Steadfast, Unmovable in Jehovah’s Work
AS TOLD BY PETER CASOLA
MY CONTACT with Jehovah’s people, then known as Bible Students, came first in the year 1920 in East Patchogue, Long Island. In those days there was a great deal of prejudice against one old Bible Student who preached from house to house in the area. Influenced by the general prejudice, I had always refused to give his message a hearing.
Then one day at the entrance of an old deserted house I found a copy of the tract “The Fall of Babylon,” yellowed with age. Not at all realizing that it was a publication of the Watch Tower Society, I read it and thoroughly enjoyed its message from the Scriptures. As I read and reread it, much of the prejudice was erased from my mind, and next time the old Witness called I accepted the book The Divine Plan of the Ages. Though I read it, I must say I did not grasp fully the information it contained.
Meanwhile, the same Bible Student called from time to time and urged me to keep studying the book until I did understand. This I did, with wonderful results. By 1921 both my sister and I symbolized our dedication to Jehovah by baptism. Then in 1922 what an encouragement it was to attend the Cedar Point, Ohio, convention! ‘Advertise the King and the Kingdom’ now came to be our theme. This was when I began to appreciate more fully the need to “become steadfast, unmovable, always having plenty to do in the work of the Lord.”—1 Cor. 15:58.
In 1923 came a turning point in my life. I had the choice of accepting an invitation to serve at the Bethel headquarters of the Watch Tower Society or of pushing ahead in the business opportunities of the postwar years. My parents, who had not accepted my view of religion, were opposed to my going to Bethel, but I felt that as an adult I should make my own decision. I have always been thankful that I chose unselfish service.
My first job at the Society’s headquarters was in the plate department, where they prepare the metal plates from which the publications are printed. Just four years later, we moved all the Society’s factory operations to the new building at 117 Adams Street, Brooklyn. Little did we realize then that forty years later we would need to occupy four blocks between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges in order to care for the greatly expanded printing and publishing.
In course of time I was transferred to the machine shop, where again I found there is always “plenty to do in the work of the Lord.” This was again my experience when I was later assigned to serve in the diesel engine power plant at the Society’s factory.
In 1932, the president of the Society, J. F. Rutherford, asked me to go to nearby Staten Island to operate the power plant for the Society’s radio station WBBR. This required constant care, for in those days WBBR was connected with a nationwide network. But it was a joyful work, for I knew that it was vital to the spread of the radio message. For fourteen years I continued steadfast in this assignment.
Because of the imperfections we inherit from Adam, remaining “steadfast, unmovable” is not always easy. This I learned when, in 1940, the doctors diagnosed that I had cancer of the throat. The operation proved successful, however, and I began to recover after two months of convalescence. But for all practical purposes I had lost my voice. How discouraging it was at first to find that I had no more than a whisper of a voice with which to serve Jehovah in the house-to-house work!
Another thing I learned through this experience was the need we have of our brothers in the organization. It is true that some inexperienced ones might have influenced me to give up full-time service at Bethel in view of my circumstances, but the counsel of mature brothers prevailed. They pointed out that everyone has problems, no matter where he is, and that these should not be a hindrance, but should rather be viewed as a challenge to us in maintaining integrity to God. Besides, they reminded me of Jesus’ words at Luke 9:62. I decided not to ‘look at the things behind,’ but to continue “steadfast, unmovable” in Jehovah’s work.
When 1964 came I was faced with another test, this time the issue of blood transfusion. Over the years since my throat operation, my voice got weaker and weaker. Another operation was now needed in order to save it. Some of the doctors were not in favor of operating without the use of blood. I stood my ground, with Jehovah’s help, for I knew that his inspired command to Christ’s followers is: ‘Keep yourselves free from blood.’ (Acts 15:29) Finally, a doctor did agree to proceed without use of blood, and a statement of my religious convictions was posted on my hospital chart for all to see and be guided by. In 1967 I had to have another operation for cancer, but I am still able to have some share in the work being done at Bethel, and for this I am grateful.
Accurate knowledge of Bible truth that results from regular association and discussion with others who love God’s Word has proved to be a real aid to me in other respects. In my former way of life I used to be subject to fits of anger, losing my temper over what now appear to be matters quite insignificant. Of course, at the time they looked big. Lack of proper balance at times even led me to drop whatever I was doing if things did not go my way. Over the years, however, the transforming power of accurate knowledge has made great changes, and Jehovah has mercifully permitted me to continue in his service here at the Society’s headquarters.
UNMOVABLE IN THE MINISTRY
Only by yielding ourselves to the operation of Jehovah’s holy spirit, rather than resisting it, I have found, can we hope to continue at our posts of service with the same love, zeal and devotion we had at the start. It is good, too, always to keep in mind the source from which each assignment of service in the congregation of God’s people issues. On this point I often think about the experience of a faithful brother who died back in 1932.
Brother R. J. Martin had been serving for some time out in the field as a full-time preacher of the Kingdom message, when he was invited to come and serve at headquarters for a while. When the specific job he was called in to perform was completed, he went to C. T. Russell, at that time president of the Watch Tower Society, and told him he was going back to his service out in the field. At this the president said to him: “How did you get here to begin with?” Martin replied: “You sent me a telegram asking me to come.” “Then,” Russell asked, “did you get a telegram asking you to leave?” Martin stayed, and eventually became factory servant, having oversight of the entire factory.
Looking back upon the years I have been serving at the Bethel headquarters, I am ever grateful for the sound counsel and timely warnings given by the responsible men in charge. In this regard I am reminded about what was told to the members of the staff here concerning a Witness who experienced a complete shipwreck of his faith because he fell victim to literature that emphasized immoralities, higher criticism of the Bible and evolution. He failed to heed the advice of Paul to ‘turn away from the empty speeches that violate what is holy and from the contradictions of the falsely called “knowledge.’” (1 Tim. 6:20, 21) Good counsel has helped me to remain steadfast in my assignment, unmovable.
STEADFASTNESS BRINGS BLESSINGS
When my service at the Society’s radio station WBBR on Staten Island terminated, I was reassigned to work at the Brooklyn factory. That was in 1946. Those were years of marvelous expansion. How thrilled were Jehovah’s witnesses from all over the world when so many came to attend the big convention at Yankee Stadium, New York city, in 1950! Most of those visitors toured the enlarged Bethel home and the enlarged factory. Then, what happiness came to all of us when the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures was released at that assembly!
Then came the New World Society Assembly in 1953, again at Yankee Stadium. A special feature was the graduation of the twenty-first class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead. It was thrilling to see those graduating missionaries step up one after another and receive their assignments to serve in faraway lands where the need for Bible education is great.
Something quite exciting happened in 1955. The Society made special arrangements for all of us older members of the Bethel staff to travel to Europe and to attend a series of assemblies—“Triumphant Kingdom” Assemblies. London! Paris! Rome! Nuremberg! and Stockholm! What a wonderful experience that was, and how strengthening to meet our brothers in the faith in all those lands across the ocean!
Back from those European assemblies, the next blessing was the moving into the brand-new thirteen-story factory building that had been erected next to the older factory. During the years that I have been in full-time service here, I have witnessed a tremendous growth in our printing facilities. When I first came in 1923 there was but one large rotary press. Today there are eighteen of them, and four more are on order for delivery in the near future. This is all so marvelous in our eyes, for we know that it is only possible by Jehovah’s prospering of his own grand Kingdom work on the earth.
Blessings not quite so spectacular, but blessings nevertheless, are those we enjoy regularly here at the Society’s headquarters by reason of being members of a large happy family. We have our weekly Watchtower study, systematically upbuilding to all. Then there is the practical schedule according to which all of us here operate. There is a time for everything and the Bethel time signals keep everyone working in harmony. Also, the fact that the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead as well as the training school for congregation overseers are both now being conducted here at Brooklyn means that we have the singular privilege of meeting and becoming acquainted with so many of our fellow servants from around the world. It is truly heartwarming.
There is no doubt that our willing acceptance of any assignment given us in God’s worldwide organization, and our remaining at our post of duty, unmovable, bring God’s smile of approval upon our earnest efforts. Even if the task assigned should appear to be menial, it often turns out that without its faithful execution many other vital services could not be performed. Thus if we are humble and directly interested in glorifying Jehovah’s name and not our own, then we can be sure that we shall always be ‘steadfast, unmovable, having plenty to do in Jehovah’s work.’
The contrast of our lot in life with that of some acquaintance of our earlier days can often prove to be stimulating. When I first began to appreciate the message spread by Jehovah’s witnesses, I approached one of my schoolmates and endeavored to interest him. He laughed and said he did not agree with these views, that to him a business career seemed the most practical course. He did eventually establish himself in a prosperous garage business. Then he developed heart trouble, and later lost his entire business. When I revisited him after thirty-five years, he broke down and wept in the course of our conversation, so disappointed and frustrated had he become. At least I could offer him strong hope and comfort for the future, urging him to bring his life into harmony with God’s will.
As I now review the past forty-four years of full-time service here at the Society’s headquarters, I have no regrets as to the course I chose back there in my early adulthood. Whatever job I have had to do has been an opportunity to demonstrate genuine love for the truth-hungry and truth-thirsty ones in all the earth—whether in the plate department, or the machine shop, with radio station WBBR or in the mailing department. The joy of seeing millions of magazines and other publications bearing the message of God’s Word spreading to the ends of the earth has been a marvelous reward in itself.
Regular, diligent service in behalf of others serves to keep our minds fully and healthfully occupied, with no time to commiserate on our own troubles and petty concerns. And by leaving aside the things of this present wicked system of things and denying ourselves the satisfactions that worldly people have, even if only very fleeting, we qualify for the marvelous result foretold by Jesus: “No one has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for my sake and for the sake of the good news who will not get a hundredfold now in this period of time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and fields, with persecutions, and in the coming system of things everlasting life.” (Mark 10:29, 30) How could one be anything but steadfast, unmovable in the work of Jehovah after having experienced all these manifestations of his favor?