Producing the Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses
YEARBOOKS of Jehovah’s witnesses are one year and three months in the making. But how can that be, if one of these reports on the world-wide preaching activities of Jehovah’s witnesses is released yearly? Surely the Watchtower Society’s president could not spend a year and three months writing and compiling each one of these annual reports, and still prepare a new one for release each year. Clarification of this point lies in the answer to the question, Who produces the yearbooks of Jehovah’s witnesses?
Is it the workers in the book bindery that put it in final form? or the pressmen that print it on the presses? or the platemakers? or linotype operators? or the typists that copy off the final manuscript that goes to proofreaders and typesetters? They play key roles in the yearbook production line, but they enter the picture in only the closing weeks of work on this publication. Nor is it the Society’s president that performs all of the work that has gone before, for he is dependent upon reports sent in from all of the Society’s sixty-three branches, and the branch servants in turn rely upon reports from all of the 13,238 companies of Jehovah’s witnesses throughout the earth as a basis for their write-ups to the president’s office. Then do the company organizations initiate the work on the yearbook? No, for the company servant reports to branches are compiled from the field service reports turned in by individual Kingdom publishers.
THE PART OF THE INDIVIDUAL PUBLISHER
Hence it is the individual publisher in the field service that is first in the production line for yearbooks of Jehovah’s witnesses. It is the Kingdom publisher in the field that writes first, on the fleshly tablets of human hearts. “For you are shown to be a letter of Christ written by us as ministers, inscribed not with ink but with spirit of the living God, not on stone tablets, but on fleshly tablets, on hearts.” (2 Cor. 3:3, NW) It is the Kingdom publisher in field service that marks foreheads and inscribes the good news on human minds. “He called to the man in linen, with the writer’s inkhorn, and said to him, ‘Go through the city of Jerusalem and put a mark upon the foreheads of the men who bewail and bemoan all the detestable impieties that are being practised here.’” (Ezek. 9:3, 4, Mo) Jehovah God uses the Kingdom publishers to do this work symbolized by writing, and it means a publicizing of his Word and a prosperous ingathering of additional ministers of the gospel. The increase is tangible results proving Jehovah’s witnesses to be ministers, recommending them as such.
The extent of his preaching and the results of it the Kingdom publisher writes up on a field service report slip. This, together with any additional remarks or accounts of experiences, goes to the company servant. He compiles the reports from all of the individual publishers in the company, and forwards the total results, along with any unusually interesting experiences, to the branch in charge of that territory. The branch servant combines all of the company reports and full-time pioneer publisher reports coming to him in one detailed report to the president’s office. Only then can the president compile the earth-wide report for the yearbook. So the point summed up is this: the individual Kingdom publisher serves as a minister throughout the year, putting in time preaching, calling back on interested persons, conducting home Bible studies, training new ones in the work, having joyful experiences, enduring cruel persecutions, and all of this he faithfully reports. Thus the individual publishers furnish the raw materials that go into the composition of a yearbook. It is their course of conduct, their preaching, their endurance, their zeal, that determines and dictates the contents of a yearbook. In supplying raw materials for one yearbook they spend a year in Kingdom service.
PUTTING THE REPORT IN FINAL FORM
As these raw materials pass through the company servants and branch servants they undergo refinement, so that by the time they reach the president’s office only the best remains. But even so there is still an overabundance of material. So the Society’s president weighs the material, eliminates, condenses, summarizes, and compiles it into a coherent, unified whole. He introduces it with a Scriptural discussion that sets the theme, and appends to it a conclusion that rounds it out to completeness. To this is added a yeartext and daily texts with appropriate comments, to systematically supply portions of spiritual food for regular consumption.
This work at the Society’s headquarters that puts the manuscript for the yearbook in its final form, and the work that follows at the publishing plant to produce the book, takes about three months. Hence the individual publishers preach for a year and report their activity to provide raw material, then the president and office and factory workers labor for three additional months to complete the production of a yearbook. The translation of the yearbook into German and the production of it at the Society’s branch factory at Berne, Switzerland, extends the time months longer for this foreign-language edition.
When the mass of individual publisher reports and experiences that start the yearbook production line rolling comes off as a finished product in the form of a beautiful bound book, it is returned to the Kingdom publishers in a palatable and digestible form. It is a thrilling report of a spiritual family of brothers and sisters, a family that is unified by God’s spirit, undivided by the many nations and tongues from which its members come. The yearbook report shows what this family is doing toward preaching the gospel world-wide, proves its members will endure persecution unto death, highlights the prosperity and increases and blessings that God showers upon its spiritual brothers. It encourages each one of Jehovah’s witnesses to praise God yet more and more, for it proves he is with them to prosper them in his service.
EACH ONE COUNTS!
Each publisher reporting service during the year on which the book reports has contributed to that yearbook. It is the individual witness that is important. He may not think so, for example, when he looks into the recently released 1951 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses and sees that the average number of publishers reporting each month during the 1950 service year was 328,572, or that the peak number reporting was 373,430. What is just one, when there are 373,430 in all? he may modestly reason. But what is 10? Ten ones. What is 1,000? A thousand ones. The 373,430 peak figure is only a mass of ones. If all the ones were dropped as unimportant, there would be no 373,430. The ones are the vital parts that make up the whole. It is the single grains of sand that make up the beautiful beaches, the individual drops of water that accumulate and form mighty oceans whose surfs boom like thunder. Similarly, it is the important and essential individual Kingdom publishers brought together as a multitude whose collective voice is “as a sound of many waters and as a sound of heavy thunders” as it roars out the proclamation: “Praise Jah, you people, because Jehovah our God, the Almighty, has begun to rule as king.”—Rev. 19:6, NW.
If one publisher who reported during the 1950 service year had failed to report, the 1951 Yearbook would be different. The 373,430 would be 373,429. The total hours of service would be less. The figures for literature placement, and back-calls, and Bible studies would be less. Each publisher affects the yearbook, is in its reports, its figures, its charts. Each publisher contributes his bit toward making the yearbook a report of theocratic prosperity.
STIRRING STORIES, BUT NO FICTION
For example, if the individual witnesses in Hungary had not written on minds and hearts and had not reported on paper, we would not have read in the 1951 Yearbook about a thrilling 35 per cent increase in publishers in that land behind the “iron curtain”. Arrests, court cases, prison terms do not halt the preaching, and even in death the thoughts are for witnessing. To illustrate, one brother was dying of cancer in a hospital located in a city where he was a stranger. Toward the last he insisted that he be returned home, 240 miles distant, that he might die there. Why? Sentiment? No. In Hungary no public lectures are permitted, but funerals are. The brother reasoned that if his funeral were held in a city where he was unknown, few would come; but if it took place in his home town many would attend and a witness to the truth would be given. So he did return home, and died a few days later; but 500 persons were at his funeral and heard the comforting message of the Kingdom.
In Eastern Germany, where the communists have taken up where the Nazis left off trying to crush Jehovah’s witnesses, God’s servants continue to write the Kingdom message on minds and hearts and their numbers increase, despite night raids and confiscation of property and long prison terms inflicted upon them by the Soviet Red puppets. The police came to arrest one witness, and he received them in the striped zebra clothing he had worn in the Nazi concentration camp, saying, “Well, I’m all set for a ‘democratic’ concentration camp!” Terrified and enraged by so much boldness, the officers left him standing in his costume and went off without him.
In Japan this work of writing on minds and hearts is just getting started. Even so, progress was rapid in 1950. Publishers increased from 8 to 106, while 476 attended Memorial services, and on the following Sunday 3,706 attended the different public lectures. More than 4,800 home Bible studies were conducted, some missionaries each handling as many as 37 of these every week. Some studies have been held in schools, with as many as 75 in attendance. Gilead-trained missionaries arrived in Kobe in November 1949. There were no Japanese publishers there. Nine months later, in August 1950, an organized company of 60 publishers was operating. The missionaries working in the Kobe locality were told by a lawyer with whom they conduct studies that the Japanese people appreciate very much the way the Watchtower missionaries go to the homes of the people. Most foreigners, including the orthodox church missionaries, set themselves on a pedestal and do not mix in with the Japanese people. The missionaries of these orthodox religions of Christendom appear with a fanfare of trumpets at Christmastime, and then lapse into suspended animation for the rest of the year. Jehovah’s witnesses in Japan and elsewhere witness the year round, in season and out of season.
In French Equatorial Africa it is almost unnecessary to go from door to door in witnessing, for the people flock to the publishers to hear the message. Priests and pastors are jittery, and native witnesses confound white leaders of orthodox religions. One of the pastors of Oubangui arranged a meeting to discredit the witnesses, but each charge was ably refuted by publishers present. Finally in a rage the pastor leaped at a witness to make him close the Bible from which he was reading, and when he was met with more Scripture he screamed: “Get out! And those who like to follow the Witnesses go out too!” Thereupon the whole assembly, except the deacons, left with the witnesses.
The Society’s literature is banned in Swaziland, Africa, but still the publishers preach. On one occasion the paramount chief, who had all of the Society’s literature available, invited a pioneer witness to speak at the royal kraal. When he finished, four orthodox religious ministers present pulled their collars around to properly face front and declared: “We are no more religious ministers but are Jehovah’s witnesses!” And in Nigeria attendance figures at public meetings are staggering, with entire towns turning out for the assemblies. At the Obiaruku assembly witnesses numbered 300; the public meeting, 4,626!
The 1951 Yearbook shows that increases in Northern Rhodesia are measured a little differently, not so much in number of publishers as in ability to read. Approximately 50 per cent of the publishers can now read, though in the “bush” the percentage is much smaller. Some companies report an almost 100 per cent increase in literates over the past year. The potential number of publishers is amazing. More than 40,000 attend meetings, which means one out of 40 of the total population. Many of these would take part in the work if permitted, but they are given more training before being used as representatives of the Society. In many parts of the country territory for witnessing is scarce, for one out of every 120 of the total population is a witness. One company has an attendance of more than 1,500 at its meetings and has only about 6 homes per publisher for territory. A circuit servant reported of one company: “Only a few villages left where there are one or two people left who do not attend the congregational meetings.”
These and many other thrilling experiences in gospel-preaching are related in the 1951 Yearbook. But the point to remember is that they could not have been included in that book if the publishers in many lands had not been out preaching, writing on human minds and hearts, enduring faithfully through many trials and tribulations, and then making accurate report of such happenings. The yearbook is not fiction to be fitted to an author’s whim, not a tale to be spiced by a vivid imagination. It is an accurate record, based on the factual reports made by individual Kingdom publishers world-wide.
A GOOD REPORT, AND A NEW GOAL
“Jehovah knows those who belong to him.” (2 Tim. 2:19, NW) And the 1951 Yearbook proves that he is gathering them to his organization. It shows increase, that the average number of publishers busy each month rose from 127,478 in 1945 to 328,572 in 1950, that the publisher increase from 1949 to 1950 was 18 per cent. During the 1950 service year, witnesses in 115 countries, islands, provinces and different territorial divisions of nations spent 54,707,445 hours preaching, making many millions of return visits on interested persons, conducting hundreds of thousands of weekly Bible studies in the homes of the people, helping them to understand the 15,954,418 books and booklets in many languages that were placed during the year.
The faithful witnesses of Jehovah have compiled a good report by reason of their zeal in preaching. And why strive for a good report? Proverbs 15:30 answers: “A good report maketh the bones fat.” But who wants fat bones? Well, it might be viewed in this light. Fat bones would be those having moisture and juicy marrow inside them. It is the healthy marrow in the bones that manufactures millions of red corpuscles every second, and it is there that white corpuscles also originate. Fat bones are necessary for good blood. And “the life of the flesh is in the blood”. (Lev. 17:11) So a good report is a boon to the organism, making the bones fat for producing vigorous life.
Likewise in a figurative sense, a good report of Kingdom witnessing compiled by the organized body of Jehovah’s people means health. It indicates that the organization is healthy and productive, alive and active. The great volume of works that produces the good report proves that the faith of Jehovah’s people is alive, and is not a dead faith without works. So we thank God for a good report for the 1950 service year, and by his undeserved kindness seek an even better one for 1951. Ecclesiastes 3:1 shows that there is “a time to every purpose”, and Isaiah chapter 60 proclaims that these days of Christ’s presence are the time for increase, for unprecedented ingathering, for zooming peaks of publishers. Hence it is with sound Scriptural grounds for hope of success that the 1951 Yearbook fires all publishers to aim for a 34 per cent increase in peak of publishers during 1951, to jump from 373,430 to 500,396! What a good report that would be to show all men the vigorous life that surges through the organized body of Jehovah’s witnesses!
KEEP PLAYING YOUR PART AS A PUBLISHER!
So, with this glowing goal set before us, let all of Jehovah’s servants work toward its realization. Let each one remember that by his present witnessing he is storing up raw materials for the 1952 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses. How much will you provide during the 1951 service year? How much writing of truth will you do on human minds and fleshly hearts? How faithfully will you turn in written reports of such activity? Will you earnestly strive to assist at least one person of good will to become a Kingdom publisher during the year? In short, how much will you figure into the 1952 Yearbook? To what extent will you be in that report, in its tables, in its service charts?
When you write out field service reports now you are contributing to the 1952 Yearbook. To you your reports may seem like a mere trickle as they flow in during the year. But the trickle becomes a brook when it is joined by the reports from the other publishers in your company. And when those brooks from many companies meet at branch offices they become strong-flowing creeks, and when 63 such figurative creeks from that many branch offices stream their reports into the president’s office they merge there to form a river at flood stage. All because you, and you, and you, the individual publishers overspreading 115 lands, each kept a trickle of reports coming in during the service year. So you keep writing your reports. Do not run out of ink, but mark with the pen of the man in linen. Do not get writer’s cramp, but keep drawing on God’s spirit to write on the fleshly tablets of human hearts. Let all of us be cowriters with our brethren throughout the earth in now heaping up an abundance of raw materials for the 1952 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
By Jehovah’s undeserved kindness, when its production is complete may we read in it a report of a publisher peak of 500,396!