It’s been one year since Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide adjusted their hallmark methods of sharing hope from the scriptures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For many, the change from ringing doorbells and knocking on doors to making phone calls and writing letters expanded and invigorated their ministry.
Joanna Trierweiler of Kingston was one of those.
It was 30 years ago that Trierweiler, 44, vowed to do the Lord’s work as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. She spent a decade volunteering as a full-time minister in a Spanish-speaking community.
“Then my health started going downhill,” Trierweiler said. She has been dealing with several chronic conditions that have caused chemical, light and sound sensitivities. “It was difficult for me to be inside any building with other people,” she said.
However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, she has enjoyed regular participation in virtual ministry groups. From the comfort of her home, she has been able to connect with others to prepare well-thought-out, friendly letters that share scriptural teaching.
Trierweiler has also cultivated relationships with acquaintances and neighbors through text and phone calls. She said this has given her additional opportunities to share something positive with people. “I think people were a little more receptive in the sense that people were craving connection,” she said.
Trierweiler said that before the pandemic, writing letters felt difficult and lonely, but now she feels differently. “Whether my health improves or not, I know that it’s an effective form of ministry,” she said.
In March 2020, some 1.3 million Witnesses in the United States suspended their face-to-face public ministry and moved congregation meetings to videoconferencing.
“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.”
Nearly 51,000 people in the United States last year made a request for a Witness to contact them, either through a local congregation or jw.org, the organization’s website, Hendriks said. Since the outbreak, the Witnesses have followed up on these requests via letters and phone calls instead of in-person visits.
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,” Hendriks said. “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.”