Publishing the Word in a Big Way
“JEHOVAH’S Witnesses Print the ‘Word’ in a Big Way.” That is how the American trade magazine In-Plant Reproductions described the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society’s printing and publishing operations. It continued: “Utilizing volunteers, this in-plant prints millions of pieces in 190 languages.”
“They come to this in-plant from all over the United States and the world,” explained the writer. “They are trained from scratch on the latest printing equipment by experienced professionals, and if they stay for any length of time, they get . . . an education. . . . They’re not in it for the money.”—Italics ours.
“They’re not in it for the money”? That may surprise some people who believe that no one would work as hard as Jehovah’s Witnesses without being paid to do so.
From its legal incorporation 100 years ago, on December 13, 1884, under the laws of Pennsylvania, the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society has been totally devoted to “the dissemination of Bible truths in various languages by means of the publication of tracts, pamphlets, papers and other religious documents,” as expressed in its original charter. Furthermore, the Society is incorporated in accordance with the Nonprofit Corporation Law of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Thus, by law, it cannot be a profit-making enterprise.
No individual can personally profit through this Society since Article V of the Society’s charter states: “It [the Society] does not contemplate pecuniary gain or profit, incidentally or otherwise, to its members, directors or officers.” All who work at the New York headquarters of the Society receive the same basic provisions of board, lodging and a small monthly allowance—whether they be the 14 members of the Governing Body or volunteers working in the printery, in cleaning operations or at the Society’s farms. There are no salaried clergy.
All of the more than 3,000 volunteers pursue the purpose for which the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania exists—“to preach the gospel of God’s kingdom under Christ Jesus unto all nations as a witness to the name, word and supremacy of Almighty God JEHOVAH; to print and distribute Bibles and to disseminate Bible truths in various languages . . . to improve men, women and children mentally and morally by Christian missionary work and by charitable and benevolent instruction of the people on the Bible.”—Quoted from the Society’s charter.
Have They Done It?
In the 100 years that have elapsed since December 13, 1884, has this Bible Society effectively fulfilled its chartered purpose to preach the gospel of God’s Kingdom to all the nations? The very fact that you have this magazine in your hands, regardless of where you live in the world or what your language is, gives a simple “Yes” to that question. Back in 1879 some 6,000 copies of The Watch Tower were published monthly in English only. Now every issue over 10 million copies of The Watchtower are published in 102 languages, and about 9 million copies of Awake! in 54 languages.
But has this Society really been a “Bible Society”? Since 1896 it has published seven different versions of the Bible, including the King James and American Standard versions. However, the outstanding achievement in the field of Bible publication has been the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, first released in part in 1950 and as a complete volume in 1961. This has now been translated, in whole or in part, into ten other languages. A total of 40 million copies have been printed in the last 23 years.
The Most Significant Movement of the 20th Century
Jehovah’s Witnesses are now preaching in 205 lands and in some 190 languages. There are more than 670,000 Witnesses in the United States and over 100,000 each in the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, Mexico, Nigeria and Brazil. The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society has branch offices and printeries spread around the world. Without a doubt this 100-year-old Bible Society is stronger and more active than ever! For this, the credit must go to Jehovah God.—Zechariah 4:6.
But why should you be interested in Jehovah’s Witnesses and their growth? Precisely because they are the only Christian group that is in fact ‘preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom in all the earth before the end comes.’ (Matthew 24:14) Since, according to Bible prophecy, God is going to intervene again in man’s affairs and bring an end to the present corrupt system of things, it means that Jehovah’s Witnesses are in fact the most significant world movement of the 20th century for man’s salvation. That is why we believe you should examine their teachings and practices with an open mind.—Luke 21:34-36; 2 Peter 3:8-13; Ezekiel 33:6-9; Isaiah 43:9, 10.
But you might ask, How has this 100 years’ achievement been accomplished? How has it been possible for Jehovah’s Witnesses to become a world movement during the past century?