Jehovah’s Witnesses reach NH residents with modified ministry | Community
WALLKILL, NY —Michael and Robin Kazes have spent more than twenty years knocking on doors to share their faith. In the years leading up to the pandemic, they volunteered their time each week to stand in front of a literature cart at several locations in the heart of downtown Boston. That changed abruptly in the spring of 2020 when Jehovah’s Witnesses suspended in-person public ministry, meetings, and major conventions.
Two years later, residents of Atkinson, New Hampshire are busier than ever. Their volunteer work is now done at home, writing letters and making phone calls to offer comfort and hope from the Bible. However, much of their time is spent in home Bible studies by phone or videoconference. Michael and Robin lead seven Bible studies between them each week. “I spend about 50 percent of my time with Bible students,” Robin said. “I have more students now than I ever had.”
With this historic change, the number of Jehovah’s Witnesses grew by 3% in the United States in 2021 alone, matching the largest increase for the organization in the last decade and the second largest percentage increase since 1990.
“Staying active in our ministry while staying safe has had a powerful preserving effect on our worshipers and communities,” said Robert Hendriks, U.S. spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses. “The wise decision not to resume in-person activities prematurely has united us and protected lives while comforting many in need. The results speak for themselves.”
Michael and Robin first had to adapt to this approach. “It was a completely different change,” Robin said. “We didn’t write any letters or phone calls. So it was totally new for us. But not only have they been able to contact more people, those they speak with are more receptive to the Bible’s message, they said. The Kazes now regularly lead seven Bible studies with colleagues, parents and others interested in the message of the Bible.
A woman has responded to a letter Robin wrote to her to express her appreciation. “She wrote me one of the most beautiful letters thanking me and saying how much she appreciated me for taking the time to write,” Robin said. Michael regularly calls an elderly neighbor to encourage her and share a thought from the Bible. “She is always very grateful for my phone calls,” he said.
Last year, the international organization reported unprecedented spikes in the number of people participating in their volunteer preaching work, an increase in attendance at Zoom meetings and more than 171,000 newly baptized believers. In the past two years, more than 400,000 people have been baptized worldwide.
Some whose ministry or attendance at church services had slowed due to age and poor health said they felt invigorated by the convenience of virtual meetings and home ministry.
Like many octogenarians, 88-year-old Sarah Fuoco struggles with memory loss and low energy. Yet she and her 81-year-old husband, Joseph, have been dubbed “the dynamic duo.”
The Fuocos use Zoom to worship twice a week with their congregation in Hollis, New Hampshire, and regularly join online ministry groups to comfort neighbors and family through phone calls, letters, texts and emails. -mails.
“What could have been a disadvantage, we turned it into an advantage,” said Joseph Fuoco. “The fact that we can work directly from home is a great advantage. I’m happy.
By sharing the hope of the Bible remotely, New Hampshire’s nearly 3,500 Jehovah’s Witnesses can quickly preach throughout their state. “Our message is reaching more people than ever before,” said Logan Learned of Litchfield, New Hampshire.
The official Jehovah’s Witnesses website, translated into more than 1,000 languages, has also taken advantage of the organization’s reach.
After starting a free, self-paced Bible course on jw.org in December 2019, Lisa Owen requested a free interactive Bible study on Zoom. She was one of nearly 20,000 people baptized as Jehovah’s Witnesses last year in the United States in private places, including swimming pools, bathtubs and even rivers.
“JW.ORG gave me a place to learn, a place to land and start living the way God wants. It taught me a lot,” Owen said.
To start an online Bible study class, receive a tour, or attend a virtual on-site meeting, go to jw.org.