Growing Together in Love
WHEN writing to fellow Christians, the apostles of Jesus Christ pointed out the need for individuals to grow not only in accurate knowledge but also in love. The basis for this was the love shown by God himself and the self-sacrificing love of Christ, in whose footsteps they endeavored to walk. (John 13:34, 35; Eph. 4:15, 16; 5:1, 2; Phil. 1:9; 1 John 4:7-10) They were a brotherhood, and when they helped one another, the bonds of love became even stronger.
When famine gave rise to economic hardship for the brothers in Judea, Christians in Syria and in Greece shared their possessions in order to assist them. (Acts 11:27-30; Rom. 15:26) When some were persecuted, the suffering experienced was keenly felt by other Christians, and these sought to render aid.—1 Cor. 12:26; Heb. 13:3.
Of course, all humans have the capacity to love, and others besides Christians engage in acts of humanitarian kindness. But people in the Roman world recognized that the love shown by Christians was different. Tertullian, who had been a jurist in Rome, quoted the remarks of people of the Roman world regarding Christians, saying: “‘Look,’ they say, ‘how they love one another . . . and how they are ready to die for each other.’” (Apology, XXXIX, 7) John Hurst, in his History of the Christian Church (Volume I, page 146), relates that people in ancient Carthage and Alexandria, during periods of pestilence, drove away from their presence those who were afflicted and stripped from the bodies of the dying anything that might be of value. In contrast, he reports, Christians in these places shared their possessions, nursed the sick, and buried the dead.
Do Jehovah’s Witnesses in modern times engage in works that demonstrate such concern for the well-being of others? If so, are these performed by only a few scattered individuals, or does the organization as a whole encourage and support such efforts?
Loving Help in Local Congregations
Among Jehovah’s Witnesses, care for orphans and widows in the congregation, as well as for any faithful ones who experience severe adversity, is viewed as part of their worship. (Jas. 1:27; 2:15-17; 1 John 3:17, 18) Secular governments generally make provision for hospitals, housing for the elderly, and welfare arrangements for unemployed people in the community at large, and Jehovah’s Witnesses support those arrangements by conscientiously paying their taxes. However, recognizing that only God’s Kingdom can lastingly solve the problems of humankind, Jehovah’s Witnesses devote themselves and their resources primarily to teaching others about that. This is a vital service that no human government provides.
In the more than 69,000 congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide, special needs that arise because of advanced age and infirmity of individuals are usually cared for on a personal basis. As shown at 1 Timothy 5:4, 8, the responsibility rests primarily upon each Christian to care for his own household. Children, grandchildren, or other close relatives display Christian love by providing assistance to elderly and infirm ones according to their needs. Congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses do not weaken this sense of responsibility by taking over family obligations. However, if there are no close family members, or if those who have the responsibility simply cannot carry the load by themselves, others in the congregation lovingly come to their aid. Where necessary, the congregation as a whole may make provision for some assistance to a needy brother or sister who has a long record of faithful service.—1 Tim. 5:3-10.
Attention to these needs is not left to chance. At sessions of the Kingdom Ministry School, which the elders have attended repeatedly since 1959, their obligation before God in this regard as shepherds of the flock has frequently been given special consideration. (Heb. 13:1, 16) It is not that they were unaware of this need before then. In 1911, for example, material relief was provided by the Oldham Congregation in Lancashire, England, to those among them who were facing severe economic problems. However, since then the global organization has grown, the number experiencing severe problems has increased, and Jehovah’s Witnesses have become increasingly aware of what the Bible shows they should do in such situations. Especially in recent years, the responsibilities of each Christian toward those among them with special needs—the elderly, the infirm, single-parent families, and those in economic difficulty—have been discussed by all the congregations at their meetings.a
The concern that individual Witnesses show for others goes far beyond saying, “Keep warm and well fed.” They demonstrate loving personal interest. (Jas. 2:15, 16) Consider a few examples.
When a young Swedish woman, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, contracted meningitis while visiting Greece in 1986, she also experienced what it means to have Christian brothers and sisters in many lands. Her father in Sweden was notified. He immediately got in touch with an elder in the local congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Sweden and, through him, with a Witness in Greece. Until she was able to return to Sweden three weeks later, the young Witness’s new friends in Greece never left her unattended.
Likewise, when an elderly Witness, a widower, in Wallaceburg, Ontario, Canada, needed assistance, a family that he had aided spiritually showed their appreciation by making him part of the family. A few years later when they moved to Barry’s Bay, he went with them. He lived with them and was lovingly cared for by them for 19 years, until he died in 1990.
In New York City, a Witness couple cared for an elderly man who was attending meetings at their Kingdom Hall, doing so for some 15 years, until he died in 1986. When he had a stroke, they looked after his shopping, cleaning, cooking, and laundry. They treated him as though he were their own father.
Needs of other kinds also are given loving attention. A Witness couple in the United States had sold their home and moved to Montana to help a congregation there. In time, however, serious health problems developed, the brother was laid off from work, and their finances were depleted. How would they manage? The brother prayed to Jehovah for help. As he finished praying, a fellow Witness knocked on the door. Together they went out for a cup of coffee. When the brother returned, he found the kitchen counter stacked with groceries. With the groceries was an envelope containing funds and a note that read: “From your brothers and sisters, who love you very much.” The congregation had realized their need, and they had all shared in filling it. Deeply moved by their love, he and his wife could not help giving way to tears and thanking Jehovah, whose example of love motivates his servants.
The generous concern that Jehovah’s Witnesses show for those among them who fall into need has come to be widely known. At times, impostors have taken advantage of it. So the Witnesses have had to learn to be cautious, while not stifling their desire to help worthy ones.
When War Leaves People Destitute
In many parts of the earth, people have been left destitute as a result of war. Relief organizations endeavor to provide help, but this machinery often works slowly. Jehovah’s Witnesses do not take the view that the work done by such agencies relieves them of responsibility toward their Christian brothers in these areas. When they know that their brothers are in need, they do not ‘shut the door of their tender compassions’ upon such ones but promptly do what they can to bring relief to them.—1 John 3:17, 18.
During World War II, even within countries hard-pressed by shortages, Witnesses in the countryside who still had food supplies shared these with less fortunate brothers in the cities. In the Netherlands this was done at great risk because of harsh restrictions imposed by the Nazis. When on such a relief mission on one occasion, Gerrit Böhmermann was leading a group of brothers on transport bikes that were loaded with food covered with tarpaulins. Suddenly they came upon a checkpoint in the city of Alkmaar. “There was no choice but to trust fully in Jehovah,” said Gerrit. Without slowing down much, he called out loudly to the officer: “Wo ist Amsterdam?” (Which way to Amsterdam?) The officer stepped aside and pointed ahead as he yelled: “Geradeaus!” (Straight ahead!) “Danke schön!” (Thank you!) was Gerrit’s response as the entire fleet of transport bikes went through at full speed while an astonished crowd watched. On another occasion, Witnesses succeeded in bringing a whole boatload of potatoes to their brothers in Amsterdam.
Right within the concentration camps in Europe, this spirit was shown by Jehovah’s Witnesses. While incarcerated in a camp near Amersfoort, in the Netherlands, a 17-year-old lost weight until he became a walking skeleton. But in later years, he never forgot that after they had been forced to exercise in the pouring rain till midnight and then were deprived of food, a Witness from another part of the camp managed to get to him and press a piece of bread into his hand. And in the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria, a Witness whose assignment required that he go from one section of the camp to another often risked his life by taking food that Witnesses had saved from their meager rations to other Witnesses who were being more severely deprived.
Following the war Jehovah’s Witnesses who emerged from German prisons and concentration camps had nothing but the prison garb on their backs. The property of many not in prison had been devastated. Food, clothing, and fuel were in short supply throughout much of Europe. Jehovah’s Witnesses in these lands quickly organized congregation meetings and began to help others spiritually by sharing with them the good news of God’s Kingdom. But they themselves needed help in other ways. Many of them were so weak from hunger that they often fainted during the meetings.
Here was a situation that the Witnesses had not faced before on such a large scale. However, the very month that the war officially ended in the Pacific area, Jehovah’s Witnesses held a special convention in Cleveland, Ohio, at which they discussed what needed to be done to provide relief for their Christian brothers in war-torn lands and how to go about it. The heartwarming discourse “His Unspeakable Gift,” delivered by F. W. Franz, presented Scriptural counsel that fully met the needs of the situation.b
Within a few weeks, as soon as any travel in the area was permitted, N. H. Knorr, president of the Watch Tower Society, and M. G. Henschel were on their way to Europe to see the conditions firsthand. Even before they departed on that trip, relief arrangements were being put into operation.
Early shipments went out from Switzerland and Sweden. More followed from Canada, the United States, and other lands. Although the number of Witnesses in the lands that were in a position to provide such help then numbered only about 85,000, they undertook to send clothing and food to fellow Witnesses in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, China, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, the Philippines, Poland, and Romania. That was not a onetime effort. Relief shipments continued for two and a half years. Between January 1946 and August 1948, they dispatched 1,056,247 pounds [479,114 kg] of clothing, 124,110 pairs of shoes, and 718,873 pounds [ 326,081 kg] of food as gifts to fellow Witnesses. None of the funds were siphoned off for administrative expenses. The sorting and packing was done by unpaid volunteers. Funds contributed were all used to help the people for whom they were intended.
Of course, the need for relief to refugees and to others left destitute by war did not end back there in the 1940’s. There have been hundreds of wars since 1945. And the same loving concern has continued to be shown by Jehovah’s Witnesses. This was done during and after the Biafran war in Nigeria, from 1967 to 1970. Similar aid was provided in Mozambique during the 1980’s.
In Liberia too, there was famine as a result of the war that began in 1989. As people fled, the Watch Tower compound in Monrovia was packed with hundreds of refugees. Whatever food was available there, as well as water from the well, was shared with both Witnesses and non-Witness neighbors. Then, as soon as circumstances permitted, further relief supplies came from Witnesses in Sierra Leone and Côte d’Ivoire in West Africa, the Netherlands and Italy in Europe, and the United States.
Again, in 1990, after war in Lebanon had left sections of Beirut looking as if an earthquake had struck, elders among Jehovah’s Witnesses organized an emergency relief committee to give needed help to the brothers. They did not have to call for volunteers; each day many offered their help.
During a period of great political and economic upheaval in Europe, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Yugoslavia sent more than 70 tons of needed items to their Christian brothers in Romania in 1990.
This was followed by more relief missions into Eastern Europe. The Governing Body asked the Watch Tower Society’s branch office in Denmark to organize relief for needy Witnesses in Ukraine. Congregations were notified and were eager to share. On December 18, 1991, five trucks and two vans driven by Witness volunteers arrived at Lviv with 22 tons of supplies—an expression of loving concern for their Christian brothers. Continuing into 1992, shipments also arrived from the Witnesses in Austria—over 100 tons of food and clothing. More supplies were dispatched from the Witnesses in the Netherlands—first 26 tons of food, next a convoy of 11 trucks containing clothing, then more food to cope with the ongoing need. The recipients were grateful to God and looked to him for wisdom in using what had been provided. They united in prayer before unloading the trucks and again when the job was done. Other large relief shipments were sent by Witnesses in Italy, Finland, Sweden, and Switzerland. At the time that all of this was going on, turbulent conditions among the republics that formerly made up Yugoslavia gave rise to need there. Supplies of food, clothing, and medication were also dispatched to that area. Meanwhile, Witnesses in the cities there opened their homes to care for those whose dwellings had been destroyed.
Sometimes those who desperately need help are in remote places, and their situation is not widely known. That was true of 35 families of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Guatemala. Their villages had been invaded by warring factions. When they were finally able to return in 1989, they needed help to rebuild. To supplement assistance made available by the government to repatriates, the Watch Tower Society’s branch office formed an emergency committee to assist these Witness families, and some 500 other Witnesses from 50 congregations volunteered to help with the rebuilding.
There are other situations that also bring people into dire need through no fault of their own. Earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods are frequent occurrences. On an average, it is said, the world is hit by more than 25 major disasters each year.
When Natural Forces Go on a Rampage
When major emergencies affecting Jehovah’s Witnesses arise because of disasters, immediate steps are taken to provide needed assistance. Local elders have learned that when confronted with such situations, they should put forth earnest effort to get in touch with each one in the congregation. The branch office of the Watch Tower Society that supervises the Kingdom work in that area promptly checks on the situation and then reports to the world headquarters. Where more help is needed than can be provided locally, carefully coordinated arrangements are made, at times even on an international scale. The objective is not to try to raise the living standard of those affected but to help them to have the necessities of life to which they were accustomed.
Simply a report of the disaster on television is enough to move many Witnesses to phone responsible elders in the area to offer their services or to provide money or materials. Others may send funds to the branch office or to the world headquarters to be used for relief purposes. They know that help is needed, and they want to share. Where there is greater need, the Watch Tower Society may notify the brothers in a limited area so that they can help as they are able. A relief committee is formed in order to coordinate the handling of matters in the disaster area.
Thus, when most of Managua, Nicaragua, was devastated by a powerful earthquake in December 1972, overseers of the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses in that area met within hours to coordinate their efforts. An immediate check was made as to the welfare of each Witness in the city. That same day relief supplies began to arrive from nearby congregations; then they quickly came from Costa Rica, Honduras, and El Salvador. Fourteen relief distribution points were set up around the outskirts of Managua. Money and supplies from Witnesses in many parts of the world were channeled into Nicaragua through the Watch Tower Society’s international headquarters. Food and other supplies (including candles, matches, and soap) were dispensed according to the size of each household, a seven-day supply being given to each family. At the peak of operations, some 5,000 persons—Witnesses, their families, and relatives with whom they were staying—were being fed. The relief operations continued for ten months. Upon seeing what was being done, government agencies and the Red Cross also made food, tents, and other supplies available.
In 1986, when volcanic eruptions forced the evacuation of 10,000 people from the island of Izu-Oshima, near the coast of Japan, boats carrying the refugees were met by Jehovah’s Witnesses who searched diligently to locate their spiritual brothers. Said one of the evacuees: “When we left Oshima, we ourselves did not know where we were going.” Everything had happened so quickly. “As we got off the ship, however, we spotted a sign saying, ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses.’ . . . Tears welled up in my wife’s eyes as she was overcome by relief at finding our brothers there to meet us at the pier.” After observing how the evacuee Witnesses were cared for, not only at their arrival but also thereafter, even people who had formerly ostracized them said: “You did a good thing in sticking with that religion.”
Every effort is made by the Witnesses to get help into disaster areas just as quickly as possible. In 1970, when Peru was struck by one of the most devastating earthquakes in its history, emergency relief funds were promptly dispatched from the world headquarters in New York, and 15 tons of clothing followed. Even before that shipment arrived, however, Witnesses had driven a caravan of vehicles with relief supplies into the area where cities and villages had been destroyed, doing so within hours after the roads were opened. Progressively in the days and weeks that followed, they provided needed help, both material and spiritual, to the various groups high in the Andes. And, in 1980, when parts of Italy were rocked by a severe earthquake during the evening of November 23, the first truckload of supplies dispatched by the Witnesses arrived in the stricken area the very next day. They immediately set up their own kitchen, from which food cooked by the sisters was distributed each day. An observer of relief efforts on one Caribbean island remarked: “The Witnesses worked faster than the government.” Perhaps this is true at times, but Jehovah’s Witnesses definitely appreciate the help of officials who facilitate their efforts to reach such disaster areas quickly.
During a period of famine in Angola in 1990, it was learned that Witnesses there were in dire need of food and clothing. Reaching them could be a problem, however, because there had been a ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses in that country for many years. Nevertheless, their Christian brothers in South Africa loaded a truck with 25 tons of relief supplies. En route, they visited the consulate of Angola and were granted permission to cross the border. In order to reach the brothers, they had to pass through 30 military roadblocks, and where a bridge had been blown up, they had to cross a river at flood stage on the temporary structure that had been erected in its place. In spite of all of this, the entire shipment was delivered safely.
In times of disaster, more is done than simply shipping relief supplies to the area. When explosions and fire devastated an area in a suburb of Mexico City in 1984, Witnesses quickly arrived to provide help. But many of the Witnesses in the area could not be accounted for, so the elders organized a systematic search to locate each one. Some had dispersed to other localities. Nevertheless, the elders persisted until they located all of them. Assistance was given according to what was needed. In the case of a sister who had lost her husband and a son, that involved caring for funeral arrangements and then providing full support, materially and spiritually, for the sister and her remaining children.
Frequently, much more is needed than medical supplies, a few meals, and some clothing. In 1989 a storm destroyed the homes of 117 Witnesses in Guadeloupe and severely damaged the homes of 300 others. Jehovah’s Witnesses in Martinique quickly came to their aid; then the Witnesses in France shipped over 100 tons of building materials as a gift to help them. On the island of St. Croix, when a Witness who had lost her home told workmates that fellow Witnesses were coming from Puerto Rico to help, they said: “They will not do anything for you. You are black, not Spanish like them.” What a surprise for those workmates when she soon had a completely new house! Following an earthquake in Costa Rica in 1991, local Witnesses and international volunteers joined forces to help fellow Witnesses in the disaster area. Expecting nothing in return, they rebuilt 31 homes and 5 Kingdom Halls and repaired others. Observers stated: ‘Other groups talk love; you show it.’
The efficiency with which relief efforts have been carried out by Jehovah’s Witnesses has often amazed onlookers. In California, U.S.A., in 1986, a levee on the Yuba River broke and floodwaters forced tens of thousands of people to leave their homes. Christian elders in the area got in touch with the headquarters in New York, and a relief committee was formed. As soon as the water began to subside, hundreds of volunteers were ready to work. Before secular relief agencies had been able to get under way, homes of the Witnesses were already being refurbished. Why were they able to move so quickly?
A principal factor was the willingness of the Witnesses to volunteer immediately without pay, as well as their donating the materials needed. Another factor was that they were experienced in organizing and working together, since they do this regularly in order to operate their conventions and to build new Kingdom Halls. Yet another vital factor is that they have given much thought to what the Bible means when it says, “Have intense love for one another.”—1 Pet. 4:8.
The contributions that are made to meet such needs frequently come from individuals who have very little themselves. As their accompanying letters often say: ‘The gift is small, but our whole heart goes out to our sisters and brothers.’ ‘I wish I could send more, but what Jehovah has allowed me to have I wish to share.’ Like the first-century Christians in Macedonia, they earnestly beg for the privilege of having a share in providing essentials of life for those who have come into need. (2 Cor. 8:1-4) When over 200,000 Koreans were left homeless as a result of flooding in 1984, Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Republic of Korea responded so generously that the branch office had to make it known that no more help was needed.
Observers can readily see that something more than a feeling of responsibility or general humanitarianism motivates the Witnesses. They truly love their Christian brothers and sisters.
In addition to caring for physical needs, Jehovah’s Witnesses give special attention to the spiritual needs of their brothers in disaster areas. Arrangements are made just as quickly as possible for congregation meetings to resume. In Greece, in 1986, this required setting up a large tent outside the city of Kalamata to use as a Kingdom Hall, and smaller ones at various locations for midweek Congregation Book Studies. Similarly, after the physical needs of survivors of the devastating mud slide at Armero, Colombia, in 1985, had been cared for, the remaining funds were used to construct new Kingdom Halls for three congregations in the area.
Even while such reconstruction work is under way, Jehovah’s Witnesses continue to comfort others with the satisfying answers that God’s Word gives to their questions about the purpose of life, the reason for disasters and death, and the hope for the future.
The relief efforts of the Witnesses are not meant to care for the physical needs of everyone in the disaster area. In accord with Galatians 6:10, these are intended primarily for ‘those related to them in the faith.’ At the same time, they gladly assist others as they are able. They have done this, for example, when providing food for earthquake victims in Italy. In the United States, when helping flood and storm victims, they have also cleaned and repaired the homes of distraught neighbors of Witnesses. When asked why they would perform such acts of kindness for a stranger, they simply reply that they love their neighbors. (Matt. 22:39) Following a devastating hurricane in southern Florida, U.S.A., in 1992, the well-organized relief program of the Witnesses was so well-known that some business establishments and individuals who were not Witnesses and who wanted to make significant donations of relief supplies turned these over to the Witnesses. They knew that their gift would not be simply left in a stockpile, nor would it be used for profit, but it would truly benefit the hurricane victims, both Witnesses and non-Witnesses. Their willingness to help non-Witnesses in time of disaster was so greatly appreciated in Davao del Norte, in the Philippines, that town officials passed a resolution saying so.
However, not everyone loves true Christians. Frequently, they are the objects of vicious persecution. This situation, too, brings a generous outpouring of loving support for fellow Christians.
In the Face of Vicious Persecution
The apostle Paul compared the Christian congregation to the human body and said: “Its members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the other members suffer with it.” (1 Cor. 12:25, 26) That is how Jehovah’s Witnesses react when they hear reports about the persecution of their Christian brothers.
In Germany during the Nazi era, the government took harsh repressive measures against Jehovah’s Witnesses. There were only some 20,000 Witnesses in Germany at the time, a relatively small band despised by Hitler. United action was needed. On October 7, 1934, every congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses throughout Germany met secretly, prayed together, and sent a letter to the government stating their determination to continue to serve Jehovah. Then many of those in attendance fearlessly went out to witness to their neighbors about Jehovah’s name and Kingdom. On the same day, Jehovah’s Witnesses throughout the rest of the earth also met in their congregations and, after united prayer, sent cablegrams to the Hitler government in support of their Christian brothers.
In 1948, after the clergy-inspired persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Greece was laid bare, the president of Greece and various ministers of government received thousands of letters from Jehovah’s Witnesses in behalf of their Christian brothers. These came from the Philippines, Australia, North and South America, and other areas.
When Awake! magazine exposed the inquisitional methods being employed against the Witnesses in Spain in 1961, letters of protest deluged the authorities there. Officials were shocked to find that people around the world knew exactly what they were doing, and as a result, even though the persecution continued, some of the police began to deal with the Witnesses with greater restraint. In various African lands too, officials have heard from Witnesses in many other parts of the world when they learned of cruel treatment being meted out to their Christian brothers and sisters there.
If no favorable response is forthcoming from the government, the persecuted Witnesses are not forgotten. Because of persisting in religious persecution for many years, some governments have repeatedly been deluged with letters of appeal and protest. That was true of Argentina. On one occasion in 1959, the secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cults took one of our brothers to a room where there were several bookcases filled with letters that had poured in from all over the world. He was amazed that someone as far away as Fiji would write appealing for freedom of worship in Argentina.
In certain instances increased freedom has been granted when rulers realized that people worldwide knew what they were doing and that there were many who really cared. That was true in Liberia in 1963. Outrageous treatment had been meted out by government soldiers to convention delegates at Gbarnga. The president of Liberia was deluged with letters of protest from around the world, and the U.S. State Department intervened because a U.S. citizen was involved. Finally, President Tubman wired the Watch Tower Society’s headquarters expressing willingness to receive a delegation of Jehovah’s Witnesses to discuss matters. Two of the delegates—Milton Henschel and John Charuk—had been at Gbarnga. Mr. Tubman acknowledged that what had occurred was “an outrage” and said: “I am sorry this thing happened.”
Following that interview, an Executive Order was issued notifying “all people throughout the country, that Jehovah’s Witnesses shall have the right and privilege of free access to any part of the country to carry on their missionary work and religious worship without molestation from anyone. They shall have the protection of the law both of their person and their property and the right to freely worship God according to the dictates of their consciences, observing in the meantime the laws of the Republic by showing respect to the national flag when it is being hoisted or lowered at ceremonies by standing at attention.” But it was not required that they salute, in violation of their Christian conscience.
However, as of 1992, no such official pronouncement had yet been forthcoming in Malawi, though violence against the Witnesses there had subsided to a considerable extent. Jehovah’s Witnesses there have been the victims of some of the most vicious religious persecution in African history. One wave of such persecution swept the country in 1967; another began early in the 1970’s. Tens of thousands of letters were written in their behalf from all parts of the world. Phone calls were made. Cablegrams were sent. On humanitarian grounds many prominent people of the world were moved to speak out.
So extreme was the brutality that some 19,000 of Jehovah’s Witnesses and their children fled across the border to Zambia in 1972. The nearby Witness congregations in Zambia quickly gathered food and blankets for their brothers. Money and supplies donated by Jehovah’s Witnesses all over the world poured into Watch Tower branch offices and were channeled to the refugees by the headquarters office in New York. More than enough came in to care for all the needs of the refugees in the camp at Sinda Misale. As news spread through the camp of the arrival of trucks bearing food, clothing, and tarpaulins to provide covering, the Malawian brothers could not help giving way to tears of joy because of this evidence of the love of their Christian brothers.
When any of their number are held in detention, fellow Witnesses do not forsake them, not even when personal risk is involved. During the ban in Argentina, when a group of Witnesses were detained for 45 hours, four other Witnesses brought food and clothing for them, only to be imprisoned themselves. In 1989 the wife of a circuit overseer in Burundi, upon learning of the plight of her Christian brothers, tried to take food to the prison for them. But she herself was arrested and held hostage for two weeks, because the police were trying to get their hands on her husband.
Along with whatever they can do in all these ways, love for their Christian brothers moves Jehovah’s Witnesses to raise their voices in prayer to God in their behalf. They do not pray that God put an immediate stop to wars and food shortages, because Jesus Christ foretold such things for our time. (Matt. 24:7) Nor do they pray for God to prevent all persecution, because the Bible clearly states that true Christians will be persecuted. (John 15:20; 2 Tim. 3:12) But they do earnestly petition that their Christian brothers and sisters be strengthened to stand firm in faith in the face of whatever hardship comes upon them. (Compare Colossians 4:12.) The record testifying to their spiritual strength gives abundant evidence that such prayers have been answered.
a See The Watchtower, September 15, 1980, pages 21-6; October 15, 1986, pages 10-21; June 1, 1987, pages 4-18; July 15, 1988, pages 21-3; March 1, 1990, pages 20-2.
b See The Watchtower, December 1, 1945, pages 355-63.
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Attention to cases of special need not left to chance
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Help that results from loving personal concern
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Coming to grips with massive needs for relief
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A systematic search to locate each Witness in the disaster area
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Doing good to non-Witnesses too
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Tears of joy because of the love shown by their Christian brothers
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“You Really Love One Another”
After watching Witness volunteers in war-torn Lebanon completely restore the badly damaged home of one of their Christian sisters, her neighbors felt impelled to ask: “Where does this love come from? What kind of people are you?” And a Muslim woman, watching as the home of a Witness was being cleaned and repaired, declared: “You really love one another. Yours is the right religion.”
[Box on page 316]
True Brothers and Sisters
Regarding Cuban Witness refugees in Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, the “Arkansas Gazette” said: “They were the very first to be relocated into new homes because their American ‘brothers and sisters’—fellow Jehovah’s Witnesses—sought them out. . . . When Witnesses call their spiritual counterparts in any land ‘brothers and sisters,’ they really mean it.”—Issue of April 19, 1981.
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After World War II, they shipped food and clothing to fellow Witnesses in need in 18 lands
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In 1990, Witnesses in nearby lands united their efforts to help fellow believers in Romania
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Witnesses who survived an earthquake in Peru built their own refuge city and helped one another
Relief supplies brought by other Witnesses (below) were among the first to reach the area
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Relief efforts often include providing materials and volunteers to help fellow Witnesses rebuild their homes
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Witness relief efforts include spiritual upbuilding. Both in Kalamata, Greece, and outside the city, tents were quickly set up for meetings