ABOUT ten years ago, Gregorio and Marilou, a married couple in their 30’s, were serving as pioneers in Manila while at the same time holding full-time jobs. It was a challenge, but they succeeded. Then Marilou was promoted to manager in the bank where she was working. “Our good jobs allowed us to enjoy a very comfortable lifestyle,” she says. In fact, things were going so well financially that the couple decided to build their dream house in a prime location some 12 miles (19 km) east of Manila. They entered a contract with a developer and arranged to pay for the project in monthly installments within ten years.
“I FELT THAT I WAS ROBBING JEHOVAH”
Relates Marilou: “My new job demanded so much of my time and energy that my appetite for spiritual activities diminished. I felt that I was robbing Jehovah.” She explains: “I could no longer give Jehovah the time I had dedicated to his service.” Unhappy about that situation, Gregorio and Marilou sat down one day to talk about the direction their lives were heading. Says Gregorio: “We wanted to make a change but didn’t exactly know what to do. We discussed how we could use our lives more fully in Jehovah’s service, especially since we have no children. We prayed to Jehovah for guidance.”
At that time, they heard several talks about serving where there is a greater need for Kingdom publishers. “We felt that these talks were Jehovah’s answer to our prayers,” says Gregorio. The couple prayed for more faith so as to have the courage to make the right decisions. One great obstacle was their ongoing house project. They had already made three years’ worth of payments. What were they to do? Says Marilou: “If we ended the contract, we would lose all we had paid so far—a significant amount. But we viewed it as a choice between putting first Jehovah’s will or our own desires.” Having in mind the apostle Paul’s words about ‘taking a loss,’ they canceled the house project, quit their jobs, sold most of their belongings, and moved to a remote village on the island of Palawan, some 300 miles (480 km) south of Manila.—Phil. 3:8.
THEY “LEARNED THE SECRET”
Before moving, Gregorio and Marilou had tried to prepare themselves for living a simple life, but they did not realize how basic their new life would be until they arrived at their destination. “It was a shock,” says Marilou. “No electricity, no conveniences. Instead of switching on the rice cooker, we had to chop wood and cook over a fire. I missed going to the mall, eating out, and other things city life offers.” Still, the couple kept reminding themselves why they moved, and before long they adjusted. Says Marilou: “Now I enjoy observing the beauty of nature, including the bright stars at night. Most of all, it’s a joy to see people’s happy faces when we preach to them. By serving here, we have ‘learned the secret’ of how to be content.”—Phil. 4:12.
“Nothing compares to the joy that comes from seeing spiritual growth. We feel more than ever that our life is meaningful.”—Gregorio and Marilou
Relates Gregorio: “When we arrived here, there were only four Witnesses. They were so happy when I started giving a public talk each week and accompanied the singing of Kingdom songs on my guitar.” Within a year, the couple witnessed how that tiny group became a thriving congregation of 24 publishers. Gregorio says: “The expressions of love we receive from this congregation touch us deeply.” Today, looking back over six years of serving in that isolated region, they say: “Nothing compares to the joy that comes from seeing spiritual growth. We feel more than ever that our life is meaningful.”
“I’VE ‘TASTED AND SEEN THAT JEHOVAH IS GOOD’!”
In the Philippines, nearly 3,000 brothers and sisters have moved to regions where there is a great need for Kingdom publishers. Some 500 of them are single sisters. Take Karen as an example.
Karen, now in her mid-20’s, grew up in Baggao, Cagayan. While still a teenager, she often thought about expanding her ministry. She relates: “Knowing that the time left is reduced and that all sorts of people need to hear the Kingdom message, I wanted to serve where there is a greater need for preachers.” Though a few of her family members urged her to pursue higher education instead of moving to some remote place to preach, Karen prayed to Jehovah for guidance. She also spoke with those who serve in an isolated area. At age 18, she moved to a remote region some 40 miles (64 km) away from her hometown.
The small congregation that Karen went to support cares for a mountainous area along the Pacific Coast. Karen recalls: “Just to get to the new congregation from Baggao, we walked for three days, going up and down mountains and crossing rivers over 30 times.” She adds: “To reach some Bible students, I walk for six hours, stay overnight at the student’s house, and the next day I walk another six hours to go home.” Is it worth all the effort? “At times, my legs are aching, but,” Karen adds with a big smile, “I’ve conducted as many as 18 Bible studies. I’ve ‘tasted and seen that Jehovah is good’!”—Ps. 34:8.
“I LEARNED TO RELY ON JEHOVAH”
What motivated Sukhi, a single sister in her early 40’s living in the United States, to move to the Philippines? In 2011 she attended a circuit assembly where a married couple were interviewed. They related how they sold most of their belongings to move to Mexico to help with the preaching work there. “That interview,” says Sukhi, “started me thinking about goals I had not thought of before.” When Sukhi, who is of Indian descent, learned that much help was needed to reach Punjabi people living in the Philippines, she decided to go and help. Did she face obstacles?
“Deciding on which items to keep and which to sell was harder than I expected,” says Sukhi. “Also, after having lived comfortably for 13 years in my own apartment, I moved in with family and lived out of boxes. It wasn’t easy, but it was a good way to prepare myself for living a simple life.” What challenges did she face after moving to the Philippines? “Having phobias of creepy, crawly things and feeling homesick were my greatest challenges. I learned to rely on Jehovah on a whole new level!” Has it been worth it? Sukhi smiles and says: “Jehovah tells us, ‘Test me out, whether I shall not empty out upon you a blessing.’ These words come alive in a very personal way when a householder asks me, ‘When will you come back? I have many more questions.’ It gives me much joy and satisfaction to be able to help spiritually hungry people!” (Mal. 3:10) Sukhi adds: “Really, the hardest part was making the decision to move. After I’d done that, it was just amazing to see how Jehovah put things into place for me.”
“I OVERCAME MY FEAR”
Sime, a married brother now in his late 30’s, left the Philippines to take on a lucrative job in a Middle Eastern country. While there, the encouragement he received from a circuit overseer and from a talk given by a member of the Governing Body motivated Sime to put Jehovah first in his life. “But thinking of quitting my job gave me nightmares,” says Sime. Even so, he gave up his employment and returned to the Philippines. Today, Sime and his wife, Haidee, serve in Davao del Sur, in the southern part of the country, where Kingdom preachers are needed to cover the vast territory. “Looking back,” says Sime, “I’m so grateful that I overcame my fear of losing my job and that I put Jehovah first. There is nothing more satisfying in life than giving the best of what you have to Jehovah!”
“IT GIVES US DEEP SATISFACTION!”
When Ramilo and Juliet, a pioneer couple in their early 30’s, learned that a congregation only some 20 miles (30 km) away from their home needed help, they volunteered to support it. So each week, rain or shine, Ramilo and Juliet make several trips on their motorcycle to attend the meetings and share in the preaching work. Though traveling over bumpy roads and hanging bridges has its challenges, they are happy that they expanded their ministry. Says Ramilo: “My wife and I together conduct 11 Bible studies! Serving where there is a greater need involves making sacrifices, but it gives us deep satisfaction!”—1 Cor. 15:58.
Would you like to learn more about serving where there is a greater need for Kingdom publishers in your own country or abroad? If so, speak with your circuit overseer, and read the article “Can You ‘Step Over Into Macedonia’?” in the August 2011 issue of Our Kingdom Ministry.