“God is not unrighteous so as to forget your work and the love you showed for his name.”—HEB. 6:10.
SONG 38 He Will Make You Strong
1-3. What are some reasons why full-time servants may have to change assignments?
“AFTER we had spent 21 wonderful years in our missionary assignment, all four of our parents had become infirm,” recall Robert and Mary Jo. “We were happy to take care of them. Still, it was painful to leave what had become the home of our hearts.”
2 “When we learned that our health would not permit us to return to our assignment, we wept,” relate William and Terrie. “Our dream of serving Jehovah in a foreign land was over.”
3 “We knew that our persecutors wanted to close the branch office where I was serving,” says Aleksey. “But it was still a shock when it happened and we had to leave Bethel.”
4. What questions will we discuss in this article?
4 Add to these the experiences of thousands of Bethel family members and others who have received new assignments.* These faithful brothers and sisters may find it challenging to leave a cherished assignment. What can help them to deal with the change? How can you assist them? The answers to those questions can help all of us to deal with changing circumstances in life.
HOW TO DEAL WITH A CHANGE
5. In what ways can a change of assignment affect us?
5 Whether we serve in the field or at Bethel, we can develop deep affection for people and even for the place where we serve. If for any reason we have to leave, our heart feels torn. We miss those who stay behind, and we worry about them, especially if we had to leave because of persecution. (Matt. 10:23; 2 Cor. 11:28, 29) Further, taking up a new assignment—or even returning home—often means experiencing culture shock. “We had become unfamiliar with our own culture and even with preaching in our native language,” say Robert and Mary Jo. “We felt as if we didn’t fit in anymore.” Some who get a change of assignment may suddenly face unexpected financial challenges. They may feel uncertain, insecure, and discouraged. What can help?
6. How can we stay close to Jehovah?
6 Stay close to Jehovah. (Jas. 4:8) How can we do that? By trusting in him as the “Hearer of prayer.” (Ps. 65:2) “Pour out your hearts before him,” says Psalm 62:8. Jehovah can do “more than superabundantly beyond all the things we ask or conceive.” (Eph. 3:20) He does not limit himself to what we specifically ask for in our prayers. He may do the unexpected, beyond anything that we could ever think of, to solve our problems.
7. (a) What will help us to remain close to Jehovah? (b) According to Hebrews 6:10-12, what will result from our continuing to serve Jehovah faithfully?
7 To remain close to Jehovah, read the Scriptures daily and ponder on them. One former missionary says: “Maintain a regular schedule of family worship and meeting preparation, just as you did in your former assignment.” Also, continue to be fully involved in preaching the good news in your new congregation. Jehovah remembers those who continue to serve him faithfully, even if they cannot do all they did before.—Read Hebrews 6:10-12.
8. How can the words found at 1 John 2:15-17 help you to keep your life simple?
8 Keep your life simple. Do not let the anxieties of Satan’s world “choke” your spiritual activity. (Matt. 13:22) Reject pressure from the world or from well-meaning friends or relatives to seek financial security in Satan’s system. (Read 1 John 2:15-17.) Trust in Jehovah, who promises to provide for all our spiritual, emotional, and material needs “at the right time.”—Heb. 4:16; 13:5, 6.
9 Avoid unnecessary debt. (Read Proverbs 22:3, 7.) A move can be surprisingly costly, and it is easy to get into debt. To minimize the debt, beware of buying on credit things you do not really need. When we are under emotional pressure, as when caring for sick loved ones, we may find it difficult to decide how much debt to take on. In such situations, remember that “prayer and supplication” can help you to make wise decisions. In response to your prayers, Jehovah can grant you the peace that will “guard your hearts and your mental powers,” helping you to think things through calmly.—Phil. 4:6, 7; 1 Pet. 5:7.
10. How can we cultivate new friendships?
10 Maintain good relationships. Share your feelings and experiences with good friends, especially those who may have experienced similar joys and challenges. Doing so can promote emotional healing. (Eccl. 4:9, 10) The friends you made in your former assignment will remain your friends. Now, in your new assignment, you need to make new friends. Remember that to have a friend, you need to be a friend. How can you cultivate new friendships? Share the rich experiences Jehovah has given you, and let others sense your joy in Jehovah’s service. Even if some in the congregation do not understand your enthusiasm for full-time service, others may be drawn to your example and become good friends. Be mindful, though, not to draw undue attention to your own accomplishments, and do not focus on negative feelings.
11. How can you keep your marriage happy?
11 If you had to leave your assignment because of your mate’s health, do not blame him or her. On the other hand, if you yourself had health problems, do not feel guilty, thinking that you let your mate down. Remember, you are “one flesh,” and you promised before Jehovah to care for each other under all circumstances. (Matt. 19:5, 6) If you left an assignment because of an unplanned pregnancy, make sure your child knows that he is more important to you than your assignment was. Reassure your child that you view him as “a reward” from God. (Ps. 127:3-5) At the same time, tell him about the rewarding experiences you had in your assignment. Doing so can motivate your child to use his life in Jehovah’s joyful service just as you have done.
HOW OTHERS CAN HELP
12. (a) How can we help those in full-time service to continue in their assignments? (b) How can we make their transition to a new assignment easier?
12 Commendably, many congregations and individuals do what they can to enable those in full-time service to remain in their assignments. They do so by encouraging them to continue their work, by giving them financial or other material support, or by helping them to care for their family members back home. (Gal. 6:2) If those in full-time service receive a new assignment to your congregation, do not view the change of assignment as an indication that they somehow failed or were disciplined.* Instead, help them to make the transition easier. Give them a warm welcome and commend them for the work they have done, even if poor health limits what they can do at present. Get to know them. Learn from their wealth of knowledge, training, and experience.
13. What help can we provide for those receiving a new assignment?
13 Initially, those receiving a new assignment may need your help to obtain housing, transportation, work, and other basic necessities. They may also need current information about everyday matters, such as paying taxes and obtaining insurance. Most important, they need, not pity, but understanding. They may be struggling to deal with their own health problems or those of their relative. They may be grieving over the death of a loved one.* And they also may grieve, even if in private, over the loss of association with their spiritual family in their former assignment. It takes time to process such deep and often very mixed emotions.
14. How did local publishers help one sister to adjust to her new assignment?
14 In the meantime, your support and example can help them to adjust. “In my previous assignment, I conducted Bible studies every day,” says a sister who served for many years in a foreign land. “In my new one, it was difficult even to get the opportunity to open the Bible or to show a video in the ministry. But local publishers invited me on their calls and studies. Seeing those zealous and courageous brothers and sisters conduct progressive Bible studies gave me a more positive outlook. I learned to start conversations in the new territory. All of this helped me to regain joy.”
KEEP MOVING FORWARD!
15. How can you make a success of your new assignment?
15 You can make a success of your new assignment. Do not consider a change to be a failure or a step backward. Look for Jehovah’s hand in your life and keep preaching. Imitate the faithful Christians of the first century. Wherever they were, they “went through the land declaring the good news of the word.” (Acts 8:1, 4) Your efforts to keep on preaching may yield good results. For example, pioneers who were expelled from one country moved to a neighboring land where there also was a great need in their language. Within months, new rapidly growing groups were formed.
16. How can you find joy in a new assignment?
16 “The joy of Jehovah is your strength.” (Neh. 8:10, ftn.) We must find our joy primarily in Jehovah and not in our assignment, no matter how much we treasure it. Therefore, keep walking with Jehovah, looking to him for wisdom, guidance, and support. Remember that you came to love your former assignment because you put your heart into helping the people there. Put your heart into your present assignment and see how Jehovah helps you to love it too.—Eccl. 7:10.
17. What must we remember about our present assignment?
17 We must remember that our service to Jehovah is eternal, but our present assignment is temporary. In the new world, all of us may have a change of assignment. Aleksey, mentioned at the outset, believes that his current experiences are preparing him for that. “I always knew that Jehovah and the new world are real, but somehow they seemed a little distant,” Aleksey says. “Now I see Jehovah right in front of my eyes and the new world as the next stop on my journey.” (Acts 2:25) No matter what our assignment is, let us keep walking with Jehovah. He will never leave us, but he will help us to find joy in doing whatever we can in his service—wherever that may be.—Isa. 41:13.
SONG 90 Encourage One Another
At times, brothers and sisters in full-time service may have to leave their assignment, or they may receive a new assignment. This article discusses the challenges they face and what can help them to make a successful transition. It also considers what others can do to encourage and support them, as well as principles that can help all of us to deal with changes.
Similarly, upon reaching a certain age, many responsible brothers have turned over their responsibilities to younger brothers. See the articles “Older Christians—Jehovah Treasures Your Loyalty,” in The Watchtower of September 2018, and “Maintain Inner Peace Despite Changing Circumstances,” in The Watchtower of October 2018.
The elders in the congregation where they have been serving should write a letter of introduction as soon as possible, so as not to delay their continuing to serve as a pioneer, as an elder, or as a ministerial servant.
See the series “Help for Those Who Grieve,” in the 2018 Awake! No. 3.
PICTURE DESCRIPTION: A couple obliged to leave the missionary work in a foreign land say a tearful goodbye to their congregation.
PICTURE DESCRIPTION: Back in their country of origin, the same couple persistently pray to Jehovah to help them cope with the challenges they face.
PICTURE DESCRIPTION: With Jehovah’s help, the couple are back in full-time service. They use the language skills they learned as missionaries to share the good news with immigrants in their new congregation’s territory.