Priestcraft Surrenders to Truth in the Near East
THOUGH the Near East was the first area blessed with the message of true Christianity, it languishes today in bondage to priestcraft. But the liberating power of the truth cuts through even the tightest bonds. More than a year ago, a full-time preacher of Jehovah’s kingdom visited a monastery on a slope between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. While there, this pioneer had opportunity to witness concerning the Kingdom to a monk who was in the act of bowing before images. A year later the witness met the same monk in Bethlehem. The monk told the pioneer that shortly after their first meeting he had refused to obey his chief or pray to images, and had demanded a Bible. He added: “I believed your words because you showed it to me from the Bible. . . . so I fled with the idea of finding you.” He is now overjoyed to be associating with the brothers, and is learning the ways of true Christianity as quickly as possible.
Another of Jehovah’s witnesses encountered a Syrian priest and some of his following. The people prompted the two to discuss their beliefs, in the hope of proving the brother false. Following a short discussion, the priest asked the people to let him be alone with the witness. He then confided in the brother, saying: “You are right in your beliefs. Hold fast to what you have been taught, for we are wrong. Of course, I cannot tell this frankly to the blind people, lest they stone me.” A few days later this same priest scolded a group of worshipers in the Syrian church who crowded up to kiss an image, and gave them a lengthy talk on the wickedness of image worship. For this he was denied his salary. Still later he was asked to express himself on the subject in the presence of a group of fanatic false religionists. To the chagrin of his listeners he described the false, general practice of Christianity as a heathen religion, far from true Christianity, and that its fall draws near.