Jehovah’s Witnesses in Denmark
THE testimony given by Jehovah’s witnesses in Denmark has been so extensive and intensive that people have been compelled to take notice. Even those who are not well disposed toward Jehovah’s witnesses comment from time to time on their zeal and devotion. In a Copenhagen daily newspaper in which matters of a religious nature receive special attention there was the following comment on the activities of Jehovah’s witnesses:
“How the Danish Church (to use the words of a well-known man) deserves this wasp called Jehovah’s witnesses. They make us ashamed of ourselves with (1) their energy and self-sacrifice; (2) their faith in God—instead of our belief in grace—as a means of missionary activity; (3) their preparedness for martyrdom, when we recognize even ‘atomic murder’ as ‘the will of God’ which we must support ‘when other means fail’. Additionally, I would assert that if our church were in ‘word and deed’ as it should be, Jehovah’s witnesses would cease to be.”
Perhaps taking their cue from Jehovah’s witnesses, many influential clergymen have been agitating for a greater Christian activity on the part of laymen. This presents real difficulties, however, as these men have not had the advantages of real training in the ministry. They are not “equipped for every good work”. One clergyman writing in the press about this said:
“But laymen must be equipped. When Jesus called his disciples it was not for a church existence in order to listen. No, he equipped them and sent them out. When one has met 22 Jehovah’s witnesses in the course of a quarter of an hour, and none from the state church, then one can understand that we are up against it. We are idle in our church even if we have legions of meetings. What we lack is the ability to give ourselves.”
Jehovah’s witnesses in Denmark are equipped, the old and the young, and youth presents no hindrance to the acceptance of the message of the Kingdom when there is an understanding heart, as illustrated by the case of a Danish school lad.
It is the custom in Denmark that scholars are sometimes taken to other parts of the country, there to take part in special courses. On one such occasion among the scholars was a young witness for Jehovah. During the sessions one of the teachers, a Catholic, was explaining the theory of evolution. Not limiting himself to this, he took occasion to attempt to ridicule the account of creation as given in the Bible and tried to show that it was impossible of comprehension. After he had finished the pupils were asked if they had any questions in connection with the matter that had been presented. As there were no questions, the young Jehovah’s witness asked if he might speak for a while. Permission was given and he proceeded to show the weaknesses in the evolution theory and how the teacher’s attack upon the Bible account was really unsound. Later this youth wrote an article for the school magazine, giving a good testimony concerning the truths of the Bible.
The following evening on the way to a ball game the teacher inquired of the boy as to the purpose and point of his article in the school magazine. The teacher became so interested in what the boy had to say that the ball game was forgotten and teacher and pupil talked on until it was dark. The teacher admitted that he really did believe in God and that he had done the boy a great injustice. When he received his papers on such Scriptural subject he assumed that the lad had copied from another book and, therefore, gave him low grades. He frankly said that he did not think a youth could have written so freely on such deep subjects. The conclusion of the matter was that the article was reprinted in a magazine that circulates among the alumni of the school.
Friday is the day in Denmark when Jehovah’s witnesses work specially with the magazines The Watchtower and Awake! To take a trip through Copenhagen along the main streets is a great experience, for here you will find these Christian witnesses standing at regular intervals, demonstrating not only that they believe in Jehovah as the only true God but that they are desirous of helping their fellow men to the same understanding.
When Jehovah’s witnesses began this work in Denmark, people smiled and thought it was an extraordinary idea to go on the streets with magazines. The persistence and determination of the witnesses in doing this street work has in course of time, however, earned the respect of many people, and now they are experiencing the results of their patient labors.
Public Bible lectures in the open air are becoming more popular in Denmark. One group of witnesses were anxious to try out their new public-address equipment and so they arranged for a lecture in a little wood outside the village. They did their advertising from house to house in the morning hours, and at noon they assembled in the wood to eat lunch. At 3 p.m. there were eighty persons gathered to hear “It Is High Time to Awake!” Another interesting lecture was held by some of the witnesses who cannot talk, being deaf-mutes. This lecture was held in a home for deaf-mutes and all the talking was done by the use of finger signs. Seventy persons listened, or, we should say, watched, attentively. Fifteen of these people are now attending a regular Bible study arranged by Jehovah’s witnesses. So in this home already the ears of the deaf are unstopped to hear the heart-cheering message of the Kingdom.
As is to be expected, the continual preaching of Jehovah’s witnesses in Denmark is giving the clergy of the state church much to think about. Some have tried to oppose the educational work of Jehovah’s witnesses by having meetings to explain to their parishioners why they should not listen to the witnesses. With the growth of the Kingdom witness and the increase in the number of those serving Jehovah it is not so easy for the clergy to speak disparagingly about the witnesses, because persons in large number are either friends or relatives of these witnesses. It must not be assumed that all the clergy are hostile in their attitude toward Jehovah’s witnesses, however, for quite a few have expressed admiration for the work. The following quotation from a Copenhagen morning paper will serve to illustrate the point. The writer is a clergyman, who says:
“The Norwegian poet, Arnulf Overland, says that in our perplexing times there are only two who know what they want and are prepared to stake their lives for it: the communist and the Christian. That the communist knows, none will dispute, but does the Christian know? One does not get that impression when one reads Christian papers. Different opinions are voiced when the question is asked: How can we get in touch with the workers and youth; how is the gospel proclaimed to the people today? Some suggest that mission houses shall be converted into movie theaters or to places of assembly where national, social and educational lectures should be given in order to get in contact with people more easily. Others assert that only God’s Word shall be heard in our mission houses and church halls. Who is right?
“When Overland says the Christian and the communist know what they want and are ready to stake their life for it, one sees in events in Eastern Germany proof that such is the case. Not among men of the church, who always prefer to compromise in a difficult situation, but among Jehovah’s witnesses. As Christians who have a message to deliver, Jehovah’s witnesses devote themselves entirely to their cause, cost what it may. They are prepared to take the consequences of their stand for Jehovah and his kingdom.”
The clergyman continues in this newspaper article, saying: “To get in touch with the workers and youth, Jehovah’s witnesses do not need to alter their preaching to include national, social and educational lectures. The message that they bring is so powerful in itself that thinking people cannot do other than listen to it. By his prophet Jehovah God says there will be a famine in the land, ‘not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of Jehovah. And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east; they shall run to and fro to seek the word of Jehovah, and shall not find it.’ (Amos 8:11, 12, AS) The hungry people do not find the word of Jehovah in the religious systems, which give them stones instead of bread, but Jehovah’s witnesses bring the word of Jehovah, as it is found in the Bible, and that is why people listen to them.”
Then this clergyman says, “We do not need worldly methods, but what we need is to get out on the streets and lanes and knock on the doors just like Jehovah’s witnesses. We have become so tolerant, so understanding, . . . that one is prepared to take the Devil by the arm, just to be tolerant. . . . Paul passionately fought against erroneous doctrine in his letters, but I believe had he been living today he would have directed his fire more against the Danish State Church than against Jehovah’s witnesses.”
Yes, Jehovah’s witnesses, approximately 6,000 of them, are very active in Denmark today. Their ranks are constantly increasing. They have no problem to get people to listen. Their problem is to take care of all the people who want to hear.