Faith That Is Victorious in Modern Times
POVERTY, hunger, sickness, crime, hatred and violence. These major problems surround us and are becoming more and more serious in modern times. Seemingly stable marriages are breaking up, families are falling apart, and the future of young people is threatened by increasing immorality and drug abuse. With less and less friendliness, and more and more fear, insecurity and mistrust, there is steady deterioration in the quality and enjoyment of life.
What a distressing picture! Yet, to some degree, each of us must face these problems. Would we be helped by faith that is based on the Bible? Or, is such faith too old-fashioned and outmoded to cope with the problems of modern times?
Applying the Bible in Life
At the “Victorious Faith” International Conventions now in progress around the world, Jehovah’s Witnesses are enthusiastically affirming a “Declaration of Our Faith.” In it, among other things, they acknowledge the major problems facing humanity and the growing climate of mistrust, fear and insecurity. Nevertheless, their Declaration forcefully states:
“By contrast, we have seen and personally experienced what the faithful application of God’s Word can do, the remarkable changes it has accomplished in our own lives and homes, the benefits in contentment and peaceful relations and the warmth of unselfish love. We have seen the power the ‘good news’ has in appealing to honest-hearted persons of every conceivable background, in the Western world and in the Orient, in all continents and islands of the sea. We have seen what faith can produce on a global scale; how God’s spirit has produced something that remains unique: an earth-wide ‘association of brothers.’ (1 Pet. 2:17) ‘By this all will know that you are my disciples,’ Christ Jesus said, ‘if you have love among yourselves.’ (John 13:35) We rejoice to be part of the only real international brotherhood on the face of the earth, a brotherhood bound together in unbreakable love—for God and his Son, for truth, for what is right, and for one another.”
Is that just meaningless rhetoric? Or, do these Christians really believe the Bible’s statement that God “made out of one man every nation of men”? (Acts 17:26) And do the Witnesses form a brotherhood bound together by love? Well, what do outside observers have to say?
Referring to one of the “Victorious Faith” International Conventions held in New Orleans, Louisiana, The States-Item said:
“A sense of brotherhood filled the Louisiana Superdome as young and old, black and white Jehovah’s Witnesses settled down to begin a 5-day learning and sharing experience.
“The atmosphere during this week’s international convention confirms that racial discrimination—still an issue in some churches—is not a problem for Witnesses.”
Because Jehovah’s Witnesses conscientiously apply the Bible in life, they do enjoy an international brotherhood that is genuine and unique. That spirit of brotherhood is evident at their “Victorious Faith” International Conventions. For instance, assembling at Montreal, Quebec, were delegates of various racial and national backgrounds—so much so that sessions were held in Arabic, English, French, Greek, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. Since a football game ended about 11 p.m. on the evening before the opening convention day in the Olympic Stadium, Witness workers had less than 12 hours to install an elaborate sound system. The problem was compounded by the need for seven simultaneous language presentations, requiring careful installation of a completely independent public-address system for each tongue. Connecting the system called for a full six miles (10 kilometers) of cable. There was no time to modify the installation. It had to work the first time—and, for the most part, it did function very well.
Faith Evident in Various Ways
Faith in Jehovah God and the applying of his Word in life have enabled thousands of persons to become unified in an international brotherhood, and thus they have gained a spiritual victory in this divided world. But victorious faith is evident in many other ways. Of course, since trust in God and the application of his Word in life are factors responsible for these evidences of faith, credit for desirable attitudes and actions primarily goes to God. However, what do some keen observers have to say about Jehovah’s Witnesses and their current international conventions?
A unique feature of certain “Victorious Faith” International Conventions is a trailer and/or tent city. For instance, one laid out by workers near Montreal, Quebec, accommodated some 4,000 tents, campers and motor homes, housing over 15,000 persons. Destructive earthquakes that had struck Thessalonica, Greece, in June had made hotels and houses there so dangerous that thousands of convention delegates had to be accommodated at a rather large tent city. In fact, thought had been given to canceling the convention in Thessalonica, but, after fervent prayer, the Witnesses decided to go ahead with it in faith.
Near Stockholm, Sweden, an airfield was rented as a campsite. The runways formed streets of a trailer and tent community for 12,000 people, and the sailplane hangars were turned into cafeterias. All of this attracted the attention of the Swedish press and television. Svenska Dagbladet said that this “suburb” had been erected with “colossal organizational skill” and then remarked that the Witnesses “are admirably skilled in arranging everything in a practical way, sensibly and nicely.” According to the newspaper Expressen, the camp was “well organized,” had “lots of cozy tents and trailers,” and there was “no litter to be seen anywhere.” Also Aftonbladet commented: “You can see that this is not an ordinary camp. No litter. Not a single empty beer can. And—no smoking.”
A “Victorious Faith” International Convention was held at Washington, D.C. After viewing the assembly facilities that the Witnesses used there, Brian Murchison wrote in The Washington Star: “The stadium, usually a litterbug’s paradise, looked as if it had come up against a white tornado for the first time. Even at lunch time, volunteers served food and cleaned up almost simultaneously.”
A staff member of the sports facilities used by Witness conventioners at Lisbon, Portugal, remarked: “When people ask me what I think of you, I can’t tell a lie. I tell them that Jehovah’s Witnesses have very good manners, cleanliness and organization. . . . if you happen to soil one thing, you clean 99!”
At Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Jehovah’s Witnesses met in a stadium. After 20,000 to 25,000 people had been there for a double-header baseball game, there were tons of debris. “This is normal,” said the grounds’ keeper. “You might liken it to wall-to-wall garbage. But Jehovah’s Witnesses cleaned it up in half the time it would normally take.” He added: “In other words, it goes from absolute chaos to efficiency. When you folks leave the stadium, it is ready for the next event. You don’t have to worry about a nail or a piece of glass. It’s clean.”
But what does cleanliness have to do with victorious faith? Well, in writing to fellow Christians, the apostle Paul urged: “Let us cleanse ourselves of every defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in God’s fear.” (2 Cor. 7:1) Also, when leaving Babylon centuries earlier, God’s people were commanded: “Turn away, turn away, get out of there, touch nothing unclean; get out from the midst of her, keep yourselves clean, you who are carrying the utensils of Jehovah.” (Isa. 52:11) Hence, spiritual and physical cleanliness are associated with the proper application of the Bible in life and with the pursuit of victorious faith.
Conduct That Draws Commendation
Often mentioned in connection with cleanliness is general conduct. For example, the manager of the hall used by Witness conventioners in Helsinki, Finland, said: “We had a good opportunity to make comparisons when you last had a meeting here. There had been a pop concert the day before, and there was a lot of noise and many drunks. It was all very dirty. All your arrangements work surprisingly well . . . This is the largest crowd of people that has ever been in our hall at one time. We have seen many types of meetings here, but this is the best-behaved group.”
At Vienna, Austria, the administrator of the stadium used by Jehovah’s Witnesses found the teamwork within the convention administration to be “absolutely fantastic” and said that the conduct of the delegates was outstanding. Also, speaking frankly, one employee at the State Sport Center remarked: “Exemplary cleanliness is the order of the day among Jehovah’s Witnesses here. One should be prompted to follow their example. On the other hand, when our athletes take over here, they stumble over their own cigarette butts and the litter they leave behind.”
With reference to the international convention in Montreal, Quebec, an administrative official of the 1976 Olympic Games remarked: “Never in my life have I seen such a well-disciplined and well-organized convention. And mark my words, . . . I attend many conventions.” Similarly, the inspector of certain facilities used by the Witnesses at Copenhagen, Denmark, commented: “Many organizations have had events here, but none of them have shown anything comparable to what you do with regard to planning, order and cooperation with such a fine spirit.”
Following the convention at Copenhagen, a Witness employed by the telephone company was told by a superior living beside the assembly site: ‘I have never seen Idrætsparken so clean and decorated so attractively, or the parking problem solved so smoothly and elegantly. I have never seen so many persons assembled that were so neatly dressed and well groomed, and I have never seen so many people conduct themselves in such a well-disciplined, orderly and peaceful way.’
Fine conduct does draw commendation. But Jehovah’s Witnesses are not saying that they have independently developed a life-style that is commendable. Rather, reliance upon Jehovah God and application of his Word, the Bible, produce faith that is victorious over undesirable human traits and tendencies so common in these “last days.” (2 Tim. 3:1-5) It is because of their faith based on the Bible that these Christians manifest a good spirit, are orderly and “seek peace.” The Scriptures urge them to ‘maintain their conduct fine among the nations,’ and this they do, not for their own glory, but for that of the God whom they serve.—1 Cor. 10:31; 14:33; Philem. 25; 1 Pet. 2:12; 3:11.
Faith Affects One’s Viewpoint
Faith is not too old-fashioned to accomplish good things in modern times. In fact, it changes people, improving their viewpoint and the quality of their life.
Consider the case of one man who symbolized his dedication to Jehovah God by water baptism at the Cincinnati, Ohio, international convention. He admits: ‘I had always worn a gun and had it on during the first two Bible studies conducted with me. The hate I had for everything and everybody slowly left, however, and my whole attitude changed so much that my mother encouraged me to keep studying, for my family had thought that the only place for me was jail or death. But prayers to Jehovah changed me.’ Yes, true faith gains the victory over blind hatred and teaches honest-hearted people that they should not “be owing anybody a single thing, except to love one another.”—Rom. 13:8.
Then there was the young Bolivian woman who suffered paralysis as a result of an automobile accident. Her hopes for a career in the medical world had been dashed, and several times she had attempted to commit suicide. Well, in the hospital she studied the Bible with one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and soon was able to say that she would never again seek to take her life. In fact, she said that never in her life had she been happier. Today a baptized Witness, she was present for the Spanish and English international conventions in London, England. Though she is confined to a wheelchair, her pleasant countenance and smiling face provide evidence that true faith is victorious in modern times.
Among those baptized at the international convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was a 26-year-old man who had become addicted to narcotics while in Vietnam. Notice what initially drew him to true Christianity. He commented: “After returning to the United States, I was attracted by the contrast presented by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Many times I observed their happy faces . . . So, one day I just walked up to some Witnesses . . . and I asked to study with them.” Soon the young man realized that he had to stop using narcotics. But participation in a drug-withdrawal program proved useless, and he said: “Jehovah God, through his Word, helped me to conquer the craving; the drug program did not. It was the truth that helped me to overcome drugs.”
Indeed, true faith does change people. It has a beneficial effect on their viewpoint and improves the quality of their life. Proof of this is seen on the happy faces of individuals and families attending the “Victorious Faith” International Conventions.
A Tranquil and Happy Home
Even in these modern times, when so many marriages are breaking up and families are falling apart, victorious faith is producing tranquillity and happiness in the home. It is noteworthy, too, that an entire day of the current international conventions carries the theme “Have Faith to the Saving of Your Household.” (Heb. 11:7) Much sound Scriptural counsel on marriage is being provided for the benefit of assembly delegates. Here is evidence that it is having an effect:
Present for the convention in Edinburgh, Scotland, was a woman who was separated from her husband and was in the process of arranging for a divorce. However, he went to the convention to help his wife care for their children. This couple listened intently to the discussions on marriage, and the wife said: “I realized that perhaps I could do more in an attempt to save my marriage.” After the sessions that day, she and her husband had a long discussion, making use of the principles discussed on the program. The result? They decided on a reconciliation. Indeed, faith in God and the Bible is not too old-fashioned to be helpful in solving marital problems in modern times.
“To serve Jehovah faithfully, I knew that I would have to change my whole life-style, because Satan was glued to me,” said one delegate to the international convention in Dublin, Ireland. He and his wife had had many difficulties, and he admitted: “I smoked a lot, spent a lot of my time in the pub on weekends, and forgot that I had a wife and family at home. Eventually, I packed up [I quit] the cigarettes and stopped spending my time gambling. . . . Now I give most of my time to my wife and family.” Both the man and his wife were baptized at the Dublin convention, and he remarked that, as he watched her being immersed, “it was the same as starting a whole new life . . . I felt so happy!”
A happy home and tranquillity within marriage can be a certainty if all members of the household apply the Bible in their everyday life. (Eph. 5:21–6:4) But what about younger ones?
Do the children of Jehovah’s Witnesses find their religion boring? Well, younger persons attending the “Victorious Faith” International Conventions find that an entire day has the theme “Youths, Be Examples in Faith.” (1 Tim. 4:12) In fact, through the thought-provoking Bible drama “Youths—What Is Your Goal in Life?” all convention delegates were able to profit from considering the faith displayed by the young man Timothy, an associate of the apostle Paul.
But does faith have true meaning for teen-agers? Quite apparently it does. One such young person was so impressed by the drama on Timothy’s life that, on the way home from the convention in Cincinnati, Ohio, he requested an application for regular pioneer service, or full-time preaching work. Schedule changes were made at school and the lad gave a fine witness to his high school principal, who then allowed him to graduate during mid-term. The young man began serving as a regular pioneer on September 1, 1978.
Even the very young give evidence that they comprehend Scriptural truths. For example, it is not impossible for many of them to understand that the first human pair, Adam and Eve, disobeyed God and that “through one man sin entered into the world.” (Rom. 5:12) To illustrate: With regard to the convention program at Grenoble, France, the French daily Le Dauphiné libéré reported: “During an interview on the platform a father asked his little boy: ‘Are you always obedient?’ The reply was: ‘Yes. Well—not always, because of Adam and Eve.’”
Victorious Faith Commands Attention
In city after city thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses have been gathering to promote victorious faith. This, in turn, has resulted in notable press, radio and television coverage of their current assemblies. For instance, factual news media reports on the international convention in Helsinki, Finland, evidently reached witnesses of Jehovah in nearby areas of the Soviet Union.
Regarding the “Victorious Faith” International Convention at Barcelona, Spain, at least 20 different newspapers published a total of 2,377 column inches (some 6,000 centimeters) of material, including 71 photographs. Also, the assembly was featured on television and radio programs, among them a 10-minute national TV-network presentation that included part of a Bible drama, the singing of the audience, and interviews with various Witnesses. What a contrast from just 10 years ago when Jehovah’s Witnesses enjoyed no legal recognition in Spain!
Government officials have also acknowledged awareness of the conventions and activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses. For example, the mayor of New Orleans, Louisiana, where two “Victorious Faith” International Conventions were held, proclaimed June 1978 to be Watchtower Bible and Tract Society month in that city. Similarly, the acting mayor of St. Louis, Missouri, and the governor of New York State, each made proclamations designating certain days as ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses Day’ in connection with assemblies held in their administrative areas.
State and city officials at Munich and Düsseldorf, Federal Republic of Germany, gave official recognition to the international conventions in those cities. The lord mayor of Düsseldorf invited 84 Witnesses (including missionaries from 19 countries) to a reception and banquet at the city hall on Tuesday evening, August 1, 1978. During a short talk on that occasion, Mayor Kürten said, in part: “I think a person can attest to the fact that you are welcome and good guests wherever you go. That may be due to what has brought you together. And when you have gathered together here in Düsseldorf under the theme of victorious faith, it is more than just the theme of a meeting; it is, rather, a confession, a confession of the convictions that you are now demonstrating here in this city, and that I believe, when viewed from a historical standpoint, you have always demonstrated regardless of the agreement or disagreement of the political powers. You have always stood up for your convictions, and a word of thanks for doing so is here appropriate.”
Victorious Faith in Action!
Jehovah’s Witnesses are convinced that Bible-based faith is not old-fashioned and outmoded, but has true meaning in modern times. Moreover, they are eager to share with others the “good news” of God’s kingdom. (Matt. 24:14) So, witnessing from house to house and elsewhere is an important part of their regular service to God. However, a special endeavor is being made on Friday morning of the “Victorious Faith” International Conventions. It is being set aside for witnessing activities in the field. And convention delegates are participating in this special effort with real enthusiasm. As an example, at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (where the peak assembly attendance was 37,208), an estimated 28,000 Witnesses shared in this activity.
In some cases, news media personnel have accompanied the Witnesses in this special activity. For instance, a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, television station sent cameramen along with a group of them. On camera, an interested person was contacted, a witness was given, and arrangements were made for a personal Bible study. This, along with other films from the field, was shown on an evening news program.
On Friday morning of the convention in Montreal, Quebec, a prominent journalist said over the radio: “You will probably receive a visit from Jehovah’s Witnesses this morning because they are calling on the people of Montreal to invite them to their assembly. They have little yellow bags and they will be offering you their pamphlets. Take one, give them a little of your time, and listen. Don’t think you are doing them a favor—they are doing you a favor.”
Too Old-fashioned for You?
What about taking the advice of the journalist just quoted? When Jehovah’s Witnesses call at your home in the course of their regular activity, would it not be wise to “give them a little of your time, and listen”? That, of course, is for you to decide.
The fact remains, however, that the Witnesses possess a faith that is victorious in these modern times. That Bible-based faith is not too old-fashioned or outmoded to help them to cope successfully with the problems that surround all of us—poverty, hunger, sickness, crime, hatred, violence, drug abuse and other distressing troubles that can rob us of the enjoyment of life.
The current “Victorious Faith” International Conventions are impressing Jehovah’s Witnesses with the need to continue building strong faith. They have found that the proper application of the Bible has accomplished good things in their own lives and homes, has produced contentment and peaceful relations with others, has made them part of the only real international brotherhood and has given them a sound hope for the future. That faith meets the challenges of modern times. Does it appeal to you? If so, learn how you, too, can acquire victorious faith.
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Victorious Faith prompts conventioners to engage in special witnessing
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Witnesses, including entire families, clean every seat at convention site in Munich
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Convention delegates share the “good news” with others
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Many convention delegates were baptized, giving evidence of faith
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A stirring Bible drama indicates that Victorious Faith was displayed by the young Christian Timothy