Gilead School Aids In Earth-wide Kingdom Proclamation
IT WAS Sunday, October 1, 1972. By early morning hundreds had gathered at the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh waiting for the doors to open. The occasion was the annual corporation meeting of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. But this year the special feature of the program was the graduation of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead’s fifty-third class. A total of 7,614 friends and well-wishers were present.
Just thirty years ago, on September 24, 1942, the board of directors of the above corporation, in cooperation with the Society’s New York corporation, voted to establish Gilead School. The purpose of the school, which is operated by the New York corporation, is to train missionaries to proclaim earth wide that God’s kingdom is the only government that can bring mankind lasting peace. Has Gilead fulfilled this purpose?
Dedication and Early Classes
Gilead’s dedication exercises took place on Monday, February 1, 1943, after which the one hundred students of the first class began their studies. The school provides a five-month course of intensive Bible training. Each Bible book is studied carefully, and Bible doctrines and law are examined. Also, a language is usually taught, and there is training in public speaking.
The first five classes of Gilead graduated while World War II was still in progress. What is the situation today with the 465 graduates of those five classes, more than twenty-seven years after they finished school?
Some have died. Indeed, their average age is around the mid-to-upper fifties! Yet 163 of the 465, more than one out of three, are still in the full-time preaching work or are serving in branch offices of the Watch Tower Society somewhere in the world! Truly, those graduates of the first few Gilead classes have shared in accomplishing a marvelous work.
Opening Up the Preaching Work
It requires real faith and endurance to go to a foreign country where there are few if any fellow Witnesses, there to locate a place to live, and cope with entirely different living conditions. But that is what those Gilead graduates did.
Peru had no congregations of Jehovah’s witnesses in 1946. But in October of that year Walter B. Akin and his wife, graduates of Gilead’s second class, along with six other missionaries, arrived. Although knowing little Spanish, they immediately went to work, using a printed card to present the message. Christine Akin met two interested families that first day. Return visits were made, and soon there were eleven new publishers of the Kingdom! Today the number of Kingdom proclaimers in Peru has grown to over 6,100!
On June 28, 1945, Francis Wallace and his brother Fred of Gilead’s first class arrived in Nicaragua, located an apartment, and became the only Kingdom proclaimers in the country. Now there are over 1,800! A few weeks earlier Gilead graduates Roscoe and Hilda Stone opened up the preaching work in El Salvador, and now over 2,500 are preaching the Kingdom message there. Lennart Johnson and his wife, of Gilead’s second class, arrived in the Dominican Republic on April 1, 1945, becoming that country’s only Kingdom preachers. Now there are over 4,300!
The story is similar for Venezuela, Liberia, Bolivia, Honduras, Colombia and other countries. Graduates of Gilead’s early classes opened up the preaching work in many, many places.
Gilead’s Following Classes
The first international class was the eighth, with students coming from eighteen countries. Two of these, Stanley Jones and Harold King, were assigned to China. They arrived in June 1947, and continued to serve there when the Communists took control in 1949. A peak of fifty-four Kingdom publishers was reached, but then the authorities began interfering. Finally, in October 1958, Jones and King were arrested and spent seven and four and a half years respectively in Chinese prisons, but came out strong in faith.
From the eleventh class Don Haslett was sent, late in 1948, to Tokyo, Japan, to prepare the way for fellow classmates. Daily he searched the city for a suitable home, finally, in February, finding one. There was no organized Kingdom-preaching in Japan in 1948, but today there are over 14,100 unified Kingdom proclaimers!
In 1950 three Gilead missionaries opened up the preaching work in Ethiopia. Soon after their arriving, a young man, on learning that the foreigner was a missionary, requested, “Please, sir, tell me about Jesus Christ.” This young man and his friend became the first two Ethiopian publishers. But now there are over 800 Kingdom preachers in the country!
Gilead’s Influence Grows
A milestone was the graduation of the thirty-first class at Yankee Stadium in 1958. Remarkably, there were representatives from 64 lands among the 103 students. But even more remarkable, 180,291 persons, including 1,461 graduates from the previous thirty classes, were at the graduation exercises! Gilead School’s president, N. H. Knorr, stirred the vast audience by drawing attention to these hundreds of faithful missionaries of earlier classes sitting in front on the dirt track. “Doing the divine will,” he said, “and sticking to it is the only worthwhile work!”
And this is what hundreds of missionaries have done, sticking to their assignments ten, twenty and more years. Of the 5,235 students who graduated from fifty-two classes of Gilead in the last twenty-nine years, well over 2,500 are still out in their assignments proclaiming God’s kingdom! And just think of the share they have had in the marvelous increase in the Kingdom proclamation!
Back in 1942, when there were no Gilead missionaries anywhere, only 10,070 Kingdom publishers were preaching in 11 African lands. Now there are over 265,000 publishers in 50 countries of Africa! Everywhere else the situation is similar. Gilead School has had a tremendous effect upon the earth-wide preaching of God’s kingdom.—Matt. 24:14.
Thus far, students have come to Gilead from 111 lands, and they have been sent to 159 countries. Over the years twelve languages have been taught at Gilead, but graduates are preaching the Kingdom message in scores of different tongues.
The fifty-third graduating class has the same desire to get the Kingdom message preached earth wide. As a couple from Denmark in that class noted: “We prayed to God together. Since God’s organization wanted to send out missionaries, we would be willing to go. We wanted to be where God’s organization wanted us to be.”
It is this desire of thousands of young men and women to be used by God that has enabled Gilead School to fulfill its purpose to train missionaries to proclaim earth wide God’s kingdom.
[Picture on page 24]
Fifty-third 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) Costa, A.; Asmussen, T.; Plank, L.; Schawohl, H.; Ryle, J.; Hüsener, B.; Smode, S.; LaSalle, P. (2) Hüsener, A.; Nonkes, F.; Bahr, M.; Blackett, W.; Bauer, K.; Jackman, J.; Hansen, B.; Ederle, H. (3) Sattler, R.; Beaumont, E.; Breuer, G.; Garbe, K.; Capriotti, P.; Zwally, H.; Yeomans, W.; Bauer, P. (4) Reichbauer, C.; Ryle, G.; Garza, R.; Pixley, R.; LaSalle, O.; Smode, J.; Costa, R.; Wettach, J. (5) Makoff, D.; Pfister, D.; Uhlig, R.; Nonkes, W.; Capriotti, R.; Asmussen, K.; Hudson, S.; Grasso, R. (6) Sinowski, J.; Loud, F.; Reichbauer, G.; Javens, C.; Burgess, W.; Bahr, G.; Leivers, J.; Schawohl, H.