Pioneers of the 20th Century
THE word “pioneer” is known around the world. It often refers to a person who is the first to settle a region, preparing the way for others to come later. The efforts of past pioneers in opening up new territories have been of great service to future generations.
Are there still new frontiers to be explored? Yes. Not in outer space, but right here on earth. We need pioneers who can blaze a trail out of the present moral, economic and political quagmire that man has got himself into. A small group of dedicated people have been pointing to the way out for more than a hundred years. These are the true pioneers of the 20th century.
Jehovah’s Witnesses use the Bible as their pathfinder. (Psalm 119:105) God’s written Word leads them to his Kingdom as the only means for solving the sticky problems bogging down human rulers. Not only will present-day distress be eliminated but Jehovah’s good promises go beyond. The future will see a Paradise earth. (Revelation 21:1-4) It is through God’s heavenly government, with Christ Jesus as King, that this will find fulfillment. Isaiah 9:7 says: “To the abundance of the princely rule and to peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom in order to establish it firmly and to sustain it by means of justice and by means of righteousness, from now on and to time indefinite. The very zeal of Jehovah of armies will do this.”
Like the early pioneers, among whom men, women and youth all shared in settling a new land, Jehovah’s Witnesses of different ages and of both sexes all share in spreading the good news from the Bible. Among these, however, there are those who voluntarily take the lead, spending from 60 to 140 hours a month in the evangelizing work. Appropriately, these full-time preachers are called pioneers.a
Would this type of pioneering be the best for you? Or would you choose another type of 20th-century pioneering?
Not All Pioneering Leads to Satisfaction
Individuals who pave the way for a new method of technology or a fresh line of thought are pioneers too. Pioneering in the secular field, however, can often lead to frustration and bitterness. Here are some of the better-known examples.
A pioneer of the steel industry, Andrew Carnegie, has long been admired by many. He was one of the richest men of his time. As a philanthropist he gave away millions. Was he happy? Once when a reporter told Mr. Carnegie how much he envied him, the reporter was surprised by this reply: “I am not to be envied. How can my wealth help me? I am sixty years old, and cannot digest my food. I would give all my millions if I could have youth and health.” Then, in a bitter tone he continued, “I would gladly sell anything to have my life over again.”
Another multimillionaire, J. Paul Getty, an oil magnate, echoed this thought when he said: “Money doesn’t necessarily have any connection with happiness. Maybe with unhappiness.”
How about a career of pioneering in the science field? Listen to what one of the most respected scientists and pioneers in nuclear physics, Albert Einstein, once said about modern science: “In war it serves that we may poison and mutilate each other. In peace it has made our lives hurried and uncertain. . . . It has made men into slaves of machinery who for the most part complete their monotonous long day’s work with disgust.” Further, in a letter to a friend, Einstein expressed his bitterness at seeing his knowledge of the atom used for producing the atomic bomb.
Would a political career be more rewarding? Even if we were able to transport ourselves back in time to a less complex society, pioneering in the political arena would not guarantee satisfaction. For example, Abraham Lincoln is one of the most admired politicians. He served as president at the nation’s capital. Yet after he was assassinated, his own son, Tad, said of him: “He was never happy after he came here. This was not a good place for him.”
Neither wealth, secular knowledge nor fame can assure satisfaction. Many dream of blazing a new path in the business, sports, entertainment, political or science field. They chase after their dream and, if and when it is realized, end up saying disappointedly: ‘Is that all there is?’
Pioneering That Does Satisfy
Others have decided upon a different path for their career—the full-time preaching work. It is a real stimulus to see what these pioneers have accomplished and how they feel about their work.
In 1923 a man, his wife and their child were asked to move from their home in Trinidad to Sierra Leone. For what reason? To spearhead the preaching work in West Africa. W. R. Brown and his family agreed. Soon upon their arrival a hall was rented for a Bible discourse. It was packed out; hundreds were turned away. The next Sunday another talk was given, “To Hell and Back—Who Are There?” Again, another capacity audience—people were hungry for Bible truths. And the Browns were there to feed them spiritually, pioneering the way for other Bible teachers to follow.
Then, in 1930, the Browns went to Nigeria to organize the preaching work in that country. In the next 27 years they saw the congregation grow from zero to 165 in Nigeria. Time was also spent visiting and giving Bible lectures in other countries such as Ghana, Liberia and Gambia. Throughout all of West Africa he became known as Bible Brown. Today in this part of Africa there are more than 131,000 Witnesses.
More important than numbers, though, is the effect that this Bible teaching, pioneered by W. R. Brown and his wife, had on people’s lives. Dr. Azikiwe, the governor-general of Nigeria in 1960, said: “I have known Mr. and Mrs. Brown for about thirty years, and they have added greatly to the spiritual upbuilding of our people in Nigeria . . . If all the religious denominations were like Jehovah’s Witnesses, we would have no murders, burglaries, delinquencies, prisoners and atomic bombs. Doors would not be locked day in and day out.”
How did W. R. “Bible” Brown feel after 53 years as a pioneer minister? He said: “What a joy it is to see men and women becoming obedient to the good news of God’s Kingdom! . . . I love pioneering. It is one of the highest privileges that can be offered to a human creature, to be an ambassador of Jehovah!” Do you, too, feel a love for the pioneer service?
Kathe B. Palm started her career of full-time preaching in 1931. Forty-six of these years have been spent in Chile, South America, witnessing from one end of the country to the other. Reflecting back on her career of pioneering, she says: “I could not have found any other work that could have brought me as much contentment or could have been so spiritually rewarding . . . I get a warm, satisfied feeling as I see so many persons with whom I have had Bible studies publishing the good news, helping others to come to the water of life. I invited them to drink of the waters of truth, and now they are inviting others.” When she started in 1936, there were only 50 active Witnesses in all of Chile. Now there are over 18,000. Have you tasted the contentment and spiritual reward of pioneering?
In 1967 Malinda Z. Keefer said: “My happiness arises largely from the fact that over fifty years ago I offered myself as a willing volunteer in the full-time service.” Today she has logged more than 75 years as a pioneer! Away back in June of 1907, not being content with door-to-door witnessing just on Sunday morning, she expressed to Brother Russell, the Watch Tower Society’s president, her desire to enter the full-time service. She doubted, though, that she had enough knowledge. Brother Russell told her: “If you want to wait until you know it all you will never get started, but you will learn as you go along.” The next month she began her pioneer career that has taken her to 15 states in the United States. As Malinda enters her 100th year of life, she is still found active in the pioneer ministry.
A good stepping-stone to the career of pioneering is the auxiliary pioneer service. The spending of just 60 hours a month preaching can become a pleasing experience for you. Jehovah invites us to “taste and see” that worship of him is good. (Psalm 34:8) This form of pioneering will give you a sample “taste” of what full-time preaching and teaching is like. If you have never tasted of the pioneer work in this manner, you have not yet discovered what joys and satisfaction full-time evangelizing can bring.
Have you given serious consideration to your career? Can you, too, accept this wonderful heritage of the pioneer work? Will you join the swelling ranks of full-time preachers and become a pioneer of the 20th century?
a See Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, page 1721.