Part 4—Witnesses to the Most Distant Part of the Earth
While World War II was still in progress, Jehovah’s Witnesses were laying plans for intensified activity in the postwar era. The report on pages 462 to 501 sets out fascinating details of what actually occurred from 1945 through 1975 as they increased in numbers, reached out to many more lands, and engaged in preaching and teaching God’s Word in a more thorough manner than ever before.
MOST of the islands of the West Indies had been reached in some way with the Kingdom message by 1945. But a more thorough witness needed to be given. Missionaries trained at Gilead School would play an important role.
Missionaries Intensify the Witness in the West Indies
By 1960 these missionaries had served on 27 islands or island groups in the Caribbean. Half of these places had no congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses when the missionaries arrived. The missionaries proceeded to conduct home Bible studies with interested persons, and they organized regular meetings. Where there were congregations already, they gave valuable training to local publishers. As a result, the quality of the meetings and effectiveness in the ministry improved.
The early Bible Students had been witnessing in Trinidad since before World War I, but following the arrival of missionaries from Gilead in 1946, the conducting of home Bible studies with interested persons was given strong impetus. In Jamaica the preaching of the good news had been under way for almost half a century, and there were a thousand local Witnesses by the time the first missionary arrived; but they were glad to have help in reaching the more educated people, especially in the suburban area around the capital city. On the other hand, in Aruba much witnessing had already been done in the English-speaking community, so the missionaries directed attention to the native population. Everyone needed to hear the good news.
To make sure that people on all the islands in this part of the earth had opportunity to hear about God’s Kingdom, in 1948 the Watch Tower Society outfitted the 59-foot [18 m] schooner Sibia as a floating missionary home. The crew was assigned to take the Kingdom message to every island of the West Indies where no one was active in preaching the good news. Gust Maki was the captain, and with him were Stanley Carter, Ronald Parkin, and Arthur Worsley. They started with the Out Islands of the Bahamas group, then worked their way to the southeast through the Leeward Islands and the Windward Islands. What effect did their visits have? At St. Maarten a businessman told them: “The people never used to talk about the Bible, but since you’ve been here everybody is talking about the Bible.” Later, the Sibia was replaced by a larger boat, the Light. There were also changes in the crew. Within a decade the special work being done with the use of these boats had been accomplished, and land-based proclaimers of the good news were following through.
Witnessing First in the Larger Cities
As was true in the West Indies, so also in Central and South America, there were already people in many areas who had some of the Watch Tower Society’s publications before missionaries from Gilead School arrived. However, in order to reach everyone with the good news and to help sincere ones to become genuine disciples, improved organization was needed.
By the time the second world war ended in 1945, there were hundreds of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Argentina and Brazil; some three thousand in Mexico; a few very small congregations in British Guiana (now Guyana), Chile, Dutch Guiana (now Suriname), Paraguay, and Uruguay; and a handful of publishers in Colombia, Guatemala, and Venezuela. But as for Bolivia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua, activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses was not established on any permanent basis until the arrival of missionaries that had been trained at Gilead School.
The missionaries directed special attention initially to principal centers of population. It is noteworthy that in the first century, the apostle Paul did much of his preaching in cities along the main routes of travel in Asia Minor and in Greece. In Corinth, one of the most prominent cities of ancient Greece, Paul devoted 18 months to teaching the Word of God. (Acts 18:1-11) In Ephesus, a crossroads for travel and commerce in the ancient world, he proclaimed the Kingdom of God for over two years.—Acts 19:8-10; 20:31.
In a similar manner, when Edward Michalec and Harold Morris, missionary graduates of Gilead School, arrived in Bolivia in 1945, they did not seek out a location with the most agreeable climate. Instead, they gave first attention to La Paz, the capital, which is located in the Andes at an elevation of nearly 12,000 feet [3,700 m]. It is a struggle for newcomers to climb the steep streets at this altitude; their hearts often pound like trip-hammers. But the missionaries found many people who were interested in the message of the Bible. There in the capital, it was not unusual for them to be told: “I’m an apostolic Roman Catholic, but I don’t like the priests.” In just two months, the two missionaries were conducting 41 home Bible studies.
During the following decade, as more missionaries arrived and the number of local Witnesses grew, attention was given to other Bolivian cities: Cochabamba, Oruro, Santa Cruz, Sucre, Potosí, and Tarija. Thereafter, more attention could be directed to smaller cities and towns and the rural areas too.
Similarly, in Colombia the missionaries began organized preaching in the capital, Bogotá, in 1945, and in the coastal city of Barranquilla the following year. After that, attention was progressively directed to Cartagena, Santa Marta, Cali, and Medellín. More people could be reached in a short period by working the larger cities first. With the help of those who learned the truth there, the message would soon be carried to surrounding areas.
If very little interest was manifest in a city, the missionaries were moved to other places. Thus, in Ecuador, when three years of work in the mid-1950’s had not produced one person who had the courage to take a stand for the truth in fanatically religious Cuenca, Carl Dochow was transferred to Machala, a city populated by easygoing, open-minded people. About a decade later, however, the people of Cuenca were given another opportunity. A different spirit was found, obstacles were overcome, and by 1992 in and around Cuenca, more than 1,200 people had become Jehovah’s Witnesses and were organized into 25 congregations!
Searching Patiently for the Sheeplike Ones
Much patience has been required in order to search out truly sheeplike persons. To locate them in Suriname, Jehovah’s Witnesses have preached to Amerindians, Chinese, Indonesians, Jews, Lebanese, descendants of Dutch settlers, and jungle tribes made up of Bush Negroes, whose forebears were runaway slaves. Among them have been found hundreds who were truly hungering for the truth. Some have had to break away from deep involvement in animism and spiritistic practices. One such was Paitu, a witch doctor, who took to heart the message of the Bible and then dumped his idols, amulets, and potions into the river. (Compare Deuteronomy 7:25; 18:9-14; Acts 19:19, 20.) In 1975 he dedicated himself to Jehovah, the true God.
A considerable number of the inhabitants of Peru live in small villages scattered up in the Andes and in the jungle surrounding the headwaters of the Amazon. How could they be reached? In 1971 a family of Witnesses from the United States traveled to Peru to visit their missionary son, Joe Leydig. When they became aware of the vast number of villages tucked here and there in the mountain valleys, their concern for these people moved them to do something. They helped to provide one house car at first, and then two more, as well as trail bikes for use on extensive preaching expeditions into these remote areas.
In spite of the effort put forth, in many places it seemed that only very few showed interest in the Bible’s message. You can well imagine how the group of six young missionaries in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, felt in the early 1950’s when, after a full year of diligent preaching, they saw hardly any progress. Although the people were quite friendly, most of them were steeped in superstition and viewed it as a sin for them even to read a text from the Bible. Any who did show interest were soon discouraged by family members or neighbors. (Matt. 13:19-21) But, with confidence that there must be some sheeplike ones in Barquisimeto and that Jehovah would gather them in his due time, the missionaries kept on calling from house to house. So, how heartwarming it was for Penny Gavette one day when a gray-haired woman listened to her and then said:
“Senorita, ever since I was a young girl, I have waited for someone to come to my door and explain the things you have just told me. You see, when I was a girl, I used to clean the home of the priest, and he had a Bible in his library. I knew that we were forbidden to read it, but I was so curious to know why that, one day when no one was looking, I took it home with me and read it secretly. What I read made me realize that the Catholic Church had not taught us the truth and so was not the true religion. I was afraid to say anything to anyone, but I was sure that some day the ones teaching the true religion would come to our town. When the Protestant religion came, I thought at first that they must be the ones, but I soon discovered that they taught many of the same falsehoods that the Catholic Church taught. Now, what you have just told me is what I read in that Bible so many years ago.” Eagerly she agreed to study the Bible and became one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In spite of family opposition, she served Jehovah faithfully until her death.
Considerable effort was required in order to gather such sheeplike ones into congregations and train them to share in Jehovah’s service. As an example, in Argentina, Rosendo Ojeda regularly traveled about 40 miles [60 km] from General San Martín, Chaco, to conduct a meeting in the home of Alejandro Sozoñiuk, an interested person. The trip frequently took ten hours, some of it on a bicycle, some on foot, at times wading through water up to the armpits. Once a month for five years he made the trip, staying a week each time to witness in the area. Was it worth it? He has no doubt about it because the result was a happy congregation of praisers of Jehovah.
Promoting Education for Life
In Mexico, Jehovah’s Witnesses carried on their work in line with the laws governing cultural organizations there. The objective of the Witnesses was to do more than simply hold meetings where discourses were given. They wanted people to be like those Beroeans in the apostle Paul’s day who were able to ‘carefully examine the Scriptures to see whether the things taught them were really so.’ (Acts 17:11) In Mexico, as in many other lands, this has often involved providing special help to people who have had no schooling but who want to be able to read God’s inspired Word themselves.
Literacy classes conducted by Jehovah’s Witnesses in Mexico have helped tens of thousands of people there to learn to read and write. This work is appreciated by Mexico’s Department of Public Education, and in 1974 a director in their General Office for Adult Education wrote a letter to La Torre del Vigía de México, a civil association used by Jehovah’s Witnesses, saying: “I take this opportunity to warmly congratulate you . . . for the praiseworthy cooperation that your association has been extending year after year in benefit of our people.”
While preparing people for eternal life as subjects of God’s Kingdom, the education provided by the Witnesses also elevates their family life now. After a judge in El Salto, Durango State, had performed marriage ceremonies on various occasions for Jehovah’s Witnesses, he stated in 1952: “We claim to be such good patriots and citizens but we are put to shame by Jehovah’s Witnesses. They are an example to us because they do not permit a single person in their organization who is living consensually and has not legalized his relationship. And, you Catholics, almost all of you are living immoral lives and have not legalized your marriages.”
This educational program also helps people to learn to live together in peace, to love one another instead of hating and killing. When a Witness began to preach in Venado, Guanajuato State, he found that the people were all armed with rifles and pistols. Feuds led to the wiping out of families. But Bible instruction brought major changes. Rifles were sold in order to buy Bibles. Over 150 in the area soon became Jehovah’s Witnesses. Figuratively, they ‘beat their swords into plowshares’ and began to pursue the ways of peace.—Mic. 4:3.
Many God-fearing Mexicans have taken to heart what Jehovah’s Witnesses have taught them from God’s Word. As a result, the few thousand publishers in Mexico following World War II soon became 10,000, then 20,000, 40,000, 80,000, and more as the Witnesses showed others how to apply the counsel of God’s Word and how to teach it to others.
Assembling Together Under Adversity
As the number of Jehovah’s Witnesses increased, however, they found that in one land after another, they had to overcome difficult obstacles in order to hold assemblies for Christian instruction. In Argentina they were placed under government ban in 1950. Nevertheless, out of obedience to God, they did not stop preaching, nor did they forsake assembling together. Arrangements were somewhat more complicated, but assemblies were held.
For example, late in 1953, Brother Knorr and Brother Henschel visited Argentina to serve a nationwide assembly. Brother Knorr entered the country from the west, and Brother Henschel began his visits in the south. They spoke to groups gathered on farms, in a fruit orchard, at a picnic by a mountain stream, and in private homes. Often they had to travel long distances from one group to the next. Arriving in Buenos Aires, they each served on programs in nine locations one day, and in eleven homes the next day. All together, they addressed 56 groups, with a combined attendance of 2,505. It was a strenuous schedule, but they were happy to serve their brothers in that way.
When preparing for an assembly in Colombia in 1955, the Witnesses contracted for the use of a hall in Barranquilla. But, under pressure from the bishop, the mayor and the governor intervened, and the contract was canceled. With just one day’s notice, the brothers relocated the assembly, arranging to hold it on the premises of the Society’s branch office. Nevertheless, as the first evening session was getting under way, armed police arrived with orders to disband the assembly. The brothers persisted. An appeal to the mayor the next morning brought an apology from his secretary, and nearly 1,000 persons squeezed onto the Society’s property for the final day of the program of that “Triumphant Kingdom” Assembly. In spite of the circumstances that then existed, the brothers were thus fortified with needed spiritual counsel.
Serving Where the Need Is Greater
The field was large, and the need for workers was great in Latin America, as it was in many other places. In 1957, at conventions worldwide, individuals and families who were mature Witnesses of Jehovah were encouraged to consider actually moving to areas of greater need to take up residence and carry on their ministry there. Similar encouragement was given in various ways thereafter. The invitation was much like the one presented by God to the apostle Paul, who saw in vision a man who entreated him: “Step over into Macedonia and help us.” (Acts 16:9, 10) What was the response to the modern-day invitation? Jehovah’s servants offered themselves willingly.—Ps. 110:3.
For a family with small children, it takes a great deal of faith to uproot themselves, leave relatives and home and secular employment, and travel to a completely new environment. The move may require accepting a very different standard of living and, in some instances, learning a new language. Yet, thousands of individual Witnesses and families have made such moves in order to help others to learn of Jehovah’s loving provisions for eternal life.
Responding quickly, a number of Jehovah’s Witnesses made the move in the late 1950’s; others in the 1960’s; more in the 1970’s. And the movement of Witnesses to areas of greater need continues down to the present.
From where have they come? Large numbers from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States. Many from Britain, France, and Germany. Also from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland, among others. As the number of Jehovah’s Witnesses has increased in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and other Latin American lands, these too have provided workers who are willing to serve in other countries where there is great need. Similarly, in Africa zealous workers have moved from one country to another to help give a witness.
To what areas have they moved? Lands such as Afghanistan, Malaysia, and Senegal, and islands such as Réunion and St. Lucia. About 1,000 moved into Ireland, where they served for varying lengths of time. A considerable number went to Iceland, despite its long, dark winters, and some stayed, becoming pillars in the congregations and providing loving help to newer ones. Especially has much good been done in Central and South America. Over 1,000 Witnesses moved to Colombia, upwards of 870 to Ecuador, more than 110 to El Salvador.
Harold and Anne Zimmerman were among those who made the move. They had already served as missionary teachers in Ethiopia. However, in 1959, when they were finalizing arrangements to move from the United States to Colombia to share in spreading the Kingdom message there, they were rearing four children, who ranged in age from five months to five years. Harold went ahead to look for work. When he arrived in the country, local news reports disturbed him. An undeclared civil war was in progress, and there were mass killings in the interior of the country. ‘Do I really want to bring my family down to live in conditions like these?’ he asked himself. He searched his memory for some guiding example or principle in the Bible. What came to mind was the Bible account of the fearful spies who took back to the Israelite camp a bad report about the Promised Land. (Num. 13:25–14:4, 11) That settled it; he did not want to be like them! He promptly arranged for his family to come. Not until their funds had dwindled to just three dollars did he find the needed secular work, but they had what was really necessary. The amount of such work that he had to do to support his family varied over the years, but he has always endeavored to keep Kingdom interests in first place. When they first went to Colombia, there were about 1,400 Witnesses in the country. What amazing growth they have seen since then!
Serving where the need for Witnesses is greater does not always require that a person go to another country. Thousands of individual Witnesses and families have moved to other areas within their own country. A family in Bahia State, Brazil, moved to the town of Prado, where there were no Witnesses. Despite objections from the clergy, they lived and worked in that town and the surrounding area for three years. An abandoned church building was purchased and transformed into a Kingdom Hall. Before long, there were over a hundred active Witnesses in the area. And that was only the beginning.
In ever-increasing numbers, lovers of righteousness in Latin America are responding to the invitation recorded in Psalm 148: ‘Praise Jah, you people! Praise Jehovah from the earth, all you national groups.’ (Ps 148 Vss. 1, 7-11) Indeed, by 1975 there were praisers of Jehovah in every country in Latin America. The report for that year showed that 80,481, organized into 2,998 congregations, were serving in Mexico. Another 24,703, in 462 congregations, were talking about Jehovah’s kingship in Central America. And in South America, there were 206,457 public praisers of Jehovah in 3,620 congregations.
Reaching Out to the Pacific Islands
While rapid expansion was taking place in South America, Jehovah’s Witnesses were also directing attention to the islands of the Pacific. There are hundreds of these islands scattered between Australia and the Americas, many of them scarcely pushing their heads above the ocean surface. Some of them are populated by only a few families; others, by tens of thousands of people. Early in the 1950’s, official prejudice made it impossible for the Watch Tower Society to send missionaries to many of these islands. But the people there too needed to hear about Jehovah and his Kingdom. This is in harmony with the prophecy recorded at Isaiah 42:10-12, which says: “Sing to Jehovah a new song, his praise from the extremity of the earth . . . In the islands let them tell forth even his praise.” Thus, in 1951, at a convention in Sydney, Australia, pioneers and circuit overseers who were interested in having a part in spreading the Kingdom message to the islands were invited to meet with Brother Knorr. At that time about 30 volunteered to undertake preaching in the tropical islands.
Among them were Tom and Rowena Kitto, who soon found themselves in Papua, where there were at that time no Witnesses. They started their work among the Europeans in Port Moresby. Before long, they were spending evenings in Hanuabada, the “Big Village,” with a group of 30 to 40 Papuans who were hungry for spiritual truth. From them, word spread to other villages. In a short time, the Kerema people sent a delegation asking that a Bible study be conducted with them. Then a headman from Haima came, pleading: “Please come and teach my people about the truth!” And so it spread.
Another couple, John and Ellen Hubler, went to New Caledonia to establish the work there. When they arrived in 1954, they had only one-month tourist visas. But John obtained secular work, and this helped them to obtain an extension. In time, other Witnesses—31 in all—made similar moves. At first, they carried on their ministry in outlying areas so as not to attract too much attention. Later, they began preaching in the capital, Nouméa. A congregation was formed. Then, in 1959, a member of Catholic Action got into a key government position. There were no more visa renewals for Witnesses. The Hublers had to leave. Watch Tower publications were banned. Yet, the Kingdom good news had a foothold, and the number of Witnesses continued to grow.
In Tahiti many people had shown interest in the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses when brothers made brief visits there. But in 1957, there were no local Witnesses, their work was banned, and Watch Tower missionaries were denied entry. However, Agnes Schenck, a citizen of Tahiti then living in the United States, had become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Upon learning of the need for Kingdom proclaimers in Tahiti, she, her husband, and their son sailed from California in May 1958. Shortly after that, two other families joined them, though they could obtain only three-month tourist visas. By the next year, a congregation was formed in Papeete. And in 1960 the government granted recognition to a locally organized association of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
In order to spread the Kingdom message, two missionary sisters en route back to their assignment stopped to visit a relative on the island of Niue. The month they spent there was very fruitful; much interest was found. But when the next interisland boat arrived, they had to leave. Soon, however, Seremaia Raibe, a Fijian, obtained an employment contract with the Public Works Department in Niue and then used all his free time to preach. However, as a result of clergy pressure, Brother Raibe’s residence permit was canceled after a few months, and in September 1961 the Legislative Assembly decided not to allow any more of Jehovah’s Witnesses into the country. Nevertheless, the preaching of the good news there continued. How? The local Witnesses, though quite new, persevered in serving Jehovah. Furthermore, the local government had already accepted in its employ William Lovini, a native Niuean who had been living in New Zealand. Why was he eager to return to Niue? Because he had become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and wanted to serve where the need was greater. By 1964 the number of Witnesses there rose to 34.
In 1973, David Wolfgramm, a citizen of Tonga, with his wife and eight children, was living in a comfortable home in New Zealand. But they left that behind and moved to Tonga to advance Kingdom interests. From there they shared in pushing the work farther afield in the islands of Tonga, about 30 of which are inhabited.
Much time, effort, and expense have been required to reach the islands. But Jehovah’s Witnesses view the lives of their fellowmen as precious and spare nothing in their efforts to help them to benefit from Jehovah’s loving provision for eternal life in his new world.
A family that sold their farm in Australia and moved to one of the Pacific islands summed up their feelings in this way: “To hear these islanders say that they have come to know Jehovah, to hear them call our children their children, this because they love them so for the truth, to watch both Kingdom interest and attendance grow, to hear these lovely people say: ‘My children will marry only in the Lord,’ and this after being associated with many centuries of tradition and Eastern-type marriages, to watch them straighten and clean up marital tangles, . . . to see them studying as they mind the cattle by the roadside, after backbreaking work in the rice field, to know that they are discussing the wrongness of idolatry, the beauty of Jehovah’s name at the local store and other places, to have an elderly Indian mother call you brother and sister and ask to go with you to tell the folk about the true God . . . All this adds up to a priceless reward for having taken the step that we did in answer to the call from the South Pacific.”
More than these Pacific islanders were receiving attention, however. Starting in 1964, experienced pioneers from the Philippines were assigned to reinforce zealous missionaries who were already at work in Hong Kong, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.
In the Face of Family and Community Pressure
Most of those who have become Jehovah’s Witnesses in Hong Kong have been young folk. But these young people have been under tremendous pressure in a system that makes higher education and better-paying jobs a priority. Parents view their children as an investment that will ensure their living comfortably in their later years. Thus, when the parents of a young man in Kwun Tong realized that the Bible study, meeting attendance, and field service of their son were going to interfere with his making money, their opposition became intense. His father chased him with a meat cleaver; his mother spit on him in public. Verbal abuse continued almost nonstop for months. Once he asked his parents: “Didn’t you raise me for love?” And they replied: “No, for money!” Nevertheless, the young man continued to put his worship of Jehovah first; but when he left home, he also continued to assist his parents financially to the best of his ability, for he knew that this would be pleasing to Jehovah.—Matt. 15:3-9; 19:19.
In close-knit communities, severe pressure often comes from more than the immediate family. One who experienced this was Fuaiupolu Pele in Western Samoa. It was viewed as unthinkable among the people for a Samoan to reject the customs and religion of his forefathers, and Pele knew that he would be called to account. He studied hard and prayed earnestly to Jehovah. When summoned by the high chief of the family to a meeting at Faleasiu, he was confronted by six chiefs, three orators, ten pastors, two theological teachers, the high chief who was presiding, and older men and women of the family. They cursed and condemned both him and another family member who was showing interest in Jehovah’s Witnesses. A debate ensued; it lasted until four in the morning. Pele’s use of the Bible irritated some who were present, and they yelled: “Take that Bible away! Leave off that Bible!” But at last the high chief in a weak voice said: “You won, Pele.” But Pele replied: “Pardon me, Sir, I did not win. This night you heard the message of the Kingdom. It is my sincere hope you will heed it.”
When There Is Intense Clergy Opposition
Christendom’s missionaries had arrived in the Pacific islands in the 1800’s. Their arrival, in many places, had been peaceful; elsewhere it had been backed by military force. In some areas they had apportioned the islands among themselves by a “gentleman’s agreement.” But there had also been religious wars, in which Catholics and Protestants had fought one another for control. These religious “shepherds,” the clergy, now used every means at their disposal to keep Jehovah’s Witnesses out of what they viewed as their own domain. Sometimes they pressured officials to expel Witnesses from certain islands. Other times they took the law into their own hands.
On the island of New Britain, in the village of Vunabal, a group from the Sulka tribe showed keen interest in Bible truth. But one Sunday in 1959, while John Davison was conducting a Bible study with them, a mob of Catholics, under the direction of the Catholic catechist, pushed their way into the house and brought the study to a halt by their shouting and abuse. This was reported to the police at Kokopo.
Rather than abandon the sheep, the Witnesses returned the following week to continue providing spiritual help for appreciative ones in Vunabal. The Catholic priest was there too, though uninvited by the villagers, and he brought along several hundred Catholics of another tribe. After being agitated by the priest, those from his church swore at the Witnesses, spit on them, shook their fists, and ripped up the Bibles of the villagers, while the priest stood with folded arms and smiled. The police who endeavored to control the situation were visibly shaken. Many of the villagers became frightened too. But at least one of the villagers proved to be courageous and took his stand for what he knew to be the truth. Now, hundreds of others on that island have done likewise.
However, not all religious teachers showed an antagonistic spirit toward Jehovah’s Witnesses. Shem Irofa’alu, in the Solomon Islands, felt a sincere responsibility toward those who looked to him as their religious leader. After reading the Watch Tower Society’s book From Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained, he realized that someone had lied to him. He and the religious teachers under his jurisdiction listened to discussions with the Witnesses, asked questions, and looked up the scriptures in the Bible. Then they agreed that they wanted to become Jehovah’s Witnesses, so they proceeded to convert the churches in their 28 villages into Kingdom Halls.
An Onrushing Torrent of Truth in Africa
Particularly beginning in the early 1920’s, much effort was put forth so that people in all parts of Africa would have opportunity to come to know Jehovah, the true God, and to benefit from his loving provisions. When the second world war ended, there were active Witnesses of Jehovah in 14 lands on the African continent. Another 14 African countries had been reached with the Kingdom message, but no Witnesses were reporting activity in these in 1945. During the next 30 years, through 1975, the preaching of the good news penetrated 19 more countries in Africa. In nearly all these lands, as well as on surrounding islands, congregations began to be formed—a few in some lands, over a thousand in Zambia, nearly two thousand in Nigeria. How did all of that come about?
The spreading of the Kingdom message was like an onrushing torrent of water. For the most part, water courses through river channels, although some overflows onto adjoining land; and if an obstruction blocks the way, the water finds an alternate path or builds up volume and pressure until it bursts over the top.
Using its regular organizational channels, the Watch Tower Society assigned full-time ministers—pioneers, special pioneers, and missionaries—to lands where little or no preaching had been done. Wherever they went, they invited people to “take life’s water free.” (Rev. 22:17) By way of example, in northern Africa, four special pioneers from France extended that invitation to the people of Algeria in 1952. Soon a fortune-teller there accepted the truth, recognized that she must abandon her profession in order to please Jehovah, and began to witness to her former clients. (Deut. 18:10-12) The pioneers made effective use of the book “Let God Be True” to help sincere individuals to see the difference between the Holy Bible and religious tradition. So powerful was it in liberating people from false religious practices that a clergyman displayed the book in his pulpit and pronounced a curse upon it, upon those who were distributing it, and upon those who were reading it.
In 1954 a missionary was expelled from Catholic Spain because of teaching the Bible without approval of the clergy; so the following year, he and his pioneer companion took up preaching in Morocco. Soon they were joined by a family of five of Jehovah’s Witnesses who had been deported from Tunisia, where considerable agitation had been caused when a Jewish couple accepted Jesus as the Messiah and quickly began to share their new faith with others. Farther to the south, pioneers from Ghana were directed into Mali in 1962. Later, French pioneers serving in Algeria were also asked to help in Mali. In turn, a considerable number of those who later became Witnesses there entered the ranks of full-time service. In 1966 eight special pioneers from Nigeria took up assignments in Niger, a sparsely populated country that includes part of the Sahara Desert. Burundi was given opportunity to hear the Kingdom message when two special pioneers were sent there from Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) in 1963, followed by four missionaries trained at Gilead School.
There were also missionaries in Ethiopia in the early 1950’s. The Ethiopian government required that they establish a regular mission and teach school, which they did. But, in addition to that, they were busy teaching the Bible, and soon there was a constant flow of people coming to the missionary home, new ones arriving every day to request that someone help them to understand the Bible. During the three decades following World War II, 39 countries on the African continent benefited from the help of such Gilead-trained missionaries.
At the same time, the waters of truth were overflowing into spiritually parched areas by means of Jehovah’s Witnesses whose secular work brought them into contact with other people. Thus, Witnesses from Egypt whose work required that they move to Libya in 1950 preached zealously during their free hours. That same year a Witness who was a wool merchant, along with his family, moved from Egypt to Khartoum, Sudan. He made it a practice to witness to customers before doing business with them. One of the first Witnesses in Senegal (then part of French West Africa) went there, in 1951, as a representative of a commercial firm. He also appreciated his responsibilities as a Witness of the Most High. In 1959, in connection with secular work, a Witness went to Fort-Lamy (now N’Djamena), in what later became Chad, and he used the opportunity to spread the Kingdom message in that land. In countries adjoining Niger were traders who were Jehovah’s Witnesses; so, while special pioneers were busy in Niger from 1966 on, these traders were also preaching to people from Niger with whom they did business. And two Witnesses whose husbands went to Mauritania to work in 1966 seized the opportunity to witness in that area.
People who were refreshed by ‘the water of life’ shared it with others. For example, in 1947 an individual who had attended some meetings but was not himself one of Jehovah’s Witnesses moved from Cameroon to Ubangi-Shari (now Central African Republic). Hearing about a man in Bangui who was keenly interested in the Bible, he kindly arranged for the Watch Tower Society’s office in Switzerland to send him a book. Etienne Nkounkou, the recipient, was overjoyed with the wholesome spiritual food that it contained, and each week he read from that book to a group of others who were interested. They made contact with the Society’s headquarters. As their knowledge increased, that study group became a preaching group as well. Although clergy pressure led to a government ban on Watch Tower literature, these new Witnesses continued to preach with just the Bible. People in that land love to hear Bible discussions, so by the time the ban on some of the Society’s publications was lifted in 1957, the Witnesses there already numbered upwards of 500.
When Obstacles Were Raised Up
When obstacles hindered the flow of life-giving water, it soon got through in some other way. Ayité Sessi, a pioneer from Dahomey (now Benin), had preached in French Togo (now Togo) for only a short time in 1949 when the government forced him to leave. But the following year Akakpo Agbetor, a former boxer, originally from Togo, returned to his homeland along with his brother. Because this was the land of his birth, he was able to witness quite freely, even holding meetings. Although pioneers who had taken up assignments in Fernando Po (now part of Equatorial Guinea) in about 1950 were deported after a short time as a result of religious intolerance, other Witnesses later secured work contracts that enabled them to live in that area. And, of course, in harmony with Jesus’ command, they preached.—Mark 13:10.
Emmanuel Mama, a circuit overseer from Ghana, was sent to Upper Volta (now called Burkina Faso) for a few weeks in 1959 and was able to do much witnessing in Ouagadougou, the capital. But there were no Witnesses living in the country. Four years later, seven Witnesses, originally from Togo, Dahomey (now Benin), and Congo, moved to Ouagadougou and sought employment so that they could serve in this area. A few months later, they were joined by several special pioneers from Ghana. However, as a result of clergy pressure on the officials, in 1964, after the Witnesses had been there for less than a year, they were arrested, held for 13 days, and then expelled from the country. Had their efforts been worthwhile? Emmanuel Johnson, a resident of the country, had learned where Bible truth could be found. He continued to study with Jehovah’s Witnesses by mail, and he got baptized in 1969. Yes, the Kingdom work had a foothold in another country.
When application was made for visas that would enable Gilead-trained missionaries to serve in the Ivory Coast (now called Côte d’Ivoire), French officials withheld approval. So, in 1950, Alfred Shooter, from the Gold Coast (now Ghana), was sent to the capital of the Ivory Coast as a pioneer. Once he was established, his wife joined him; and a few months later, a missionary couple, Gabriel and Florence Paterson, came. Problems arose. One day, their literature was seized because it had not been approved by the government, and the brothers were fined. But they later found their books on sale in the marketplace, so they bought them back and made good use of them.
Meanwhile, these brothers visited numerous government offices in an endeavor to obtain permanent visas. Mr. Houphouët-Boigny, who later became president of the Ivory Coast, offered to help. “The truth,” he remarked, “has no barrier whatsoever. It is like a mighty river; dam it and it will overflow the dam.” When a Catholic priest and a Methodist minister tried to interfere, Ouezzin Coulibaly, a government deputy, said: “I represent the people of this country. We are the people, and we like Jehovah’s Witnesses and so we want them to stay here in this country.”
Disciples Who Truly Understand
When giving instructions to “make disciples of people of all the nations,” Jesus also directed that those who would become disciples—those who believed Christ’s teachings and applied them—should be baptized. (Matt. 28:19, 20) In harmony with this, there is provision for baptism of new disciples at the periodic assemblies and conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The number baptized on any given occasion may be relatively few. However, at a convention in Nigeria in 1970, there were 3,775 new Witnesses immersed. Large numbers are not the objective, though.
When it was realized, in 1956, that some in the Gold Coast who were getting baptized had not built their faith on an adequate foundation, an arrangement was instituted there to screen baptismal candidates. Responsibility was placed on local congregation overseers in the Gold Coast to examine personally each immersion candidate to make sure that he had a sound knowledge of basic Bible truths, that he was living in harmony with Bible standards, and that he clearly understood the obligations that go with being a dedicated, baptized Witness of Jehovah. In time, a similar procedure was put into effect worldwide. A detailed outline for use in reviewing basic Bible teachings with baptismal candidates was provided in 1967 in the book “Your Word Is a Lamp to My Foot.” After years of experience, a further refinement of that outline was published in 1983 in the book Organized to Accomplish Our Ministry.
With such an arrangement, were the needs of people who have had little or no formal schooling taken into account?
Coping With the Problem of Illiteracy
In 1957 the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization estimated that approximately 44 percent of the world’s population 15 years of age or older could not read or write. It was reported that in 42 countries in Africa, 2 in the Americas, 28 in Asia, and 4 in Oceania, 75 percent of the adults were illiterate. Yet, they too needed opportunity to learn the law of God so that they could prepare to be subjects of his Kingdom. Many who could not read had keen minds and could remember much of what they heard, but they still could not read the precious Word of God themselves and make use of printed Bible study aids.
For years individual Witnesses had been giving personal help to people who wanted to learn to read. However, in 1949 and 1950, literacy classes were inaugurated by Jehovah’s Witnesses in each of their congregations in many African lands. The classes were usually held in Kingdom Halls, and in some places the entire village was invited to benefit from the program.
Where the government was sponsoring a literacy program, Jehovah’s Witnesses gladly cooperated with it. In many areas, however, the Witnesses had to develop and use their own instruction manuals. Tens of thousands of persons, including thousands of women and elderly folks, have been helped to become literate by means of these classes conducted by Jehovah’s Witnesses. As a result of the way the course was designed, not only have they learned to read and write but at the same time they have become acquainted with basic truths from God’s Holy Word. This has helped to qualify them to share in the disciple-making work that Jesus commanded. The desire to do this effectively has motivated many to put forth earnest effort to learn to read.
When a new Witness in Dahomey (now Benin), West Africa, was turned away by a householder because the Witness could not read, the Witness made up his mind to overcome that problem. In addition to attending the literacy classes, he applied himself personally. Six weeks later he called on the same householder; the man was so amazed to hear this person, who such a short time ago had been illiterate, reading to him from God’s Word that he also showed interest in what the Witness was teaching. Some who have been instructed in these literacy classes have, in time, even become traveling overseers, with a number of congregations to teach. That was true of Ezekiel Ovbiagele in Nigeria.
Educating by Means of Motion Pictures and Slide Showings
To assist those demonstrating interest in the Bible to appreciate the magnitude of Jehovah’s visible organization, a motion picture was released in 1954. This film, The New World Society in Action, also helped to break down community prejudice.
In what is now Zambia, a portable generator was often needed in order to show the film. A white canvas stretched between two trees served as a screen. In Barotse Province the paramount chief viewed the film with his royal family, and then he wanted it shown to the public. As a result, the next evening 2,500 persons saw it. Total attendance for the film showings in Zambia over a 17-year period exceeded one million. Those in attendance were delighted with what they saw. From nearby Tanganyika (now part of Tanzania), it was reported that after the showing of the film, the air was filled with cries of the crowd saying, “Ndaka, ndaka” (Thank you, thank you).
After the motion picture The New World Society in Action, other films followed: The Happiness of the New World Society, Proclaiming “Everlasting Good News” Around the World, God Cannot Lie, and Heritage. There have also been slide showings, with commentary, on the practicality of the Bible in our time, the pagan roots of doctrines and practices of Christendom, and the meaning of world conditions in the light of Bible prophecy, as well as slide showings about Jehovah’s Witnesses as an organization, featuring a visit to their world headquarters, thrilling conventions in lands where they were formerly banned, and a review of their modern-day history. All of these have helped people to realize that Jehovah does indeed have a people on the earth and that the Bible is His inspired Word.
Identifying the Real Sheep
In certain countries, people who simply had in their possession some Watch Tower publications claimed to be Jehovah’s Witnesses or used the name Watch Tower. But had they changed their beliefs and way of life to conform to Bible standards? When given needed instruction, would they prove to be truly sheeplike persons who heed the voice of the Master, Jesus Christ?—John 10:4, 5.
A startling letter was received at the Watch Tower Society’s branch office in South Africa, in 1954, from a group of Africans at Baía dos Tigres, a penal settlement in the south of Angola. The writer, João Mancoca, said: “The group of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Angola is composed of 1,000 members. These have as their leader Simão Gonçalves Toco.” Who was Toco? Were his followers really Jehovah’s Witnesses?
Arrangements were made for John Cooke, a missionary who could speak Portuguese, to visit Angola. After a long interview with a colonial official, Brother Cooke was permitted to visit Mancoca. Brother Cooke learned that in the 1940’s, when Toco was associated with a Baptist mission in the Belgian Congo (now Zaire), he had obtained some Watch Tower literature and had shared with close associates what he learned. But then, spiritists influenced the group, and in time Toco completely stopped using the Watch Tower literature and the Bible. Instead, he sought direction through spirit mediums. His followers were repatriated to Angola by the government and then were dispersed to various parts of the country.
Mancoca had been one of Toco’s associates, but Mancoca tried to persuade others to stop practicing spiritism and to adhere to the Bible. Some of Toco’s followers did not like this and, making false charges, denounced Mancoca to the Portuguese authorities. As a result, Mancoca and those who shared his views were deported to a penal colony. From there he got in touch with the Watch Tower Society and obtained more Bible literature. He was humble, spiritually minded, and keenly interested in working closely with the organization through which he had learned the truth. After Brother Cooke had spent many hours discussing Bible truths with this group, there was no question in his mind that João Mancoca was truly one of the Lord’s sheep. Under the most difficult circumstances, Brother Mancoca has proved that for many years now.
Interviews were also held with Toco and some of his followers. With some few exceptions, however, they did not give evidence of the sheeplike qualities of Christ’s followers. So, at that time, there were not 1,000 Witnesses of Jehovah in Angola but only about 25.
Meanwhile, in the Belgian Congo (now Zaire), another confusion of identity had developed. There was a religiopolitical movement known as Kitawala, which at times also made use of the name Watch Tower. In the homes of some of its members were found publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses, which they had obtained by mail. But the beliefs and practices of the Kitawala (including racism, subversion of authority in order to bring about political or social change, and gross sexual immorality in the name of worship) in no way represented those of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Yet, certain published reports endeavored to implicate the Watch Tower Society of Jehovah’s Witnesses with the Kitawala.
Repeated efforts of Jehovah’s Witnesses to send trained supervisors into the country were rebuffed by Belgian officials. Catholic and Protestant groups were delighted. Particularly from 1949 on, cruel repressive measures were taken against those in the Belgian Congo who endeavored to study the Bible with the aid of Watch Tower literature. But it was as one of the faithful Witnesses there said: “We are like a bag of African corn. Wherever they shall take us, the Word will drop, one by one, until the time when the rain will come, and they shall see us raised up everywhere.” And so it was that in spite of difficult conditions, from 1949 to 1960, the number who reported activity as Jehovah’s Witnesses increased from 48 to 1,528.
Gradually the officials came to appreciate that Jehovah’s Witnesses are very different from the Kitawala. When the Witnesses were granted some freedom to assemble, government observers often remarked about their good conduct and orderliness. When there were violent demonstrations to demand political independence, people knew that Jehovah’s Witnesses were not involved. In 1961 a qualified Witness supervisor, Ernest Heuse, Jr., from Belgium, was finally able to enter the country. With much diligent effort, it was possible to help the brothers gradually to bring their congregations and their personal lives into fuller harmony with God’s Word. There was much to be learned, and it required great patience.
Thinking that it would enhance their position, the Kitawala from some areas sent long lists of their people who wanted to be recognized as Jehovah’s Witnesses. Wisely, Brother Heuse dispatched qualified brothers to these areas to find out what kind of people they were. Instead of accepting large groups, they conducted Bible studies with individuals.
In time, the real sheep, those who truly looked to Jesus Christ as their Shepherd, became manifest. And there were many of these. They, in turn, taught others. Over the years, scores of Watch Tower missionaries from abroad came to work along with them, to help them to gain a more accurate knowledge of God’s Word and to provide needed training. By 1975, there were 17,477 of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Zaire, organized in 526 congregations, busy preaching and teaching God’s Word to others.
Breaking the Power of the Fetish
To the west of Nigeria lies the country of Benin (formerly known as Dahomey), with a population divided into 60 ethnic groups speaking some 50 languages and dialects. As is true in much of Africa, animism is the traditional religion, and this is coupled with ancestor worship. Such a religious environment clouds the lives of people with superstition and fear. Many who profess to be Christians also practice animism.
From the late 1920’s into the 1940’s, Jehovah’s Witnesses from Nigeria scattered many seeds of Bible truth in Dahomey by occasional visits to distribute Bible literature. Many of those seeds simply needed a little watering in order to become fruitful. That care was provided in 1948 when Nouru Akintoundé, a native of Dahomey who had been living in Nigeria, returned to Dahomey to pioneer. Within four months, 300 persons quickly responded to the truth and shared with him in the field ministry. This response surpassed all reasonable expectations.
As a result of this activity, agitation was quickly aroused not only among Christendom’s clergy but also among the animists. When the secretary of the fetish convent in Porto-Novo showed interest in the truth, the fetish chief proclaimed that the secretary would die in seven days. But this former convent secretary firmly stated: “If it is the fetish that made Jehovah, I will die; but if Jehovah is the supreme God, then he will vanquish the fetish.” (Compare Deuteronomy 4:35; John 17:3.) To make his prediction come true, on the night of the sixth day, the fetish chief indulged in all sorts of witchcraft and then proclaimed that this former convent secretary was dead. However, there was great consternation among the fetish worshipers the next day when she came to the market in Cotonou very much alive. Later, one of the brothers hired a car and drove her through Porto-Novo so that all could see for themselves that she was alive. Following this, many other fetish worshipers took a firm stand for the truth.—Compare Jeremiah 10:5.
Soon, as a result of intense religious pressure, Watch Tower publications were banned in Dahomey. But, in obedience to Jehovah God, the Witnesses continued to preach, often with just the Bible. Sometimes they would engage in door-to-door work as “traders,” with all sorts of goods. If the conversation went well, they would turn attention to the Bible, and they might even produce from within a large interior pocket of their garment a precious piece of Bible literature.
When the police gave them much difficulty in the cities, then they would preach in the rural areas. (Compare Matthew 10:23.) And when they were thrown into prison, they preached there. In 1955, Witnesses in prison found at least 18 interested persons among prisoners and prison officials at Abomey.
Within just a decade after the Dahoman pioneer brother returned to his homeland to preach, there were 1,426 sharing in the ministry—and that even though their work was under government ban!
More Workers Share in the Harvest
It was obvious that there were many people throughout Africa who were hungering for the truth. The harvest was great, but the workers were few. Therefore, it was encouraging to the brothers as they saw how the Master of the harvest, Jesus Christ, answered their prayers for more workers to help with the spiritual ingathering.—Matt. 9:37, 38.
Much literature had been placed in Kenya in the 1930’s by traveling pioneers, but there had been little follow-up work. However, in 1949, Mary Whittington, with her three young children, emigrated from Britain to live in Nairobi with her husband, who was employed there. Sister Whittington had been baptized for scarcely a year, but she had the spirit of a pioneer. Though she knew of no other Witnesses in Kenya, she set out to help others in this large territory to learn the truth. Despite obstacles, she did not back down. Other Witnesses also came—from Australia, Britain, Canada, South Africa, Sweden, the United States, and Zambia—personally arranging to move there to share the Kingdom hope with the people.
In addition, missionary couples were sent to help with the harvest. At first the men were obligated to do secular work in order to remain in the country, and so they were limited in the time they had available for the ministry. But their wives were free to serve as pioneers. In time, well over a hundred Gilead-trained missionaries came to Kenya. When independence neared, with an end to the segregation that British colonial rule had enforced, the European Witnesses studied Swahili and quickly broadened out their activity to reach the native Africans. The number of Witnesses in this part of the global field grew rapidly.
In 1972, Botswana too received help with the spiritual harvest when Witnesses from Britain, Kenya, and South Africa moved into its larger cities. Three years later, Gilead-trained missionaries also came. To a large extent, however, the population is scattered in rural villages. In order to reach them, Witnesses from South Africa have traveled across the desert region known as the Kalahari. In isolated communities they have witnessed to village headmen, to schoolteachers, and often to groups of 10 or 20 appreciative listeners. Said one elderly man: “You came all this way to talk to us about these things? That is kind, very kind.”
“Bible Brown” had given powerful Bible discourses in Liberia during the 1920’s, but there was considerable opposition. The spiritual harvest work there did not really progress until the arrival of missionaries trained at Gilead School. Harry Behannan, who came in 1946, was the first. Many more shared in the following years. Native Liberians gradually joined them in the work, and by 1975 the number of praisers of Jehovah exceeded a thousand.
Even more preaching had been done by “Bible Brown” in Nigeria. This was a nation divided up into numerous kingdoms, city states, and social systems, with people speaking upwards of 250 languages and dialects. Religion was a further divisive factor. With little tact but with powerful Scriptural arguments, the early Witnesses there exposed the clergy and their false teachings. When their literature was banned during World War II, the brothers preached with the Bible alone. People who loved truth responded appreciatively. They quit the churches, then abandoned polygamy and forsook their jujus, which the churches had tolerated. By 1950 the number of Jehovah’s Witnesses sharing in proclaiming the Kingdom message in Nigeria was 8,370. By 1970, there were more than ten times that number.
Persistent legal obstacles had to be overcome in order to provide spiritual help to interested ones in Southern Rhodesia (now known as Zimbabwe). Efforts to obtain legal recognition had begun in the mid-1920’s. In 1932, pioneers from South Africa were ordered to leave the country and were arbitrarily told that no appeal could be made. But they appealed anyway. Charges that Watch Tower literature was seditious had to be dealt with in the courts. In the early 1940’s, brothers spent time in jail because of distributing publications that explained the Bible. Not until 1966 were Jehovah’s Witnesses given full legal recognition as a religious organization in Zimbabwe. For over 40 years, the spiritual harvesting work had been carried on under considerable difficulty, but during that time courageous workers had helped over 11,000 to become servants of Jehovah God.
Witnessing to Governors and Kings
Jesus knew that his disciples would encounter opposition in their ministry. He told them that they would be delivered up before “local courts,” even before “governors and kings,” and that this would be “for a witness to them and the nations.” (Matt. 10:17, 18) Jehovah’s Witnesses have experienced exactly what Jesus foretold, and in harmony with what he said, they have endeavored to use the opportunity to give a witness.
Some officials have allowed fear to hold them back from doing good to Christ’s followers. (John 12:42, 43) Llewelyn Phillips saw evidence of this in 1948 when he had private interviews with a number of government officials in the Belgian Congo, with a view to bringing relief to persecuted Witnesses there. He explained the beliefs and activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses to these men. But during the interview, the governor-general wistfully asked: “And if I help you, what will happen to me?” He knew that the Roman Catholic Church exercised great influence in that land.
However, the paramount chief of the Swazi nation, King Sobhuza II, was not too concerned about the opinion of the clergy. He had often spoken with Jehovah’s Witnesses, had much of their literature, and was kindly disposed toward them. On “Good Friday” each year, he would invite the African clergymen to his royal kraal. He would let them talk, but he would also call on one of Jehovah’s Witnesses to speak. In 1956 the Witness spoke about the doctrine of immortality of the soul and honorary titles of religious leaders. When he was finished, the paramount chief asked the clergymen: “Are these things said here by Jehovah’s witnesses true or false? If false, state how.” They could not refute them. On one occasion the paramount chief even burst out in laughter at the consternation of the clergy over what a Witness said.
The police were often the ones delegated to demand from the Witnesses reasons for what they were doing. From the congregation in Tangier, Morocco, Witnesses made regular trips to Ceuta, a seaport under Spanish control but on the Moroccan coast. Stopped by the police on one occasion in 1967, the Witnesses were interrogated for two hours, during which time an excellent witness was given. At one point, two police inspectors asked whether the Witnesses believed in the “Virgin Mary.” When told that the Gospel accounts show that Mary had other children after the virgin birth of Jesus, and that these were Jesus’ half brothers and sisters, the officers let out a gasp of surprise and said that such a thing could never be found in the Bible. When shown John 7:3-5, one of the officers looked at it at length without saying a word; so the other said: “Give me that Bible. I’ll explain the text!” The first officer replied: “Don’t bother. This text is too clear.” Many other questions were asked and answered in a relaxed atmosphere. After that, there was very little interference from the authorities as the Witnesses preached in that area.
Men prominent in government have become well acquainted with Jehovah’s Witnesses and their ministry. Some of them appreciate that the work done by the Witnesses is truly beneficial for the people. Late in 1959, when preparations were being made for the independence of Nigeria, the governor-general, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, requested that W. R. Brown be present as a representative of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He said to his Council of Ministers: “If all the religious denominations were like Jehovah’s witnesses, we would have no murders, burglaries, delinquencies, prisoners and atomic bombs. Doors would not be locked day in and day out.”
A truly great spiritual harvest was being gathered in Africa. By 1975, there were 312,754 Witnesses preaching the good news in 44 countries on the African continent. In nine of those countries, there were fewer than 50 who were taking a stand for Bible truth and sharing in the evangelizing work. But the Witnesses view the life of each one as precious. In 19 of these lands, those who shared in the house-to-house ministry as Jehovah’s Witnesses numbered in the thousands. Dramatic increases were reported in some areas. In Angola, for example, from 1970 to 1975, the number of Witnesses increased from 355 to 3,055. In Nigeria, in 1975, there were 112,164 of Jehovah’s Witnesses. These were not merely people who enjoyed reading Watch Tower literature, nor were they merely those who occasionally might attend meetings at a Kingdom Hall. All of them were active proclaimers of God’s Kingdom.
The Orient Produces Praisers of Jehovah
As was true in many other places, the activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Philippines expanded rapidly following World War II. As soon as possible after his release from prison on March 13, 1945, Joseph Dos Santos got in touch with the Watch Tower Society’s office in New York. He wanted to obtain all the Bible study material and organization instructions that the brothers in the Philippines had missed during the war. Then he visited congregations personally to unify and strengthen them. That same year a national convention was held in Lingayen, Pangasinan, where instructions were given on how to teach truth-hungry people by means of home Bible studies. The following years saw a concerted effort to translate and publish more material in the local languages—Tagalog, Iloko, and Cebuano. The foundation was being laid for expansion, and it came quickly.
Within a decade after the war ended, the number of Witnesses in the Philippines increased from about 2,000 to more than 24,000. In another 20 years, there were well over 78,000 praisers of Jehovah there.
Among the first countries of the Orient to which missionaries trained at Gilead School were sent was China. Harold King and Stanley Jones arrived in Shanghai in 1947; Lew Ti Himm, in 1949. The three German pioneers who had begun work there in 1939 were on hand to greet them. This was a land where the majority of people were Buddhists and did not quickly respond to discussion of the Bible. Inside their homes were shrines and altars. With mirrors over doorways, they tried to frighten away evil spirits. Red tags with ‘good luck’ sayings and fearsome pictures of Buddhist gods adorned gateways. But those were times of great change in China. Under Communist rule everyone was required to study ‘the thoughts of Mao Tse-tung.’ After their secular work, they were to attend lengthy sessions at which Communism was expounded. In the midst of all of this, our brothers kept busy preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom.
Many of those who were willing to study with Jehovah’s Witnesses had previously had some contact with the Bible through the churches of Christendom. That was true of Nancy Yuen, a church worker and housewife who was grateful for what the Witnesses showed her in the Bible. Soon she was sharing zealously in the house-to-house work and conducting Bible studies herself. Others to whom they preached were of typical Chinese and Buddhist background and had no previous knowledge of the Bible. In 1956 a peak of 57 publishers was reached. However, that same year, after being arrested six times for preaching, Nancy Yuen was kept in prison. Others were either arrested or forced to leave the country. Stanley Jones and Harold King were placed under arrest on October 14, 1958. Before being brought to trial, they were detained for two years. During that time they were interrogated constantly. When finally taken to court in 1960, they were sentenced to long prison terms. Thus, in October 1958 the public activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses in China was forcibly brought to a halt. But their preaching never completely stopped. Even in prison and in labor camps, there were ways to witness. In the future would more be done in this vast country? This would be known in due time.
Meanwhile, what was taking place in Japan? Only about a hundred of Jehovah’s Witnesses had been preaching there before the second world war. When faced with brutal repressive measures during the war years, many of these compromised. Although a few maintained their integrity, organized public preaching came to a halt. However, the proclaiming of Jehovah’s Kingdom was given a new start in that part of the world when Don Haslett, a Gilead-trained missionary, arrived in Tokyo in January 1949. Two months later, his wife, Mabel, was able to join him there. This was a field where many people were hungry for the truth. The emperor had renounced his claim to godship. Shinto, Buddhism, Catholicism, and Kyodan (made up of various Protestant groups in Japan) had all lost face with the people because of going along with Japan’s war effort, which had ended in defeat.
By the end of 1949, 13 missionaries from Gilead School were busy in Japan. More followed—upwards of 160 in all. There was very little literature with which to work. Some of the missionaries had spoken old-style Japanese in Hawaii, but they had to learn the up-to-date language. The others had learned a few basics but had to resort frequently to their Japanese-English dictionaries until they became better acquainted with their new language. Before long, the Ishii and Miura families, who had not forsaken their faith during the war years, made contact with the organization and once again began to participate in the public ministry.
Missionary homes were progressively opened in Kobe, Nagoya, Osaka, Yokohama, Kyoto, and Sendai. From 1949 to 1957, the main endeavor was to establish the Kingdom work in the large cities on Japan’s main island. Then the workers began to move out to other cities. The field was vast. It was obvious that if all Japan was to receive a thorough witness, many pioneer ministers would be needed. This was stressed, many volunteered, and there was marvelous response to the united efforts of these hardworking ministers! The first decade yielded 1,390 praisers of Jehovah. By the mid-1970’s, there were 33,480 zealous praisers of Jehovah spread throughout Japan. And the pace of ingathering was speeding up.
In the same year that Don Haslett arrived in Japan, 1949, the Kingdom work in the Republic of Korea was also given great impetus. Korea had been under Japanese domination during the world war, and the Witnesses had been ruthlessly persecuted. Although a small group met together for study after the war, there was no contact with the international organization until after Choi Young-won saw a report about Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1948 in the American Army newspaper Stars and Stripes. The next year a congregation of 12 publishers was formed in Seoul. Later that year Don and Earlene Steele, the first missionaries from Gilead School, arrived. Seven months later, six more missionaries followed.
They were having excellent results—an average of 20 Bible studies each and meeting attendance of as many as 336. Then the Korean War broke out. Hardly more than three months after that last group of missionaries had arrived, they were all evacuated to Japan. It was more than a year before Don Steele was able to return to Seoul, and another year before Earlene could join him. In the meantime the Korean brothers had remained firm and had been zealous in preaching, in spite of the fact that homes had been lost and many of them were refugees. But now, with the fighting past, attention was given to providing more literature in Korean. Conventions and an influx of more missionaries gave stimulus to the work. By 1975, there were 32,693 of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Republic of Korea—almost as many as in Japan—and there was potential for excellent growth, because over 32,000 home Bible studies were being conducted.
What Was the Situation in Europe?
The end of World War II in Europe did not result in full freedom for Jehovah’s Witnesses there to carry on their work of Bible education without opposition. In some places officials respected them because of their firm stand during the war. But elsewhere powerful tides of nationalism and religious animosity led to further persecution.
Among the Witnesses in Belgium were some who had come from Germany to share in preaching the good news. Because they would not support the Nazi regime, the Gestapo had tracked them down like wild beasts. But now Belgian officials accused some of these same Witnesses of being Nazis and had them imprisoned and then deported. Despite all of this, the number of Witnesses sharing in the field ministry in Belgium more than tripled within five years after the war.
What was behind much of the persecution? The Roman Catholic Church. Wherever it had the power to do so, it was unrelenting in its war to stamp out Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Knowing that many people in the West feared Communism, the Catholic clergy in the Irish city of Cork, in 1948, whipped up opposition to Jehovah’s Witnesses by constantly referring to them as “Communist devils.” As a result, when Fred Metcalfe was sharing in the field ministry, he was confronted by a mob that punched and kicked him and scattered his Bible literature on the street. Happily, a policeman came along just then and dispersed the mobsters. In the face of all of this, the Witnesses persevered. Not all the Irish people agreed with the violence. Later, even some who shared in it wished that they had not. Most of the Catholic people in Ireland had never seen a Bible. But, with loving patience, some of them were helped to take hold of the truth that sets men free.—John 8:32.
Though the Witnesses in Italy numbered only about a hundred in 1946, three years later they had 64 congregations—small but hardworking. The clergy were worried. Unable to refute the Bible truths preached by Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Catholic clergy pressured government authorities to try to get rid of them. Thus, in 1949, Witness missionaries were ordered out of the country.
Repeatedly the Roman Catholic clergy sought to disrupt or prevent assemblies of the Witnesses in Italy. They used hecklers to try to disrupt an assembly in Sulmona in 1948. In Milan they put pressure on the chief of police to cancel the permit for a convention at Teatro dell’Arte in 1950. Again, in 1951, they got the police to cancel permission for an assembly in Cerignola. But in 1957, when the police ordered a Witness convention in Milan to be closed down, the Italian press objected, and questions were raised in parliament. The Rome weekly Il Mondo, of July 30, 1957, did not hesitate to state that the action had been taken “to satisfy the archbishop,” Giovanni Battista Montini, who later became Pope Paul VI. It was well-known that for centuries the Catholic Church had forbidden circulation of the Bible in languages used by the general public. But Jehovah’s Witnesses persisted in letting sincere Catholics see for themselves what the Bible says. The contrast between the Bible and church dogma was obvious. Despite the intense efforts of the Catholic Church to prevent it, thousands were leaving the church, and by 1975 there were 51,248 of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Italy. All of these were active evangelizers, and their numbers were multiplying rapidly.
In Catholic Spain when organized activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses was gradually revived after 1946, it came as no surprise that the clergy there also pressured secular officials to try to stop them. Congregation meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses were disrupted. Missionaries were forced out of the country. Witnesses were arrested for simply having the Bible or Bible literature in their possession. They were often detained in filthy jails up to three days, then released—only to be arrested, interrogated, and put in prison again. Many served sentences of a month or more. The priests urged secular authorities to track down anyone who studied the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Even after the Religious Liberty Law was passed in 1967, changes came slowly. Nevertheless, by the time Jehovah’s Witnesses were finally given legal recognition in 1970, there were already over 11,000 of them in Spain. And five years later, they numbered upwards of 30,000, each one an active evangelizer.
And what about Portugal? Here too, missionaries were ordered out of the country. Egged on by the Catholic clergy, the police searched the homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses, confiscated their literature, and disrupted their meetings. In January 1963 the commander of the Public Security Police of Caldas da Rainha even issued a written order forbidding them to ‘exercise their activities of Bible reading.’ But the Witnesses did not forsake their service to God. There were over 13,000 of them by the time they gained legal recognition in Portugal in 1974.
In other parts of Europe, secular authorities raised obstacles to the preaching of the good news by classifying the distribution of Bible literature as a commercial activity, subject to laws on commerce. In a number of the cantons of Switzerland, peddling ordinances were applied to the distribution of literature by Jehovah’s Witnesses on a voluntary contribution. As the Witnesses carried on their activity, they were subjected to numerous arrests and court actions. When the cases came to trial, however, some courts, including the High Court of the canton of Vaud, in 1953, ruled that the activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses could not properly be viewed as peddling. Meanwhile, in Denmark an effort was made to limit the hours during which Witnesses could offer literature, restricting their activity to times authorized by law for the operation of commercial shops. This too had to be fought in the courts. Despite the obstacles, Jehovah’s Witnesses continued to proclaim God’s Kingdom as the only hope for mankind.
Another issue affecting Jehovah’s Witnesses in Europe, as well as in other parts of the earth, was Christian neutrality. Because their Christian consciences would not permit them to get involved in conflicts between factions of the world, they were sentenced to prison in one country after another. (Isa. 2:2-4) This took young men away from their regular house-to-house ministry. But one beneficial result was an intensive witness to lawyers, judges, military officers, and prison guards. Even in prison the Witnesses found some way to preach. Although the treatment in some prisons was brutal, Witnesses confined at the Santa Catalina prison in Cádiz, Spain, were able to use some of their time to witness through the mail. And in Sweden much publicity was given to the way cases involving the neutrality of Jehovah’s Witnesses were handled. Thus, in many ways people were made aware of the fact that Jehovah does have witnesses on the earth and that they adhere firmly to Bible principles.
There was something else that kept the Witnesses before the public eye. It also had a powerful, invigorating effect on their evangelizing work.
Conventions Contributed to the Witness
When Jehovah’s Witnesses held an international convention in Paris, France, in 1955, television news reports gave the entire nation glimpses of what took place. In 1969 another convention was held near Paris, and it was evident that the ministry of the Witnesses had been fruitful. Those baptized at the convention numbered 3,619, or about 10 percent of the average attendance. Regarding this, the popular Paris evening newspaper France-Soir of August 6, 1969, said: “What worries the clergy of other religions is not the means of spectacular distribution of publications used by Jehovah’s witnesses, but, rather, their making converts. Each of Jehovah’s witnesses has the obligation to witness or proclaim his faith by using the Bible from house to house.”
During a three-week period that same summer of 1969, four other large international conventions were held in Europe—in London, Copenhagen, Rome, and Nuremberg. The Nuremberg convention was attended by 150,645 from 78 countries. Besides airplanes and ships, some 20,000 cars, 250 buses, and 40 special trains were needed to transport the delegates to that convention.
The conventions not only fortified and equipped Jehovah’s Witnesses for their ministry but also gave the public opportunity to see for themselves what sort of people Jehovah’s Witnesses are. When an international convention was scheduled for Dublin, Ireland, in 1965, intense religious pressure was used to force cancellation of the arrangements. But the convention was held, and many householders in Dublin provided accommodations for delegates. With what result? “We have not been told the truth about you,” commented some of the landladies after the convention. “The priests lied to us, but now that we know you, we will always be happy to have you again.”
When People Speak Another Language
In recent decades Jehovah’s Witnesses in Europe have found that communicating with people of other nationalities has presented a special challenge. Large numbers have moved from one country to another to take advantage of employment opportunities. Some European cities have become the seats of major international institutions, with personnel who do not all speak the local language.
Of course, multilingual territory has been a fact of life for centuries in some places. In India, for example, there are 14 principal languages and perhaps 1,000 minor languages and dialects. Papua New Guinea claims more than 700 languages. But it was particularly during the 1960’s and 1970’s that the Witnesses in Luxembourg found that their territory had become one that included people from over 30 different nations—and after that at least another 70 nationalities arrived. Sweden reports that it has changed from a country with one language used by nearly everyone to a society that speaks 100 different tongues. How have Jehovah’s Witnesses dealt with this?
At first, they often simply endeavored to find out the language of the householder and then tried to obtain some literature that he could read. In Denmark, tape recordings were made in order to let sincere Turkish people hear the message in their own language. Switzerland had a large contingent of guest workers from Italy and Spain. The experience of Rudolf Wiederkehr in helping some of these is typical of how things started. He tried to witness to an Italian man, but neither of them knew much of the other’s language. What could be done? Our brother left an Italian Watchtower with him. Despite the language problem, Brother Wiederkehr returned. A Bible study was started with the man, his wife, and their 12-year-old son. Brother Wiederkehr’s study book was in German, but he supplied Italian copies for the family. Where words were lacking, gestures were used. Sometimes the young boy, who was learning German in school, served as interpreter. That entire family embraced the truth and quickly began to share it with others.
But literally millions of workers from Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, and Yugoslavia were moving into Germany and other countries. Spiritual help could be given to them more effectively in their own languages. Soon some of the local Witnesses began to learn the languages of the guest workers. In Germany, language classes in Turkish were even arranged by the branch office. Witnesses in other countries who knew the needed language were invited to move to places where there was a special need for help.
Some of the workers from abroad had never met Jehovah’s Witnesses before and truly had a hunger for spiritual things. They were grateful for the effort being put forth to help them. Many foreign-language congregations were formed. In time, some of these guest workers returned to their homelands to carry on the ministry in areas that previously had not had a thorough witness regarding God’s Kingdom.
An Abundant Harvest in the Face of Obstacles
Jehovah’s Witnesses employ the same methods of preaching throughout the earth. In North America they have been actively evangelizing for over a century. It is not surprising, then, that there has been an abundant spiritual harvest there. By 1975, there were 624,097 active Witnesses of Jehovah within the U.S. mainland and Canada. However, this was not because their preaching in North America was being done without opposition.
Although the Canadian government had lifted its ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses and their legal corporations by 1945, benefits from that decision were not immediately felt in the province of Quebec. In September 1945, Catholic mobs attacked Jehovah’s Witnesses in Châteauguay and Lachine. Witnesses were arrested and charged with sedition because literature they distributed criticized the Roman Catholic Church. Others were put into jail because they distributed Bible literature that had not been approved by the chief of police. By 1947, there were 1,700 cases against the Witnesses pending in the courts of Quebec.
While test cases were being pushed through the courts, Witnesses were instructed to preach the gospel by word of mouth, using just the Bible—the Catholic Douay Version where possible. Full-time ministers from other parts of Canada volunteered to learn French and moved to Quebec in order to share in the spread of true worship there.
Many sincere Catholic people invited the Witnesses into their homes and asked questions, though they often said: ‘I’m a Roman Catholic and will never change.’ But when they saw for themselves what the Bible says, tens of thousands of them, because of love for the truth and a desire to please God, did change.
In the United States too, it was necessary to argue before the courts to establish the right of Jehovah’s Witnesses to preach publicly and from house to house. From 1937 to 1953, there were 59 such cases involving the Witnesses that were taken all the way up to the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.
Attention to Unassigned Territories
The objective of Jehovah’s Witnesses is not merely to do something in the preaching of the good news but to reach everyone possible with the Kingdom message. To that end, the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses has assigned each branch office responsibility for a specific part of the world field. As congregations are formed within the branch territory, each congregation is given a part of that territory in which to preach. The congregation then divides up the area into sections that can be assigned to groups and to individual ministers in the congregation. These endeavor to reach each household on a regular basis. But what about areas not yet assigned to congregations?
In 1951 a tabulation was made of all the counties in the United States to determine which were not receiving regular visits from Jehovah’s Witnesses. At that time, nearly 50 percent were not being worked or were being only partially covered. Arrangements were made for Witnesses to carry on their ministry in these areas during the summer months or at other appropriate times, with a view to developing congregations. When people were not at home, a printed message was sometimes left, along with a piece of Bible literature. Bible studies were conducted by mail. Later, special pioneers were sent to such territories to follow up on interest located.
This activity was not limited to the 1950’s. Around the world, in lands where the principal cities are receiving a witness but unassigned territory exists, an earnest effort continues to be made to reach the people who are not contacted regularly. In Alaska in the 1970’s, about 20 percent of the population lived in remote villages. Many of these people could best be found in the winter when fishing nearly comes to a standstill. But that is the time when severe icing and whiteouts make flying hazardous. Nevertheless, the Eskimo, Indian, and Aleut population needed the opportunity to learn of the provision for everlasting life under God’s Kingdom. To reach them, a group of 11 Witnesses using small planes flew to some 200 villages scattered over an area of 326,000 square miles [844,000 sq km] during a two-year period. All of this was financed by voluntary contributions provided by local Witnesses.
In addition to such preaching expeditions, mature Witnesses have been encouraged to consider actually moving into areas within their own country where the need for Kingdom proclaimers is greater. Thousands have responded. Among those in the United States who have done so are Eugene and Delia Shuster, who left Illinois in 1958 to serve in Hope, Arkansas. They have stayed for over three decades to locate interested persons, organize them into a congregation, and help them to grow to Christian maturity.
At the encouragement of their circuit overseer, in 1957, Alexander B. Green and his wife left Dayton, Ohio, to serve in Mississippi. First they were assigned to Jackson and two years later to Clarksdale. In time, Brother Green served in five other locations. All of these had small congregations that were in need of assistance. He supported himself by doing janitorial work, gardening, furniture refinishing, automobile repair work, and so forth. But his principal efforts were directed toward preaching the good news. He helped the local Witnesses to grow spiritually, worked with them to reach the people in their territory, and often assisted them in building a Kingdom Hall before he moved on.
In 1967, when Gerald Cain became a Witness in the western United States, he and his family strongly felt the urgency of the evangelizing work. Even before any of them were baptized, they were making arrangements to serve where the need was greater. For four years they worked with the congregation in Needles, California. It had responsibility for a territory that included parts of three states in the western United States. When health considerations required a move, they again selected a place where there was special need for help, and they converted part of their home there into a Kingdom Hall. Other moves have followed, but always a major consideration has been getting located in a place where they could be of the greatest help in witnessing.
As the number of congregations has multiplied, in some areas the need for qualified elders has been keenly felt. To meet this need, thousands of elders have volunteered to commute regularly (and at their own expense) to congregations outside their community. They make the trip three, four, five, or more times a week—to share in the meetings of the congregation and in the field ministry and also to shepherd the flock. This has been done not only in the United States but in El Salvador, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, and many other lands. In some instances the elders and their families have moved, in order to fill this need.
What have been the results? Consider one country. Back in 1951, when arrangements to work unassigned territory were first announced, there were about 3,000 congregations in the United States, with an average of 45 publishers per congregation. By 1975, there were 7,117 congregations, and the average number of active Witnesses associated with each congregation had risen to nearly 80.
The witness given to Jehovah’s name and Kingdom from 1945 to 1975 was far greater than all that had been accomplished up till then.
The number of Witnesses had grown from 156,299 in 1945 to 2,179,256 around the globe in 1975. Each one of these had a personal share in publicly preaching about the Kingdom of God.
In 1975, Jehovah’s Witnesses were busy in 212 lands (counted according to the way the map was divided in the early 1990’s). Within the U.S. mainland and Canada, 624,097 of them were carrying out their ministry. In Europe, outside what was then the Soviet Union, there were another 614,826. Africa was hearing the Bible’s message of truth from the 312,754 Witnesses who were sharing in the work there. Mexico, Central America, and South America were being served by 311,641 Witnesses; Asia, by 161,598; Australia and the many islands earth wide, by 131,707.
During the 30 years down to 1975, Jehovah’s Witnesses devoted 4,635,265,939 hours to public preaching and teaching. They also placed 3,914,971,158 books, booklets, and magazines with interested people to help them to appreciate how they could benefit from Jehovah’s loving purpose. In harmony with Jesus’ command to make disciples, they made 1,788,147,329 return visits on interested persons, and in 1975 they were conducting an average of 1,411,256 free home Bible studies with individuals and families.
By 1975 the preaching of the good news had actually reached into 225 lands. In more than 80 lands that the good news had reached by 1945 but where there were no congregations that year, congregations of zealous Witnesses were thriving by 1975. Among these places were the Republic of Korea with 470 congregations, Spain with 513, Zaire with 526, Japan with 787, and Italy with 1,031.
During the period from 1945 to 1975, the vast majority of persons who became Jehovah’s Witnesses did not profess to be anointed with God’s spirit with heavenly life in view. In the spring of 1935, the number who partook of the emblems at the Lord’s Evening Meal totaled fully 93 percent of the those who were sharing in the field ministry. (Later in that same year, the “great multitude” of Revelation 7:9 was identified as being made up of persons who would live forever on earth.) By 1945 the number of Witnesses who looked forward to life on a paradise earth had increased to the point that they made up 86 percent of those who shared in preaching the good news. By 1975 those who professed to be spirit-anointed Christians were less than one half of 1 percent of the total worldwide organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Though scattered in about 115 lands at that time, these anointed ones continued to serve as a unified body under Jesus Christ.
[Blurb on page 463]
“Since you’ve been here everybody is talking about the Bible”
[Blurb on page 466]
“What you have just told me is what I read in that Bible so many years ago”
[Blurb on page 470]
Thousands moved to areas within their own country where the need for Witnesses was greater
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“A priceless reward”
[Blurb on page 475]
Qualified Witnesses were sent into lands where there was a special need
[Blurb on page 486]
With powerful Scriptural arguments, early Witnesses in Nigeria exposed the clergy and their false teachings
[Blurb on page 497]
Where words were lacking, gestures were used
[Blurb on page 499]
The objective? Reach everyone possible with the Kingdom message
[Box/Picture on page 489]
Much effort was put forth to reach the people of China with the good news of Jehovah’s Kingdom
From Chefoo, thousands of letters, tracts, and books were sent out between 1891 and 1900
C. T. Russell spoke in Shanghai and visited 15 cities and villages, 1912
Colporteurs distributed much literature up and down the China coast, with trips to the interior, 1912-18
Japanese colporteurs served here, 1930-31
Radio broadcasts were made in Chinese from Shanghai, Peking, and Tientsin during the 1930’s; as a result, letters requesting literature came from many parts of China
Pioneers from Australia and Europe witnessed in Shanghai, Peking, Tientsin, Tsingtao, Pei-tai-ho, Chefoo, Weihaiwei, Canton, Swatow, Amoy, Foochow, Hankow, and Nanking during the 1930’s and 1940’s. Others came in over the Burma Road and witnessed in Pao-shan, Chungking, Ch’eng-tu. Local pioneers served in Shensi and Ningpo
Gilead-trained missionaries, such as Stanley Jones (left) and Harold King (right), served here from 1947 to 1958, along with families of zealous local Witnesses
[Map/Pictures on page 462]
The “Sibia” served as a floating missionary home in the West Indies
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VIRGIN ISLANDS (U.S.)
VIRGIN ISLANDS (BRITISH)
[Map on page 477]
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Life-giving waters of truth flowed over national borders in many directions in Africa
[Pictures on page 464]
As missionaries in Bolivia, Edward Michalec (left) and Harold Morris (right) preached first here in La Paz
[Picture on page 465]
The boat “El Refugio,” built by Witnesses in Peru, was used to take the Kingdom message to people along rivers in the upper Amazon region
[Picture on page 467]
Literacy classes conducted by the Witnesses in Mexico have enabled tens of thousands of people to read God’s Word
[Picture on page 468]
Brother Knorr (front right) met with Witnesses in small assemblies on farms and in the mountains in Argentina when they were denied freedom to assemble more openly
[Picture on page 469]
Among the thousands of Witnesses who moved to other countries to serve where the need was greater were families, such as Harold and Anne Zimmerman with their four young children (Colombia)
[Picture on page 471]
In response to a call for volunteers, Tom and Rowena Kitto moved to Papua to teach Bible truth
[Picture on page 471]
John and Ellen Hubler, followed by 31 other Witnesses, moved to New Caledonia. Before they had to leave, a congregation was firmly established there
[Picture on page 473]
As a young man in Western Samoa, Fuaiupolu Pele faced intense family and community pressure when he decided to become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses
[Picture on page 474]
After Shem Irofa’alu and his associates became convinced that what Jehovah’s Witnesses teach is really the truth, churches in 28 villages in the Solomon Islands were converted into Kingdom Halls
[Pictures on page 476]
To preach in Ethiopia in the early 1950’s, the Witnesses were required to establish a mission and teach school
[Picture on page 478]
When threatened with deportation, Gabriel Paterson (shown here) was reassured by a prominent official: ‘The truth is like a mighty river; dam it and it will overflow the dam’
[Pictures on page 479]
In 1970 at a convention in Nigeria, 3,775 new Witnesses were immersed; care was taken to be sure that each one really qualified
[Pictures on page 481]
Film showings (in Africa and around the world) gave audiences a glimpse of the magnitude of Jehovah’s visible organization
[Picture on page 482]
João Mancoca (shown here with his wife, Mary) has loyally served Jehovah for decades in the face of very difficult conditions
[Picture on page 483]
In 1961, Ernest Heuse, Jr., with his family, was able to enter Zaire (then called Congo) to help provide spiritual instruction for those who truly wanted to serve Jehovah
[Pictures on page 485]
Though she had been baptized only a year and knew of no other Witnesses in Kenya, Mary Whittington set out to help others learn the truth
[Picture on page 487]
Mary Nisbet (front center), flanked by her sons Robert and George, who pioneered in East Africa in the 1930’s, and (in the rear) her son William and his wife Muriel, who served in East Africa from 1956 to 1973
[Pictures on page 488]
At a convention in the Philippines in 1945, instructions were given on how to teach by means of home Bible studies
[Pictures on page 490]
Don and Mabel Haslett, the first postwar missionaries in Japan, engaging in street witnessing
[Picture on page 491]
For 25 years Lloyd Barry (right) served in Japan, first as a missionary and then as branch overseer
[Picture on page 491]
Don and Earlene Steele, the first of many missionaries who served in the Republic of Korea
[Picture on page 492]
In years past, mobs sometimes chased Fred Metcalfe when he tried to preach from the Bible in Ireland; but later when people stopped to listen, thousands became Jehovah’s Witnesses
[Picture on page 493]
In spite of clergy opposition, thousands flocked to Witness conventions in Italy (Rome, 1969)
[Picture on page 494]
During bans, congregation meetings were often held in the countryside, picnic-style, as here in Portugal
[Pictures on page 495]
Witnesses in prison in Cádiz, Spain, continued to preach by writing letters
[Pictures on page 496]
Large conventions gave the public opportunity to see and hear for themselves what sort of people the Witnesses are
Paris, France (1955)
Nuremberg, Germany (1955)
[Pictures on page 498]
To reach everyone in Luxembourg with the good news, Jehovah’s Witnesses have had to use literature in at least a hundred languages