Traveling Increases the Witness
JESUS was an energetic traveler. He instilled into the minds of his followers the idea that they must travel in order to preach the good news. After he completed working in one place, “he went journeying from city to city and from village to village, preaching and declaring the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him.” (Luke 8:1, NW) You may remember that earlier in his career Jesus set down the pattern he wanted to follow. He did not gather around him just one small group and stay with them always; he gave all the opportunity to hear the good news and then he went on to new fields, because he was sent by Jehovah to witness to all the descendants of Israel. When the crowds tried to detain him from going away from them he said, “Also to other cities I must declare the good news of the kingdom of God, because for this I was sent forth.”—Luke 4:43, NW.
Even though in his traveling he met up with the objection of being ruled by the demons because of his good works, and even though he received persecution and went through many trials and hardships, he continued his tour of all the cities and villages. As he traveled he always saw crowds and “felt tender affection for them, because they were skinned and knocked about like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples: ‘Yes, the harvest is great, but the workers are few. Therefore, beg the Master of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.’” (Matt. 9:36-38, NW) And so Christ Jesus selected twelve apostles to do the same kind of work he did, and he sent them out to preach. Later in his ministry he sent out seventy disciples to preach, and in time men and women by the hundreds, even thousands, took up preaching the message of good news and traveled to the ends of the earth. It was their traveling that aided greatly to increase the witness.
Why were the apostles and early Christians energetic travelers like their Master Christ Jesus? Their only reason was to see that Jesus’ words were fulfilled when he said that the good news of the Kingdom should be preached in all the world for a testimony.
Today we see that Jehovah’s witnesses still travel. The majority of them are in the thousands of cities and villages throughout the world, working as company publishers and calling from house to house, village to village and town to town in their assigned territory. Those theocratic publishers who find themselves in position to leave home go greater distances and take up the pioneer service and travel in territories not reached by company publishers. And then there are others who become missionaries who go into lands far distant, even to the ends of the earth. To visit these brothers in all parts of the earth is a most blessed privilege for anyone in Jehovah’s organization. Many of those that have traveled to the ends of the earth assembled at Yankee Stadium in New York city during the summer of 1950 and enjoyed the fellowship of brothers of like precious faith and then returned with renewed strength to their territories to tell others of their experiences and of the advancing work of the Kingdom.
It is good from time to time for someone from the Society’s headquarters at Brooklyn to visit these outlying congregations, missionary homes and branch offices to help them with their problems. So N. H. Knorr, president of the Society, and M. G. Henschel arranged another trip to visit those in distant fields engaging in the great harvest work of gathering together some of the “other sheep”. In the course of the trip Brother Knorr sent reports of his experiences, which The Watchtower is pleased to publish here.
Friday, February 23, was a bright, sunny, clear morning in New York. We had breakfast with the Bethel family and then Brother Henschel and I were taken to LaGuardia field by some of our fellow workers of the headquarters, to begin our trip to the Far East. We boarded a TWA Constellation at the airfield and took off at 10 a.m. There was a good breeze blowing and that helped the plane take off quickly. It also blew away much of the haze and smoke which is common to New York city, and this gave us an exceptionally fine view of the New York metropolitan area. The captain flew westward until he had crossed the Hudson river, then he banked to the south and flew over Jersey City. We could see all of the famous skyscrapers of the city, as well as the harbor and rivers and the bridges across the rivers. Cars and trains were visible though we were several thousand feet up. We saw the Bethel home clearly and then the radio towers of the Society’s station, WBBR, rising into the sky on Staten Island. After this special fare—a huge feast for the eyes—we started west toward Chicago. We flew over Sunbury, Pennsylvania, en route and saw no clouds until we reached Ohio. Pennsylvania’s rugged brown terrain of the winter season was dotted here and there with patches of snow, while here and there a frozen lake sparkled in the bright sunlight. Rivers and streams followed their serpentine courses through the valleys. A few coal mines came to view, with their huge piles of blackish slag and dingy wooden buildings. We were flying at more than 200 m.p.h., so it was not very long until we lost sight of the ground and looked instead upon the sun-brightened sea of fluffy white clouds that extended as far as the horizon. We plunged down through the clouds when we neared Chicago and landed there twenty minutes ahead of time.
Some passengers left the ship at Chicago and others took their places. It was not long until we were once more flying high above the United States toward Los Angeles. In the modern sky transports it is easy to read and write when the weather is not rough, so some unfinished mail and other matters brought along from the office were taken care of. We took a southerly route, passing over Kansas City and Albuquerque. We saw the sunset as we neared the Colorado river, and there was a bit of bumpy weather over California. In the darkness we could see the lights of a city below and we noticed that the same lights could be seen from time to time. To keep the passengers informed, the captain announced that too many planes were trying to land at Los Angeles International Airport and we were circling over Riverside. This lasted for about five minutes and then word came from the airport that it was safe to approach Los Angeles. But over Los Angeles it was again necessary to circle over the city and await further orders. Between fifteen and twenty minutes were spent cruising over the city and maintaining the same altitude so other planes which were also in the vicinity would not collide with ours. Seven or eight times we saw the same drive-in theaters and business corners and it began to feel like we would be hanging up in the sky for hours. It was like sweet music when we heard the landing gear being lowered, for we knew clearance for landing had come through.
STOP IN CALIFORNIA
When we reached the ground we found out why things were so difficult at the airport. The California sun had spent a busy day drawing up moisture from the Pacific ocean and, now that darkness had come, a little rain might be slipped in without letting the Chamber of Commerce see it. When the plane came to a halt near the main buildings we saw a man clad in a raincoat and with a hood over his head dash over to the stairway and up to the door of the plane. He had about forty red-and-black umbrellas with him, and when he opened the door and stepped inside the identity of a true Californian came to light, for he said: “Welcome to Miami!” We were glad for the umbrella service and we had many laughs with the brothers who met us over the wonderful California reception. It had been a long trip and some humor at the end of it was appreciated.
After claiming our luggage we traveled away from the airport by car. Water was everywhere. We rather enjoyed jesting over the weather as we drove through the city. Manchester boulevard was like a river. It would have been appropriate to carry pontoons there, for the ripples were lapping at the running board. We were hungry and so we stopped a few minutes at a small café. But even there we could not forget the rain, because, as we sat awaiting our food, the roof sprang a leak and water dropped on us. Then on we went and when we got to the city limits we found no rain and the full moon was shining.
We stayed in California from February 24 to 27. During that time we had snow, hail, rain, windy days, and sunshine. California offered us all the variety one could ask for. We found our visit with a number of the brothers to be very enjoyable. The opportunity was given us to visit the Palomar Observatory, where the Hale 200-inch telescope is situated, and about which the Awake! magazine had reported sometime ago. While it is a wonderful thing to behold the heavens with the naked eye, to see some of the photographs that have been taken through the giant telescope makes you appreciate the immensity of the great universe of Jehovah. Even with this big “eye” one can see only a small portion of God’s magnificent and glorious creation. Knowledge such as this should help all mankind to appreciate the Creator, but it is reported that most of those scientists that use this wonderful telescope do not declare the majesty and honor of Jehovah’s name. Actually, those persons who have sought to know the Most High and have studied His Word know more of His glory, honor and power than do the famed scientists.
The Society maintains a supply depot at Lynwood, and it is a busy little place where brothers work hard to produce millions of handbills every year to advertise public meetings. Shipments of literature are made to companies and pioneers in the western part of the United States through this depot, at a considerable saving to the Society. It was interesting to see that they had orders on hand for over seven thousand copies of the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures, and none were in stock to fill these orders. Not that I was glad they could not fill all the orders, but it shows that the demand is greater than the supply and that people everywhere desire to read this excellent translation. (We were later to find that the demand in countries visited also exceeds the supply.) There is great interest in the truth in the western part of the United States, and in California hundreds more persons were reported taking their stand and sharing in the great ingathering work. We found the spirit and zeal of the brothers in California to be excellent, and they are pushing ahead in the good work.
Tuesday night, the 27th, was very cool. Shortly before midnight a number of the local brothers came out to the International Airport to wish us a good trip and to send greetings along to their brothers abroad, adding warmth to the departure. We certainly appreciated their interest in the trip and their hospitality in visiting with us. A few minutes before midnight we were advised by the Pan American Airways to board their waiting Stratocruiser destined for Honolulu. As we boarded the plane we waved a farewell to our brothers. We took our seats, fastened the seat belts and began to look at the interior of the plane. The seats were large and comfortable and in every way the plane seemed to be bigger and better. After we took off at midnight we found the sleeping good.
In the morning we learned that the flight had been made at a comparatively low altitude, only 12,000 feet. The trip was very smooth and the captain told us that they always choose the altitude where they find the best weather conditions. This flight convinced us that the Stratocruiser is one of the best planes for long-distance travel. Its two decks allow for some walking about and a change in atmosphere. The small lower deck is a lounge where refreshments are served. The view of the earth below is unobstructed by the wings or engines, which cannot be said for the upper or main deck.
The morning light brought to view the snow-capped peaks of the big island of the Hawaiian group, Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea on the islands of Hawaii. These were to the south of us. Clouds obscured the rest of the islands until the plane dropped to about 2,000 feet and prepared to land. Then to the north of us we could see Koko Head and Diamond Head, two extinct craters on the coast of the islands of Oahu, and then Honolulu and Pearl Harbor. The whole island was very green, in marked contrast to what we had seen in the mainland. As the plane landed and taxied over to the terminal building we could see that there had been rain and we could feel the warmth of the air. But not the air alone is warm in the Hawaiian islands. There at the terminal building waited a group of about one hundred publishers, carrying leis and prepared to give us a very warm welcome. Many were dressed in typical Hawaiian style and colors. We recognized the Gilead graduates and many of the publishers who were in Honolulu when we had visited there in 1947. A fence kept the spectators off the field, but as we passed through the gate one publisher after another put a lei around our necks. The leis were made of fragrant carnations, gardenias, orchids and other fresh flowers, and they were beautifully put together. Both of us were so loaded down with leis that we finally had to begin putting them on our arms. Cameras flashed and a representative of the press asked for a story, a write-up later appearing in one of the dailies of Honolulu. The welcome to Hawaii is something not to be forgotten, and that last day of February will long be remembered.
We made our way through the terminal building and into the waiting car. Into Honolulu we drove through fairly heavy traffic and soon we were at 1228 Pensacola Street, the branch office of the Society for the Territory of Hawaii. In the Kingdom Hall to the rear of the branch and in the yard next to it there was considerable activity—there was going to be a convention in Honolulu and the cafeteria would be set up at the Kingdom Hall. As is usually true when a branch office is visited, there was mail waiting and there were many questions to answer and office work to be done. But our work for the first day was cut short, because the publishers in Oahu had planned for an international picnic such as they alone can put over. The beach at Hanauma bay near Koko Head was theirs for the evening.
So we would fit in well with the group, and, for our comfort, one of the brothers provided typical colorful shirts, which we wore with pleasure. Off we went in a car toward the eastern end of the island. It was but a few miles to the beach and we thoroughly enjoyed seeing all the green lawns, the towering palms and the multitudes of flowers growing around the modern homes along the way. Before we knew it we were at our destination. The parking area was not as one might expect it to be for a beach; it was at the top of a big hill. Apparently Hanauma bay was once a crater of an active volcano, three sides of which still stand and one has disappeared into the sea. We had to make our way down a pathway built on the side of a steep cliff. Down below were the white sand and coral reefs of the beach that was the home of a large grove of palm trees. Out toward the mouth of the bay the huge waves were crashing on the rocks and sending a spray high into the air, but the reef broke the ocean’s force and along the beach the waters were calm. Though it was not raining it was cloudy and there was no sunshine. We did not mind the weather, but the publishers from Oahu felt much more comfortable with jackets or sweaters.
The early arrivals moved the picnic tables and formed four big tables, each about forty feet long. Car groups kept arriving and soon perhaps 200 people were there, all of them interested in Jehovah’s kingdom. Among them were some brothers from the mainland who had come to Hawaii by boat to attend the convention. There were other mainlanders present too, but the majority of the brothers were of Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Korean or Hawaiian extraction. This is what made the eating so novel, for each person or family came carrying some kind of food and it was spread out on the tables. Each publisher prepared something traditionally connected with his race or nationality, so there were raw fish, poi, chow mein, fried shrimp, salads, and a host of other things the names of which I do not know. Some ate with chopsticks and others used spoons. It was almost an adventure to go from one table to another to taste the foods. Everyone was having a fine time and all nationalities blended together with happiness, thankful to Jehovah for the knowledge of the truth. Some had come from companies outside of Honolulu and they were getting acquainted one with the other. After everyone had satisfied his hunger there was still much food remaining. Groups would gather and talk of their field experiences and how they learned the truth, and some asked questions and discussed scriptures. It was a pleasant appetizer for the week-end convention ahead. About 8:30 the picnic broke up and all went home for a pleasant sleep after hours in the fresh air, preparing themselves for the activities before them.
March 1 was a day that brought back memories of the convention at Yankee Stadium in New York last August. Planes were arriving through the day from the other islands and conventioners had to be met and taken to their accommodations. In the Kingdom Hall signs were being painted, publishers were going out in the advertising work, refreshment stands were being set up, and all nationalities of people were coming in and going out as they carried on preconvention activities. Brother Henschel and I had to go into matters in connection with the branch work and talk to the missionaries. In the evening there was the street advertising work and magazine distribution.
At 9 o’clock on the morning of March 2 the convention opened at the Lincoln school on Victoria street, a five-minute walk from the Kingdom Hall. The publishers heard two talks and then dispersed to the field for Kingdom service activities. The Filipino publishers remained in the hall, however, for at 10:15 the lecture “Can You Live Forever in Happiness on Earth?” in Ilokano was to be delivered. It was advertised for the public and the attendance was 41, which was very good.
That afternoon it was possible to have the use of the auditorium of the Roosevelt high school as soon as classes were dismissed. That was to serve as the site of the convention from there on. The publishers swarmed into the auditorium at 3 p.m., and in a few minutes most of the stage decorations had been put up and sound equipment installed. One of the most beautiful convention platforms ever used at a convention was that one. Hawaii has many flowers and green plants and these were used with skill, together with colored papers arranged as a double rainbow with a background of the green curtains of the auditorium’s stage. No one would get tired of sitting in that auditorium and looking toward the platform. At the front entrance to the auditorium a special display of literature in languages used in the islands was set up, and that attracted the attention of strangers and high school students who came by.
While all the speakers did exceptionally well, there was a part of the program that was very impressive. A brother was giving a review of the New York convention. He started with the first day and gave, in story form, an excellent and comprehensive summary of each day’s doings. If you attended the New York convention you will recall that every day new equipment was released for the use of the Kingdom publishers. Each time the brother mentioned one of these releases a young sister in a native costume of many colors would come onto the stage and hold up the publication. Then as the story switched to another subject the girl would move off the stage into the wing. Some of the sisters were dressed in Chinese costumes; others had Filipino or Hawaiian attire, but all were quite different in colors. While the brother talked there always seemed to be someone moving about the platform with the releases. A lot of ground was covered in thirty minutes, and then at the time of the final remarks all the sisters came back on the stage at one time and stood in a line right across the stage, each holding up one of the releases. It was a powerful demonstration of what Jehovah provided for his people through his organization during the eight-day New York assembly.
One brother who spoke about the pioneer service and showed what a privilege it is to be in the full-time service told of one of his experiences. He had gone to the island of Maui to do pioneer work, and one day when standing on the street doing the magazine work a merchant seaman approached him. He told the brother how he had been in New York at the time of the big convention of Jehovah’s witnesses and how some of the convention delegates had stopped at his house during the convention. He learned about the truth during that time, but he had not become associated with the local company because of his employment. His ship was in port for several days and so he readily joined in the witness work. He borrowed a few magazines right off and in ten minutes returned to ask for more. The pioneer brother asked him how he placed the ones he had so quickly and he said he just tried to. The new publisher was doing better than the pioneer. Also, during his visit there the seaman worked in the house-to-house service and enjoyed the meetings very much. He said he had been helped very much to get started in the service of Jehovah and he would continue it when he returned home. So the pioneer brother showed the conventioners at Honolulu that the way to have such interesting experiences is to be a pioneer, for he would never have met the seaman if he had not left his home to pioneer in the other island.
Attendance at the first day’s sessions was 405, and most of them took their meals at the Kingdom Hall cafeteria. That was a fifteen-minute walk from the high school. The meals were prepared by the publishers who volunteered and the food was excellent. The cafeteria servant said it would be the last time they could use the equipment they had for a convention, because there have been such good increases in publishers and the equipment is inadequate. Most of the publishers ate out in the yard, sitting under banana trees, palm trees and fig trees, a setting which would be the envy of any fine hotel or restaurant.
Saturday morning there was an assembly for baptism at 8:30. Following the talk the cars took all candidates to Ala Moana park in Honolulu, a beach that can be seen almost from the hill where the Roosevelt high school is situated. It was amazing to see how many there were immersed. Theocracy’s increase is a reality in the Territory of Hawaii, for 66 people showed their consecration that morning. Later in the day three other persons who could not be there in the morning were immersed, making a total of 69.
That same morning the auditorium was used to deliver public talks in Japanese and Korean, both of which had been widely advertised. The brother who delivered the Japanese public lecture was arranging to leave in a few weeks to join the publishers in Japan and to there advance the knowledge of the Kingdom truth. The Hawaiian publishers will miss Brother Hanaoka, but there are others there to take up the work among the Japanese people in the islands.
The program for the day included a number of talks, demonstrations and the ministry school. The speakers did very well. Brother Henschel and I spoke each day of the assembly, exhorting the brothers to faithful service and taking before their attention Jehovah’s manner of dealing with his servants concerning their protection and healing.
Throughout the convention special attention was given to learning the songs from the new songbook that was released at the New York assembly. A special chorus was made up and often these were called upon to sing a verse of a new song so others could hear it and learn the proper way to sing it. Two sisters provided excellent musical background for this. The publishers in Hawaii are interested in doing all things well and they wanted to learn all the new songs properly.
One brother who was raised in the Catholic religion told how much he rejoiced to have a knowledge of the truth. As a Catholic he was given no incentive to read and write so he never learned. But there were many things he could not understand about the religion and often he wondered at what the priests taught. One day his wife became interested in the theocratic publications and began to study the Bible. The brother would hear his wife talking about things she had learned and so he determined to learn to read so he could learn the truth too. Now he is able to help himself by reading the Kingdom truth. This is another way in which the truth benefits the people.
Because there is no daily service for transpacific travelers, it was found necessary for us to leave Hawaii on Sunday, March 4. That meant that the public meeting would have to be held in the morning. The title of the talk was “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land”. From 10 to 11 o’clock an audience of 707 people listened attentively while I explained the jubilee ordinances which Jehovah instituted in Israel, under which all enslaved Israelites could gain freedom, and showed how the people today need what was foreshadowed by that, namely, the freedom of the new world of righteousness, because all have been taken into bondage through Satan’s rule. Jehovah God is the one who provides freedom, and now is the time to proclaim liberty in all the earth. The attendance was very good, in view of the fact that the highest attendance of the brothers was 405. It was felt that a very good witness was given, much interest was aroused and the brothers were truly delighted with their assembly.
The conventioners were recipients of the love and greetings of the Brooklyn Bethel family and other publishers I had met recently, and they were very anxious to send along with me the love and greetings of the Hawaiian publishers to others to be met on this trip. Jehovah’s servants are interested in their brothers everywhere and in the work that is being accomplished in the earth now.
The Territory of Hawaii consists of eight principal islands and some small ones. The population is around half a million people. In 1947, when I visited the islands, there were 130 publishers in the field, on the average, and it was quite a thrill to me on this trip to see 426 publishers, the new peak for the month of January. The Hawaiian publishers were delighted, because they felt sure that it would not be very long until they made the 34 per cent increase at which they are aiming. They need only 19 additional publishers to reach the 445, the hoped-for peak of 1951. They are showing steady growth: they had seven companies four years ago and now they have ten, with three isolated groups reporting. At this time there are nine graduates of Gilead working in the islands and 26 other pioneers. Some of these pioneers expressed their desire to go to Gilead some day and go off into new fields. It won’t be long until the Hawaiian publishers will be able to take care of all their territory without any outside assistance. There are a few places where help is needed, and it was arranged for some pioneers to be sent to other islands in the group to help interested people and start new companies. All the publishers are expansion minded, and they are anxious to continue to proclaim liberty to those that mourn and to bring them into line for the free jubilee kingdom where they will receive the joy of living in peace and prosperity forever.
All too soon the afternoon came and time for our plane to leave for Fiji. When we reported at the airport we found a good number of the conventioners there to wish us a good trip, but in the hour that we waited for our departure the crowd grew to upward of 200, and again it was a very colorful and joyful assembly, with leis again being bestowed upon us. We certainly had a send-off. While we were sitting in the plane and the engines were being warmed up, I felt reluctant to leave Hawaii because of the expressions of love and the friendliness as well as the zeal of the publishers. They really make their guests feel at home in Hawaii, which can be testified to by many publishers from Australia and New Zealand who passed through to attend the New York convention last year. It does not take long for a strong attachment to grow among the Lord’s people. Wherever one is serving the Kingdom interests and keeping busy in the Lord’s work, he can certainly feel at home and among true friends when the spirit of the Lord is shown. But some day there may be an opportunity to return. Others were waiting at the next destination. They too would have the spirit of Jehovah and there would be work to do.