Have you for many years been one of Jehovah’s Witnesses who would love to have your marriage mate join you in worshipping Jehovah?
Or have you felt discouraged when your Bible student, who seemed so promising at first, failed to take a stand for the truth?
A few experiences from Britain will help you to see why you should never give up hope. You will also see what you might do to “send out your bread upon the surface of the waters,” so to speak, in order to help those who have not yet responded to the truth.—Eccl. 11:1.
PERSEVERANCE—A VITAL FACTOR
One vital factor on your part is perseverance. You need to stick to the truth and cling to Jehovah. (Deut. 10:20) That was what Georgina did. When she began to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1970, her husband, Kyriacos, was furious. He tried to stop her study, would not let Witnesses in the house, and took away any publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses that he found.
When Georgina started to attend congregation meetings, Kyriacos got even angrier. One day he went to the Kingdom Hall to start an argument. Upon realizing that Kyriacos spoke better Greek than English, a sister phoned a Greek brother in another congregation to come and help. Kyriacos responded well to the brother’s kindly manner, and for a few months, they even studied the Bible together. But then Kyriacos stopped studying.
For three more years, Georgina continued to face opposition. Kyriacos said that he would leave her if she ever got baptized. On the day of her baptism, Georgina prayed fervently to Jehovah that Kyriacos would not leave her. When the Witnesses arrived to take her to the assembly, Kyriacos told them: “You go on ahead. We’ll follow you in our car.” He attended the morning session and watched his wife get baptized!
Afterward Kyriacos’ opposition lessened, and he gradually made major changes. Almost 40 years after first meeting the Witnesses, Georgina saw her husband get baptized! What helped Kyriacos? He says: “I was very pleased with Georgina because she was so determined.” Georgina declares: “Despite my husband’s opposition, I was not going to stop worshipping my God. All the while, I kept praying to Jehovah, and I never lost hope.”
THE VALUE OF THE NEW PERSONALITY
Another factor in helping your mate is your cultivating the Christian personality. The apostle Peter admonished Christian wives: “Be in subjection to your own husbands, in order that, if any are not obedient to the word, they may be won without a word through the conduct of their wives.” (1 Pet. 3:1) Christine lived by that advice, though it took many years to win her husband over. When she became a Witness more than 20 years ago, her husband, John, felt no need for God in his life. John did not want to get involved in religion, yet he could see how much Christine’s new faith meant to her. “I could see that it made her happy,” he says. “She developed real strength of character and reliability, and this helped me through a lot of difficult situations.”
Christine never pushed her religion on her husband, who acknowledges: “Christine realized from the outset that I was best left alone, and she patiently let me learn at my own pace and in my own way.” When Christine saw articles in The Watchtower or Awake! on a subject that she knew John would find interesting, such as on science and nature, she pointed these out to him, saying, “I think you will enjoy reading this.”
In time, John retired and took on some gardening work. With his mind freer to think about the deeper questions of life, he began pondering, ‘Are we here because of a series of accidents, or were we created for a purpose?’ One day, a brother with whom John was chatting asked him, “What about a study?” “Now that I had started to believe in God,” says John, “I accepted his offer.”
How important it was that Christine never gave up hope! After she had prayed for 20 years that John might accept the truth, he was baptized. Now they zealously serve Jehovah together. John notes: “Two things particularly won me over—the kindness and the friendliness of the Witnesses. And when you are married to one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, you have a loyal, reliable, and self-sacrificing spouse.” Yes, Christine put into practice the words at 1 Peter 3:1, and it worked!
SEEDS BEAR FRUIT YEARS LATER
What about Bible students who for one reason or another may lose their initial interest? “In the morning sow your seed and until the evening do not let your hand rest,” wrote King Solomon, “for you are not knowing where this will have success, either here or there, or whether both of them will alike be good.” (Eccl. 11:6) Sometimes the seeds of truth take many years to germinate. Even so, a person may eventually come to realize the importance of drawing close to God. (Jas. 4:8) Yes, one day you might have a delightful surprise.
Consider Alice, who moved from India to England. In 1974 she began to study the Bible. She spoke Hindi but wanted to improve her English. The study continued for some years, and Alice attended a few meetings in an English-speaking congregation. She knew that what she was studying was the truth but treated it as a hobby. Besides, she was quite focused on money and loved to go to parties. Eventually, Alice stopped her study.
Nearly 30 years later, Stella, who used to conduct the study with Alice, received a letter from her. It read: “I’m sure you will be thrilled to know that your Bible student from 1974 was baptized at the recent district convention. You have played a very important role in my life. You planted the seed of truth in me, and although I wasn’t then ready to dedicate myself to God, I kept that seed of truth in my mind and heart.”
What had happened? Alice explains that she became very depressed after her husband’s death in 1997. She prayed to God. Within ten minutes, two Punjabi-speaking Witnesses called at her home and left her the tract What Hope for Dead Loved Ones? Alice felt that her prayer was answered and decided that she should associate with Jehovah’s Witnesses. But where could they be found? She came across an old diary containing the contact address that Stella had given her for the Punjabi congregation. Alice visited the Kingdom Hall and was warmly welcomed by Punjabi-speaking brothers and sisters. “The warm feeling continued with me and helped me find relief from my depression,” says Alice.
She began attending meetings regularly and resumed her Bible study, learning to speak and read Punjabi fluently. In 2003 she was baptized. Her letter to Stella concluded this way, “Thank you very much for planting those seeds 29 years ago and for setting a good example for me to follow.”
“Thank you very much for planting those seeds 29 years ago and for setting a good example for me to follow.”—Alice
What can you learn from these experiences? It may take longer than you expect, but if a person is spiritually hungry, honest, and humble, Jehovah will allow the truth to grow in his or her heart. Recall the comment in Jesus’ illustration: “The seed sprouts and grows tall, just how [the sower] does not know. Of its own self the ground bears fruit gradually, first the grass-blade, then the stalk head, finally the full grain in the head.” (Mark 4:27, 28) Such growth is gradual and occurs “of its own self.” In principle, each individual Kingdom proclaimer does not know how this may take place. So continue to sow bountifully. You may yet reap bountifully.
And do not forget the importance of prayer. Georgina and Christine kept praying to Jehovah. If you “persevere in prayer” and never give up hope, “in the course of many days,” you may well find again “bread” that you have sent out upon the surface of the waters.—Rom. 12:12; Eccl. 11:1.