Earnestly Seeking God at Assembly Time
WITHIN a few weeks the “Divine Name” District Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses will begin in many cities of the northern hemisphere. Will you be at one of these? If you have attended such assemblies in the past, you already know what a rich spiritual feast they provide. If you have not, you owe it to yourself to attend and find out. The worsening of world conditions and the growth of ungodliness give strong reason for us not to miss out on such a fine opportunity to be spiritually strengthened and upbuilt.
Really, attendance at such an assembly is an expression of faith. It demonstrates that we believe not only that God is, that he lives, but also “that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him,” which belief the apostle Paul said is essential for true faith. (Heb. 11:6) For some, perhaps, attendance at one of these assemblies may be relatively easy. There may be one right in your own city. But for many, attendance requires planning, traveling, expense, effort. Nevertheless, sincerely believing that Jehovah God is truly “the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him,” they will be there.
Some encouraging examples of this ‘earnest seeking’ of God were presented in connection with a series of assemblies held recently in the Philippine Islands. Experiences of those attending illustrate what faith will move persons to do to obtain spiritual uplift. We may well think on some of these as we consider the prospect of the coming “Divine Name” assemblies.
Faith Finds a Way
Take the matter of traveling. Up in the northern part of the mountainous island of Luzon, a group of Witnesses living at the foot of Mount Tirad hiked for an entire day just to reach a public road where they could catch a bus for another daylong journey to Baguio City, site of the assembly. On the island of Luzon, Witnesses from the Claveria-Cadcadir congregation spent thirteen hours negotiating a fifty-mile stretch, fording four bridgeless rivers. And this was just the first stage of their trip to the assembly at the city of Ilagan. Would attending one of the “Divine Name” assemblies this summer require that much effort on your part? If it did, would your faith move you to make the same effort?
Since these “Divine Name” assemblies will last five days, there is the matter of arranging your affairs to have the needed time. Vacation time may solve this problem. But what if it is not available? A mechanic in one of the Philippine Islands was faced with that situation. He requested a leave of absence from his employer but the request was turned down. What did he do? Attending the assembly meant enough to him that he resigned from his job rather than miss the program. Not only was he spiritually rewarded by what he heard, but, even before he left home for the assembly, he received a call from another company requesting that he work for them. Really, without problems to overcome, our faith would not have much opportunity to express itself, would it? And if we made no attempt to overcome problems, then, in effect, we would not be providing Jehovah God with the occasion to show what he can do on our behalf.
Perhaps you are a parent with small children. Does this raise some doubts in your mind about going to an assembly in another city? One Witness in the Philippines wanted to attend the assembly at Surigao at the northern tip of Mindanao, about seventy-five miles from her home. Her problem was that she was expecting a baby, its arrival calculated as due the week of the assembly. But she simply prepared well, taking the baby clothes and other needs with her, and made the trip over rough roads to attend. After thoroughly enjoying the assembly, she arrived home on Monday morning, and that same morning her baby boy also made his arrival. Your situation may not be this extreme—but it illustrates what can be done.
As they regularly do, at this summer’s series of “Divine Name” assemblies Jehovah’s witnesses will try to facilitate matters for those attending by seeking out rooming accommodations at price levels within the reach of most. They will also have arrangements for supplying food at the assembly site at reasonable costs. Still, spending five days away from home does represent a certain expense. But consider this:
A few months before the Legaspi City assembly on Luzon Island, two typhoons raged through the Bicol region ruining much of the rice harvest. Though this was a blow to the economy of the Witnesses in that area, it did not keep them away from the spiritual feast of the assembly. A family in Polillo Island lost their home and farm in one of the typhoons just thirty-five days before the assembly. But they gleaned coconuts from among those thrown down by the storm, sold these and made it to the assembly. Faith does find a way, does it not?
But suppose your funds for attending an assembly this summer were only enough to cover a one-way trip? That was the case with one Philippine Witness, yet he solved the problem. How? By leaving early for the assembly and working for a while as a passenger-tricycle driver in the assembly city, thereby earning enough to cover his expenses while there and also his return trip. And he was among the happy ones baptized during that assembly.
These fine examples are typical of hundreds, yes, thousands of experiences had by Jehovah’s witnesses around the world simply because they love the truth and are willing to ‘move out on faith’ as they earnestly seek Jehovah God and trust in his ability to reward their sincere efforts. True, the experiences of our Philippine brothers and sisters reflect circumstances characteristic of their homeland and may be quite different from those you have. But Jehovah is God of all the earth and his willingness and ability to help are not limited by geography or any other factor. Be assured that whatever efforts you put forth to overcome obstacles and to enjoy the spiritual good things at the assemblies this summer will call forth the same kind of help from the One whose “Divine Name” is honored at these events.
At the Assembly
At the assembly itself, you will see many persons volunteering their help to care for needed services: installation of equipment, the preparing and serving of food, cleaning the assembly site, serving as attendants and the many other things necessary for an orderly, clean and pleasant assembly. In the Philippine Islands, the chief administrator of the Social Welfare Administration lives near a stadium where one of the recent assemblies was held. Seeing the crowds flocking’ to the assembly, some carrying brooms, dustpans and coconut husks (used for polishing floors), he said to himself: “These must be clean and hardworking people.” He was moved to offer to house a number of delegates in his home and attended the assembly program during four days.
This summer you, too, may find it possible to lend a hand in some of the work to be done. If you can, you will find it a rewarding experience.
All the traveling, the expense and the work are for one main purpose: being present for the program of the assembly and receiving full benefit therefrom. Among the 67,580 persons who attended the ten Philippine assemblies, close attention and respectful quietness, even among the children, were notable. Their ‘earnest seeking’ of God’s favor did not end with their arrival at the assembly city, but caused them to be present for the full program, fixing their earnest attention on all that was said. We do well to follow their example.
The program of the coming “Divine Name” assemblies will be faith-strengthening, vital. As Christians we need this information to prepare for what lies ahead in the final years of this fast-deteriorating old system. On the back page of this magazine, you will find the dates for the various assemblies. May your faith in God’s goodness move you to be there when the program begins on Wednesday at 1:40 p.m. and to continue in attendance each day until the program’s close on Sunday at 5:15 p.m. Honor the “Divine Name” of your Creator by your presence at one of these Christian gatherings and may Jehovah richly reward your earnest efforts.