IT IS heartwarming to see that an increasing number of young Witnesses are simplifying their lifestyle to be able to expand their Christian ministry. (Matt. 6:22) What changes do they make? What obstacles do they face? To find out, let us get acquainted with some who are presently serving in Mexico.
“WE HAD TO MAKE A CHANGE”
Dustin and Jassa from the United States were married in January 2007. Shortly thereafter, they were able to realize a long-cherished dream—that of owning a sailboat and living on it year-round. Their boat was moored near Astoria, Oregon, U.S.A., a picturesque town surrounded by forested hills and snowcapped mountains, just a short distance from the Pacific Ocean. “Wherever you looked,” says Dustin, “the views were breathtaking!” The couple felt that they were living a simple life, relying on Jehovah. ‘After all,’ they thought, ‘we live on a 26-foot (7.9 m) boat, work part-time, attend a foreign-language congregation, and occasionally serve as auxiliary pioneers.’ But after a while, they concluded that they were fooling themselves. “Instead of supporting the congregation, most of the time we were busy fixing up our boat,” says Dustin. “We knew that if we really wanted to put Jehovah first in our life, we had to make a change.”
Jassa adds: “Before getting married, I lived in Mexico, where I was part of an English-speaking congregation. I enjoyed serving there, and I was eager to go back.” During family worship, to strengthen their desire to serve abroad, Dustin and Jassa began reading life stories about brothers and sisters who moved to lands where the fields were ready to be harvested. (John 4:35) “We wanted to experience that same joy,” says Dustin. When they heard from friends in Mexico that a newly formed group needed help, Dustin and Jassa made up their mind. They quit their jobs, gave up their sailboat, and moved to Mexico.
“THE BEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO US”
Dustin and Jassa settled in the town of Tecomán—still near the Pacific Ocean but some 2,700 miles (4,345 km) south of Astoria. “Instead of a cool breeze and mountain views, we have blistering heat and lemon trees as far as the eye can see,” says Dustin. Initially, they could not find jobs. Lacking funds, they ate rice and beans twice a day, week after week. “But just when our diet seemed to become unbearable,” says Jassa, “our Bible students began to give us mangoes, bananas, papayas and, of course, bags full of lemons!” In time, the couple found work with an online language school based in Taiwan. Now the money they earn from that job amply cares for their daily needs.
How do Dustin and Jassa feel about their new lifestyle? “This move is the best thing that ever happened to us,” they say. “Our relationship with Jehovah and with each other is stronger than we ever believed possible. Every day we do so many things together—go out in the field service, discuss how to help our Bible students, prepare for meetings. Also, we’re free from the type of pressures we felt in the past.” They add: “We now appreciate what we never fully understood before—the truth of the promise found at Psalm 34:8, ‘Taste and see that Jehovah is good.’”
THOUSANDS OF WILLING WORKERS—WHAT MOTIVATES THEM?
More than 2,900 brothers and sisters—married and single, many in their 20’s and 30’s—have moved to serve in regions of Mexico where there is still a great need for Kingdom preachers. Why did all these Witnesses take up this challenging work? When a group of them were asked that question, they gave three main reasons. What are they?
To show love for Jehovah and fellow men. Leticia was baptized at age 18. She says: “When I dedicated myself to Jehovah, I understood that this meant serving him with my whole heart and soul. So to demonstrate my wholehearted love for Jehovah, I wanted to use more of my time and energy in his service.” (Mark 12:30) Hermilo, who is now married to Leticia, was in his early 20’s when he moved to serve where more Kingdom preachers were needed. He states: “I realized that helping people to fill their spiritual need would be the best way to show my love for neighbor.” (Mark 12:31) So he left the prosperous city of Monterrey, where he worked in a bank and enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle, and he moved to a small town.
To experience real and lasting joy. Shortly after her baptism, Leticia accompanied an experienced pioneer sister to an isolated town, where they preached for a month. Recalls Leticia: “I was amazed. Seeing how well the people responded to the Kingdom message we shared with them gave me so much joy. At the end of that month, I said to myself, ‘This is what I want to do with my life!’” Similarly, for Essly, a single sister now in her early 20’s, it was the joy she observed that attracted her to this type of service. While still in high school, she met several zealous Witnesses who served where the need was greater. She says, “Seeing the joyful faces of those brothers and sisters made me want to have the kind of life they had.” Many sisters have responded like Essly. In fact, in Mexico more than 680 single sisters serve where the need is greater. What a fine example they set for young and old alike!
To live a purposeful and satisfying life. Upon completing high school, Essly was offered a university scholarship. Peers encouraged her to accept it and to pursue a “normal life”—get a degree, a career, a car, and take time to travel. Yet, she did not follow their advice. Says Essly: “Several of my Christian friends pursued these things, and I noticed that for them, spiritual goals were no longer high priorities. I also saw that they ended up frustrated with the problems they faced as they got more and more involved in this world’s affairs. I wanted to use my youth to serve Jehovah to the full.”
Essly took some additional school courses that enabled her to find work to support herself financially while pioneering, and then she moved to an area where Kingdom publishers are urgently needed. She even took up the challenge of learning the indigenous languages spoken by the Otomi and Tlapaneco peoples. Now, looking back on three years of preaching in isolated regions, she says: “Serving where the need is greater has brought satisfaction and real meaning to my life. Most of all, it has deepened my relationship with Jehovah.” Phillip and Racquel, a couple in their early 30’s from the United States, agree. “The world is changing so quickly that many feel that their lives are unstable. But serving where we still find so many who listen to the Bible’s message gives us a strong sense of purpose. It’s very satisfying!”
CHALLENGES—HOW TO HANDLE THEM
Of course, serving where the need for Kingdom publishers is greater has its challenges. One such challenge is how to support yourself financially. To do so, you need to be willing to adjust to local circumstances. Explains Verónica, an experienced pioneer: “In one place where I served, I prepared and sold low-cost fast food. In another location, I sold clothing and cut hair. At present, I clean a house and also conduct a class for new parents, teaching them to communicate with their children.”
Adapting to another culture and different customs can be especially challenging when you live among an indigenous population in an isolated region. That was the case with Phillip and Racquel when they served in the Nahuatl-language field. “The cultural differences were huge,” says Phillip. What helped them to adjust? “We focused on the positive things we observed among the Nahuatl people—the closeness in their families, the sincerity they showed in their dealings with one another, and their demonstrations of generosity.” Adds Racquel: “We learned much from living there and from serving alongside our brothers and sisters in that indigenous community.”
HOW TO PREPARE YOURSELF
If you would like to serve in isolated regions where help is needed, what can you do now to prepare yourself? Brothers and sisters who have experience in this type of service say: Before you move, begin to simplify your lifestyle and learn to be content. (Phil. 4:11, 12) What else could you do? Leticia relates: “I avoided types of secular work that required me to make a long-term commitment to stay in one place. I wanted to be able to move at any time—whenever and wherever needed.” Says Hermilo: “I learned to cook, wash, and iron.” Verónica relates: “While I lived at home with my parents and siblings, I helped with cleaning and learned to prepare low-cost but nourishing meals. I also learned to save.”
Levi and Amelia from the United States and married for eight years relate how specific prayers helped them to prepare for serving in Mexico. Says Levi: “We calculated how much money we would need to serve abroad for a year and then asked Jehovah in prayer to help us earn that exact amount.” Within months, they were able to save the sum they had mentioned in their prayer, and they moved without delay. Says Levi: “Jehovah had answered our specific request, so now it was our turn to follow through.” Adds Amelia: “We thought we could stay for one year only, but we have been here for seven years now, and we’re not thinking of leaving! Living here allows us to experience Jehovah’s help firsthand. Every day, we see proof of his goodness.”
For Adam and Jennifer, a couple from the United States who are serving in the English-speaking field in Mexico, prayer also played a vital role. They recommend: “Don’t wait for the perfect circumstances. Make your desire to serve abroad a matter of prayer, and then act on your prayers. Simplify your life, write the branch in the country where you would like to serve, and after counting the cost, make the move!”* If you do, an exciting and spiritually rich life will be waiting for you.
For more information, see the article “Can You ‘Step Over Into Macedonia’?” in the August 2011 issue of Our Kingdom Ministry.