Fortyfold Attendance at Ghana Public Lecture
IN PREACHING “this good news of the kingdom” the witnesses of Jehovah make use of public lectures. If, as a result of their advertising efforts, there is an increase of ten percent in the attendance at their Kingdom Hall they are thankful. And if the public should respond to the extent of an increase of 100 percent in the attendance, as was recently the case at the São Paulo, Brazil, district assembly, they are delighted. But when a traveling representative of the Watch Tower Society in Ghana reported a 4,000-percent increase at a public lecture this was felt to be so unusual as to call for an explanation. In brief, it was this:
The public meeting was held in the town of B————, in the Northern Territories of Ghana, in the spring of 1957. In times past the paramount chief had refused permission to hold open-air public meetings. The people themselves, a little primitive, are friendly and like to discuss social conditions and the high cost of living. But when it comes to religion, most of them are set in their ways, adhering to ancestor worship. There has been considerable opposition to Jehovah’s witnesses there because the witnesses worship only Jehovah.
In a nearby village their work had been banned because one woman abandoned African customs to lead a Scripturally moral and clean life as a witness of Jehovah, for which she was driven out of the village. In another village their study hall was confiscated by the village chief and elders. Why? Because the land on which it stood belonged to their departed ancestors and these would not tolerate the worship of any rival such as Jehovah! Even the central Kingdom Hall had been raided by a mob while a meeting was in session; the mob was led by a Catholic who had become incensed because his sister had taken her stand with Jehovah’s witnesses.
However, on this visit the Society’s representative made it a point to interview the various authorities and chiefs, and as a result not only was the study hall that had been taken away from the witnesses returned but a fine location was secured for a public lecture on Sunday morning. He urged the witnesses to give full co-operation in advertising the talk.
Early Sunday morning, at eight o’clock, they came together, even though some had to travel fourteen miles, without benefit of modern transportation, to get there. The day happened to be “Market Day,” which in the Northern Territories attracts many from nearby villages, as there is much feasting in addition to buying and selling; it is also the time when a young man may procure a wife for himself by catching a girl by force and carrying her away shoulder-high to the ‘bridegroom’s’ house with the help of his friends!
At 8:30 the witnesses went forth to preach. One was posted at each of the fifteen roads and footpaths leading to the town so that all could hear about the lecture. Others went from house to house in the business and residential sections, giving sermons, offering Bible literature and distributing handbills. In spite of inclement weather, the brothers gave a diligent witness for two and a half hours.
The public discourse began promptly at 11 a.m., at which time 300 were present, including thirty-five of the witnesses and their good-will companions. One of the witnesses interpreted the remarks into the Frafra language. Within ten minutes the audience had doubled and at the climax of the talk 1,448 were present, an increase of more than 4,000 percent, or fortyfold.