Co-Workers in the Harvest
“[Jesus] said to his disciples: ‘Yes, the harvest is great, but the workers are few. Therefore, beg the Master of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.’”—Matt. 9:37, 38.
1. Intense opposition to our work can be viewed in what way?
HARVESTING is not always done under easy or favorable conditions but with perseverance. Stiff opposition rises up in some places, but the point is that the ingathering continues. Experience shows that it is often because of opposition that some people, who otherwise were not interested in Jehovah’s Witnesses, are prompted to take a fresh look at the situation. At the end of the report in the 1978 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses, 18 other countries are grouped in one entry, countries where the opposition is particularly severe. And in those 18 countries there were 9,673 immersed just last year!
2. What severe opposition was encountered in Nehemiah’s day, and how was it met?
2 To work, and to work hard, under conditions of fierce opposition is not a new experience for Jehovah’s servants. It is now as it was in the days of Nehemiah, when they were busy building Jerusalem’s wall and the neighboring peoples intensified their opposition to the point of conspiring to fight against the city. Nehemiah reports: “As for the builders on the wall and those who were carrying the burden of load bearers, each one was active in the work with his one hand while the other hand was holding the missile. And the builders were girded, each one with his sword upon his hip, while building; and the one to blow the horn was alongside me.”—Neh. 4:17, 18.
3. (a) How was it then that God’s people had a good “heart for working”? (b) In what parallel way does the prophecy of Isaiah encourage us today?
3 In that same chapter, at Ne 4 verse 6, it says that “the people continued to have a heart for working.” Do we know the secret of that fine heart condition? It is mentioned later at Nehemiah 8:10: “For the joy of Jehovah is your stronghold.” The same is true of us today, is it not? Are we not reminded of what Jehovah said through his prophet Isaiah, showing the contrast between the true and the false servants: “Look! My own servants will rejoice, but you yourselves will suffer shame. Look! My own servants will cry out joyfully because of the good condition of the heart, but you yourselves will make outcries because of the pain of heart and you will howl because of sheer breakdown of spirit.” Then Jehovah went on to say: “For here I am creating new heavens and a new earth . . . But exult, you people, and be joyful forever in what I am creating. For here I am creating Jerusalem a cause for joyfulness and her people a cause for exultation.”—Isa. 65:13-18.
WORKING JOYFULLY WITH GOD’S WORD
4. What provisions has Jehovah made for us to be joyful workers?
4 We certainly have every reason to be joyful workers. We have Jehovah’s blessing. We have Jehovah’s spirit, and “joy” is part of the fruitage of that spirit. (Gal. 5:22) We have also “the sword of the spirit, that is, God’s word.” (Eph. 6:17) What a joy it is to use this in preaching the “good news” to others! The following real-life experiences show this.
5-7. In the experience relative to the Truth book, in what ways was Jehovah’s blessing manifest?
5 ‘While working in the field service from house to house one day, my service companion and I met a young woman who manifested some interest in our Scriptural presentation, accepting the book The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life. She had several questions, in answer to which we directed her attention to the Bible. She listened intently to what the Bible had to say on her questions. Since she and her husband were about to go on a trip, we made arrangements to return after they got back. As we were leaving the house, however, her husband drove into the driveway. I hesitated momentarily, then decided it would be better to speak with him on this occasion and perhaps forestall any problems later on. We briefly related our purpose in calling, mentioning that his wife had accepted a Bible study aid and that we would like to return at a later date to discuss the Bible further. His reply was most cordial, saying that he and his wife didn’t know much about the Bible, but they sure would like to!
6 ‘When my husband and I called back the first Saturday in June, we were warmly greeted and enjoyed a fine discussion. The following week, upon returning, we learned that they had both read the Truth book through and had a page-long sheet of questions. The following week they began attending the public talk and Watchtower study. Shortly thereafter they began attending the book study, and the following month they enrolled in the Theocratic School. Even before attending all the meetings, though, they had begun to make radical changes in their lives, giving up the tobacco habit and discontinuing their worldly associations. They taught their two-year-old to sit quietly at meetings, and the month after they began attending all the meetings, they were enjoying the field service with us. About three months later they were both baptized and are having more and more privileges in the congregation.
7 ‘One’s having a quick response from a person and then seeing his interest dissipate is something most of us have experienced, so naturally this thought came to mind at first. However, after that second call, where such a heartfelt desire to serve God was apparent, my husband and I concluded that there could be no doubt that the angels are directing Jehovah’s work under Jesus’ supervision. Upon being questioned as to why they had shown such an immediate response to our presentation of the “good news,” they answered: “It was the Bible.” When they saw it in the Bible, they knew it was true; so, their conclusion was—Why wait? They wanted to get involved, and they wasted no time in doing so. Jesus said it: “I know my sheep and my sheep know me.”’
HIGHLIGHTING THE THEME OF THE BIBLE
8, 9. When we are witnessing, how can the Bible be put to good use?
8 ‘While another Witness and I were calling from house to house, a lady invited us in, and we began talking with her about the “good news,” asking her to get her own copy of the Bible. Since she mentioned that she had read the Bible many times and attended church, we asked whether she had learned what the theme of the Bible is. We read together Isaiah 9:6, Daniel 2:44, Matthew 6:10, and so forth. We then asked her if she could see now what the theme of the Bible is, and she responded, “Yes, it’s the Kingdom!” We then read scriptures explaining what the benefits of that Kingdom rule over the earth will be. We must have been there for over an hour. When we invited her to the talk for Sunday, she said that if she decided to come she could come on her own.
9 ‘Lo and behold! I couldn’t believe it when there she was this morning for the meeting, and she had walked three miles from her house to the Kingdom Hall. She stayed for the whole program and wanted to have another discussion. We arranged a study with her in the book Good News to Make You Happy. But the most interesting thing about this woman is that she has always been very opposed to the truth up until now. In fact, when we were walking up to her door, my companion had been thinking about how opposed this woman was to the message. So, people do change!’
WITH HELP FROM GOD’S SPIRIT
10. How do the Scriptures tell of Jehovah’s mightiness? (Isa. 46:9-11)
10 Jehovah’s spirit is dynamic in operation. Referring to himself as the Creator of all that we see when we raise our eyes heavenward, he says: “Due to the abundance of dynamic energy, he also being vigorous in power, not one of them is missing.” The apostle Paul also tells of that one mighty sweep of Jehovah’s power, “the mightiness of his strength, with which he has operated in the case of the Christ when he raised him up from the dead [from nonexistence] and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above . . . [all else], not only in this system of things, but also in that to come.”—Isa. 40:26; Eph. 1:19-21.
11. In line with this, how does Revelation 11:7-12 describe a wonderful unexpected happening fulfilled in our day?
11 Coming down to our own day, by the early summer of 1918 the political “wild beast,” mentioned at Revelation 11:7, dealt a deathblow to the anointed remnant, symbolized by “two witnesses,” bringing an end to their organized witnessing, and the leading members of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses were railroaded off to the penitentiary for a 20-year imprisonment. In the eyes of their enemies they appeared as unburied corpses. Then what? The unexpected thing happened! After a short symbolic “three and a half days,” in the spring of 1919, “spirit of life from God [the same spirit of life that raised Christ from the dead] entered into them [the two witnesses], and they stood upon their feet . . . And they heard a loud voice out of heaven say to them: ‘Come on up here.’ And they went up into heaven,” restored to God’s favor and having renewed spiritual life and activity in the sight of all.—Rev. 11:7-12.
12. In what provision can Jehovah’s servants always put their trust, and how does it operate?
12 The holy spirit or active force from God is with Jehovah’s truly dedicated servants at all times. Jesus told of his heavenly Father’s willingness to “give holy spirit to those asking him,” and it is that spirit that keeps us going as “joyful workers.” (Luke 11:13) As Jesus said: “Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be made full.” (John 16:24) Cooperate with that holy spirit and trust in it. As Paul wrote: “For all things I have the strength by virtue of him who imparts power to me.” (Phil. 4:13) And recall his argument at Romans 8:11: “If, now, the spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he that raised up Christ Jesus from the dead will also make your mortal bodies alive through his spirit that resides in you.” What grand assurance that gives us!
13. Besides those with the heavenly hope, who else can share and rejoice in Jehovah’s provisions? (Isa. 61:5-7)
13 While it is true that some of these scriptures apply particularly to those with the heavenly hope, the spiritual Israelites, God’s Word also speaks of a “great crowd” of others, referring to them as “foreigners” in comparison, yet it also invites them to be joyful workers. “And the foreigners that have joined themselves to Jehovah to minister to him and to love the name of Jehovah, in order to become servants to him [and work for him], . . . I will also bring them to my holy mountain and make them rejoice inside my house of prayer . . . For my own house will be called even a house of prayer for all the peoples.”—Isa. 56:6, 7.
CO-WORKERS WITH GOD AND CHRIST
14. Do we ever need to feel that we are working alone?
14 How comforting it is to realize that we do not work alone! As Jesus so invitingly expressed it: “Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon you [marginal reading: “Get under my yoke with me”] and become my disciples, for I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart, and you will find refreshment for your souls. For my yoke is kindly and my load is light.”—Matt. 11:28-30.
15. In what way should the overseers among God’s people set a fine lead?
15 All of us should have this same spirit—working together with Jehovah and his Son. The elders see the example set by Christ Jesus and should take the lead in working with others, especially in the house-to-house service. How pleasant it is when that spirit is manifest! Paul appealed to the Philippians, saying: “Make my joy full in that you [all of you] are of the same mind and have the same love, . . . doing nothing out of contentiousness or out of egotism, but with lowliness of mind considering that the others are superior to you”—mild-tempered, lowly.—Phil. 2:2, 3.
16, 17. What encouragement might we find when serving during the heat of the day?
16 How wonderfully are God’s servants blessed when they serve with the same spirit of self-sacrifice as shown by Jesus! Indeed, they become joyful workers, as the examples here cited show:
DURING THE HEAT OF THE DAY
17 ‘My wife and a few fellow Witnesses were out in the field service during the heat of the day. There was only one more house to visit, and my wife called there. She approached the girl at the door with a comment regarding the present world conditions and asked her if she thought anyone could solve the problems of the world. This young lady answered that it was strange that my wife should ask that question, as she and her mother had just been discussing that very subject. My wife started a study then and there, and, since we were only visiting, she turned it over to another Witness. We have recently heard that, not only this young lady, but four other persons that she contacted, have since dedicated their lives to Jehovah as a result of that last call on a hot afternoon.’
THE PLEASURE OF PIONEERING
18-22. What advantages do full-time servants enjoy, and what qualities are particularly needed? (Phil. 3:16)
18 ‘I just had to write you about the wonderful time I am having in my field service. It has really been a pleasure to pioneer, especially these past few months. I consider [the adjustment in the hour requirement] a great blessing from Jehovah . . . Many of the friends are arranging their affairs so that we can work together in service. I find myself not worrying about my time. I now enjoy thinking about my return visits and Bible studies.
19 ‘Jehovah has given me another blessing in the form of a progressive Bible study. I would like to share this experience with you. I was working from house to house one Saturday morning in July. I was invited into a house, and while we were discussing the Bible, Carol, the next-door neighbor, came over. Seeing that we were Jehovah’s Witnesses, right away she wanted to know what we believed, since, as she said, she had been looking for the true religion and had not yet found it. Seeing how sincere she was, I made arrangements to show her how to study the Bible.
20 ‘It was over a month before I found her again; this time it was at a grocery store. I offered to take her home and asked if she still wanted to study the Bible, and if so, when I could find her at home. Several weeks later I found her at home, and we had a two-hour study; she had many questions. After a few more studies, my companion Witness invited her to the Kingdom Hall, and she hasn’t missed a single meeting since October 10. . . . She sees the need to have a close relationship with Jehovah and to be one of his people. She says that the truth has brought her and her children closer together. It has made her calmer and happier. She says that she knows this is the truth because we back up everything from the Bible.
21 ‘I could not begin to thank Jehovah enough for letting me have this privilege of studying with someone and seeing that one progress in the truth. I can see the value of having a Bible study. It has made me even more determined to continue pioneering so that I may have more of an opportunity to share in finding those who are thirsting for the truth.’
JOY FROM STARTING NEW BIBLE STUDIES
22 ‘I was baptized in August of 1960. All together this will be my fifth year in regular pioneering, and I have been privileged to help over 50 persons to come to a knowledge of the truth. I usually average about six Bible studies, but this month I will report eight. I have found that the best way to start studies is in the door-to-door field service. First you find the interest, then you make a return visit and establish a Bible study.’
THE HARVEST MUST CONTINUE!
23. How are Jesus’ final words at Matthew 28:20 both a warning and an encouragement?
23 Are there still people to be gathered in during this harvesttime? Reports from the worldwide field indicate that there are. What are we going to do about it? Will we keep on working together with Christ Jesus, under his yoke? We are assured that he would be with us right down to the conclusion of the system of things. So, let us keep working until the harvest is completely gathered, all working with Christ, all working joyfully together. This is Jehovah’s work for his people today.
24, 25. (a) In what way do we have more reason to rejoice than did Paul? (b) On what grounds do we have a grand incentive to share in Jehovah’s work? (1 Cor. 3:9)
24 Paul rejoiced because he was entrusted with the “glorious good news of the happy God.” (1 Tim. 1:11) Surely we have even more reason to rejoice as we are entrusted with the good news of the established Kingdom to “be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations” before the end comes. (Matt. 24:14) If the birth of Jesus was a proper occasion for the angel to declare “good news of a great joy that all the people will have,” surely his enthronement as heavenly King is a far greater occasion for rejoicing, when “the kingdom of the world did become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will rule as king forever and ever.” (Luke 2:10; Rev. 11:15) This declaring of the “good news” is Jehovah’s work for his people today. Our taking a firm stand on the side of that kingdom and loyally working for its interests will cause even Jehovah’s heart to rejoice. “Be wise, my son, and make my heart rejoice, that I may make a reply to him that is taunting me.”—Prov. 27:11.
25 What a privilege is ours! What an incentive to share joyfully with Jesus Christ in Jehovah’s work!