Part 1—Witnesses to the Most Distant Part of the Earth
This is the first of five parts in a chapter that reports how the activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses has reached around the earth. Part 1, which covers the era from the 1870’s through 1914, is on pages 404 to 422. Human society has never recovered from the convulsions caused by World War I, which began in 1914. That was the year that the Bible Students had long identified as marking the end of the Gentile Times.
BEFORE he ascended to heaven, Jesus Christ commissioned his apostles, saying: “You will be witnesses of me . . . to the most distant part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) He had also foretold that “this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations.” (Matt. 24:14) That work was not completed in the first century. A major part of it has been done in modern times. And the record of its accomplishment from the 1870’s to the present is truly thrilling.
Although Charles Taze Russell came to be widely known for his well-advertised discourses on the Bible, his interest was not merely in large audiences but in people. Thus, shortly after he began to publish the Watch Tower in 1879, he undertook extensive traveling to visit small groups of readers of the magazine to discuss the Scriptures with them.
C. T. Russell urged those who believed the precious promises of God’s Word to have a part in sharing them with other people. Those whose hearts were deeply touched by what they were learning showed real zeal in doing just that. To assist in the work, printed material was provided. Early in 1881, a number of tracts appeared. Material from these was then combined with additional information to form the more comprehensive Food for Thinking Christians, and 1,200,000 copies of this were prepared for distribution. But how could the small band of Bible Students (perhaps 100 at that time) put out all of these?
Reaching Church Attenders
Some were given to relatives and friends. A number of newspapers agreed to send a copy to each of their subscribers. (Special emphasis was put on weekly and monthly papers so that Food for Thinking Christians would reach many people who lived in rural areas.) But much of the distribution was accomplished on several consecutive Sundays in front of churches in the United States and Britain. There were not enough Bible Students to do it all personally, so they hired others to help.
Brother Russell dispatched two associates, J. C. Sunderlin and J. J. Bender, to Britain to supervise the distribution of 300,000 copies there. Brother Sunderlin went to London, while Brother Bender traveled north into Scotland and then worked his way south. Principal attention was given to larger cities. By means of newspaper ads, capable men were located, and contracts were made with them to arrange for enough helpers to distribute their allotment of copies. Nearly 500 distributors were recruited in London alone. The work was done quickly, on two consecutive Sundays.
That same year, arrangements were made for Bible Students who could spend half or more of their time exclusively in the Lord’s work to be colporteurs, distributing literature for Bible study. These forerunners of the ones known today as pioneers achieved a truly remarkable distribution of the good news.
During the following decade, Brother Russell prepared a variety of tracts that could easily be used to disseminate some of the outstanding Bible truths that had been learned. He also wrote several volumes of Millennial Dawn (later known as Studies in the Scriptures). Then he began to make personal evangelizing trips to other lands.
Russell Travels Abroad
In 1891 he visited Canada, where enough interest had been generated since 1880 that an assembly attended by 700 could now be held in Toronto. He also traveled to Europe in 1891 to see what could be done to forward the spread of the truth there. This trip took him to Ireland, Scotland, England, many of the countries on the European continent, Russia (the area now known as Moldova), and the Middle East.
What did he conclude from his contacts on that trip? “We saw no opening or readiness for the truth in Russia . . . We saw nothing to encourage us to hope for any harvest in Italy or Turkey or Austria or Germany,” he reported. “But Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, and especially England, Ireland and Scotland, are fields ready and waiting to be harvested. These fields seem to be crying out, Come over and help us!” This was an era when the Catholic Church still forbade Bible reading, when many Protestants were forsaking their churches, and when not a few, disillusioned by the churches, were rejecting the Bible altogether.
In order to help those people who were spiritually hungry, after Brother Russell’s trip in 1891 intensified efforts were put forth to translate literature into the languages of Europe. Also, arrangements were made to print and stock literature supplies in London so that these would be more readily available for use in Britain. The British field did, indeed, prove to be ready for harvesting. By 1900, there were already nine congregations and a total of 138 Bible Students—among them some zealous colporteurs. When Brother Russell again visited Britain in 1903, a thousand gathered in Glasgow to hear him speak on “Millennial Hopes and Prospects,” 800 attended in London, and audiences of 500 to 600 in other towns.
In confirmation of Brother Russell’s observations, however, after his visit 17 years passed before the first congregation of Bible Students was formed in Italy, at Pinerolo. And what about Turkey? During the late 1880’s, Basil Stephanoff had preached in Macedonia, in what was then European Turkey. Although some had seemed to show interest, certain ones who professed to be brothers made false reports, leading to his imprisonment. Not until 1909 did a letter from a Greek in Smyrna (now Izmir), Turkey, report that a group there was appreciatively studying the Watch Tower publications. As for Austria, Brother Russell himself returned in 1911 to speak in Vienna, only to have the meeting broken up by a mob. In Germany too, appreciative response was slow in coming. But the Scandinavians showed greater awareness of their spiritual need.
Scandinavians Share With One Another
Many Swedes were living in America. In 1883 a sample copy of the Watch Tower translated into Swedish was made available for distribution among them. These soon found their way by mail to friends and relatives in Sweden. No Norwegian literature had yet been produced. Nevertheless, in 1892, the year after Brother Russell’s trip to Europe, Knud Pederson Hammer, a Norwegian who had learned the truth in America, personally returned to Norway to witness to his relatives.
Then, in 1894, when literature began to be published in Dano-Norwegian, Sophus Winter, a 25-year-old Danish-American, was sent to Denmark with a supply to distribute. By the next spring, he had placed 500 volumes of Millennial Dawn. Within a short time, a few others who read those publications were sharing in the work with him. Sadly, he later lost sight of the value of the precious privilege that was his; but others continued to let the light shine.
Before he abandoned the service, however, Winter did some colporteuring in Sweden. Shortly after that, at the home of a friend on the island of Sturkö, August Lundborg, a young Salvation Army captain, saw two volumes of Millennial Dawn. He borrowed them, read them eagerly, resigned from the church, and started to share with others what he had learned. Another young man, P. J. Johansson, had his eyes opened as a result of reading a tract that he picked up on a park bench.
As the Swedish group began to grow, some went over to Norway to distribute Bible literature. Even before that, literature had arrived in Norway by mail from relatives in America. It was in this way that Rasmus Blindheim got started in Jehovah’s service. Among others in Norway, Theodor Simonsen, a preacher of the Free Mission, received the truth during those early years. He started to refute the hellfire teaching in his speeches at the Free Mission. His audience jumped to their feet in excitement over this wonderful news; but when it was learned that he had been in touch with the “Millennial Dawn,” he was dismissed from the church. Nevertheless, he kept right on talking about the good things that he had learned. Another young man who received some literature was Andreas Øiseth. Once convinced that he had the truth, he left the family farm and undertook colporteur work. Systematically he worked his way north, then south along the fjords, not bypassing any community. In the winter he carried his supplies—food, clothing, and literature—on a kick-sled, and hospitable people provided places for him to sleep. In an eight-year trip, he covered nearly the entire country with the good news.
August Lundborg’s wife, Ebba, went from Sweden into Finland to do colporteur work in 1906. At about the same time, men returning from the United States brought some Watch Tower literature with them and began to share what they were learning. Thus within a few years, Emil Österman, who was looking for something better than what the churches offered, came into possession of The Divine Plan of the Ages. He shared it with his friend Kaarlo Harteva, who was also searching. Recognizing the value of what they had, Harteva translated it into Finnish and, with Österman’s help in financing, arranged for it to be published. Together they set out to distribute it. Displaying a genuine evangelizing spirit, they talked to people in public places, made calls from house to house, and gave discourses in large auditoriums that were packed to capacity. In Helsinki, after exposing Christendom’s false doctrines, Brother Harteva invited the audience to use the Bible to defend belief in immortality of the soul, if they could. All eyes turned toward the clergymen present. No one spoke up; none could answer the clear statement found at Ezekiel 18:4. Some in the audience said they could hardly sleep that night after what they had heard.
Humble Gardener Becomes Evangelizer in Europe
Meanwhile, Adolf Weber, at the encouragement of an elderly Anabaptist friend, left Switzerland for the United States in search of a fuller understanding of the Scriptures. There, in response to an ad, he became a gardener for Brother Russell. With the help of The Divine Plan of the Ages (then available in German) and meetings conducted by Brother Russell, Adolf gained the Bible knowledge that he was seeking, and he was baptized in 1890. The ‘eyes of his heart were enlightened,’ so that he truly appreciated what a grand opportunity had opened up to him. (Eph. 1:18) After witnessing zealously for a time in the United States, he returned to the land of his birth to take up work “in the Lord’s vineyard” there. Thus, by the mid-1890’s, he was back in Switzerland sharing Bible truth with those who had receptive hearts.
Adolf earned his livelihood as a gardener and forester, but his prime interest was evangelizing. He witnessed to those with whom he worked, as well as to people in nearby Swiss towns and villages. He knew several languages, and he used this knowledge to translate the Society’s publications into French. When winter came he would load his knapsack with Bible literature and go on foot into France, and at times he traveled northwest into Belgium and south into Italy.
To reach people that he might not contact personally, he placed ads in newspapers and magazines, drawing attention to literature available for Bible study. Elie Thérond, in central France, responded to one of the ads, recognized the ring of truth in what he read, and soon began spreading the message himself. In Belgium, Jean-Baptiste Tilmant, Sr., also saw one of the ads in 1901 and obtained two volumes of Millennial Dawn. What a thrill for him to see Bible truth presented so clearly! How could he possibly refrain from telling his friends! By the following year, a study group was meeting regularly in his home. Soon afterward the activity of that little group was yielding fruit even in northern France. Brother Weber kept in touch with them, periodically visiting the various groups that developed, building them up spiritually and giving them instructions on how to share the good news with others.
When the Good News Reached Germany
A short time after some of the publications began to appear in German, in the mid-1880’s, German-Americans who appreciated them began to send copies to relatives in the land of their birth. A nurse working at a hospital in Hamburg shared copies of Millennial Dawn with others at the hospital. In 1896, Adolf Weber, in Switzerland, was placing ads in German-language newspapers and mailing tracts to Germany. The following year a literature depot was opened in Germany to facilitate distribution of the German edition of the Watch Tower, but results were slow in coming. However, in 1902, Margarethe Demut, who had learned the truth in Switzerland, moved to Tailfingen, east of the Black Forest. Her zealous personal witnessing helped to lay the foundation for one of the early groups of Bible Students in Germany. Samuel Lauper, from Switzerland, moved to the Bergisches Land, northeast of Cologne, to spread the good news in that area. By 1904, meetings were being held there in Wermelskirchen. Among those present was an 80-year-old man, Gottlieb Paas, who had been looking for the truth. On his deathbed, not long after those meetings began, Paas held up the Watch Tower and said: “This is the truth; hold on to it.”
The number interested in these Bible truths gradually increased. Although it was expensive, arrangements were made to insert free sample copies of the Watch Tower into newspapers in Germany. A report published in 1905 says that more than 1,500,000 copies of these Watch Tower samples had been distributed. That was a great accomplishment for a very small group.
The Bible Students did not all feel that by reaching people close to home they had done what was necessary. As early as 1907, Brother Erler, from Germany, made trips into Bohemia in what was then Austria-Hungary (later part of Czechoslovakia). He distributed literature warning of Armageddon and telling of the blessings that would come to mankind thereafter. By 1912 another Bible Student had distributed Bible literature in the Memel area, in what is now Lithuania. Many responded enthusiastically to the message, and several fairly large groups of Bible Students were quickly formed there. However, when they learned that true Christians must also be witnesses, their numbers began to dwindle. Nevertheless, a few proved themselves to be genuine imitators of Christ, “the faithful and true witness.”—Rev. 3:14.
When Nikolaus von Tornow, a German baron with large estates in Russia, was in Switzerland in about 1907, he was handed one of the Watch Tower Society’s tracts. Two years later he appeared at the Berlin Congregation, in Germany, decked out in his best attire and accompanied by his personal servant. It took a while for him to appreciate why God would entrust priceless truths to such unassuming people, but what he read at 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 helped: “You behold his calling of you, brothers, that not many wise in a fleshly way were called, not many powerful, not many of noble birth . . . , in order that no flesh might boast in the sight of God.” Convinced that he had found the truth, von Tornow sold his estates in Russia and devoted himself and his resources to furthering the interests of pure worship.
In 1911, when a young German couple, the Herkendells, got married, the bride requested of her father, as a dowry, money for an unusual honeymoon. She and her husband had in mind making a strenuous trip that would take many months. Their honeymoon was a preaching trip into Russia to reach German-speaking people there. Thus in many ways people of all sorts were sharing with others what they had learned about God’s loving purpose.
Growth in the British Field
After the intensive distribution of literature in Britain in 1881, some churchgoers saw the need to act on what they had learned. Tom Hart of Islington, London, was one of those impressed by the Watch Tower’s Scriptural counsel, “Get out of her, my people”—that is, get out of Christendom’s Babylonish churches and follow Bible teaching. (Rev. 18:4) He resigned from the chapel in 1884, followed by a number of others.
Many who associated with the study groups developed into effective evangelizers. Some offered Bible literature in the parks of London and other places where people were relaxing. Others concentrated on business houses. The more usual way, however, was to make house-to-house visits.
Sarah Ferrie, a subscriber for the Watch Tower, wrote to Brother Russell saying that she and a few friends in Glasgow would like to volunteer to share in tract distribution. What a surprise when a truck pulled up at her door with 30,000 pamphlets, all to be distributed free! They moved into action. Minnie Greenlees, along with her three young sons, with a “pony and trap” for transportation, pressed the distribution of Bible literature into the Scottish countryside. Later on, Alfred Greenlees and Alexander MacGillivray, traveling on bicycles, distributed tracts throughout much of Scotland. Instead of paying others to distribute the literature, dedicated volunteers were now doing the work themselves.
Their Hearts Impelled Them
In one of his parables, Jesus had said that people who ‘heard the word of God with a fine and good heart’ would bear fruit. Sincere appreciation for God’s loving provisions would move them to share the good news about God’s Kingdom with others. (Luke 8:8, 11, 15) Regardless of their circumstances, they would find some way to do it.
Thus it was from an Italian sailor that an Argentine traveler obtained a portion of the tract Food for Thinking Christians. While in port in Peru, the traveler wrote for more, and with heightened interest he wrote again, from Argentina in 1885, to the editor of the Watch Tower to request literature. That same year a member of the British Navy, who was sent with his battery to Singapore, took the Watch Tower with him. He was delighted with what he learned from the magazine and freely used it there to make known the Bible’s view on topics that were matters of public discussion. In 1910 a ship on which two Christian women were traveling stopped over at the port in Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). They seized the opportunity to witness to Mr. Van Twest, the shipping master of the port. They spoke earnestly to him about the good things they had learned from the book The Divine Plan of the Ages. As a result, Mr. Van Twest became a Bible Student, and the preaching of the good news got under way in Sri Lanka.
Even those who could not travel sought ways to share heartwarming Bible truths with people in other countries. As revealed by a letter of appreciation published in 1905, someone in the United States had sent The Divine Plan of the Ages to a man in St. Thomas, in what was then the Danish West Indies. After reading it, the recipient had got down on his knees and expressed his earnest desire to be used by God in the doing of his will. In 1911, Bellona Ferguson in Brazil cited her case as “a positive, living proof that there are none too far away to be reached” by the waters of truth. She had evidently been receiving the Society’s publications by mail since 1899. Sometime before World War I, a German immigrant in Paraguay found one of the Society’s tracts in his mailbox. He ordered more literature and soon broke off his ties with Christendom’s churches. There was no one else in the country to do it, so he and his brother-in-law decided to baptize each other. Indeed, a witness was being given in distant parts of the earth, and it was bearing fruit.
Yet others of the Bible Students felt impelled to travel to the place where they or their parents were born to tell friends and relatives about Jehovah’s wonderful purpose and how they could share in it. Thus, in 1895, Brother Oleszynski returned to Poland with good news about the “ransom, restitution and the high calling”; though, sadly, he did not endure in that service. In 1898 a former professor, a Hungarian, left Canada to spread the Bible’s urgent message in his homeland. In 1905 a man who had become a Bible Student in America returned to Greece to witness. And in 1913 a young man carried seeds of Bible truth from New York back to his family’s hometown, Ramallah, not far from Jerusalem.
Opening Up the Caribbean Area
While the number of evangelizers was growing in the United States, Canada, and Europe, Bible truth was also beginning to take hold in Panama, Costa Rica, Dutch Guiana (now Suriname), and British Guiana (now Guyana). Joseph Brathwaite, who was in British Guiana when he was helped to understand God’s purpose, left for Barbados in 1905 to devote his full time to teaching it to people there. Louis Facey and H. P. Clarke, who heard the good news when working in Costa Rica, returned to Jamaica in 1897 to share their newfound faith among their own people. Those who embraced the truth there were zealous workers. In 1906 alone, the group in Jamaica distributed about 1,200,000 tracts and other pieces of literature. Another migrant worker, who learned the truth in Panama, carried the Bible’s message of hope back to Grenada.
Revolution in Mexico in 1910-11 was another factor in bringing truth-hungry persons the message of God’s Kingdom. Many people fled north into the United States. There some of them came in touch with the Bible Students, learned about Jehovah’s purpose to bring lasting peace to mankind, and sent literature back into Mexico. However, this was not the first time that Mexico had been reached with this message. As early as 1893, the Watch Tower published a letter from F. de P. Stephenson, of Mexico, who had read some of the Watch Tower Society’s publications and wanted to have more to share with his friends both in Mexico and in Europe.
To open more of the Caribbean lands to the preaching of Bible truth and to organize regular meetings for study, Brother Russell sent E. J. Coward to Panama in 1911 and then to the islands. Brother Coward was an emphatic and colorful speaker, and audiences frequently numbering in the hundreds flocked to hear his discourses refuting the doctrines of hellfire and immortality of the human soul, also telling of the glorious future for the earth. He moved from one town to the next, and from one island to another—St. Lucia, Dominica, St. Kitts, Barbados, Grenada, and Trinidad—reaching as many people as possible. He also spoke in British Guiana. While in Panama, he met W. R. Brown, a zealous young Jamaican brother, who thereafter served along with Brother Coward on a number of the Caribbean islands. Later on, Brother Brown helped to open up yet other fields.
In 1913, Brother Russell himself spoke in Panama, Cuba, and Jamaica. For a public discourse that he gave in Kingston, Jamaica, two auditoriums were packed, and still some 2,000 persons had to be turned away. When the speaker said nothing about money and when no collection was taken, the press took note.
Light of Truth Reaches Africa
Africa too was being penetrated by the light of truth during this period. A letter sent from Liberia in 1884 revealed that a Bible reader there had come into possession of a copy of Food for Thinking Christians and wanted more to share with others. A few years after that, it was reported that a clergyman in Liberia had left his pulpit in order to be free to teach Bible truths that he was learning with the aid of the Watch Tower and that regular meetings were being held there by a group of Bible Students.
A Dutch Reformed minister from Holland took some of the publications of C. T. Russell with him when he was sent to South Africa in 1902. Although he did not lastingly benefit from them, Frans Ebersohn and Stoffel Fourie, who saw the literature in his library, did. A few years later, the ranks in that part of the field were fortified when two zealous Bible Students emigrated from Scotland to Durban, South Africa.
Sadly, among those who obtained literature written by Brother Russell and then taught some of it to others, there were a few, such as Joseph Booth and Elliott Kamwana, who mixed in their own ideas, which were designed to agitate for social change. To some observers in South Africa and Nyasaland (later Malawi), this tended to confuse the identity of the genuine Bible Students. Nevertheless, many were hearing and showing appreciation for the message that directed attention to God’s Kingdom as the solution to mankind’s problems.
As for widespread preaching in Africa, however, this was yet future.
To the Orient and Islands of the Pacific
Shortly after Bible publications prepared by C. T. Russell were first distributed in Britain, they also reached the Orient. In 1883, Miss C. B. Downing, a Presbyterian missionary in Chefoo (Yantai), China, received a copy of the Watch Tower. She appreciated what she learned about restitution and shared the literature with other missionaries, including Horace Randle, associated with the Baptist Mission Board. Later, he had his interest further stimulated by an advertisement for Millennial Dawn that appeared in the London Times, and this was followed up by copies of the book itself—one from Miss Downing and another sent by his mother in England. At first, he was shocked by what he read. But once convinced that the Trinity is not a Bible teaching, he resigned from the Baptist Church and proceeded to share with other missionaries what he had learned. In 1900 he reported that he had sent out 2,324 letters and some 5,000 tracts to missionaries in China, Japan, Korea, and Siam (Thailand). At that time it was mainly to Christendom’s missionaries that the witness was being given in the Orient.
During that same time period, seeds of truth were also sown in Australia and New Zealand. The first of these “seeds” to arrive in Australia may have been taken there in 1884 or shortly there after by a man who was first approached by a Bible Student in a park in England. Other “seeds” came by mail from friends and relatives overseas.
Within a few years after the Commonwealth of Australia was formed in 1901, hundreds of persons there were subscribers for the Watch Tower. As a result of the activity of those who saw the privilege of sharing the truth with others, thousands of tracts were sent to people whose names were on the electoral rolls. More were distributed on the streets, and bundles of them were tossed from train windows to workers and lone cottagers in remote areas along the railroad lines. The people were being notified of the approaching end of the Gentile Times in 1914. Arthur Williams, Sr., talked about this to all the customers in his store in Western Australia and invited interested ones to his home for further discussions.
Who reached New Zealand first with Bible truth is not now known. But by 1898, Andrew Anderson, a resident of New Zealand, had read enough of the Watch Tower publications to be moved to spread the truth there as a colporteur. His efforts were reinforced in 1904 by other colporteurs who came from America and from the Society’s branch office that was established in that same year in Australia. Mrs. Thomas Barry, in Christchurch, accepted six volumes of Studies in the Scriptures from one of the colporteurs. Her son Bill read them in 1909 during a six-week boat trip to England and recognized the truthfulness of what they contained. Years later his son Lloyd became a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Among the zealous workers in those early days was Ed Nelson, who, though not overly endowed with tact, devoted his full time for 50 years to spreading the Kingdom message from the north tip of New Zealand to the south. After a few years, he was joined by Frank Grove, who cultivated his memory to compensate for poor eyesight and who also pioneered for more than 50 years until his death.
A World Tour to Further the Preaching of the Good News
A further major effort was put forth in 1911-12 to help people of the Orient. The International Bible Students Association sent a committee of seven men, headed by C. T. Russell, to examine firsthand the conditions there. Wherever they went they spoke about God’s purpose to bring blessings to mankind by means of the Messianic Kingdom. Sometimes their audience was small, but in the Philippines and in India, there were thousands. They did not endorse the campaign then popular in Christendom to collect funds for world conversion. Their observation was that most of the efforts of Christendom’s missionaries were being expended to promote secular education. But Brother Russell was convinced that what the people needed was “the Gospel of God’s loving provision of Messiah’s coming Kingdom.” Instead of expecting to convert the world, the Bible Students understood from the Scriptures that what was to be done then was to give a witness and that this would serve toward the gathering of “an elect few from all nations, peoples, kindreds and tongues for membership in [Christ’s] Bride class—to sit with Him in His throne during the thousand years, cooperating in the work of uplifting the race as a whole.”a—Rev. 5:9, 10; 14:1-5.
After spending time in Japan, China, the Philippines, and other locations, the members of the committee logged an additional 4,000 miles [6,400 km] of travel in India. Some individuals living in India had read the Society’s literature and had written letters to express their appreciation for it as early as 1887. Active witnessing had also been done among the Tamil-speaking people since 1905 by a young man who, as a student in America, had met Brother Russell and learned the truth. This young man helped to establish some 40 Bible study groups in the south of India. But, after preaching to others, he himself became disapproved by forsaking Christian standards.—Compare 1 Corinthians 9:26, 27.
At about the same time, however, A. J. Joseph, of Travancore (Kerala), in response to an inquiry that he mailed to a prominent Adventist, was sent a volume of Studies in the Scriptures. Here he found satisfying Scriptural answers to his questions about the Trinity. Soon he and other family members were out in the rice paddies and coconut plantations of southern India sharing their newfound beliefs. After Brother Russell’s visit in 1912, Brother Joseph undertook full-time service. By rail, bullock cart, barge, and foot, he traveled to distribute Bible literature. When he gave public discourses, these were often disrupted by the clergy and their followers. At Kundara, when a “Christian” clergyman was using his followers to disrupt such a meeting and to throw dung on Brother Joseph, a Hindu gentleman of influence came to see what the noise was all about. He asked the clergyman: ‘Is that the example set by Christ for Christians to follow, or is what you are doing like the conduct of the Pharisees of Jesus’ time?’ The clergyman retreated.
Before the four-month world tour by the IBSA committee was completed, Brother Russell had arranged for R. R. Hollister to be the Society’s representative in the Orient and to follow through in spreading to peoples there the message of God’s loving provision of the Messianic Kingdom. Special tracts were prepared in ten languages, and millions of these were circulated throughout India, China, Japan, and Korea by native distributors. Then books were translated into four of these languages to provide further spiritual food for those who showed interest. Here was a vast field, and much remained to be done. Yet, what had been accomplished thus far was truly amazing.
An Impressive Witness Was Given
Before the devastation of the first world war was unleashed, an extensive witness had been given worldwide. Brother Russell had made speaking trips to hundreds of cities in the United States and Canada, had undertaken repeated trips to Europe, had spoken in Panama, Jamaica, and Cuba, as well as in principal cities of the Orient. Tens of thousands of persons had personally heard his stirring Bible discourses and had observed as he publicly answered from the Scriptures questions raised by both friends and foes. Much interest was thus aroused, and thousands of newspapers in America, Europe, South Africa, and Australia regularly published Brother Russell’s sermons. Millions of books, as well as hundreds of millions of tracts and other pieces of literature in 35 languages, had been distributed by the Bible Students.
Outstanding though his role was, it was not only Brother Russell who was preaching. Others too, scattered around the globe, were uniting their voices as witnesses of Jehovah and of his Son, Jesus Christ. Those who shared were not all public speakers. They came from all walks of life, and they used every appropriate means at their disposal to spread the good news.
In January 1914, with the end of the Gentile Times less than a year away, yet another intensive witness was launched. This was the “Photo-Drama of Creation,” which emphasized in a fresh manner God’s purpose for the earth. It did this by means of beautifully hand-painted color slides and motion pictures, synchronized with sound. The public press in the United States reported that across the country audiences totaling hundreds of thousands were viewing it weekly. By the end of the first year, total attendance in the United States and Canada had reached nearly eight million. In London, England, there were overflow crowds at the Opera House and the Royal Albert Hall to see this presentation that consisted of four 2-hour parts. Within half a year, over 1,226,000 had attended in 98 cities in the British Isles. Crowds in Germany and Switzerland packed out available halls. It was also seen by large audiences in Scandinavia and the South Pacific.
What a remarkable, intensive, global witness was given during those early decades of the modern-day history of Jehovah’s Witnesses! But, really, the work was just beginning.
Only a few hundred had actively shared in spreading Bible truth during the early 1880’s. By 1914, according to available reports, there were about 5,100 that participated in the work. Others may occasionally have distributed some tracts. The workers were relatively few.
This small band of evangelizers had, in various ways, already spread their proclamation of God’s Kingdom into 68 lands by the latter part of 1914. And their work as preachers and teachers of God’s Word was established on a fairly consistent basis in 30 of these lands.
Millions of books and hundreds of millions of tracts had been distributed before the Gentile Times ended. In addition to that, by 1913 as many as 2,000 newspapers were regularly publishing sermons prepared by C. T. Russell, and in the year 1914 audiences totaling over 9,000,000 persons on three continents saw the “Photo-Drama of Creation.”
Truly, an amazing witness had been given! But there was much more to come.
a A full report on this world tour appears in The Watch Tower of April 15, 1912.
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C. T. Russell personally gave Bible discourses in over 300 cities (in areas indicated by the dots) in North America and the Caribbean—in many of them 10 or 15 times
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Russell’s preaching tours to Europe, usually by way of England
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When convinced that he had found the truth, Andreas Øiseth zealously distributed Bible literature in nearly every part of Norway
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Adolf Weber, a humble gardener, spread the good news from Switzerland to other countries in Europe
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Bellona Ferguson, in Brazil—“none too far away to be reached”
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ST. PIERRE & MIQUELON
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
TURKS & CAICOS ISLANDS
VIRGIN ISLANDS (U.S.)
VIRGIN ISLANDS (BRITISH)
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BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF KOREA
REPUBLIC OF KOREA
PAPUA NEW GUINEA
WALLIS & FUTUNA ISLANDS
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A. J. Joseph, of India, with his daughter Gracie, who served as a Gilead-trained missionary
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Hermann Herkendell, along with his bride, took a honeymoon trip of many months to preach to German-speaking people in Russia
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Colporteurs in England and Scotland endeavored to give everyone opportunity to receive a witness; even their children helped with the distribution of tracts
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E. J. Coward zealously spread Bible truth in the Caribbean area
[Picture on page 418]
Frank Grove (left) and Ed Nelson (here seen with their wives) each devoted more than 50 years to spreading the Kingdom message full-time throughout New Zealand
[Pictures on page 420]
C. T. Russell and six associates made a trip around the world in 1911-12 to further the preaching of the good news