Preaching in All the Inhabited Earth
JUST two days before his death Jesus uttered a prophecy that was to find fulfillment during his second presence, just prior to the end of the system of things. Among other things, he said: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations.”—Matt. 24:14.
Focus your attention on these words of Jesus for a moment. Consider what would be necessary to fulfill them. Think of the time, energy, money, manpower and organization involved, not to mention the willingness, determination and courage of the preachers! What a tremendous undertaking, to preach God’s kingdom to the billions of earth’s inhabitants!
But since Jesus said that such Kingdom preaching would be done, and since the unparalleled events of this generation mark this as time for it to be accomplished, the question arises, What is being done about it? More than many persons realize. Having identified with us, in the preceding article, the organization that is carrying out the Kingdom witnessing in the way the Bible outlines, you will greatly benefit by a view of its worldwide operations.
Just as Jerusalem was the place where the headquarters of the first-century Christian congregation was first located, so today the headquarters directing the worldwide Kingdom preaching work is strategically situated in Brooklyn, New York. If one enters Brooklyn over either the Manhattan or Brooklyn Bridge he will see two large cream-colored, green-trimmed buildings stretching from one bridge to the other. In this ideal location, close to the best shipping facilities in the world, and where they can be seen by thousands of persons every day, are the headquarters printing factories of Jehovah’s witnesses that daily produce hundreds of thousands of Bibles, books and magazines advertising God’s kingdom.
A short ten-minute walk away, overlooking famous New York harbor and just across the river from the skyscrapers of lower Manhattan, are two attractive twelve-story red-brick buildings surmounted by rectangular towers. This is the Watchtower Society’s international headquarters, and is the home of the headquarters staff and the students attending the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead. This Bible school, the offices directing the worldwide preaching work and the Society’s United States branch are all found in these buildings. But exactly what is done here in connection with the worldwide Kingdom preaching work that Jesus foretold? Let us visit the Watchtower headquarters and see for ourselves.
VISIT TO BETHEL
As the two large headquarters buildings in the pleasant residential neighborhood of Columbia Heights come into view, a visitor is immediately impressed by their size. Each towers well over 100 feet in the air and they cover the better part of two city blocks. One is therefore not surprised to learn that they can comfortably accommodate 950 persons, two in a room. To reach the entrance of the newer of the two buildings one enters a wrought-iron gate and proceeds down a 125-foot walk that leads through a beautiful garden decked with a profusion of multicolored flowers. This place is called Bethel, for that name means “House of God.”
All of those who live at Bethel are ordained ministers of Jehovah’s witnesses, who, like their more than 900,000 fellow ministers throughout the world, are keenly interested in seeing the message of God’s kingdom preached in all the inhabited earth. For that reason each one of them considers it a privilege to perform any task at Bethel to advance that preaching work. This they do voluntarily without any material recompense except the food and shelter of the home and an allowance of $14 a month for personal necessities.
While twelve years ago only 355 persons were needed to take care of the work at Bethel, today there are 654 members of the family, who represent 33 nationalities. In addition, 103 Gilead students from 52 countries presently go to school here, and a new class is enrolled each year. Truly an international family, and yet what marvelous unity and love exist among them! An insight as to how this family, as well as Jehovah’s witnesses worldwide, can live in such peace and unity will be obtained by considering the beginning of a typical day.
At 6:30 a.m. a bell sounds throughout the two buildings to rouse the family, and at a few minutes before seven they begin pouring out of their rooms and filing down the stairs to the basement, where two huge dining rooms, capable of accommodating 950 persons, are located. Those living in the new building can reach the dining rooms by way of a spacious underground passageway beneath the street.
At seven o’clock sharp the president, or if he is absent, the vice-president, asks for the Scripture text for the day to be read from the Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Then he calls on certain ones who have been notified in advance, and they answer questions relative to the Bible text for the day. Each of them has spent considerable time in preparation, and their fine comments are heard over the loudspeaker system in both dining rooms. Every few weeks each member of the family has his turn to participate in the morning discussions, at the conclusion of which the president adds his remarks. Prayer is then offered before breakfast is served. These twenty- to thirty-minute daily spiritual considerations impress God’s righteous law on the mind and heart, and encourage one to follow His Word throughout the day. It is to such a consideration of God’s Word that Jehovah’s witnesses urge people in their earthwide preaching work. Real benefits result.
After fifteen or twenty minutes, breakfast is concluded with prayer and the members of the family head to their assigned tasks in the home and the factories, and the students cross the street to their classrooms on the second floor of the new building. By 8 a.m. printing presses are rolling, typewriters are clicking and housekeepers are busy making beds and cleaning the home.
VISIT TO THE FACTORIES
You may wonder what the 420 ministers who head for the factories do. On approaching the two buildings, one of which reaches nine stories and the other thirteen stories into the air, and covering two city blocks, you can appreciate that it would take at least that many persons to man them. Why these factories have 354,000 square feet of floor space! But this is needed to care for the large amount of work necessary to facilitate the worldwide Kingdom preaching.
On the thirteenth floor of the new factory over 1,500,000 magazine address stencils of Watchtower and Awake! subscribers are on file. There you will also see sixteen graphotype machines that cut the stencils. Down in the sixth-floor pressroom, where the two buildings are joined by a bridge that spans the street, are two flatbed and sixteen large rotary printing presses, three of them each capable of turning out nearly 500 magazines a minute. Half of these presses have been purchased in the last six years to keep pace with the tremendous demand by Kingdom publishers for Bible literature.
During 1961, 115,111,230 Watchtower and Awake! magazines, 5,567,364 Bibles and bound books, as well as millions of booklets, were printed. All together, literature is printed in 128 languages in Brooklyn. In other Watch Tower printing plants throughout the world, where literature is printed in thirty-four additional languages, another 69,000,000 Watchtower and Awake! magazines were produced in 1961. That represents over a half million magazines every day of the year flowing out to be used by Kingdom publishers.
During your visit to the factory you will be interested in seeing the twenty-two linotype machines—more than are found in many large newspaper plants. They are used to set these scores of publications in metal type. The plate department makes curved plates from the metal type for printing on the rotary presses, and the two large nickel tanks coat the plates with a film of nickel so that they can print more than a million magazines without wearing out. On the tour through the plant thirteen smaller flatbed and job presses are also seen. Each year these print countless millions of forms of various kinds, as well as some 145 million leaflets advertising Bible talks.
You will not want to miss the bindery. It is fascinating to watch the books progress through the backliner and finally to the casing-in machine, where the cover is put on. With the three such machines used here, 30,000 books and Bibles are bound on an average day. Already the bindery has made more than 2,300,000 copies of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures since the first one was completed in April of 1961.
But perhaps you will find the ink room, machine shop and carpenter shop just as interesting. Yes, the Watchtower Society makes its own ink, over a hundred tons of it a year in some fifty colors! It also manufactures all its own paint, over 2,500 gallons last year, to keep its buildings inside and out attractive. Eighty tons of paste and glue were also made here for use in binding the books and Bibles and wrapping the magazines.
The beautiful dressers, bookcases and desks used to furnish the rooms of the Bethel home were all made in this modern carpenter shop. And various machines seen on our tour through the factory, such as those four magazine wrappers and the endsheeter, were designed and manufactured by the ministers working in the machine shop. These departments save tens of thousands of dollars every year in operational expenses, which money can be used directly to facilitate the preaching work.
As one returns to the Bethel home to enjoy the midday meal with this large Christian family, one cannot help but appreciate that here is an organization that is serious about fulfilling Jesus’ prophecy concerning the preaching of the Kingdom message in all the inhabited earth.
WATCHTOWER SOCIETY FARMS
While seated in the dining room you may marvel at the tremendous amount of food needed to feed these hundreds of hungry workers. Why, just to serve chicken at one meal it takes 140 chickens, and the family will consume the equivalent of a good-size steer in just two sittings! It may interest you to learn that most of this food is produced on the two farms the Watchtower Society operates: one located about seventy miles west in New Jersey, known as Mountain Farm, and the other 255 miles upstate near Ithaca, New York, called Kingdom Farm. On each of these farms a family of ministers works to supply the material needs of their Christian brothers at Bethel.
SCHOOLS EXPAND KINGDOM PREACHING
Also located at Kingdom Farm is a Kingdom Ministry School that offers a one-month course of specialized training and Bible study to congregation overseers and special representatives of Jehovah’s witnesses throughout the United States. Since its beginning in March of 1959, 2,281 students have finished the course here, and such schools are also in operation in many other countries throughout the world. But you may wonder what the difference is between this school and Gilead School, whose beautiful classrooms and 10,000-volume library are found at Bethel in Brooklyn.
During the second world war the president of the Watch Tower Society conceived the idea of a school to train missionaries to carry the Kingdom message to distant places. This idea met with the enthusiastic approval of the board of directors, and in February, 1943, the first class of Gilead School opened at Kingdom Farm. Up until this school was moved down to the Brooklyn headquarters in 1961, 3,638 students from 95 countries had completed its five-month course and had been sent to more than 100 different countries. They opened up the preaching work in many of these places, and in the course of years were joined with literally thousands of fellow ministers who responded to the message.
The Gilead School in Brooklyn now has a ten-month course through which it is training mature ministers to care for this large organization of preachers that has been built up in other lands. In this way the worldwide organization of Jehovah’s witnesses is directed in harmony with the Scriptures and the pattern followed at headquarters. These men are also being given practical instruction and experience in all features of printing so that the factories in other countries will operate efficiently.
In 187 lands throughout the world Jehovah’s witnesses preach one united message concerning God’s kingdom. The growth of this preaching work and how it is carried on will prove interesting to you, for although the message is the same, customs of the people and the way they react to the message are often very different.
War-ravaged Europe has been a fertile field for the preaching of the good news of the Kingdom, whereas in Asia progress has been slower due to the enslavement of the peoples to deep-seated pagan traditions that make acceptance of Bible truth difficult. Although the war year of 1942 saw only 22,796 of Jehovah’s witnesses in thirteen lands in Europe and 406 ministers in six Asiatic countries, ten years later the combined number had increased nearly sevenfold, to 161,141 in forty-three countries. Since then the number of Kingdom preachers in Europe and Asia has doubled, going over 349,000, and they are active on both sides of the Iron Curtain.
In ten countries behind the Iron Curtain over 120,000 of Jehovah’s witnesses are busy preaching the message of God’s kingdom, and for many this has resulted in imprisonment and death. Four of the students attending the present class of Gilead spent a total of twenty-five years in Communist prisons; nevertheless, they continued to study and preach. Recently one of them told how they did this: “During our fifteen-minute march in the prison yard each day we would whisper to the prisoner up ahead when the guard was not looking. We knew that if we were detected it would mean three weeks of isolation. But the preaching had to be done and so we used this method to do it. Really our brothers were a problem to the prison guards. They knew that if they put us together we would study all day, and if they took us apart we would preach to everyone possible.”
In western Europe the preaching work is done free from the restriction encountered behind the Iron Curtain, and it is increasing marvelously. As the people and authorities become better acquainted with what Jehovah’s witnesses are doing they listen to their message, and are glad to have them hold assemblies in their cities. For instance, in the Netherlands, where following the war Jehovah’s witnesses were generally viewed with suspicion and animosity, their work is now favorably mentioned in the press, and recently they were invited by an Amsterdam radio station to put on a program explaining their organization and beliefs.
Most of the literature used throughout Europe is printed in its various countries. In Great Britain, where a peak exceeding 49,000 publishers has been reached, over 18 1⁄2 million Watchtower and Awake! magazines were printed in their new factory in 1961. In West Germany there are over 70,000 of Jehovah’s witnesses preaching, and they have a large Bethel home and factory situated in a beautifully wooded area near Wiesbaden. Last year nearly 19 million copies of the German Watchtower and Awake! were printed there. Factories in Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Switzerland also annually turn out millions of copies of these Bible magazines in various European languages.
Although the preaching work in Asia is not as widespread as in Europe, good progress is being made in some places. Talking to these people of the Orient about God’s kingdom is quite different from talking to Europeans. It is interesting to listen to ministers from places such as Japan and Korea describe the preaching work there. The people are very polite and courteous, they say. At many homes a person is invited inside and given an opportunity to give his Bible sermon. But, of course, you must remove your shoes before stepping into their homes; then you may be offered a cushion on which to sit on the floor.
Asiatic people like education and are usually willing to discuss matters. As a rule they will readily accept Bible literature when it is offered. However, the family ties that hold them under centuries-old religious traditions are very strong, and it is often difficult for them to break away and take a stand for Bible truth. But when they do, as increasing numbers are, the truth has an amazing reformatory effect on their lives, and they become zealous preachers of it. Some 7 percent of Jehovah’s witnesses in Korea are full-time ministers spending at least a hundred hours preaching each month, and well over 1,000 of the 4,200 Witnesses have at some time had a share in this full-time ministry.
Although response to the preaching work has been slow in India, with fewer than 2,000 Witnesses there, some newly interested ones have shown exceptional zeal. A letter recently received from there tells about several large families who have accepted the truth. “They have built their own Kingdom Hall and are zealous and united in the truth. Even the little children of ten are able to give the entire sermon boldly and effectively on their own. Their use of the Bible is commendable. . . .
“Some of the territories have distance and traveling problems. In order to reach the territory at ten o’clock they must leave at 7:30 a.m. and start out in two or three small rowing boats on the river. They reach the territory only after going four or five miles on the river and walking three or four miles on foot through fields and jungles, and then catching a bus for three miles.” But they are determined to have a share in preaching the good news.
In probably no other continent has the preaching work of Jehovah’s witnesses had such a tremendous effect as in Africa. Among those becoming Witnesses pagan superstitions, beliefs and practices have been put away and the Bible’s high moral standards conformed to, including the requirement to be faithful to just one marriage mate. Appreciation for Bible truth has motivated these Africans to become effective ministers, with the result that the number of Kingdom preachers in Africa increased sevenfold in ten years, from 10,070 in 1942 to 72,228 in 1952. Since then these have nearly doubled, to over 134,000 ministers of the good news.
Government officials and employers are simply amazed at the transformation in the Africans that become Jehovah’s witnesses. They become the most reliable and trustworthy workers, and most of them are literate as a result of the reading and writing classes conducted in the Kingdom Halls. But most noteworthy of all are their huge assemblies, where, on occasions, over 30,000 of Jehovah’s witnesses from many different tribes have met together in peaceful fellowship. Government officials who have attended to see for themselves how it could be accomplished have marveled.
In places whole villages have become Jehovah’s witnesses, necessitating their traveling to other places in order to preach. Such remarkable expansion of the preaching work has brought it about that Northern Rhodesia has one Kingdom publisher for every 81 persons; Nyasaland, one for every 194 persons; and Southern Rhodesia, one for every 245 inhabitants. Three years ago a large Bethel home and factory was opened up in Johannesburg, South Africa, where over two million Watchtower and Awake! magazines a year are printed in nine African languages. No longer can Africa be labeled the dark continent, spiritually speaking.
ISLANDS OF THE SEA
The Kingdom message has even penetrated to the far-flung islands of the Atlantic, Caribbean, Mediterranean and the Pacific. In many of these islands, including the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand, the good news of the Kingdom has enjoyed a warm reception. Whereas back in 1942 there were only 5,570 Kingdom preachers on nine islands, ten years later the number had increased to 44,111 preaching on 27 islands. But now the number of preachers has doubled, rising to over 89,000, who are carrying the good news to more than 60 islands and groups of islands of the sea.
A letter received recently from the Solomon Islands gives an idea of what a remarkable reception is sometimes given the Kingdom message. Some villagers had become dissatisfied with the religion brought by Christendom’s missionaries and so set up their own. As they were interested in religion, when they heard about the work of Jehovah’s witnesses they sent some representatives to the capital city of Honiara to investigate. These brought back a favorable report. In fact, one of them was so impressed that he built a Kingdom Hall in anticipation of the time that Jehovah’s witnesses would come.
Finally, when four Kingdom publishers arrived, over 450 of the native folk assembled to hear the public talk. Afterward arrangements were made to conduct a teaching program during the following week. Classes were held with about 150 in attendance. They began at 6:30 in the morning and continued till after midnight. The result? “After much convincing and argumentation that is impossible to put into one letter every last one of the teachers and pastors decided for the truth. The twenty-odd churches were renamed Kingdom Halls and all twenty-eight villages are studying the nine sermons left with them. All of them were really enthused and they sent twenty pounds with me to buy blackboards and chalk. The former teachers and pastors are now publishing and teaching the others through the sermons. They have left all of their rituals and are trying to follow the way we do things as closely as possible.” And so it is that the Kingdom message reaches into the remote islands of the sea.
After centuries of Roman Catholic control illiteracy is the general rule among the people of this continent, illegitimate children are many and consensual marriage is the normal practice. Under such an atmosphere Kingdom preaching had a slow start, with only 807 ministers in 1942; by 1952 these had increased to 11,795, but now over 45,000 are busy preaching in all the countries of South America. In recent years the work of Jehovah’s witnesses has gained widespread public attention in every country of South America.
In the city and suburbs of São Paulo in the south of Brazil, for example, there are over 70 congregations of Jehovah’s witnesses and more than 5,500 Kingdom preachers. Weekly the Kingdom message is kept before the attention of the people of this area by means of a television program that is calculated to have 1,500,000 viewers.
This January when Jehovah’s witnesses held a national assembly in São Paulo the officials welcomed them and helped to overcome various problems in connection with the assembly. By means of radio, TV and 3,900 column-inches of news publicity the assembly was well advertised. What was the public response? Amazing! Although there are fewer than 30,000 Kingdom publishers in all Brazil, over 48,000 turned out to hear the public talk “When All Nations Unite Under God’s Kingdom”!
In North America, where the headquarters directing this worldwide preaching work is located, steady increases have been realized, not only in the United States, but also in Canada, Mexico and Central America. The number of preachers has grown from 75,589 in 1945, to 168,752 in 1952, to over 345,000 who are now carrying the message of God’s kingdom to the peoples from Alaska to Panama.
Throughout the world the number of Kingdom preachers is well over 950,000. Every week they contact tens of millions of persons, and with many of these they hold Bible discussions in their homes. “In all the inhabited earth” this good news of the Kingdom is being preached, in imitation of the example set by Christ Jesus and in fulfillment of his prophecy concerning our day. It is not being done in a perfunctory manner, but with the greatest urgency, because, as Jesus said, the preaching of the Kingdom good news will be followed by the end of this wicked system of things at God’s war of Armageddon.—Matt. 24:14; Rev. 16:16.
Hundreds of thousands of dedicated men, women and youths, moved by love of God and love of neighbor, are zealously sharing in this vital work, regardless of the obstacles with which they are confronted. Tens of thousands more are joining them in the work each year. Now is the time for you too to avail yourself of the opportunity to take your stand for Jehovah God and his kingdom and so come in line for the everlasting blessings of his righteous new world!
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International Headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses
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Watchtower Printing Plants, Brooklyn, N.Y.