A FEW years ago, Cesar and his wife, Rocio, were living a comfortable life in California, where Cesar was working full-time in the field of heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning and Rocio worked part-time at a doctor’s office. They owned their home, and they had no children. However, something happened that changed their lives. What was it?
In October 2009, the United States branch office sent a letter to all congregations in the country, inviting skilled volunteers to apply for temporary Bethel service to assist with the expansion of the branch facilities in Wallkill, New York. Even those over the usual age limit for Bethel service were invited to apply. “Because of our age, we knew that this could be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to serve at Bethel,” relate Cesar and Rocio. “We were not about to pass that opportunity up for anything!” The couple immediately submitted their applications.
More than a year went by, but Cesar and Rocio had not been invited to Bethel. Nonetheless, they took further steps toward reaching their goal by simplifying their life. “We converted our garage into a studio apartment so that we could rent our house to someone else. Then we moved out of our 2,200-square-foot (200 sq m) dream home that we had built just a couple of years earlier and moved into our 270-square-foot (25 sq m) apartment. Making these changes,” says Cesar, “put us in a better position to accept an invitation to Bethel, should one come our way.” What happened next? “One month after we moved into our small apartment,” relates Rocio, “we received an invitation to serve as temporary volunteers at Wallkill. It was clear to us that by simplifying our life, we had given Jehovah something to bless.”
THEIR SELF-SACRIFICING SPIRIT IS BEING BLESSED
Like Cesar and Rocio, hundreds of brothers and sisters have made sacrifices in order to share in the construction work that is taking place in New York State. A number of these are supporting the expansion at Wallkill, while many others have been privileged to help with the construction of the world headquarters in Warwick.a Many couples have given up their nice homes, good jobs, and even family pets in order to serve Jehovah more fully. Has Jehovah blessed such a self-sacrificing spirit? Indeed, he has!
For example, Way, an electrician, and Debra, both in their late 50’s, sold their home and most of their belongings in Kansas and moved to Wallkill to serve as commuter Bethelites.b Although doing so required making adjustments in their life, they feel that the sacrifices have been well worth it. Regarding her assignment at Bethel, Debra says: “Sometimes I feel as if I’ve stepped into one of those Paradise construction scenes that are featured in our publications!”
Melvin and Sharon sold their home and belongings in South Carolina so that they could assist at Warwick. Even though these sacrifices were not easy to make, the couple feel privileged to be involved in such a historic project. They say: “The joy that comes from knowing that you are accomplishing something that will benefit the worldwide organization is a wonderful feeling.”
Kenneth, a retired builder, and Maureen, who are in their mid-50’s, moved from California to serve on the Warwick project. In order to move, they made arrangements with a sister in the congregation to care for their home and asked their family to help look after Ken’s aged father. Do they regret making sacrifices to serve at Bethel? No! “We are benefiting immensely,” says Ken. “Is it without challenges? Of course not, but we live a very rewarding life, and we wholeheartedly recommend this service to others.”
Most of those who have made themselves available had to overcome certain obstacles. For example, William and Sandra, who are in their early 60’s, were settled, enjoying their life in Pennsylvania. They had a successful precision machining company that employed 17 people. They were serving with the same congregation they had been in since they were little children, and most of their relatives lived in the area. So when the opportunity arose to serve as commuters at Wallkill, they knew that it would mean saying good-bye to almost everyone and everything familiar to them. “Without a doubt, the single greatest challenge for us has been leaving our comfort zone,” says William. However, after much prayer, the couple decided to go ahead with their move—a step they do not regret. “The joy of being directly involved and serving alongside the Bethel family cannot be compared to anything else,” says William. “Sandra and I are happier than we have ever been!”
Ricky, a construction project manager in Hawaii, was invited to serve as a commuter Bethelite to assist with the Warwick project. His wife, Kendra, wanted him to accept the invitation. However, they had a legitimate concern: the welfare of their 11-year-old son, Jacob. They wondered if it would be wise to relocate the family to New York State and if their son would be able to adjust to a totally different environment.
“One of our priorities was that of finding a congregation with young ones who were doing well spiritually,” says Ricky. “We wanted Jacob to have plenty of good association.” As it turned out, the congregation where they ended up has very few children but several Bethelites. “After our first meeting there, I asked Jacob how he felt about the new congregation, especially since there weren’t any young ones his age,” says Ricky. “He told me, ‘Don’t worry, Dad. My friends will be the young Bethel brothers.’”
Sure enough, the young Bethelites have befriended Jacob. With what effect? “One night, I was passing my son’s room and saw that the lights were still on,” Ricky relates. “I expected to catch him playing an electronic game, but he was reading the Bible! When I asked him what he was doing, Jacob said, ‘I’m being a young Bethelite, and I’m going to read the Bible in one year.’” Needless to say, Ricky and Kendra are thrilled, not only because Ricky can share in the construction work at Warwick but also because their move is contributing to their son’s spiritual growth.—Prov. 22:6.
NOT WORRIED ABOUT THE FUTURE
The construction projects at Wallkill and Warwick will eventually be completed, so those who have been invited to assist realize that their Bethel service is temporary. Are these brothers and sisters overly anxious about where they will go or what they will do? Not at all! Many share the feelings of two middle-aged couples from Florida. John, a construction manager, and his wife, Carmen, who serve as temporary volunteers at Warwick, say: “We have seen how Jehovah has cared for our specific needs up to this point. We reason that Jehovah certainly has not brought us here at this time only to abandon us later.” (Ps. 119:116) Luis, who designs fire suppression systems, and his wife, Quenia, serve at Wallkill. They say: “We have already seen Jehovah’s generous hand provide what we need materially. Although we don’t know how, when, or where, we are confident that he will continue to care for us.”—Ps. 34:10; 37:25.
“A BLESSING UNTIL THERE IS NOTHING LACKING”
Most of those who have assisted with the construction work in New York could have found reasons not to volunteer. However, they put Jehovah to the test—just as he invites all of us to do: “Test me out, please, . . . to see whether I will not open to you the floodgates of the heavens and pour out on you a blessing until there is nothing lacking.”—Mal. 3:10.
Will you too test Jehovah out and experience his rich blessing? Prayerfully examine what you can do to have a share in the exciting work at hand, whether in New York or on other theocratic building projects, and see firsthand how Jehovah will reward you.—Mark 10:29, 30.
Dale, a civil engineer, and Cathy, from Alabama, highly recommend this type of service. Volunteering at Wallkill, they say: “If you have the courage to step out of your comfort zone, you will have an opportunity to see Jehovah’s spirit at work.” And what is needed for you to make yourself available? Dale says: “Simplify, simplify, and then simplify some more. You will never regret it!” Gary, from North Carolina, has 30 years’ experience in construction management. He and his wife, Maureen, say that one of the blessings they are enjoying at Warwick is “meeting and working with the many wonderful brothers and sisters who have spent their life serving Jehovah at Bethel.” Gary adds: “To serve at Bethel, you need to lead a simple life, which is the best way to live through this system of things.” Jason, who worked for an electrical contractor, and Jennifer, from Illinois, say that working at Wallkill on a Bethel project is “one of the closest things you can experience to new world living.” Jennifer adds: “It is overwhelming to feel that everything you do is appreciated by Jehovah and is an investment in the future that he is preparing for us. Jehovah sees to it that you are enriched beyond measure.”
b Part-time commuter Bethelites care for their own housing and living expenses while working one or more days a week at Bethel.