Youthful, Enthusiastic 52nd Gilead Class Graduates
THE missionary students of the 52nd Class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead were an especially outgoing youthful group, averaging less than twenty-six years when they registered. They had previously spent some ten years, on an average, in the Christian ministry and had been enriched by a wide variety of backgrounds. They were extremely enthusiastic about learning.
And they had good reason to be enthusiastic, for the lecture course of Gilead School had been tremendously improved. The lectures were tailored to the particular problems they would meet. Moreover, the lecture course had more depth, a wider variety of subjects and a greater number of speakers. The course included a showing of the Photo-Drama of Creation, and archaeology and chronology were put in their proper place.
The students had looked forward eagerly to their graduation day, March 6, 1972, and they stamped it with their youthful enthusiasm. After the introductory features of the graduation program the students heard for the last time from their instructors and others who had had charge of their activities. First came Fred Rusk. He quoted the president of the Union Theological Seminary in New York who last year confessed to that school’s graduating class that they were faced with a “crisis of identity,” that they “must begin to think unthinkable thoughts,” and that “we have not yet even reached an agreement as to the nature of the problem.” Mr. Rusk noted that in contrast there were no such problems facing these Gilead graduates. Their godly fruits identify them, and God’s Word charts their course.
U. V. Glass next addressed the class. He likened their work of building up true worship to the building work that Nehemiah did. Though Nehemiah’s work of rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls was urgent and dangerous, he took time to bring relief to his fellow Jews who were oppressed by creditors. So, too, missionaries should show loving concern for their brothers. Then they too can pray as Nehemiah prayed: “Do remember for me, O my God, for good, all that I have done in behalf of this people.”—Neh. 5:19.
Next came E. A. Dunlap, the school’s registrar. He quoted from Ecclesiastes 7:10: “Do not say: ‘Why has it happened that the former days proved to be better than these?’” Applying the text to the missionaries, he counseled against looking back to former times or better conditions at home, for this leads to self-pity, which in turn leads to discouragement and quitting. He warned against ‘putting one’s hand to the plow and then looking back.’—Luke 9:62.
M. G. Henschel, United States branch servant, next spoke on the theme, “Acquire Thinking Ability,” basing his remarks on Proverbs 5:1, 2. He pointed out that the graduates had acquired a good foundation of knowledge, so essential to exercising thinking ability. This thinking ability protects a person by enabling him to see the consequences of a certain course of action. It means ‘using your head,’ being able to think on the basis of knowledge of what God had written in his Word. This thinking ability enabled Jesus to see what would be the evil consequences of following the Devil’s suggestions. (Matt. 4:1-10) “Thinking ability,” Henschel declared, “based on an accurate knowledge of God’s Word will carry you through. Do not make any hasty moves.”
Max Larson, the factory servant, chose as his theme, “Will You Accept the People?” In his travels he had observed that those missionaries who were happiest and most successful were those who had accepted the people in their territory, in their congregations and in their missionary homes. He read Galatians 6:7-10, noting that, to “work what is good toward all,” one must take people the way they are, and not be critical of their peculiarities or shortcomings. “Accept people as they are,” he said, “and you will be good missionaries and God will bless you.”
George Couch, Bethel home servant, next spoke. He described the satisfaction that comes from having achieved one’s goal in life. Those ambitious to realize materialistic goals have but short-lived success. In contrast, enduring success and happiness come to those who have made the Christian missionary work their vocation. He encouraged his listeners not to neglect personal study, prayer and attendance at Christian meetings.
Then Grant Suiter read some thirty messages sent from fifteen different lands including such faraway places as Japan, New Guinea and Afghanistan. One greeting came from 85 Christian ministers incarcerated in Spanish military prisons, some for as long as eleven years.
After these messages were read, F. W. Franz, vice-president of the Watch Tower Society, spoke. He stressed the seriousness of their commitment. He drew on Scriptural examples to show the importance of their dedication and the fitness of the term. He then elaborated on Ecclesiastes 5:2-7, where Solomon stresses the obligation to keep a vow, noting that a vow is something voluntary. In conclusion he urged the students to be true to their missionary assignments.
The program to this point might be said to have been preliminary, leading up to the main talk given by the president of the school, N. H. Knorr. He noted that it was in the midst of World War II, when there were but 90,000 Witnesses world wide, that the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead was conceived and began to function in 1943. He quoted from Romans 12:9-11 and emphasized the need to hate what is bad, to cling to what is good and to be aglow (literally “boiling”) with the spirit. Today when people ‘go unrestrained because of having no vision,’ it is the privilege of Christian witnesses to give the people a vision of God’s kingdom. (Prov. 29:18) He also stressed the need for them to be humble, not even making reference to their Gilead school training, so as not to put a gap between the lowly people they are teaching and themselves.
After receiving their diplomas one of the students read a letter of appreciation from the class addressed to “Dear Brother Knorr and Bethel Family.” It was a warm expression of gratitude for the “education, training and discipline” they had received. They had truly been helped to appreciate “that what Jehovah requires most of all from us is service with a complete heart.”
The foregoing program, which lasted from 2 until 5 p.m., was followed by an intermission. Then at 6 p.m., the students presented a very fine and varied musical program, ranging from Mozart and Chabrier to European folk songs and American hillbilly songs. Particularly outstanding was the original composition, “It’s Good to Be Home, Mom,” which described the apostle John’s vision of Kingdom blessings. This was followed by a Bible drama, which effectively applied the lesson of lowliness of mind inherent in the Bible account of the Syrian general Naaman who was cured of leprosy.—2 Ki. 5:1-27.
[Picture on page 24]
Fifty-second Graduating Class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead
In the list below, rows are numbered from front to back and names are listed from left to right in each row.
(1) Hartig, A.; Martinez, L.; Mercado, R.; Bosold, M.; Lacayo, R.; Sanda, M.; McQuaters, B.; Diaz, C.; Kettelle, S. (2) Williams, C.; Waterhouse, J.; Bottorf, L.; Camacho, C.; Torres, M.; Maybee, S.; Guillen, R.; Frazee, P.; Dunne, S.; Huerta, J. (3) Benites, C.; Oliver, L.; Barnes, S.; Bux, H.; Schisel, C.; Karstensen, E.; Nelson, L.; Hreczanyk, M.; Dunne, T.; Pobuda, L. (4) Hurd, F.; Kuhr, F.; Jensen, E.; Matos, G.; Mantz, S.; Jepsen, H.; Howard, O.; Vilas, T. (5) Ewers, A.; Gonzales, S.; Lum, N.; Sharpe, M.; Jacobsen, L.; Neumann, L.; Sanda, D.; Almost, C.; Almost, P.; Malling, J. (6) Kettelle, W.; Matos, R.; Thusgaard, G.; Grover, L.; Lum, P.; Zimmerman, A.; Martin, G.; Jackman, S.; Benites, A.; Christiansen, S. (7) Garfman, D.; Lacayo, A.; Frazee, W.; Benitez, C.; Wilson, A.; Steinle, L.; Jackman, J.; Neumann, T.; Bell, D.; MacDuff, L. (8) Adelman, G.; Kristensen, K.; Camacho, F.; Bottorf, W.; Fischer, E.; Blessing, W.; Schisel, D.; Oliver, R.; Karstensen, H. (9) Martin, J.; Sharpe, R.; Longreen, P.; Mantz, J.; Waterhouse, D.; Jacobsen, V.; Hurd, R.; Barnes, T.; Maybee, C.; Lindtoft, T.; Howard, J., Jr. (10) Pobuda, R.; Hreczanyk, J.; Wilson, P.; Zimmerman, J.; McQuaters, S.; Kuhr, H.; MacGillivary, R.; Grover, G.; Steinle, W.; Nelson, D.