It’s been one year since Jehovah’s Witnesses adjusted their hallmark methods of sharing comfort and hope from the scriptures due to the pandemic. For many, the change from ringing doorbells and knocking on doors to making phone calls and writing letters expanded and invigorated their ministry.
Cynthia McCall, 66, of Gardena, has enjoyed sharing the Bible’s message of comfort and hope with her neighbors for 38 years. When she became limited in the door-to-door preaching work due to medical complications, she relates, “I was only able to walk so far before I had to stop, go home and rest. Even though I know Jehovah God accepts whatever I can do for him, I did not have the same joy as before.”
Because she is an early riser, McCall now regularly joins a virtual group at 6 a.m. to write letters to neighbors and relatives. At 9:30 a.m., she shares the same message on the telephone. Her family members have appreciated her calls during this difficult time. She even has a regular Bible discussion with one relative.
Although her health limitations have not changed, McCall can do more in the ministry now than before the pandemic. She expresses, “I love participating in this type of ministry! My joy is back.”
In March 2020, Witnesses in the United States suspended their door-to-door and face-to-face forms of public ministry and moved congregation meetings to videoconferencing.
“It has been a very deliberate decision based on our respect for life and love of neighbor,” said Robert Hendriks, U.S. spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses. “But we are still witnesses, so we must testify about our faith. It was inevitable that we would find a way to continue our work.”
Many have checked in on neighbors as well as distant friends and family — sometimes sharing links to Bible-based articles from the organization’s official website, jw.org, on timely topics, such as isolation, depression, and beating pandemic fatigue.
If anything, the pandemic has heightened Witnesses’ concern for others, said Hendriks. “We are finding that people are perplexed, stressed, and feeling isolated. Our work has helped many regain a sense of footing — even normalcy — at a very unsettled time.”
Witnesses’ virtual meeting attendance is up, but the most significant gains don’t have numbers, said Tony Fowler, who helps organize the ministry in part of Michigan. “We’ve grown in appreciation for other avenues of the ministry, our love for our neighbor, and love for one another. We’re a stronger people because of all of this.”
For more information on the activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses, visit their website jw.org, with content available in over 1,000 languages.