Determined to Serve Jehovah with All My Vital Force
As told by Henry E. Atiemoh
MY STORY starts in my homeland, Ghana. It was a Wednesday afternoon in March 1951. Two young Christians—Daniel S. Acquah and James K. Ameyaw—knocked on my door during siesta time. Earlier that day, Dan, my fellow employee in the Cocoa Rehabilitation division of the Department of Agriculture, had been having a rather heated discussion with some young men during ‘break time’ in our office. On our way home by bus, he briefly told me that he had talked to them about a harlot described in the Bible book of Revelation, chapter 17.
We parted, and no sooner had I eaten and lain down to take a nap than Dan arrived with his friend James. But before telling you the result of our discussion, permit me to tell you about my background.
My father had the habit of taking the whole family into the woods where he prayed to certain gods in our behalf. Since I was the eldest boy in our family of four girls and six boys, my father always kept me very close to him at these times.
At the age of seven, I was baptized in the Presbyterian Church without having any accurate knowledge of the Bible. However, in school we memorized and recited certain Scriptural passages and also learned some Bible stories. In 1946, at the age of 15, came my confirmation in the church, as well as my first and only Communion. All this time my father occasionally took us into the woods to pour libations and sacrifice chickens in our behalf. My conscience did not bother me in the least, since many other baptized nominal Christians also continued to participate in such ceremonies.
After finishing my middle-school education in 1947, I attended a commercial school for a time and then started working secularly at Koforidua, Ghana. In 1950 I moved to Accra to work in the Department of Agriculture. While in that city, I did not attend church services but did read the Bible occasionally, without any real comprehension until those two Christians—Dan and James—visited me that memorable Wednesday afternoon.
Result of the Rapid Doctrinal “Battle”
First of all, I was “knocked out” easily and rapidly on the doctrine of the immortality of the soul. For instance, it was revealing to learn that man’s transgression, or sin, resulted in death and that the soul dies. (Ezekiel 18:4, 20) At death, animals and humans alike return to the dust.—Ecclesiastes 3:18-20.
Secondly, I was convincingly “defeated” on the doctrine of infant baptism. From the Bible it was pointed out that before being baptized a person must choose to become a disciple of Jesus Christ. (Matthew 28:19, 20) And, of course, because of their immature powers of perception, infants are not capable of distinguishing between right and wrong or of becoming disciples.—Hebrews 5:13, 14.
Our discussion that afternoon played a significant part in eventually moving me to demonstrate love for Jehovah God by serving him with all my vital force. (Deuteronomy 6:5) Of course, at that time I wanted to know where Dan and James had learned the things they had told me. ‘At the Kingdom Hall,’ they said. Could someone other than a member of the congregation go there and listen? The answer was Yes. So that Friday I decided to go to the Kingdom Hall in order to become well versed in the Bible. Dan and James greeted me with broad smiles, and I was impressed with the question-and-answer Bible discussion. I made a comment that was not correct, but I was congratulated by the conductor anyway, and that made me feel very good.
Having decided to continue with Jehovah’s Witnesses, I asked if there would be a meeting on Sunday. My friends said Yes, but explained that they would go from house to house in the morning to invite people to the public meeting that evening. When I asked if I could accompany them in that activity, Dan said Yes. So I was his partner in field service that day and distributed quite a few handbills. From then on I could not stop sharing Bible truth with others at home and at work.
An aunt of mine was bitterly opposed to my firm decision to associate with Jehovah’s Witnesses. She said that even if I had found the truth, I should remain a Protestant and preach to our church members. My reply was that I would have to direct my listeners to the group of Jesus’ faithful disciples and should surely be present myself in order to welcome these newcomers. She did not like my decision, but I did not like even the thought of changing it.
The following month, on April 29, 1951, I symbolized my dedication to Jehovah by undergoing water immersion during a circuit assembly at Suhum, where my aunt lived. This step was taken without ‘consulting flesh and blood.’ (Galatians 1:16) At a service meeting three months later, pioneering was discussed in a talk, and within a week I had decided to become a pioneer (or, full-time Kingdom proclaimer). My pioneer service began on November 1, 1951. Then being 20 years old, I planned to serve full time for at least 20 years, to catch up on time lost since infancy without praising Jehovah.—Ecclesiastes 12:1.
My intensified preaching activities sparked more ardent opposition, as messages were sent to my father reporting that I had become insane, had abandoned my secular work and was roaming about unceasingly in the city of Accra with books and papers in my hands all the time. He, therefore, sent my elder sister to find out whether the reports were true. She received a convincing Biblical testimony and sent a favorable report back to my father, even though she was not happy to see me leave the Presbyterian Church.
After some months of regular pioneering, my friend Dan S. Acquah and I submitted applications for special pioneer service. While awaiting a reply, I sent a message to my parents, telling them that I might travel to northern Ghana to preach the “good news” there. My father himself came down to persuade me with his very good intention of helping me to construct a house. He wanted me to preach in Accra and not in the north. In his turn, he also received testimony and was told that I had already said to Jehovah: “Here I am! Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8) Also, I indicated to him that by remaining faithful to God, I would someday build my house and live forever. (Compare Isaiah 65:21, 22.) Noting my determination, my father no longer insisted, and it was a joy to hear him say: “No one can prevent someone from doing the will of God.”
Resigning from Secular Work
Our applications for special pioneer service were approved. So a letter of resignation was submitted to my employers. Surprisingly, the deputy commissioner of Cocoa Rehabilitation and the chief accountant requested an interview. I was asked if an increase in wages was desired for having faithfully kept the government stationery stores at headquarters without any losses or deficits. I responded No. Then the deputy commissioner had me read a letter in which he had recommended my being sent for training in order to become a second division officer instead of continuing as a clerical assistant. I thanked him sincerely for his kindness but said that my firm decision had already been made. I was then permitted to go, receiving my wages, part of which were used to buy a bicycle for my pioneer work. Dan also resigned, and many of the workers thought that a knowledge of the Bible had rendered us insane. But this did not bother us.
Cherishing the New Assignment
As of August 1, 1952, we began serving as special pioneers at Navrongo in northern Ghana. There we found animists, some Catholics and a few Muslims, and out of love we witnessed to all.
First, we preached to the English-speaking inhabitants. However, they did not especially appreciate the Kingdom message. We therefore had to learn Kasem (Grunshi) in order to let the truth ring clearly in the ears of the kindhearted natives who practiced animism. Our efforts were blessed by Jehovah and we succeeded in learning that language.
In 1954, after a small congregation with about 30 zealous native publishers had been built up at Navrongo, Dan S. Acquah was assigned to circuit work. My new pioneer partner was Brother Opare Adu, for whom I became the principal interpreter in the Kasem language. By the end of 1956, when I also entered circuit work, the congregation had reached a peak of 105 Kingdom publishers.
Other Privileges of Service
Early in 1958, the Society invited Dan and me to go together to the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead in the United States. However, this was impossible because I became ill a few weeks before our planned departure and had to undergo an appendectomy. The operation was performed successfully without blood transfusion, and I was discharged in two weeks.—Acts 15:28, 29.
Having regained my strength rapidly, I attended the Divine Will International Assembly in New York city in 1958, when Dan graduated from the 31st class of Gilead School. Soon he was sent to serve in Sierra Leone. After my graduation as a student of the 32nd class, in February 1959, I was sent back to Ghana to continue in the circuit work.
In 1960 I was given a temporary Bethel assignment in the Watch Tower Society’s Ghana branch office, where I served for 10 years, spending seven of them on the Twi translation desk. My joy was increased when my younger brothers Nicholas and Edward accepted the truth. Nicholas has died, but this occurred when he was serving faithfully as the presiding overseer in one of the Accra congregations. Edward still serves as an appointed Christian elder. He shoulders well his responsibility as a father of three children while remaining in the special pioneer work.
Nearby Foreign Assignment
Having returned to the circuit work in 1970, the need became greater for special pioneers in the Ivory Coast. Without wasting time, I applied. So, on December 2, 1972, Brother Daniel Anim and I arrived at the Abidjan airport. Two days later, we started our French language course and successfully “graduated” by the end of the month.
Early in January 1973, Brother Anim and I received our assignment to Agboville, about 90 kilometers (56 miles) from Abidjan. We prayed constantly to Jehovah to bless our efforts to speak French better in order to present the “good news” effectively to the hospitable people of the Ivory Coast. Yes, our prayers have been answered and we are enjoying the preaching activities in this country.
It seems appropriate to express my appreciation for the brotherly love and material support provided in my behalf by certain beloved fellow believers both in Ghana and the Ivory Coast. Thus I have been helped to remain in full-time service. Primarily, of course, my gratitude goes to Jehovah for all these benevolent acts, since he is the source of ‘every good gift and perfect present.’—James 1:17.
Since January 1977, I have been doing circuit work in this country. Another privilege extended to me is that of serving as a member of the Ivory Coast Branch Committee. With all my heart I thank and praise Jehovah God who has imparted to me the strength to serve him full time for some 30 years. At 50 I feel as energetic as an eagle and it is my hope to continue in full-time service. (Isaiah 40:31) But whatever the future holds in store, it is my determination to serve with all my vital force to Jehovah’s praise and honor.
[Blurb on page 26]
‘My sister sent a favorable report to my father, even though she was not happy to see me leave the church’