Despite an uncertain health condition that might have seemed unbearable, I have felt the loving support of our dear heavenly Father throughout my life. And for more than 20 years, I have found special joy serving Jehovah as a pioneer.
I was born in 1956 with spina bifida. Because the neural tube in my spine failed to close completely, nerve damage has made it difficult for me to walk and has caused other serious health problems.
Some time before my birth, missionaries of Jehovah’s Witnesses started to study the Bible with my parents. During my childhood, only a few isolated publishers lived in my hometown of Usakos, Namibia. Hence, we considered the material for congregation meetings as a family. At age seven, I had a urostomy, an operation performed to create an artificial opening in my body so that I could pass urine. At age 14, I developed epilepsy. Because the nearest high school was far away and I needed special care from my parents, I could not complete my schooling.
Nevertheless, I decided to fortify myself spiritually. Many of our Christian publications were not yet available in Afrikaans, my mother tongue. So I learned to read English in order to study a number of our books. I became a Kingdom publisher and got baptized at age 19. During the following four years, I had many health problems and emotional difficulties. Moreover, in the close-knit community in my hometown, fear of man prevented me from having a zealous share in the ministry.
During my early 20’s, we moved from Namibia to South Africa, and for the first time, I was able to associate with a congregation. How wonderful that was! However, I had to undergo surgery again—this time a colostomy.
Some time later, I heard a circuit overseer speak on the subject of pioneering. His remarks touched my heart. I knew that my health was less than ideal, but I had seen how Jehovah had carried me through many difficulties. So I applied to be a regular pioneer. However, because of my health problems, the elders hesitated to approve my application.
Still, I decided to give Kingdom preaching my best effort. With the help of my mother and others, I managed to devote pioneer hours to the ministry over a period of six months. That proved my determination to pioneer and showed that my health problems were manageable. I applied again, and this time my application was approved. On September 1, 1988, I became a regular pioneer.
As a pioneer, I have constantly experienced Jehovah’s support. Teaching new ones the truth instead of focusing on my own situation has protected me, nurtured me, and helped me to grow spiritually. I have derived immense joy from helping a number of individuals to dedication and baptism.
My health remains uncertain. But Jehovah ‘daily carries the load for me.’ (Ps. 68:19) He does more than just make my life bearable; he makes it a pleasure for me to be alive!