Graduation Features Art of Witnessing
ON Sunday, August 2, 1959, some 4,406 persons gathered on the beautiful lawn in front of the library at the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead, South Lansing, New York, for the graduation of the thirty-third class. The president of the Watchtower Society, N. H. Knorr, spoke on “Instructions in the Art of Witnessing.”
In his opening remarks, Brother Knorr pointed out that this was Gilead’s smallest graduating class because the Society is now operating two schools at Kingdom Farm, one for those being trained as missionaries, and the other for overseers. Since the thirty-third class began in February the Society has trained seventy-five persons in the second school, known as the Kingdom Ministry School.
Prior to the main discourse, the students and friends assembled heard encouraging words from John Markus, Kingdom Farm servant, and the four members of the faculty, Robert Porter, Jack Redford, Maxwell Friend and A. D. Schroeder. Telegrams were then read from friends of the graduates in many lands. Following these much-appreciated messages, Brother Knorr proceeded with his discourse.
Near the beginning of his talk, he read from the Bible at Matthew chapter 10 the instructions Jesus gave his disciples when they were sent out to preach. He pointed out that there were two outstanding things to remember about Jesus’ instructions on the art of witnessing: (1) not to worry about food and money, and (2) to discern who is worthy to receive the message.
“All of Jehovah’s witnesses are full-time ministers,” he explained. “However, not all are full-time preachers, and it is to these full-time preachers that Jesus’ instruction at Matthew 10 really applies.” He pointed out that “God takes care of those doing full-time preaching work.” He urged them to have faith in Jehovah and not to worry themselves about anything except the preaching of the good news of God’s kingdom.
After his discourse, the eighty-two members of the graduating class filed across the platform to receive an envelope from the Society containing, for many, a diploma indicating meritorious work at School and, for all, a message and a gift. These students, who had come from fourteen lands, were now being sent out to twenty-seven countries for missionary service.
Following this, one of the students from Australia read a letter from the graduating class to the Society’s president. This fine expression of appreciation said in part: “Here at Gilead we have learned how to be busy and to enjoy it. We have been shown how much can be done in just one day when one is well organized. We have learned how to study and make good use of our time, and it will now be our earnest endeavor to continue in the good habits we have been taught and keep up with the advancing light of truth. The course of study has impressed us with its wonderful harmony and excellent arrangement, in that the different truths learned in each classroom have blended harmoniously into one united pattern. This has convinced us that Jehovah is the director and invisible instructor here, for only by his spirit could this be possible.”
In the afternoon for about two hours the students gave their own personal expressions about Gilead School and their prospective assignments, where they will continue to practice the art of witnessing.
After the singing of a song, Brother Knorr offered a concluding prayer for Jehovah’s rich blessing to be upon all who are doing the divine will.