Developing the Foreign-Language Field
1. What opportunity has arisen as we share in the preaching work in our assigned territories?
1 Jesus Christ foretold that the good news would be preached throughout the earth “for a witness to all the nations.” Those words ring clear in the ears of every minister who shares in the preaching and teaching work. (Matt. 24:14; 28:19, 20) As we go about preaching and making disciples, we may find people of different nationalities who speak a language other than ours. These too deserve an opportunity to hear the Kingdom message and take a firm stand for the truth before the fear-inspiring day of Jehovah arrives. (Mal. 3:18) How can we develop the foreign-language field in our assigned territory?
2. In what way do we imitate Jehovah when speaking to others of another language?
2 Reflect Jehovah’s View of Those Who Speak Another Language: To reflect Jehovah’s love impartially with everyone in our territory, we must have an intense desire to help people come to an accurate knowledge of the true God, Jehovah, regardless of the language they may speak. (Ps. 83:18; Acts 10:34, 35) Although we focus primarily on those who speak the language of the congregation we are associated with, we must be mindful of and attentive to the needs of those who speak another language and look for ways to share God’s Kingdom message with them. To overlook those who speak another language would not be in harmony with Jehovah’s purpose to give a witness to people of all the nations. How, then, may we help people who do not speak our language?
3. What useful tool has been provided for us, and how can we prepare ourselves to use it?
3 Use Good News for People of All Nations: This booklet has been designed to be used when we encounter those who speak a language different from ours. Have this booklet with you at all times, get familiar with its different features, and be prepared to use it. For quick reference, mark the different languages encountered in your territory. If literature is available in these languages, it may be practical to obtain a few items for placement with the person after using the message in the booklet.
4. How can the Nations booklet be used in our ministry?
4 If you meet someone in the ministry who speaks another language and you are not sure which language he speaks, start by displaying the booklet’s cover. Turn to the world map on the inside cover, point to yourself and the country where you live, and indicate that you would like to know where the householder is from and what language he speaks. After you have determined his language, consult the table of contents, find the appropriate page, direct the householder’s attention to the sentence in bold type at the top of the page, and then indicate that you would like the householder to read the message. When he is finished, offer a tract in his language or point to the sentence highlighted in gray, which mentions that you are willing to return with a publication in the householder’s own language. Then point to the expression “my name” in bold type, and state your name clearly. Point to “your name” in bold type, and await the householder’s response. Make definite arrangements for a return visit.
5. What follow-up is necessary to care properly for those of another language who show interest?
5 Follow-Up Arrangements: Every effort must be made to visit those showing interest in the Kingdom message, regardless of their language. Once we have established that there is interest in God and his Word, the Bible, we should fill out a Please Follow Up (S-43) form and promptly give it to the congregation secretary for submittal to the branch office so that this interested person can receive a visit from someone who speaks his language. In turn, the branch office will forward the form to the appropriate language group. When it is received, the person will be contacted without delay. The secretary may provide a copy of the form to the service overseer so that he may be kept abreast of the interest being shown by a particular language group. This form should be used only when the individual shows true interest.
6. If we meet an interested person who speaks another language, what responsibility do we have?
6 From the time the S-43 form has been submitted until the interested person is called on by a designated publisher who speaks his language, some time may pass. Therefore, in an effort to develop the interest shown, the publisher who submitted the S-43 form may continue to cultivate the interest until the person is contacted by someone who speaks his language. In some cases, a Bible study may be conducted with the interested person. However, during this transition period, how may a publisher obtain literature in the language of the person showing interest?
7. What provision is there for obtaining literature in the language of those we may meet?
7 Literature for Other Languages: Congregations should not carry a large stock of literature in other languages. However, if it is determined by the service overseer that there is interest developing in a particular language group, he may find it appropriate to stock a modest amount of literature in that language for use by the publishers. If there is no literature available at the congregation, it may be ordered. It may take some time for literature in a particular language to arrive. Therefore, a provision is available for making printouts of literature from www.watchtower.org. There are many publications featured in hundreds of languages that can immediately be accessed by the publisher or by the interested person. No doubt this provision will prove to be useful when cultivating the interest shown by those who speak a different language.
8. What role does the congregation play in cultivating the interest of those who speak another language?
8 Role of the Congregation: In some cases in which a sizable foreign-language community is developing, there may be no nearby congregation conducting meetings in that language. Therefore, interested ones who speak another language should be invited to attend your meetings. The warm reception and personal interest shown to them may encourage them to associate regularly. At first, there may be a language and cultural barrier; however, there are no barriers for true Christian love in the worldwide association of Jehovah’s Witnesses. (Zeph. 3:9; John 13:35) Do you speak another language fluently? If you do and are willing to follow up on calls in that language, please inform your congregation secretary so that this information can be conveyed to the branch office. This will be helpful when the branch office is looking for a publisher to cultivate the interest.
9. When may language instruction for publishers be warranted, and how is this approached?
9 Language Instruction: When you are assisting those who speak another language, it is best to encourage them to begin attending a congregation in their own language if it is reasonably possible for them to do so. However, when that is not possible, some publishers may decide to learn the other language and thus be able to give better assistance to the interested ones. If there is no nearby congregation, the branch office may determine that because of the sizable immigrant or indigenous community, a language class is warranted. Should this be the case, the branch office may inform nearby congregations of the existing need and arrange for an announcement concerning a language class. Those applying to attend the language course should have the goal of switching over to the group or congregation to assist with developing that language field.
10. When may a foreign-language group be formed, and how is this determined?
10 Forming a Group: In order for a group in a particular language to be formed, four basic requirements must be met. (1) There should be sufficient interest and potential for growth in a particular language field. (2) A small core group of publishers should know the language or be learning the language. (3) A qualified elder or ministerial servant should be available to take the lead and conduct at least one weekly meeting in that language. (4) A body of elders should be willing to sponsor the group. When these requirements are met to a reasonable degree, then the body of elders will write the branch office about the particulars of the group and will request formal recognition as a congregation sponsoring a foreign-language group. (See Organized, pp. 106-107.) The elder or ministerial servant taking the lead would be considered the “group overseer” or “group servant” responsible for taking care of the group.
11. Why is it such a privilege to develop the foreign-language field in our assigned territory?
11 Developing the foreign-language field within our assigned territory is a vital part of the worldwide preaching campaign that our Exemplar, Jesus Christ, put into effect. May we zealously do our part and see how Jehovah continues to rock the nations and bring in those desirable to him. (Hag. 2:7) How satisfying it is for us to cooperate fully in this endeavor! May Jehovah bless our united efforts to develop the foreign-language field in our respective territories as we always remember that regardless of human language barriers, God can make it grow!—1 Cor. 3:6-9.