Jehovah’s Witness and Rio Rancho resident Tarrah Carpenter makes phone and video calls and writes letters from home to share her faith during the COVID-19 pandemic. Courtesy photo.

It’s been one year since Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide adjusted their hallmark methods of sharing comfort and hope from the scriptures due to the pandemic.
It was 21 years ago that Tarrah Carpenter vowed to do the Lord’s work as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. She has since preached from door to door, at local businesses and at public carts displaying Bible-based literature.
“I loved meeting people from different walks of life and having very enriching and meaningful conversations,” said Carpenter, 38, of Rio Rancho.
During the pandemic, she has enjoyed an even more productive ministry, writing letters and making phone calls in virtual ministry groups.
“I’ve had more meaningful conversations than I ever have had before,” she said. “People have truly been affected by this pandemic. To be able to have provided them with true comfort is something that has, in turn, brought me comfort.”
Carpenter said when normalcy resumes, she won’t stop making phone and video calls.
“It’s shown me another way of reaching people in need,” she said. “It has made it possible for many with otherwise incredibly busy schedules to learn from the Bible.”
In March 2020, the some 1.3 million Witnesses in the United States suspended their face-to-face forms of 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. So it was inevitable that we would find a way to continue our work.”
Nearly 51,000 people in the U.S. last year made a request for a Witness to contact them, either through a local congregation or jw.org, the organization’s official website, according to Hendriks. Since the outbreak, the Witnesses have followed up on these requests via letters and phone calls instead of in-person visits.
“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.”
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.
“Former Bible students have started studying again,” said Tony Fowler, who helps organize the ministry in the northern portion of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. “Colleagues at work have now started to show interest. Some have started Bible studies with family members who showed very little interest before the pandemic.”
Fowler reports about a 20 percent increase in online meeting attendance. But perhaps the most significant growth is in an area that cannot be measured by numbers.
“I think we’ve grown as a people,” Fowler said. “We’ve grown in appreciation for other avenues of the ministry, our love for our neighbor, and love for one another. We’re a stronger people because of all of this, and that’s a beautiful thing to see.”

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