Ministry matters

Jehovah’s Witnesses multiply as virtual meetings and ministerial conventions keep congregants active

Knocking on doors, using a cart to distribute Bible literature, and informally discussing the Bible with others wherever they were was a way of life for Darcy Brookes. That changed abruptly in the spring of 2020 when Jehovah’s Witnesses suspended in-person public ministry, meetings, and major conventions.

Two years later, this Anguillan is delighted to have been able to stay connected, and in some cases reconnected, virtually with his Bible students. Brookes explained that since using the virtual arrangements provided during the pandemic, one of his Bible students now attends all weekly meetings with the local congregation, something he had not experienced before the pandemic, and he also wishes to be baptized as such. Jehovah’s Witnesses.

With this historic change, the number of Jehovah’s Witnesses increased by 3% in the United States and the Lesser Antilles in 2021 alone, corresponding to 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 our communities,” said Robert Hendriks, 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.”

As is done internationally, the Caribbean Witnesses now use telephone calls and written letters to reach people with the Bible’s message.

Although they have had to adapt to a virtual ministry, Witnesses like Patricia Poulsen of St. Kitts consider it a privilege to conduct free interactive Bible studies on Zoom. One of her students chooses to have several study sessions per week and also enjoys attending and participating in congregation meetings, all from her tablet. The student’s daughter is also taking lessons.

Poulsen said, “I’m so grateful to still be able to help someone learn the truth. Doing Bible studies is probably one of the most enjoyable things in my life.

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.

Although she was initially unfamiliar with tech tools like tablets and cellphones, Mercedes Salas, a Spanish-speaking Witness from Christiansted, St. Croix, also appreciates these new methods of preaching. She now takes full advantage of the images and videos on jw.org to help her students simply understand Bible principles, which she finds especially beneficial for her three students who cannot read.

Likewise, Brookes noted that Zoom meetings as well as other virtual resources have helped people who want to learn more about the Bible and have helped him as well. “The ministry can have a stabilizing effect on us and keep us focused on our hope. Despite these difficult times, I can say that my needs are being met and my wife and I are doing more together spiritually.

The official Jehovah’s Witnesses website, translated into more than 1,000 languages, has also taken advantage of the organization’s reach.

To start an online Bible study class, receive a tour, or attend a virtual meeting locally, visit www.Jw.org