ISLAND OF BERMUDA - THE JOYS PAST & PRESENT
One of the joys that one experiences when serving where the need is great, is the unique joy of looking back many years later, when the need is no longer greater on an island or in an area, and knowing that you, having been used by Jehovah, had a small part in making that happen! For example, the Island of Bermuda! But first, a little background:
The sub-tropical island of Bermuda is a self-governing British colony in the west of the North Atlantic Ocean, some 700 miles southeast of New York City & east of South Carolina, USA. It is approximately 22 miles long & 1/4 to 2 miles wide, covering some 53 square kilometers.
Official Language: English. Other: Portuguese.
Religion: Church of England (Anglican) 23%, Roman Catholic 15%, African Methodist Episcopal 11%, other Protestant, Pentecostal, Adventist groups,etc. 18%, various others 33%.
Economy: Bermuda enjoys the highest per capita income in the world, more than 50% higher than that of the US.
The good news first reached Bermuda in 1913, but the brother was asked to leave by the local authorities. Religious prejudice continued and in 1933, a family from the West Indies were forced to leave.
Fredricia "Freddy" Johnson, A pioneer sister, "Freddy" Johnson, who in the 1930ís often visited Bermuda preaching the good news, was taken before the court and told: "You are not the kind of person we want in Bermuda, and the sooner you leave the better." Then in 1945, two Gilead graduates, a married couple, the Bretts, were sent to Bermuda, but were deported in 1947. In 1951, two specially trained missionaries from Wales & England, were sent in to spearhead the work there "quietly" and were able to remain because Bro. Brett, as instructed by the Society obtained permission to stay permanently in Bermuda through a work permit, and the couple settled down and had a family. But they were still "missionaries" on their assignment and spearheaded the work in Bermuda and formed Bermuda's first little congregation.
Some ten years later, a young needgreater sister went to Bermuda by special arrangement and was soon appointed a special pioneer there. But, due to the religious prejudice, though more tolerant than in the past, this was done "quietly" and no arrangements were made to approve her as a special pioneer with missionary status through Immigration. She came as a "tourist" on a six month tourist visa, and had to travel in and out of Bermuda every six months during the 8-1/2 years of her assignment.
At the time of the arrival of this sister, there was a tiny congregation of some 30 publishers and a vast territory that extended from one end of the island to the other, some 22 miles long, that was not worked regularly and many persons still had never heard the Truth before! Due to the phenomenal interest in persons listening to the message and wanting to study, Bro. Knorr, at that time had wanted Bermuda to have four special pioneers.
A special pioneer brother from Switzerland came for a short period of time, but eventually received a letter from Immigration saying "We can see no good reason why you are here in Bermuda!" and so the Society reassigned him to French Guyana.
Meanwhile, the young needgreater sister continued to "play tourist", not even telling her Bible studies in the beginning why she was really in Bermuda!
Comparing her preaching activity in Bermuda at that time, with ....this sister says:
"Where I lived in the USA I would, more often than not, preach all morning without speaking with even one person and if I did it might be through the door or a peephole. Although, I preached 100 hours a month, I would often feel "rusty" when it came to proving even simple things from the Bible, since I had so little opportunity to use it. I longed to go where the need was greater! It became my primary spiritual goal. Then one day my dream came true! I had the opportunity to "leave everything behind" and move to a place I'd not even heard of before--the Island of Bermuda--to serve where the need is great!
The sister continues, "My first month in Bermuda was just so wonderful! People at every door invited me in and listened! They asked questions! I started study after study and before long I had 15, 20, 25 studies!! I recall the happiness of being literally out of breath dashing from one Bible study to the other on my little motorbike! As time went on, I sifted through these interested ones until I had a nice "hard core" of progressive Bible studies.
"And then the indescribable joy of seeing these Bible students progress to the point of joining the ministry school, qualify to become publishers, and eventually, dedicate their lives to Jehovah and get baptized!!
It was exactly as Jehovah's organization had said about serving where the need is great in regard to Jehovah's words to us in Malachi 3:10: "Test me out, please, in this respect...whether I shall not open to you...the floodgates of the heavens and actually empty out upon you a blessing until there is no more want'. Those floodgates of the heavens had indeed opened up and poured out their blessings upon me!
The joys did not end there though: Years later--I had the joy of seeing many of these Bible students and/or their children become ministerial servants, elders, pioneers, and even needgreaters themselves!"
Today, the need is no longer great on the island of Bermuda. There are some 500 publishers, 60 regular pioneers, and 5 congregations. Although, Immigration laws are even stricter now--allowing tourists a three-month stay only--this is no longer a problem since Bermuda now has 60 local pioneers to carry on the preaching work full time.
Regarding her experience serving for 8 1/2 years on this island, the needgreater sister continues, "Although I am now serving where the need is great in another country and 46 years have passed since my first going to where the need is great in Bermuda, I now continue to experience the unique joy of visiting the island and seeing all my "spiritual children, grandchildren & even great-grandchildren! What a wonderful happy feeling to know that I had even a small part in spearheading the preaching work in a place where the need was so great at one time! To see today how that one tiny little congregation of 30 publishers and one pioneer, flourished and grew until it became 5 congregations, 443 publishers, and 60 pioneers, is an indescribable joy!"