Why Not Make It Your First Assembly?
THROUGHOUT the world Jehovah’s witnesses are conducting well over 970,000 weekly Bible studies with interested persons in their homes. Are you one of those studying the Bible with the Witnesses? If you are, then quite likely at each study session you are learning points of Bible truth that are quite new to you. Perhaps you wonder how the Witnesses get to have so much informative material to offer freely to all those who are interested. Well, one of the provisions for their education in the Bible is their conventions.
Perhaps you have heard of these conventions, but have you ever attended one? If not, an unforgettable experience awaits you. Have you considered going? We urge you to do so. Indeed, please consider this as a cordial invitation to you and your family. Many of such assemblies are scheduled for principal cities around the world starting in July.
Up till now your acquaintance with the Witnesses has no doubt been limited to a few persons, perhaps just one. Here is an opportunity to get acquainted with a multitude of them and observe firsthand just how they measure up to Jesus Christ’s rule that his followers ‘would have love among themselves.’ (John 13:35) You can discover for yourself that they come from all walks of life, from many different nationalities. You can see them, not alone as preachers and teachers of the Bible message, but also as those who keenly realize their own need to keep strong spiritually.
MAKE IT YOUR FIRST
So why not make the attending of an international assembly of Jehovah’s witnesses in 1969 one of your goals? With planning and a little helpful counsel from the Witness who studies with you, you can make it. There is always the “first” of anything. When you agreed to have a weekly study with one of Jehovah’s witnesses, that was probably the first time you ever got down to a careful consideration of the Bible. Did you regret it? No, rather, you are glad you made the decision.
Did you know that each year a multitude of persons who have never studied with the Witnesses attend these larger conventions? But you are better acquainted. Perhaps you have accompanied one of the Witnesses in the house-to-house ministry to see how they do it. You may even have progressed sufficiently in Bible knowledge so that you are now contemplating baptism. But whether this is the case or you have merely been thinking about it thus far, you would particularly enjoy the talk on baptism, a feature at every large assembly of the Witnesses. This is a good reason to make this year’s your first assembly.
It is truly amazing how newly-interested ones demonstrate their appreciation of Bible truth. This past year in Burma there was one group of such persons who walked four days over lofty, mountainous country just to get to their first assembly! There was also a young couple in Alaska who traveled over a thousand miles to attend their first assembly last summer. Their efforts were well repaid. They returned home spiritually refreshed.
WHAT TO ANTICIPATE
Perhaps you are wondering what actually takes place at one of these larger assemblies. Let’s take a look at the activities of one day as noted in a typical program. At nine o’clock in the morning the first brief session opens with song, followed by a fifteen-minute discussion of the Bible text for that day as set out in the Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Then, after prayer for Jehovah’s blessing on the field ministry, many of those in attendance move out to share in the house-to-house visits, spreading the Kingdom message and distributing invitations to the assembly. Some who have never shared in this service go along as observers with experienced Witnesses. As time permits they may also see some of the historic sites and other places of interest in the vicinity of the convention city.
After the midday meal the conventioners again assemble. Some delightful, real-life experiences are recounted by Witnesses from various parts of the earth, and then follow the afternoon sessions. These may include short Bible lectures, interesting demonstrations having to do with the ministry of Jehovah’s witnesses, and perhaps a fascinating Bible drama enacted by Witnesses dressed in appropriate costume.
Next, there is an adjournment for some two hours, offering opportunity to go and enjoy a meal with other friendly delegates at the assembly’s well-organized cafeteria. Here there is time to chat and get acquainted with other Witnesses, young and old, from various parts of the country. Then the evening sessions continue until about 9 p.m. Throughout the entire day the program is marked by variety and a wealth of information that grips the attention of the audience. And every part of the program brings to view new slants on Bible information—things you may never have thought about before.
HOW IT CAN BE DONE
For a list of locations of international assemblies planned for 1969, please refer to page 63 of The Watchtower, issue of January 15, 1969. It may be that the location you select will allow your visiting some relatives or friends or of combining convention plans with a brief vacation. Should you choose to attend the New York convention, there is an added attraction. On Saturday and Sunday just prior to the opening of that assembly, namely, July 5 and 6, the Watchtower Society’s factory will be open for those who would like to tour it and observe it in full operation. For those who cannot come early and take advantage of these two days, the mornings of Wednesday through Saturday of the convention week will provide opportunities for such a tour.
The Witness with whom you are studying can offer helpful suggestions as to your planning. He no doubt has attended assemblies before and knows what must be taken into account. You may have to arrange time off from your regular job. You may have to set aside some money each week for the expenses of the trip. How you will travel—by car, train, bus or plane—is another matter for consideration. It may be that special chartered facilities will be arranged by the local congregation of Jehovah’s witnesses.
A problem that doubtless looms largest in your mind is that of accommodations at the convention city. Do not let that trouble you unduly. Each convention organization will have a special department through which you will be able to secure accommodations in advance—for the whole family if they will all be attending. And these accommodations will be within whatever price range you feel will fit your budget.
Meals during the assembly will be no problem. At each convention location a cafeteria will be set up, providing nourishing meals at nominal cost. It is, in fact, common to see entire families eating together at the convention cafeteria. Mealtimes on such occasions are fine opportunities to make new acquaintances and hear many unique experiences.
MAKING UP YOUR MIND
Of course, the first step is to make up your mind to attend. It is no casual matter. It is not something to be determined lightly one way or the other. Your decision could have far-reaching effects on yourself and your loved ones. Any one of Jehovah’s witnesses can tell you from personal experience that his first assembly marked a turning point in his life—a turn toward a happier and fuller life of association and service with Jehovah’s genuine worshipers. Your future and that of your family, your survival through the end of this wicked system of things now so near, may well hinge upon how strong a faith you can build in just a short time. Being present to listen and learn at the assembly of Jehovah’s people can contribute much toward such faith-strengthening.
Think of Jehovah’s provision for his typical people, the Israelites. From time to time he called them into general assembly in order to fortify them against the evil influences of the pagan people around them. Today, too, Jehovah provides for his modern-day people to assemble and be armed against the snares and schemes of Satan, the god of this present wicked system of things. So plan to attend a 1969 international assembly of your choice and get a foretaste of the joy, the unity and the contentment that will be Jehovah’s gift to obedient humans in his imminent new order. Make it your first assembly.