Spreading Light in Dark Nyasaland
NYASALAND, in case you have forgotten, is a British protectorate in the southeastern part of Africa. It is just a little bigger than the state of Indiana, or about ten percent larger than the country of Portugal. As with some 160 other places on this globe, the good news of God’s established kingdom is being preached there in obedience to Matthew 24:14. Especially effective in enlightening its people, many of whom are uneducated, has been the showing of the two films produced by the Watch Tower Society.
These films have even been taken to the isolated bush regions, being shown in schoolyards, court areas of the national authorities and government compounds. Their accompanying narratives have been given in such local dialects as Yao, Lomwe, Tumbuka and Citonga, in addition to the principal language, Cinyanja. To date at least one person in every twenty in Nyasaland has seen these films, making a total of more than 130,000 in about eighteen months.
We bring these films into the bush country by means of a panel truck that carries all the equipment. This often requires the witnesses to cut down trees, build bridges, widen footpaths to eight-foot roads, reinforce swampy ground, as well as repeat unloading and reloading of equipment. Sometimes it takes five hours to cover ten miles; in fact, once it took five hours to cover ten yards! In one instance, the overcoming of all such obstacles, which to most of the chiefs had seemed to be insurmountable, caused one chief to conclude that this work must be of Jehovah, and so from now on the witnesses are always welcome in his village!
The witnesses of Jehovah here, of course, are glad to do all this work, being anxious for others to see the wonderful films. However, at times the villagers who are not witnesses show themselves equally willing to work so that the films can be shown in their village. Thus in one instance they readily built a road almost a mile long so that the film could be brought to them! Incidentally, note that all such preparations are made with the constant threat of wild animals. It is a country where lions, leopards, elephants and rhinoceroses abound, not to say anything about countless snakes. So each one must be alert or he may not live to see the film!
Not to be overlooked is another threat to the showing of the films, the “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” Such as one European associated with a nearby Dutch Reformed Church mission who tried very hard to influence the local chief against the witnesses but in vain. The chief emphatically stated that Jehovah’s witnesses were the only ones that were teaching a religion based wholly on the Bible and that in the film “The New World Society in Action” he had seen proof of the things they had told him. He felt that the film was a wonderful provision and that the witnesses should continue to use it wherever possible.
Another young chief, who has an excellent command of English and is a subscriber for The Watchtower, could hardly find words to express his appreciation for the film. After its showing he made a short speech of thanks, recommended that his people follow the example of Christian love they had seen in the film and made arrangements to have the film shown elsewhere. He also invited the Society’s special traveling representatives, the district and the circuit servants, to enjoy tea with him and his subchiefs, during which time they asked many questions, which were answered to their satisfaction.
This paramount chief also attended the public meeting at the circuit assembly of the witnesses. He continually referred to his Bible throughout the lecture and time and again joined enthusiastically in the applause. At the conclusion of this lecture he again addressed his people and thanked the witnesses for the good work they were doing. He also contributed to the expense of showing the film. On making a farewell call upon him the district servant found that this chief had obtained the Bible aid What Has Religion Done for Mankind? and the 1957 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
So here, in this beautiful country of majestic mountains, swift and slow-moving rivers and the vast lake from which it draws its name, the light of God’s Word is penetrating to the most out-of-the-way places by means of the motion picture, and many are the honest hearts, of both educated and uneducated, that are seeing and hearing and rejoicing because of having seen and heard!