Go Where the People Are
The apostle Peter and some of his associates were experienced fishermen. Yet there were times when they toiled all night without catching anything. On two of such occasions, Jesus told them where to lower the nets. They heeded his direction, and both times they hauled in unusually large numbers of fish. Jesus used these occasions to give the disciples instructions about the ministry. (Luke 5:1-11; John 21:1-17) Through “the faithful and discreet slave,” he continues to give instructions about how to carry out the ministry in the most fruitful manner.—Matt. 24:45-47.
During the past year, all of Jehovah’s Witnesses were urged to take practical steps to reach more people with the good news. First, emphasis was placed on being alert to opportunities to give a witness every day. Then we were counseled that if few people were at home, it would be wise to think seriously about witnessing where people could be found.
In recent months the motto of our brothers in Peru has been: “Go where the people are!” We are witnessing, not to houses, but to people. On Sunday mornings or weekday mornings, so many are not in their homes. Where are they? At their work, in bus and train stations, on the street, at the market, sitting in the park. That is where our brothers go to find them.
In Mexico, house-to-house witnessing continues to be the main avenue of preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom. In the past year, however, as our brothers have reached out to contact people wherever they might be, publishers and pioneers have been appearing at bus stops early in the morning, in hospital waiting rooms, on the streets, in parking lots, in public parks. You can find the Witnesses preaching everywhere and at any time, day or night. One congregation has an arrangement for five daily times when groups go in street work, that is, to bus stops and wherever people tend to gather during the day. They begin at six o’clock in the morning and are finding people who have never talked to Jehovah’s Witnesses before. One man who was approached on his way to work in the morning saw more publishers out when he came home at night; he decided that perhaps he ought to have one of them call at his home.
At first, some publishers were somewhat timid about approaching people in public places. But those who did it began to have good results. A sister in Australia said: “I am a shy, reserved person; in fact, I find it most difficult to speak up about the truth when the opportunity arises. I was encouraged to try other avenues of witnessing; I knew I had to try. I prayed to Jehovah about my concerns and decided to get on with it. But I was still nervous and continued to hold back, and this bothered my conscience.” Finally, on a bus one day, she smiled at a fellow traveler and started talking to her. The next day the sister offered the young woman a tract. When they met a week later, the publisher said she was on her way to conduct a Bible study. To her surprise, the young woman wanted to go along. Soon a study was started with her in the Knowledge book.
Publishers in Argentina realized that some people who did not welcome the Witnesses at their doors were conversing with them on the street. All that was needed was a simple, timely question, such as, “Do you agree with capital punishment?” In another case, a woman who was met on the street had always wanted to talk with the Witnesses, but her husband would not permit it. Away from home she felt free to talk. After a long conversation, she agreed to a Bible study in the home of one of the Witnesses.
Two publishers in the United States approached a parked car and held out the magazines to a young woman seated inside. They relate: “As she reached for the magazines, she burst into tears. We saw that she was reading the Bible. She said she wanted to please God but didn’t know how.” The woman told them: “I’ve been praying for God to send someone who can help.” It was not difficult to start a study with her.
Regarding their efforts to witness in business territory, an enthusiastic witnessing team in New Zealand wrote: “We have called on 650 business places, with the majority of managers and owners, although busy, favorably responding to our visit. A surprising number of them have a Bible at work with them.”
Taking to heart the recommendations given, some brothers in Austria are out witnessing at 5:30 a.m. They go to a place where truck drivers rest overnight close to the border. Many of the trucks are from Eastern Europe, and some of the drivers have never before heard of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The brothers go equipped with literature in 20 languages, and three or four publishers may place between 50 and 70 magazines in just two hours. Though return visits are difficult, it is hoped that some of the seed will take root and grow.—Eccl. 11:1.
A sister in Italy decided that some of the people who are not at home are on the beach. That is where she met a young man from Senegal. She placed with him the book Mankind’s Search for God. In it she wrote: “My wish is that you will find the true God, the One who taught me and my family to respect men of all races, colors, and languages.” He determined that when he returned to Senegal, he would locate Jehovah’s Witnesses. What a surprise it was for him to learn that while he was away, Jehovah’s Witnesses had been studying with his mother! Soon the whole family was sharing in the study.
A circuit overseer in Peru organized a group to witness at an open-air bus terminal. The place was filled with people. Buses were lined up everywhere. It was easy to approach the police who were on duty, those selling prepared food to travelers, and people in general. One brother climbed aboard an already loaded bus and, with the permission of the driver, held up his two magazines and announced: “I have the latest Watchtower and Awake! magazines for you to read on your journey.” There was a prolonged silence, and then one man in the back said: “I’ll take two of them.” Then another and soon others began calling for the magazines, making modest donations toward the work. The brother asked if any would like someone to call on them at their various destinations. Sure enough, several gladly gave their names and addresses. Loud enough for everyone to hear, one elderly lady said: “Be sure to have someone visit me. I want to understand more of my Bible.”
A publisher in the United States observed that high school students gathered on certain city streets near the school during their lunch hour. A group of publishers prepared well and then proceeded to approach them, with excellent results.
In order to reach certain groups of people, some publishers have learned another language. In the Shetland Islands, off the north coast of Scotland, two pioneers learned Russian so that they could witness to Russian sailors who spend six months every year fishing off those shores. The pioneers use a speedboat to go out to the larger ships on which the men work.
A pioneer sister in Hawaii volunteered to do airport witnessing. Many were glad to receive literature. On her first trip to the airport, several studies were started. She spoke with two young military men who had just returned from duty in Egypt. One of them said that his mother is a Witness. He came to the Kingdom Hall and agreed to a Bible study. The other soldier had many probing questions because his job exposed him to things that made him wonder about the purpose of life. He too came to the Kingdom Hall and requested a Bible study.
One of the pioneers in Argentina finds it advantageous to use the telephone for witnessing. Each day after she comes home from service, she calls one or two numbers. She relates: ‘One day I called a number and a young girl answered. I asked her if she felt it was possible to trust anyone. Her answer was a curt “No.” I introduced myself and explained that my purpose in calling was to assure her that there are people whom we can trust in spite of world conditions. She insisted that she could not trust anyone, not even her family, including her mother. I began to use the Bible. She said that she had tried to read the Bible but could not understand it. I commented that God and Jesus are interested in people and so are we. We made arrangements to meet at the door of the Kingdom Hall. She did not come. I called her immediately, and she explained that it had been necessary to hospitalize her father and that she had tried to call me. Again we arranged to meet. This time she came and was amazed at the welcome she received, especially from the young Witnesses. She now studies twice a week, is making good progress in the Knowledge book, and comes to all the meetings. An excellent result from a telephone call!’
It continues to be a big challenge to reach people in remote areas of Iceland with the good news. A missionary on the east coast makes good use of the telephone. He travels once every month to visit and conduct studies with a group about 180 miles [300 km] distant. During each visit, he also gives a public talk and conducts the Watchtower Study. These interested ones then have their weekly Bible study by phone. By combining two telephone lines and using phones with a speaker and a microphone, it has been possible for up to five people in three different homes to study simultaneously. When handling the studies by phone, the conductor assigns the answering of the questions before he reads them. They all get much encouragement from studying the Bible in this way. At least six studies are conducted each week.
While caring for her husband who was ill for an extended period, a sister in the Bahamas witnessed by mail. Each morning, she spent some time writing letters to women listed in the telephone directory. She used information from the Reasoning book and offered a free home Bible study. One day, a woman phoned the sister to say that she would appreciate a Bible study very much. The woman said that when she received the letter, she told a coworker that God was telling her that she needed to study the Bible. Despite strong opposition from her mother and from a clergyman, this woman made fine progress. She began attending the meetings regularly, resigned from her church, and has been baptized.
A 79-year-old sister living in a rural area in Japan has serious health problems. But out of gratitude to Jehovah, she is a pioneer. She walks two or three hours every day for health reasons, using a cane or leaning on a buggy to support herself. Along the way, she approaches others in a friendly manner, and she talks to the farmers in the fields. She carefully notes the addresses of interested ones. As a result, she has more than 100 people on her magazine route, places 600 magazines a month, reports around 200 return visits, and conducts three Bible studies.
Some publishers have been able to lower their nets, spiritually speaking, into waters where very little fishing has been done. In Mexico, especially along the mountain ranges (sierras) in the State of Oaxaca, there are territories that are difficult to reach and therefore are rarely worked. Here the language that is spoken is, not Spanish, but the Mixe or the Mazateco dialect. In recent years, some brothers from Tehuacán, Puebla State, started to travel to various towns in this area to witness. Twenty-five pioneers who came to help now live and work in the region, and there are also 15 local regular pioneers. Good results are in evidence because there are now 13 congregations.
A couple who had lived outside their homeland for 28 years took an early retirement and returned to the Philippines to pioneer. Travel from their home in Cavite City to Trece Martires, where there is special need, takes an hour each way. Is it worth the effort? A year and a half ago, there were only 19 publishers in the congregation. The two now conduct 28 Bible studies, and the whole congregation recently reported 98. Fruitful territory indeed!
A good number of our brothers have first worked in areas of special need within their country and then moved to other lands. For example, during the past few years, some 40 brothers (single brothers and sisters, young married couples, and entire families) have moved to Honduras from Canada, the United States, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, and Japan. Many of them transferred from Quebec. Earlier they had moved to Quebec to help, but when the work got very well established in that part of Canada, they began to look for new “fishing grounds.” And in this new field they are having fine results.
In his first letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul wrote: “Now we received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God, that we might know the things that have been kindly given us by God.” (1 Cor. 2:12) That spirit has truly been evident among Jehovah’s Witnesses in Africa, and it has set them apart from the selfish and turbulent world around them.
The neutrality, impartiality, and love shown by Jehovah’s Witnesses attract people to Jehovah’s Word and his organization. Concerning this, a brother in Zaire writes: “In the village of Monigi, on the outskirts of Goma, Hutu and Tutsi people no longer attend Christendom’s churches, to avoid ethnic attacks from each other while they are inside the church! Since the majority of refugees have returned to Rwanda, the remaining population in the two neighboring villages know that the only place where Hutu and Tutsi gather peacefully is the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Consequently, many of them have asked for a Bible study.”
After 30 years of civil war, Angola is beginning to experience relative peace. Jehovah’s Witnesses are making good use of it to witness about God’s Kingdom. In some areas the response is outstanding. After a four-year interval, a circuit overseer was finally able to visit a certain congregation in the northern province of Uíge. Arrangements were made for a public talk, and the 75 publishers were thrilled to have 794 in attendance! In the south of the country, missionary homes were established in Benguela and Namibe. With 108,394 attending the Memorial, and 28,969 publishers, there is much to do.
A pioneer sister in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was on her way home after field service. At the entrance of a house, a woman was holding her child on her lap. Suddenly, the four-year-old struggled until she got loose and bolted toward our sister with outstretched hand to be greeted. Our sister was unknown to the family, but she seized this opportunity to approach the mother and ask whether they could talk inside. Once the pioneer began to witness about the Kingdom hope, the woman started weeping. Asked for the reason, she revealed that she had been preparing to end her life by taking poison. She had just been praying to God, asking why she had been forsaken, when the child attracted the attention of our sister. The woman proceeded to recount her many problems. Our sister comforted her, and this led right into a Bible study. In spite of family opposition, she is making good progress with the truth.
Stella, a university student in Nigeria, was searching for the truth. After a few years as a Pentecostal, she thought she had found the right religion. She decided to write a book to show that all other religions are false. However, as she made a list of the prominent religions around her, she realized that she did not know much about Jehovah’s Witnesses. “I’ll attend their meetings for three months to find out about them,” she said to herself. That weekend, she went to a circuit assembly. By the end of the program, she began to have doubts about her own religion. The following week she was at the local Kingdom Hall. She also read as many Witness publications as she could find. After her third meeting, she approached one of the congregation elders and said: “Brother, baptize me. I am now one of you.” The brother explained that there were things she had to know before she could be baptized. He then gave her a book to study. Stella read it in two days and then went back to the elder and said: “I have finished the book, brother. Baptize me.” The elder arranged for a sister to study with her, and a few months later, Stella did get baptized.
Our brothers in Mali realize that Christian meetings are among the kindly provisions that God has made for his servants. They want newly interested ones to appreciate that too, so they exert themselves to make the new ones feel comfortable. One of these wrote, saying: “The first time I visited the Kingdom Hall I was really struck by all the happy faces and the love that was shown to me. I came a few minutes late, so I sat down alone. Right away a young couple handed me a Bible and a copy of The Watchtower. After the meeting almost everyone in the Kingdom Hall came up to me and shook my hand and made my stay a most pleasant one. I left the hall with three books—the New World Translation of the Bible, The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived, and You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth. That very evening I started to read, and I learned for the first time that God’s name is Jehovah.”
At school, in Sierra Leone, Stephen was harassed by his schoolmates because he did not participate in their discussions about sexual immorality and did not engage in fornication. Unknown to him, some schoolmates had written a love letter in his name to a certain girl in school. The girl approached him and said: “I received your letter and I agree, but you have not approached me.” The brother was startled and replied that he had not written anything to her. The very next day, he brought to school his book Questions Young People Ask—Answers That Work. He got the girl and his classmates together and discussed the subject “Sex and Morals” with them. Later on, his classmates tried the same thing again. Our young brother again used the Young People Ask book to reason with them on Christian conduct. Gradually, most of these “tormentors,” as he calls them, left school. The remaining few highly respect him for his courageous moral integrity.
The publishers in Swaziland are finding it easy to place the Knowledge book, and a pioneer wrote about a woman with whom she had covered nine chapters in just ten studies. Regarding the student, she said: “She has not missed a congregation meeting since the first study. In Swaziland work is scarce, so when you are offered a job, even for a meager salary, you take it. The neighbor of my student invited her to go with her to the local casino, where interviews were being conducted for employment as croupiers. My student declined, saying that she did not want to miss her Bible study later that evening. The neighbor then offered to pay her taxi fare so that she could get back on time. Still my student refused. When she told me about it, I asked her why she thought Christians cannot work at a casino. She told me that from what she had learned in her study of the Bible, Jehovah does not approve of gambling. She added: ‘Since I love Jehovah and want to do his will, how could I work in a casino?’” The pioneer probed: “They pay good money, and it would help you to buy things you need. Wouldn’t Jehovah understand?” The student pointed to the Knowledge book and told the pioneer that she had seen at Matthew 6:33 that Jehovah will always look after her and help her with her problems if she puts him first.
Asia and Islands of the Pacific
The branch in India supervises a vast field—about one sixth of the world’s population. In July, it reported its 23rd consecutive peak in the number of publishers. Intensified work by the Translation Department is making literature available for more language groups, some of these including millions of people. The Knowledge book was printed in 11 languages of India last year. The brochure What Does God Require of Us? has been published in 20.
This year is the first time that one of our full-color brochures has been made available in Assamese, Khasi, Konkani (Devanagari), Manipuri, and Tibetan. In an effort to reach 250 million people in the east and northeast sections of the country, eight of the major language groups for whom we have little or no literature were given special attention. Brothers are earnestly working in harmony with the prophetic promise that people out of ‘all nations and tribes and tongues’ will stand approved before Jehovah’s throne when the old system ends.—Rev. 7:9, 10.
The Society’s videos are helping people learn about the magnitude of the activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Determined to make good use of this provision, one couple in Australia drew up a list of people to whom they could show the different videos. Those who were glad to view one or more of the programs included their family doctor, their accountant, their mailman, one of Christendom’s missionaries encountered at a diner, and a local clergyman. In a short period, this couple were able to show the Organization video to 70 persons, the Prophecy video to 35, and Purple Triangles to 19. Eight who saw the videos are now studying the Knowledge book, and four of these are now publishers.
Pressure to stay within the traditional pattern of family living makes it very difficult for interested ones in some clans in the Solomon Islands to embrace Bible truth. Thus, a woman who agreed to study the Bible was soon under pressure from throngs of relatives. According to custom, relatives may visit a family for days on end, often filling the house and requiring meals too. However, the woman continued her study, using the brochure Enjoy Life on Earth Forever! To her surprise, one day her husband, a government officer, agreed to have a study. He soon saw the need for family Bible study, and visiting relatives were helped to realize that this was not to be interrupted. The relatives also learned that chewing betel nut, smoking, and heavy beer drinking were no longer allowed in his home. The stream of constant visitors soon declined. The husband is well-known, and people were amazed to see the changes that were taking place. As a baptized publisher, our new brother spends many hours sharing the truth with people who want to know: “What is it about this religion?” His wife and children also continue to make fine progress.
When Witnesses in Tahiti began talking to Rémy and the young woman with whom he lived, he was a member of a kick-boxing club. He had won numerous bouts and as a result had been selected to compete outside Tahiti. He felt himself invulnerable. He gambled in casinos and quarreled with his mate at home. His outlook was egotistic. Could the truth really help such a person? In spite of opposition from his family, he agreed to study. Bible truth gradually molded his outlook. He left a job that was contrary to Bible principles, quit kick-boxing, and gave up gambling. Quarrels at home became less frequent. He got properly married, and his outlook on life has completely changed. Precious to him now are the spiritual things that he has gained for himself and his family as a result of acquiring knowledge of Jehovah, the true God.
Thongpliu is a sister in Thailand who has had little secular education. However, as a regular pioneer, she gives Jehovah’s service a prominent place in her life. As she was walking to the Kingdom Hall one Sunday afternoon, she saw that the front door of a large house was open. No one had ever been at home when she had called there. Thongpliu summoned up her courage, went to the gate, and called out to the householder. The woman of the house gladly accepted two magazines. On the return visit, the woman asked Thongpliu how much secular education she had. When she replied that she had gone only to grade four, the lady asked in wonderment: “How is it you know many things that I don’t know? I have graduated from university.” She also confided that in her air-conditioned car she had passed by many times as Thongpliu walked in the hot sun. Then she added: “I didn’t know where you were going, but you always looked so happy and content. I myself might look happy from a distance, but if you look closely, you will notice that I am not happy. It must be your Bible knowledge that makes you happy. Will you bring me a Bible and study it with me?”
While sharing in the door-to-door work in Latvia, two publishers met Svetlana, who listened as they read John 17:3. They demonstrated how to study the Bible with the help of the Knowledge book. After the study they asked her when she would like to continue. “Tomorrow,” she replied courteously. After each study when asked about the next appointment, she answered, “Tomorrow.” They discussed one chapter of the Knowledge book each time.
After ten days she looked straight at the one conducting the study and said: “I wish to be a God-fearing person. What should I do?” Accepting the counsel given, she promptly made the congregation meetings an important part of life for herself and her children. At her third meeting, she began to give comments. The Knowledge book was completed in four weeks plus one day. When studying chapter 12, she threw out spiritistic literature. At chapter 14, she ceased all cheating and started to pay her fare when traveling by train. She said: “After each study I felt cleaner and cleaner.” On completing chapter 15, she started a family study, although it was a bit rough at the beginning. Chapter 18 convinced Svetlana of the necessity of field service and baptism.
Before learning the truth, Svetlana had lived quite a wild life. Following an experience that shook her badly, she had decided to quit what she had been doing, but life was empty. However, that began to change when she started to gain a knowledge of Jehovah. Now she says: “I am so happy. . . . I love Jehovah and the brothers, and I hope that my children and I will be able to live in the Paradise.” After just four weeks, she became an unbaptized publisher, and at the Russian assembly in Riga, she got baptized.
Twelve-year-old Ryan, in Britain, had to prepare a talk to be given to his class at school on the subject, “The Person I Admire Most.” What a fine opportunity to witness! Ryan decided that he would talk about Jesus Christ. He prepared well and delivered a ten-minute discourse, citing scriptures to support the points he made. In conclusion, he offered the book The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived to anyone interested. The two copies he had with him were eagerly accepted, and orders were taken for five more. He took six copies to school the next day, placed these, and got requests for another six. The next day, he took seven copies along, distributed these, and was asked for yet two more.
In the Faeroe Islands, some students were given school assignments that required them to gather information about Jehovah’s Witnesses. What was available at the school was inadequate and misleading. When a young Witness volunteered to bring some material for them to use, her offer was well received. She also gave the teacher the video Jehovah’s Witnesses—The Organization Behind the Name. He showed it to the whole class, and later in the week, it was also shown to other classes.
When a young man on the police force in Greece began to study the truth, he met with strong opposition from his relatives. His father-in-law took the young man’s wife to the priests, to theologians, and then to the bishop, who urged her to divorce her husband and promised that he would find her another one. Back with her husband, she could see how the study was improving his conduct, and she observed the conduct of the Witnesses with whom he was associating. She studied along with him, but her parents took it upon themselves to have the young couple’s daughter baptized in the Greek Orthodox Church. The wife’s father threatened to beat up his son-in-law and, along with two other family members, went to the Kingdom Hall to cause trouble. However, the storm passed when the young man and his wife took a firm stand for the truth. Both he and his wife got baptized. Now the father-in-law and his wife are having a Bible study. The brother-in-law, who shared in causing trouble at the Kingdom Hall, was also baptized along with his wife.
In order to renew her passport so that she could travel from Bulgaria to attend this year’s district convention in Romania along with her mother and grandparents, nine-year-old Blagomira needed the signature of her father, who had left the family before they became Witnesses. The father firmly refused to support his little daughter’s desire. She frequently called him to ask for his OK, but to no avail. Unexpectedly, on Monday of the convention week, Blagomira’s older sister visited the family and told the grandmother that the father would agree to sign the application for the passport. With no further explanation, she left. Nobody knew when and how the father would be available for the signature. Upon arriving home from field service and hearing the news, Blagomira and her mother prayed together: “If it is your will, Jehovah, that we should be together at the convention, please help us. We will be waiting at the passport office tomorrow morning.” In order to be sure to be the first ones there, they took two small chairs and left home at 4:30 a.m. After some time, Blagomira walked to her father’s home, which was not very far away. She kissed him and asked: “Daddy, will you come? Mother and I have been waiting in front of the office since ten minutes after five this morning.” He got dressed immediately and accompanied his daughter to give his signature. Amazingly, the passport was ready the very next day, just in time for travel the following morning! Blagomira’s mother helped her daughter to appreciate that this was a clear proof of Jehovah’s existence and of his love for Blagomira. She said that it should strengthen even more Blagomira’s decision to serve him forever. After the convention, Blagomira made a gift to her father of the new book The Secret of Family Happiness.
When witnessing on the street, a special pioneer in Poland met a young lady who invited her to her home and even showed her how to get there. However, when the Witness called at the appointed time, nobody opened the door, though she could hear someone inside. When leaving the block, our sister witnessed to an older gentleman who showed interest. On the next visit, a wonderful study was started with him and his wife. Yet, the sister decided to visit that young lady again. Looking at her notes, she realized that she had previously gone to the wrong block. She hurried to the right address, and the lady was happy to see her. When the sister began apologizing, the woman said: “I told my husband that I had invited Jehovah’s Witnesses. He waited for you to chuck you out. I was so afraid and prayed in my room that you would not come, but I am very happy you came today.” The sister now has two fine Bible studies and is convinced that the angels helped to bring this about.
A brother in Canada found it very difficult to identify himself as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses at his place of employment and to witness informally. But he prayed about this, gathered courage, and got started. His workmate initially rejected his efforts, but mention of the resurrection hope led to a Bible study. That evening, the brother prayed: “Jehovah, I promise that I’ll never miss another opportunity to talk to my neighbors. I’ll always see them as future brothers and sisters.” He has. At his next place of employment, the workers nicknamed him Moses because of his zealous witnessing during lunch hours and coffee breaks. He makes good use of the Society’s video Jehovah’s Witnesses—The Organization Behind the Name. By the early part of this past year, 394 persons at his place of employment had seen the video, not counting their families and friends, and he has a waiting list of many others who also want to see it. After 14 years in this factory, our brother has been able to help 34 persons to baptism.
In Chile, special efforts were made during the summer to reach remote territories. Many families spent their vacation in this manner. They found people who were thirsting for the truth. About 30,000 live on numerous small islands in the south of the country. Brothers endeavored to reach these by airplane. Where possible, they landed and witnessed. Where they could not land, they flew over the villages and dropped packets containing two magazines so that there, too, people could become aware of what Jehovah has purposed to do by means of his Kingdom.
In the Dominican Republic, it is not uncommon for Bible students to become so enthusiastic about what they are learning that they begin conducting studies with others even before they are approved to serve as unbaptized publishers. After a gentleman attended meetings in a larger town for a few months, he moved back to his mountain town and began to share with others what he had learned. When two pioneers arrived in this “unworked” territory, one householder after another told them that he knew from Radhamés about the things the pioneers were saying. At last, the brothers found Radhamés. Before he and his family began their own personal Bible study, he took the pioneers to visit some of those with whom he had been studying. Both he and his wife are now baptized.
In Yacuiba, Bolivia, a local evangelical group arranged for a TV station to show a film that was evidently produced by apostates. In view of the bad effects of that program, the elders decided to visit two TV stations and offer to pay to have them show the public the videos Jehovah’s Witnesses—The Organization Behind the Name and The Bible—A Book of Fact and Prophecy. After seeing the Society’s videos, the owner of a radio station became indignant at the misrepresentations in the apostates’ program and offered to make free spot announcements for Jehovah’s Witnesses regarding their upcoming district convention. Attendance was unusually high, and many honesthearted ones began to ask sincere questions when the Witnesses visited them in the ministry.
The management of a large glass factory in Ecuador wanted to organize a course on family and moral values for its employees. The director of human resources asked some priests but without results. On hearing of this, a Witness called on the director and showed him a list of subjects covered in our magazines. The director was impressed, selected three topics, and arranged for a two-hour program for the entire work force, which he divided up into seven groups of 30 each. Three qualified brothers directed the sessions. The audience was invited to comment and to ask questions. When honesty was being discussed, a guard said that he thought that it would be proper to steal under certain circumstances. Another agreed, saying, “If my mother is ill and I have no money, I have to steal. Or should I just let her die?” In reply, the brother told them about a young father who owed three months’ rent. He got in with a gang of thieves and was killed during an attempted robbery, leaving a widow and three children. “On the other hand,” our brother explained, “honest persons usually have good friends who come to their assistance in an emergency.” At the end of each session, many expressed appreciation. Others left their name and address and asked the brothers to visit them. The management offered a free Family Life book to anyone who wanted it. Sixty-six left their names. So the book The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived was put on display in the lobby, followed by Questions Young People Ask—Answers That Work. At the writing of this experience, orders for the books were still being taken. The management was very impressed by the practical information and wanted to arrange another session in six months.
In Paraguay a pioneer placed a Knowledge book with a woman who showed some interest but who changed the subject when offered a Bible study. In time, she told the pioneer that what she was being shown from the Bible did not agree with her beliefs, and so she did not want the Witness to continue visiting her. However, months later when the pioneer called with a special issue of Awake!, the woman acted as if she had been patiently waiting for the sister to return. The woman explained that she had read the Knowledge book, that it was marvelous, and that she had been studying the Bible with three of her neighbors, based on what she had learned in chapter 16 of the book. When our sister returned with her husband, the woman was waiting. However, instead of having a study in her own house, she took them to the house of her neighbor, one who had been present when earlier calls were made. With this neighbor they went on to the second neighbor’s house, and then the five of them went on to the third house, where the lady was also waiting for the Bible study. All of them are progressing well.
When witnessing from house to house, a pioneer sister in Uruguay called at a door where a young girl answered. The girl’s parents were not at home, so our sister witnessed to the girl, and she showed real interest. At the end, the Witness offered the girl a regular Bible study but told her to ask for her parents’ permission first. What would the reaction of the parents be? To the publisher’s great surprise, the mother said it would be quite all right to study the Bible with her little daughter, but she asked whether the rest of the family could also participate. Of course they could! So now a regular Bible study is being conducted with four members of this family—all because a witness was given to a little girl.
It has been estimated that within the continental United States, there are upwards of two million deaf people who communicate in American Sign Language. There are many challenges in performing the ministry in the sign-language field. Some pioneers travel as much as 200 miles [300 km] a day to reach eight or nine persons, many of whom may not be at home. It takes initiative to locate the deaf in the territory. In some cities that sponsor events for the deaf, publishers who are skilled in sign language have obtained permission to set up a table or booth with an attractive display of our publications for the deaf. They also set up TVs and VCRs to play our videos in American Sign Language. This creates a fine opportunity to meet more of the deaf population, to place literature with them, and to make arrangements for home visits. At one such festival, the brothers received names and addresses of 40 individuals that they had not previously met.
One of the big events in Guyana this past year was the marriage, in one day, of 79 couples attending the meetings at the Baramita Congregation. A member of the Branch Committee delivered the marriage talk, which was translated into the Carib language, and then had each couple audibly repeat the vows in Carib. Why were the 79 couples moved to get married? Because Bible truth had changed their outlook on life. Before Jehovah and many witnesses, they were agreeing to live with just one mate and to abide by the Biblical standard for honorable marriage. Three days later, 41 persons, mostly from the couples that had just got married, came forward with their teachers and expressed their desire to become unbaptized publishers.
The Caribs in this area are determined to learn as much as possible about Jehovah and his organization and to learn it as quickly as possible. They walk for two, three, or more hours to get to the meetings week after week. Very few ever arrive late, though they come on jungle trails along which there are rivers, tigers, poisonous snakes, and the like. So many want to learn the truth about God that the Witnesses conduct their Bible studies with groups of from 40 to 70 students.