An Education That Brings Rich Benefits
THERE has been a real push for education in Africa, especially for the young. Some nations there reportedly devote a major part of their resources to it.
But something more is needed. Noting the many educated persons roaming the streets unemployed, the black mayor of a large city in East Africa pleaded: “We need to start giving our children practical educations that prepare them and train them for the realities of life.”
Among other things, such education must assist one to know what is truly valuable in life and to be convinced of it. But what textbook can do this?
“The Supreme Guide in the Art of Living”
For hundreds of years the Bible has been the most widely distributed book in Africa. Concerning it, author Thomas Tiplady once wrote: “Of all great books, the common sense of mankind has declared the Bible to be the supreme guide in the art of living.” Why is it so outstanding in this regard? The Bible itself explains that it is the Word of God.
It is a book that deals with life. As you read it, you will find it full of real people and you will see how some made their lives happy and why others failed. The more you read the more it will become plain to you what things are worth while and what things are not. You will, as one appreciative reader put it, find “the key to your own heart, your own happiness, and your own duty.”
For decades in Africa and throughout the earth, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been assisting millions of persons to apply Bible principles in their own lives. The results have been significant. Following is but a sampling of what such education has accomplished. As you read, ask yourself: What if everyone in Africa, in fact in the whole world, lived by such values?
Preserving Family Unity
“Well, what is your decision? The promotion will mean much more money. You are honest and a reliable worker, you deserve the raise.” So an official of a large African railway addressed one husband and father of four children. It would seem like an easy decision. However, there was one catch—the new job would require his being away from his family for long periods of time.
The man, who had studied the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses for some time, replied: “I’m sorry, but I must decline. You see, I love my family very much and I cannot afford to be separated from them in this manner.” The officials could hardly believe their ears. Yet, they were impressed with his view of priorities in life and granted his request to continue working near home.
Did he make the right decision? The man has been rewarded with a family that is noted in the community for its warmth, unity and happiness. The good conduct of his children is the talk of the neighborhood. These things money cannot buy.
Honesty Leads to Self-Respect
“We thank you for your letter and hereby also acknowledge the receipt of our Clinic Clock you returned. We are pleased to read that from your converted faith, you learn that stealing is against the law of Jehovah God.”
This letter, written to one who had recently become a Witness, was the result of some highly unusual changes. The recipient of the letter was once a heavy smoker of marijuana, led a life of sexual depravity, and engaged in stealing and other crimes. His mind was so affected by this way of life that he had to be admitted to a mental hospital. After weeks of care, he had not been cured, so he was declared mad and sent home.
Shortly afterward he began a study of the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses in his Nigerian village. The education he received helped him to change his life. His mental health gradually improved as he could now cope with the “realities of life.” The villagers were amazed and thought it was a miracle. “It was the work of the Bible with God’s blessing and help from his people,” was his explanation. He managed to obtain a job to support himself. Remembering that he had stolen the clock from his previous employer, he returned it. For the first time in his life he had self-respect.—Eph. 4:28.
Not Pretending to Be Rich
In Namibia, South-West Africa, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, a family man, lost his job. His family was accustomed to a high standard of living, but now the only job available paid considerably less than the one he held previously. After talking it over with his wife, he accepted the job and decided to make the best of it.
Rather than pretending he still had plenty of money and trying to maintain his previous standard of living, he and his family cut their expenses. They moved into a tumbledown railway house. Yet, after painting and some minor repairs, they had a home with low rent. His garden produced almost all the vegetables they ate, and fishing also helped to keep the food bill down. Some knitting by the wife almost covered the clothing costs. It was a humble way of life, but the family was content with having necessities.—1 Tim. 6:7, 8.
His industriousness and honesty were not overlooked, and within a year his salary was increased. In time his fine reputation even brought him job offers from others.
How They Manage
The Bible does not advocate poverty. (Prov. 30:8, 9) Yet there are times when a person can do little to alter his situation without sacrificing an important principle. Under such circumstances, how can a person make it economically without centering his life on money?
For one thing the Bible helps a person to avoid bad habits, such as gambling (which has cost many a worker his entire paycheck), drug addiction, smoking, sexual immorality and drunkenness. Not only does this enable one to have a good conscience, but it surely helps the pocketbook!—1 Cor. 6:9, 10; 2 Cor. 7:1.
Those who truly apply Bible principles are also benefited because they are part of an association of brothers who genuinely love one another. (John 13:35; 1 John 3:17, 18) As one example, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Ghana was laid off his job. He had to care for a daughter and a pregnant wife. At the congregation meeting he happened to mention his plight to another Witness. Not only did the Witness encourage him, but he taught him how to make a brand of local soap that he could sell. This brought relief until he was recalled by his former employer.
So that they might apply the Bible’s counsel to ‘owe no man anything except love,’ they also learn to be careful to budget their money. (Rom. 13:8) One traveling minister who visits the homes of many of Jehovah’s Witnesses describes how one African couple handles this: ‘Every month the husband and his wife balance the money. He puts his salary on the table and then sets aside amounts for the different expenses and needs. He takes care of his expenses first while he has the money rather than waiting until the last of the month when he might run out.’
This couple avoided credit buying, and for good reason. First of all, a person usually pays considerably more for the item. Also, the Bible realistically states: “The borrower becomes the lender’s slave.” (Prov. 22:7, The New English Bible) Who wants to be a slave to another human? How much easier life is when a person saves his money until he can afford to buy the item outright. Naturally there are occasions when one may need something urgently and credit is the only answer, but if that happens often, is it a necessity or a fervent desire?—Eccl. 6:9.
Grand Future—Just Ahead!
The Bible presents a vivid hope for the near future, and learning about that helps persons to cope with present problems, because they know these are temporary. Its last book, Revelation, unveils events that will soon affect not only Africa but the whole world.
Chapters 19 (verses Revelation 19:11-21) and 20 (verses Revelation 20:1-3) describe the violent end of wicked individuals, both visible and invisible, who refuse to live by right principles. Revelation 21:3, 4 describes God as taking a very personal interest in our earth. It reads: “I heard a loud voice from the throne say: ‘Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.’”
Just think: Sickness, a daily problem for almost all, will be forever gone! No more sickly children, no more dreaded diseases that sap the body’s strength, no more biting pain!
Tears of frustration, disappointment and grief will vanish as the conditions causing such will be changed or removed. Since willfully wicked persons will have been destroyed by God’s angelic forces, this will eliminate thieves, murderers, liars and others who make life insecure. No one will worry about having his possessions ‘cleaned out’ by a thief. Persons will be able to have their own homestead and enjoy it in security.
Does that sound good to you? Would you like to learn more about applying Bible principles in such a way as to benefit yourself now and in the future? Get in touch with Jehovah’s Witnesses and they will be glad to help you at no charge.
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Bible education helps families to regain lost values