Courageous Ministers District Assemblies
“LET me say that I have heard a great many people say that they were very impressed with your delegates and the way in which your convention was conducted. . . . I am certain that I am speaking on behalf of the residents of Sheboygan when I say ‘Welcome back soon!’”—City official of Sheboygan, Wisconsin.
This is but one of many expressions made as a result of the three-day 1962 Courageous Ministers District Assemblies of Jehovah’s Witnesses reported to date from ninety cities—forty-nine in the United States, eleven in Canada, eight in the British Isles and the rest in eight other countries. Many more of these assemblies are yet to be held in various parts of the world.
“Courageous Ministers”—what an appropriate theme for these Christian assemblies! All men everywhere have need of courage in these crucial times. And these district assemblies, held June through August, were prepared for the very purpose of inspiring men of goodwill to courage.
Little wonder, then, that tens of thousands of people received Jehovah’s ministers gladly into their presence. In forty out of the forty-nine cities in the United States, Jehovah’s witnesses were holding district assemblies for the first time. This fact allowed for the message of God’s kingdom to be carried into these areas with an impact never before experienced. The great many assembly points made it easier for a larger number of the public to attend with little cost or inconvenience to themselves. And, too, it made it possible for many more with large families to attend an assembly who might have otherwise found it financially burdensome. All of this resulted in good publicity and a fine response from the public, and the attendance figures show this.
In West Palm Beach, Florida, for example, Sunday’s attendance figure of 5,288 represented a 58-percent increase over Saturday night’s attendance. In Southend, England, there was an amazing 70-percent increase, and in Jersey City, New Jersey, despite a thunderstorm, a 30-percent increase—all of which shows that a healthy number of the public turned out to hear the public address “Take Courage—God’s Kingdom Is at Hand!”
Further exciting facts are seen in the grand totals. For example, at the all-French assembly at Quebec City, Canada, conventioners were thrilled with an attendance of 2,103, and 63 were baptized! Just a few years ago a mere handful of Witnesses there were battling for their Christian lives, but now look what is happening! The overall figure for Canada is 44,711, a truly encouraging sign for future expansion. The British Isles enjoyed a total attendance of 51,587 for the public meeting. The Spanish assemblies held in New York city, San Antonio, Texas, as well as all-Spanish sessions at the Pomona, California, assembly, reported an attendance of 10,278. The total United States attendance figure was a surprising 312,734! And the grand total for the ninety assemblies to date is a remarkable 479,699! Perhaps even more thrilling is the fact that 9,029 persons at these ninety assemblies symbolized their dedication to Jehovah God by means of water baptism. What a blessing all of this!
They were outstanding assemblies all, but what made them so? Their great number (ninety) was an outstanding feature, true, but certainly not the most outstanding one. Their size also made them different, but not all of them could be considered “small.” For instance, Jersey City, New Jersey, had 22,229 in attendance; Oakland, California, 13,636, and Costa Mesa, California, had an attendance of 13,521. None of these, along with many others, could really be called “small.”
But what made them one and all outstanding was the fact that the same great amount of important information was released at each in so little time. For us even to try to recapture some of the thrill and spirit as these truths were made known, we might lump them into a number of categories, the first of which is
How fitting it was to take the year’s text: “Be courageous and let your heart be strong. Yes, hope in Jehovah,” and weave it into an assembly theme! From the opening to the closing remarks, the theme of courage was emphasized. The chairman’s welcome address drew the conventioners’ attention to the great need for courage in these last days, because of tension and world upheaval, and because we all face a satanic system and demonic opposition. Even little children are confronted with increased pressures. Therefore, the need for courage.—Ps. 27:14.
What a display of courage the conventioners saw when the candidates for baptism at each assembly stood up to answer questions and then file out to symbolize their dedication by water immersion! What a joyful experience to see these new ones declare themselves for Jehovah! Their courageous stand was met by rounds of applause. Many eyes became moist as hearts swelled at this grand occasion.
All who love Jehovah must show such courage. How appropriate, then, for the public address to call on those who profess Christianity to come out boldly on the side of Jehovah and his kingdom! Spontaneous applause rang out when the audience heard that Jehovah will protect the courageous ones at Armageddon, that these will survive into God’s new world. (2 Pet. 3:13) When the chairman told them that they could read this inspiring talk for themselves in booklet form then being offered to them, how they did respond! They displayed similar joy when, earlier, the deluxe edition of the New World Translation Bible was released on a two-dollar contribution. On each occasion crowds pressed in to get their individual copies. Then, later, they were seen examining and studying them.
ASSOCIATION, LOYALTY AND EDUCATION
Conventioners learned that courage is gained and maintained by much hard work and sacrifice, that it is nurtured by right associations. Therefore, the need for them to attend meetings where Christians gather together to receive instruction. They learned too that courage is maintained by remaining loyal to Jehovah’s organization, that loyalty is demonstrated by supporting the organization and its many programs. It was a moving sight to see young and old jotting down notes in appreciation of the points made. They were obviously pleased with these reminders.
Another thrill was to look back over the “Benefits of the Theocratic Ministry School.” Prior to 1943, how many qualified speakers were there in Jehovah’s organization? Some hundreds, no doubt, but now there are literally thousands! Over two thousand five hundred different highly qualified speakers spoke at these district assemblies alone! Not only that, literally hundreds of thousands of congregation publishers have been trained and are being trained to give excellent sermons in their field ministry! And the speakers assured their audiences that there is more—much more to come!
Not only have Jehovah’s people been trained to speak their convictions with courage, but they have been taught to keep abreast with revealed truth, knowing that these truths are essential to their salvation. Both parents and youths at these assemblies heard their responsibilities spelled out to them as never before. Their enthusiastic response reflected their gratefulness for these facts.
SUBJECTION AND THE WORD
But who among the conventioners will ever forget the presentations on “Subjection” and “The Word,” not to mention the powerful, timely public talk? These were the highlights of these assemblies! With Bibles before them, conventioners followed every step with intense interest as each speaker explained from Scripture who the “superior authorities” mentioned at Romans 13:1 are and in what manner Christians are subject to them. It pleased the conventioners no end to see how wifely subjection and the subjection of slaves are related to this matter and to know that their subjection to God remains as always—total. What happy buzzing of conversation followed this series as many clustered about to review points made.
And again, early Sunday morning, many sat on the edge of their seats as they listened intently to the series entitled: “‘The Word’ —Who Is He? According to John.” Copious notes were taken as speakers whittled away pet trinitarian arguments until the doctrine of the Trinity was exposed beyond denial to be what it is—false! When the chairman announced that this absorbing subject could be had in a sixty-four-page booklet, a burst of applause resounded and crowds rushed toward the attendants to get their copies. During intermission many were seen happily thumbing through the booklet and checking the convincing arguments made therein.
SERVICE AND LOVE
Accurate knowledge of God’s Word is a propulsive power that drives ministers into action. And the hour-and-a-half demonstration on Friday night that revolved around the experience of a reporter who was gathering material for a story on Jehovah’s witnesses showed Jehovah’s organization to be one of action, where there is work for all. How deeply publishers appreciated seeing demonstrated before them Jehovah’s tender loving care by means of his organization! And many took advantage of these assemblies to express their appreciation by actively engaging in the field ministry, inviting the neighborhood people to come and share these spiritual blessings with them.
These assemblies reminded all that there is much to do and that there still is a great need for full-time pioneer ministers. Slightly over 3 percent now pioneer. Those in the audience were urged to pioneer if possible. In fact, they were told that a 5-percent goal for each congregation is most reasonable. Pioneering calls for great courage.
But can there not be love without deeds? No, not really. (1 John 3:18) Then, can there be deeds without love? Yes, but conventioners learned that these are worthless. (1 Cor. 13:1-8) They heard that they must learn to clothe all their deeds with love, that love is what should prompt them to serve God, that “love builds up,” that “love never fails.”—1 Cor. 8:1; 13:8.
Love, joy and sadness were mingled as the final speaker wrapped the whole assembly in admonishing tones, encouraging all to draw courage from the Word of God and to stand courageously before Jehovah, come what may, for Jehovah “is faithful that promised.” (Heb. 10:23) So filled with renewed courage, enlightened and refreshed, conventioners left their assembly points more determined than ever not to miss a single opportunity to tell others about Jehovah’s triumphant kingdom until He says, “It is enough!”