Knocking on doors, using a cart to distribute Bible-based literature and informally discussing the Bible with others wherever they were found was a way of life for Darcy Brookes. That abruptly changed in the spring of 2020 when Jehovah’s Witnesses suspended their in-person public ministry, meetings and large conventions.
Two years later, this Anguillan resident is pleased that he has been able to stay connected, and in some cases reconnect, with his Bible students virtually. Brookes explained that since making use of the virtual arrangements provided during the pandemic, one of his Bible students is now attending all the weekly meetings with the local congregation, something he had not experienced pre-pandemic, and he also desires to be baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
With this historic change, the number of Jehovah’s Witnesses grew 3% in the United States and the Lesser Antilles in 2021 alone, matching the most significant increase for the organization over the past decade and the second-largest percentage increase since 1990.
“Staying active in our ministry while remaining safe has had a powerful preserving effect on our congregants and communities,” said Robert Hendriks, spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses. “The wise decision not to prematurely resume in-person activities has united us and protected lives while comforting many people in great need. The results speak for themselves.”
As is being done internationally, Witnesses in the Caribbean now make use of telephone calls and written letters to reach out to individuals with the Bible’s message.
Despite having to adjust to a virtual ministry, Witnesses, like Patricia Poulsen of St. Kitts, count it a privilege to conduct free, interactive Bible studies over Zoom. One of her students chooses to have multiple study sessions a week, and also enjoys attending and participating in the congregation meetings, all from her tablet. The student’s daughter is also taking lessons.
Poulsen said, “I am so grateful that I can still 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 all-time peaks in the number of people participating in their volunteer preaching work, increased attendance in Zoom meetings and more than 171,000 new believers baptized. In the past two years, more than 400,000 have been baptized worldwide.
Although she was not proficient with technological tools like tablets and cellphones at first,Mercedes Salas, a Spanish-speaking Witness from Christiansted, St. Croix, also enjoys these new preaching methods. She now takes full advantage of the pictures and videos on jw.org to help her students understand Bible principles in a simple way, which she finds especially beneficial for her three students that cannot read.
Similarly, Brookes noted that Zoom meetings along with other virtual resources have assisted individuals who are interested in finding out 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 being tough times, I can say that my needs are being met and my wife and I are doing more together spiritually.”
The official website of Jehovah’s Witnesses, translated into more than 1,000 languages, has also leveraged the organization’s outreach.
To start an online Bible study course, receive a visit or attend a virtual meeting locally, visit www.Jw.org