Dana Brian Thomas
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.
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.”
For many, the change from ringing doorbells and knocking on doors to making phone calls and writing letters expanded and invigorated their ministry.
It was nearly 33 years ago that Sandra Conway, of Opelika, vowed to the Lord’s work as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Prior to the pandemic she was limited in her ability to go from door to door due to various health issues. During the pandemic, she has been more involved with reaching her neighbors by telephone and letter writing.
“I miss going from door-to-door but I really enjoy calling my neighbors by telephone,” Conway said.
It’s much easier for me to engage in this form of ministry. I’m really worried about my neighbors during this pandemic.”
She said imagines that we will most likely resume our public ministry one day and looks forward to it.
“I know I will always continue to use telephone witnessing to reach my neighbors as well, because I have gotten so many great responses during the pandemic,” Conway said.
Nearly 51,000 people in the United States last year made a request for a Witness to contact them, either through a local congregation or jw.org, the organization’s official website, according to Hendriks. Since the outbreak, the Witnesses have followed up on these requests via letters and phone calls instead of in-person visits.
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.
“Our love for our neighbors is stronger than ever,” Hendriks said. “In fact, I think we have needed each other more than ever. 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.”
For more information on the activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses, visit its website jw.org, with content available in over 1,000 languages.