How to Pioneer—Practical Experiences
“WHAT prevents me . . .” was part of a question about baptism that an Ethiopian asked Philip the evangelizer.—Acts 8:36.
But we might ask a similar important question affecting many Christians today. You may already have considered the question yourself. It is: ‘What prevents me’ from pioneering?
In your case the thrust of the question may be: ‘What prevents me from entering the pioneer service?’ Or you may feel that the issue really is: ‘How could I continue as a pioneer?’ From either angle some true-life experiences of some Christians can help us. Let us, then, listen to some successful and happy pioneers.
Making Adjustments—Time and Money
In order to become a pioneer and continue as one you must have a loving desire to serve Jehovah with your whole heart, soul, mind and strength. (Matthew 22:37-39) You must keenly feel the importance of spreading God’s warning message today and aiding persons on the road to life while there is yet time. And you certainly need God’s holy spirit and blessing. Yet certain concerns may come to your mind, such as how to have enough time and money. Many have had to adjust their life and schedule to make time for pioneering. Connected with that, you may need to adjust your employment so you can still support yourself while pioneering. Is that possible?
A couple in Pomona, California, faced that question. The brother explains that he had not been taking the truth seriously and “was heavily involved in hard rock music and some rather heavy drinking.” But a talk at a circuit assembly in 1979 made him ask himself seriously: ‘Does my life reflect a real desire for the present unclean system of things to be replaced?’ After he and his wife talked it over, they realized that in a number of areas they had not been applying godly counsel, so they resolved to adjust their life-style and work toward pioneering. He writes: “You wouldn’t believe all the adjustments we had to make. We sold our house and moved into a house trailer. We cut out our lavish nights of entertainment. I sold my business, which had been grossing over $2,000 a month, and found employment that would allow me to work only two days a week.” Now that they have been pioneering for almost two years, he says: “I feel like a tremendous weight has been lifted off our shoulders; like we’ve been set free from a trap that had closed in on us.”
A blind brother in Yucatan, Mexico, is 56 years old and has a wife and children to support. What does he do for work? Eleuterio Pinto rises at 5 a.m. to prepare coconuts. He chops off the outside shell with a machete (a large, heavy knife) and with an ice pick makes a hole in the coconut so that customers can drink the refreshing milk inside. Brother Pinto sells his merchandise from 8 a.m. until after lunch and then shares in the pioneer ministry, which he has been enjoying for five years.
In South Africa, V. Standley had planned to follow university studies with a career in agriculture. But after becoming a Witness he served for years at the Watch Tower printery and later he and his wife were special pioneers. Then pregnancy called for adjustments. They located an inexpensive flat and Brother Standley found part-time work with a firm doing office cleaning. More recently they moved to an area where pioneers were needed more, and he was able to open up a branch for the same firm, still working part time. He reports: “Today we have a very pleasant home, our material needs are adequately met and we still have the privilege of full-time service. I have proved over and over the validity of David’s words about being young and growing old and never seeing ‘anyone righteous left entirely.’”—Psalm 37:25.
Would retirement be a perfect time to pioneer? It has been for many. But even here special effort and adjustments may be needed. For instance, Brother Balmaceda retired from government work in the Philippine Islands and looked forward to pioneering. What, though, could he do to care for his financial needs? He found that raising hogs works out well for him, providing income and yet a rather free schedule. This 70-year-old pioneer says that he ‘feels closer to Jehovah than ever before,’ and he has seen his pioneer spirit stimulate three of his family to take up that privileged service.
Adjustments might be in order even if you are a company official earning a ‘good living.’ That was the situation of Shozo Mima, the president of a prospering Japanese firm involved with trucking produce. Having the pioneer spirit, Brother Mima began to pioneer while still the company president. However, he started to “feel that in his position as a president of a company and as a pioneer he was slaving for both riches and Jehovah.” (Matthew 6:24) So gradually he shifted his work to others and found employment that did not require so much time and attention. With what he earned and what he had saved he was able to care for his family and to pioneer. Yes, he felt that he should apply himself not in making a company prosper but in serving Jehovah more fully.
You may feel that becoming or remaining a pioneer is just too big an undertaking for you alone. Well, then, it may be that you can succeed with cooperation from your family, including your children. Many experiences show that joint family effort to help one or more to pioneer brings success, and produces very happy families too.
Brother Kozo Sato in Japan has a wife, and two children in high school. He discussed with them his intense desire to set a fine example as an elder. What was the decision? He quit his employment with a company that required eight-hour workdays. Then he started his own business. Doing what? Four days a week for a few hours he collects used newspapers, magazines and other paper to be sold to recyclers. And each morning all four in the family spend an hour or so delivering newspapers. By this, along with cutting down on expenses, Brother Sato is able to pioneer regularly and his two children also have that as their goal.
In the same land Sister Toshiko Zenko no longer had a husband but had to provide for three growing children. She received some money from a small piece of land, and that cared for her rent. To pay for food and other expenses, she works two days a week and still is able to pioneer. ‘Where does family cooperation come in?’ you might wonder. She explains that her two boys “cooperate very well in shopping, doing work at home and can even change the wick in the kerosene stove and the washers in the faucets.” Her daughter helps, too, with cooking and cleaning. The girl did some part-time jobs after school hours, but now that she has graduated, she has begun pioneering, alternating workdays with her mother. In fact, all four in the family plan to be pioneering together soon.
Yes, if you have a family, then pioneering will likely require the cooperation and support of all. But what joy and satisfaction it can bring! And a side product may be additional pioneer ministers.
Naturally, your circumstances are different from those of another person. Yet if you are moved by love and devotion to want to pioneer, that goal may be possible even if there are obstacles to overcome. Speak to other Christians about it, especially to those who are or have been successful pioneers. They may have additional practical suggestions on how you can pioneer.