Real Love—Dead or Alive Today?
“I DON’T know what I’m going to do,” sobbed Esther who has been confined to a wheelchair for 10 years with multiple sclerosis. Her home had just been robbed by heartless thieves who took everything they could find—$282 (U.S.), four pounds of chicken, milk and her 10-year-old son’s back-to-school clothes. This helpless cripple was now left with only 25 cents to feed and clothe herself and her son.
This woman’s experience is just one of millions worldwide that illustrate how those less fortunate are preyed upon. Perhaps your heart may ache to read of such tragedies. And indeed today’s world is saturated with selfishness and greed. Violence and terrorism frequently scream from news headlines. Many feel that real love has died.
Yet visitors to a current series of worldwide conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses could not help but feel that real love was very much alive. For instance, in Japan, a large number of crippled and handicapped ones were a part of the more than 100,000 assembled. The loving care these received was moving.
Imagine the scene: a whole section of the seating area is reserved for handicapped ones; scores of helpless cripples are wheeled in; at mealtimes volunteers bring these ones lunch and tenderly help them to eat. (See picture this page.) One man so crippled and bent over that he can hardly eat with his one good hand is ably assisted by a friend who sets up, just for him, a little table. This care from so many is indeed a touching sight.
Yet such kindness was not limited to these “Divine Love” conventions in Japan. Three multiple sclerosis victims in Florence, Oregon, felt that attending the convention was not possible because they could not be away overnight from the special care of their home center. However, fellow Witnesses picked them up and returned them each day—a trip of 170 miles (274 km). They also fed and totally cared for the needs of these invalids all four days of the convention.
However, the love evident at these conventions, which already have been attended by 2,290,855 in 39 countries, was not merely a concern for the handicapped.
Love Prompted in the Home
Love has deteriorated in many families to the point that, according to a team of sociologists, “The amount of intense physical violence” in homes in the United States is “second only to that seen in wars and riots!” But, at the conventions, families were urged to develop self-sacrificing love. “A happy marriage,” said one speaker, “is the union of two good forgivers.”
One attentive delegate in Japan especially appreciated this counsel. Formerly she was seeking a divorce due to being overwhelmed with distrust of her husband. Actually, she did not trust anyone. She became mentally unstable and began a life of overdrinking and sexual immorality that led to her contemplating suicide. However, a study of the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses helped her to change all of this and restore right relations with her husband. She was among the 25,389 baptized worldwide thus far at these conventions.
“Even though I’m only 16 years old, I’ve done everything immoral there is to do!” began Tammy, who was baptized at one of the conventions in the United States. “It seemed that whenever my father was around, I just rebelled.” Though she ran away from home and had a “wild time” with her “friends,” she occasionally would associate with youngsters who were Witnesses. “I always remember feeling good the next day after being with the Witnesses. This, with the love and help the Witnesses offered, drew me into Jehovah’s family,” concluded Tammy. Now she found that her homelife blossomed with real love.
Hearing that the convention program would have a talk to help single parents, one of these could hardly wait. Then, suddenly, her car was demolished in a serious accident just a few weeks before the convention. As Janet and her three children recovered from their cuts and bruises she dejectedly realized that now she had no way to pull her travel trailer to the convention.
Soon, one of the Witnesses offered her a van to use; another repaired her vandalized trailer; even on the trip when a trailer wheel snapped off, a Witness helped her to get going again. As Janet sat in the audience, almost in tears because of the love she had received, she heartily agreed with the speaker, who said: “Rejoice in the knowledge that you single parents are part of God’s spiritual family and have the love and support of many brothers and sisters!”
A Brotherhood of Love
Was the love shown Janet just an isolated incident? An outstanding example of hospitality involving 2,400 Witnesses answers, No! From Hungary and Poland arrangements were made with the cooperation of the government for several thousand Witnesses to attend the convention in Vienna, Austria. But where would all of these stay? How would they afford to eat since they each traveled with only a limited amount of foreign currency?
The Witnesses in Vienna met many of the visitors at the border. For the next four days or longer, they fed, housed and transported these ones and made other provisions for them. With only 31 congregations in the city of Vienna, the response to care for so many visitors was truly remarkable. Some of the Austrian Witnesses drove literally hundreds of miles, making countless trips to care for their fellow Witnesses. Many had from 10 to 15 of these visitors staying in their homes. One Witness who lived near the convention site ended up with 40 in his house!
An unforgettable moment climaxed the close of the convention. Because of language differences, the visitors assembled in separate locations, but on the final day all the groups joined together in the large stadium to sing the final song. Here were persons who, up till a few days prior, had been total strangers—related only by faith. But now as they sang, “We thank you, Jehovah, for our brotherhood,” most got choked up with emotion. Tears unashamedly streamed down beaming faces. As one Pole, trying to hold back the tears, said to a delegate from the United States: “I can hardly contain myself for the joy of being here.” As he began to explain his gratitude for the love of the Austrian Witnesses, he burst into tears and had to excuse himself. Following the song, no one wanted to leave. Many who lingered waved and applauded. This was a stirring expression of an international brotherhood.
Many have noted such unity. For instance, a non-Witness in Italy remarked to several Witnesses: “If all were like Jehovah’s Witnesses, there would really be peace!” People can see real love among the Witnesses. This is significant in view of Jesus’ words: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.”—John 13:34, 35.
Terrorism Replaced by Love
“Has the world gone crazy?” blared a recent headline in the San Antonio, Texas (U.S.), Express-News. The article that followed showed that terrorism “is mushrooming at an alarming rate” and is “haunting the world.” You yourself may recall recent acts of terrorism. However, unless those who perpetuate such acts change, there seems to be little chance of conditions improving. But can a terrorist be changed?
One prison inmate in Madrid, Spain, is serving sentences totaling nearly 500 years for acts of terrorism and armed robbery! After serving over a decade, he began to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. His conduct improved remarkably. The astonished prison authorities even granted him a special four-day leave to attend the “Divine Love” convention. Overwhelmed with his first convention, he said: “This is too marvelous to be true. I cannot describe how I feel!” Real love changed his personality.
“Raised in the midst of violence, trained in military camps to become a hired assassin,” began the story in the Italian newspaper Giornale di Bergamo about another man baptized at one of these conventions. The article stated that this young man “has come out of this criminal tunnel [to become] one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.” His violent disposition was replaced by a ‘calm serenity’ that even impressed the news reporter.
Would it not be wonderful if such changes could take place on a global scale? Our earth certainly would be a much more secure place in which to live. Yet not everyone is willing to change. For this reason Bible prophecy shows that soon the righteous rule of God’s kingdom will “crush” those who oppress, and deliver “from violence” those who now live according to the Bible. Then, lovers of peace will flourish “to the ends of the earth.”—Ps. 72:1-14.
Genuine Love of Neighbor
To help persons to learn about this inspiring hope, Jehovah’s Witnesses spend many hours talking to others about it. Even during the convention, time was set aside to visit the homes of the people and share with others this message of love and hope. In Japan, among the thousands that shared in this preaching activity were two Christian women who called at a small company. They were warmly greeted by the company president who requested some of their literature. Noting his wedding ring (not very common in Japan) one of the Witnesses inquired about his wife.
“She died four years ago,” uttered the grieving executive. He was then amazed, and tears welled up in his eyes, as the Witnesses showed him the Bible hope of “a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Acts 24:15) The following Sunday he came to the convention eagerly seeking more Bible knowledge. How much he appreciated the loving call of those two women!
What Builds True Love?
Almost everyone agrees that the world needs more love. But what is the key to developing such? “He that does not love,” states the Bible, “has not come to know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8) Getting to know God personally requires an accurate understanding of his Word, the Bible. Through such knowledge, one sees what a loving God the Creator is and is thereby drawn to him. The appreciative learner is moved to imitate that same love in his own life. This is what prompted the love that was obviously very much alive at these recent conventions.
Why not get in touch with Jehovah’s Witnesses and benefit personally from this free assistance to understand the Bible and thereby get to know God even better? Your own life can add to the testimony that real love is alive in today’s world.
[Picture on page 16]
Real love in action: a handicapped conventioner in Japan is assisted with his meal
[Picture on page 17]
Even the absence of a father does not prevent these families from developing love
[Picture on page 19]
Near the Colosseum in Rome, a place of much bloodshed in ancient times, Witnesses show love by sharing a message of hope