Enjoying Peace on Earth
IS THERE any place on earth where peace truly exists? Perhaps as you consider the widespread unrest, turmoil and war you may be hard pressed to name even one peaceful place. Would it surprise you, then, to learn that genuine peace really does exist, and that in many places throughout the earth?
The existence of genuine peace was powerfully demonstrated this summer when hundreds of thousands of Jehovah’s witnesses from more than a hundred lands met at thirteen assembly locations in Europe and North America. The conduct of the delegates showed that peaceableness is part of their everyday lives. Furthermore, delegates to the “Peace on Earth” International Assembly were cheered by reports that peace was being enjoyed and promoted earth wide.
IN THE NEAR EAST
Almost daily there are reports in the public press about the violence in the Near East, and the deep-seated hatreds that the Arabs and the Jews have for one another. Yet, is this always the case?
An assembly delegate reported that in Israel some from among both Jews and Arabs have accepted Bible truths and have become Christian “brothers.” “There is complete harmony among them,” he explained. “This was manifest in a special way during the critical days of the ‘six-day war’ in 1967, when tension and distrust between racial groups reached a peak.” As is always true of Jehovah’s Witnesses, they were completely neutral in regard to the war.
Of the situation during the war, he observed: “We maintained a full program of meetings, even though we had to black out the Kingdom Hall, and the Jewish and Arabic brothers came together right through the war days without a trace of the suspicion and distrust that affected everyone else.”
The genuine love these Christian brothers hold for one another is noted by this report: “During the fighting Israel occupied areas formerly under Jordan and we knew that there were some brothers in that section, so one day, a few days after the war, we set out to search for them. A brother knew of one family and thought that he could find their home. I shall never forget the experience of driving across the former barbed-wire barriers and heading north from Jerusalem to the town of Ramallah, with signs of war damage and deserted houses all along the way.
“We found the house eventually and as we approached naturally we wondered: . . . ‘Are any of the brothers here?’ We tapped at the outside door and the door was cautiously opened . . . can you imagine how we felt when we found that there were twenty Witnesses there, holding their weekly Watchtower study? What a welcome they gave us!”
Bordering Israel on the north is the Arab country of Lebanon. There, too, Jehovah’s witnesses stand for peace. However, their experience in Lebanon is similar to that realized by the Bible psalmist, who wrote: “I stand for peace; but when I speak, they are for war.”—Ps. 120:7.
Both the Moslems and nominal Christians in Lebanon oppose Jehovah’s witnesses, although they also violently fight each other. In small towns, for example, priests are able to influence schoolchildren to stone the Witnesses as they go about their ministry. However, Jehovah’s witnesses continue to pursue peace. For example, in one town two missionaries peacefully endured such harassment for two years before moving to another area. An assembly delegate reported this interesting result:
“Several years later, while attending a district assembly, a young Witness introduced himself to the two missionaries and said: ‘You don’t know me, but I remember you. You used to serve in our town and I was one of those young children who used to throw stones at you. I wish I had known the truth then so I could have served with you instead of persecuting you.’”
The peaceful course of the missionaries had greatly impressed him. He is now a special pioneer minister of Jehovah’s witnesses.
Not far away, on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, Turks and Greeks are in an almost constant state of war. The divisions among them are considered irreparable by some worldly authorities. Nevertheless, Greeks and Turks who become Jehovah’s witnesses live in peace with one another. “Because of this peace and unity,” the delegate from Cyprus reported, “Jehovah God has blessed us with fine growth.” He then went on to cite an experience that illustrates the effect the Bible’s peaceful message can have.
“In a village,” he explained, “there was a prominent revolutionary. Everybody was scared of him because he was a real troublemaker. At night he would often go to the coffee shops and after having had some strong drink he would pull out his guns and shoot out the lights. But Bible truth changed this man. A Bible study was started and he began coming to meetings of the Christian congregation. He stopped quarreling with his fellow villagers and became a peaceful man. This impressed the villagers very much so that they began to talk favorably about Jehovah’s witnesses.”
PEACE IN AFRICA
People generally think of Africa as one of the most strife-torn places on earth. Revolution is the order of the day. Yet genuine peace is being enjoyed by an ever-increasing number of persons there, yes, by literally tens of thousands of them. Illustrating this was the report at the “Peace on Earth” International Assembly by a delegate representing the Congo (Kinshasa). He explained:
“There has been a state of war here for a long time. But the peaceful Christian message can change warlike dispositions to peaceful ones. For example, a man entered the Congo as a freedom fighter. In his home country he was viewed as a dangerous rebel, one engaged in guerrilla warfare. A missionary started a study with him. Six months later he started attending meetings. A year later he was baptized, and eventually he was appointed as a servant in the Christian congregation.
“Despite the fact that he expected to face a jail sentence if he returned to his home, he did return, together with his Christian wife, to preach the Bible message of peace to his own people. What a surprise he received on his return! Instead of being imprisoned, government officials received him kindly and gave him back his former secular job. They had heard that he had become one of Jehovah’s witnesses, and knew that he presented no further danger to the government but that he was now a man of peace.”
THE BASIS FOR ENJOYING PEACE
Why are Jehovah’s witnesses able to live together at peace, while other peoples so often hate and fight one another? An experience in the Congo Republic (Brazzaville) points to the answer. An assembly delegate explained:
“When one of Jehovah’s witnesses recently took a Bible to his fleshly brother in prison, the prison warden asked: ‘What is your brother’s religion?’
“‘Protestant,’ the Witness replied.
“‘Why was he imprisoned?’ inquired the warden.
“‘For concealing weapons,’ replied the Witness.
“‘What was the religion of the former president of the Republic?’ the warden further inquired.
“The Witness knew and replied that he, too, was a Protestant. Without knowing that the person to whom he was speaking was one of Jehovah’s witnesses, the warden then said: ‘The Bible does not belong to the Protestants. If it did, then the former president would not have killed so many people, and your brother would not have had weapons in his possession. This book is only for Jehovah’s witnesses.’”
Yes, it is clear to many people that the Bible is the book most prominently used by Jehovah’s witnesses. And it is the putting into practice of the teachings of this book, the Word of God, that enables Jehovah’s witnesses to live such peaceful lives.
PROCLAIMING GOD’S MESSAGE OF PEACE
Realizing that the Bible provides the basis for enjoying true peace and contentment, Jehovah’s witnesses zealously share in proclaiming its message. To do this frequently involves significant adjustments in their lives. At the “Peace on Earth” International Assembly in New York, a delegate from Japan noted such an example.
“In April of 1969,” he reported, “the Asahi golf magazine described in three pages of pictures the new occupation of a well-known professional golfer. This young man had sacrificed a brilliant career in sport in order to become a humble full-time minister of Jehovah’s witnesses.” He recognized the urgency of proclaiming God’s message of peace that he had accepted.
In Guatemala a seventeen-year-old Witness, who lives with her mother and stepfather, also recognized the importance of sharing in the full-time ministry. But where would she receive the financial assistance, since wages are so low in that country? An assembly delegate representing Guatemala explained:
“She got to know her real father for the first time. And he was glad to see her and generously offered her a small allowance each month to support her, and with this she is able to share in the full-time ministry.”
Is this such an unusual experience, you may wonder? Yes, it is, for, as the assembly delegate explained: “Few young girls in the full-time ministry of Jehovah’s witnesses receive help from their father who is also a Catholic priest.”
As evidence of the increase in the number of persons proclaiming God’s message of peace, consider the situation in the Philippines. A peak of 48,251 ministers was recently reached. Reported the delegate from there: “In the first eight months of the 1969 service year (from September to April), there were 4,361 new ministers who symbolized their dedication by water baptism. This is an average of 545 each month for that period, or eighteen a day!”
An assembly delegate from the Congo (Kinshasa) reported that Jehovah’s witnesses there had increased from 1,000 in 1960 to 11,518 this year. “We recently had a series of eight district assemblies,” he added, “with an attendance of 26,000, and at the memorial of Christ’s death we had over 39,000 in attendance.” Throughout the world in April, there were 1,322,001 proclaimers of God’s message of peace!
PART PLAYED BY “TRUTH” BOOK
In the summer of 1968 Jehovah’s witnesses published the small Bible-study help The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life. It presents in easy-to-grasp language the principal teachings of God’s beautiful Word of Truth, the Bible. Already over sixteen million copies of the Truth book in many languages have been printed! One delegate after another at the “Peace on Earth” assembly reported on the marvelous results this publication is having in gathering together those who truly love God and the peace he promises to bring to earth. For example, a delegate from Canada said:
“One interested person in Canada read the Truth book three times in rapid succession as soon as he received it. Even before the Witness made the first return visit on him, he had resigned from his church of Christendom, demanded that his children be taken out of a religious school system, and made other changes in his life. When the Witness did return, this sheeplike person’s first question was, ‘What do I have to do to get baptized?’ And he was serious about it!”
A delegate from Britain reported: “One of our full-time preachers placed the Truth book with a young Catholic woman. When she called back the next week she learned that the woman had read the entire book on the day she received it. The woman said to the full-time minister: ‘You know we are living in the last days, don’t you?’ And then she continued telling all she had read in the book, just as if she were witnessing to the Witness.
“A study was arranged and within two weeks the woman was attending meetings. She quickly started in the ministry and was baptized at the next circuit assembly. Her husband also started to study, attended meetings, shared in the ministry, and planned baptism at London’s ‘Peace on Earth’ assembly.”
A similar experience was described by a representative from New Zealand. He said: “At the end of 1968 a Bible study was started in the Truth book with a young couple. By the time they had studied the third chapter they began to attend meetings. By the fifth chapter they started out in the field ministry. As they came to chapter ten, the husband began to conduct a Bible study of his own with another young couple.
“After this second study had been conducted for three months the man of this household also began to share regularly in the preaching work. Thus, within six months of starting the original study, two families were spreading God’s message of peace. The first couple were baptized in May, and the second planned baptism at one of the ‘Peace on Earth’ International Assemblies this year!”
On the average, some 8,000 persons each month have been joining themselves to Jehovah’s witnesses and symbolizing their dedication to God by water baptism. As a result, even now they are enjoying peace in association with fellow believers from all races and nationalities, and they look forward to God’s new system of things when permanent peace will be established earth wide.