Can You “Step Over Into Macedonia”?
1. What caused Paul and his companions to go to Macedonia?
1 About the year 49 C.E., the apostle Paul left Syrian Antioch for his second missionary trip. His intention was to visit Ephesus and other cities in Asia Minor. However, he received a spirit-directed invitation to “step over into Macedonia” instead. He and his companions gladly accepted, and they were privileged to establish the first congregation in that region. (Acts 16:9, 10; 17:1, 2, 4) Today, some parts of the worldwide field have a real need for more harvest workers. (Matt. 9:37, 38) Are you in a position to help?
2. Why have some not considered moving to a foreign country?
2 Perhaps you have Paul’s missionary spirit but have not seriously considered moving to a foreign country. It may be, for example, that Gilead training is not a possibility for you because of your age or because you are a single sister or have minor children. Maybe you have not considered moving to a foreign land because you lack confidence that you could learn another language. Or you may be an immigrant living in your present country for economic reasons and thus hesitate to relocate. After prayerful consideration, however, you may find that such circumstances need not prevent you from moving to a foreign land where there is a need.
3. Why is missionary training not a requirement to preach successfully in a foreign land?
3 Is Missionary Training a Requirement? What enabled Paul and his companions to be successful? They relied on Jehovah and his holy spirit. (2 Cor. 3:1-5) Therefore, even if your circumstances do not allow you to receive special training, you can still preach successfully in a foreign land. Remember, too, that you are receiving ongoing training through the Theocratic Ministry School and Service Meeting. And if you have the goal of attending Gilead or a similar school, your moving to another country to taste missionary service will give you valuable experience that you can use later if you are accepted for additional training.
4. Why should older ones not discount the idea of their preaching in a foreign country?
4 Older Ones: Spiritually mature older ones who are in reasonably good health can be a tremendous asset in countries that have a need. Have you retired from your secular work? Some who receive even a modest pension are able to manage quite well in a developing land where their expenses, including the cost of quality medical care, are much lower than in their home country.
5. Relate an experience of a retired brother who moved to a foreign land.
5 A retired brother from an English-speaking land, who is an elder and pioneer, moved to a popular tourist area in Southeast Asia to help an English-speaking group of nine publishers. The group preached to the 30,000 foreigners who lived in the area. Within two years 50 were attending the meetings. The brother wrote: “Moving here has brought me the most wonderful blessings I have ever enjoyed. Time does not allow me to relate even a fraction of them!”
6. Relate an experience of a single sister who moved to a country where the need was greater.
6 Single Sisters: Jehovah has used sisters in a mighty way to spread the good news in countries where the need is greater. (Ps. 68:11) One young single sister had the goal of expanding her ministry in a foreign land, but her parents were understandably concerned for her safety. So she chose a country that was politically and economically stable, wrote the branch office, and received helpful, specific information. During the six years she lived in that country, she enjoyed many blessings. She states: “At home I would have had few opportunities for Bible studies. But serving where there was a greater need enabled me to conduct many studies and really develop my teaching ability.”
7. Relate an experience of a family that moved to a foreign country.
7 Families: If you have children, does this necessarily prevent you from moving to a foreign land to further the good news? One family with two children, aged eight and ten, decided to try it. The mother writes of their experience: “We are grateful that we could raise our children here, because they associated with special pioneers and missionaries. Our lives have been enriched because of serving where the need is greater.”
8. Is it possible to serve in a foreign country without learning another language? Explain.
8 Language Concerns: Does the thought of learning a foreign language prevent you from moving to another land? Your language is likely spoken in other countries that have a need for more Kingdom preachers. One English-speaking couple moved to a Spanish-speaking country that has a sizable population of English-speaking immigrants. After receiving information from the branch office concerning several English congregations that had a need, they chose one and visited it twice. They returned home, cut their monthly expenses, and saved money for a year. When they were ready to move, the brothers in that area helped them locate affordable housing.
9, 10. What might those who emigrated from their homeland consider, and why?
9 Emigrants: Did you emigrate from your homeland, perhaps before learning the truth? There may be a great need for harvest workers in your native country. Could you consider moving back in order to assist? It will likely be easier for you to find work and accommodations than for someone who is from another country. You probably already speak the local language. In addition, people may be more willing to listen to the Kingdom message delivered by you than by someone they view as an outsider.
10 One man moved from Albania to Italy as a refugee, secured a good job, and was sending money to his family in Albania. After coming into the truth, he began teaching Albanian to a group of Italian special pioneers who were moving there to serve where the need was greater. The brother writes: “They were heading off to the territory I had left. They didn’t know the language and were thrilled to go. My language and culture were Albanian. What was I doing in Italy?” The brother decided to return to Albania to help spread the good news. He says: “Do I regret having given up work and money in Italy? Not for a minute! I found real work in Albania. As far as I’m concerned, the work that really matters and brings lasting joy is serving Jehovah with everything you have!”
11, 12. Those considering moving to a foreign land should do what?
11 How to Do It: Before going to Macedonia, Paul and his companions intended to travel westward, but “they were forbidden by the holy spirit,” so they turned northward. (Acts 16:6) When they were close to Bithynia, Jesus blocked them. (Acts 16:7) Jehovah, by means of Jesus, continues to oversee the preaching work. (Matt. 28:20) Therefore, if you are considering moving to a foreign land, prayerfully seek Jehovah’s direction.—Luke 14:28-30; Jas. 1:5; see the box “How to Know if a Country You Are Considering Has a Need.”
12 Ask for objective comments from your elders and other mature Christians. (Prov. 11:14; 15:22) Read material we have published about serving in a foreign land, and also do research on any countries that you are considering. Can you visit the country that you are interested in moving to, perhaps for more than just a few days? If you are serious about moving to another country, you may write to the branch office in that country for more information, using the address in the current Yearbook. However, rather than sending your letter directly to the branch office, give it to your local elders, who will add their comments before they send it on.—See Organized to Do Jehovah’s Will, pages 111-112.
13. How will the branch office assist you, but what are you responsible for?
13 The branch office will send you helpful information about the country to help you make decisions, but it is not in a position to provide sponsorship letters or to supply residency, visa, or other legal forms or to locate accommodations for you. These are personal matters that will require your careful study before you move. In addition, you will be responsible for contacting embassies or consulates to obtain information about visa requirements and work permits. Those who move should be in a position to care for their individual needs and legal requirements.—Gal. 6:5.
14. What cautions are in order when visiting or moving to a country where the work is restricted?
14 Countries Where the Work Is Restricted: In some countries the local brothers and sisters must be very discreet in their worship. (Matt. 10:16) Publishers who visit or move there could inadvertently draw undue attention to our activity and imperil the safety of the local brothers. If you are considering moving to such a land, please write to your local branch office through your body of elders before proceeding.
15. How may those who do not have the circumstances to move away expand their ministry locally?
15 If You Cannot Move: If you are not in a position to move to another country, do not be discouraged. Perhaps another “large door that leads to activity” is open to you. (1 Cor. 16:8, 9) Your circuit overseer may know of needs within driving distance of your home. Perhaps you could help in a nearby foreign-language congregation or group. Or you may be able to expand your ministry in your present congregation. Regardless of your circumstances, the important thing is that you are whole-souled in your worship.—Col. 3:23.
16. How should we react to those who wish to move to a foreign land?
16 Do you know a spiritually mature Christian who has the goal of serving in a foreign land? Then give him or her support and encouragement! When Paul left Syrian Antioch, it was the third largest city in the Roman Empire (after Rome and Alexandria). With such a large territory, the Antioch congregation likely had a need for Paul’s assistance and would sorely miss him if he left. Yet, the Bible does not indicate that the brothers there discouraged Paul from leaving. It appears that instead of taking a narrow view, they remembered that “the field is the world.”—Matt. 13:38.
17. What reasons are there to consider ‘stepping over into Macedonia’?
17 Paul and his companions were richly blessed for responding to the invitation to step over into Macedonia. While they were in the Macedonian city of Philippi, they found Lydia, and “Jehovah opened her heart wide to pay attention to the things being spoken by Paul.” (Acts 16:14) Imagine the joy of Paul and his missionary companions when Lydia and her entire household got baptized! In many lands, there are honesthearted ones like Lydia who have not yet been contacted with the Kingdom message. If you “step over into Macedonia,” you may experience the joy of finding and helping them.