2007 – “Looking Back”
In the “Store Up Treasures In Heaven” 2007 Circuit Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Manila, the girl in the picture had the privilege to be interviewed by an elder. His part was to interview 5 publishers: a regular pioneer, an auxiliary pioneer, a Kingdom Hall construction volunteer, an elderly publisher, and a publisher learning another language for the furtherance of the good news.
At the time, she was 19 years old, turning 20. She was associated with a Tagalog (local) congregation, but she was able to speak 4 languages: Tagalog (her native tongue), English, Korean, and French. She started learning Korean when she was in her last year in high school through self-study. She can read and write in 한글 and carry on basic conversations. It sparked in her the desire to learn more languages. Next, she learned French through a workshop, twice a week for 2 months.
In the interview, the brother asked her what languages she can speak and asked her to say a few sentences in those languages. Next, he asked her why she was studying different languages. She answered that at first, she was just interested in the idea of being able to speak and understand another language. But during her ministry, there were a few instances when they were able to find and talk to internationals. So she became determined to use her God-given talents to further expand her ministry. She wouldn’t want to waste the chance to preach also the good news of Jehovah to internationals who are living in or visiting the Philippines.
Then, the brother asked her what challenges she faced and how she overcame them. A big challenge for her was that she had nobody to practice the language with, especially she was learning Korean through self-study. She had no native-speaking teacher. It was quite the same with French because her teacher was a Filipino who spent a considerable time in France. In addition, learning different languages can get confusing. The words and grammar rules get mixed up in your brain.
Fortunately, she found a Korean academy near her residence that was looking for English teachers. She immediately applied for the position, with learning Korean from native-speakers as her goal and also earning a bit at the same time. She got hired and started working in May 2006. That was her first job ever. She taught English to Korean students and during the break time, she would ask them some things she doesn’t understand about the Korean language and how to correctly pronounce certain characters in 한글. At the same time, she was also able to witness to her students by letting them read from the Good News for People of All Nations booklet. (However, she got in a bit of trouble with the management because of it. Her students complained to the head teacher. She wasn’t aware that Koreans are sensitive to issues concerning religion, politics, and North Korea. So the academy manager warned her not to initiate talking about religion to her students again.)
Aside from her students though, there was very limited opportunities for her to witness to internationals that time, only through informal witnessing when they go on vacation to tourist spots.
2013 – “Moving Forward”
Now she is currently 25 years old, turning 26. She still teaches English to Korean students, but now she teaches online as a freelancer from the comfort of her home. After teaching in the academy in 2006 for a year, she transferred to an online English-teaching company and worked there until 2012.
She has also found a way around the challenge she faced in the past about Koreans not wanting to discuss religious topics. She openly let her students know that she is one of Jehovah’s Witnesses when she gets a chance to do so (especially when she gets a new student because they get to introduce themselves to each other).
She got mixed results, but it was mostly positive. Some just ignore the fact that she is a Witness, but for most of her other students, it aroused their curiosity since our Korean brothers are very much misunderstood and hated because of their stand in not participating in military service that is required of every male in Korea. They view Witnesses as disrespectful and disloyal to their country. Many questions arose, and she was of course very eager to clear their misconceptions about us and our beliefs. Plus, she didn’t get in trouble with the management because it’s her students who started asking to know more about Witnesses.
In addition, she has met fellow Witnesses through this process. One example was when she was teaching a female student who was only a beginner in English. Their topic was about music so she asked the student if the student can play any instrument. The student said no, so she asked the student if it’s okay that she would play a song using her recorder (flute). The student agreed, and she played Song #7 “Christian Dedication”. She had barely begun playing the first line from the song when the student suddenly squealed in delight! She recognized the song right away. The student was also a Witness, a regular pioneer before she gave birth to her 2 young sons. Her husband was an elder in their congregation at that time. And there are many more similar experiences like this in meeting fellow brothers and sisters who were her students.
Moreover, she has moved to an English congregation that’s not too far from her residence. In their ministry, they regularly seek out internationals to whom they can share the good news of Jehovah’s Kingdom: in the gated residential villages (subdivisions), in the malls, in the parks, in resorts and hotels, and everywhere they may be found. (Acts 1:8) Twice a year, she also volunteers for 2 months in the English group in Palawan, and if Jehovah wills it, she will make it her “Macedonia”. (Acts 16:9, 10)
Six years ago, she never would have anticipated she would now be actively participating in this avenue of service because there was really very little chance for her to preach to internationals. But now she is personally witnessing Jehovah’s active hand in the preaching work. He has opened new ways to reach more people.
Also, she currently speaks 7 languages: Tagalog, English, Korean, French, Spanish, Japanese, and now German. She is not yet fluent in all of them, but she will not stop learning and practicing, no matter how much headache she gets. She will certainly use her linguistic talents to better serve Jehovah and help more people come to know and love Him.
Sometimes, our current situation may discourage us. We might think we are useless because we don’t have the opportunity to use our talents and skills for the Kingdom. We might be taking care of a sick loved one, or we may ourselves be sick. We may be too young or too old to do more in service to Jehovah. We may feel unworthy because of our mistakes and weaknesses. (Romans 7:21, 24) We might think things are progressing very slowly when it comes to God’s promises. But remember, brothers and sisters, what is recorded at 1 John 3:19-24 and 2 Peter 3:9.
Our sister in the picture above has faced many challenges and setbacks in her life, but she did not stop. She is still running in the race for life even though her knees are wounded and bruised. When she fell down, Jehovah helped her stand up each time. When there were roadblocks, Jehovah showed her a way around them. She is able to continue because of Jehovah, and so was the case of many faithful men and women in the Bible and in recent times. Paul especially suffered much, yet he never let anything separate him from the love of the Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:24-28; Romans 8:35, 38-39) You can do it, too. So don’t give up! Endure! (Hebrews 12:1-3; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
We can be confident that in doing this, we will “store up for [ourselves] treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:20)
* You may click the picture above to watch a fun video. ^_^