KATHERINE grew up in the United States and at age 16 was baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. She took her ministry seriously but found little response to the Kingdom message in the area where she preached. She says: “I read experiences about people who prayed to God to send someone to help them to get to know him. I often wished I could find a person like that, but it never happened.”
After preaching for years in that same territory, Katherine began thinking about moving to an area where people would be more responsive to the Kingdom message. She wondered, though, if she would be able to handle it. Only once in her life had she been away from her family—and that for just two weeks—and she had been homesick every day. Yet, her heartfelt desire to experience the joy of helping those who search for Jehovah won out. After considering several locations that she could move to, she wrote to the branch in Guam and received the information she needed. In July 2007, at age 26, Katherine moved to Saipan, an island in the Pacific Ocean, some 6,000 miles (10,000 km) from her home. How did her move turn out?
AN ANSWER TO TWO PRAYERS
Shortly after arriving in the new congregation, Katherine met Doris, a woman in her mid-40’s, who accepted a Bible study. After they had studied the first three chapters of the Bible Teach book, Katherine became concerned. “Doris was such a good student, and I didn’t want to mess that up,” she relates. “I had never conducted a regular Bible study and felt that Doris needed a more experienced sister to study with her, perhaps someone her own age.” Katherine asked Jehovah in prayer to help her find the right sister to whom she could entrust her Bible student. Then she decided to inform Doris about the change in study conductor.
“Before I could bring up the subject,” relates Katherine, “Doris told me that she wanted to talk with me about a problem. After listening to her, I told her how Jehovah had helped me to deal with a similar situation in life. She thanked me.” Then Doris told Katherine: “Jehovah uses you to help me. The day you first came to my house, I had been reading my Bible for hours. I was crying, asking God to send me someone to help me understand the Bible. Then you knocked at my door. Jehovah had answered my prayer!” Tears well up in Katherine’s eyes as she relives that touching moment. She says: “Doris’ words were an answer to my prayer. Jehovah showed me that I was able to continue the study.”
Doris was baptized in 2010, and today she conducts several Bible studies of her own. Katherine notes: “How grateful I am that my longtime wish to help a sincere person to become a servant of Jehovah came true!” Today, Katherine happily serves as a special pioneer on the Pacific island of Kosrae.
THREE CHALLENGES—HOW TO DEAL WITH THEM
More than a hundred brothers and sisters from abroad (ranging in age from 19 to 79) have served where the need is greater in Micronesia. The feelings of these zealous workers are well expressed by Erica, who moved to Guam in 2006 at the age of 19. She says: “Pioneering in a territory where people are thirsting for the truth is so much fun. I’m very grateful that Jehovah helped me to take up this form of service. It’s the best way of life!” Today, Erica has the joy of serving as a special pioneer on Ebeye in the Marshall Islands. Of course, serving in a foreign country also presents challenges. Let us consider three of them and see how those who have moved to Micronesia deal with them.
Lifestyle. After arriving on the island of Palau in 2007, 22-year-old Simon quickly found out that he could earn only a fraction of what he had earned in his home country, England. “I had to learn not to buy whatever I wanted. Now, I select carefully what food items to buy, and I shop around to get the best deals. When something breaks down, I look for secondhand parts and try to find someone who can help me fix it.” How did the need to have a simple lifestyle affect him? Simon says: “It helped me to learn what is really necessary in life and how I can get by with less. Jehovah’s caring hand has been very evident to me on several occasions. During the seven years I’ve served here, I’ve always had something to eat and a place to sleep.” Indeed, Jehovah supports those who live a simple life because they want to seek the Kingdom first.—Matt. 6:32, 33.
Homesickness. Erica says: “I’m very close to my family, and I was worried that homesickness would negatively affect my ministry.” What did she do to prepare herself? “Before moving, I read Watchtower articles about homesickness. This really prepared my heart to deal with that challenge. In one article, a mother assured her daughter of Jehovah’s care, saying, ‘Jehovah can take better care of you than I can.’ That assurance really strengthened me.” Hannah and her husband, Patrick, serve on Majuro in the Marshall Islands. Hannah copes with homesickness by focusing her attention on the brothers and sisters in their congregation. She says: “I constantly thank Jehovah for our worldwide brotherhood because they too are my family. Without their loving support, I could never have served where the need is greater.”
Fitting in. “When you arrive in a new country, just about everything is different,” notes Simon. “I sometimes miss being able to tell jokes and be fully understood.” Erica says: “In the beginning, I felt left out, but that helped me to consider what my motive was for moving. I moved not for personal benefits but to do more for Jehovah.” She adds: “In time, I developed wonderful friendships, which I treasure.” Simon worked hard to learn Palauan, which enables him to ‘open his heart wide’ to the local brothers and sisters. (2 Cor. 6:13) His efforts to learn the language endeared him to the brothers. Yes, when the new arrivals and the local brothers work side by side, both groups reap the reward of enjoying close friendships in the congregation. What other rewards are received by those who offer themselves willingly to serve where the need is greater?
The apostle Paul stated: “Whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” (2 Cor. 9:6) The principle expressed in this statement certainly applies to those who expand their ministry. What fruits do they “reap bountifully” in Micronesia?
In Micronesia, there are still many opportunities to start Bible studies and to observe firsthand how individuals who learn and apply the truth from God’s Word make spiritual progress. Patrick and Hannah also preached on Angaur, a tiny island with 320 inhabitants. After preaching there for two months, they met a single mother. She immediately accepted a Bible study, drank in the truth, and made big changes in her life. Says Hannah: “After every study, as we left her home on our bicycles, we looked at each other and exclaimed: ‘Thank you, Jehovah!’” Adds Hannah: “I know that Jehovah would have drawn this woman to himself in one way or another, but because of serving where the need is greater, we were able to find and help this sheeplike one to get to know Jehovah. This is one of the most rewarding experiences of our entire life!” As Erica says, “when you help a person to come to know Jehovah, you reap indescribable joy!”
CAN YOU HAVE A SHARE?
In many lands, there is a need for more Kingdom preachers. Could you be among those who move to areas where help is needed? Ask Jehovah in prayer to strengthen your desire to expand your ministry. Discuss the subject with the elders in the congregation, with the circuit overseer, or with those who have had the privilege of serving in a land where help is needed. When your plans begin to take shape, write to the branch that cares for the territory where you would like to serve, and ask for more information.* Perhaps you too can join the thousands of brothers and sisters—young and old, single or married—who offer themselves willingly and taste the joy of ‘reaping bountifully.’
See the article “Can You ‘Step Over Into Macedonia’?” in the August 2011 issue of Our Kingdom Ministry.