Education That Encourages Success
‘BY HAVING deep love for Jehovah God and by being convinced of his love for you, you can make your way successful.’ How do you react to such a statement?
An audience of 1,899 gathered at the assembly hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Long Island City, New York, on Sunday, September 10, was in full agreement with this thought. It was expressed by W. L. Barry at the graduation exercises of the 29 students making up the 65th class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead. These students had completed a special five-month training course to prepare them for missionary work in foreign fields.
Years earlier, Barry had attended Gilead School and had thereafter enjoyed many years of working with missionaries in Japan. His encouragement to view a missionary assignment as an expression of God’s love was, therefore, fortified by a rich background of personal experience. He was very realistic in pointing out that problems would be faced in a foreign assignment. There would be a need to get accustomed to a ‘new language, new foods, a new missionary home arrangement and even new sicknesses.’ Yet, by faithfully sticking to the work because of love for their Maker, Gilead-trained missionaries, strengthened by God’s Word and prayer, can be successful.
The educational program of Gilead School had been designed to assist the students from both a spiritual and a practical standpoint. Calling attention to this, Don Adams referred to the special practical instruction that they had received about handling laundry and preparing meals in a missionary home. It is hoped that this new feature in the curriculum will contribute toward making missionary service more enjoyable for all concerned. Of course, this practical training is only incidental to the education that equips Gilead students to become better teachers of Bible truths. And, as Don Adams pointed out, a good attitude determines whether a missionary will be happy. Concern for the spiritual welfare of people and personal contentment would play a big part in their being missionaries who would faithfully stick to the work.
Another speaker, M. S. Allen, shared thoughts that were helpful in making a proper evaluation of success. He used as his theme the following question that Jesus Christ directed to John and Andrew: “What are you looking for?” (John 1:38) Allen noted that the motive for what we do is very important. For a successful Christian missionary that motive cannot be recognition, a wish to stand out as being better than others or the desire to be numbered among a privileged few. A missionary can benefit from the example of Andrew who was willing to take second place and who introduced others, including his own brother Peter, to the Messiah. Thus, if a person can find joy in humbly serving God by acquainting fellow humans with Jesus Christ, he can be a good missionary.
In a number of the lands to which the graduates would be sent, many people are illiterate. Therefore, Richard Wheelock encouraged the use of the illustrations in a recently published book. Thus, after learning the local language, the new missionaries could succeed in reaching even an illiterate populace with the Bible’s message.
K. A. Adams, an instructor in the school, cautioned against viewing people from a human standpoint, for Jesus Christ said: “Stop judging from the outward appearance.” (John 7:24) Response in a particular territory might be slow, but God may see in the people something that we do not. For example, after many years of working in Italy and Spain, Jehovah’s Witnesses saw little progress. However, during the past few years there has been tremendous growth. This was good encouragement for new missionaries to remain in their assignments.
Similarly, U. V. Glass, the school’s registrar, highlighted the importance of patience. On reaching a foreign assignment, a missionary is like a plant that has been transplanted and may experience a setback. Yet, by remaining there, being patient, he will eventually experience blessings.
The school’s president, F. W. Franz, placed considerable emphasis on the personal effort that the graduates would have to put forth to remain divinely approved. To this end, he used the words of Jesus Christ: “Pay attention to what you are hearing. With the measure that you are measuring out, you will have it measured out to you, yes, you will have more added to you.” (Mark 4:24) Hence, the measure of undivided attention and profound respect that a person shows toward the Master, Jesus Christ, will determine the measure of his spiritual growth. The individual must also watch his associations so that nothing will interfere with his advancement as a Christian. Hence, the students were strongly warned about keeping company with persons who could contaminate them with worldliness.
The program that was later presented by the graduates also highlighted essentials for success. Especially was this true of the two Bible dramas. Among other things, the first one revealed the importance of faith in and obedience to God’s direction in order for a person to share in the blessings that will result from the fulfillment of divine promises. The second drama dealt with events from the reign of King Jehoshaphat and emphasized that his success depended on total reliance on Jehovah God.
Truly, the graduation exercises of Gilead’s 65th class reflected the fact that the chief objective of the school is to help the students to make a success of missionary work. At the same time, the entire program served to encourage all in attendance to look to Jehovah God for aid in making their way successful.