Before Preaching, You May Need to Search
1. Why are congregation territory assignments in multilingual areas made according to language?
1 At Pentecost 33 C.E., after receiving holy spirit, Jesus’ disciples “started to speak with different tongues” to those present from far-flung parts of the earth. (Acts 2:4) As a result, about 3,000 were baptized. Interestingly, it seems that most of the visitors also spoke a common language, likely Hebrew or Greek. Yet Jehovah chose to have the Kingdom message preached to them in their native tongue. No doubt one reason for this is that people often respond to the good news more readily when they hear it in their native language. Therefore, today, congregation territory assignments in multilingual areas are made according to language. (Organized, p. 107, pars. 2-3) Foreign-language groups do not receive a territory assignment, but they preach to those who speak the language in the territory of the sponsoring congregation and other congregations in the vicinity.
2. (a) What is the search work, and where may it be necessary? (b) How can congregations help one another work multilingual territory? (c) What should we do if we find someone of another language who shows interest?
2 If you live where everyone speaks the same language, you can simply preach from one house to the next. However, your situation may be different if you live in a multilingual metropolitan area. Other-language congregations may be preaching in the same neighborhoods. While the congregations may provide you with information on individuals they find who speak your language, the primary responsibility to find people to whom you can preach rests with your congregation or group. (See the box “Help One Another.”) Therefore, you may need to engage in the search work, whereby you make inquiries to locate those who speak a specific language. How can the search work be carried out?
3. What determines where a congregation or group searches and how much time they devote to this activity?
3 Organizing the Search Work: The amount of time that is devoted to the search work in multilingual areas depends on local circumstances. For example, how many people in the community speak the language? How many publishers are there? How many addresses does the congregation or group already have? The congregation is not required to search every neighborhood equally but may choose to focus on the more populated areas within its territory boundary and on those areas that are a reasonable distance away. However, having a well-organized arrangement to search is important so that as many as possible can be given the opportunity to call on the name of Jehovah.—Rom. 10:13, 14.
4. (a) How should the search work be organized? (b) What are some ways to find people who speak your language?
4 In order to prevent unnecessary duplication of effort in places where searching is necessary, the body of elders, particularly the service overseer, should organize and oversee the search work. (1 Cor. 9:26) In foreign-language groups, a qualified brother, preferably an elder or ministerial servant chosen by the body of elders of the sponsoring congregation, can take the lead. Many congregations and groups have a systematic arrangement to do preliminary research, perhaps using a directory or the Internet to gather names common in the language. Then the search work is done by means of phone calls or visits to determine which addresses should be included in the territory. If it is practical to do so, the body of elders of a congregation that sponsors a group may arrange for the entire congregation to participate in the search work occasionally.—See the box “How to Find Those Who Speak Your Language.”
5. (a) What are some suggestions for publishers doing the search work? (b) What could we say to people when searching?
5 We should have a clear objective each time we personally share in the search work. Since this activity is part of the ministry, we should generally dress as ministers. Many find that practicing their presentations and speaking the language while searching helps them maintain enthusiasm and sharpens their language skills. We may count the time we spend searching but not the time spent preparing territory maps and lists. When we find someone who speaks the language, we should endeavor to share the good news and thereafter promptly inform the service overseer or someone designated by him so that territory records can be updated. This is true regardless of whether the person showed interest. Although the search work is important, we should be balanced and share in all features of the ministry.—See the box “What to Say in the Search Work.”
6. Searching for deaf people has what unique challenges?
6 Searching for Those Who Are Deaf: Searching for deaf people has unique challenges and requires significant effort and persistence. A deaf person cannot be identified by the spelling of his name, by his physical characteristics, or by his dress. In addition, family members and friends can be protective and may hesitate to provide information to publishers who inquire. The following suggestions for searching for the deaf may also be helpful when searching for those who use a spoken language.
7. (a) What inquiries could be made in residential areas to find the deaf? (b) How might we dispel a householder’s suspicion?
7 Sign-language congregations and groups have had success making inquiries in residential areas. Perhaps the householder has observed a neighbor, workmate, or schoolmate using sign language. He may have noticed a street sign alerting neighbors that deaf children are present. Maybe he has a deaf relative. Keep in mind that the purpose of your visit may be viewed with some suspicion. However, you can do much to put the householder at ease by your genuine friendliness and your brief, honest, and dignified explanation. Some have had good results by displaying the Bible or other DVDs as they inquire whether the householder knows someone who is deaf. Then they simply mention that they wish to share the Bible’s hope with such ones. If the householder hesitates to provide information, he may be willing to accept your address card or a congregation meeting invitation to give to his deaf relative or friend.
8. How could a nearby congregation assist a sign-language congregation?
8 One or two days a year, a sign-language congregation might invite a nearby congregation of a different language to help them search one of the metropolitan areas within their large territory. A meeting for service conducted by the sign-language congregation could include instructions for this activity and a demonstration. Each car group can be assigned at least one publisher from the sign-language congregation and be given a map showing a specific area to search.
9. How can the search work be done where deaf people gather for association and recreation or to obtain helpful services?
9 Searching can also be done where deaf people are known to gather for association and recreation or to obtain helpful services offered in the community. Publishers should wear attire that is appropriate for the setting. It may be best to converse with one or two people present and to be discreet rather than giving a presentation to the entire group. If the conversation is productive, perhaps contact information can be exchanged.
10. How can publishers search at local businesses?
10 Another option is to prepare maps that show local businesses and then to visit them at an appropriate time. One map might include a number of gas stations. Another might have dry cleaners, laundries, restaurants, hotels, or another type of business. If each map has the same type of business, publishers can use the same approach and gain experience and skill. For example, since hotels usually accommodate deaf customers, we might briefly explain our work to the desk clerk and offer a prepared packet containing a DVD and a congregation meeting invitation for the hotel to give to deaf guests. At some businesses we can simply inquire if any workers or regular patrons use sign language. If there is a school for the deaf in the territory, we could offer some of our DVD publications for the library.
11. Why is the search work an important part of the ministry?
11 An Important Work: Finding householders who speak your language can be tedious. In addition, the makeup of some neighborhoods can change rapidly as people move in and out, making it challenging to keep territory records up-to-date. Nonetheless, in an increasing number of areas, the search work is an important aspect of the ministry. Jehovah, who has given us the assignment to preach, is not partial. (Acts 10:34) His “will is that all sorts of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth.” (1 Tim. 2:3, 4) Therefore, may we cooperate with Jehovah and one another to find people of all languages who have “a fine and good heart.”—Luke 8:15.
[Box on page 5]
Help One Another
If the congregation or group would like help to find those of their language to whom they can preach, the service overseer can contact the elders of other-language congregations nearby. It may be best to contact only congregations that are a reasonable distance away or that have a significant population of those who speak the language. The contacted congregations can then inform their publishers that if they find anyone who speaks that language, they should write down the address and give it to the service overseer to pass on to the congregation or group requesting help. The service overseers of the congregations involved can work out a mutually acceptable system of covering multilingual territory and directing interested ones to the appropriate congregation or group.
If publishers find someone of another language who shows definite interest (or someone who is deaf), they should promptly fill out a Please Follow Up (S-43) form and give it to the congregation secretary. This will enable the person to receive spiritual help quickly.—See km 5/11 p. 3.
[Box on page 6]
How to Find Those Who Speak Your Language
• Inquire of others—Bible students, family members, workmates, and so forth.
• Use a telephone directory to find names that are common in the language. A reverse directory that sorts names according to address may be available on the Internet or through the telephone company.
• Discreetly inquire at places that offer services to the public, such as local libraries, government offices, and colleges.
• Check the local newspaper for announcements regarding public activities arranged by the foreign-language community.
• Visit local shops and businesses that cater to the foreign-language community.
• With permission from those in charge, set up a literature table at a business, university student center, or transportation center frequented by people who speak the language.
• If allowed by law in your country, purchase a commercial directory or a computer program that searches public areas of the Internet.
[Box on page 7]
What to Say in the Search Work
A friendly, sincere, and open approach will dispel suspicion. It is often helpful first to show literature in the language.
After giving a greeting, you might say: “We’re looking for those who speak ․․․․․ so that we can share the Bible’s hope with them. Do you know anyone we might talk to?”
When searching for the deaf, you could say: “Hello. May I show you something? [Using a portable video player, play a verse from the New World Translation—On DVD.] This is a portion of the Bible in American Sign Language. In addition to the Bible, we have a number of videos available at no charge that are designed to meet the spiritual needs of deaf people. Do you know of anyone who is deaf or hard of hearing and who uses sign language?” If the householder cannot remember anyone, it is often good to give examples of places where he may have seen a deaf person, such as at work, at school, or in the neighborhood.