The “Good News” Being Preached World Wide
MORE is being done to preach the good news of God’s kingdom world wide than many people realize. The truth is, never before in the history of mankind has there been a more sustained and intensive program of preaching and teaching about God and his purposes.
Charles S. Braden, as professor of the History and Literature of Religions at Northwestern University, wrote in his book These Also Believe: “Jehovah’s Witnesses have literally covered the earth with their witnessing.” Braden added: “It may truly be said that no single religious group in the world displayed more zeal and persistence in the attempt to spread the good news of the Kingdom than the Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
That observation was made in 1950—twenty-three years ago. Since then the preaching of God’s kingdom has taken on ever greater scope and intensity. Winthrop S. Hudson says in the 1973 edition of Religion in America: “The Witnesses often seemed omnipresent . . . ringing doorbells endlessly in an effort to gain an opportunity to present their message.”
Magazines That Proclaim the Kingdom
One means that Jehovah’s witnesses use to spread the Kingdom message is the printed page. “Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom” is the slogan on the cover of their principal magazine, The Watchtower. Its companion magazine, Awake!, points to “the establishment of God’s righteous new order in this generation.” More than a million copies of these magazines, on the average, are printed every day—over 385 million last year. Why, just in the last three years over one billion (1,000,000,000) copies of The Watchtower and Awake! have been produced! Laid end to end, the production would stretch over six and a half times around the globe!
There are very few magazines of any kind in the world that match this circulation. And there is no other magazine anywhere that has such a widespread distribution. The Watchtower is regularly distributed in 208 lands in 74 languages, and Awake! in 29 languages.
By comparison, how have magazines of worldly religions been doing? The Los Angeles Times of September 23, 1972, said: “Denominational magazines have great difficulty keeping afloat.” Many have already died. The Christian Century, a prominent United States Protestant journal, noted: “There is nary a religious editor or publisher of our acquaintance who is not profoundly anxious over the future of his own publication—if, indeed, he still has one.”
Years ago Roman Catholic priest John A. O’Brien toured the printing plant of Jehovah’s witnesses in Brooklyn, New York. He was astounded to learn that Jehovah’s witnesses produced annually tens of millions of magazines as well as other publications. He wrote in the Catholic Digest of December 1962: “This figure exceeds the total output of all the Catholic publishers in the U.S. combined.”
And that was over ten years ago! Since then Catholic publications have declined, while the circulation of The Watchtower and Awake! has more than doubled!
What accounts for this remarkable increase when other religious periodicals are decreasing or even folding up? Is it because Jehovah’s witnesses are preaching the good news of God’s kingdom, and God is blessing their work? Interestingly, a letter regarding Jehovah’s witnesses appearing in the Catholic Commonweal periodical of October 2, 1970, observed:
“Much of the secret of their success can be found by reading their humble publications, Watchtower and Awake! . . .
“The Witness magazines’ anonymous writers write clearly and simply. Their object is to share the good word of the Gospel and to encourage you to go to the source of their wisdom. It inspires, instructs, and comforts.”
The Watchtower and Awake! have had a prominent part in proclaiming the “good news” of God’s kingdom world wide. But other publications produced by Jehovah’s witnesses have also.
Bibles and Bible Study Books
The world’s all-time “best seller” is the Bible. Portions of it have been translated into 1,500 languages. Jehovah’s witnesses are one of the largest producers of Bibles in the world. In 1972 they printed and bound 2,407,411 copies of the complete Bible in six languages.
But Jehovah’s witnesses do far more than print and distribute Bibles. They produce books to help people to understand the Bible. In fact, their printery in Brooklyn, New York, is one of the largest in the world. About 100,000 hardbound books are produced there on an average day—the record for one day being 170,270.
In 1968 Jehovah’s witnesses released the Bible Study aid The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life. Quickly it became an all-time “best seller.” No other book in the Western world, besides the Bible, exceeds its circulation! Guinness Book of World Records under the heading “Best Sellers” reports:
“The total disposal through non-commercial channels by Jehovah’s Witnesses of the 190-page hardbound book, The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life . . . reached 46,000,000 in 67 languages by February, 1972.”
Now, only a year and a half later, this Bible handbook has reached a circulation of 59 million copies in 84 languages! That is over two and a half times the number of the next best-selling book listed in Guinness Book of World Records. And it is five times the total copies of the best-selling fiction title, which reportedly has “a total [sales] of 11,919,660 copies.” Yet a number of books published by Jehovah’s witnesses exceed that total, including the following ones released in recent years:
PUBLISHED BOOK QUANTITY
1967 Did Man Get Here by
Evolution or by Creation? 18,000,000
1968 The Truth That Leads to
Eternal Life 59,000,000
1969 Is the Bible Really the
Word of God? 17,000,000
1971 Listening to the Great
However, the above are not the only books that Jehovah’s witnesses have printed during the past six years. Millions of larger books, including more than 600,000 copies of the 1,700-page Bible dictionary Aid to Bible Understanding, were also produced. And during previous years, the 320-page book “Let God Be True” reached a circulation of 19,246,710 copies in 54 languages. Also, 13,752,775 copies of the 256-page book From Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained have been produced in 60 languages.
The sole purpose of all this literature is to help people to learn the good news of God’s kingdom. Thus the publishing operation is entirely nonprofit. Hardbound Bibles of over 1,400 pages are placed on a contribution of only a dollar, and 192-page hardbound books are left for just a 25-cent contribution. Money received is used to further the preaching of the good news, not to enrich individuals.
These Bibles and Bible study helps are used in home Bible studies that Jehovah’s witnesses conduct free of charge with interested persons. Over one and a quarter million of such studies are held throughout the world every week! How successful is this Bible study program?
Increase in Kingdom Preachers
Its success has been phenomenal. Commenting on this, one person wrote in a prominent Canadian church magazine, The United Church Observer: “It has only been through Jehovah’s witnesses that I have been able to discuss and argue and finally develop a keener understanding of Christianity, of God and his works, because with them, we always look up questions in the Bible.”
Many students are, as a result, moved by their keener understanding of God and his kingdom to share with others the “good news” they are learning. Soon they dedicate themselves to serve Jehovah God. In just the past five years more than 680,000 persons were baptized by Jehovah’s witnesses, and joined in preaching the good news of the Kingdom earth wide. What has this meant?
For one thing, an increase of Kingdom preachers, so that now over 1,700,000 persons are preaching world wide. This has required more meeting places in which to assemble, and, hence, a tremendous construction program. In just the United States three new Kingdom Halls are completed, on the average, every week! These are buildings usually large enough to accommodate 150 to 300 persons. Yet now they are often crowded beyond capacity.
In an African land, for example, some congregations of about 140 Witnesses have 800 persons regularly attending their meetings! This year, at the Memorial celebration of Christ’s death, over 3,883,000 Witnesses and other interested persons assembled world wide on April 17.—Luke 22:19.
Surely religion is thriving! But the religion that is thriving is the one that has God’s spirit on it because it is doing the work that He has ordained for these “last days”—preaching the good news of God’s kingdom.
How well are Jehovah’s witnesses equipped to fulfill such a tremendous assignment—to preach God’s kingdom “in all the inhabited earth”? Do they have the printing facilities to meet the growing demand for Bible literature?
[Picture on page 9]
An average day’s production of hardbound Bible study aids in the Brooklyn printery of Jehovah’s witnesses would make a pile four times as high as the world’s tallest building