LA FERIA — It’s been one year since Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide adjusted their methods of sharing their faith due to the pandemic.
In March 2020, 1.3 million Jehovah’s Witnesses in the United States suspended their door-to-door and face-to-face forms of public ministry and moved congregation meetings to videoconferencing, according to a press release by the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization in La Feria.
“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,” he said.
Rodolfo Muraira, Public Information Officer for JW, said the change from ringing doorbells and knocking on doors to making phone calls and writing letters expanded and invigorated their ministry.
Hope Kirkpatrick has been participating in the door-to-door ministry for nearly 40 years. Before the pandemic, she was active in the public ministry in La Feria and in conducting in-home Bible studies.
She also spent time traveling to smaller communities like Santa Maria, where she would stand at a cart displaying Bible-based literature outside restaurants and stores.
Once adjustments to the ministry were made due to the pandemic, Kirkpatrick was apprehensive, but excited to try something new.
“It was a challenge, and we figured, challenges are good. Sometimes change makes us better,” she said.
Kirkpatrick now starts her day by walking over to her desk at home and joining others who are participating in the ministry virtually. She spends mornings and early afternoons writing letters and making phone calls to share a scriptural message with others.
“I’m having a great time. I love it. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier in my life. Isn’t that something?” she said.
Many people respond positively to the letters Kirkpatrick sends them. She has received thank you notes and phone calls of appreciation for the messages she shares, fueling her desire to continue reaching out to others.
“It makes you want to do more,” she said.
Knowing she can share a positive message that will comfort and help those living in the Rio Grande Valley motivates Kirkpatrick to continue with this form of ministry.
Jehovah’s 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,” said Hendriks. “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,” Hendricks said.