The Pioneer’s Part in Gathering More of the “Great Crowd”
“THIS pioneer is most certainly a good representative for Jehovah. He is devoted, loyal, and shows heartfelt concern for others. Not only is he loved and respected by the local congregation, but by all in the circuit. His entire life centers around Kingdom interests.” This was the comment of a circuit overseer concerning an elder who had served as a pioneer for twenty-five years.
2 A twenty-two-year-old sister writes, “I am writing to express to you my love for the pioneer service and the desire I have to branch out in serving Jehovah. Knowing that the days are wicked and indeed short I have come to realize that all people should hear of Jehovah and his kingdom. Doing this now while I am young has brought many blessings. Now I am into my year-and-a-half of regular pioneering and during that time my love has deepened for spiritual things.”
3 What is it that moves Kingdom publishers, such as these two, to enter the pioneer service, make it their life’s work and find such joy in it? It is their deep love for Jehovah, and their heartfelt desire to help others to learn the way to life.
4 They are acquainted with the description of the “great crowd” that the apostle John gives at Revelation 7:9, now being gathered, and they want to share fully in gathering others into that blessed group. They know that it was Jehovah’s blessing on diligent preaching and teaching that enabled over two million persons to take a firm stand on His side in this time of the end, and they further realize that it is by this same work that Jehovah will bring in others to whom he is now showing mercy.
5 Yes, there is every evidence that the “great crowd” is getting larger. While in some countries the increase might be considered as modest, in others, people are accepting the truth in great numbers. Jehovah, in his loving kindness, is holding the way open for many more of the unnumbered “great crowd” to say, “Salvation we owe to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (Rev. 7:10) It is a time for happiness, a time to be industrious, engaging in the joyous work of rescuing other interested persons from Satan’s grasp and lovingly teaching them the Bible principles that will lead to God’s approval, qualifying them for New Order living.
6 There is much evidence that there are many honest-hearted ones in our own home territories who want to learn about Jehovah and his righteous purposes. For example, circuit and district overseers report that as they work in different parts of the country they are finding many interested ones and starting studies with them. They say that other experienced publishers, who work with a goal of starting studies, are doing the same. Note the comments of six traveling overseers regarding starting studies: “Qualified publishers are able to obtain Bible studies if they work at it.” “Many are still starting Bible studies in the house-to-house work. Those who are successful in starting studies are those who are really conscientious about their service and who make the starting of studies their real goal.” “Most publishers who work for studies have no problem starting studies, though not necessarily on the initial call. Some have limits as to how many they can conduct.” “I find I can start twenty to thirty Bible studies a month. At least half of them are with persons who have no literature.” “Studies are no more difficult to start today than in the past, in some ways easier.” “I feel that for the most part, more people are taking interest in the truth than in times past. This will vary, however, from one area to another.” Yes, there are still many people like Lydia, who responded when hearing the good news as preached by Paul. Jehovah “opened her heart” and she accepted the truth.—Acts 16:14.
7 How each of us will share in the gathering of more of this “great crowd” will depend on our circumstances. Some with family and other responsibilities will need to serve as congregation publishers, though serving with the same love and zeal as others. Some will be able to serve as auxiliary pioneers, while others will be in a position to serve as regular pioneers. If your personal circumstances would allow you to be a pioneer, how do you feel about it? If you are free to be a pioneer, then why not take a fresh look at this privilege and see if what is said here applies to you?
ADJUSTMENTS IN THE PIONEER WORK
8 The new arrangements for the regular pioneer work will make it possible for a number of pioneers who are having difficulty in meeting the 100-hour requirement each month to continue on in the service they so much love. For a number of these, the 1,200-hour-per-year requirement has not been easy and it is appreciated how these devoted brothers and sisters have worked diligently to continue on as pioneers. Now the regular pioneers have a goal of 90 hours each month and it is hoped the major part of that time can be used in house-to-house preaching and making return visits. By reaching this goal of 90 hours a month, it would be possible to have a total of 1,080 hours for the year. However, some of this time may be used for attending two circuit assemblies and one district assembly as well as enjoying a vacation period, if desired. So a total of just 1,000 hours a year instead of 1,200 hours will be required for one to stay on the regular pioneer list.
9 Besides those already on the pioneer list who will be benefited, there will be others who have had a keen desire to be pioneers but who have found that the hour requirement was more than they could reach. So they have hesitated to start out in the pioneer work, fearing that they might not be able to hold to the schedule and would, after a time, have to ask to be deleted. Likely, many of these zealous publishers will now see their way clear to devote 90 hours a month to the field activity, especially with the assurance that they will not need to discontinue the pioneer work at the end of the service year as long as they can report at least 1,000 hours for the year. These reduced requirements take into account the financial and other pressures that many are experiencing due to inflation and related factors, and will make it possible for one to serve Jehovah as a pioneer with a greater assurance of success. We confidently expect that many will take up the pioneer work in view of these new arrangements. It amounts to averaging just three hours each day in Kingdom service.
IS THE AUXILIARY PIONEER WORK WITHIN YOUR REACH?
10 There was great rejoicing when the auxiliary pioneer service was announced. Here was what many felt they could attain as a goal of Kingdom service. There are undoubtedly many who will be able to enroll in the auxiliary pioneer work. This replaces the temporary pioneer work and so you will recognize that some of the requirements remain the same. For example, one must be baptized and have a reputation for good Christian conduct. One enrolls, not by writing to the Society, but rather, this is handled entirely in your own congregation. The presiding overseer will have the applications and it is good to get one and fill it out well in advance of the date you want to begin. The old forms can be used until the new forms are available. The committee will have the responsibility to consider it and decide if the applicant qualifies. The requirement of hours, sixty per month, should put this fine privilege within the reach of many congregation publishers who heretofore have had a strong desire to enroll but whose circumstances would not permit it. Now, if a person can devote just two hours a day to the field service, he can have the joy of sharing in the auxiliary pioneer work. This can be shared in for just one month at a time, but undoubtedly there will be a number who will want to be auxiliary pioneers on a continual basis. These pioneers will be able to obtain magazines and place subscriptions at pioneer rates, but will pay the congregation publisher rate on other literature.
11 For whom is the auxiliary pioneer work meant? It is for those who have the zeal and desire to serve Jehovah more fully. Some would like to serve as regular pioneers but do not have the time, circumstances or the strength for it. They do, however, have the pioneer spirit. They have the love for Jehovah and their fellow humans and want to serve them. Truly, they have many blessings in store for them as they apply themselves in a whole-souled way to this new arrangement that just fits their needs.
12 Some who will share in the auxiliary pioneer work will be housewives. Many sisters, by organizing their household duties well, will find it easily within the range of possibility to enroll. Especially will this be true of those without children to care for, or who do not need to engage in secular work. Older brothers who work only part time or who are retired will find this a rewarding way to serve. Some will be able to serve during worldly holiday seasons or might be able to put forth a special effort to enroll when the circuit overseer comes to visit the congregation. Schoolchildren who can set aside a month or more during their summer vacation can be auxiliary pioneers. Many others will discover that there will be a month or so at some time during the year when unexpected circumstances will allow them, with a little planning, to enjoy this grand privilege.
13 Should the entire congregation be interested in the pioneer work? Indeed it should! All in the congregation can be an encouragement to pioneers and also to those who are thinking of entering the pioneer work. When the Israelites returned from captivity in Babylon and started to rebuild the temple at Jerusalem a number of factors combined to dishearten them. They needed encouragement! So Jehovah raised up the prophet Haggai who exhorted them to move ahead regardless of the obstacles, adding that Jehovah had said, “I am with you people.” The account continues, “And Jehovah proceeded to rouse up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, the governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak the high priest, and the spirit of all the remaining ones of the people; and they began to enter in and to do the work in the house of Jehovah of armies their God.” (Haggai 1:13, 14) Let us follow the example of Jehovah and Haggai and be a real encouragement to the pioneers.
14 Elders and ministerial servants, by what they do and say, can certainly encourage the pioneer work. It is good when they themselves have the pioneer spirit, whether they are in a position to be pioneers or not. Thus they can help others to avoid developing a materialistic view and cultivate, instead, theocratic goals. Words from the elders that are positive and encouraging can build up and spiritually strengthen as did Paul’s words to Timothy, “I never leave off remembering you in my supplications, night and day longing to see you . . . For I recollect the faith which is in you without any hypocrisy, and which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, but which I am confident is also in you. For this very cause I remind you to stir up like a fire the gift of God which is in you.”—2 Tim. 1:3-6.
15 Parents, too, can do a great deal to direct the hearts of their children toward the pioneer work. Those parents who share wholeheartedly in the field service and who enroll in the auxiliary pioneer work whenever possible set a fine example for their children to follow. Many of our best pioneers have come from those whose parents set before them the goal of the pioneer work from the time they were very young and who worked alongside them in the service whenever possible. They helped their children to see the pioneer work for what it really is, an opportunity to serve Jehovah, their brothers and mankind.
WHAT THE PIONEERS SAY
16 There are over 15,000 regular pioneers in this country now. Some have been in the pioneer work many years, others, just a short time. Some are young and others are on in years. How do they feel about the pioneer work and what do others say about them?
17 Concerning a pioneer who moved to serve where the need is greater in Kansas a traveling overseer says, “He is a fine young brother with lots of ability and uses this with Jehovah’s aid to help others in the congregation as well as in the field service. He gives a good witness and works well with the publishers. Has six studies now but this should improve in the future after working the territory more. He is a hard worker, unafraid, a good teacher, willing to go wherever he is sent. The assignment here gives him great joy.”
18 The pioneer work lays a good foundation for Bethel service. Another young brother, writing as he transferred from the pioneer ranks to become a member of the Bethel family, says, “The last three years of my life as a regular pioneer have certainly been the richest and most meaningful up to now. They have provided vital experience and training in the most urgent work there is. They have drawn me very close to Jehovah and I have learned a great deal about people and have come to love them.” Many others now at Bethel also served as pioneers before coming here and they say that this training was likewise of great benefit to them in many ways. Their deep love for the field service and also their desire to help people, remain with them, and so the experience is of value as they work on weekends and evenings with the congregation to which they are assigned.
19 Pioneer work is not just for the young. One can start later in life and serve with effectiveness and joy. One sister from North Carolina says, “I just want to share my joy and happiness with you. When my pink card for April was sent in, it meant forty years of pioneer service—almost half of my life, since I am now eighty-three. It has been such a joy and privilege to serve Jehovah, teaching and making disciples. Now, when I see on the platform an elder giving talks, who was just a baby when I studied with his parents, my heart overflows with praise and thanksgiving to the Most High God for using me to make known His Word and Name to others.” When one can look back over a number of years of faithful service it provides a sense of true satisfaction. Such a person is glad he did not squander precious time but, rather, used it wisely.
20 One pioneer, in full-time service since 1907, says, “At present I feel my service isn’t much, but it is a great joy to serve my Creator. I am thankful I had a share in putting out the Kingdom News. It reminded me of the first service I had the privilege of doing in 1906 when we put out The Bible Students Monthly from door to door. And I am very happy as one of my students went out for the first time in the service recently and has continued since. It pays to be patient with studies as long as there is good interest.” Concerning her the circuit overseer says, “I believe she was more of an encouragement to me than I was to her. She more than adds to the pioneer spirit.” Here is an example of how faithfulness and zeal can be maintained over a period of many years and still be burning brightly at the age of ninety-three.
21 Another elderly pioneer says, “I am very crippled with arthritis all over my body and am not able to walk. But thanks to Jehovah I can still talk, write, phone and send out magazines. In this I am having wonderful results. I am eighty years old, in the truth forty-two years, a pioneer thirty-eight years. I have enjoyed every moment, every hour of my dedicated life. Thanks to Jehovah for his Word, his organization and all the faithful brothers and sisters. My life is happy and complete.” There is no desire here to retire from the pioneer work, but rather, there is the urge to continue serving Jehovah and helping others to get on the road to life.
22 In the past there have been pioneers who, because of diminishing strength or personal circumstances, found it impossible to devote 100 hours each month to the work and thus transferred to the congregation publisher ranks. One brother writes, “My work schedule permitted me only four days for field service, of which I allotted one to my family, thus giving me only three days. I thus find it necessary to switch to publisher with the hopes of temporary pioneering every other month.” Another said, “I feel that I could do more good in the congregation by temporary pioneering a number of times each year and spending as much time as possible in personal visits and encouragement.” Another writes, “My wife and I are writing to inform you that we will be going off the pioneer list. Due to health and financial problems we feel that we cannot meet the required 1,200 hours for the service year. We certainly have enjoyed our time spent in the pioneer work and have had many good experiences to remember. Hopefully in six months one or both of us can renew our service to Jehovah as a pioneer.” Such former pioneers still have the desire to pioneer, and with the new reduced time requirements it is possible that some of them will be able to return to the ranks of the regular pioneers, but if not, they might be able to share in the auxiliary work often or continually.
23 Is the pioneer work ‘easy’? Not necessarily. It requires wise use of time, diligent application and perseverance. Some pioneers have said that the first six months or so require a number of adjustments including getting up earlier in the morning, a better schedule, more walking. But the longer they were in the pioneer service the more satisfying it became. As they allowed time to adjust to the pioneer schedule and work they found that ‘the joy of Jehovah was their stronghold.’ (Neh. 8:10) The satisfaction of knowing that you are serving Jehovah, are responding to his leading, and that you are helping others on the way to life will truly make the pioneer work become a joyous way of life.
24 It is clear that Jehovah still has work for us to do in the gathering of more of the “great crowd.” Those whose circumstances will allow them to share in this work as pioneers will have the privilege of reaping many additional blessings. So speak with someone who has made a success of pioneer service. Find out how you might be able to succeed too. After prayerfully considering your circumstances, can you have a greater share in the gathering of additional members of the “great crowd”?