Pursuing My Purpose in Life
As told by Panayotis C. Spiropoulos
AT ATHENS, Greece, in 1929 I was studying, but I wanted to go to the United States to continue my studies and gain financial help. Immigration laws preventing that, finally, in 1931, I decided to come to Egypt. Here in Cairo, in a restaurant, I met a man who spoke to me about the Bible and the end of the world. I asked him to inform me about the fulfillment of the Bible’s various prophecies. From that time I started to study the Bible, discussing its many doctrines with the brother. The difference between the Bible and the teaching of the Greek Orthodox religion became clear to me. My instructor gave me the book Thy Kingdom Come (Volume 3 of the Studies in the Scriptures series of six by Pastor Russell). This book, in Greek, was the first one I read published by the Society. The brother had only this one book in Greek, having brought it with him to Egypt from Greece. Later he wrote to the Society at Brooklyn and received from there books in various languages. From that time I started to read the Society’s publications and also to distribute them, beginning thus to pursue my purpose in life.
In 1933 a pioneer brother came from the United States to work here with us and help us in arranging Bible studies and spreading Bible truths. A year later another pioneer brother came from the U.S.A. and I joined him in full-time pioneering. Together we worked in Cairo, helping persons of good will with Bible studies. At first I visited only Greek-speaking people, there being many in Egypt. Soon I learned to speak Arabic, and now we are giving the message in Greek, English, French and Arabic.
The two of us rented a small apartment, furnishing it with a few chairs, and here we invited persons of good will for our meetings.
One Monday I called at a Greek grocery shop and started to witness to the proprietor. He was unwilling to listen or to discuss religion, being very superstitious, saying it was Monday morning and the first day of the week. “All right, if you do not want to discuss religious matters, then tell me, how is your business these days?” He told me that business was not so good; that he had difficulty covering his expenses. Then I explained to him that the bad conditions prevail not only in Egypt but in all parts of the world; and after touching upon the disturbed political situation I showed him that all these things were foretold in the Bible, the Word of God, and now are occurring in fulfillment of Bible prophecies about the end of the world. Finally I invited him to take some literature if he was interested and to read it at home in his spare time. I showed him two books in Greek. He asked whether those were the only books I had. “No, I also have some booklets.” He then asked whether these were the only books in Greek published by the Society, whereupon I explained that there were about ten bound books and more than twenty booklets published by the Society. He told me to bring him all the books and booklets the next day, adding that at first he thought I was a Protestant or an evangelist but on hearing what I had to say about the Bible he knew what I told him was the truth. The next day I delivered to him all the Greek publications he had ordered and also some books in French.
As time passed it became very difficult to place literature with the people in Cairo; so I went to a port town, obtaining special permission from the government to board the commercial ships and give the Kingdom message to the sailors. They also took many books and booklets. Once I stayed aboard one ship about three days, having Bible studies with the sailors (as well as having my meals and lodging on that ship). Later I worked at Port Said, where more commercial ships constantly were calling. Then two other pioneer brothers and I went to Upper Egypt to carry on a campaign, placing many books while visiting all the villages and towns. Here it was difficult to visit people in their homes, so we called on them at their work, meeting judges, government officials in their offices, also clergymen and others. The clergymen were not happy after reading our literature. They saw how the power of the truth could upset their peaceful habitations; so they printed and circulated some tracts telling the people not to accept our message or buy our literature. The priests sent these tracts to all the towns in Upper Egypt, for distribution by boys on their way to school; so on reaching a new town we found the people expecting us, eager to hear the message and to see what our books contained.
During World War II the Egyptian authorities closed our Kingdom Hall and confiscated our literature; so we had to continue activities underground, literally, in an obscure basement apartment. Jehovah in his own way kept providing us with spiritual food and with opportunities to keep on dispensing it. Through those difficult times we happily continued, fearing Jehovah, doing his commandments. He protected and prospered our work.
After the war, in 1947, Brothers Knorr and Henschel visited us. Then the Society arranged to open a better place for meetings, office work and improved sleeping quarters; so we ceased to use the basement apartment. The Society’s Cairo branch was established and we were fully instructed for carrying on the good work.
Now we have a Kingdom Hall with three separate rooms, where we carry on our meetings in three different languages.
Besides sharing with the happy thousands the blessings and joys of the 1953 world assembly at Yankee Stadium, it became my privilege to be a member of Gilead’s twenty-second class, which graduated February 7, 1954, and then to go back to Egypt, not “for help” but better to keep on pursuing my purpose in life as a missionary here in the Nile valley.
Politics Even in Prayer
● The chief librarian at Dagenham, England, recently investigated the history of an area on which there now stands an immense Ford factory. One of the first purchasers of the site was a certain John Ward, a member of parliament, who bought it when it was flooded and therefore cheap, and then had a bill passed to drain it at the public expense. After his death there was found among his papers this extraordinary prayer: “O Lord, Thou knowest I have mine estates in the City of London, and likewise that I have recently purchased an estate in fee simple in the County of Essex. I beseech Thee to preserve the two counties of Middlesex and Essex from fire and earthquake, and as I have a mortage in Hertfordshire, I beg of Thee likewise to have an eye of compassion on that county; for the rest of the counties, Thou mayest deal with them as Thou art pleased.”—Questions People Ask, by Robert J. McCracken.