The New World Society in Sarawak
THE province of Sarawak is situated in the northwestern part of the large island of Borneo. It has a widely scattered population consisting chiefly of Chinese, Malays, Indians and natives, the Dayaks. There the Kingdom message at last also penetrated as the two films of the Watch Tower Society, “The New World Society in Action” and “The Happiness of the New World Society,” were shown. Thereby many in and around Kuching, its capital, for the first time learned about Jehovah’s witnesses and their work.
Exploring all avenues for locations to show the films, the Witnesses were able to procure a Chinese association hall in the center of the city, and that free of charge. Some eighty-five persons were on hand to see the first film. The owner was presented with some Chinese literature for which he not only expressed sincere thanks but at the same time offered the use of the hall again for the same purpose any time in the future. His generous offer was accepted later and the second film was shown. Despite a tropical torrential rain, sixty-five came to see the film, including many who had seen the first one and who, it was noticed, brought along friends and neighbors.
It was possible to show the film also at the Sarawak Mental Hospital. Its staff erected a huge bamboo frame for the screen and placed it in the center of the compound, which was surrounded by a covered walk. Again it rained, but the audience was able to view the film in comfort from this covered walk, although the screen itself was in the rain. The film was greatly enjoyed by the staff, the patients of the hospital and people from the surrounding villages—some two hundred in all.
A retired Chinese man of good will asked to have the film shown at his house. For several weeks before its showing he visited his friends and neighbors inviting them to come. The night of the showing he had a large sign outside his home advertising the film. More than one hundred and fifty witnessed the earth-wide happiness of the New World society. The householder’s son read the film commentary in Chinese, thereby enabling all present to understand clearly the details of the film.
Arrangements had also been made to show one of the films at the home of a man living at the Kuching Airport with whom a Bible study had been started. Upon arriving with their equipment, the Witnesses found that the electricity had failed. However, the officer in charge of the airport police offered the use of their power line, since they had their own generator. So instead of its being shown in a small home to a handful of persons, the film was seen by virtually the entire air force staff and their families as the screen was fixed to the outside wall of the police department building. Many others relaxing at a restaurant nearby also were able to view it.
Perhaps among the most appreciative viewers of the film were the patients of the Rajah Brooke Memorial Settlement for Lepers. There the manager, greatly impressed by the Watch Tower literature, arranged to have the film shown at the cinema building. Shortly before the showing of the film a strange sound echoed through the jungle valley. It was the highly resonant sound produced by beating one type of wood against another—the usual way of calling people together. Then a steady stream of persons came from the valley. Many were patients from the colony’s dormitories and still more came from the surrounding ‘kampongs’ or native villages. The cinema was an ideal location; its being open on the sides kept it cool while being protected from the rain. The seats were quickly taken and many more sat on the concrete floor, filling the place. Still others sat outside on a grassy bank surrounding the building. Upward of 350 saw the activities of the New World society, and after the showing of the film more than 250 pieces of literature in three languages were distributed.
At a later day the second of the films was shown, with the commentary being read in Chinese by a person of good will. Some 270 were present. A person who accompanied the Witnesses from Kuching, and who had been studying the Bible with them for only a short time, commented: “I can see now that your way of baptizing is the Bible way, the proper way, too.”
So in just a few short months, in a country with a widely scattered population, at thirteen showings of the films, more than 1,360 persons saw the evidence that Jehovah God has a New World society operating earth-wide today, and that it is through it that true happiness can be found.