such as has not been made to occur since there came to be a nation until that time.” But the remaining ones of spiritual Israel expect to escape, and there will be rejoicing, too, when “a great crowd . . . out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues . . . come out of the great tribulation,” because of having exercised faith in the shed blood of the Lamb, Christ Jesus, and by taking up the worship of Jehovah “day and night in his temple.” (Dan. 12:1; Rev. 7:9-15) Do you believe this? Then why not make the necessary adjustments in your life so that you may expend yourself to the full in calling on and revisiting honest-hearted people, and studying with them till they have set their feet firmly on the way to salvation? The urgency of the time demands this effort!—Rom. 13:11, 12.
15. In what ways may the discipling work be cultivated?
15 By all means, we should keep busy in aiding those who are genuinely interested in God’s Word. If for some reason we are unable to make a return visit soon, we should ask another Kingdom proclaimer to help out. Elders and ministerial servants in the congregation will also be glad to assist in arranging for all interested ones to have proper attention. To all who are sharing in the Kingdom work, perhaps assisting for the first time in distributing Kingdom News, the call goes out to progress into other aspects of the field service, making return visits and conducting studies. Like the young overseer Timothy, you, too, can make progress, in line with Paul’s admonition: “Ponder over these things; be absorbed in them, that your advancement may be manifest to all persons. . . . Stay by these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.”—1 Tim. 4:15, 16.
ADAPTING TO NEEDS OF INTERESTED ONES
16. To what uses may the Truth and Peace and Security books be put?
16 The Christian servant of God needs to be flexible and discerning in starting and conducting studies in the Bible. People who know something about the Bible, or who have had contact with Christendom’s religions may be glad to study the Bible with the aid of the book The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life. Or, if they are deeply concerned in finding the solution to world troubles or are disturbed by the bad conduct of people, a study in the book True Peace and Security—From What Source? may be appropriate. Before being baptized as a disciple of Jesus Christ, it would be beneficial for each new one to read both the above books, while making reference to the Bible, so as to understand clearly not only doctrine but also principles of Christian living.—Acts 17:11.
17. How may the teaching work be adjusted to situations throughout the earth?
17 In some parts of the earth, the people may have had little, if any, education. Some do not even know how to read and write. But among these also are to be found honest-hearted ones who may be privileged to survive the “great tribulation.” In some lands where there has been no written language, God’s servants have used pictograms to convey vital Bible teachings. In many countries, new ones are taught by Jehovah’s witnesses to read and write, so that they can advance in Bible study. Publications are provided in Braille for use of the blind. In Africa and in many countries of Christendom, the simply put booklet “This Good News of the Kingdom” has reached many hearts with a clear-cut message. In some Asiatic countries, the booklet “Look! I Am Making All Things New” has been very effective for instructing new ones who know nothing about the Bible and its background. For example:
An Asiatic gentleman who held a prominent position in a bank bought a large plot of ground and made plans for building a beautiful home on it. But at this stage his wife started to study with Jehovah’s witnesses. After some persuasion, he also started to study, using the booklet “Look! I Am Making All Things New.” On studying up to paragraph 4, he decided that Jehovah’s new order was what he was interested in. From that point he made very diligent study of the Bible. Not only did he give up his plans for building the new home, but he also resigned his position at the bank, so that he could better concentrate on his Bible studies. After two months of study, he became active in field service. He and his wife have moved to a smaller apartment so that they will be free of hindrances when they qualify shortly to enter the pioneer service. The pioneer who studies with them declares: “What a wonderful privilege it is to help these sheeplike ones!”
18. How may we be flexible in working toward the goal of conducting a study?
18 There are many Bible publications designed to capture the interest and meet the needs of new ones. Those who have a background in science or education may hesitate to study the Bible—the target of so much criticism. But discussions with them on material in the books Is the Bible Really the Word of God? and Did Man Get Here by Evolution or by Creation? may show them that the Bible provides the highest education and that it is not unscientific at all. Others can be reached by taking an interest in their children and showing parents how to study the book Listening to the Great Teacher with little ones. In time a regular study may be started with the entire family. So we need to be flexible in working toward this goal of conducting a study, and also in choosing the Bible study aid that will be most appropriate.
19. How may we adapt to problem situations?
19 Sometimes adaptability is needed, too, in arranging when and where to study. For example, a Witness who studied with a fisherman had to arrange for evenings when the fishing boat was in from the sea, adjusting the time of his own family study to fit it in. Some have had to study during lunch hours at work, perhaps fitting in two brief studies each week. The study location may be a park bench, a parked automobile, or the home of the Witness, if there is opposition to studying elsewhere.
WHAT WILL YOU DO IN THIS WORK OF DISCIPLE-MAKING?
20. To succeed in disciple-making, what is necessary? Illustrate.
20 What an individual can do may depend on varied circumstances, such as family responsibilities, health and other factors. But what is your desire? Is it to expand your field activity, so as really to succeed in disciple-making? Then apply yourself, having full trust in Jehovah. Here is how matters worked out for one who did so:
A young lady who grew up in nominal Christianity felt that something was lacking. She was impressed by all the beauty in creation, but she was not praising the Creator. But from Jehovah’s witnesses she learned of God’s marvelous universal organization and his Kingdom purposes. She could hardly wait to be baptized and then to qualify as a regular pioneer. Before that her life had been molded to serve only her husband and her small children. With their cooperation, she could now adjust, not only to keep serving them, but also to serve Jehovah first and foremost. One by one, she solved her problems by reliance on Jehovah. Her husband consented to her relinquishing her work with him at his place of business, and on the same day he received a surprise in that his own income was unexpectedly doubled. At the end of a long day’s field activity, she would be tired, but she let her husband see only her joy. Then, just when she needed it most, her husband provided her with a light car for her service. She never misses a meeting, and daily she reads the Bible, finding great encouragement in the faithful examples of Jehovah’s servants of former days. On one occasion she traveled with her children more than a thousand miles, to preach in her home island, and there she located so much interest in the Bible that special pioneers were sent in to follow up. This young housewife was truly granted her life’s desire.—Ps. 145:16.
21. Who may find real joy in the field service today?
21 As this and many other real-life experiences illustrate, the vital work of Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making is not to be performed in our own strength. We must depend on Jehovah and keep on seeking his direction. He will help us to cultivate our abilities. Paul wrote to first-century Christians: “For you behold his calling of you, brothers, that not many wise in a fleshly way were called.” No, “but God chose the foolish things of the world, that he might put the wise men to shame.” (1 Cor. 1:26, 27) It is the same today. Not those with a higher theological education, but humble people who love God and their fellowman, and who work night and day to make disciples—these are the ones who have success and joy in their service. Their genuine interest in others shines through, and “the glorious knowledge of God” that they have in their hearts also shines forth to others, by God’s power, to recommend His truth.—2 Cor. 4:6, 7.
22. (a) What assurance does 1 Corinthians 15:58 give to those who make the effort? (b) Illustrate by local or other experience the joy to be found in night and day service.
22 Regardless of the response, our work is not in vain. (1 Cor. 15:58) Some of our greatest joys can come from disciple-making. A housewife, who faced opposition from her in-laws, but who courageously quit working in their restaurant business in order to enter the full-time pioneer service, writes concerning this joy:
Though the parents were disappointed, they could see that their son’s family had become more united and happy, and that their daughter-in-law, far from being lazy, was working hard from morning to night. Also, my activity became a blessing to our family. During the first year, our seven-year-old son became a publisher, and at nine he was baptized. He is zealously enjoying the service. In less than five years since starting in the pioneer service, I have aided nineteen persons to the point of baptism. In the first two months of this 1974 service year, three persons with whom I study have been baptized, and today all eight persons with whom I study attend meetings. Three more of these will start preaching in the near future. When I find others who are glad to study, I feel that Jehovah knows his sheep well and wants to have them gathered, so that I am really filled with joy. Sometimes I am so very busy, and at times I get tired, but then I read Isaiah 40:25-31 again and again. I give thanks for my privilege in making disciples, and feel satisfaction in living life to the full. If I had my life to live over again, I would choose the same work and way of life.
23. (a) What encouragement may those in secular occupation receive from the example of Paul and Silas? (b) How may newly discipled ones become “our glory and joy”?
23 Not all of us may be able to expand our service to the same extent. And some territories may be comparatively unresponsive. But all of us can work heart and soul in the preaching and teaching work, confident that Jehovah will lead us to those that belong to him. Many of us can be like Paul and Silas, who were pleased to work “night and day,” not only at their secular occupation, but also to ‘impart the good news of God along with their own souls’ to beloved new disciples. And concerning these we can say, as did the apostle: “For what is our hope or joy or crown of exultation—why, is it not in fact you?—before our Lord Jesus at his presence? You certainly are our glory and joy.” (1 Thess. 2:7-9, 19, 20) And it will be a continuing joy. For after the “great tribulation” has passed, what joy it will be in the new system to have eternally the pleasant association of those we helped to know Jehovah!