What Jehovah’s Witnesses Will Do and What You Can Do
JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES in Malawi, as in other lands, have a clear conscience. They have done nothing against man or government. And by their course of loyal integrity toward God’s laws they have not offended God. They can join the apostle Paul in saying: “I am exercising myself continually to have a consciousness of committing no offense against God and men.”—Acts 24:16.
Jehovah’s witnesses have no intention of stopping their loyalty to God. They will keep right on doing what his Word instructs. And as true followers of Christ Jesus, they will continue to be submissive to the “superior authorities” in whatever land they reside. (Rom. 13:1) They will not attempt to take the law into their own hands to retaliate against those persecuting them. God’s Son did not do that. Of him, the apostle Peter writes: “Christ suffered for you, leaving you a model for you to follow his steps closely. He committed no sin, nor was deception found in his mouth. When he was being reviled, he did not go reviling in return. When he was suffering, he did not go threatening, but kept on committing himself to the one who judges righteously.”—1 Pet. 2:21-23.
To resort to threats, attempts at bringing political or economic pressures, or stirring up violence against opposers, would only cause Jehovah’s witnesses to be molded over into the image of their attackers. This would cost them God’s approval. Instead, they will follow the apostle’s inspired counsel: “Return evil for evil to no one. . . . Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but yield place to the wrath; for it is written: ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says Jehovah.’ . . . Do not let yourself be conquered by the evil, but keep conquering the evil with the good.” (Rom. 12:17-21) Thus, Jehovah’s witnesses look to God’s just means for bringing true and lasting relief.
Full Faith in God’s Power to Sustain
It is their faith in God’s promises that enables Jehovah’s witnesses to take this course. Though God lets them be tested for a season, he will never abandon them. Opposers may take away their very means of livelihood, yet God’s promise remains true: “I will by no means leave you nor by any means forsake you.” They are therefore of good courage and say: “Jehovah is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Heb. 13:5, 6) They know that God will help to sustain them, materially and otherwise, in their time of need, and that even if they should die, he will bring them back to life in his new order.—Acts 24:15.
They are encouraged because they personally experience his help as he gives them strength to endure and wisdom to cope with their problems. Like Paul and his fellow Christians, Jehovah’s witnesses in Malawi or in refugee camps can say: “We are pressed in every way, but not cramped beyond movement; we are perplexed, but not absolutely with no way out; we are persecuted, but not left in the lurch; we are thrown down, but not destroyed. Always we endure everywhere in our body the death-dealing treatment given to Jesus.”—2 Cor. 4:8-10.
They take real comfort in this sure knowledge: Jehovah God will never permit his people to be broken up and destroyed. They may lose property and possessions, true. Some may even be killed, though usually this is only a small minority. Yet they know that since God through his appointed heavenly judge, Jesus Christ, is backing his people, he will never permit them to be annihilated.
They will continue to be obedient to the laws of this world’s political systems, committing no acts of disrespect toward them. At the same time Jehovah’s witnesses will steadfastly maintain their separateness from the world. They will continue to stand foursquare for God’s Kingdom government as their true hope and confidence. Their having God’s approval depends on this.—John 18:36.
Efforts on Behalf of Those Persecuted
Jehovah’s witnesses in Malawi have looked to God in prayer for the help they need to pass their time of crisis successfully, faithfully. Their spiritual brothers around the world likewise pray on their behalf, as did early Christians when the apostle Peter was imprisoned and in danger of death. (Acts 12:5) The apostle Paul asked for his brothers’ prayers that he might be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea. (Rom. 15:30, 31) You, too, can add your voice in prayer to God on behalf of Christians today who suffer unjustly.
God’s Son long ago gave an illustration in which he likened the peoples of earth to sheep and goats being separated by a shepherd. He explained that he himself would do such a separating work at the time of his presence for judgment. That his presence would be unseen is evident from his stating that those involved would say to him: “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty, and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and receive you hospitably, or naked, and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to you?” Jesus said that he would answer: “To the extent that you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”—Matt. 25:31-40.
Some in Malawi and in other places have seen the suffering of Christian witnesses of Jehovah and have given aid and comfort. Recognizing their innocence and the truthfulness of their message, some have taken a stand with the Witnesses for what is right. This has resulted in persecution for some of these also. But they can rejoice, because Jehovah God and his Son see and will reward them. To ‘sheeplike’ persons Jesus promised he would say: “Come, you who have been blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you.” Thereby they avoid having to “depart into everlasting cutting-off,” the complete destruction reserved for those who take an opposite course.—Matt. 25:34, 46.
It is to be hoped that many persons in Malawi will yet show compassion toward Jehovah’s Christian witnesses, yes, and admiration for the remarkable record of firm faith and unbreakable devotion they have shown for God’s kingdom by his Son. It may also be hoped that those in official positions will recognize that Jehovah’s witnesses constitute no threat to their country and are a force for righteousness and high moral standards, qualities that work for the lasting good of any people, and that these officials will take steps to rectify the wrongs done to them, thereby dignifying their nation before all onlookers.
The appeal of Jehovah’s witnesses of Malawi, whether inside the country or in refugee camps outside, is simply that the Government of Malawi grant them the provisions set forth in the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi. That document, in its first chapter, states:
“(iii) The Government and the people of Malawi shall continue to recognize the sanctity of the personal liberties enshrined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and of adherence to the Law of Nations;
“(iv) No person should be deprived of his property without payment of fair compensation, and only where the public interest so requires:
“(v) All persons regardless of colour, race or creed should enjoy equal rights and freedoms.”
These recent events in Malawi involving Jehovah’s witnesses provide an opportunity for the highest officials of the country to demonstrate their interest in these provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi. Will they now act to restore these lawful rights to Jehovah’s Christian witnesses who are citizens of Malawi?
You may personally wish to express yourself on behalf of those who have suffered so intensely in Malawi, by writing to the proper authorities in that country, conveying to them your concern and compassion for such ones and your appeal for swift relief on their behalf. We list below the names of officials to whom such appeal may be appropriately sent.
ADDRESSES OF OFFICIALS
His Excellency the Life President, Dr. H. Kamuzu Banda
Central Government Offices
The Honourable A. A. Muwalo Nqumayo, M.P.
Minister of State (President’s Office)
Central Government Offices
The Honourable A. M. Nyasulu, M.P.
Speaker of National Assembly
Central Government Offices