God’s Word Works “Miracles”
AS TOLD BY THÉRÈSE HÉON
One day in 1965, I entered a business establishment and offered copies of the Watchtower and Awake! magazines to the merchants. As I turned to leave, I heard a bang. A bullet hit the floor near my feet. “That’s the way to deal with Jehovah’s Witnesses,” one of the merchants taunted.
THAT experience frightened me—but not enough to make me give up the full-time ministry. The Bible truths that I had learned were too precious to allow anything to cause me to abandon my ministry. Let me explain why I say this.
After I was born in July 1918, my parents settled in Cap-de-la-Madeleine, a small village in Quebec, Canada, known as The Place of Miracles. Visitors flocked here to pay homage at the shrine of the Virgin Mary. Although the alleged miracles by Mary cannot be proved, God’s Word has worked what is virtually miraculous in the lives of scores of people as the village has grown into a town of over 30,000 inhabitants.
When I was about 20 years old, my father saw my interest in religious matters and gave me his Bible. When I began to read it, I was shocked to learn from Exodus chapter 20 that image worship is plainly condemned. I immediately lost confidence in the teachings of the Catholic Church and stopped attending Mass. I did not want to worship statues. I can still hear Father saying, “Thérèse, aren’t you going to church?” “No,” I replied, “I’m reading the Bible.”
Bible reading continued to be a part of my life even after I got married in September of 1938. Since my husband, Rosaire, often worked at night, I made it a habit to read the Bible when he was at work. I soon came to the conclusion that God must have a people, and I started to look for them.
My Search for God’s People
Because of what I had learned in church, when I was young, I was afraid to go to sleep for fear of waking up in hell. To combat such fear, I used to tell myself that a God of love would not let something so horrible happen. Confidently, I kept reading the Bible, searching for truth. I was like the Ethiopian eunuch who read but did not understand.—Acts 8:26-39.
My brother André and his wife, who lived in an apartment on the floor below us, started to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses in about 1957. I told my sister-in-law to warn me by knocking on the ceiling when the Witnesses came to preach in the building. That way I would know not to answer. One day she failed to warn me.
That day I opened the door and met Kay Munday, a pioneer, as full-time ministers of Jehovah’s Witnesses are called. She talked to me about God’s name, explaining that God has a personal name, Jehovah. After she left, I checked my Bible to confirm that what she had said was indeed supported by Bible texts. My research made me very happy.—Exodus 6:3, Douay Version, footnote; Matthew 6:9, 10; John 17:6.
When Kay called again, we discussed the Catholic doctrine of the Trinity, which claims that God is three persons in one God. Later I carefully examined my own Bible to satisfy myself that it does not teach the Trinity. (Acts 17:11) My study confirmed that Jesus is not as great as God. He was created. He had a beginning, whereas Jehovah did not. (Psalm 90:1, 2; John 14:28; Colossians 1:15-17; Revelation 3:14) Satisfied with what I was learning, I was happy to continue the Bible discussions.
One day in 1958, during a November snowstorm, Kay invited me to attend a circuit assembly being held that very evening in a rented hall. I accepted the invitation and enjoyed the program. Afterward, in a conversation with a Witness who approached me, I asked, “Must a true Christian preach from house to house?”
“Yes,” he said, “the good news must be declared, and the Bible reveals that calling on people at their homes is an important method of preaching.”—Acts 20:20.
How delighted I was with his answer! It convinced me that I had found God’s people. If he had said, “No, it is not necessary,” I would have doubted that I had found the truth, for I knew what the Bible said about preaching from house to house. From that point on, I made rapid spiritual progress.
After that circuit assembly, I started to attend the meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses that were held in the neighboring town of Trois-Rivières. Kay and her partner, Florence Bowman, were the only Witnesses then living in Cap-de-la-Madeleine. One day I said, “I’ll come with you to preach tomorrow.” They were happy to have me accompany them.
Preaching in My Hometown
I thought that everyone would accept the Bible message, but I quickly learned that this was not the case. When Kay and Florence were assigned elsewhere, I was the only one in town preaching Bible truths from house to house. Undaunted, I continued to preach alone for about two years until my baptism on June 8, 1963. That very day I enrolled in what was then called the vacation pioneer service.
I continued as a vacation pioneer for one year. Then, Delvina Saint-Laurent promised that she would come to Cap-de-la-Madeleine and work with me once a week if I became a regular pioneer. So I filled out my pioneer application. Sadly, though, just two weeks before I was to begin the full-time ministry, Delvina died. What would I do? Well, I had filled out the application and did not want to turn back. So in October 1964, I began my career in the full-time ministry. For the next four years, I went from house to house alone.
The devout Catholics of Cap-de-la-Madeleine were often hostile. Some called the police in an attempt to prevent me from preaching. One day, as I mentioned at the outset, a merchant tried to intimidate me by shooting at my feet. Well, this caused quite a stir in town. The local television station called it a crusade against Jehovah’s Witnesses. The whole incident resulted in a favorable witness. Incidentally, ten years later, a relative of the merchant who had shot at me became a Witness himself.
“Miracles” Worked by God’s Word
Over the years, I have seen the wall of opposition to Bible truths gradually crumble in Cap-de-la-Madeleine. About 1968, other Witnesses moved here, and the local residents began to respond to Bible truths. By the early 1970’s, there was, in effect, an explosion in the number of Bible studies. It reached a point when I had to ask other Witnesses to take over several of the Bible studies I was conducting so that I could continue to maintain some share in the house-to-house ministry.
One day a young woman accepted from me the Bible study aid The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life. Her companion at the time was a young man named André, a rough-and-tough looking criminal who joined in the conversation. A discussion with André aroused his interest, and a Bible study was started. Soon thereafter he began speaking to his friends about what he was learning.
At one point, I was studying the Bible with four gangsters, one of whom did not say very much but listened a lot. His name was Pierre. One morning at about two o’clock, my husband and I heard a knock on the door. Picture this scene: Four gangsters were standing there with questions for me. Fortunately, Rosaire never complained about such untimely visits.
Initially the four men attended the meetings. However, only André and Pierre persevered. They brought their lives into harmony with God’s standards and were baptized. For over 20 years now, both men have faithfully served Jehovah. When they started studying, they were well-known for their criminal activity and were watched by the police. Sometimes the police came looking for them after one of our Bible studies or during a congregation meeting. I am happy that I preached to “all sorts of men,” and thus saw firsthand how God’s Word effects changes that seem truly miraculous.—1 Timothy 2:4.
If at the beginning of my ministry I had been told that there would be a Kingdom Hall in Cap-de-la-Madeleine and that it would be filled with Jehovah’s people, I would not have believed it. To my delight the one small congregation in the neighboring city of Trois-Rivières has grown to six prospering congregations that meet in three Kingdom Halls, including the one in Cap-de-la-Madeleine.
I have personally had the joy of helping about 30 persons reach the point of dedication and baptism. Now, at 78 years of age, I can truly say that I am happy that I dedicated my life to Jehovah. I must acknowledge, however, that I have had bouts of discouragement. To counteract such periods successfully, I always open my Bible and read some passages that greatly refresh me. It is unthinkable for me to let one day go by without reading the Word of God. Especially encouraging is John 15:7, where it says: “If you remain in union with me and my sayings remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will take place for you.”
It is my hope to see Rosaire in the new world so near at hand. (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:3, 4) Just before his death in 1975, he was progressing well toward baptism. For now, I am determined to persevere in the full-time ministry and continue rejoicing in Jehovah’s work.