“Go Out From Your Land and From Your Relatives”
IN November 1981, Tony and his wife, Margaret, along with their two children, aged 9 and 11, moved from England to the west of Ireland. Why? To assist in the public teaching work of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Only a few weeks later, they were facing difficulties. It was a bitter cold winter. Work expectations had not materialized, so Tony had started a chimney-cleaning business. Not yet very skilled, he returned home covered with soot after a hard day’s work. Imagine his dismay when he found that the water pipes had all frozen solid, and he had only a small kettle of water with which to wash! “Just for a moment I began to wonder why we had moved away from our home and our relatives,” he admitted.
To move away from family and friends to serve God more fully, and then to keep going despite difficulties, takes real faith. Someone who showed such faith almost 4,000 years ago was the patriarch Abraham. The disciple Stephen said of him: “The God of glory appeared to our forefather Abraham while he was in Mesopotamia, before he took up residence in Haran, and [God] said to him, ‘Go out from your land and from your relatives and come on into the land I shall show you.’”—Acts 7:2, 3.
Of course, no one today has such a specific command from God to move away from his or her homeland. Thousands of Christians in this 20th century, however, have arranged their affairs to do what Abraham did—move to new areas to further God’s interests. (Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20; Romans 10:13-15) They have recognized that “the field is the world” and that many places have a great need for more help. (Matthew 13:38) Like Isaiah, they have responded with vigor to Jehovah’s words, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Seeing the need, they too have replied, “Here I am! Send me.”—Isaiah 6:8.
Why Do They Do It?
What sort of people make such a move? They are not from any particular age-group or background, nor do they claim exceptional abilities. They are just people who, for one thing, are willing to subordinate personal desires and comforts in the interest of God’s Kingdom. It is as with Abraham when he moved away from the materially prosperous and comfortable city of Ur to live in tents in an alien land.—Hebrews 11:8-10.
“We could always see the need to do as much as possible in Jehovah’s service,” said one couple who moved with their two teenage sons in 1983. “We felt as the apostle Paul did when he said, ‘The time left is reduced’; therefore we decided to ‘step over into Ireland’ and help with the work there.” (1 Corinthians 7:29; compare Acts 16:9.) According to one free translation, the sense of the apostle Paul’s words at 1 Corinthians 7:29 is: “The important thing to remember is that our remaining time is very short,” and so are our opportunities for doing the Lord’s work. (The Living Bible) Many faithful Christians have moved wherever they are needed in order to seize these opportunities before such vanish and to make the best use of the precious time remaining.
“We saw this as a fine opportunity always to ‘have plenty to do in the work of the Lord.’” (1 Corinthians 15:58) “We wanted to serve Jehovah where we could do the most good.” “We felt that we were in a position financially to move and that if we could fill a need somewhere, it would be wrong for us not to do it.” Such expressions describe the feelings of many who have taken steps to serve where they are needed more. These Christians have taken to heart the admonition found at Proverbs 3:9, 27: “Honor Jehovah with your valuable things and with the firstfruits of all your produce. 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.” Having carefully examined their circumstances, they have decided that it ‘is in the power of their hands to do’ lasting good to their neighbors in other parts of the world.—See also Romans 1:14, 15; Luke 10:27-37.
You may be in a position to make such a move. If so, you will be interested in the way that some who have already moved answer the following questions.
What Should Be Considered Before Moving?
Before moving, consult with the elders in your own congregation. Find out what they think about your plans. (Proverbs 24:6) There may be reasons why such a move would not be advisable in your case, and they will help you to assess your situation properly. For example, a person who moves should be spiritually strong if he wants to be an asset and not a liability in the new location.
Work through the branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the country to which you hope to move—or through your local branch office if you hope to move within your own country. If it is possible, make a visit to the proposed area to get to know something of the land and the people before you make a final decision.
Analyze your motives before moving. Abraham moved because he had a deep desire to fulfill the will of God, not because of a spirit of adventure or a personal whim or fancy. Carefully weigh all the factors involved. Might there be a language problem? Can you adjust to a different culture and climate? Have you any special health needs? Are all family members involved wholeheartedly behind the move? Have you organized your financial affairs so that you can make such a move successfully? (Compare Luke 14:28.) These and many other factors require careful and prayerful consideration.—Ephesians 6:18.
What Difficulties May Have to Be Faced?
Even before moving, you may have to face difficulties. Not everyone will see things as you do. You may hear thoughtless or negative comments. Remember, though, even the apostle Peter reacted negatively when he heard what was to happen to Jesus. Instead of encouraging Jesus to be steadfast in doing Jehovah’s will, Peter said: “Be kind to yourself, Lord; you will not have this destiny at all.” Like Jesus, be resolved to resist any such negative talk.—Matthew 16:22, 23.
After you get settled in the new area, homesickness may be a major problem. Love for Jehovah and for the people who need to hear the good news of his Kingdom will help you to cope with this. Many problems can be lessened if you truly make your new location your home. Avoid making negative comparisons with your previous home, as doing so can cause discontent and resentment. When facing difficulties, remember Jehovah’s invitation at Malachi 3:10: “Test me out, please, . . . whether I shall not open to you people the floodgates of the heavens and actually empty out upon you a blessing until there is no more want.”
What Blessings Can Be Enjoyed?
As your involvement in the work of declaring the good news grows, so the quality of your ministry will grow. You will develop more skills as a teacher of God’s Word. This will bring benefits not only to you but also to all who listen to you. (1 Timothy 4:15, 16) What a privilege it is to conduct home Bible studies and to help free honesthearted people from Babylonish false teachings! You can have the joy described by the apostle Paul when he wrote to some whom he had helped to become Christians: “What is our hope or joy or crown of exultation—why, is it not in fact you?” (1 Thessalonians 2:19) Yes, it is a joy and a blessing to have a share in helping individuals and congregations to prosper spiritually.
Abraham was called “Jehovah’s friend” because he readily obeyed God’s direction. (James 2:21-23; Isaiah 41:8) You too can deepen your personal relationship with God. As you exert yourself in his service, you will experience his loving care and support. You will understand more fully what the psalmist meant when he said: “Taste and see that Jehovah is good, O you people.”—Psalm 34:8.
Tony, Margaret, and their children faced problems when they moved to serve Jehovah more fully. But with Jehovah’s help, they successfully handled these. “We didn’t allow difficulties to rob us of our joy,” they said. “In situations like the ones we faced, we learned to rely on Jehovah more, and we saw his hand in everything as one problem after another melted away.” Thousands of modern-day servants of Jehovah have shown similar faith by moving wherever there is a greater need. Can you do the same?
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Family discussion can make for a more successful move