“Clean from the Blood of All Men”
AT MILETUS, on the west coast of Asia Minor, the apostle Paul met with the elders of the Ephesus congregation. In his parting words to them he said: “I know that all of you among whom I went preaching the kingdom will see my face no more. Hence I call you to witness this very day that I am clean from the blood of all men, for I have not held back from telling you all the counsel of God.”—Acts 20:25-27.
The apostle Paul had no fear that he had failed in his commission to declare the “good news of the kingdom.” He knew that he had used his time well, both in caring for his personal needs by working with his hands and in instructing others about God’s will. He was confident that what he had taught by word and example would fully equip others to serve Jehovah as faithful disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. If any did abandon true worship, this could not be charged to Paul’s account. Their blood would be upon their own heads.—Acts 20:31-35.
Can we today have the same confidence? Certainly, provided that we, like Paul, are whole-souled in doing God’s will. Of course, it is appropriate for us to make sure that we are not lacking in some vital respect.
Consider Pioneer Service
Like Paul, we should have the desire to help as many persons as possible to get an accurate knowledge of the truth, and we should want to remove obstacles that could limit our activity in the ministry. You may therefore find it helpful to talk to elders in the congregation about the possibility of your entering the pioneer service. Then, too, if certain circumstances are presently limiting your participation in the field ministry, you might ask yourself: Am I in position to change my circumstances? Would it be pleasing to Jehovah if I did so? Could I increase my share in Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making and still care well for my other Scriptural responsibilities? Could I enroll as a temporary or a regular pioneer?
If possible, you would certainly want to do that. Manifestly a dedicated, baptized witness of Jehovah could not have a completely clear conscience if he knew that he could do much more in spreading the “good news” but held back from doing it. It would be difficult for him to say, “I am free from the blood of all men,” if he were indifferently using up time in unnecessary pursuits, time that he could be spending in aiding others to gain an accurate knowledge of God’s life-giving word.
Of course, not all can pioneer, and no one should feel inferior because his circumstances make this impossible. Jehovah God and his Son are pleased with the whole-souled service of all true Christians.
At times, however, we may think something is impossible for us and later find out that we can do it. That is why we can benefit from the example of others. What they have done may help us to see how we might enlarge our share in the work of Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making.
When considering the experiences of those who have taken up pioneer service, think of your own circumstances and determine whether you might be able to join them.
Housewives and Mothers Serving as Pioneers
Are you a housewife? Are you a mother? Many sisters serving as regular or temporary pioneers are. How do they do it?
A sister from Hawaii relates how she is able to pioneer although having three children and an unbelieving, husband: “Each child has his or her own chores to care for after school. I make it a point to be home at least one hour before school is out. If I cannot reach home before the children return from school, I arrange for them to stay with their grandmother until I pick them up after field service.”
Another mother serving as a pioneer in Hawaii says: “Being a pioneer, wife and mother requires many adjustments, and cooperation from all family members. I spend time in field service five days a week. On Monday I care for family matters and evenings are spent in personal study and association with my family. Since I pioneered when my children were small, this evidently influenced them to make pioneering their goal in life too. While pioneering, I had fine opportunities to get my children out in the field service more often and this strengthened them spiritually. Additionally, our relationship as parent and child was greatly improved by giving them individual attention and having companionship with them in service. Serving as a pioneer has been a protection for me, because it has helped me to become free from selfish ambitions.”
From the branch in Japan comes this report: “Many of the pioneers in Japan are housewives. With a good schedule, they have little difficulty in keeping their simple homes clean. Much of the field service time they put in while the children are at school. One pioneer sister goes in service leading her three-year-old twin boys, one by each hand. Another pioneers by bicycle, with one child sitting on a seat up front, and the other on a seat at the back. Mothers with school-age children often arrange to arrive home just as the children do, and to have Bible students come to the home at that hour, or to take the children on studies with them. There may be a child in the home where the study is held. In this case the child of the pioneer may conduct a study with that child.”
The branch overseer from Korea writes that housewives are among the most effective pioneers in that land. Usually they conduct more Bible studies than do the other regular pioneers. Commenting on the general circumstances of these housewives, the branch overseer writes:
“Most of the homes of the Korean brothers are very humble, consisting of just a room or two. This means less housework. However, without modern appliances, sisters must spend more time in preparing meals and shopping once or twice each day. Practically none of the sisters have washing machines. They get up early and perform their household duties so as to be in the field service by 9:00 am. They spend the time in the service when the rest of the family is at work or in school.”
What is moving so many housewives and mothers to take up the pioneer service and find real joy in it? It is love for Jehovah God and a sincere desire to help others to find the way that leads to eternal life. Their efforts have been richly blessed. Is the same love moving you to want to do as much as you can in declaring the “good news”? Even if circumstances do not permit you to be a regular pioneer, could you share in their joys as a temporary pioneer? Does your heart impel you to want to do so because of concern for people in your territory?
A sister from Portugal, where the work of Jehovah’s witnesses is banned, tells what moved her to take up temporary pioneer service: “At a circuit assembly I attended the meeting for those interested in pioneer service. The comments of the district overseer truly made me think. He said: ‘When you really love someone, don’t you gladly do something to show it? How are we showing our love for Jehovah? Perhaps we can do this more fully by serving as temporary pioneers.’ Since I always wanted to do this, I decided to talk with my husband about it. Although I have three young children, three, five and seven years old, we worked out a schedule for my mother, who lives with us, to care for the children during one month. Although being a family with limited financial means, we decided that my fifteen-year-old sister and I, along with another elderly sister from the congregation, could serve as temporary pioneers for one month in isolated territory, as an interested couple with whom I had studied moved to this area and offered us accommodations.”
Were the efforts of this sister and those who shared with her in temporary pioneer service rewarded? She continues: “What a wonderful time we enjoyed! Can you imagine our joy to have people come seeking us at the home where we stayed, saying: ‘I brought these neighbors of mine to hear what you told me, as they were not at home when you called yesterday’? During that month of temporary pioneer service, we talked to hundreds of people, right on the streets and roads, about the marvelous blessings of God’s kingdom. We had the privilege to start nine Bible studies during this time. Several days ago I was happy to receive a letter from one of the ladies with whom I started a study. In part, the letter reads: ‘My dear friend, the more I learn about God’s Word, the more I thank God for having sent you to my home. Every day my husband reads a little from the books you left and is very interested in knowing more about God’s purposes.’”
Family Cooperation Helps
As in the case of this Portuguese sister who was aided to serve as a temporary pioneer because of her mother’s willingness to care for the children for a month, many others have been able to pioneer with the help of family cooperation.
In the Philippines many brothers do farming. When planting and harvesting are in progress, they are very busy. But when this work is finished, many share in temporary pioneering. One overseer reports that the family members take turns in doing so. Have you ever given consideration to what you might do to help various members of the family be temporary pioneers at different times of the year?
One of the reasons why there are many pioneers in Korea compared with the number of publishers is family cooperation. The branch overseer observes: “Many family groups cooperate so that one or more members of the family can pioneer. Most Koreans marry and raise families. It is rare to see someone choose singleness. Nevertheless, after marriage and the family has been started, the couple often try to arrange things so that one of them can pioneer. This has happened more often when the couple operate a small shop together, rather than when the husband works for another employer. Jobs are scarce and when one has a job working for an employer it usually means twelve or more hours a day, every day.”
Regarding family cooperation, a brother serving in Portugal writes: “My wife and I rise every morning, following the schedule of the Bethel family, and from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. my wife gets much of the housework done, meals prepared, and so forth. Both of the boys have regular assigned duties, such as making their beds, keeping their room in order and, at mealtimes, one sets the table, while the other does much of the shopping. Many times during our pioneer career, good-paying jobs were offered, almost invariably when we encountered some financial problem. I have been offered excellent paying salaries in Switzerland and France. Why, just the other day a local jeweler asked me to work for him at a fine salary. As a family, we are very happy with the necessities of life and are gladly following the excellent counsel found in Matthew 6:19-21.”
Truly, when various members of the family share the work load, this makes extra time available, time that may be enough for at least one member of the family to be able to pioneer. Would this not be a blessed result from family cooperation?
Sacrifices May Have to Be Made
Often those desiring to pioneer need something more than family cooperation. They may also have to change their circumstances to free them for pioneer service. An overseer in Nagoya, Japan, left a full-time job to care for a milk delivery route, beginning at 5:00 a.m. This leaves him ample time to care for his wife and child as well as to pioneer during the remainder of the day. The head surgical nurse at Fukuyama Hospital was able to switch to part-time nursing in another hospital so that she could be a temporary pioneer from the time of her baptism until she qualified to be a regular pioneer. There are a number of young doctors who work one or two days at the hospital to supply their material needs, and spend the rest of their time in pioneer service. Some chemists also use their practicing licenses to do just a little part-time work to support themselves in the pioneer service. Other pioneers earn enough money to support themselves at jobs that people do not normally want to take, such as early morning newspaper deliveries, cleaning bowling alleys and offices. Sometimes two pioneers have taken one full-time job between them.
In Hawaii a couple with two children sold a chicken farm and moved to another island to pioneer while their children were young. They expressed their feelings in this way: “Pioneering as an example to our children was the best heritage we could give them.” The father drove a school bus and did carpenter work part time to sustain the family financially, while he served as presiding overseer and as a regular pioneer. During the summer months the children served as temporary pioneers with their parents.
Another brother from Hawaii states: “My appreciation for the pioneer work came when my wife and two sons became pioneers. I had a good position with the telephone company for many years and, after twenty years with the company, decided to take early retirement, took on a part-time job and applied for regular pioneer service. Jehovah has richly blessed our efforts in full-time service. My two sons are now serving in Brooklyn Bethel, and I enjoy the companionship of my wife in the pioneer work.”
A couple in Portugal with a nine-year-old daughter learned the truth and felt so indebted to Jehovah that they made their goal the pioneer service. However, this would not be easy, since, in addition to the daughter, the wife’s parents had to be cared for as well as an eighty-year-old aunt. Not quickly deterred, the couple figured out the value of all their material possessions. Since they owned the apartment, they decided to turn this into an asset by renting it out. Thus their home would become a stepping-stone to pioneer service rather than a hindrance. The rent received would greatly help to offset other expenses. Since they owned some property, it was decided to sell this now and use the income toward pioneer expenses.
No sooner had they completed their plans than the foreign company where the husband was employed strongly urged him to continue, offering him a promotion. Relatives also brought pressure to bear, trying to fill the couple with fear about the uncertainty of the future. However, they held to their decision. Just three years after their dedication, they are enjoying many blessings in the special pioneer service. The couple are conducting a total of thirty home Bible studies. Their steadfastness in putting Kingdom interests first has also helped to move nine members of the immediate family to dedicate their lives to Jehovah God.
Truly, those who have given up material things to devote themselves more fully to advance Kingdom interests as pioneers have been richly blessed. A husband and wife, both of whom gave up good-paying jobs to become pioneers, commented: “The past four years have been the happiest, the most blessed and gratifying years of our life, serving Jehovah as pioneers. There are no regrets, for we have been both spiritually and materially blessed.”
After considering your own circumstances, what do you think? Is pioneering for you? Can you adjust your circumstances and get by with less materially? Would it be possible to work together as a family so that at least one member could be a regular pioneer? Or, might it be possible, through family cooperation, for various family members to take turns in sharing in temporary pioneer service?
If, after prayerful consideration, you see the possibility of enlarging your participation in the field ministry as a regular or a temporary pioneer, why not set a date to start, and work toward that end?
As devoted servants of Jehovah God we certainly want to use time wisely in these “last days.” When we are whole-souled in our service to Jehovah, we can rest assured of his blessing. Like the apostle Paul, we will be able to say, “I am clean from the blood of all men.”