Reviewing the Past Year’s Work World-wide
1. What are Jehovah’s witnesses? What do we ask about them?
JEHOVAH’S witnesses are ministers of God, ordained to preach the Word. Let us then review what they have done and see if they are trying to store up treasures in heaven, or only treasures upon this earth. Are they giving to the poor and bringing to them the comfort and good news?
2. Were there many Kingdom publishers in 1914? What befell them?
2 The Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, the governing body of Jehovah’s witnesses, has pointed out through its publications that the kingdom of heaven was established in 1914, and it has shown in its writings how the signs of the present day are fulfilling prophecy in proof of the establishment of that kingdom. The first World War was one of the first signs foretold by Jesus in the 24th chapter of Matthew as marking the end of the Gentile times and the beginning of Christ’s reign in heaven. The Watchtower magazine has proved this many times in its columns. Were there many proclaimers or announcers of this established Kingdom then? Yes, there were quite a number scattered throughout the world; but when the world war broke forth in all its fury, many of the Branch offices of the Society were closed and Jehovah’s witnesses almost everywhere were cast into prison, many killed, and their organization considerably broken up. In fact, those at the headquarters offices at 124 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, New York, were taken away and put in Atlanta prison; but by following through with the slow court procedure and taking the case before the Supreme Court of the United States, the officers of the Society were acquitted. By the time the officials of the Society were freed from jail the clergy and the government officials felt that the Watch Tower Society and its representatives were pretty well knocked out and would remain inactive. They were as though dead in the streets.—Rev. 11:8.
3. What increases in publishers did two decades since 1918 show?
3 You cannot keep Jehovah’s witnesses silent. They must preach the Word! They were revived from the deathlike condition and began storing up more treasures in heaven. In 1918 there were only 3,868 persons announcing the King and the Kingdom in all the world. Being strengthened by the spirit of the Lord, and because of their determination to press on, maintaining their integrity, they were richly blessed. Never slacking their hand, they went forward, singing praises “yet more and more”, and as a result ten years later there were 23,988 persons proclaiming this same good news of the Kingdom and comforting those who were mourning. Grateful to God who had given them time to revive, and grateful, too, that they had the opportunity of gathering together “other sheep”, this remnant of Jehovah’s organization moved on into greater activity. By the time 1938 rolled around when the nations of the world were again preparing for another world war, there were 47,143 publishers preaching the Word. By this time Jehovah’s witnesses were established in 52 different nations of the world, declaring this same message that Jehovah reigns through His Son, Christ Jesus, whom He has set upon His throne.
4. Despite what events, what increases did 1948 and 1949 show?
4 Then came years of greater strife, turmoil, distress and perplexity—a decade of war and of trying to establish peace among the nations. Jehovah’s witnesses were driven underground in most countries of the world; they were persecuted and their work banned, but, nevertheless, they continued preaching the Word. In 1948, after another ten years had passed, there were 230,532 persons who had taken up this grand message of peace for the poor in God’s righteous new world. Not content unless they were witnessing, Jehovah’s witnesses moved into every corner of the earth that they could possibly reach with the good news, and as you consider the chart which appears on the following page you will rejoice to find that in the year 1949 there was an average of 279,421 publishers of the Kingdom engaged in field-service work every month in 104 different places throughout the world. The Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society has established 63 Branches in the principal countries of the earth, and, by the Lord’s grace, will continue to preach the Word to the poor and rich alike, to all those who have an ear to hear.
CHARTING THE INCREASE
5. What was the past year’s percentage of increase? Its peak?
5 Jehovah’s witnesses are not trying to get members for their organization, but they are trying to take to the people the truth as it is contained in God’s Word, the Holy Bible. They know, however, that as people study the Lord’s Word and receive comfort from it and learn how to gain life eternal by storing up treasures in heaven, they, too, will proclaim this good news. They cannot do otherwise if they love true worship. It is the deep appreciation of the individuals who learn the truth and the righteous way of life that causes them to want to tell others about it. As a natural result, then, a great increase has come to the ranks of Jehovah’s witnesses. In fact, in 1949 as compared with 1948 there was a 21-percent increase throughout the world in number of publishers proclaiming the Kingdom as the only hope for mankind. A peak number of 317,877 publishers who were out in the work preaching the Word was reached for the year. This is the highest number of ministers of the gospel ever to engage in the work in any one year according to our records, and we rejoice with all these persons of good-will who are associating themselves with the Lord’s organization and are now working under the direction of the Society, all to the honor and glory of Jehovah’s name.
6. How many companies of witnesses are there now? For what?
6 Jehovah’s witnesses love to serve the King of the new world now. Their hope and faith is in the kingdom of God, for through it the blessings of eternal life will be gained. So they continue to work and pray: “Your kingdom come! Your will be done on earth as it is done in heaven!” While being good citizens of the nation in which they live, paying their taxes, complying with the laws of the land as long as these laws are in full accord with God’s laws, still they move ahead, expanding their activity among the people, doing the will of the Lord and following out the principal command of Jehovah, to “preach the word”. From one end of the earth to the other these persons of good-will have organized themselves until now there are 12,535 companies of Jehovah’s witnesses where they assemble together regularly for study of God’s Word in order to prepare themselves to be better ministers of the Lord.
7. How many hours did the publishers preach? To whom? How?
7 But you ask, Don’t they get something out of this personally? Isn’t there something in it, something material they will gain by being Jehovah’s witnesses? No, the only thing to gain, as far as being one of Jehovah’s witnesses is concerned, is treasure in heaven. They are trying to be rich in good works “so as to grasp the life that is life indeed”. How do they do this? By spending their time preaching the Word to the poor, the rich, the meek, the haughty, the farmer, the factory worker, the husband and the wife. They do it by calling at the homes, the apartments, the palatial residences, the bungalows, the farmhouses, the adobe huts. It makes no difference; wherever people live, there Jehovah’s witnesses will go to preach the Word. During the service year 1949, the 279,421 publishers who engaged in the field service on an average every month devoted 53,741,547 hours to preaching the Word of God to people who wanted to hear. Not only did they go from house to house in the first place, but they called back on the people who were interested in the Kingdom message. These witnesses of God made 15,897,544 such calls on the people to answer their questions.
8. How many home Bible studies do they conduct? At what cost?
8 As a result of these millions of return calls, a number of persons were anxious to diligently study what Jehovah’s witnesses had to offer; and regularly throughout the year Jehovah’s witnesses have been conducting Bible studies in 167,571 homes. These one-hour studies are conducted weekly with groups of two to five or more persons. Sometimes there is only one person interested, but time will be spent each week in giving him lessons from the Bible. Is this a selfish work? Are Jehovah’s witnesses getting something out of it for themselves by putting all these hours into preaching? or are they giving something to the poor in life-sustaining spiritual food? The facts show they are giving the people words of life, in addition to their time, energy, money; and thus they are storing up treasures in heaven. For them there is more real satisfaction in that than in accumulating earthly riches.
9. How do they act and plan differently from the parable’s rich man?
9 It must be observed, too, that after a very successful year of gathering together the “other sheep” into the Lord’s organization Jehovah’s witnesses do not settle back and say, “Well, this is enough. We have gathered in great gains. We will make larger barns or churches in which to put these people and then hold them for ourselves.” No, Jehovah’s witnesses are not like the rich man who decided to quit working and to live off his gains and just eat, drink and be merry. Not at all! They want to plant more seed and cultivate the field again and again. So, as the Scriptures indicate, one will plant, another waters, but it is God who gives the increase. (1 Cor. 3:7) They sow in order that they may reap; and as the Lord prospers their efforts, more people come into His organization, seeking refuge and safety. Even those newly coming to the organization in time go out too to sow and water, looking to God to give the increase at harvest time.
WHAT WILL WE DO IN 1950?
10. What literature distribution was there? Hence what production?
10 What will Jehovah’s witnesses do during 1950? Just what they did in 1949; only, by God’s undeserved kindness, they will do even better in their work of preaching the Word in all the world. They will continue inviting everyone who has an ear to hear the truth to ‘come, and drink of the water of life freely’. (Rev. 22:17) Jehovah’s witnesses have placed much literature in the hands of the people, and this for one purpose, to help them to understand the Word of God. The small contributions they receive for such literature are used to print more, so that others too can read. During the 1949 service year, Bibles, books and booklets were placed throughout the world in the number of 15,709,161 copies. Many new subscriptions were obtained for the two magazines, The Watchtower and Awake! in many languages. In fact, 596,766 new subscriptions were taken, in all parts of the world. To accommodate the readers of these magazines it was necessary for the Society in Brooklyn, New York, and throughout its Branch offices to print 23,190,737 copies of the Watchtower magazine and 16,136,389 of the Awake! magazine. In addition to the 39 million magazines, the Society’s publishing plants printed more than 4 million bound books and over 17 million booklets.
11. How was the public meeting campaign carried on?
11 Jehovah’s witnesses could not be satisfied with just serving the people they meet in homes; so they arrange for public meetings in fine auditoriums, in small halls, in their own Kingdom Halls, in public parks, out along the seashore, or in the wilderness. Wherever people will congregate to hear the message of the Kingdom, Jehovah’s witnesses will furnish a minister to preach the good news. During the year 1949 there were 174,404 such public meetings arranged for, all of which had good attendance. These meetings were well advertised, and handbills were distributed, placards printed, notices put in stores, letters sent out to interested persons—all requiring additional printing on the part of the Society. Along with letterheads and normal supplies for office use, the handbill and tract orders made it necessary for the Society to print 231 million pieces during 1949. This is over and above the printing of the magazines, books, Bibles and booklets.
12. How was the missionary work carried on, and where?
12 Such work can be carried on because some people are giving what they have to the poor. Jehovah’s witnesses love to give to the people world-wide, regardless of nationality, color or creed. That is why they devote their time, physical strength and funds to the preaching of the gospel. Contributions were made by them during the past year to carry on the Society’s world-wide expansion program. One feature of its expansion program was in helping its missionaries and smaller Branch organizations financially to the extent of $591,358.96. At the present time there are 63 Branch offices of the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society directing the work in different areas of the earth. There are also 107 missionary homes, in 77 different countries. The total number of missionaries who are now in foreign assignments outside the United States and Canada, except Quebec, is 652, all of whom are graduates of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead. Five hundred of these are working out of the 107 missionary homes, while others of these trained missionaries are doing general pioneer work in different countries. Some are working in Bethel homes, and some are circuit or district servants or Branch servants.
13. How was the pioneer work carried on? With what quality?
13 Another great field for personal expansion activity is the pioneer work. During the 1949 service year there was an average of 1,451 special pioneers assigned to certain territories that needed special attention, and these have done excellent work. In this special pioneer group are included the missionaries who are scattered throughout all the world. Additionally there are the general pioneers, 10,973 in number, who have arranged their affairs so as to devote most of their time and energy to the preaching of the good news. All of these must have faith in Jehovah, the Great Provider. Jesus’ words are a comfort to them: “See how the lilies grow. They do not toil or spin, but, I tell you, even Solomon in all his splendor was never dressed like one of them. But if God so dresses the wild grass, which is alive today, and is thrown into the furnace tomorrow, how much more surely will he clothe you, who have so little faith?” (Luke 12:27, 28, An Amer. Trans.) It does take faith to make this forward step and go into the full-time service, becoming a pioneer or taking up a special assignment or going into the missionary work. Their faith and their works show they believe Jehovah will care for them. It is not a storing up of earthly treasures, either, to become a member of the Bethel family or to take up work in a Branch home; but it does mean storing up treasures in heaven, “so as to grasp the life that is life indeed.”
14. In view of God’s provisions we must seek first what? How?
14 One must trust in the Lord that the provisions which He makes for the birds and the animals of the fields were also promised to man and will be provided for him. You remember that when Paul was traveling from place to place he did not want to make himself a burden to any of the brethren, so at times he would stop and make tents. He earned sufficient money doing this that he could travel on to his next stop. Sometimes he accumulated enough that he would not have to go to making tents for quite a while. He knew it was necessary for an individual to work and earn some money to look after his earthly needs, but at the same time he could not neglect his preaching duties. Luke tells us in the book of Acts that Paul never failed to go to the synagogue on the sabbath to preach the Word of God to the Jews and he also mingled with the Greeks so that they too might hear. (Acts 18:3, 4) Eating and drinking and being clothed are not the all-essential things in life. They are necessary, yes, but the big thing is storing up treasures for oneself in heaven. “So you must not ask what you are to have to eat or drink, and you must not be anxious about it. For these are all things the nations of the world are in pursuit of, and your Father knows well that you need them. But you must strive to find his kingdom, and you will have these other things besides. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen to give you the kingdom. Sell what belongs to you, and give away the money! Get yourselves purses that will never wear out, inexhaustible riches in heaven, where thieves cannot get near nor moths destroy. For wherever your treasure is, your heart will be too.”—Luke 12:29-34, An Amer. Trans.
15. Why be fearless in going forward, though faced with death?
15 Certainly there is nothing to be fearful about in going forward in preaching the Word of God. Not with such promises! There will be hardships, difficulties and problems to overcome; maybe some will be killed. Jesus told us to expect that kind of treatment. But life! This is the gift to those who love Jehovah. Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.” (John 8:51) But even though persons do see death now, there is a reward for those who love righteousness and who have been storing up treasures in heaven. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (John 11:25, 26) Furthermore, the time is coming, in the new world, when there will be no more death. (Rev. 21:4) Of course, most of the people of the world today do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ nor in the merit of his sacrifice. That is why Jehovah’s witnesses as God’s ministers must preach the good news of God’s Word to the people, so that they may have the opportunity of believing. Many are listening, and some are taking heed and starting to study.
16. What do Memorial observance and baptismal figures show?
16 At one of the most important meetings of the Lord’s people in the earth today, the celebration of the memorial of Jesus’ death, there were 453,274 persons in attendance. Of this great number only 24,312 partook of the emblems, thus signifying that they believe they are of the remnant class that will be joint-heirs with Christ Jesus in heaven. The others, numbering considerably more than 425,000 now, are sincerely looking forward to the time when the new world will be established. Not all of these, however, have been preaching the gospel to the extent that they have been making reports to the Society of what they are doing in this respect; but we firmly believe that in time they will take their stand and preach, because they will soon believe with their hearts that the greatest work that must be done in these last days is to make known the salvation of our God. During 1949 there were 42,524 persons who consecrated their lives to God’s service, symbolizing that covenant with water immersion. They accepted the charge, along with all others of Jehovah’s witnesses, to “preach the word”. By so doing, they will “be rich in good deeds, open-handed and generous, storing up a valuable treasure for themselves for the future, so as to grasp the life that is life indeed”.—1 Tim. 6:18, 19, An Amer. Trans.
17. How do Jehovah’s witnesses enter 1950, and with what purpose?
17 With joy and gladness Jehovah’s witnesses enter the 1950 service year, thankful for the honor of service under Christ the King. They are not worried about the persecutions, trials and difficulties. These they will face as they come day by day. The thing of greatest interest to them is the praising of Jehovah’s name and the vindication of his sovereign position in the universe. To prove it, Jehovah’s witnesses will “preach the word”.
[Chart on page 12]
1949 SERVICE YEAR REPORT OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES WORLD-WIDE
(See bound volume)