What Happens When Joyful Workers Get Together
DO YOU think that modern times give much cause for rejoicing? Throughout the earth increasing crime, violence, drug addiction, immorality and other woes rob many of happiness.
In refreshing contrast to the fears and anxieties that afflict much of the world today, a spirit of joy pervaded the district assemblies of Jehovah’s Witnesses this year. The theme for these gatherings was “Joyful Workers.”
In the United States 108 assemblies convened. The combined peak attendance reached 958,008, which amounts to an average of 8,870 at each convention. Similar meetings are taking place in more than ninety lands outside the United States. To date 170 of these conventions have been held, adding an additional 1,013,717 to the overall attendance. In coming months the assembly program will be presented in still other parts of the world.
The four-day convention program furnished fine counsel that can aid Christians to cultivate joy. In fact, some individuals experienced unexpected joy even before arriving at the convention site. An example is the experience of a group traveling from New York to the “Joyful Workers” assembly at Oklahoma City:
“We had gone over 1,200 miles and had nearly 270 miles to go when the car broke down in Arkansas. It happened on a lonely stretch of road, miles from any large town; and we didn’t know anyone in the area.
“We got to a phone and called the number listed for Jehovah’s Witnesses. They were located about twenty miles away. The reply was: ‘We’ll get someone to you as soon as possible.’ In about a half hour a welcome sight arrived. Three of our Christian brothers came to help, two of them riding in a wrecker. Shortly we got to their home, and they began seeing what could be done to help us.
“When it was determined that the car could not be fixed right away, they put us up for the night. And to our amazement the wives of two of these brothers announced that they would drive us all the way to Oklahoma City the following morning.
“We arrived at our destination strengthened by such an expression of love. In our case simply getting to the ‘Joyful Workers’ assembly proved to be a special cause for rejoicing.”
Highlights from the First Day
The program for the convention’s first day, Thursday, stressed finding joy by working what is good at home. Speakers focused attention on Bible principles that can solve the many problems that plague family life today.
The main presentation of Thursday morning was the keynote address, entitled “Share Joyfully with Jesus Christ in Jehovah’s Work.” This talk stressed the importance of the preaching and disciple-making work that Jesus commissioned his followers to do. (Matt. 24:14; 28:19, 20) “Jehovah has given us every indication that the work has not yet been brought to a completion,” said the keynote speaker. “We must continue at it, not until we decide it is done, but until Jehovah finishes it according to his good pleasure.”
A special feature of Thursday afternoon was the drama “God Is Not Far Off from Each One of Us.” This depicted some experiences of King Hezekiah of Judah in distress and how he was delivered out of danger after turning to Jehovah in prayer. The audience was encouraged to pray frequently and to be sure that their prayers are both specific and related to God’s purposes.
At various convention sites many individuals related personal experiences about the effectiveness of prayer. A report from Pullman, Washington, gives us an interesting example:
“Another of our new sisters told us that for five years she prayed to God to show her the truth. Each time that she prayed this way one of Jehovah’s Witnesses would arrive at her door. But she was so sure that this couldn’t be the truth that she would not listen to them. She and her husband moved several times during this period, and each time that they moved, she would again pray to God for help to find the true religion.
“On their last move, which was seven miles out in the country, and at the end of a quarter-mile lane, she prayed that God would show her the true church. Guess who knocked on her door. That’s correct. It was Jehovah’s Witnesses. And this time it was too much for her. She accepted a Bible study, her husband joined in, and Friday they became our new brother and sister.”
Thursday afternoon featured a special discussion of the Biblical view concerning blood. It was emphasized that the Bible commands worshipers of God to “abstain from . . . blood.” (Acts 15:20) The conventioners listened to solid medical evidence that testified to dangers involved in transfusing blood. But then the speaker added:
“In mentioning the distinct, even fatal, dangers of blood transfusions, we are not suggesting that Jehovah’s Witnesses object to transfusions primarily for medical reasons. No! Let no one ever get that impression. The fundamental reason why we cannot, yes, will not, accept blood transfusions is because of what God’s Word says. Ours is basically a religious objection. Nevertheless, the fact that there are so many risks in taking blood underscores the reasonableness, even from a medical standpoint, of our position.”
After this presentation the audience was delighted by the release of a new 64-page booklet, Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Question of Blood. This month Witnesses in the United States are studying this material at their meetings.
Marks of True Christianity
Friday’s program featured the theme “Inciting to Love and Fine Works.” The talk “Conducting Ourselves Honestly in All Things” urged Christians to imitate Jehovah God and Jesus Christ by displaying honesty at home, in the Christian congregation and elsewhere. (Ps. 31:5; Luke 20:21) Do Jehovah’s Witnesses heed the Bible’s counsel about honesty? Concerning the convention in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, James C. Cole, who served for many years as head of police for the Assembly Center at Louisiana State University, made a noteworthy comment:
“I have been in security and police service for the past forty-five years, the last eighteen here at L.S.U. And in my experience with Jehovah’s Witnesses for the past three years I have found that they are the only people you don’t have to worry about. . . . I can say with certainty Jehovah’s Witnesses are the most honest, patient and hardworking people that I have ever come in contact with. . . . I would have to say that it’s their overall beliefs and worship that make them this way.”
A report from the assembly at El Paso, Texas, contained this interesting item: “The Immigration Service allowed about 1,000 persons from Mexico to attend the assembly without much more than a promise that they would return on Sunday. When one officer objected saying that they would not return, an officer who had dealt with our organization the previous summer spoke up in defense of the brothers, saying: ‘Oh, they’ll return all right; they are honest people. If they say they’ll be here, they’ll be here.’”
The characteristic that outstandingly identifies true Christianity is love. Jesus stated: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.” (John 13:35) Much enjoyed, therefore, was the talk “Love in Action,” which provided a verse-by-verse discussion of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Those in attendance were told that love must be evident by fine works, by action.
Do Jehovah’s Witnesses have that mark of identification as true Christians? An engineer for the War Memorial Auditorium at Rochester, New York, thought so. He said of the assembly there: “This has been a wonderful week. What I’ve seen is unbelievable. I’ve seen real brotherhood this week.” And consider this comment from a non-Witness who attended the convention at Niagara Falls:
“I’ve been in crowds before and have seen people push and shove. I bumped into a woman yesterday, and she dropped her purse, and she started apologizing to me. I told her not to apologize because I bumped into her. You not only can see but you can feel the love that they have for one another here.”
Christian conduct is also evident in cleanliness. (2 Cor. 7:1) Jehovah’s Witnesses are thorough in cleaning all convention facilities before, during and after their assemblies. When visiting an assembly in Berlin, Germany, an official of the Berlin Transportation Company exclaimed: “This is the best organized convention that has ever been held here at the Deutschland Hall. I told an apprentice whom I had brought with me that I would give him ten Pfennigs [about five cents U.S.] for every scrap of paper he could find lying around. After having made our way through the grounds, I discovered I didn’t have to pay a single Pfennig!”
Friday also featured the baptismal talk, after which candidates motivated by love for God were baptized by complete immersion in water. This is a symbol of their dedication to Jehovah God. For the 108 assemblies in the United States those baptized numbered 7,691. An additional 1,479 were baptized at ten assemblies in Japan, 1,394 at the eleven conventions held in France and 1,231 at Spain’s seven assemblies. As these gatherings continue to be held in different parts of the earth, many more will have opportunity to symbolize their unreserved dedication to Jehovah God.
On Friday afternoon there was announcement of certain adjustments in organizational procedure for Jehovah’s Witnesses. These will include more effective means of teaching the Bible and administering God’s law in the congregations. The final talk on Friday included release of a new book, Our Incoming World Government—God’s Kingdom. From the Bible book of Daniel, this publication considers prophecies that reach down to the present generation and on into the millennial reign of Jesus Christ.
God’s Love Motivates Joyful Service
Presentations on Saturday emphasized the theme “Exerting Ourselves in the Field.” Included were helpful suggestions on how Christians can be more effective at sharing Bible truths with their neighbors. Conventioners enjoyed the drama “Are You Whole-souled in Service to God?” It portrayed conditions in Israel during the fifth century B.C.E., in the days of Governor Nehemiah. The audience was reminded that persons who have dedicated their lives to God must view this as a complete dedication, without reservations. Though God does not ask that we spend every moment of our lives in preaching and disciple-making activities, what we do give in this way should be of our very best.
The principal talk Saturday afternoon pointed out that Jehovah God and Jesus Christ are genuinely interested in humans. “As Jehovah views the earth and sees the many distresses that men undergo,” declared the speaker, “he has deep feeling for humankind. His desire is to help each one of them. Though he does not ‘turn a blind eye’ to wrongdoing, he is not looking for people’s faults, but for their good points.” Following this presentation the audience was pleasantly surprised by the release of another new book, Life Does Have a Purpose.
The theme for Sunday was “Loyal Workers Inherit the Promises.” All in attendance were urged to be self-sacrificing and loyal to God. A number of special reports described the loyalty of Jehovah’s Witnesses under severe persecution.
Sunday’s featured talk bore the title “How God’s Kingdom Can Benefit You.” The speaker explained that throughout human history, “rather than being idle or merely waiting, as some suppose, Jehovah God has been making progressive moves toward the complete establishment of this kingdom ever since mankind rebelled at the first. (Gen. 3:15) He is now nearing the final end of these progressive preparations.”
This talk further pointed out that there is “a fundamental difference between God-rule and man-rule. The rule of God’s kingdom is based on a moral appeal, and those who respond obey that rule because of their love for God and neighbor. This is a unifying rulership. It really works among those who give allegiance to that heavenly kingdom. It is beneficial. You can see this in the loving harmony so apparent at this Christian assembly today!”
Highlighting the power of God’s Word to bring about “loving harmony” by effecting changes for the better in people’s lives are comments of a high-school counselor from Flint, Michigan: “I feel that the Bible, and its counsel, is more practical and far superior to anything that I had ever studied in college. Although being a high-school counselor with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees and having read a large number of books on mental health and psychology, I discovered that the Bible’s counsel on such things as having a successful marriage, preventing juvenile delinquency and how to gain and keep friends is far superior to anything I had read or studied in college.”
The “Joyful Workers” assemblies provided a fine stimulus for Jehovah’s Witnesses and many others to serve God with joy of heart. The talks, dramas and new publications will furnish instructive materials for personal, family and congregational Bible study during coming months. Would you enjoy studying this information along with them? Contact the Witnesses locally. They will gladly show you how it is possible, even in these troublesome times, to be joyful workers with Jehovah, “the happy God.”—1 Tim. 1:11.
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“Junior” helps to clean up the grounds
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This woman was one of 7,691 baptized in the United States; thousands more were baptized in other lands
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Grant Suiter of the Governing Body releases the “Life” book