April—Time to ‘Work Hard and Exert Ourselves’
1 The weeks surrounding the Memorial are a time of reflection for Jehovah’s people. This is a time to ponder what was accomplished by Christ’s death and to contemplate our God-given hope made possible by Jesus’ shed blood. As you think back to April 19th of last year, what comes to your mind? Can you remember the faces you saw on that spring evening? the rich, spiritual atmosphere at the Memorial? the serious Biblical discussion and heartfelt prayers? Perhaps you resolved to demonstrate more fully the depth of your gratitude for the love shown to you by Jehovah and Jesus. How does such meditation affect you now?
2 It is clear that Jehovah’s people express thankfulness that goes well beyond words. (Col. 3:15, 17) Last April, particularly, we reached out to show our appreciation for Jehovah’s provisions for salvation by expending ourselves in the Christian ministry. Auxiliary pioneers numbered into the thousands, exceeding the previous peak in the contiguous United States by 27 percent. Their effort, along with that of all other Kingdom proclaimers, resulted in new peaks in hours, magazine placements, and return visits. Our joy was enhanced by seeing thousands of new Bible studies started and a new peak attendance at the Memorial!
3 Indeed, the certainty of our hope stirs us to action. It is just as the apostle Paul wrote: “To this end we are working hard and exerting ourselves, because we have rested our hope on a living God, who is a Savior of all sorts of men, especially of faithful ones.”—1 Tim. 4:10.
4 This Memorial season, how will you demonstrate your faith in Jehovah’s provisions for life? Last April we saw the second highest number of Kingdom proclaimers ever recorded in the United States. Can we exceed that number this April? It is well within our reach. But every publisher, baptized and unbaptized, will need to participate. Many new ones may also qualify to take part. Thus, as you make plans to work hard and exert yourself this April, consider ways in which you can stimulate others, including newer and less experienced ones, to accompany you.
5 Helping Some to Resume Their Activity: If you know some who have not been out in field service for a month or two, perhaps you could encourage them and invite them to accompany you in the field service. If some in the congregation have become inactive, the elders will make a special effort to visit them and encourage them to start again in April.
6 All of us must continue asking for Jehovah’s spirit to strengthen us in his service. (Luke 11:13) What must we do to receive that spirit? Read God’s inspired Word. (2 Tim. 3:16, 17) We must also “hear what the spirit says to the congregations” by being in attendance at all five weekly meetings. (Rev. 3:6) Now is an opportune time to help irregular and inactive ones improve in their study habits and establish constancy in their meeting attendance. (Ps. 50:23) We do this while keeping close watch on our own spiritual welfare. Yet, something else is required.
7 The apostle Peter explained that God gives his holy spirit “to those obeying him as ruler.” (Acts 5:32) Such obedience includes heeding the order “to preach to the people and to give a thorough witness.” (Acts 1:8; 10:42) Thus, although it is true that we need God’s spirit to strengthen us to preach, it is also true that as we begin to demonstrate our desire to please Jehovah, he helps us even further. May we never minimize the importance of taking those initial steps of willing obedience!
8 Helping Young Ones: Parents, have you seen evidence that your children want to talk to others about the truth? Have they been accompanying you in field service? Are they exemplary in their conduct? If so, why hesitate? Approach one of the members of the Congregation Service Committee, and see whether your child is qualified to be counted as a publisher this April. (See the Our Ministry book, pages 99-100.) Recognize that your children can contribute in a mighty way to the shout of praise to Jehovah this Memorial season.—Matt. 21:15, 16.
9 A Christian mother in Georgia, U.S.A., always encouraged her young daughter to talk to others about Jehovah. Last year, as the girl was engaging in the ministry with her mother, she placed a Require brochure with a man and briefly explained the table of contents. He asked her: “How old are you?” She said: “Seven.” The man was surprised to see her give such a meaningful presentation. It so happened that he had been raised around the truth but had never taken it seriously as a way of life. Soon, a Bible study was being conducted with the man, his wife, and his daughter.
10 Many young ones are already publishers, and we enjoy their company as they work along with us in service. These youths can motivate and encourage others their own age. But April is also a fitting time for individual families to strengthen their bonds and build spirituality by working together in sacred service. Family heads should take the lead in this.—Prov. 24:27.
11 Helping New Ones: How about the new ones with whom you are studying the Bible? Might they contribute to the special effort this April? Perhaps they expressed a desire to tell others what they were learning as you covered chapter 2, paragraph 22, or chapter 11, paragraph 14, in the Knowledge book. If you are nearing the end of the book, prepare to discuss this matter plainly as you cover chapter 18, paragraph 8, which states: “Probably you are eager to tell your relatives, friends, and others what you are learning. In fact, you may already have been doing this, even as Jesus shared the good news with others in informal settings. (Luke 10:38, 39; John 4:6-15) Now you may want to do more.” Is this true of those with whom you are studying?
12 Does your student believe the Word of God? Has he been applying Bible principles? Has he brought his life into harmony with divine standards? Has he been attending congregation meetings? Does he want to serve Jehovah God? Then why not encourage him to talk with the elders so that they can determine whether he qualifies to become an unbaptized publisher and work along with you in April? (See Our Ministry book, pages 97-9.) In this way he can begin to experience firsthand how Jehovah’s organization will support him in his efforts to serve Jehovah.
13 True, some students progress faster than others. Thus, in harmony with the direction in the June 2000 Our Kingdom Ministry, page 4, paragraphs 5-6, many have been studying a second book with people who manifested interest initially but who needed additional help to become actively associated. We never give up hope that these honesthearted ones will become genuine disciples of Christ, “whether in a short time or in a long time.” (Acts 26:29) Yet, if the number of months that you have been studying with such individuals is best described as “a long time,” might this Memorial season be a good opportunity for your student to begin demonstrating the depth of his appreciation for Christ’s ransom?
14 How to Help Them Share: We learn much about helping qualified ones to start out in the ministry by examining how Jesus trained others. He did not just find a crowd and tell his apostles to start talking. He first emphasized the need for the preaching work, encouraged a prayerful attitude, and then gave them three basic provisions: a partner, a territory assignment, and a message. (Matt. 9:35-38; 10:5-7; Mark 6:7; Luke 9:2, 6) You can do the same. Whether you will be helping your own child, a new student, or someone who has not reported any activity for a while, it would be appropriate to make a special effort to pursue the following objectives.
15 Highlight the Need: Impress upon the person the importance of the preaching work. Be cheerful about it. Relate experiences that show what the congregation is accomplishing in the ministry. Display the spirit Jesus expressed at Matthew 9:36-38. Encourage the prospective publisher or the inactive one to pray about his personal participation in the ministry as well as for the success of the work worldwide.
16 Get the Person Thinking About the Many Opportunities There Are to Witness: Mention the possibility of meeting with the book study group for house-to-house witnessing. Speak of conversing with relatives and acquaintances or talking with workmates or schoolmates during lunch breaks. When traveling on public transportation, one can often strike up a conversation simply by showing personal interest in fellow passengers. When we take the initiative, this often creates an opening to give a fine witness. Truly there are many occasions to share our hope with others “from day to day.”—Ps. 96:2, 3.
17 Likely, though, it would be preferable for you and the new publisher to work together from house to house as soon as possible. If you have set a goal of increasing your service during April, ask the territory servant if a convenient territory is available. If so, this would afford you opportunities to work it thoroughly. For example, as you finish service or travel to meetings or other places, you may notice that someone is home at a residence where previously no one was found or where interest was shown. If appropriate, make a brief call when it would be most effective. This, in turn, will contribute to a sense of accomplishment and joy in the ministry.
18 Prepare an Appealing Message: It is one thing for someone to want to share the Kingdom message, but it is quite another for him to feel confident about his manner of communicating it, especially if he is new or has not been out in service for a long time. Helping new and inactive ones to prepare is time well spent. Service Meetings and meetings for field service can provide helpful ideas, but there is no substitute for personal preparation.
19 How can you help new ones to prepare for service? Start with a magazine presentation, and keep it simple and brief! Ask them to think about events in the news that would be of concern to those in the territory, and then find a point in one of the current magazines that relates to it. Practice the presentation together, and use it in the ministry as soon as possible.
20 Develop Our Potential for Future Increase: Last year the worldwide Memorial attendance was over 14.8 million. The number reporting as publishers was just over six million. This means that about 8.8 million people were interested enough to come to this special program where they heard one of the Bible’s major teachings explained. They got to know some of us personally, which likely impressed them favorably. Many of them speak highly of us, contribute toward our worldwide work, and defend us before others. This large group represents a potential for future increase. What can we do to help them make further advancement?
21 The majority of new ones attending the Memorial do so as a result of a personal invitation from one of us. Usually, this means that they have at least one personal acquaintance in the audience. If someone attends in response to our invitation, we have a responsibility to make him feel welcome and assist him to benefit fully from the program. Since the hall will be crowded, help him find a seat. Lend him a Bible, and invite him to share your songbook. Answer any questions he may ask. Your warm personal attention can be a major factor in cultivating his interest. Of course, all of us share this responsibility—if we see an unfamiliar face, extend a warm welcome and converse briefly to get acquainted.
22 Attendance at the Memorial can have a real impact on a person’s thinking. The fact that he has come to the meeting may suggest that he has not found what he is searching for elsewhere and that we offer something he feels a need to examine more closely. The explanation of the marvelous ransom provision may be a profound revelation to a person who has no concept of Jehovah’s boundless love. He may readily see that we are different—sincere, friendly, loving, and respectful. Our hall bears no resemblance to what he may have seen in the churches that feature images and meaningless rituals. New ones are sure to notice that the audience is composed of people from all walks of life and that no collections are taken. This exposure can be a powerful incentive for them to return.
23 After the Memorial, someone should be alert to provide follow-up assistance to every new person who attended. If you invited new ones, you have a special responsibility. Before they leave, make sure they know about the other meetings at the Kingdom Hall. Mention the title of the next public talk. Let them know the location and time of the Congregation Book Study nearest their home. Later, supply them with a copy of the Creator book, and let them know that the discussion for the week of April 30 is “What Can You Learn About the Creator From a Book?” Explain why the whole congregation is planning to attend a nearby district convention that is scheduled in the near future.
24 Arrange for a cordial visit at their home. Make sure they have copies of the Require brochure and the Knowledge book, which acquaint them with the fundamental teachings of the Bible. If they are not studying already, offer them a Bible study. Suggest that they read the brochure Jehovah’s Witnesses—Who Are They? What Do They Believe?, which presents a clear picture of how we function as an organization. Invite them to view our videos, such as Our Whole Association of Brothers. Arrange for them to meet others in the congregation. In the coming months, keep in touch with new ones; invite them to attend the meetings when the circuit overseer visits or when you have a circuit assembly or special assembly day. Give them every opportunity to show themselves “rightly disposed for everlasting life”!—Acts 13:48.
25 What the Elders Can Do: The success of the intensified effort in the ministry this April will depend, in large measure, on the elders. If you are a book study conductor, make a list of things that you can do to help everyone in your book study group participate in the special activities. Are there any assigned to your group who are young, new, irregular, or inactive? Check to see whether the parents, pioneers, or other publishers have taken the initiative to help them. Provide whatever personal assistance you yourself can offer. One sister who had been irregular in field service for two years spent more than 50 hours in the ministry last April. What made the difference for her? She said that it was the upbuilding shepherding calls made by the elders.
26 Elders and ministerial servants should cooperate to ensure that there is enough territory, magazines, and literature for the upcoming month. Can additional meetings for field service be arranged? If so, make the special arrangements known. Above all, in your public and private prayers, ask for Jehovah’s blessing on our month of heightened Kingdom activity.—Rom. 15:30, 31; 2 Thess. 3:1.
27 Last April in a congregation in North Carolina, the elders really encouraged increased activity in the ministry. At the meetings each week, they invited the publishers to consider prayerfully whether they could enroll as auxiliary pioneers. At every opportunity, all in the servant body talked enthusiastically about making April the best month ever. As a result, 58 percent of the publishers, including all the elders and ministerial servants, pioneered that month!
28 The Joy of Having a Full Share: What are the blessings of “working hard and exerting ourselves” in the ministry? (1 Tim. 4:10) Regarding their congregation’s zealous activity last April, the above-mentioned elders wrote: “The brothers and sisters often speak about how much more love and closeness they feel toward one another since they began working more in the field ministry.”
29 A young brother with limited mobility longed to have a share in the special activity last April. By means of careful planning and with the help of his mother and spiritual brothers and sisters, he enjoyed a productive month as an auxiliary pioneer. How did he feel about the experience? He said: “For the first time in my life, I felt like an able-bodied man.”
30 There is no doubt that Jehovah blesses richly those who highly esteem their privilege of talking about his kingship. (Ps. 145:11, 12) As we commemorate our Lord’s death, we understand that the blessings for godly devotion will be even more abundant in the future. The apostle Paul keenly longed for the reward of eternal life. Yet, he knew that this was not something for which he could just sit back and hope. He wrote: “To this end I am indeed working hard, exerting myself in accordance with the operation of him and which is at work in me with power.” (Col. 1:29) Jehovah, through Jesus, made Paul powerful to accomplish a lifesaving ministry, and He can do the same for us today. Will that be your personal experience this April?
[Box on page 3]
Whom Can You Encourage to Publish in April?
A Bible student?
Someone who has become inactive?