“Sow your seed . . . and do not let your hand rest.”—ECCL. 11:6.
SONG 70 Search Out Deserving Ones
1. What example did Jesus set for his followers, and how did they respond? (See cover picture.)
JESUS maintained a positive attitude throughout his ministry on earth, and he wants his followers to remain positive about the ministry as well. (John 4:35, 36) While Jesus was with his disciples, they were enthusiastic about the preaching work. (Luke 10:1, 5-11, 17) With the arrest and death of Jesus, however, the disciples temporarily lost their desire to preach. (John 16:32) After his resurrection, Jesus urged them to focus on preaching. And after his ascension to heaven, they preached with so much zeal that their enemies complained: “Look! you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching.”—Acts 5:28.
2. How has Jehovah blessed the preaching work?
2 Jesus directed the work done by those first-century Christians, and Jehovah blessed them with growth. At Pentecost 33 C.E., for example, about 3,000 got baptized. (Acts 2:41) And the number of disciples continued to grow dramatically. (Acts 6:7) Still, Jesus foretold that the preaching work would have even greater success in the last days.—John 14:12; Acts 1:8.
3-4. Why may some find the preaching work to be challenging, and what will we consider in this article?
3 All of us try to keep a positive view of the ministry. In some lands, it is easy to do that. Why? Because so many are interested in having a Bible study that some of them must be placed on a waiting list until a Witness is available! But in other parts of the earth, publishers find the preaching work to be more of a challenge; people are seldom at home, and those who are at home may show little interest in the Bible.
4 If you live in an area where the preaching work is challenging, the suggestions in this article will likely help you. We will consider what some have done to contact more people in their ministry. And we will examine why we can remain positive whether people respond to our message or not.
REMAIN POSITIVE IF PEOPLE ARE HARD TO FIND
5. What challenges do many Witnesses face?
5 Many Witnesses find it increasingly difficult to contact people in their homes. Some publishers live in areas where there are many high-security apartment buildings or gated communities. There may be a doorman or a security guard who denies entry to anyone who does not have an invitation from a specific householder. Other publishers can go from door to door without any interference, but they find few people at home. Still other publishers preach in rural or remote areas where few people live. The publishers may cover great distances just to try to contact one householder—who may not even be at home! If we face these types of challenges, we must not give up. What can we do to overcome such obstacles and have a productive ministry?
6. How are preachers like fishermen?
6 Jesus compared the preaching work to the work of a fisherman. (Mark 1:17) Some fishermen might go for days without finding any fish. But they do not give up; they adapt. They change the time, location, or method of fishing. We can make similar adjustments in our ministry. Consider these suggestions.
7. What may result if we preach at different times?
7 Try reaching people at a different time. We will contact more people if we preach when they are likely to be at home. After all, everyone returns home sometime! Many brothers and sisters find it practical to preach in the afternoon or in the evening because they find more people. In addition, householders may be more relaxed and ready to talk during those times. Or perhaps you would find it helpful to apply a suggestion from an elder named David. He says that after preaching for a while in a territory, he and his companion call back on those who did not answer the door the first time. He says, “I am surprised how many of the householders are at home when we make the second call.”*
8. How can we apply Ecclesiastes 11:6 to our ministry?
8 We should not give up. Our theme text reminds us of the attitude that we need to have. (Read Ecclesiastes 11:6.) David, mentioned earlier, did not give up. At one house, he finally found the householder after a number of unsuccessful attempts. The man was interested in discussing the Bible and said, “I have lived here for about eight years, and I have never met one of Jehovah’s Witnesses at my door.” David says, “I have found that when you finally reach people at home, they are often receptive to the message we preach.”
9. How have some Witnesses contacted people who are hard to reach?
9 Try a different location. In order to contact people who are hard to reach at home, some publishers have changed the location where they preach. For example, street work and the use of literature carts have proved to be effective methods to meet people who live in large apartment buildings where door-to-door witnessing is not permitted. This allows the Witnesses to speak face-to-face with people who may otherwise be unreachable. Also, many publishers have found that people are more likely to converse or to accept literature in public parks, markets, and business districts. Floiran, a circuit overseer in Bolivia, says: “We go to the markets and businesses between 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. when the vendors tend to be less busy. We usually have good conversations and even start Bible studies.”
10. What methods can you use to reach people?
10 Try a different approach. Suppose you have tried repeatedly to contact someone in person. You have called at different times but have still not found him at home. Are there other ways to reach such a person? Katarína, says, “I write personal letters to those I never find at home, expressing what I would have told them in person.” The point? Try to reach everyone in your territory in one way or another as you carry out your personal ministry.
REMAIN POSITIVE WHEN PEOPLE ARE INDIFFERENT
11. Why are some people indifferent to our message?
11 Some people are indifferent to our message. They do not see the need for God or the Bible. They do not believe in God because they see so much suffering in the world. They reject the Bible because they see the hypocrisy of religious leaders who claim to live by that book. Others are preoccupied with their jobs, families, or personal problems, and they fail to see how the Bible can help them. How can we maintain our joy when those whom we preach to see little value in our message?
12. How can applying the words of Philippians 2:4 help us in the ministry?
12 Show personal interest. Many who were at first indifferent later responded to the good news when they felt that a publisher was genuinely interested in them. (Read Philippians 2:4.) For example, David, quoted earlier, says, “If someone says that he is not interested, we put away our Bible or our literature and say: ‘I am interested in knowing why you feel this way.’” People can sense when someone cares about them. They may forget exactly what we said, but they will likely remember how we made them feel. Even if householders do not let us speak, we can show by our attitude and facial expressions that we care about them.
13. How could we adapt our message to meet the needs of each householder?
13 We show personal interest when we adapt our message to the needs and interests of the householder. For instance, do we see evidence that children live in the house? The parents may be interested in the Bible’s advice about raising children or its practical suggestions on how to have a happier family life. Do we see several locks on their door? We may decide to talk about the crime and the fear prevalent in the world, after which the householder might appreciate learning about the permanent solution to crime. Whatever the case, try to help those who listen to see how the Bible’s advice can help them. Katarína, mentioned earlier, says, “I remind myself of how the truth made my life better.” As a result, Katarína speaks with conviction, and the people she talks to no doubt sense that.
14. Based on Proverbs 27:17, how can preaching companions assist each other?
14 Benefit from the assistance of others. In the first century, Paul shared his preaching and teaching methods with Timothy, and he encouraged Timothy to use those methods to help others. (1 Cor. 4:17) Like Timothy, we can benefit from experienced ones in our congregation. (Read Proverbs 27:17.) Consider the example of a brother named Shawn. For a while, he pioneered in a rural area where most people were satisfied with their religion. How did he maintain his joy? “Whenever possible, I worked with a companion,” he says. “We used the time traveling between houses to help each other improve our teaching skills. For example, we would review how we had handled a call. Then we discussed how we might respond differently if we faced that situation again.”
15. Why is prayer essential to our ministry?
15 Pray to Jehovah for help. Look to Jehovah for guidance every time you share in the ministry. Without the help of his powerful holy spirit, none of us would be able to accomplish anything. (Ps. 127:1; Luke 11:13) When you ask for Jehovah’s help in prayer, be specific. For example, ask him to direct you to anyone who may be rightly disposed and ready to listen. Then work in harmony with your prayer by preaching to all whom you meet.
16. Why is personal study vital to our ministry?
16 Make time for personal study. God’s Word says: “Prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Rom. 12:2) The more convinced we are that we know the truth about God, the greater will be our conviction when we talk to others in the ministry. Katarína, mentioned earlier, says: “A little while ago, I realized that I needed to strengthen my faith regarding some basic Bible teachings. So I studied in detail the evidence that there is a Creator, that the Bible is really God’s Word, and that God has an organization that represents him today.” Katarína says that her personal study strengthened her faith and increased her joy in the ministry.
WHY WE REMAIN POSITIVE IN OUR MINISTRY
17. Why did Jesus remain positive in his ministry?
17 Jesus remained positive and kept preaching even though some were indifferent to his message. Why? He knew how much the people needed to know the truth, and he wanted to give as many as possible an opportunity to accept the Kingdom message. He also knew that some who initially were indifferent would eventually respond. Consider what happened in his own family. During Jesus’ entire three-and-a-half-year ministry, none of his brothers became his disciples. (John 7:5) Yet, after his resurrection, they became Christians.—Acts 1:14.
18. Why do we continue preaching?
18 We do not know who will eventually accept the Bible truths we teach. Some people take longer than others to respond to our message. Even those who choose not to listen to us see our good conduct and positive attitude, and they may eventually begin to “glorify God.”—1 Pet. 2:12.
19. According to 1 Corinthians 3:6, 7, what must we recognize?
19 As we plant and water, we must recognize the role that God plays. (Read 1 Corinthians 3:6, 7.) Getahun, a brother who serves in Ethiopia, says: “For more than 20 years, I was the only Witness in a seldom-worked territory. But now there are 14 publishers here. Thirteen of them got baptized, including my wife and three children. We have an average of 32 people at the meetings.” Getahun is glad that he continued preaching while he patiently waited for Jehovah to draw honesthearted people to His organization!—John 6:44.
20. In what way are we like rescuers?
20 Jehovah views all human life as precious. He gives us the privilege of working along with his Son in gathering people from all nations before the end of this system comes. (Hag. 2:7) Our preaching work could be likened to a rescue mission. And we are like members of a rescue team sent to free people trapped in a mine. Although only a few miners may be found alive, the work done by all the rescuers is valuable. The same is true of the work we do in our ministry. We do not know how many people will yet be rescued from Satan’s system. But Jehovah can use any one of us to help them. Andreas, who lives in Bolivia, says, “I see each person who learns Bible truths and gets baptized as the result of a group effort.” May we maintain a similar positive attitude toward our ministry. If we do, Jehovah will bless us, and our ministry will be a real source of joy.
SONG 66 Declare the Good News
How can we remain positive in the ministry even when many either are not at home or seem to be indifferent to our message? This article will provide suggestions that can help us to maintain a positive outlook.
Publishers should carry out the various forms of their ministry as discussed in this article in a way that complies with applicable data protection laws.
PICTURE DESCRIPTION: (from top to bottom): A husband and wife preach where it is difficult to find people at home. The first householder is at his job, the second one is at a medical clinic, and the third one is out shopping. They reach the first householder by visiting him at a later hour of the day. They meet the second one while sharing in public witnessing near the clinic. They reach the third householder by giving her a phone call.