Missionaries Who Give Free
HOW refreshing in these days when prices are constantly rising to learn of missionaries who will give free of what they have! “You received free, give free” was the theme of the address by President N. H. Knorr to an audience of 2,023 on the occasion of the graduation of the 42nd Class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead in New York city, September 11, 1966.
President Knorr illustrated his point by reference to the things of creation. The clouds receive and give water free. So also the earth, the plant life and, finally, humans in a physical way take in nourishment and then give by way of growth, work and thought. In the same way the free gifts of Jehovah’s witnesses everywhere made possible the special missionary training received free by the graduating students, and now it is their turn to give free.
The speaker cautioned the students that, while they were saturated with the truth, they must feed it gradually to truth-thirsty ones, not in a sweeping torrent, but like gentle rain that promotes fruitfulness. He also counseled the student body to keep filling themselves with the truth through regular study, so they may go on speaking the pure truth to those they contact in their missionary assignments. He reminded them that “the lip of truth” is what “will be firmly established forever.”—Prov. 12:19.
Though now the students would be leaving loved ones to go into faraway missionary fields, the speaker reminded them that they were already loved by many who had not yet seen them, persons in remote areas who look confidently to the missionaries for help. The president’s concluding appeal to the students was, ‘You have received free, now give free.’ Then followed the reading of a resolution by the whole class of students, expressing appreciation for the benefits received and determination to give of themselves generously in their missionary assignments.
The Society’s vice-president, F. W. Franz, also spoke briefly at the graduation exercises. He graphically portrayed the world situation and the insistent cries from youth, even in Communist Russia, for something to believe in. He reminded the students that, by reason of their training at Gilead and their whole course of dedication, they had something to believe in, namely, a God who can be explained, his Son Christ Jesus, who is no frustrated reformer or dead Christ, but a living Christ, reigning since 1914. He stressed the need of so many to have their faith strengthened, and exhorted the graduating missionaries to go forth with confidence and respond to the widespread cry for something to believe in.
The program also included upbuilding music and singing by the student body, the showing of slides by President Knorr in which the missionary accomplishments of the Society thus far were depicted, and finally an excellent dramatic presentation by the students entitled “Let Us Conform Ourselves to God’s Eternal Principles.” At the gate of an Israelite city it showed three judges hearing a case involving the alleged accidental death of a fellow Israelite. God’s laws had been broken. There had been false testimony, bribery, blackmail, bloodguilt. The older men listened to witnesses, sifted the evidence, and brought in a judgment against the wrongdoers—death by stoning for two of them.
As those judges of Israel conscientiously administered God’s righteous requirements for his congregation, so congregation committees of our day have to do. The backdrop provided by artists and the realistic costumes worn by the student actors served to make this powerful drama live. The same deep-lying and eternal principles of God apply in our day. Only by conforming our lives to Jehovah’s will can we gain peace and happiness.
Not without its lighter vein, the program, all of which was presented free, included a Spanish-American market scene enacted by students, showing two newly assigned missionaries for the first time exposed to the necessity of bargaining for their shopping needs. There were also scenes from French Africa and Japan.
The program concluded with a very touching rendition of the song “Walking in Integrity” by a chorus of the students of this 42nd Class of Gilead School. After a prayer, and as the crowd dispersed, one could often hear the expression, “How upbuilding and strengthening!”