Ministry methods change to keep it safe

Elizabeth and Bradley Jones of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Pauls Valley have adjusted their in-person ministry to sharing Bible messages with the public through letters and phone calls during the virus pandemic over the last year.

It’s been one year since Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide 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.

In March 2020, the some 1.3 million 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 two principles: our respect for life and love of neighbor,” said Robert Hendriks, U.S. spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses.

“But we are still witnesses and, as such, we must testify about our faith. So it was inevitable that we would find a way to continue our work.”

Elizabeth and Bradley Jones of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Pauls Valley have been knocking on doors in the local community for over 20 years.

A typical day in their public ministry before the pandemic might have taken them to the front porches of families in Pauls Valley, Elmore City or Maysville.

Now, they sit on their living room sofa and share the same Bible message through letters and phone calls.

“There is so much bad news right now,” said Elizabeth.

As she reaches out to neighbors and relatives, she focuses on sharing good news and imparting hope. Among her favorite topics for conversation are the Bible’s promise of a better future and Bible principles for coping with stress.

Bradley, who admits to not being much of a letter writer before the pandemic, has embraced this method of connecting with people in his ministry.

“Our letter writing will reach those that we may not have been able to contact before due to them not being home,” he explained.

Despite the challenges imposed by the pandemic, Elizabeth and Bradley are enjoying their ministry.

In addition to making phone calls, writing letters, and conducting Bible studies by phone, the couple regularly engages with virtual ministry groups. It’s an opportunity to catch up with friends and support one another.

“It helps and encourages me. I’m not alone,” revealed Bradley. “If you’re with someone who is doing the same thing, it’s really motivating. It keeps you going.”

Witnesses have also made a concerted effort to check on distant friends and family – sometimes texting links to Bible-based articles on jw.org that cover timely topics, such as isolation, depression, and how to beat 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.”

Bradley, who helps organize the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Pauls Valley area, said declining world conditions have prompted many to pursue a closer relationship with God.

“Meeting attendance is a lot higher now than before the pandemic,” he said.

Throughout the past year, as Bradley explained, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Pauls Valley have refrained from gathering together physically for worship, but they have remained connected. They have continued to associate and encourage one another through virtual meetings and phone calls, constantly checking on each other and helping one another out in practical and safe ways.

“It’s been really nice to see the local Witnesses band together and even bond together in love.”

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