A Letter from the Pioneers
Dear Brothers and Sisters Everywhere,
With the ever-increasing size of our loving theocratic family it is impossible for all of us pioneers individually to meet the hundreds of thousands of you other publishers throughout the United States. But by means of this letter we hope that you will at least get to know us a little better.
At the outset we want you to know how much we appreciate what you congregation publishers have been doing over the years—in the house-to-house work, making back-calls, conducting Bible studies and bringing many, many new ones on to maturity. In fact, you congregation publishers, all together, total up many more hours of service in the ministry than we pioneers do.
You certainly are also to be commended for the individual efforts some of you are putting forth. Many of you have families and we know that with your little ones, and the struggle you are having to provide for them, it sometimes takes a much greater effort on your part to get in a few hours of service during a month than for those of us pioneers who are strong and unencumbered to reach our pioneer goals. But remember, if you are wholehearted in your service, Jehovah, who was pleased with the widow’s ‘two small coins of little value,’ is also well pleased with your offering of praise, as little as it might sometimes seem in the eyes of men.—Mark 12:41-44.
At one time we also were congregation publishers, but we were able to arrange our affairs to spend more time giving praise to Jehovah’s name, advertising his King and Kingdom and making people happy with a knowledge of the truth. This very full life in Jehovah’s service has in turn brought us a greater measure of joy and contentment. Perhaps some of you also can arrange to share in the full-time preaching.
Many of us have been pioneering for a long, long time now, some for nearly half a century. But if you look at the accompanying chart (No. 1) you will see that by far the majority of us have been pioneering less than ten years. So our motive for inviting you to join our ranks is not simply to recruit replacements for some of us old-timers. Rather, we are primarily motivated by the urgency of the times and the tremendous amount of work yet to be accomplished in the final part of this “time of the end.”
It is not as if we were just getting started with the ingathering of the “great crowd . . . out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues.” No, but rather it is because we are nearing the final windup of this grand work.—Rev. 7:9, 10.
Entering the pioneer work involves a big decision. We know this; it did for us too. So, before making your decision you ought to have a good idea of what is involved.
The “Lamp” book (pp. 194-200), of course, outlines the basic requirements that must be met by regular and vacation pioneers. But for the benefit of some of you new ones who have only recently started associating with us, let’s review briefly some of these points. First of all, before you can enroll as a regular pioneer you must have been baptized for at least six months, and during the past six months you must have been a regular publisher reporting at least ten hours and six back-calls on the average each month. You must currently be conducting at least one home Bible study. It is obvious, too, that your conduct must recommend you as a fine Christian in the community.
Once you are enrolled as a regular pioneer you will be expected to average 100 hours each month (a total of 1,200 hours a year) in the ministry. This is not a great deal of time, for when you break it down it amounts to an average of something like three hours and twenty minutes a day. This makes it possible for you to work at some part-time secular activity, if you find it necessary, to support yourself in the work, as the apostle Paul and others in the first century did.—Acts 18:2-4; 20:33, 34.
If circumstances prevent you from being a regular pioneer, a special arrangement is made so that you can “vacation” pioneer for one, two or more months. If you can vacation pioneer for only a couple of consecutive weeks, then the requirement is seventy-five hours during that month. Vacation pioneering is a special privilege too for the newly baptized Witness, for such one does not have to wait for six months; he can go vacation pioneering the next day after baptism if he has regularly published for six months.
Can You Vacation Pioneer?
This special arrangement made by the Society whereby you congregation publishers can pioneer for a limited period is certainly a loving provision. It allows teen-agers who have not completed school, as well as fathers and mothers with families, and who are unable to pioneer on a full-time basis, to have a taste of some of the joys we pioneers feast on all the time. It is also an excellent way for those of you who for health, financial or other reasons find it impossible to make a go of it all year round. And for you newly baptized publishers who are not eligible to be regular pioneers, why, here’s your opportunity to begin now doing what you like best!
We might also liken vacation pioneering to a training course in flying for fledglings who need confidence in their wings and in themselves. The feeling of satisfaction that comes with successful accomplishment makes ever so many keep coming back again and again for short-term vacation pioneering, until the time when they are able to make it the regular thing.
And do you know, vacation pioneering was the initial step that led many of us to become regular or special pioneers, circuit or district servants, missionaries or members of the Bethel family?
You remember what Ecclesiastes 3:1 says: “For everything there is an appointed time, even a time for every affair under the heavens.” This is true in all our lives, whether we are congregation publishers or pioneers, is it not? During the year we all set aside a certain amount of time for essential matters in life—eating, sleeping, etc. We also enjoy a certain amount of relaxation and vacation. But our greatest joys come from devoting time to the worship and service of our God Jehovah, is it not so?
In addition to the normal worship required by the Law, the Israelites could voluntarily make “a special vow to live as a Nazirite to Jehovah.” During that time they would abstain from some of the normal activities of life, in order to be especially “separated to Jehovah.” (Num. 6:2-8) Now today it is impossible for you to take a Nazirite vow, but as congregation publishers you can do something similar when you vacation pioneer. That’s why it’s considered as one of the “special privileges of service” in the “Lamp” book, pages 186 and 199.
This special privilege of service is open all year round to all who qualify. Many sign up so they can devote more time to Jehovah during the visit of the circuit servant. Others set aside the month of March or April for pioneering. Still others take advantage of the summer or winter vacation periods when they have time off from school or secular work.
Particularly during the last two years there has been a great increase in the number of those who have at least once a year been “separated to Jehovah” as vacation pioneers. This is graphically shown in chart No. 2. The figure of 78,857 represents the number of vacation pioneer appointments. Please note too the ever-increasing number of extensions of vacation pioneer appointments. Some publishers have served as vacation pioneers for a number of consecutive months, or more than once during the year. Thus a total of 104,008 vacation pioneer reports were received from the 78,857 during the 1970 service year as mentioned on page 73 of the 1971 Yearbook.
It is written: “There is nothing better than that the man should rejoice in his works.” (Eccl. 3:22) As pioneers we know of no better way to reap this joy from one’s own works than to be in Jehovah’s service full time. As a congregation publisher you can experience it by setting aside time to vacation pioneer, such as during March and/or April.
Why not make it a matter of conversation in your family and in your congregation, encouraging others to join you or to cooperate with you to make it possible? More important, why not make it a matter of prayer to your all-powerful heavenly Father?
You will find increased satisfaction in your own individual “works” as a vacation pioneer, serving Jehovah in this special way. And who knows, your vacation pioneering this March or April may provide just the needed stimulus in your devotion to Jehovah to put you eventually in the expanding ranks of the regular pioneers. That too would be something extra-special over which to rejoice. Just think of the millions upon millions more hours devoted to Jehovah’s praise, if the figures on these charts were doubled!
What Pioneers Themselves Say
Would you like to hear actual experiences telling what encouraged some of us to become regular pioneers?
Love of Jehovah was certainly motive enough for this Connecticut sister: “I love Jehovah and want to serve him to the very best of my ability. And what better way is there to do this than to go from door to door telling people of the wonderful hope which Jehovah offers this sick world? I am young, single, in good health and dedicated. Really, I have no excuse for not being a pioneer.” A Nebraska pioneer says: “The full-time ministry even deepens one’s appreciation of Jehovah’s love.”
Pioneering versus going to college—which is the better course? “Before leaving high school,” this young man in California says, “one of my problems was whether to go to college or not. I remember the day quite well; my father sat down and gave me a long talk. He pointed out the shortness of time, and the critical days we are living in. About the time I would get out of college this system of things may be ended. I would have accomplished nothing; probably even lose my life. So I decided to pioneer.” Perhaps some of you fathers should have a heart-to-heart talk with your teen-agers.
Do you really believe that time for this generation is running out? This sister in California says: “Three other sisters and I were talking about pioneering, and we concluded that if we really believed that this is Jehovah’s organization and that Armageddon is really coming, then we’d better be doing all that we can to help those who are desiring to gain eternal life. As a result the four of us applied for the regular pioneer service.”
Did you ever consider pioneering as a lifetime career? Looking back, this Texas pioneer was happy that he did. “Thirty years ago my entire family (wife and two children) and I gladly disposed of our home and other possessions and went pioneering. In doing so it was with the full intention of remaining such for the rest of my life. I will soon be seventy-eight years of age. My wife and I want to say that it’s been a great privilege over the years to help many to become witnesses of Jehovah!”
One of the many things pioneering teaches us is to develop a practical schedule. For example, a sister in Illinois says: “After my vacation pioneering time was up, the schedule I had made was so workable I continued to put in vacation pioneer hours without any trouble at all.”
Scheduling her time helped this Texas pioneer to overcome obstacles in her life. As she tells it: “My main worries that held me back from pioneering for a long time concerned my health, my unbelieving husband and my household duties. But now that I am pioneering my health has improved, I get about as much done around the house and my husband is happy to help out too. My joys are also much greater now that I’m pioneering.”
Here’s how good scheduling allowed this Kentucky family to pioneer: “After we all enjoyed vacation pioneering in April, our family then sat down and made a schedule so that my mother and I could be regular pioneers and my three sisters could vacation pioneer during school vacation. My father plans to work only part time after my sisters finish school so that he too can be a regular pioneer.”
As pioneers, we all run into problems; they can’t be avoided. But this Oklahoma pioneer has some good advice in this regard. “During my years of pioneering I have experienced times of discouragement. But I have learned that no problem can be solved by running away from it. A good schedule and firm determination, along with Jehovah’s help, have solved the problems I have had.”
On the other hand, perhaps some problems of congregation publishers can be solved by entering the pioneer service. This Maryland pioneer thinks so. “After twenty-five years as a congregation publisher I decided last October to vacation pioneer. I enjoyed it so much I signed up again in November and then continued all winter. I had always believed the winters were too severe for me to ever be a regular pioneer. But I survived better than during other winters; I had less flu and cold, and enjoyed the snow as when I was a child.”
Consider how this sister in California solved her dilemma—too many back-calls, on the one hand, and a two-year-old, on the other. “After vacation pioneering I found I couldn’t possibly take care of my back-calls just getting out a few times during the week. Regular pioneering was the only answer. But then I had a two-year-old son. However, with the help of Jehovah, my family and other sisters, I have been able to pioneer regularly. Never have I been happier or had such peace of mind. Thanks to Jehovah for this privilege!”
Speaking of sheer joy in the full-time service, a pioneer in Kentucky declares: “I used to listen to pioneers speak of their joy. I thought they were exaggerating. Now as a pioneer myself I can say, like the Queen of Sheba, ‘They didn’t tell me the half of it!’”
Do you high-school publishers know that in some parts of the country you can go to school and still pioneer? This Florida pioneer tells how: “Last fall when I went back to school I learned that they had a new program called DCT (Diversified Cooperative Training). In this arrangement a student goes to school a half day and works at a secular job the other half, for which three credits are given toward graduation. When I explained that I was a minister of Jehovah and I would like to pioneer that half day the permission was granted. So I would highly recommend that other students also take advantage of the DCT program.”
Decisions! Decisions! So often decisions are never made, because they are continually pushed into the future. This Oklahoma pioneer expresses how many of us came to grips with the problem of whether to pioneer or not. He says: “After so long a time I realized I had no Scriptural obligations holding me back. It was just a matter of setting a definite date to start pioneering and then sticking to it. Now I have so many back-calls and studies I could never care for them if I were not pioneering.”
Perhaps there are many of you congregation publishers who can also do what we did and become pioneers. Have you thought about it? Whether you are in your fifties or sixties, your thirties or forties, or whether you are only in your teens or twenties, perhaps you too can share in this blessed privilege of pioneering. If you have never pioneered before, why not start out as a vacation pioneer this March or April? If you are free to do so, we urge you to give it serious and prayerful consideration. And if you can accept this invitation, you too will be very happy in your expanded ministry.
Be assured of our love.
Your fellow slaves of Jehovah,
The Pioneers Everywhere
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1950 1955 1960 1965 1970
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858 1,144 2,467
1950 1955 1960 1965 1970