Their Faith Moves Mountains
WITH that headline the Buenos Aires daily newspaper Crónica, of December 7, 1990, reported the convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses that was being held in the River Plate and the Vélez Sarsfield soccer stadiums. Certainly, it was strong faith that moved nearly 6,000 foreign delegates from over 20 lands to travel all the way to Argentina to join tens of thousands of their Argentine brothers for their “Pure Language” Convention. This total included several local congregations of Korean Witnesses. The foreign delegates came from Britain, Canada, Chile, Japan, Spain, the United States (including Alaska), and many other countries. What motivated them? Their desire to support the second international convention held in Argentina.
New Bethel Dedication
But great acts of faith had taken place well before convention time. In October the new Argentine branch office of the Asociación de los Testigos de Jehová was dedicated by visiting speaker Theodore Jaracz of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The new residence complex had been built by 259 international and 690 Argentine volunteer workers. Bethel, or “House of God,” located in a tree-lined section of Buenos Aires, has 129 residential rooms and a dining room for 300. With over 84,000 Witnesses in Argentina and potential for much more increase, there is no doubt that this new branch building will soon be fully occupied.
“Jehovah’s Witnesses With Pure Language”
The “Pure Language” theme of the international convention intrigued many, including representatives of the media. Crónica featured the above headline and quoted the definition of “pure language” as given by a speaker: “The correct understanding of the truth about God and his purpose for the earth and man, as contained in the Bible . . . When someone learns to speak the pure language, then his way of thinking, his speech, and his conduct are centered in the recognition of God as the only true God.”
Metropolitan Buenos Aires, a sprawling city of over ten million people, was made well aware of the convention in its midst. During a six-day period, regular 40-second radio and TV spots, mandated by law, gave free publicity to the event. Saturday’s program attracted the press with the baptism of new Witnesses. Visible to the audience, 3 pools were set up at each end of both stadiums, but even 12 pools were not enough to finish the baptism in time for the afternoon program. So the pools at the River Plate Stadium were relocated to be out of sight. At River Plate, 1,363 were baptized and at the Vélez Sarsfield, 748, for a total of 2,111! The Crónica headline read: “Another Marvelous Expression of Faith in River and Vélez—Witnesses Get Baptized.” Attendance at the two conventions totaled more than 67,000.
As one moved through the colorful audience, the physical differences of race and culture were evident. Here was an Argentine sister enjoying her yerba maté, a tea sipped through a metal bombilla, or tube, from a special wooden cup. Among the 800 from Spain were sisters dressed in the beautiful costumes of that land. The group of 900 from Japan included some women dressed in traditional kimonos. A delegate from Mexico wore a black suit and a typical wide-brimmed Mexican sombrero. Yet, in spite of all these outward differences, their spiritual unity was clear for all to see. At the end of the assembly, many were exchanging souvenirs—convention badges, pens, postcards—anything that would serve as a reminder of this beautiful event.
The assembly spirit spilled over into airports. This was especially evident in Miami, Florida, U.S.A., where many groups happened to meet when catching connecting flights. On the way back from Buenos Aires, a large group from the United States encountered a group from Japan, who were on their way to Mexico. Soon, all the American travelers were being buttonholed by their enthusiastic Japanese companions. The rest of the public in the area were baffled and intrigued by what was going on. It was the Witnesses sharing the spirit of their “pure language”!
The convention program and the international association were so outstanding that when the convention ended on Sunday, nobody wanted to leave the stadiums. The different national groups spontaneously started singing Kingdom songs a cappella in their different languages and waved their handkerchiefs to one another. This went on for almost an hour before the happy conventioners finally went home. As one hardened Argentine press photographer stated: “This has never happened before in Argentina . . . such emotion and such warmth!”
[Pictures on page 15]
More than 67,000 attended the two “Pure Language” Conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Buenos Aires, December 6-9, 1990
[Pictures on page 16]
The new Argentine branch complex is ready to serve over 84,000 Witnesses