Gilead Graduates Its 24th Class
IN Bible times Gilead was the name of a land just east of the Jordan and today is occupied by the Hashemite Kingdom of the Jordan. Its verdant hills were ideal for grazing and from its bushes was extracted a balm famed for its medicinal properties.
What is Gilead today? It is what Jehovah’s witnesses fondly call the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead located on Kingdom Farm at South Lansing, in the heart of the Finger Lakes region of New York state. This unique school accepts only mature full-time ministers for training as missionaries or special representatives of the Watch Tower Society. Students pay no tuition fee, receive free board and room and also a small monthly allowance to take care of incidental expenses. The school has four classrooms, a main auditorium and a beautiful library. Established in 1943, it has annually graduated two classes of some one hundred students each.
Gilead was established so that the Society could better preach “this good news of the kingdom” in all the world. Its missionaries have played a vital role in the marvelous expansion that has taken place in that preaching work during the past ten years. These have had the privilege to pioneer, organize and lead the work in many lands.
Gilead is the logical goal of all qualified full-time ministers of Jehovah who would heed Paul’s admonition: “Do not be neglecting the gift in you.” (1 Tim. 4:14, NW) Its five and a half months of intensive training enriches the student with knowledge and understanding of every aspect of the Christian ministry. It offers one no material gain but only hard work while at school and still harder work after he graduates. However, those who love God with all their heart, mind, soul and strength, and their neighbor as themselves (and who are unencumbered with family burdens), are glad to accept the challenge Gilead offers so that they may do the greatest possible good with such powers and abilities as they have, and serve where the need is greatest and where also their ministry is likely to be most appreciated.
THE 24TH GRADUATION
Most of the guests arrived at Gilead Saturday, the day before graduation. Its daylight hours were spent in visiting and with winter sports for which the weather was ideal, the sun shining brightly with freezing temperature. In the evening a three-hour program was presented in the auditorium, consisting of a Bible study with the aid of The Watchtower, an excellently rendered musical and dramatic program by the students and a thrilling report by the president of his lecture tour through Central America, parts of South America and the Caribbean area. A count showed 1,876 were on hand to enjoy the program.
Early Sunday morning, February 6, crowds were standing outside Gilead’s doors. Far from fretting because of having to wait in the cold for the doors to open, they were heard singing Kingdom songs. Long before the program began at nine o’clock, every seat was taken and 2,314 had crowded the main auditorium, the classrooms, dining room, basement and library to hear, if not also to see, the program. After the usual song, prayer and introductory remarks by the president of the Society as well as of the school, N. H. Knorr, John Markus, servant of Kingdom Farm, was introduced. He drew a lesson from the trees on the farm that a recent hurricane had uprooted. Such could no longer produce fruit or provide shelter. There will be times of stress, but do not let them uproot you. Always think of yourselves as firmly rooted trees of righteousness that drink deeply of the waters of truth and provide spiritual fruit and shelter for men of good will.
Next the school’s five instructors each gave parting admonition. H. K. Jackson stressed the need of the missionaries to make the language of the people fully their own, to teach them better the “pure language” of God’s Word. Karl Adams, who followed, noted that just as wealth had to be used to be of value, so the knowledge received must now be put to use to be of value. Then Ulysses Glass counseled on the need of watching one’s course of action. You will be as signposts to others; make sure that your words and actions always point in the right direction.
Maxwell Friend, in his parting admonition, observed that the best husband, the loveliest wife, the happiest family, the coziest home, etc., have not yet been seen, but will be in the new world. So there is no sense in looking back with regrets or spirit of frustration. Do not relive past blunders. Do not worry. Worry makes wrinkles (a beauty hint); “a raisin is a worried grape.” Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday. Live one day at a time. Be cheerful; a depressed soul cannot express kindness to others.
A. D. Schroeder, the school’s registrar, stressed the need of association. Christians are not lone wolves, just interested in themselves. The New World society is not just a dynamic religion serving Jehovah; it is a New World way of life. There are goodness, wholesomeness and beauty in all men of good will. Look for it. The result will be happiness, for you will enjoy their fellowship and they will enjoy yours. After his remarks M. G. Henschel, one of the Society’s directors, read some of the telegrams that had been received from well-wishers in various parts of the earth, including such faraway places as Tokyo, Japan.
EXCLUSIVE DEVOTION TO JEHOVAH
Then came the main address of the morning, that by N. H. Knorr on the subject “Exclusive Devotion to Jehovah.” This graduation is a serious occasion, important to all. We may not view the work we have undertaken as slight. Having dedicated ourselves to Jehovah, we know that he requires of us exclusive devotion: “You must not bow down to [other gods] nor be induced to serve them, because I Jehovah your God am a God exacting exclusive devotion, bringing punishment . . . in the case of those who hate me.” (Ex. 20:5, NW) As a French translator renders Exodus 34:14: Jehovah “wants to be loved uniquely.”
Jehovah, being the Supreme Being, cannot tolerate any rivals. While today Westerns may not be in danger of making literal idols and worshiping them, we can easily fail to give Jehovah exclusive devotion by interesting ourselves in selfish pursuits. For instance, some think that making money is more important than preaching God’s Word.
Individuals may become rivals to Jehovah by accepting praise. A beautiful vessel does not deserve praise, but its maker does. Jehovah is the Potter and has a right to do with the clay as he wishes; he knows what he wants the vessel to look like and what purpose he wants it to serve. He will not change his ideas to suit us, but we must change our thinking to get in line with his. He knows best; we may never question him even though we may not understand him. And while he is loving and merciful, we dare not grow careless and think we can presume on his mercy, for he is also “a consuming fire.”—Deut. 4:24.
Exclusive devotion requires that we glory in being one of Jehovah’s witnesses, eager to stand up for our brothers who may be in disrepute because of their faithfulness. At a recent hearing before the United States Supreme Court, a government attorney implied that the Society’s attorney, H. C. Covington, was lying in an effort to keep the defendants, several youths of Jehovah’s witnesses, out of prison. Covington boldly denied the slur saying: “If all of Jehovah’s witnesses are put in prison, they want to be put there because of the law, not because of fraud!” Observed Knorr, If that is what Caesar wants, we are not afraid. In jail we can continue giving Jehovah exclusive devotion; but we cannot do so outside jail if we are outside because of having compromised.
In conclusion he counseled the students to go to God humbly in prayer when problems arise and to make straight paths for their feet. “You will not have a fence around you to protect you from snares but by reason of the training you have received here you are better equipped to give Jehovah exclusive devotion.” He then distributed the diplomas, after which one of the students read a resolution on behalf of the class, which was enthusiastically adopted.
In the resolution the students voiced their gratitude to Jehovah for the advanced theocratic education they received and also expressed thanks to the witnesses of Jehovah whose contributions made the school possible, as well as to the president of the school, the instructors and members of the Kingdom Farm family, “for their selfless interest, patience and loving help.” Gilead had done so much for them, and they resolved to pursue to the best of their ability the course of exclusive devotion to Jehovah, helping others by ministering the truth to them and at all times seeking to be blameless in speech and irreproachable in conduct. The 101 students had come from ten different lands, including the Philippines, Japan, Nigeria, Finland and Germany, and were being sent to twenty-four different lands.