Preaching the Good News in Nyasaland
NYASALAND is a mountainous country in the southeastern part of Africa. Though its many peaks do not compare with those found in the Alps and the American Rockies, one of them does rise to a height of 10,000 feet. Larger than Scotland but smaller than England, its 37,000 square miles compares favorably with the State of Indiana. It has a population of 2,750,000, and one out of 183 is a witness of Jehovah. During 1958 upward of 15,000 shared in preaching the good news in Nyasaland.
As throughout the rest of the world, materialism is making itself felt in its own way in Nyasaland. One of these ways is by a violent agitation for greater political control by the Africans themselves. This has resulted in stonings, mobs and riots. Jehovah’s witnesses have steadfastly held to their neutrality throughout it all.
When one of the African political leaders was visited by one of Jehovah’s witnesses, the conversation came to a close with the Witness asking: “If you gain control of this country what will be your position toward Jehovah’s witnesses?” The witness was told: “We are not concerned with Jehovah’s witnesses; we know that you people are law-abiding, and that you willingly support the present government, by paying taxes and rendering other required services, for that is your religious teaching. We also know that if and when we get in power you will support us in the same way. We also recognize that you are neutrals, and if you are not fighting with us for independence, neither are you fighting against us, and so we are content.”
Yes, while such men agitate for political control, Jehovah’s witnesses in Nyasaland, as in 174 other lands, continue to preach the good news about the only government that really will end all inequality and completely dissolve racial barriers and that forever. That kingdom is the one for which Jesus Christ taught us to pray.—Matt. 6:10.
Jehovah’s witnesses in Nyasaland call upon the vendors in the market places scattered throughout the “bush” country, even as their brothers in other lands go from store to store in the business sections. The reception accorded them here, however, may be quite different. Thus a vendor, evincing interest, may request that the minister give a lecture right then and there. Soon others take up the request and the market activity slows down, and the minister is expected to address everyone present on a Biblical topic.
After he concludes he will find others that want Bible literature and often he can arrange for Bible studies in their homes. The African enjoys listening to a discussion and will give his undivided attention to the minister as long as he chooses to continue speaking.
Attending congregational meetings during the five-month rainy season presents a real problem. How would you like to walk from seven to fifteen miles in the rain and swim a river or two infested with crocodiles to attend a meeting? Many Witnesses here have to do this, and not just once but often three times a week.
We are unable to hold meetings in the evening for a number of reasons, chief of which is that of safety. One is very likely to encounter a lion or leopard searching for a meal when walking through the “bush” country after nightfall. Most congregations have their meetings scheduled for the late afternoon so that all can return home safely.
Typical of the esteem in which the Witnesses are held by some is the following experience had by a special pioneer minister. A truth-hungry pastor asked him to give a Bible lecture to his congregation, which he did. All appreciated it except the elders, who went to court over it. After all the facts were presented the one presiding announced his decision:
“Why are you elders so concerned? You should be happy to have your people learn the truth. Why hide the true facts from the members of your congregation? If they want to hear the truth as presented by Jehovah’s witnesses, then let them. You have no case against the pastor for what he has done.”
Among the greatest problems facing us in this country is the overcoming of such customs as polygamy, rites of puberty, witchcraft in its many forms and funeral customs; but no one can become a Witness until he discards all such. It is impressive to ourselves as well as to outsiders to see the change that the truth of God’s World makes in regard to these things. This in itself is a wonderful testimony to the power the Bible can exert on the minds of those who study and understand it.
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Union of South Africa