Help “These Little Ones”
1 Jesus loved people. He was concerned not only about those who faithfully followed him, but also about ones who might stray from the fold. Recall his words at Matthew 18:14: “It is not a desirable thing with my Father who is in heaven for one of these little ones to perish.”
2 There is no doubt that Jesus had in mind some who might stray from the flock, for at Matthew 18:12, 13, he said that there would be great rejoicing over one sheep that had strayed and was found and returned to the fold. Yes, Jesus was concerned about “these little ones.”
3 From time to time some may leave and show no desire at the moment to accept our assistance with a view to their returning. But most who weaken or discontinue Christian activity have done so because of various pressures and personal problems. They have simply left off sharing in the field service and regularly associating with us at meetings. Having a Christ-like love for these ones, what can we do to help them return?
WHO CAN HELP
4 Each body of elders will want to discuss together, possibly in their December elders’ meeting, how they can help those who have become inactive during the past few years. (Prov. 27:23) As part of their shepherding work, elders should make a special effort to call on these ones who have allowed themselves to “stray” and endeavor to assist them spiritually. Ministerial servants who are acquainted with the thinking and circumstances of inactive ones may be asked to accompany an elder when calling on them to offer encouragement.
WHAT TO DO
5 When calling on inactive ones, never scold or chastise them. Rather, show deep love and concern. Let them know that we miss having them with us at meetings. Offer to attend with them, picking them up if that would be helpful. In time, without putting individuals ‘on the spot,’ or making them feel uncomfortable, kindly endeavor to find out why they have drifted away. Is it that they are experiencing some of the pains that come with trying to accumulate unnecessary material things? (1 Tim. 6:9, 10) Have they been stumbled over something that can be straightened out? Let them talk so you will know how you can be of help.
6 If they do not respond on the first call, do not be discouraged. In some cases it would be good to call again within a week or two. Sometimes several calls are needed. Be willing to encourage them Scripturally, studying with them if that would be of help.
7 By showing this kind of loving interest in Jehovah’s “little ones,” likely you, too, can enjoy experiences such as this one submitted by a traveling overseer: ‘Recently I inquired about a newly baptized sister and was told that she had not been to a meeting in five weeks. I asked a sister to call her and tell her we would like to come by the following morning. The newly baptized sister was pleased. In our discussion she admitted that she had been very “down” spiritually. She had not realized that she was so spiritually sick since she had intentions of getting to the meetings. During our visit to the congregation, she attended the public meeting and went out in field service as well, showing that our shepherding visit had good results.’
8 Helping those who have allowed themselves to “stray” is a very essential part of our Christian service. With the elders and others lovingly aiding persons who have drifted away to overcome their problems, many “little ones” who are spiritually weak may be helped to grow stronger, to Jehovah’s praise.