Pursuing My Purpose in Life
As told by John A. Cutforth
IN THE year 1911 my father became acquainted with and accepted the truth, and it was thus that I had the great blessing to be reared in the discipline and authoritative advice of Jehovah.
Throughout the many years that have since elapsed while pursuing my purpose in life, two things have been forcefully impressed on my mind: First, that no matter how I might try to find satisfaction, contentment, pleasures or friends in the old world it was a hopeless and futile search. Second, that Jehovah has an organization on earth that he is directing, that I as an individual could work with that organization and that if I would fully follow its leadings and direction it would bring me peace, contentment, satisfaction and many friends, plus many other rich blessings.
On many occasions I unwittingly tried to side-step Jehovah’s organization and think and do things the way I wanted to. On each occasion Jehovah has mercifully allowed me to return, penitently and sorrowfully. I was always glad to be back home again with His people and organization.
After about fifteen years of successful teaching in city schools, a year’s absence from teaching duties with sixty percent of my pay while away was extended to me, provided I spend at least four months of that time at a university. Accordingly I enrolled at the University of Southern California, and in 1940 I found myself enjoying the delightful California climate, its beaches and many other unending attractions. Unwittingly I was seeking contentment in the wrong direction. A joyless melancholy settled over me in spite of all that money could buy. But when I began to associate with the Glendale congregation each Sunday, joy began to return. If this is what brings joy, I reasoned, then I must do more service. My hours in field service soon jumped from ten a month to fifty, to seventy and eighty! Working so many hours in Jehovah’s service brought satisfaction.
Then after a few days of serious thinking, and especially after considering Matthew 6:33, 34, I sent to the Society for a pioneer application form. On March 1, 1941, I started my first day in the pioneer service. Never had I felt so close to and a part of Jehovah’s organization. The university faded in the background. When the brothers saw that I was sincere and had real love for Jehovah they could not do enough for me. Never had I so many friends, privileges and blessings! So satisfying was the pioneer service that university classes were canceled, my teaching career was put aside for the joy of serving Jehovah full time. Pioneering became my purpose in life.
Several joyous months passed by. I read in the Informant about the new arrangement for making many pioneers special pioneers, provided they were willing to go wherever the Society would assign them. Convinced that such a privilege would never be extended to me, I contentedly settled back to enjoy pioneer life with the congregation, where everything was comfortable and pleasant.
Shortly thereafter a long envelope arrived from the Society. Would I take up the special pioneer work? Well, December, 1941, saw me in Colton, California, ministering as a special pioneer. It seemed very lonely out there. There were times when I thought of going back to Glendale, thinking that I would do more good as a general pioneer. But I fought off those ideas, knowing that I must follow the lead of Jehovah’s organization. Resolutely I set my mind on my work. Interest was located. Studies were started. Friendships were made with the brothers. Together we worked hard and soon a new congregation was formed and I moved on to another locality. But Jehovah’s blessings never ended.
In October, 1942, I was privileged to serve as a “servant to the brethren,” starting in San Francisco. Several more months of joyous work serving the congregations followed. The future looked very pleasant indeed, but all of a sudden the bottom seemed to drop out of it all. Since I was a Canadian citizen, immigration authorities requested that I return to Canada. The Society suggested that it would be wise for me to return immediately.
With a heavy heart I landed in Victoria, Canada, February, 1943. What would I do now? How easy would it be to slip away without anyone being the wiser! Appreciating the danger of such thinking and the need of keeping close to the organization, I resolved more firmly than ever to pursue my purpose in life as a pioneer.
The third day back in Canada saw me in the pioneer service going from house to house with just the Bible. The ban against Jehovah’s witnesses was on and the weather was cold. There was no way of my contacting the Society in Canada. I was confident, however, that I could not go wrong continuing in the pioneer service.
A month passed. Back-calls and Bible studies were established. There were pleasant moments with the local brothers, even though we were under the ban. Then word came to me from the Society that I was to proceed to Edmonton. In a few weeks I found myself once again a servant to the brethren in Northern Canada. My, how terribly cold it was! How deep the snow and how impossible the roads, especially in the spring! But the brothers were the same loving kind as in Glendale and our work and association far outweighed any of the inconveniences. Life was joyful, but this assignment was not for long.
A few months later word came by telegram, “Come to Toronto Bethel.” “I am not cut out for office work,” I thought to myself. “And I have always disliked community life.” But I did not allow myself to dwell on the matter long. “I must follow the Lord’s direction through his organization,” I sternly counseled myself. Three years in the Canadian Bethel followed. Sometimes it seemed long, sometimes short. With years came maturity and a greater reliance on Jehovah’s spirit. All this prepared me for my next big step in pursuit of my purpose in life, that is, the servant-to-the-brethren work in Quebec, Canada.
Serving the congregations in Montreal, Quebec City and surrounding area was a testing time. Police cars trailed us as we went from door to door. There were arrests, fines and imprisonments to follow, all for preaching God’s Word. It was not pleasant, but we could not stop doing what God had commanded to be done. As congregations were visited, I grew stronger; we all did, in fact. Our joy removed any sting from police or jail.
Then came the pleasant surprise of 1946, an invitation to attend the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead. What a reward for making pioneering my purpose in life! Months of hard study ensued, tests were endured, increased knowledge followed and fellowship with the brothers—all this broadened and equipped me for greater service ahead.
With Gilead finished I was sent back to Quebec and the Maritime provinces. This round of visits gave me the opportunity to pour out to the brothers many of the good things I had learned at Gilead.
In October, 1947, I remember asking myself, “Am I prepared for anything the Society requests of me? Is my faith strong enough?” After meditating on those questions awhile I thought I had the answer. I was ready.
Pursuing the life or a pioneer calls for great faith, and in that very month my faith was put to the test. I received an assignment to go all the way to Australia. What a long distance from home that was! Would I ever get back to Canada to see my parents and friends again before Armageddon? The only way to find out was to go. But could I be ready in a week’s time? That meant not going home to say good-by to father, mother and friends, and me with a one-way ticket to Australia! That was a big test for me, but there was only one thing to do: follow Jehovah’s direction. And that I did.
With two other Canadian brothers with me, New York was left in the distance as our ship headed for Panama and then the broad Pacific. After three weeks of continuous sailing we were beginning to feel as if we had left a world behind us and that there was just nothing but water in front. About five o’clock one afternoon the wireless operator came down with a cablegram. It contained greetings and well-wishes from a circuit assembly in Western Canada. Jehovah had not forgotten us even away out here in the middle of the broad Pacific.
After a month’s sailing we finally landed in Brisbane, Australia. We knew not a soul. In a strange city and a strange continent we wandered about the streets for a few days. This allowed us to get acquainted with the new surroundings. Shortly thereafter, however, we arrived at the Australian Bethel. New friends were made, our circuit work was outlined and in less than a week I was down serving the congregations in Melbourne and vicinity.
Life was different down here. It was not as fast, for one thing. Conveniences did not seem as up to date. Nevertheless, many people believed themselves to be living in a paradise. Although the brothers in this kangaroo land had suffered severe setbacks in preceding years, yet with the return of Jehovah’s spirit and increased activity their numbers began to increase. Joy returned.
After a few months of circuit work the privilege of being a district servant was offered me by the Society. This seemed overwhelming. Could I do it? Responsibilities became many but in Jehovah’s power these were shouldered. It was a thrill to see how step by step as I pursued my purpose in life as a pioneer Jehovah opened up new avenues of service with enlarged privileges and blessings. Somehow there was always more to come, as you will see.
A few years of district servant work passed. I began to feel a part of Australia and soon I was calling it home. Then 1950 came up and with it the international assembly of Jehovah’s witnesses at Yankee Stadium, New York. I was prepared to stay in Australia until Armageddon, yet only a little more than two years in this land and an opportunity was provided for me to return to New York, to make a trip completely around the world. It was all done in ten weeks! How small the earth appeared to be now!
The assembly at Yankee Stadium gave refreshment and encouragement to all who attended it. It also gave me an opportunity to see all my old friends. Then came that peculiar feeling, the going back home to Australia.
Three more years passed. There were many increases in publishers, greater maturity was in evidence among Jehovah’s people, and the joy of serving full time was an ever-present thrill. Then 1953 loomed up with another Yankee Stadium assembly. What a joy! for with that announcement came a second opportunity for me to go back to America!
Another ten weeks of feasting and enjoying the New World society. Still more this time the thought of coming back home was present with me. It was good to get back and settle down to Jehovah’s work in this land down under.
Now nearly seventeen years of the full-time service have passed. These have been the best years, the happiest years, the years with more homes, clothes and friends than ever before. How wise it was to heed the Lord’s promise at Matthew 6:33! How sensible to follow the Lord’s lead as made manifest through his organization! How I thank Jehovah that I made pioneering my purpose in life.
Now after nearly ten years in Australia this land has really become home. So it matters little where one serves. The brothers are the same, for the same spirit operates upon them. Customs and habits may differ, but changing one’s way of thinking and always seeking to follow Jehovah’s leading, accepting whatever assignment he sees fit to give, brings joy, happiness, contentment and unnumbered friends—things that come only from pursuing a grand goal in life—such as pioneering.
We Found Contentment Helping the Needy
From two Kingdom publishers in Brazil
GODLY contentment is the lot of those who place love for Jehovah and his sheep first in their lives. We know this to be the truth, because a little more than three years ago our circumstance forced us to leave the full-time missionary service—we were about to start a family. The sudden change from missionary life was a challenge to meet. It left us feeling disorganized and with having deep concern for the future. It turned out to be a time of real spiritual testing.
Things went fairly well materially for a while. Mark, our son, was born. What a joy he proved to be! But we found ourselves getting so involved in obtaining our material needs that the ministry work was getting crowded out. We realized that we had to do something about it.
Following a thrilling circuit assembly in an interior town, we decided that even if we could not pioneer, still there was nothing to stop us from moving the family out to this town to take care of the newly interested. With our last bit of capital we bought a small abandoned farm. This became our home. Now after two years of work, we can report a healthy new congregation, which was finally organized with thirty-four publishers. We have a fine Kingdom Hall in the center of town where we average over fifty in attendance for the weekly Watchtower study. The brothers are rapidly progressing. The month’s report showed twenty-nine home Bible studies and an average of fifteen hours and five back-calls per publisher. You can imagine our joy!
How this has encouraged us and made us know that Jehovah never fails to bless if we put forth the effort! We have found an unspeakable blessing serving where the need is great. Even though we are unable to spend our full time in the service, yet helping as publishers by moving out to this interior town, organizing the work and being with these brothers have brought us great contentment. Maybe you can do something like this. Why don’t you try? You will find it a great joy if you do.