The Blessings of the Pioneer Ministry
“The blessing of Jehovah—that is what makes rich, and he adds no pain with it.”—PROVERBS 10:22.
1, 2. (a) How did one pioneer express his feelings about the full-time ministry? (b) Why are pioneers in a position to experience more fully the joys of disciple making?
“CAN there be any greater joy than seeing someone with whom you study become an active praiser of Jehovah? It is exciting and faith-strengthening to see how powerful God’s Word is in motivating people to make changes in their lives in order to please Jehovah.” So wrote a pioneer from Canada who has been in the full-time ministry over 32 years. Regarding his pioneer ministry, he says: “I can’t imagine doing anything else. I certainly can’t imagine anything that would bring the same joy.”
2 Do you agree that there is great joy in having a share in assisting someone on the way to life? Of course, pioneers are not the only ones who experience such joy. All of Jehovah’s servants are under the commission to “make disciples of people,” and they strive to do so. (Matthew 28:19) However, since pioneers are able to spend many hours in the field ministry, they are often in a position to experience the joys of disciple-making more fully. But pioneering has other rewards too. Speak with pioneers, and they will tell you that pioneering is a wonderful way to experience ‘the blessing of Jehovah that makes one rich.’—Proverbs 10:22.
3. What might stimulate us as we continue serving Jehovah?
3 Recently, pioneers from various parts of the world were asked to describe the blessings they have experienced in the full-time ministry. Let us consider what they had to say. Do not be discouraged, though, if your service is limited because of poor health, advancing age, or other circumstances. Remember, the important thing is to serve Jehovah whole-souled, in whatever capacity. Still, hearing comments of some pioneers may increase your interest in taking up this rewarding activity if at all possible.
Deep Feelings of Satisfaction and Joy
4, 5. (a) Why is sharing the good news with others such a rewarding experience? (b) How do pioneers feel about sharing in the ministry full-time?
4 “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving,” said Jesus. (Acts 20:35) Yes, unselfish giving has its own rewards. (Proverbs 11:25) Especially is this true when it comes to sharing the good news with others. Really, what greater gift could we give a fellow human than to help him acquire the knowledge of God, which leads to everlasting life?—John 17:3.
5 Not surprisingly, those sharing in the ministry full-time often comment on the joy and deep sense of fulfillment they get from their ministry. “I know that no other work could have brought me the satisfaction that has come from sharing the truth with others,” says a 64-year-old pioneer from Britain. A widow from Zaire expressed what pioneering has meant to her: “The pioneer service was a real comfort to me after the loss of my dear husband. The more I go out in the service to help others, the less I feel the tragic loss. I put my faith in Jehovah’s promises and think mostly of how I can help the ones with whom I am studying to make changes in their lives. At the end of each day, my sleep is sweet, and my heart is full of joy.”
6. What special joy have some pioneers experienced?
6 Some who have been pioneering for many decades have had the special joy of serving in remote areas, establishing congregations, which eventually grew into circuits. For example, in Abashiri, Hokkaido (Japan’s northernmost island), there is a sister who has been a pioneer for 33 years. She recalls that at her first circuit assembly—for all of Hokkaido—there were only 70 in attendance. And now? There are 12 circuits on that island, with a total of over 12,000 publishers. Imagine how her heart overflows with joy when she attends assemblies and conventions with the throngs of fellow Kingdom proclaimers on that island!
7, 8. What joy have most longtime pioneers experienced?
7 Other longtime pioneers have had the joy of seeing Bible students get baptized and then reach out for greater privileges of service. In Japan a sister who has served in nine different pioneer assignments since 1957 recalls placing an Awake! magazine with a young woman working in a bank. Within nine months the young woman was baptized. Later she married, and she and her husband became special pioneers. What a joy it was for the pioneer sister when, in her third assignment, her congregation was visited by its new circuit overseer and his wife—her former Bible student!
8 It is no wonder that those who have made a career of the pioneer ministry view it as “a priceless privilege to be treasured,” as one pioneer of 22 years expressed it!
Evidence of Jehovah’s Care
9. As the Great Provider, what does Jehovah promise his servants, and what does this mean for us?
9 Jehovah, the Great Provider, promises to sustain his servants, caring for them spiritually and materially. Well could ancient King David say: “A young man I used to be, I have also grown old, and yet I have not seen anyone righteous left entirely, nor his offspring looking for bread.” (Psalm 37:25) Of course, this divine guarantee does not excuse us from the obligation to provide materially for our families, nor does it give us license to presume on the generosity of our Christian brothers. (1 Thessalonians 4:11, 12; 1 Timothy 5:8) Yet, when we willingly make sacrifices in our lives in order to serve Jehovah more fully, he will never abandon us.—Matthew 6:33.
10, 11. From experience, what do many pioneers know about Jehovah’s ability to provide?
10 Pioneers the world over know from experience that Jehovah provides for those who place themselves in his caring hands. Consider the case of a pioneer couple who moved to a small town where there was a greater need for Kingdom preachers. After a few months, secular work became scarce, and their savings were depleted. Then they received a car-insurance bill for $81. “We had no way to pay it,” explains the brother. “We prayed awfully hard that night.” The next day, they received a card from a family who were themselves struggling financially. The family had received a tax refund, the card explained, and since it was more than they had anticipated, they wanted to share some of it with the pioneer couple. Enclosed was a check for $81! “I will never forget that day—the hairs on my neck stood straight up!” says the pioneer brother. “We so appreciated this family’s generosity.” Jehovah also appreciates such kindness, which is typical of the generous spirit he encourages in his servants.—Proverbs 19:17; Hebrews 13:16.
11 Many pioneers can relate similar experiences. Ask them, and they will tell you that they have never been “left entirely.” Looking back over 55 years in the full-time ministry, a 72-year-old pioneer says, “Jehovah has never let me down.”—Hebrews 13:5, 6.
“An Excellent Way to Draw Closer to Jehovah”
12. Why is the work of proclaiming the good news such a remarkable privilege?
12 That Jehovah even asks us to proclaim the good news of his Kingdom affords us a privilege. He views us—imperfect humans though we are—as his “fellow workers” in this life-saving activity. (1 Corinthians 3:9; 1 Timothy 4:16) As we preach to others about God’s Kingdom, as we proclaim an end to wickedness, as we explain to people his marvelous love in providing a ransom, as we open his living Word and teach its precious contents to honesthearted people, we are naturally drawn closer to our Creator, Jehovah.—Psalm 145:11; John 3:16; Hebrews 4:12.
13. What do some say about the effect of their pioneer ministry on their relationship with Jehovah?
13 Pioneers are able to spend much time each month in learning about and teaching about Jehovah. How do they feel that this affects their relationship with God? “Pioneering is an excellent way to draw closer to Jehovah,” answers an elder in France who has been a pioneer for over ten years. Another pioneer in that country, who has spent 18 years in the full-time ministry, says: “The pioneer service allows us to ‘taste and see that Jehovah is good,’ day after day knitting an ever stronger relationship with our Creator.” (Psalm 34:8) A sister in Britain who has been a pioneer for 30 years feels similarly. “Having to draw on Jehovah’s spirit for guidance in my ministry brings me closer to him,” she says. “I have really felt that Jehovah’s spirit on many occasions directed me to a particular home at the right time.”—Compare Acts 16:6-10.
14. How do pioneers benefit from using the Bible and Bible-based publications day after day to teach others?
14 Many pioneers find that using the Bible and Bible-based publications day after day to explain and teach Scriptural truths helps them to grow in knowledge of God’s Word. An 85-year-old brother in Spain who has been a pioneer for 31 years explains: “Pioneering has helped me to acquire a deep knowledge of the Bible, a knowledge I have used to help many people to get to know Jehovah and his purposes.” A sister from Britain who has been pioneering for 23 years says: “The full-time ministry has helped me cultivate a hearty appetite for spiritual food.” Explaining to others the “reason for the hope in you” can strengthen your own convictions regarding the beliefs that you hold dear. (1 Peter 3:15) Says a pioneer from Australia: “Pioneering improves my faith as I express myself to others.”
15. What have many been willing to do in order to enter the pioneer ministry and remain in it, and why?
15 Clearly, these pioneer ministers are convinced that they have chosen a form of service that brings countless blessings from Jehovah. No wonder many have been willing to make adjustments in their lives, even sacrificing a secular career and material riches, to enter the pioneer ministry and remain in it!—Proverbs 28:20.
Does Your Heart Yearn to Do More?
16, 17. (a) If you are wondering whether pioneering is possible for you, what might you do? (b) How do some feel when unable to pioneer?
16 After considering what pioneers say about the blessings of the pioneer ministry, perhaps you are wondering whether pioneering is practical for you. If so, why not talk to a pioneer who has made a success of the full-time ministry? You may also find it helpful to talk to one of the elders in the congregation, someone who knows you—your state of health, your limitations, and your family responsibilities. (Proverbs 15:22) The objective comments of others may help you to evaluate carefully whether pioneering is possible for you. (Compare Luke 14:28.) If you are able to pioneer, great indeed will be your blessings.—Malachi 3:10.
17 What, though, about the many faithful Kingdom publishers who are not in a position to pioneer, although they may long to do more in the ministry? Consider, for example, the feelings of one Christian sister who is struggling to raise her four children by herself. “I feel bad,” she says, “because I used to be a regular pioneer, but now, because of my circumstances, I can’t go out in field service as much as I used to.” This sister dearly loves her children and wants to provide for them. At the same time, she yearns to do more in the preaching work. “I love the ministry,” she explains. Similar feelings are shared by other devoted Christians whose love for God moves them to want to serve Jehovah ‘with all their heart.’—Psalm 86:12.
18. (a) What does Jehovah expect from us? (b) Why should we not be discouraged if circumstances limit what we are able to do?
18 Remember that what Jehovah expects from us is whole-souled service. What this amounts to may vary considerably from soul to soul. Some are able to adjust their affairs in order to serve as regular pioneers. Many others enroll as auxiliary pioneers either occasionally or on a continuous basis, spending 60 hours each month in the ministry. The great majority of Jehovah’s people, however, devote themselves to the preaching and teaching work whole-souled as congregation publishers. So if you truly are limited by poor health, advancing age, family responsibilities, or other circumstances, do not be discouraged. As long as you give of your best, your service is valuable in God’s eyes, as is that of those who are in the full-time ministry!
All Can Demonstrate the Pioneer Spirit
19. What is the pioneer spirit?
19 Even though you may not be able to enroll as a pioneer, you can demonstrate the pioneer spirit. What is the pioneer spirit? The July 1988 issue of Our Kingdom Ministry stated: “It might be defined as having a positive attitude toward the command to preach and make disciples, being fully committed to showing love and concern for people, being self-sacrificing, finding joy in following the Master closely, and taking pleasure in spiritual, not material, things.” How can you display the pioneer spirit?
20. How can parents demonstrate the pioneer spirit?
20 If you are a parent with young children, you can wholeheartedly recommend to them a career as pioneers. Your positive attitude toward the ministry may impress upon them the need to make Jehovah’s service the most important thing in their lives. You might invite pioneers and traveling overseers and their wives to your home so that your children can benefit from the examples of those who have found joy in the full-time ministry. (Compare Hebrews 13:7.) Even in religiously divided homes, believing parents, by word and by example, can help their children to make the full-time ministry a goal in life.—2 Timothy 1:5; 3:15.
21. (a) How can we all give support to those who are pioneering? (b) What can elders do to encourage the pioneers?
21 In the congregation, we can all give wholehearted support to those who are able to pioneer. For example, can you go out of your way to work with a pioneer in the ministry, especially at times when the pioneer might otherwise be working alone? You may well find that there will be “an interchange of encouragement.” (Romans 1:11, 12) If you are an elder, you can do even more to encourage the pioneers. When the body of elders meets, they should regularly consider the needs of the pioneers. When a pioneer is discouraged or is experiencing some difficulties, do not be too quick to recommend that he or she discontinue pioneering. While making such a recommendation may be necessary in some cases, do not forget that pioneering is a precious privilege that the full-time servant may cherish deeply. A little encouragement and some practical counsel or assistance may be all that is needed. The Society’s branch office in Spain writes: “When elders encourage pioneering, support the pioneers in the field ministry, and shepherd them regularly, pioneers have more joy, feel useful, and want to continue despite obstacles that may arise.”
22. In this critical period of human history, what should we be determined to do?
22 We are living in a critical period of human history. Jehovah has given us a life-saving work to accomplish. (Romans 10:13, 14) Whether we can share in this work full-time as pioneers or not, let us show the pioneer spirit. Let us have a sense of urgency and a spirit of self-sacrifice. Let us be determined to give Jehovah what he asks of us—whole-souled service. And let us remember that when we give all that we can give, whether it resembles the widow’s small coins or Mary’s costly oil, our service is whole-souled, and Jehovah cherishes our whole-souled service!
Do You Recall?
□ Why does the full-time ministry bring feelings of satisfaction and joy?
□ From experience, what do many pioneers know about Jehovah’s ability to care for his servants?
□ Pioneers feel that their ministry has what effects on their relationship with Jehovah?
□ How can you demonstrate the pioneer spirit?
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Pioneers get great joy from disciple making
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Your children can benefit from association with full-time Kingdom proclaimers
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Elders can encourage pioneers in the field ministry