Jehovah’s Witnesses Reach Syracuse Residents with a Modified Ministry
provided by Joshua Caleb Johnson
Maureen Evans of Liverpool, New York spent 40 years knocking on doors to share her faith. 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, Evans said she is busier than ever. Her time used to be split between managing her own cleaning business and going door to door or standing by a literature cart at Onondaga Lake. Now she is at home, writing letters and making phone calls to offer comfort and hope from the Bible. “I just retired in August, and I feel like I’m so much busier than when I was working,” Evans said.
With this historic change, the number of Jehovah’s Witnesses grew 3% in the United States 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, U.S. 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.”
Evans said that not only has she been able to contact more people, but she has also found that those she speaks with are more receptive to the Bible’s message. “People are suffering a lot right now with the way things are,” Evans said. “We spend our precious time to reach out and share something to help them cope. It’s been very productive.”
Evans spends five days a week endeavoring to contact people in her community, sharing scriptures with ones who have responded to her and conducting free Bible studies virtually or via telephone. “It really helps people to have something positive to think about or to know that someone cares about them,” Evans said.
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.
Some whose ministry or attendance at religious services had slowed because of age and poor health said they feel reenergized with the convenience of virtual meetings and a home-based ministry.
Like many octogenarians, Sarah Fuoco, 88, deals with memory loss and diminished energy. Yet she and her 81-year-old husband, Joseph, have been given the nickname “the dynamic duo.”
The Fuocos use Zoom to worship twice a week with their Hollis, New Hampshire congregation and regularly join online ministry groups to comfort neighbors and family through phone calls, letters, texts and email.
“What could have been quite a disadvantage, we’ve made into an advantage,” Joseph Fuoco said. “The fact that we can work right from home is a great advantage. I’m happy with it.”
By sharing the Bible’s hope remotely, the nearly 70,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses in New York can reach more people than ever. “By sharing our message primarily by phone and letter, we often reach those who would not be home if we were going door to door,” said Justin Maddren of Avoca, New York.
The official website of Jehovah’s Witnesses, translated into more than 1,000 languages, has also leveraged the organization’s outreach.
After starting a free self-paced Bible course on jw.org in December 2019, Lisa Owen requested a free, interactive Bible study over Zoom. She was one of nearly 20,000 baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses last year in the United States in private settings, including backyard swimming pools, tubs and even rivers.
“JW.ORG gave me somewhere to learn, somewhere to land, and to start living the way God wants me to. It taught me so much,” said Owen.
To start an online Bible study course, receive a visit or attend a virtual meeting locally, visit jw.org.
JW.ORG® presents the worldwide scope of the Witnesses’ outreach programs and provides articles, videos and interactive features for families, teens and children in over 1,000 languages.
Jehovah’s Witnesses come from hundreds of ethnic and language backgrounds, yet we are united by common goals. Foremost, we want to honor Jehovah, the God of the Bible and we do our best to imitate Jesus Christ, God’s son. For that matter, we are proud to be called Christians. Each of us regularly spends time helping people learn about the Bible and God’s Kingdom. Because we witness, or talk, about Jehovah God and his Kingdom, we are known as Jehovah’s Witnesses. To read the Bible online or learn more about us and our beliefs please visit jw.org.