How Great a Witness?
“This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.”—Matt. 24:14.
1. What facts show that Jesus Christ had indeed been a great proclaimer of the kingdom of God?
THE great proclaimer of the kingdom of God, Jesus Christ, had been preaching this message for nearly three and one-half years and now it was only three days before he would be dying on the torture stake on Calvary. Four of his disciples, Peter, Andrew, James and John, all of whom were fishermen by trade but who had been made fishers of men, were with him on the Mount of Olives. But they did not appreciate that Jesus would be killed. Jesus had done well in his preaching and teaching work in this short period of time, for there were many who were faithfully following him. This is proved by the fact that at Pentecost, fifty days after Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, one hundred and twenty disciples were awaiting instructions in Jerusalem when the holy spirit descended upon them. Then on that very same day when the apostle Peter spoke to a great crowd of Jews, there were 3,000 more that put faith in Christ Jesus and were begotten by holy spirit. These were baptized in water. Jesus’ ministry proved to be a great witness for the kingdom of God.
2. What questions were in the minds of the four disciples with Jesus on the Mount of Olives?
2 Would these four particular disciples, who were keenly interested in when Jesus’ kingdom would be in operation, give a good witness in their lifetime? Jesus had just been telling them that not one stone would be left upon another as far as the temple in Jerusalem was concerned, for destruction was due to come to that system of things. “When will these things be,” asked the disciples, “and what will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?”—Matt. 24:3.
3. In what three places in Scriptures do we find Jesus’ reply to the disciples’ questions, and when did such things mentioned by Jesus begin having fulfillment?
3 What Jesus told those four disciples is recorded in the 24th and 25th chapters 24, 25 of Matthew, Mark the 13th chapter and Luke the 21st chapter. Read these chapters, please. It will certainly cause you to think! We feel that you will be able to comprehend that what Jesus was telling his disciples 1,935 years ago has had fulfillment in at least part of your lifetime. The complete fulfillment was not in the year 70 C.E. In fact, if you will think back to the year 1914, or read the history of that year when World War I started, you will see that what Jesus said in prophecy is what has come to pass in our day. His words are: “For nation will make war upon nation, kingdom upon kingdom; there will be famines and earthquakes in many places. With all these things the birth-pangs of the new age begin.” (Matt. 24:7, 8, New English Bible) Surely you can see that things have changed since 1914. Historians can!
4. Besides terrible things that were to occur in our day what else would happen?
4 After describing other terrible things that would occur in the days in which we now live, Jesus emphasized a very important feature by saying: “And this gospel of the Kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the earth as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come.” (Matt. 24:14, NEB) It is interesting to note that Jesus told his disciples that after the “birth-pangs of the new age” begin it would also be the time for the gospel of the Kingdom to be proclaimed throughout all the earth as a testimony to all the nations. But how great a witness would it prove to be before the new age begins?
5. For how long has the good message of the kingdom of the heavens been going to people of all the nations?
5 As far as Jesus’ own proclamation of the good news of the Kingdom was concerned, it was confined to Palestine. But three and one-half years after Jesus’ death Peter, one of the four disciples present at the Mount of Olives, was directed to go to Cornelius in Caesarea. Ever since that time people of all nations, Gentiles and Jews, have been invited to accept the kingdom of the heavens as the only hope for everlasting life.
6, 7. In what ways has Christendom lost the message of God’s kingdom?
6 Many persons since Cornelius’ conversion have believed in Christ Jesus, and have accepted him as their Redeemer and have walked in his footsteps. When we read the Acts of the Apostles we see what those early Christians did as compared with what so-called Christians are doing today, and what a contrast there is! Christendom today has lost the message of God’s kingdom. The majority of people do not believe what the Holy Scriptures say. Even though little children are taught to pray: “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified. Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth,” they really do not get the full meaning of these words; and when grown up and becoming adults, they believe evolution or agree that God is dead. Why do they attend church services? They do not want to talk to anyone about the Bible or listen to a person that does. And most certainly they do not believe the good news of God’s kingdom.
7 So this matter of belief in God’s kingdom, or His government to be established to rule the earth in the same way that heaven is ruled by God, seems farfetched to most people. Still, over nineteen hundred years ago, Jesus said to four of his disciples on the Mount of Olives: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached . . . and then the end will come.”
8. What thought-provoking questions are now asked?
8 When have you heard someone, your minister, your priest or your neighbor, talk to you about God’s kingdom? When was the last time that you discussed the Bible with someone really interested in this good news of God’s kingdom? If you profess to be a Christian, do you talk about the Kingdom, so as to share in preaching about it, thus giving a witness concerning that Kingdom to all nations? Or, perhaps you are asking yourself, ‘What is this Kingdom? What will it do?’ Let us take a moment to see.
9. Why cannot God’s kingdom be any government of this present system of things?
9 The kingdom of God is certainly not any of the governments of this present system of things. In fact, Jesus in speaking to Pontius Pilate said: “My kingdom is no part of this world. If my kingdom were part of this world, my attendants would have fought that I should not be delivered up to the Jews. But, as it is, my kingdom is not from this source.” (John 18:36) So the Kingdom cannot be an earthly government. Years before Jesus ever came to earth the prophet Daniel wrote about this kingdom of God and said: “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite.” (Dan. 2:44) That is good news! “The God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin.” The kingdom that Jesus was speaking about was this kingdom that the God of heaven would set up. “The kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people,” but the inhabitants of the earth would come under its rule and be blessed by it. The apostle Peter appreciated and understood this, because he wrote: “There are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.”—2 Pet. 3:13.
10. What blessings will God’s kingdom bring to mankind?
10 Do you not see that this generation in which we are living is experiencing what Jesus said about wars, famine, earthquakes and other troubles, and that “with all these things the birth-pangs of the new age begin”? Revelation 21:1-4 records what this new order of things will do: “I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the former heaven and the former earth had passed away . . . I heard a loud voice from the throne say: ‘Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be any more. The former things have passed away.’” A kingdom that will do that for mankind is worth proclaiming to all the inhabited earth! But this kingdom will do more than that. When the King Jesus Christ speaks to those in their graves, the scripture tells us, “all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out.” (John 5:28, 29) God’s kingdom will bring everlasting life to all those who love him. Remember, “God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) The question is, Do you believe? Remember what the wise man wrote, in Proverbs 12:28: “In the path of righteousness there is life, and the journey in its pathway means no death.”
EXAMINING THE FACTS
11, 12. Though the Watch Tower magazine as far back as 1888 commented on the need of preaching the gospel of the kingdom, what observation was made in the January 1, 1892, issue of that magazine about the preaching of the “gospel of the kingdom”?
11 We would like to review with you a bit of history to see how great a witness to all the nations about God’s kingdom has been given, and who is giving such witness. As far back as December of 1888 the Watch Tower magazine stated: “Notwithstanding the fact that sectarianism has blinded the hearts of the vast majority of those who own Christ’s name, so that they cannot appreciate the real good tidings of the coming Kingdom of God and the blessed work it is to accomplish, yet God has so arranged that the gospel itself is being preached (declared), as a ‘witness,’ for use in the coming age.” Even then, in 1888, the Watch Tower Society saw the need for declaring the good news of God’s kingdom. Its first president, Charles T. Russell, after visiting many foreign missions of the Protestant religions, said, however, that his “observations have led to a careful reconsideration of the entire subject of gospel missionary work.” In discussing Matthew 24:14 he said:
12 “The word gospel, here, is emphatic in the Greek, and so is the word kingdom. It is not any and every good message, but a special one—This good message of the Kingdom—which must first be preached before the end of this age. We ask whether this has yet been done, and reply, No. That which is generally preached under the name gospel has little in it that is really good tidings, and nothing whatever in it about the kingdom that our Lord promised should be ‘set up’ in the end of the Gospel age, to bless all the families of the earth during the Millennial age. Catholics and Protestants, although they use our Lord’s prayer, saying, ‘Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven,’ do not expect such a kingdom, and hence are not preaching it in all or in any of the nations of the world. . . . Thus this work is still open to be done and can be done by no others than those who know something of these good tidings of the kingdom.”—Watch Tower, January 1, 1892, page 8.
13. What comment was made in The Watch Tower of November 1891 about preaching the good news of the Kingdom, and what work was encouraged?
13 Russell saw the real need of getting this good news of the Kingdom preached because it was not being done. But how great a witness in all nations must be given concerning this kingdom? To get the good news of the Kingdom preached Pastor Russell encouraged colporteur work. In November 1891 the Watch Tower magazine emphasized the colporteur work in an article that encouraged Christians to enter full-time service, preaching the good news of the Kingdom. It said: “This preaching of the Kingdom from house to house, which seems to be the work now most favored of the Lord and most productive of good results, much resembles that done by those sent out during the harvest at the first advent; only that here it is not the natural eyes that are opened, but the eyes of men’s understanding. . . . For information as to Colporteur supplies, suitable territory, etc., address Tower Tract Society, ‘Bible House,’ Allegheny, Pa.”—Watch Tower, November 1891, inside last page.
14. What work in our day has aided greatly in getting the Kingdom good news declared?
14 Today this colporteur work, called pioneer service, is still in operation and the Society has about 50,000 Christian witnesses of Jehovah in all parts of the earth devoting their full time to preaching the Kingdom good news. Missionaries are sent to all parts of the world to declare the good news of the Kingdom. The witness work in these “last days” has greatly expanded over that done in the days when Pastor Russell and those associated with him began such activity, but he felt the urgency for this good news of the Kingdom to be preached first to all the nations, after which the end would come.—Mark 13:10; Matt 24:14.
15. Along with public speaking about God’s kingdom, what other method of preaching did Pastor Russell and the Society undertake?
15 A campaign for stepping up public speaking world wide was organized in those early days of the Society, and all the publicity that accompanied it directed the attention of the people to this good news of the Kingdom and that it must be preached. In the year 1912 motion pictures were becoming popular and it was recognized that they were a good medium through which to reach the masses of the people. Pastor Russell began preparation of the Photo-Drama of Creation, using slides and films, and it was shown around the world in many languages. Even in those early days Pastor Russell did something that was unique. He not only showed the motion pictures, but simultaneously ran speech phonograph records to tell the story as the slides and some motion pictures were being shown. He had sound with film. Millions saw the Photo-Drama of Creation, and it directed the attention of the people to the good news of the kingdom of God as the only hope for mankind.
A CHANGE IN OVERSEERS
16, 17. (a) Did a change in overseers mean any change in attitude about the need of preaching the Kingdom good news? (b) What resulted to officers of the Society for being so energetic in preaching the Kingdom good news, and what was the the final outcome of the matter?
16 On October 31, 1916, Pastor Russell died, and on January 6, 1917, J. F. Rutherford was elected to the presidency of the Watch Tower Society. The preaching of this good news of the Kingdom was uppermost in J. F. Rutherford’s mind and in the minds of all those who had to do with the Society’s work. By 1917 Jehovah’s witnesses had clearly seen that Matthew 24:7, 8 was having fulfillment. Nation had risen against nation. The war was world wide, involving all the kingdoms of this earth. Surely these things were the birth pangs of the “new age.” Due to the energetic efforts of the Society in declaring the good news of God’s kingdom, false religionists in America conspired, and charges were brought against the officers of the Society to the effect that they were against the government. On June 21, 1918, J. F. Rutherford and seven other members of the Watch Tower Society were sentenced to eighty years’ imprisonment on the charge of sedition. An executive committee was appointed and the Watch Tower magazine continued to be published during these troublesome years, and not one issue of the Watch Tower magazine failed to appear.
17 The conviction against J. F. Rutherford and others was appealed and finally heard on April 14, 1919. On May 14, 1919, the erroneous convictions of the preceding summer were reversed. In remanding the case for retrial, Judge Ward stated in the opinion: “The defendants in this case did not have the temperate and impartial trial to which they were entitled, and for that reason the judgment is reversed.” (Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Divine Purpose, page 86, column 2) The case was never retried.
18. Though the organized work of preaching came to a standstill for a time in 1918, what yet remained to be done according to Jesus’ prophecy?
18 By the summer of 1918, though, the once firm and strong voice of the witnesses for Jehovah and his kingdom was pretty well silenced. Their organized work around the world was figuratively killed and deathlike inactivity came over this once energetic band of Christians. (See Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Divine Purpose, pages 61, 80, 83.) According to the best records available, there were in 1918 only 3,868 persons reporting to the Society as going from house to house and preaching with bound books the good news of the Kingdom in some fourteen countries of the world. It was not long, however, before things changed. Jesus’ prophecy was due to come true, that “also, in all the nations the good news has to be preached first,” before the end of this system of things will come.—Mark 13:10.
19. (a) At the Cedar Point, Ohio, convention in 1919, what was shown to be the real hope for mankind? (b) How did The Watch Tower of July 1920 emphasize the Kingdom message, and what conclusion did it reach?
19 To get things going again a grand convention of Jehovah’s witnesses was held September 1-8, 1919, at Cedar Point, Ohio, and, as The Watch Tower reported, the cry of God’s servants was: “What more is there that we can do?” At this convention there was an announcement made that a new magazine under the title “The Golden Age” was to be published. It was pointed out that the magazine would carry current events together with the Scriptural explanation of the same. Jehovah’s people were told that never before was there such distress and perplexity in the earth. The panacea for these human ills was to be found only in the message of the Kingdom and it was shown how the Lord’s ambassadors were granted the privilege and opportunity of delivering this message of consolation. To all those attending the assembly it was pointed out: “You are an ambassador of the King of kings and Lord of lords, announcing to the people in this dignified manner the incoming of the Golden Age, the glorious kingdom of our Lord and Master, for which true Christians have hoped and prayed for many centuries.” (Watch Tower, September 15, 1919, page 281) Then the July 1, 1920, issue of The Watch Tower, page 200, in its first article, entitled “Gospel of the Kingdom,” emphasized this point: “The gospel means good news. The good news here is concerning the end of the old order of things and the establishment of Messiah’s kingdom. . . . It means that Satan’s empire is falling, never to rise again. . . . A modern translation of this text illuminates it: ‘And this good news of the kingdom shall be proclaimed throughout the whole world to set the evidence before the Gentiles, and then the end shall come’. Plainly this would seem to indicate that now the church must engage in the proclamation of this good news as a witness to the nations of earth.”
20. How was the work of Kingdom preaching enhanced in 1921?
20 The zeal of these witnesses of Jehovah did not slacken, but, rather, they saw a great work ahead and they put their hands and hearts to it. In the year 1921 a very fine publication was released, The Harp of God, which reached, in a few short years, a circulation of 5,819,037 copies in twenty-two languages.
21, 22. In Cedar Point, Ohio, again, in 1922, what resolution was adopted by Jehovah’s witnesses showing their determination to be proclaimers of God’s kingdom?
21 From September 5-13, 1922, a second convention was held in Cedar Point, Ohio, with an average attendance each day of 10,000. The Watch Tower of November 1, 1922, page 325, reported that a resolution was adopted on Sunday, September 10, part of which read:
22 “But we hold and declare that Messiah’s kingdom is the complete panacea for all the ills of humankind and will bring peace on earth and good will to men, the desire of all nations; that those who yield themselves willingly to his righteous reign now begun will be blessed with lasting peace, life, liberty and endless happiness. Therefore we bring to the peoples of earth God’s message of good tidings contained in the Bible, his Word of truth. . . . the old world, under the control of Satan, has ended and is being rapidly broken in pieces, to make Way for the everlasting kingdom of righteousness now being set up, and that millions of people now living on earth, if obedient to the laws of that righteous kingdom, will continue to live and never die.”
23. Following a talk on “The Kingdom” delivered by Brother Rutherford, the Society’s president, what was stressed to the audience, and how?
23 A few days prior to the passing of that resolution telling the nations to “make way for the everlasting kingdom,” J. F. Rutherford delivered a discourse on the subject “The Kingdom.” But even before this discourse, throughout the convention grounds in Cedar Point, Ohio, there were on display three large letters, “ADV.” Many conventioners were venturing guesses as to what the “ADV” meant. They found out when the lecture “The Kingdom” was delivered. As Judge Rutherford came to the climax of his talk and he was finishing, with the words, “Advertise, advertise, advertise, the King and his kingdom,” a large banner unfolded over the platform with the words “Advertise the King and Kingdom.” of course, everyone immediately connected “ADV” with “Advertise,” but it was the thing that they were to advertise that was all-important. The Kingdom! This truly was the keynote of the convention, and every dedicated person there felt the force of the message. The most important thing in life for each one to do was to declare this good news of the Kingdom. Every dedicated Christian was to be a publicity agent for the King and the Kingdom. What enthusiasm ran through the crowd! One could feel the spirit of God directing his people to push ahead with this Kingdom message.
24. How did Jehovah’s witnesses feel after this convention, and how could they well recognize the day in which they were living?
24 The spirit of this convention had a telling effect. Jehovah’s witnesses everywhere felt the urgency of declaring the good news of God’s kingdom first before the end of the system of things. Certainly the birth pangs of this “new age” had begun with World War I and its aftermath of famine, pestilence and earthquakes, along with persecution of true Christians and the loss of faith on the part of Christendom. The greater number of so-called Christians were no longer looking at God’s Word as truth. It was becoming more evident that man’s love for his fellowman was growing cold. Look how much man’s love for one another has cooled off since 1914 and down to 1968. This, however, could not be allowed to affect the work of Jehovah’s witnesses, for they know that those who have endured to the end are the ones that will be saved.—Matt. 24:13.
25. In 1924 another method of preaching the Kingdom was employed. What was it, and how extensive did it become?
25 To advertise the King and Kingdom was the work Jehovah’s witnesses had to do. Every method should be used to do so. One method was the radio. So the Society built a radio station. On February 24, 1924, the Watch Tower Society began broadcasting over its own radio station, WBBR, located on Staten Island, New York city. In this area ten million people could be reached with the Kingdom message. During the years that followed, other radio stations were built throughout the United States, some were purchased and great networks of radio stations were arranged for and used to broadcast ‘the good news of God’s kingdom.’
26. In 1918 there were about 3,868 persons who reported to the Society on their preaching work. What was the total ten years later in 1928?
26 By the year 1928 as a result of the use of numerous methods to advertise the kingdom of God many people had listened and were fleeing from Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion. Throughout the world there were now, on an average, 23,988 Christian witnesses of Jehovah engaging in the preaching work from house to house every month in 32 countries.
THE PREACHING NOT DONE WITHOUT OPPOSITION
27. Cite examples to show that the preaching work was not done without opposition?
27 During all the years following the closing down of the work in 1918 and now its revival in 1919, there was strong opposition to the ministry of Jehovah’s witnesses. Persecution continued after World War I. As late as 1929 there were 1,660 legal proceedings taken against the witnesses of Jehovah in Germany. In Hungary, Jehovah’s witnesses were not even permitted to assemble for public meetings or to have private meetings. In Italy there was no preaching activity reported at all because it was almost impossible to do the work in that Roman Catholic country under dictatorship. In Spain the clergy pressed very hard against the few Witnesses who had penetrated into the mountainous regions of that country to declare the good news. One bishop in Spain, according to the 1929 Yearbook, “lamented the fact that The Watch Tower not only is being distributed but will surely continue to be so, unless the authorities take the matter in hand.” Despite these troubles and many more in other countries, Jehovah’s Christian witnesses stuck to their Kingdom preaching activity.
28. What publication was released in 1931, and did Jehovah’s witnesses give it wide circulation?
28 Again in 1931 at a convention in Columbus, Ohio, July 24-30, Jehovah’s witnesses went on record as ‘unhesitatingly declaring their entire allegiance and devotion to Jehovah God and his kingdom.’ In that same year, on July 28, a booklet was published entitled “The Kingdom, the Hope of the World” and, during the month of October, a personal visit was made on every clergyman, politician and big business man that could be reached in the territories where Jehovah’s witnesses resided and a copy of this booklet was delivered to each one free. Within a few years after the release of this booklet in 1931 its circulation had reached 10,203,752 copies in thirty-eight languages.
29. In addition to radio, what other method of preaching was undertaken in 1934?
29 In the years that followed, a tremendous program of broadcasting the message of God’s kingdom by radio was undertaken. In the one year of 1934 there was a total of 23,783 lectures broadcast on radio stations, and during that year the Society introduced the portable phonograph, which was used by Jehovah’s witnesses when going from house to house. The Kingdom message was reproduced on four-and-a-half-minute records and Jehovah’s witnesses played these for the people in their homes. Large electrical transcription machines with power amplifiers were also used to reproduce these speech recordings so that thousands of people could hear in towns and villages. With all this intensive work to advertise the King and Kingdom, opposition grew in many countries.
30. How did governments of the world react to the preaching activity of Jehovah’s witnesses as outlined in the 1934 Yearbook?
30 The 1934 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses reported how the police of Germany occupied the Society’s property in Magdeburg. In June of 1933 the Society’s large printing plant in Germany was closed by order of the government. The government had forbidden any meetings by Jehovah’s witnesses throughout Germany. They confiscated all the literature that they could lay their hands on and tried to stop the distribution of the Kingdom message in any form. Would this drastic move again trigger people to deliver the Christian witnesses of Jehovah up to tribulation and would they kill them and make them objects of hatred by all the nations? (Matt. 24:9) Read for yourself how world opposition rose against Jehovah’s witnesses again.
31, 32. (a) What view of the preaching work was taken by many in official positions? (b) Due to the persecution of Jehovah’s witnesses by the Hitler government, what protest was registered with his government, and with what effect? (c) Did Hitler strive to carry out his vile threats against Jehovah’s witnesses?
31 Publishers preaching the good news of the Kingdom were brought into the courts world wide and were charged with selling without a license, disturbing the peace, peddling without a permit, violating the Sunday sabbath law, and so forth. They were classed as solicitors rather than ministers of the gospel. But Jehovah’s witnesses did not slacken in their zeal and determination to advertise the King and the Kingdom. In fact, the persecution against Jehovah’s witnesses in Germany became so intense as the build-up for World War II gathered momentum that the Christian witnesses of Jehovah in fifty countries sent cables of protest addressed to Hitler and his government concerning the persecution of their fellow workers in Germany. It caused a terrifying impact on the Hitler government. We would like to quote from the book Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Divine Purpose, page 142, regarding a sworn account of what actually did take place in Hitler’s presence October 7, 1934, as a result of this flood of protests. Karl R. A. Wittig said:
32 “On October 7, 1934, having been previously summoned, I visited Dr. Wilhelm Frick, at that time Minister of the Interior of the Reich and Prussia, in his home office of the Reich, located in Berlin, 6 am Köenigsplatz, since I was a plenipotentiary of General Ludendorff. I was to accept communications, contents of which were an attempt to persuade General Ludendorff to discontinuance of his objection to the Nazi regime. During my discussion with Dr. Frick, Hitler suddenly appeared and began taking part in the conversation. When our discussion obligatorily dealt with the action against the International Bible Students Association [Jehovah’s witnesses] in Germany up until now, Dr. Frick showed Hitler a number of telegrams protesting against the Third Reich’s persecution of the Bible Students, saying: ‘If the Bible Students do not immediately get in line we will act against them using the strongest means.’ After which Hitler jumped to his feet and with clenched fists hysterically screamed: ‘This brood will be exterminated in Germany!’ Four years after this discussion I was able, by my own observations, to convince myself, during my seven years in protective custody in the hell of the Nazi’s concentration-camps at Sachsenhausen, Flossenburg and Mauthausen—I was in prison until released by the Allies—that Hitler’s outburst of anger was not just an idle threat. No other group of prisoners of the named concentration-camps was exposed to the sadism of the SS-soldiery in such a fashion as the Bible Students were. It was a sadism marked by an unending chain of physical and mental tortures, the likes of which no language in the world can express.”—Quoted from sworn statement made by Karl R. A. Wittig, November 13, 1947.
33. What caused Hitler to have such rage against Jehovah’s witnesses?
33 Why was Hitler so enraged against Jehovah’s witnesses? It was because they were uncompromisingly preaching the good news of God’s kingdom and would not heil Hitler nor look to Germany as the savior of mankind. Jehovah’s witnesses knew from God’s Word that Hitler, the Catholic, would not reestablish the Holy Roman Empire to reign for a thousand years, which was his aim. Jehovah’s witnesses were confident that soon the conclusion of this system of things would come and Jehovah’s kingdom through his Son, Christ Jesus, would reign for a thousand years. This they kept preaching to peoples of all nations for a witness.
34. Where else did Jehovah’s witnesses run into difficulties for preaching the Kingdom good news?
34 Even in the United States during the year 1934, 340 of Jehovah’s faithful Kingdom proclaimers had been arrested because they dared to preach from house to house. Many were imprisoned for the violation of some law that took away the freedom of speech, press and religion. By 1939 the number of Jehovah’s witnesses detained in prisons of the German Gestapo and concentration camps of Germany had grown to 6,000. With war hysteria world wide, in 1940 Canada banned Jehovah’s witnesses and tried to stop the preaching of the Kingdom. The 1941 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses, page 160, says: “Immediately following the arrival of the new Governor General into this country [Canada] from England, the Minister of Justice caused to be passed an order in council by the Governor General, which declared illegal the ‘Jehovah’s Witness Organization.’” That was on July 4, 1940.
35-37. (a) What oppressive actions were taken against Jehovah’s witnesses in 1940 and thereafter in the United States? (b) For what reason were they so persecuted?
35 On June 3, 1940, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that school boards may require children in public schools to salute the flag or be excluded from school. This brought about another wave of persecution in the United States upon the Witnesses. The Roman Catholic Hierarchy and the American Legion, through mobs, took the law into their own hands and violently worked indescribable havoc.
36 The Yearbook for 1941 on page 97 describes the persecution these groups caused in the United States:
37 “Jehovah’s witnesses have been assaulted, beaten, kidnaped, driven out of towns, counties and states, tarred and feathered, forced to drink castor oil, tied together and chased like dumb beasts through the streets, castrated and maimed, taunted and insulted by demonized crowds, jailed by the hundreds without charge and held incommunicado and denied the privilege of conferring with relatives, friends or lawyers. Many other hundreds have been jailed and held in so-called ‘protective custody’; some have been shot in the nighttime; some threatened with hanging and beaten into unconsciousness. Numerous varieties of mob violence have occurred. Many have had their clothes torn from them, their Bibles and other literature seized and publicly burned; their automobiles, trailers, homes and assembly places wrecked and fired, resulting in damages totaling very many thousands of dollars.” And what was the reason for this ungodly treatment of Jehovah’s witnesses by so-called Christians in the United States of America? It was because Jehovah’s witnesses were preaching the good news of God’s kingdom the same as their fellow Witnesses were doing in all other parts of the World for a witness to all nations. It was another evidence that what Jesus said was true: “Then people will deliver you up to tribulation and will kill you, and you will be objects of hatred by all the nations on account of my name.”—Matt. 24:9.
38, 39. Outline the attitude toward Jehovah’s witnesses in Switzerland, Estonia, Finland and elsewhere during the years of 1939 to 1944.
38 Even in the neutral country of Switzerland, surrounded on every hand by the totalitarian rulers, the officials were forced by reason of fear to swoop down on the Bethel home in Berne and seize all the literature, driving away most of the members of the Bethel family.—See 1941 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses, page 168.
39 The small country of Estonia was taken over by the Russian government, and furthering Kingdom preaching in that country was difficult. Pressure was brought against the Watch Tower Society in Finland and every effort was made to stop the work there. A review could be made of the years 1939 to 1944 including countries of Europe, North America and Africa and many islands of the sea, South America and Asia, and it would be seen that heavy pressure was brought against Jehovah’s witnesses. They were made “objects of hatred by all the nations” on account of the name of Christ Jesus during the second world war. However, these faithful Christian witnesses of Jehovah continued to preach the good news of God’s kingdom everywhere they could in the inhabited earth, “for a witness to all the nations.”—Matt. 24:14.
40. What comment about Jehovah’s witnesses did the Michigan Christian Advocate make in 1940? What question is now asked of all?
40 To show you how some rightly viewed this preaching work of Jehovah’s witnesses away back in 1940, the Michigan Christian Advocate of August 8, 1940, said: “Here is a group that, in this year of our Lord 1940, is not ashamed to witness for Christ in an unmistakable manner. It believes in Jesus and makes it known. In a day when religion has taken on a kind of compromising sophistication, when some church members think membership an end instead of a beginning of witnessing for Christ, when all too many of us hesitate to speak a testimony for fear of embarrassment, these witnesses come on the contemporary scene as a challenge to our pagan complacency.” (Yearbook of 1941, page 43) These are not our words, but they are true. Jehovah’s witnesses were not and are not “ashamed to witness for Christ.” Are you?
41. How did a sister in Canada show that her obedience was first to God as ruler?
41 To show the spirit of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses, listen to the account about a woman in Canada, well along in years, who was brought before the law courts of that land: “One elderly sister, too ill to attend her trial when first called, was eventually tried and found guilty. The magistrate, hypocritically pretending to extend mercy, said: ‘I find you guilty. I am going to suspend sentence on the understanding that you attend no more meetings of Jehovah’s witnesses, and distribute no more subversive literature.’ Her reply was published in the newspapers across Canada: ‘I will not deny Jehovah, nor will I agree not to do His will. So you may as well impose the sentence.’ She received a month in prison.” Would you be like her and the early Christians who said: “We must obey God as ruler rather than men”?—Acts 5:29.
42. Though the work of preaching could not be done openly in many countries, of what can we be sure?
42 Through all this period Jehovah’s witnesses raised their voices in spite of violent persecution. Even though the work openly in Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Yugoslavia and the vast British Empire was practically stopped, you can be sure that the individuals, true Christians, were still proclaiming God’s kingdom. As the years pass you will see how great a witness was given and continues to be given.
THE EXPANSION OF THE KINGDOM WITNESS CONTINUES
43-45. (a) What erroneous view did some have of the work of Jehovah’s witnesses, and what did they fail to appreciate? (b) What view of the preaching work did Jehovah’s witnesses continue to have? (c) How did the public talk “Peace—Can it Last?” show that the preaching of the Kingdom good news would continue in spite of opposition, and for how long?
43 Many people thought that when J. F. Rutherford, president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, died on January 8, 1942, at the height of World War II and worldwide persecution of Jehovah’s witnesses, the work of the Society would die out. However, those who thought that did not appreciate that the kingdom of the heavens was already established. Christ Jesus was enthroned as King in the heavens and had cast Satan the Devil out of heaven. What was happening in the earth among all the nations was due to the Devil, as Revelation 12:10-12 prophesied: “I heard a loud voice in heaven say: ‘Now have come to pass the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ, because the accuser of our brothers has been hurled down, who accuses them day and night before our God! . . . Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.”’ Jehovah’s witnesses know that the work of God goes on regardless of men and that when Jesus said the good news of the Kingdom would be preached first and then the end would come, that is what would take place. There was still work to be done. Jehovah’s witnesses got to doing it with no hesitation.
44 The February 15, 1942, issue of The Watchtower, page 61, showed how the Lord’s organization felt. It said: “The Lord’s work never stands still; it is always progressing. It is always on scheduled time. The Lord often changes the personnel of his visible earthly organization, but the work of witnessing to his Theocracy by Christ Jesus goes grandly on.” Even during that war year of 1942 a large convention was arranged at Cleveland, Ohio, and in the public talk “Peace—Can It Last?” the new president of the Society, N. H. Knorr, said:
45 “They [the nations and false religionists] will continue to take action against Jehovah’s witnesses and their companions who announced Jehovah’s kingdom under Christ and who refuse to get on the ‘peace beast’ and to ride along with religion. Incensed at the persistent proclamation of God’s kingdom, and because it shows up the false, hypocritical position of the religious ‘New World order’, the beast with all its heads and horns, and with the ‘woman’ Babylon spurring it on, will make a desperate try at goring and trampling to death the Kingdom proclamation. By force it will succeed in stopping the preaching thereof. But Christ Jesus warned that when this witness work is finished, and when Almighty God permits it to be stopped by the ‘woman’ and the beast, ‘then shall the end come’ for them.”—Matt. 24:14.
46. What activity to help God’s people was firmly established in 1942?
46 It was announced at the assembly that special overseers would visit each congregation to assist Jehovah’s witnesses in their house-to-house work. This was the start of the present activity of circuit and district servants now carried on world wide to help the witnesses of Jehovah in advancing the interests of the Kingdom in the most effective way possible.
47. Then what further aids were given in 1943 so that a worldwide proclamation could be given?
47 The Theocratic Ministry School was started in the Bethel home and then introduced throughout the world into all congregations in 1943. The Watchtower Bible School of Gilead was opened February 1, 1943. The School was designed to prepare men and women for missionary service to be sent to all parts of the world as preachers and teachers of the Word of God. They would help people to obtain an accurate knowledge of God’s Word. In his opening address to the first class of students the president of the Society said: “There are many places where the witness concerning the Kingdom has not been given to a great extent. . . . Your principal work is that of preaching the gospel of the Kingdom from house to house as did Jesus and the apostles.”—Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Divine Purpose, pages 203, 204.
48. What success did Gilead School have between 1943 and 1963?
48 Since that memorable year of 1943 thousands of ordained ministers have graduated from this school and have gone to all parts of the world, and with wonderful success they have preached the “good news of the kingdom . . . for a witness to all the nations.” When hearing ears were found in these countries, then arrangements were made to call again and start Bible studies, and finally to organize congregations. Were these missionaries successful? In 1943 there were 6,310 congregations throughout the world in 54 lands. Twenty years later, in 1963, with thousands of active congregation publishers along with the missionaries, now in many countries, the congregations had grown to 22,761 in 194 lands. That gives one an idea of how great a witness was being given till 1963 in all nations.
49, 50. Following World War II, what did Jehovah’s witnesses do?
49 With no letup in the preaching work, the years of World War II passed quickly. The ban against Jehovah’s witnesses was lifted in Australia in June 1943; and in Canada in June 1944. By 1945 the missionary work opened up on a wide scale in Central and South America and the witness work reopened in Europe. In 1945 there was great rejoicing because thousands of Jehovah’s witnesses who had been in the German concentration camps were released. These started in the house-to-house witnessing work again in Germany, preaching the good news of God’s kingdom. What faith! What love for Jehovah!
50 Nations of the British Commonwealth of Nations that had placed bans on Jehovah’s witnesses were gradually lifting the bans, and the work of preaching began again. One thing was evident after these years of difficulty and it was aptly stated in the 1946 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses, page 13: “The nations have not broken up and, by the Lord’s grace, will not break up the internal order and peace of Jehovah’s earthly organization, despite the wicked persecution to smash the unity of purpose and action of God’s people, which is to preach ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand!’”
HOW GREAT WAS THE WITNESS?
51, 52. What does a review of the preaching work between 1918 and 1948 show?
51 Reviewing the work of Jehovah’s witnesses from 1918, when the clergy of Christendom thought they had killed these international Bible Students, on through the period of the second world war shows that a great testimony to the Kingdom was given by these stalwart witnesses. In that difficult period of 1918-1919, when Jehovah’s witnesses actually were in a captive state to Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion, great Babylon fell by God’s judgment on her. A release resulted to the captive Christians, and thousands upon thousands are still fleeing from her. They are still hearing the call: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues.” (Rev. 18:4) Why are they leaving Christendom and all false religions? Because Jehovah’s witnesses who are preaching in all the inhabited earth are making “disciples of people of all the nations.”
52 What have been the results? Starting with the year 1918 and considering activity after each ten-year period, namely, 1928, 1938 and 1948, you can see that Jehovah’s witnesses have been zealous publishers or proclaimers and that they believe “in all the nations the good news has to be preached first.” (Mark 13:10) Would you like to study God’s Word and share in the preaching work too?
KINGDOM PREACHING ACTIVITY AFTER TEN-YEAR INTERVALS
Hours of Books & Magazine
Year Publishers Preaching Bklts. Placed Placed Countries
1918 3,868 19,116 359,384 13,140 14
1928 23,988 2,866,164 20,412,192 1,381,107 32
1938 47,143 10,572,086 26,772,882 6,933,307 52
1948 230,532 49,832,205 17,031,901 11,380,767 96
53. What call throughout the world is still being sounded, and what questions are we now asked?
53 We would like to mention here that Jehovah’s witnesses came through the oppressive years of harsh persecution during the World War II period strong and determined to press on. In 1945, when the war ended, there were 127,478 publishers in 68 lands, and by 1948 there were 230,532 ministers preaching the good news of the Kingdom in 96 countries and islands of the sea. From the report above you can see what success Jehovah’s witnesses have had since they were freed from Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion. That was in 1919. Just look at how many people fled from Babylon, heeding the call to get out of her! And the call is still being sounded loud and clear today. Do you have the courage to break free and declare yourself on the side of God’s kingdom? Do you believe that the end of this system of things is near? Do you want to find out? There is a congregation of Jehovah’s witnesses somewhere near you. Have one of these Christians call on you or write the Watch Tower Society in your country making such a request, and we will arrange for someone to call and talk to you about God’s Word of truth and the blessings of His kingdom.
54. (a) Have Jehovah,s witnesses been busy since 1945? (b) What Bible educational work have they taken on with great enthusiasm?
54 But our story on the success of “how great a witness” has been given only takes us up to the year 1945. Jehovah’s witnesses certainly have been busy since then. Some people have said it is the fastest-growing religious organization in the world. That may not be so, but we know we can say that Jehovah’s witnesses are the only people truly dedicated, heart, mind, soul and strength, to the belief that “this good news of God’s kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matt. 24:14) They have proved their sincerity in this by continually moving forward even to the ends of the earth promoting Bible study, encouraging people to take up the preaching of the good news of the Kingdom. They have helped thousands of Christians to become good teachers and these, in turn, have made disciples of people of all nations. (Matt. 28:19) It is good, too, for those who study with these teachers to keep in mind what Paul said: “Remember those who are taking the lead among you, who have spoken the word of God to you, and as you contemplate how their conduct turns out imitate their faith.” (Heb. 13:7) This teaching work has taken on great proportions since 1948 when Jehovah’s witnesses were conducting only 130,281 home Bible studies weekly, on the average. But now they are conducting well over 800,000 Bible studies weekly in the homes of the people throughout the world. Bible studies take time, but what a joy it is for a Christian to show love for his neighbor in this way!
55. How has Jehovah’s organization expanded its printing facilities throughout the world?
55 Many important things have happened since 1948. New printing establishments have been built by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society in Brooklyn, Germany, Switzerland, England, Canada, Sweden, Finland, South Africa and elsewhere. During the last twenty years new branch offices have been built in most of the principal countries, and today there are 96 branch offices scattered around the world and Jehovah’s witnesses are preaching the good news of God’s kingdom in 197 lands and islands of the sea. Their printed Bible literature now appears in over 165 languages.
56, 57. (a) How have Bible-study aids helped Jehovah’s witnesses in their Kingdom proclamation? (b) Cite some statistics showing how a most remarkable Kingdom proclamation has been made.
56 Printing Bible-study aids that will help persons to understand God’s Word is now one of Jehovah’s witnesses’ principal ways to help people understand the Kingdom message. For example, the book “Let God Be True” reached a circulation of 19,246,710 copies in 54 languages in twenty years. The 416-page hard-covered bound book “Things in Which It Is Impossible for God to Lie,” first printed in 1965, has already passed 8,300,000 printed copies in 22 languages, with translations on hand in 21 more languages. By the end of 1968 the Society hopes to have all these translations printed. Very likely in its first four years of distribution this publication will pass the ten-million mark!
57 The facts are that the demand for Bible literature about God’s kingdom on the part of people throughout the earth has been so great in the last twenty years that it has been necessary for the Watch Tower Society to print more than 100 million (100,000,000) bound books and more than 325 million booklets. Furthermore, in the last twenty years the Watchtower magazine and Awake! magazine have reached a most remarkable distribution. Jehovah’s witnesses have placed with the people through subscriptions and house-to-house visits more than 1,300,000,000 Watchtower magazines and more than 1,100,000,000 Awake! magazines. The Watchtower magazine is published in 74 languages and Awake! in 26 languages. Handbills advertising the public lectures, and tracts on Bible subjects printed in many languages, have been distributed free up to the total of at least 5,000,000,000 copies. Jehovah’s witnesses have made it their business to talk to people about God’s kingdom and to leave with them something to read. In fact, in many parts of the world Jehovah’s witnesses have even taught persons to read and write so that these learners could read the Holy Bible and Bible literature.
58-60. What outstanding achievements did the Watch Tower Society bring about in 1950, 1953 and 1958?
58 One of the outstanding achievements of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society was the printing of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. By 1950 the New World Bible Translation Committee, who furnished the Society with the English text translated from the original tongues, finished the Greek Scripture portion of this excellent work. At the 1950 Theocracy’s Increase Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses, July 30 to August 6, 125,000 copies of the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures were released to an audience of 82,075 on Wednesday, August 2. On Sunday, August 6, the Yankee Stadium was packed to overflowing, with 123,707 persons in attendance to hear the public lecture “Can You Live Forever in Happiness on Earth?”
59 Another great assembly was the New World Society Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses at Yankee Stadium, July 19 to 26, 1953. By this time the first volume of the New World Translation of the Hebrew Scriptures was ready and it was released to a vast throng of 132,829 in attendance. On Sunday the president of the Society, N. H. Knorr, delivered the talk “After Armageddon—God’s New World,” to 165,829 persons. Of course, not all these persons could be in attendance at the Yankee Stadium itself. There were 49,027 at a trailer city in the State of New Jersey, forty miles from Yankee Stadium, who were anxious to hear, and these did hear by direct wire and loud-speaking equipment.
60 By this time Jehovah’s witnesses had the reputation for arranging large assemblies. But the greatest assembly was yet to come! The Watch Tower Society was able to obtain the use of the Polo Grounds and the Yankee Stadium in New York city, July 27 to August 3, 1958. Delegates arrived in New York from 123 lands and islands of the sea. By this time Volume IV of the New World Translation of the Hebrew Scriptures was released, along with other new publications of the Society, all of which directed the attention of the readers to the kingdom of God. It occurred that at this assembly 7,136 persons were baptized in water, symbolizing their dedication to do the will of God and to proclaim the good news of God’s kingdom. The organization was growing at a rapid pace.
61. (a) How many persons were preaching the Kingdom good news in 1958? (b) How many persons assembled then to hear the public talk, and what was its title? (c) How did the speaker show that it is God’s kingdom that is mankind’s only hope?
61 By this time the Kingdom proclaimers, Jehovah’s witnesses, had increased by nearly one-half million since 1948. Now, in 1958, there were 717,088 regular publishers preaching the good news. The people of all nations were cognizant of this fact too. The outstanding event of the Divine Will International Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses, simultaneously held at the Yankee Stadium and Polo Grounds in New York city, was the day of the public meeting, Sunday, August 3, 1958, when 253,922 persons assembled to pack out both stadiums—even the playing fields. Surrounding parking lot areas were equipped with loudspeakers, and crowds of people in tents also heard the talk “God’s Kingdom Rules—Is the World’s End Near?” The speaker began with these words: “Only the best government in the universe is good enough for this earth. That is the way that the earth’s Creator feels about it.” Throughout his discourse the speaker proved what the best government would be for mankind and finally concluded with these words: “Oh, therefore, let all men of good will turn now to God for earth’s government! All hail to God’s kingdom that now rules! May it bring the old world’s end in his own appointed time soon. May his kingdom usher in the everlasting new world to man’s eternal salvation and to God’s unfading glory by Jesus Christ.”
62. Has the message of Jehovah’s witnesses changed over the years?
62 So you see, Jehovah’s witnesses had not changed their message about God’s kingdom after so many years. This they would still declare world wide, showing full faith in Jehovah’s kingdom. They did not slow down either in the years to follow!
63. In 1963 how did the “Everlasting Good News” Assembly of Jehovah’s witnesses play a part in Kingdom preaching.
63 In 1963 there was the “Everlasting Good News” Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses, arranged for around the world. How was that done? Well, the first of a series of conventions began in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, June 30 to July 7. It moved on to New York, then to Stockholm, Munich, Milan, Athens, Beirut, Jerusalem, New Delhi, Rangoon, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Singapore, Manila, Bandung, Melbourne, Suva, Kyoto, Auckland, Seoul, Honolulu and finally Pasadena, California, September 1-8. In just a little over two months more than 450,000 of Jehovah’s witnesses attended this assembly, and the total attendance at the public meetings around the world was 580,509. There were delegates at this Around-the-World Assembly from 161 lands. Jehovah’s witnesses are determined to make the Kingdom message known just as far and wide as they possibly can until the end of this wicked system comes. Will you join them in this grand work while there is yet time?
64. How active have Jehovah’s witnesses been in speaking the Bible truths and spreading the Bible itself to people all over the earth?
64 By 1961 the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures was completed and published in one volume, and this Bible, being offered on a contribution of only one dollar a copy, has had a phenomenal distribution. Since 1950 Jehovah’s witnesses have been distributing the Greek Scriptures of the New World Translation and individual volumes of the Hebrew Scriptures as they were completed. But long before that Jehovah’s witnesses were urging people to read the King James Version, the American Standard Version, or any other translation of the Bible, because God’s words of truth are contained in any Bible. The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society has been a printer of Bibles and particularly a distributor of Bibles in all languages world wide. The facts show that in the past twenty years the Society has printed 14,993,000 Bibles, including the New World Translation, which can now be had in seven languages. These include Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, Dutch, German, as well as English, and the translation into these languages has been handled by scholars who are Jehovah’s witnesses.
65. Outline the progress of the heralding work of God’s people between 1948 and 1967?
65 During the last four years, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, Jehovah’s witnesses have been very busy and are planning to the future. The Watchtower Society has just finished a ten-story 200,000-square-foot building, a new addition to their already large printing establishment. They are still sending out missionaries to all parts of the earth to enlarge their preaching staff. Probably the best way to sum up the past twenty years of Jehovah’s witnesses’ preaching activity is to give you a comparative report, with the 1948 report, showing you the year’s activity for 1958 and 1967.
COMPARATIVE PROGRESS IN KINGDOM PREACHING
Hours of Books & Magazines
Year Publishers Preaching Bklts. Placed Placed Countries
1948 230,532 49,832,205 17,031,901 11,380,767 96
1958 717,088 110,390,944 16,038,445 86,498,251 175
1967 1,094,280 183,995,180 16,967,770 143,557,479 197
66. Since the end is not yet, what are Jehovah’s witnesses determined to do?
66 Maybe your question is answered now, namely, “How great a witness?” But the end is not yet. Jehovah’s witnesses are very happy that they can take the Holy Bible into the homes of the people and in many cases arrange to study it with them. They have other publications, too, that will aid persons to appreciate the good news of God’s established kingdom. The history of Jehovah’s witnesses, particularly since 1919 and right down through 1967, has been that of faithfully doing the work that Christ Jesus prophesied would be done, namely, preaching the good news of God’s established kingdom first, before the destruction of this wicked system of things comes at Armageddon. Satan knows he has but a short time to remain the god of this world and to rule it in his wicked way. However, Jehovah’s witnesses are not fearful of what the Devil may do to them. They have a work to do and are still doing it, as the report of Jehovah’s witnesses for the service year 1967 shows.
1967 WORLDWIDE REPORT OF KINGDOM PREACHING ACTIVITY
67. (a) A check on the hours spent in the preaching work in 1967 shows what when compared with 1966? (b) How did Jehovah’s servants show their interest in individuals who want to know more about God’s kingdom?
67 Jehovah’s witnesses have had their finest year in declaring the good news of God’s kingdom! This is easily ascertained when one checks the hours Jehovah’s witnesses spent, namely, 183,995,180, preaching from house to house and publicly, as compared with the previous year’s total of 170,664,897 hours. During these millions of hours a lot of things happened. Jehovah’s witnesses conducted 867,009 Bible studies in the homes of interested people. During each week of the year there were at least that many persons studying the Bible with Jehovah’s witnesses for an hour or more and very often whole families would sit in on such Bible studies. Can you imagine that there are people, Christian people today, who are willing to leave their own comfortable homes and go out in all kinds of weather, at any time it suits the interested person and without pay, just to study the Bible with that person? Happy persons have come from all nations, peoples and tongues willingly, and they rejoice that they have the opportunity of teaching the Bible truth to others who want to know what God’s Word says.
68. How can a person get in touch with Jehovah’s witnesses so as to learn more about the Bible?
68 Do you want to know what the Bible teaches? These Christian witnesses of Jehovah are quite willing to come to your home too if you let them know where you live. All you need to do is write to one of the offices of the Society and they will forward your name and address to the nearest congregation of Jehovah’s witnesses and someone will call on you to discuss the Bible with you and answer your Bible questions. Why not make the inquiry? It will not cost you anything. Or, you may know of the location of the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s witnesses in your vicinity. Visit it and listen to what Jehovah’s witnesses are talking about. There are 25,206 congregations of Jehovah’s witnesses located in all parts of the earth where Jehovah’s witnesses carry on their ministry. Make yourself known to the presiding minister and tell him you would like to have a Bible study. It will be arranged for immediately. There is no need for you to be timid about this matter. Jehovah’s witnesses want to help you. There is only one way that a person can gain everlasting life and that is by taking in knowledge of Jehovah God and his Son, Jesus Christ. (John 17:3) Please inquire.
69. How many persons were baptized during the past year, showing what?
69 Jesus admonished that Christians should be fishers of men. This Jehovah’s witnesses have been, because 74,981 individuals from all over the world have dedicated their lives to serve Jehovah and were baptized in water during the year 1967. This is the second-highest number of persons ever baptized in one year by Jehovah’s witnesses. Back in 1959, 86,345 symbolized by water baptism their dedication to Jehovah God, and during the past seven years the average was about 65,000 baptized each year. People are listening to the truth and making a decision! Have you? If you have not listened much to God’s Word, then why not give the truth a chance to be heard by your ears and consider it in your heart and mind?
70. Outline the highlights of the celebration of the Lord’s Evening Meal on Saturday, March 25, 1967.
70 Another highlight of the year was the Memorial celebration. On Saturday evening, March 25, 1967, around the world there were 2,195,612 persons in attendance at the Kingdom Halls of Jehovah’s witnesses, or other meeting places, to celebrate the death of the Lord Jesus. Of this large number, only 10,981 partook of the emblems indicating that they were members of the body of Christ, anointed of God, looking forward to being joint heirs with Christ Jesus in heavenly glory. All the others indicated that they desired to be of the great crowd of people, seeking everlasting life on this earth, who are now before Jehovah’s throne, having washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb. Many of these sincere people will in time make their decision to serve God and become faithful followers of Christ Jesus. They, too, will be baptized after dedicating their lives to do Jehovah’s will. They will want to share in preaching this good news of the Kingdom, as Jehovah’s witnesses have been doing. You are invited by Christ Jesus to do the same.
71, 72. What increases in proclaimers of the Kingdom good news were enjoyed in 1967, and how well did they do in spreading the Bible truth by printed page?
71 During the year 1967 there were, on the average, 1,094,280 Christian witnesses of Jehovah declaring the good news of the Kingdom every month. That was 35,605 more than last year. But sometime during 1967 there were as many as 1,160,604 different persons sharing in the preaching work. What did these people do? They talked the Kingdom message, conducted Bible studies, distributed 5,223,560 bound books and 11,744,210 booklets explaining Jehovah’s purposes. They also distributed 143,557,479 individual copies of the Watchtower and Awake! magazines. (See the chart on pages 24-27.)
72 In addition to this tremendous distribution of printed literature, Jehovah’s witnesses obtained 1,809,065 new subscriptions for The Watchtower and Awake! This made it necessary for the Watch Tower Society to print in all its printing branches throughout the world a total of 251,405,632 magazines. How fine it is to leave something with people to read when they are interested!
73. (a) In answer to the question, How Great a Witness? what can be said about 1967? (b) Will Jehovah’s witnesses slacken the hand now? Why?
73 All this activity makes Jehovah’s witnesses very joyful. They see that they are truly sharing in obeying the command of Christ Jesus. They fully believe that “this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matt. 24:14) In answer to the question, How great a witness? they can say: 1967 has been another grand year of witnessing added to those already given. But will Jehovah’s witnesses slacken the pace now with so much done? No! Because “in all the nations the good news has to be preached first.” (Mark 13:10) Then the end comes! Will you listen to the good news of God’s kingdom the next time it is presented to you at your door? Will you study the Word of God with Jehovah’s witnesses? This is a decision for you to make before the end comes. “The conclusion of the matter, everything having been heard, is: Fear the true God and keep his commandments. For this is the whole obligation of man. For the true God himself will bring every sort of work into the judgment in relation to every hidden thing, as to whether it is good or bad.”—Eccl. 12:13, 14.
[Box/Picture on page 21]
14 TIMES AROUND THE GLOBE!
Yes, if you were to lay end to end the copies of the Watchtower and Awake! magazines distributed by Jehovah’s witnesses in the past 20 years, they would girdle the globe 14 times.
IN 165 LANGUAGES!
In addition to the magazines, since 1947 Jehovah’s Witnesses have also distributed 5,425,000,000 books, booklets, handbills and tracts publicizing the kingdom of God, in 165 languages!
[Chart on page 24-27]
1967 SERVICE YEAR REPORT OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES WORLD WIDE
(See bound volume)
[Picture on page 9]
Sitting on the Mount of Olives, Jesus told his disciples: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth . . . and then the end will come.”