Gilead Graduates More Qualified Missionaries
GRADUATION day at Gilead! Why is it such a happy occasion? Why are Jehovah’s witnesses everywhere so interested in this semiannual event? Because Jehovah’s witnesses are interested in God’s command, “Preach the word.” They know that this means now to preach the gospel of God’s established kingdom, starting in their own home locality and extending to the uttermost corners of the earth. What greater work could be done now? No other school on earth is devoted to training ministers to do this, and, although not all of Jehovah’s witnesses are able to receive this advanced missionary training, all have a part in supporting the school and the work of those graduating.
It was with glad hearts, then, that over 1,100 from many states and Canada filled the assembly hall and classrooms of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead on the evening of Saturday, February 4, 1950, for the first session of Gilead’s fourteenth graduation exercises.
After a study of the Watchtower article, “Be Rich in Good Works,” and a short period of musical entertainment by student talent, a special treat was in store for all, and particularly the graduating students. The president of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, N. H. Knorr, had just returned from a tour of Central and South America and would give an account of his travels. He related the marvelous expansion of the preaching work in these countries; and then, to the happy surprise of the students, after telling of the conditions and needs in the missionary fields, began filling these needs by giving assignments to all! Besides assignments to Latin American nations, other countries were included, bringing the total up to 22 countries, including Canada, Belgium, Holland, Sweden and Newfoundland. Certainly a sizable part of the globe will be covered by the fourteenth class from Gilead!
This properly set the stage for the main session Sunday morning, as 1,591 persons tried to find seating or standing room within earshot of the loud-speakers installed in the assembly hall, classrooms, basement and library building. After a few words from the farm servant and instructors, and the reading of telegrams of congratulation and encouragement from points in all corners of the earth, the Society’ president gave the graduation address. His subject: “Qualifications for Service.”
Mr. Knorr opened his talk by calling to mind the thorough internal and external study of the Bible that the students had just experienced. He admonished, however, that the question in the future would not be, How many times have I read my Bible? but, When did I read it last? “It’s the Lord’s Word that keeps us alive,” he said.
As the speaker used the texts at Ephesians 3:14-19; 5:1; Philippians 4:8, 9; 1 Thessalonians 4:7, 8; 1 Timothy 1:12-15; 3:5-8 and Hebrews 11:15, 16, he stressed how the apostle Paul wanted his brethren to have the qualifications for service. To enable them to have this, Paul emphasized the importance of prayer. One serving God should never get to the point that he can’t pray, or that he is afraid to face God in prayer. If he does so, he has rejected his Ransomer who has made it possible for him to come to God. By prayer the “inner man” is strengthened. This “inner man” is what we really are inside. Our outward appearance may not be so attractive, but what we are inside will always show, and this determines whether we are good ministers and good missionaries. To comprehend God and his organization we must dig into his Word, taking the straight, unadulterated truths of it. We must get into God’s organization, continually study the life and acts of Jesus Christ and imitate him.
Whatsoever is virtuous, whatsoever is praiseworthy should be what our minds dwell on. We cannot bring old world practices into new world service. Why use base, degraded language in describing things, descriptions that are really not expressive, but meaningless and worthless for any edification? There are so many things we love, our Kingdom Hall, our local company, our records, our brethren, our organization, these we can dwell on, give our attention to. We can listen to advice from our brethren, advice based on the Word of God. This will help us to dwell on the proper things and be imitators of God.
Then, by the use of 1 Timothy 3:1-7, the missionaries were shown what qualifications to look for in selecting ministers for service positions in the congregations which they would establish, for many of the assignments are in places where the Word of God has never been preached.
But what would the missionaries themselves do? Would they permit home ties, weariness in well-doing, or any other thing to bring them back from their assignments? Do we have an example of the God-pleasing course in this respect? Abraham was one. He left his home country at God’s command, and went to the foreign assignment Canaan to preach the Word. Certainly he left a comfortable home in a much more highly developed civilization, just as many of these missionaries are doing. Abraham could have found plenty of excuses and opportunities to return home, as the apostle says. But he didn’t. He believed the word of God and went to his assignment with the idea of staying until that heavenly city, the Kingdom of God, was established. He did not live that long, but because of his faith he is going to receive a resurrection to life in the new world.
Faith and faithfulness to the Lord is necessary. It makes no difference where we live, because the whole earth is going to be made glorious. Those faithful missionaries who have been in the foreign field for a number of years, when they come back for a visit, are anxious to get back “home”. The assignment the Lord gave them, that is their home, and they love it and the people in it. Their example strengthens our faith in Gilead and the purpose for which it was established.
After the talk each student stepped to the platform as his name was called and received from the Society’s president an envelope containing a class picture and a gift from the Society to help them get started in their assignments. While those going to Quebec will immediately start in their final assignments, most will proceed to New York city, working there until after the International Assembly in August, whence they will go on to foreign lands. Also in their envelopes 99 of the 103 graduates found diplomas of scholastic merit.
As the last student returned to his seat, a resolution was presented by one of the student body and unanimously adopted. It expressed in a forceful way their resolve to show faithfulness during the few remaining years until the new world is established, even in the face of Satan’s certain attempts to divert them from this course. It was as follows:
WHEREAS the universal war of Armageddon is near, Jehovah God having established His King and Chief Field Marshal on the throne A.D. 1914 and since that time He has been ruling in the midst of His enemies; and
WHEREAS we have come out from “this present evil world” and have enlisted as soldiers in the army of this Field Marshal, dedicating ourselves thereto as full-time fighters pledging unbreakable allegiance to Him and His kingdom; and
WHEREAS the battle has been intensified by the ever-increasing advances by Jehovah’s people toward pure worship and Satan is making his final all-out effort to stop the proclamation of the established Kingdom by an onslaught of violent persecution and by every means at his command, including the so-called “holy year” of 1950; and
WHEREAS we have been called in from the Canadian and American theaters of Theocratic warfare to be further trained and equipped at the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead and we desire to show our deep thankfulness and appreciation to Jehovah God and His organization for this blessed privilege of expanding our efficiency as Theocratic warriors;
THEREFORE we, the members of the fourteenth class and of the first class of the eventful international convention year of Jehovah’s witnesses, 1950, assembled at graduating exercises at South Lansing, New York, this day of February 5, 1950, do hereby resolve and declare:
THAT we will go forth from this place to whatever post of duty our Commander directs through His organization; and
THAT we will use the weapons of knowledge He has given us to proclaim liberty to those held captive by Satan and his organization and that we will not allow the “sword of the Spirit” to get dull in our hands nor let it rust in its sheath but will effectively wield it to the vindication of Jehovah’s name; and
THAT we will show love toward those to whom we are sent, by lovingly nourishing them with God’s Word of truth; and
THAT, by God’s grace, we will resist all the satanic efforts of world conspiracy and will not yield to his subtle schemes to regiment all the world into his service but will continue to “preach the word” until Satan and satanic supporters lie crushed and Jehovah has carried His people victoriously through the final war of Armageddon into the new world “wherein dwelleth righteousness”.
This assembly dismissed, the attenders enjoyed fellowship with old friends. Light lunches were served in the Gilead basement, so that almost all were able to spend the full day right on the campus, inspecting the various features of the farm and school.
And so we turn the pages of another chapter of the place called Gilead. Another potential heap of witness in faraway countries. Another group of zealous ministers of our God Jehovah who are in readiness to bring to persons of good-will joy in the place of mourning, and life giving spiritual food in the place of death-dealing leaven spread on the “table of demons”.
School is over; but what do we see on this last day? Graduates excitedly thumbing their way through encyclopedias and geographic magazines, and saying, “There is where I am going!” This provided subject material for the closing session Sunday evening, as they gave brief expressions of appreciation from the platform. Much was heard on far-away peoples and far-away lands: lands and peoples that will be their future homes and future neighbors.
Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered; let them also that hate him flee before him. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God. But let the righteous be glad; let them exult before God: yea, let them rejoice with gladness. Sing unto God, sing praises to his name.—Psalm 68:1-4, Am. Stan. Ver.