“We continually remember your faithful work, your loving labor.”—1 THESSALONIANS 1:3.
1. How did Paul feel about those who worked hard in preaching the good news?
THE apostle Paul valued his brothers and sisters who worked hard to preach the good news. He wrote: “We continually remember your faithful work, your loving labor, and your endurance because of your hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father.” (1 Thessalonians 1:3) Jehovah too remembers and values everything that his people do to serve him, whether they can do much or little.—Hebrews 6:10.
2. What will we discuss in this article?
2 Both in the past and in the present, Christians have made great sacrifices in order to do more in Jehovah’s service. In this article, we will discuss what some in the first century did to serve Jehovah. We will also learn what full-time servants are doing today, and we will see how we can help them.
CHRISTIANS IN THE FIRST CENTURY
3, 4. (a) What were some ways that brothers and sisters in the first century served Jehovah? (b) How were Kingdom preachers in the first century able to pay for their expenses?
3 Soon after his baptism, Jesus began preaching about the Kingdom, and he taught others to do this same work. (Luke 3:21-23; 4:14, 15, 43) After Jesus died, his apostles directed the preaching work and it continued to spread. (Acts 5:42; 6:7) Some Christians left their homes to work as missionaries. For example, Philip preached in different parts of Palestine. (Acts 8:5, 40; 21:8) Paul, another missionary, preached the good news in many lands far from his home. (Acts 13:2-4; 14:26; 2 Corinthians 1:19) Others, including Mark, Luke, and Silvanus (Silas), wrote books of the Bible or worked as secretaries to Bible writers. (1 Peter 5:12) Many sisters worked along with such brothers. (Acts 18:26; Romans 16:1, 2) In the Christian Greek Scriptures, we read about the exciting experiences of these brothers and sisters. These accounts remind us that Jehovah values the work of his servants and cares for their needs.
4 How were Kingdom preachers in the first century able to pay for their expenses? They did not demand that their brothers help them, so sometimes they worked part-time. (1 Corinthians 9:11-15) But they did accept help. They were invited for meals, given a place to stay, or helped in other ways. Individuals and also entire congregations wanted to help them.—Read Acts 16:14, 15; Philippians 4:15-18.
FULL-TIME SERVANTS TODAY
5. What did one married couple say about their life in the full-time service?
5 Today, too, many work hard to serve Jehovah full-time in various ways. (See the box “Different Types of Full-Time Service.”) How do they feel about the kind of life they have chosen? You will be encouraged if you ask some of your brothers and sisters this question. One brother has served as a regular pioneer, a special pioneer, a missionary, and a member of the Bethel family in a foreign land. He says: “I feel that entering the full-time service is one of the best choices I have ever made. At 18 years of age, I struggled with making a decision between offers for university training, a full-time secular career, and pioneering. Experience has shown me that Jehovah does not forget the sacrifices you make to serve him full-time. I have been able to use any talents or abilities that Jehovah has given me in ways that would never have been possible had I chosen a worldly career.” His wife comments: “Every assignment has helped me to grow. We have felt Jehovah’s protection and direction over and over again and in ways that would never have happened had we stayed in our own little comfort zone. I thank Jehovah every day for our life in full-time service.” Would you like to feel that way about your life?
“I feel that entering the full-time service is one of the best choices I have ever made”
6. How does Jehovah feel about our service to him?
6 Of course, some are not able to be in the full-time service at this time but are doing all they can for Jehovah. We know that their service is valuable to him. For example, at Philemon 1-3, Paul sent greetings to all the brothers in the congregation in Colossae and mentioned some of them by name. (Read.) Paul valued their hard work, and so did Jehovah. In the same way, Jehovah values what you do in his service. What, though, can you do to support full-time servants?
WAYS WE CAN ASSIST PIONEERS
7, 8. What does pioneer service involve, and how can others in the congregation help pioneers?
7 Like zealous preachers in the first century, pioneers today encourage the congregation very much. Many spend about 70 hours each month preaching. How can you help them?
8 One pioneer sister named Shari said: “Pioneers look strong, being out in service every day. Still, they need encouragement.” (Romans 1:11, 12) Another sister who pioneered for many years commented about the pioneers in her congregation: “They work hard and endlessly. When others offer to drive in service, invite them for a meal, give them a little gas money or some other financial boost, they are grateful. It shows them that you really care.”
9, 10. What have some done to help pioneers in their congregation?
9 Another way we can help pioneers is to work with them in the ministry. Two pioneer sisters said that they need more brothers and sisters to work with during the week and in the afternoons. A sister who now serves at Bethel in Brooklyn remembers the help she received while she was pioneering. She comments: “One sister who had a car said, ‘Any time that you get stuck without a partner, you call me, and I will go in service with you.’ She absolutely saved my pioneering.” Shari says: “After service, single pioneers are often all alone. You might invite single brothers or sisters to your family worship from time to time. Including them in other activities also helps keep them strong.”
10 One sister who has been in the full-time service for almost 50 years made this comment about the help she and other single sisters were given: “Our elders visited the pioneers every couple of months. They asked about our health and secular work and checked to see if we had any concerns. They really meant it. They visited our apartment so that they could see whether we needed assistance.” These elders and others like them follow the example of Onesiphorus. He had to care for his family, but he also gave Paul needed help.—2 Timothy 1:18.
11. What does special pioneer service involve?
11 Another form of full-time service is the special pioneer work. Many special pioneers spend about 130 hours every month in the field ministry. They are also busy in other congregation activities. The branch office gives them a modest allowance each month because they have little or no time for secular work. This support helps special pioneers pay for basic expenses, and it allows them to use most of their time for the ministry.
12. How can elders and others help special pioneers?
12 What can we do to help special pioneers? One elder who works in a branch office and who has talked with many special pioneers says: “The elders need to speak to them, find out what their circumstances are, and then determine how they can assist them. Some Witnesses assume that special pioneers are wholly cared for because they get an allowance, but the local brothers can assist them in many ways.” And just like regular pioneers, special pioneers are thankful when brothers and sisters work along with them in the field ministry. Could you work with them?
HOW WE CAN HELP TRAVELING OVERSEERS
13, 14. (a) What should we remember about circuit overseers and their wives? (b) What can you do to help those who are serving in the traveling work?
13 Circuit overseers and their wives are experienced brothers and sisters who have strong faith and give us encouragement. But we must not forget that they too need to be encouraged. They also need brothers and sisters to work with them in the ministry. And they are thankful when brothers invite them to do something relaxing, fun, or interesting together. When traveling overseers or their wives are in the hospital or are recovering from an illness, we can help them by visiting them and caring for their needs. Luke, “the beloved physician,” cared for the needs of Paul and others who traveled to visit various congregations.—Colossians 4:14; Acts 20:5–21:18.
14 Traveling overseers and their wives need the love and encouragement of close friends. One circuit overseer wrote: “My friends seem to know when I need encouragement. They ask discerning questions, and this helps me to talk about what concerns me. Just by being good listeners, they are a great help.” Circuit overseers are very grateful when brothers and sisters are genuinely interested in them and become their true friends.
SUPPORT BETHEL FAMILY MEMBERS
15, 16. Why is the work done by those who serve at Bethel and Assembly Halls important, and how can we help them?
15 Those serving at Bethel and at Assembly Halls do vital work that supports the preaching of the good news. If you have Bethelites in your congregation or in your circuit, how can you remember them?
16 When they first arrive at Bethel, they might feel lonely and miss their family and friends back home. These new Bethelites are grateful when others in Bethel and in their congregation get to know them and become their friends. (Mark 10:29, 30) The normal Bethel work schedule allows Bethelites to attend meetings and go out in field service each week. But sometimes Bethelites may have extra duties. It is good when congregations understand this and show that they value the work that Bethelites do.—Read 1 Thessalonians 2:9.
HELPING FULL-TIME SERVANTS IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES
17, 18. What assignments do full-time servants in foreign countries have?
17 Some full-time servants accept an assignment in another country. They may have to eat new foods, learn a new language, and adapt to new customs and a new way of life. What assignments do full-time servants in foreign countries have?
18 Some are missionaries and spend most of their time in the field ministry. They are skilled preachers and teachers, and they share what they have been taught with others in their congregation. The branch office provides missionaries with a simple place to live and an allowance that helps them pay for basic expenses. Others are assigned to a foreign country to serve at a branch or to help build branch offices, remote translation offices, Assembly Halls, or Kingdom Halls. The branch office or the local brothers provide for their needs, such as meals and a place to stay. Like the Bethel family, these construction volunteers regularly attend congregation meetings and go out in field service. The congregations benefit from the experience of these brothers and sisters.
19. How can you help full-time servants who have come to serve in your country?
19 How can you help full-time servants who have come to serve in your country? Remember that when they first arrive, they may not be used to some of the local food. So when you invite them for a meal, you can ask them if they would like to try something new or if there is anything that they prefer not to eat. When they are trying to learn your language and the customs of your country, they will not learn right away. So be patient with them and kindly help them. They want to learn!
20. How can we help full-time servants and their parents?
20 As time goes by, full-time servants who live far from home might have to decide how to help their aging parents. When parents are Witnesses, they very much want their children to stay in their assignments. (3 John 4) Of course, full-time servants will do all they can to care for their parents and will visit them as often as possible. But those who live near the parents can help full-time servants too. They can offer to care for the parents if they need help. We should not forget that full-time servants are very busy supporting the preaching work, which is the most important work on earth today. (Matthew 28:19, 20) Could you remember full-time servants by helping their parents?
21. How do those who serve full-time feel about the help and encouragement that others give them?
21 Many people work hard because they want to become rich. But those who choose to be in the full-time service work hard because they want to give Jehovah their best and help others. So they are grateful for any help that others give them. One sister who is in the full-time service and who moved to serve in another country said, “Even a note expressing appreciation shows that others are thinking of you and that they are happy about what you are doing.”
22. How do you feel about full-time service?
22 Those in the full-time service have chosen a way of life that is truly exciting and satisfying. It is the best way of life today. Full-time servants can learn qualities and lessons that are needed now and that will be needed in the new world. Soon all servants of Jehovah will do work that is truly satisfying every day. Let us continue to remember the “faithful work” and “loving labor” of those in the full-time service.—1 Thessalonians 1:3.