Happy Missionaries Urged to Appreciate Life
“ARE you students or alumni happy?” That is what F. W. Franz, vice-president of the Watch Tower Society, asked the graduating 43rd Class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead, gathered on March 12 in New York city. “I don’t mean happy because you are graduating, but happy in general. Well, you ought to be happy because we have entered the fifth decade of a remarkable time.”
What time? Franz showed that it was the blessed time mentioned at Daniel 12:12; being due to ‘true knowledge having become abundant because of many roving about’ in God’s Word. (Dan. 12:4) As a result, today Jehovah’s witnesses are experiencing a knowledge explosion. In conclusion Franz told the students: “Happy are you for having roved through the Bible and partaken of this abundant knowledge! Happy will you be as you lovingly and zealously share it with others!”
An example of the happiness that lay in store for them was brought out by another speaker, Max Larson. He told of one town 500 miles from Santiago, Chile, where a convention was to be held. There were a zealous group of missionaries and a congregation of thirty-six Witnesses in that town. How many came to the convention? All thirty-six? Even more; 100 came to that assembly of Jehovah’s witnesses 500 miles away!
To these happy missionaries with such happy prospects N. H. Knorr, president of the Watch Tower Society, spoke on appreciating life and the part maturity plays in holding on to that life. He began: “How do we think about life? How much time do we allow ourselves to meditate on the subject of life? How did we get to be? After we are here . . . what are we going to do with life? From where did you get this life? Your life, in fact, began with God, for when we go back far enough we come to Adam, and the Bible tells us that Adam was the son of God. (Luke 3:38) God is the Source of life. (Ps. 36:9) You have enjoyed life up until now, but you can enjoy it still more in the future. Life is so important, for without it we cannot have anything nor can we do anything for others. As it says at Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10, in death there is no consciousness, no work or wisdom. With life we can show others the way to life.”
Among other things, Knorr further observed: “If we appreciate life we will give God credit for the fact that we are alive. With life we can work, we can make others happy. To hold on to life we must keep on taking in knowledge of God and of his Son, for this means everlasting life. (John 17:3) Even Jesus Christ had to keep on taking in knowledge. And that is why maturing is so important. Maturity helps us to hold on to life, to enhance our life, to keep it forever. And let us keep humble, never thinking we know it all. We don’t. There is so much for us to learn. . . .
“We are happy for you. All of us are backing you up, but more than all else, God is with you. He is interested in you and backing you up. He gave you life in the first place. May you always press on, seeking maturity, because as you gain maturity you will have a stronger hold on life, everlasting life.” After these remarks he handed out the diplomas to those that had earned them, the great majority. The 103 students had come from twelve countries and were being sent to twenty-nine different lands. They were rather young folks, their average age being twenty-six years, and had been dedicated Christian ministers for an average of eleven years.
The highlights of the afternoon’s program, which was provided by the students themselves, also served to heighten appreciation of life. Very touching as well as inspiring was the graphic portrayal of a Witness who had spent two years in prison, living on crusts of bread, and who held on to her hope of life in God’s new order by calling to mind choice passages from the book of Philippians. An hour-long Bible drama in costume that dealt with God’s ancient merciful provision for the unintentional manslayer in the cities of refuge, and which provision was shown to have its counterpart in our day, pointed to the same moral. Most forcefully it made its point that life depends upon obedience to God and that life is worth more than any material possessions one might have.
Yes, without doubt the graduation program underscored not only the happiness of the missionaries but also appreciation of life. It was greatly enjoyed by the some 2,000 guests, friends and relatives, some of whom had come from as far west as Hawaii and as far east as London, England.