Are You Ready to Attend?
EACH year, Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world look forward to the district convention as the spiritual high point of the year. Why? Well, first of all they know they will benefit from the timely Scriptural counsel presented on the program. They also treasure the upbuilding experiences and the fine Christian association they will enjoy. To be present at a convention is to be eyewitness of true faith in action.
Faith in Action
Many who attend the conventions are only beginning to associate with Jehovah’s Witnesses. But their attitude, expressions, and actions show that the Bible truth they are learning wields a powerful influence in their lives.
At one such convention, two men, an Israeli and an Iranian, both of whom had just started to study the Bible, met for the first time. The Israeli man had a full beard and dark skin, and thus the Iranian man mistook him for his countryman and started to speak to him in Persian. The Israeli man apologized that he could not speak Persian but then asked, “Did you find it difficult to accept Jesus Christ?” “Not really,” answered the Iranian. “Muslims already accept Jesus as one of the prophets, so I wasn’t prejudiced.” The two soon became fast friends, finding that their common desire to serve Jehovah drew them together and to Jehovah’s organization.
At a convention in the Orient was a young woman from a communist land who had traveled to a neighboring country at the invitation of relatives. Since they were Jehovah’s Witnesses, her relatives told her what they had learned from the Bible. But having been brought up with evolutionary ideas, she found the concept of a Creator completely foreign to her. However, after examining the matter carefully, she became convinced that there really is a Creator. From then on she studied the Bible seriously. The result was that she attended the convention and was baptized—just before she had to return to her country. Though she realized that now she would have to maintain her integrity under very difficult conditions, she was grateful for having been strengthened by attending the convention.
Another happy face at one of the conventions was that of Naomi, who is paralyzed from the neck down. The superintendent at the institution where she stays sternly forbade her to have anything to do with the Bible, not even allowing her Christian friends to visit her. But Naomi did not let this dampen her spirit. She persevered in her efforts to share the good news with others at the home, conducting regular Bible studies with three of them. When convention time arrived, she courageously—and tearfully—pleaded for permission to attend. Imagine her joy when finally she was allowed to go. Her cheerful attitude belied all the hardship she had to endure.
Heartfelt Notes of Appreciation
Jehovah’s Witnesses do not take up collections at their meetings or conventions. Rather, contribution boxes are provided for those who wish to make voluntary donations. But along with such donations, notes of appreciation such as the following are sometimes dropped into the boxes:
“I am sorry to put in all this small change, but I had no time to go to the bank. As we are a fatherless family, it is not always possible to put something in the contribution box, and that upsets me. These coins are what I have saved up from change at the supermarket in the last six months. The one large bill was in a drawer and I cannot remember why I put it aside. . . . If I kept it, I would spend it, but if I didn’t have it, I would get by without it anyhow. Please accept it as an expression of my gratitude. Incidentally, I am studying now and it is my desire to be baptized at this convention.”
Another note was found, although it was about a contribution of a different sort:
“I am bursting with joy and gratitude, and it is difficult to show these feelings in a tangible way. I have been hoping to take up regular pioneering [full-time ministry] sometime when I am a little better prepared for it. But now I want to volunteer right away, and I am making urgent effort to meet the requirements. We are living in critical times, and I sincerely thank you for showing the way that leads to so much happiness.”
Often people who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses are attracted to their conventions out of either curiosity or genuine interest.
Hoping to hear something about the Bible, a man came to a convention held in Japan. What he heard caught his attention, and he kept attending. On the third day, he said: “I was particularly impressed when I heard that this religion teaches and requires integrity to one God. I can see how this is not like the old established religions of Japan or of Christendom that are so loose, self-centered, shallow, and perfunctory. I can see, too, that this is a way that gives a reason for living.” By the end of the convention, the man, who was a homeless vagrant, had cleaned himself up and accepted a Bible study.
In another city in Japan, a couple from a communist European country were curious at seeing crowds of people streaming into an exhibition hall along the harbor. They were surprised to learn that it was a convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They explained that they knew there were many zealous Witnesses back in their own country but had no idea that there were so many of them in the Orient as well. Impressed by what they saw, they attended some sessions and left with a supply of the new releases.
Will You Be There?
Yes, the annual district conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses are truly a source of spiritual refreshment and encouragement. This year, the conventions will feature the theme “Divine Peace.” You can be sure that any effort you put forth to attend will be richly rewarded. Will you be there? For information as to the time and place of the one nearest to you, check with Jehovah’s Witnesses locally.