(photos & experience of Lumepa Young, on pgs 126 & 127 of the 2009 Yearbook)
I was raised on the island of Savaii as the daughter of a successful businessman and politician. Because my father owned a huge cocoa plantation and employed about 200 workers, Samoan newspapers called him the Cocoa Baron, and for several years he served as the prime minister of Samoa. I was one of 11 children. Father was not an especially religious man, but my mother gave us basic instruction in the Bible. When she died, I missed her terribly. Thus, when Judy Pritchard, a missionary sister, witnessed to me about the resurrection hope, the thought of seeing my mother again thrilled me! I bombarded Judy with questions, and she answered every one from the Bible. Soon we were studying the Bible together. Later, I started attending Witness meetings. At first, my husband, Steve, a prominent deacon in our village church, opposed my studies. He took me to visit several clergymen who tried to talk me out of attending Witness meetings. But I did not follow their advice. Next, he took me to my father, who merely suggested that I study someplace other than the family home. My fleshly brothers and sisters, however, ridiculed me for changing my religion. But I would not give up learning Bible truth.
When I finally qualified to be a Kingdom publisher, the first house that I visited in the preaching work belonged to one of my father's cabinet ministers. (yikes! talk about a nerve-racking moment!) He had often attended political meetings at Father's home and knew me well. I was so nervous that I hid behind my companion! People were shocked to see me preaching and asked, "What does your father say?" My father, though, was a reasonable man who defended my new faith. Furthermore, by then he enjoyed reading the Watchtower and Awake! magazines. Eventually I overcame my fear of man and became a regular pioneer. I love conducting Bible studies, and I keep a list of about 50 potential students for when I have an opening in my schedule. My greatest joy, however, was being able to teach my four children the truth. My daughter Fotuosamoa and son Stephen and their marriage mates, Andrew and Ana, now serve in Samoa Bethel. I also helped my sister Manu to accept the truth. Even my husband, Steve, who had opposed me, began to study the Bible and attend meetings. Truly, Jehovah has blessed me a hundredfold.
(left: Fotuosamoa and Andrew Coe; right: Ana and Stephen Young)
*this experience reminds me of the part we just had on the school this week about "Meeting the Challenge of Witnessing to Men" and why it's so important for fathers and husbands to take the lead, and not slack off, when it comes to their spiritual responsibility within the family and the congregation. -Because did you notice how even after this sister was a grown, married woman, the people in her village wanted to know what her father thought about her involvement with the Witnesses? Obviously not all societies have such a 'patriarchal' structure nowadays, but the 'men of the house' still exert a strong influence on the opinions and actions of their family members, whether they realize it or not. You can see why families make more progress when men take their 'headship' responsibility seriously, by getting involved and initiating things. It's kinda funny,...it makes me think of how after Jesus' death when they discovered the tomb was empty...it was the women who believed it right from the start, and reported what they saw. -But the majority of the apostles and disciples (except for Peter and a couple others) didn't believe them. A similar thing happened when Jesus was talking to the Samaritan woman at the well...she put faith in him initially, and had to go and convince the men of her city about Jesus because they were skeptical at first, but then finally they did put faith in him afterward. I think if more men realized the impact that their example has on others (especially their own household) it would help speed up the spiritual progress of their family members & friends, as well as building up the congregation and making it stronger...which in turn, builds up the community as well.