Modern History of Jehovah’s Witnesses
Part 23—Expanding with a Trained Ministry
IN THE general historical study of the educating of Jehovah’s witnesses for the ministry we cannot overlook the teaching feature of their work in the field service. This educational feature has grown to gigantic proportions in spiritually influencing the change-over of thinking on the part of multitudes of people of good will toward Jehovah God. The idea of calling back or making return calls upon interested persons to render educational assistance began to be suggested in 1936.* Then in 1937 at the Columbus (Ohio) convention the Model Study booklet No. 1 was released, encouraging publishers to call back on interested persons to begin studies in the booklet Uncovered used in conjunction with the phonograph record series entitled “Exposed,” covering basic Bible doctrines.* It was not until the year 1938 that the Society asked publishers to keep record of their return calls in their performing of this free home Bible educational service. Finally in 1942 publishers were asked for the first time to report additionally their average monthly Bible studies apart from their back-call service. In the course of the years other study-question publications were forthcoming. However, the greatest field study textbook produced by the Society was “Let God Be True”, released in 1946. More than 12,000,000 have now been printed in 30 languages. Scores of thousands have become witnesses through home Bible studies with this book.
In the following chart of their worldwide efforts note the picture of progress made by Jehovah’s witnesses in their service to educate honest people in their homes on Biblical matters.
World-wide World-wide Average
Year Back-Calls Bible Studies
1938* 298,489 unreported as yet
1942* 6,707,204 5,593
1945* 8,443,050 104,142
1949* 15,897,544 167,571
1953* 22,990,305 281,219
1954* 25,337,026 293,341
This tremendous swell of Bible education and knowledge is sweeping the earth even as the waters cover the sea. (Isa. 11:9) The “theocratic ministry school” education of the witnesses, begun in 1943, is qualifying them to maintain their leading position as Bible educators of men of good will in this time of the world’s end.
The living God, Jehovah, is the great unifier. He is the great magnet who, together with his intimate associate, Christ Jesus, is the unifying force that draws all right-thinking persons into organized relationship with himself. (John 6:44) Nearly four thousand years ago, in the days of Abraham, Jehovah revealed his unification strategy and order: “I shall surely bless you [Abraham] and I shall surely multiply your seed [spiritual Israel of 144,001 anointed ones—Gal. 3:29; 6:16, NW] like the stars of the heavens and like the grains of sand that are on the seashore [left unnumerical until A.D. 96, when their number was revealed at Revelation 7:4 (NW)], and your seed [principally Christ Jesus, the head of the seed organization of 144,000] will take possession of the gate of his enemies [at Armageddon]. And by means of your seed [the Kingdom organization of 144,001] all nations of the earth [the great crowd of many national origins described at Revelation 7:9 (NW)] will certainly bless themselves due to the fact that you have listened to my voice.” (Gen. 22:17, 18, NW) On time and in order the Seed-King Christ Jesus was first produced A.D. 29 to 33 as Jehovah’s chief witness. Next, over a period of 1900 years from Pentecost A.D. 33 to 1931, the “little flock” of 144,000 anointed ones were called out and unified in organized relationship to Jehovah as His witnesses. (Luke 12:32; John 17:21) Last in order after 1931 up to Armageddon comes the calling of the “other sheep” into God’s protective organization that they also may become witnesses of Jehovah with a destiny of earthly life that all may be unified as ‘one flock under one shepherd.’—John 10:16 and Eph. 1:10, 11.
After 1931 the anointed witnesses on earth began to see that an earthly group was already beginning to associate with them, whom they began to call “Jonadabs.” However, it was not until the Washington (D.C.) convention that a full understanding was had, on May 31, 1935, concerning the “great crowd” mentioned at Revelation 7:9 (NW), that it was an earthly class identical with the “families of the earth” to be blessed with everlasting life on earth under the Abrahamic covenant. All this meant a gigantic transformation of thinking, organization and preaching activity. For nineteen hundred years the congregation of anointed ones had been concerned primarily with their own salvation, to gain the prize of the “high calling.” Their organization was considered merely temporary to keep them together until the time would come for their change, to go to heaven to rule with Christ Jesus in his kingdom. As to preaching, their efforts were limited to the proclaiming of the high calling to the “little flock,” except that in February, 1918, the message began to be proclaimed that “Millions Now Living Will Never Die.”
It would take time for the mature, 1900-year-old anointed congregation to become ready for the mass ingathering of the “other sheep,” possibly ‘millions now living that may never die.’ The facts indicate it took about ten years, from 1935 to 1945, to effect the proper arrangements. In this period the message through the Watchtower magazine enlarged on its spiritual call by speaking frequently of the prophecies concerning the gathering of the “great crowd.” These Bible studies steadily enlarged the thinking of the anointed ones, who rejoiced to be used as instruments to give a helping hand to the new earthly class of witnesses. The organization had to become clean to receive these “refugee” dwellers in “Beulah” land. Moreover, a change-over in the organization to the theocratic system of government was necessary and was effected by 1938. An element of permanency as to organization became apparent. Yes, in time the field witness work itself was changed. Now there was to be a calling back on people, the conducting of home Bible studies, the holding of public meetings, the establishing of theocratic ministry schools and the doing of street work to catch the eye of the multitudinous public. All this amazing adjustment was completed by 1945.
The work of Jehovah’s witnesses had spread into Europe in the early 1880’s, into Africa, Australia and parts of South America in the early 1900’s, and finally into Asia after 1910. Following the restoration of true worship in 1919, efforts were made to spread out into foreign fields as far as possible. The Society’s literature began to be published in as many as 78 languages. New branch offices were opened in countries where the witness work was taking firm hold. By 1934 the Society maintained 49 branches scattered on the five continents.* Fifty-four nations reported witnesses active in them during 1942. More than fifty thousand of the 115,240 ministers reporting were working in territories outside the United States.* Members of the anointed remnant in small but scattered numbers have been found in most parts of the earth. This testifies to the fact that Jehovah, from 1919 on, had been gathering “his chosen ones together from the four winds.”—Matt. 24:31, NW.
But all this development in foreign fields was just the groundwork for the great harvest of ingathering from all nations by means of his rescued remnant of 1919. For a certainty, did not the prophet Isaiah foretell all this global expansion? “I will send such as escape [remnant after 1919] of them unto the nations, to Tarshish [in Europe], Pul, and Lud [in Africa], that draw the bow, to Tubal [in Asia] and Javan [in Europe], to the isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the nations. And they shall bring all your brethren out of all the nations . . . to my holy mountain Jerusalem [God’s organization], saith Jehovah.”—Isa. 66:19, 20, AS.
Jesus assigned the territory to his witnesses, when he said: “The field is the world.” (Matt. 13:38, NW) This has been more literally realized since 1945 than ever before. In this ‘field of the world’ the Christian witnesses must conduct a battle not against flesh and blood but at the minds of men. (2 Cor. 10:4, 5) Satan has been busy for thousands of years in developing various states of mind in men, all of which thinking is against Jehovah and his new world. Basically the thinking of worldly men of today is the product of paganism, lying traditions, desires of the flesh, doctrines of demons and every wind of theory of modern materialism. Against these mighty forces of entrenched thinking Jehovah’s witnesses have engaged in daily battle by reasoning with millions of people with whom they come in touch and to whom they preach. They advocate New World thinking, Christian thinking, the thinking of Jesus Christ who, nineteen hundred years ago, came to champion the mind, will and purpose of the Great Sovereign of the Universe, Jehovah God. (1 Cor. 2:16) There must be a reconciliation to God requiring a transformation of thinking on the part of humans to that of being attuned to the right and glorious thinking of their Maker, Jehovah God. Such transformation of thinking results in their being unified with Almighty God and his family-like organization.—Rom. 12:2.
This also has resulted in a global struggle for the hearts and minds of humans of good will. The varying states of sectional thinking on the five continents have all yielded to the power of the Word of God, the Bible, thus producing fruitage, in that thousands have been released from Babylonish religious thinking to come forth into the sunlight of truth and Christian freedom. Another striking fact is that the whole world together with all its variations of religions has been thrown into the same global crisis of the last days. Therefore truly the one whole world with all its many nations of peoples has become ripe at the same time for global spiritual harvesting. This world-wide ingathering of the “other sheep” hastens rapidly in these closing days before universal Armageddon.
(To be continued)
Informant, December, 1936.
Informant, October, 1937.
1939 Yearbook, p. 59.
1943 Yearbook, p. 222; 1944 Yearbook, p. 57.
1946 Yearbook, p. 217.
1950 Yearbook, p. 25.
1954 Yearbook, p. 37.
1955 Yearbook, p. 39.
1935 Yearbook, p. 53.
1954 Yearbook, p. 273.