1, 2. (a) What have Jehovah’s servants long enjoyed doing? (b) What does Jehovah treasure?
JEHOVAH’S loyal servants have long enjoyed constructing buildings that bring praise to his name. The Israelites, for example, enthusiastically participated in the building of the tabernacle and generously provided materials for it.—Ex. 35:30-35; 36:1, 4-7.
2 Jehovah does not view the building materials themselves as the primary things that bring him honor, nor are they the things that he values most. (Matt. 23:16, 17) What Jehovah treasures, the gift that brings him honor above all else, is the worship rendered him by his servants, including their willing spirit and zealous work. (Ex. 35:21; Mark 12:41-44; 1 Tim. 6:17-19) That fact is significant. Why? Because buildings come and go. For instance, the tabernacle and the temple no longer exist. Those structures may be gone, but Jehovah has not forgotten the generosity and labor of his loyal servants who supported their construction.—Read 1 Corinthians 15:58; Hebrews 6:10.
3. What will we review in this chapter?
3 Jehovah’s modern-day servants have also worked hard to construct places of worship. And what we have accomplished under the direction of our King Jesus Christ is truly remarkable! Clearly, Jehovah has blessed our efforts. (Ps. 127:1) In this chapter, we will review just some of the work that has been done and how it has brought honor to Jehovah. We will also hear from some who have been involved in accomplishing the work.
Building Kingdom Halls
4. (a) Why do we need more places of worship? (b) Why have various branch offices been consolidated? (See the box “Branch Construction—Adjusting to Changing Needs.”)
4 As discussed in Chapter 16, Jehovah requires that we meet for worship. (Heb. 10:25) Our meetings not only strengthen our faith but also heighten our enthusiasm for the preaching work. As the last days progress, Jehovah continues to speed up that work. In response, hundreds of thousands flock to his organization each year. (Isa. 60:22) With the greater number of Kingdom subjects comes a greater need for printing facilities to produce Bible-based literature. We also need more places of worship.
5. Why is the name Kingdom Hall appropriate? (See also the box “The New Light Church.”)
5 Early in the modern history of Jehovah’s people, the Bible Students began to see the need for their own meeting places. It appears that one of the first places of worship constructed was in West Virginia, U.S.A., in 1890. By the 1930’s, Jehovah’s people had built or renovated a number of halls, but those meeting places had not yet been given a distinctive name. In 1935, though, Brother Rutherford visited Hawaii, where a hall was being constructed in conjunction with a new branch office. When asked what this building should be called, Brother Rutherford replied: “Don’t you think we should call it ‘Kingdom Hall,’ since that is what we are doing, preaching the good news of the Kingdom?” (Matt. 24:14) That appropriate name would soon be given not only to that particular hall but to most of the meeting places used by congregations of Jehovah’s people worldwide.
6, 7. What has the construction of quickly built Kingdom Halls provided?
6 By the 1970’s, the need for Kingdom Halls was rapidly increasing. In response, brothers in the United States developed an efficient method of building attractive, functional structures in just a few days. By 1983, some 200 of such Kingdom Halls had been erected in the United States and Canada. To accomplish the work, brothers began forming regional building committees. This method worked so well that in 1986, the Governing Body formalized the arrangement, and by 1987, there were 60 Regional Building Committees (RBCs) in the United States.a By 1992, RBCs had also been appointed in Argentina, Australia, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, South Africa, and Spain. To be sure, the hardworking brothers who build Kingdom Halls and Assembly Halls deserve our support, for the work they are doing is part of sacred service.
7 These quickly built Kingdom Halls provided a wonderful witness to the communities in which they were constructed. A newspaper in Spain, for example, carried the headline “Faith Moves Mountains.” Commenting on the construction of such a Kingdom Hall in the town of Martos, the paper asked: “How is it possible that in this present world based on selfishness, volunteers from various regions [of Spain] unselfishly travel to Martos in order to erect a building that has broken all records for speed, perfection, and organization?” The article answered the question by quoting the words of one of the Witness volunteers: “The merit simply lies in the fact that we are a people taught by Jehovah.”
Building in Lands With Limited Resources
8. In 1999, what new program did the Governing Body approve, and why?
8 As the 20th century drew to a close, people streamed into Jehovah’s organization in lands where the brothers have limited resources. The local congregations did what they could to build meeting places. But in some countries, they had to endure ridicule and prejudice because the local Kingdom Halls were very primitive when compared with other places of worship. Starting in 1999, however, the Governing Body approved a program to accelerate the construction of Kingdom Halls in developing lands. Funds from more prosperous lands were made available so that an “equalizing” could take place. (Read 2 Corinthians 8:13-15.) And brothers and sisters from other lands volunteered to help with the work.
9. What task seemed overwhelming, but what was accomplished?
9 At first, the task seemed overwhelming. A report in 2001 revealed that more than 18,300 Kingdom Halls were needed in 88 developing countries. With the backing of God’s spirit and our King Jesus Christ, though, no task is impossible. (Matt. 19:26) Within about 15 years, from 1999 to 2013, God’s people had built 26,849 Kingdom Halls as part of this program.b Jehovah continues to bless the preaching work, so that as of 2013, there was still a need for some 6,500 Kingdom Halls in those countries, and currently, hundreds more are needed each year.
10-12. How has the construction of Kingdom Halls brought honor to Jehovah’s name?
10 How has the construction of those new Kingdom Halls brought honor to Jehovah’s name? A report from the branch office in Zimbabwe said: “Within one month of building a new Kingdom Hall, attendance at the meetings usually doubles.” In many countries, it seems that people are reluctant to associate with us until a suitable place of worship is available. Once a Kingdom Hall is built, though, it soon fills up and another is required. However, it is more than just the appearance of the structures that draws people to Jehovah. The genuine Christian love displayed by those building the halls also affects the way people view his organization. Consider a few examples.
11 Indonesia. When a man who had been watching the construction of a Kingdom Hall found out that all the workers were volunteers, he said: “You people are simply amazing! I have seen how each one of you works wholeheartedly and with joy, even though you receive no payment. I think that there is no other religious organization like yours!”
12 Ukraine. A woman who had passed by a Kingdom Hall construction project each day concluded that the workers were Jehovah’s Witnesses and that the building was to be a Kingdom Hall. She said: “I had heard about Jehovah’s Witnesses from my sister who became one. Observing this building work, I decided that I also wanted to be in this spiritual family. Here I have seen love displayed.” This woman accepted a Bible study and was baptized in 2010.
13, 14. (a) What have you learned from the way one married couple reacted after observing activities at a Kingdom Hall construction site? (b) What can you do to ensure that your place of worship brings honor to Jehovah’s name?
13 Argentina. A married couple approached the brother overseeing a Kingdom Hall construction site. The husband said, “We have been following your building activities very closely, and . . . we have decided that we want to learn about God in this place.” He then asked, “What must we do to qualify to attend meetings here?” The couple accepted the offer of a Bible study, but on the condition that the whole family could take part. The brothers happily agreed to this condition.
14 You may not have had the privilege of helping to construct the Kingdom Hall in which you meet, but you can still do much to help your local place of worship bring honor to Jehovah’s name. For example, you can enthusiastically invite your Bible students, return visits, and other members of the public to attend meetings with you at the Kingdom Hall. You also have the opportunity to help clean and maintain your place of worship. With good planning, you may be able to donate toward the care of the Kingdom Hall you attend or donate toward the building of these places of worship in other parts of the world. (Read 1 Corinthians 16:2.) All these activities add to the praise of Jehovah’s name.
Workers Who “Offer Themselves Willingly”
15-17. (a) Who carry out much of the building work? (b) What have you learned from the comments made by the couples who have worked on international construction projects?
15 Much of the work that goes into building Kingdom Halls, Assembly Halls, and branch facilities is done by local brothers and sisters. Often, though, they are assisted by brothers and sisters from other countries who have experience in construction. Some of those volunteers have organized their affairs so that they can work on an international project for a number of weeks. Others have made themselves available to serve for many years, moving from one construction assignment to the next.
16 International construction work presents unique challenges but also offers satisfying rewards. Timo and Lina, for instance, have traveled to countries in Asia, Europe, and South America to work on building Kingdom Halls, Assembly Halls, and branch offices. Says Timo, “I have had a change of assignment on average every two years for the past 30 years.” Lina, who married Timo 25 years ago, says: “I’ve served with Timo in ten different countries. It takes a considerable amount of energy and time to adapt to new food, a new climate, a new language, and a new preaching territory and to make new friends.”c Has the effort been worthwhile? “The challenges,” says Lina, “have resulted in our greatest blessings. We have experienced Christian love and hospitality and have felt Jehovah’s loving care for us. We have also seen the fulfillment of the promise Jesus gave to his disciples, which is recorded at Mark 10:29, 30. We have received a hundred times more in terms of spiritual brothers, sisters, and mothers.” Timo says, “It brings us deep satisfaction to use our skills for the noblest of all purposes, participating in the expansion of the King’s belongings.”
17 Darren and Sarah, who have helped on construction projects in Africa, Asia, Central America, Europe, South America, and the South Pacific, feel that they have received more than they have given. Despite the challenges they have faced, Darren says: “It has been a privilege to work with brothers from various parts of the globe. I have seen that the love we share for Jehovah is like a thread that circles the globe, joining us all together.” Sarah says: “I have learned so much from brothers and sisters with different cultures! Seeing the sacrifices they make to serve Jehovah motivates me to continue giving my best.”
18. How is the prophecy recorded at Psalm 110:1-3 being fulfilled?
18 King David prophesied that even though subjects of God’s Kingdom would face challenges, they would “offer themselves willingly” to serve Kingdom interests. (Read Psalm 110:1-3.) All who are involved in work that supports the Kingdom are having a share in fulfilling those prophetic words. (1 Cor. 3:9) The scores of branch office buildings, hundreds of Assembly Halls, and tens of thousands of Kingdom Halls around the world provide tangible proof that God’s Kingdom is real and is now ruling. What a privilege we have to serve the King Jesus Christ in a work that brings Jehovah the honor he so richly deserves!
a In 2013, more than 230,000 volunteers were approved to work with the 132 RBCs in the United States. In that country, annually those committees coordinated the construction of about 75 new Kingdom Halls and helped with the renovation or repair of about 900 halls.
b This figure does not include the numerous Kingdom Halls that were built in lands outside the program.
c International servants and volunteers spend the majority of their time working on the building site, but they also support the local congregations in the preaching work on the weekend or in the evening.