If you happen to be in downtown Lewisburg near the fountain park this week, you may notice that a pre-pandemic fixture is back on the sidewalks: smiling faces standing next to colorful carts featuring a positive message and free Bible-based literature. Thousands of these carts will be rolling down the streets of communities like Lewisburg all across the world this week as Jehovah’s Witnesses recommence their global public preaching work some 24 months after putting it on pause due to the pandemic. “I was so excited just being able to talk with people face to face,” said Brigitte Pentek, a regular volunteer at the site. “Reaching out to people on the telephone has been really nice, but I missed the personal contact with the community. You can read a lot in someone’s face and eyes, whether something that you are sharing is touching them or helping them in some way.”
The Christian organization will return to its public ministry for the first time since March 2020 when all in-person forms of their volunteer work were suspended out of concern for the health and safety of the community. Following that global decision, the Lewisburg congregation is now reopening their cart location at the intersection of Route 219 and Route 60. Local congregants will also resume free in-person Bible studies along with personal visits to those who have invited them back to their homes. This comes two months after the organization began gathering at their Kingdom Halls once again for in-person meetings.
“While we understand that the pandemic is not over, we are entering into a phase of learning to live with COVID,” said Robert Hendriks, U.S. spokesperson for Jehovah’s Witnesses. “We are sensitive to the risks that still face our communities and our volunteers, which is why we will not resume door-to-door ministry at this time. Each volunteer will make a personal choice as to whether their ministry will remain strictly virtual or whether they are ready to make in-person visits again. We are excited that we all have a choice!”
Mobile displays of Bible-based literature have been part of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ public ministry in the U.S. since 2011. While “cart witnessing” began in large metropolitan areas around the world, the practice quickly spread to the tens of thousands of smaller communities, becoming a fixture in rail and bus stations, airports, harbors and main streets. In 2015, Witnesses in Lewisburg began offering a selection of Bible literature in English, Spanish and Tagalog at the carts during the morning commute and on weekends.
“The community had gotten to know us. It’s nice for them to see that we are back. If they see something that interests them, they have the freedom to approach and take it to read or just come and talk,” said Pentek. “Recently, a mass transit bus passed by and everyone on the bus, including the driver, was waving at us! That made our day!”
To learn more about Jehovah’s Witnesses, their history, beliefs and activities, visit their official website jw.org, featuring content in more than 1,000 languages.