Gilead’s 50th Class Encouraged to Seek Wisdom
“WHO is wise and understanding among you?” was the question posed before the fifty students comprising the Fiftieth Class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead, at their graduation exercises on Sunday, March 7.
The exercises were held in Jehovah’s Witnesses Assembly Hall in New York city’s borough of Queens. From ten o’clock in the morning until about five in the afternoon the 1,999 persons attending were oblivious to the rain falling steadily outside.
The theme of the morning program centered around the words of the Bible writer James (3:13-18) and those of King David (Psalm 139). N. H. Knorr, Watch Tower Society president, pointed out that the wisdom from above is displayed in the individual by his works, but that these works must be marked by fine conduct, for such wisdom is “first of all chaste.” Cleanness, pureness, particularly in a moral way, is the prime essential. Without this, one’s works do not count with God. Even then, such wisdom does not flaunt itself, but, rather, is characterized by meekness. President Knorr warned the students of the snares that await a person who lets his knowledge puff him up in a display of what falsely appears to be wisdom.
Therefore, the speaker continued, on arriving in a foreign assignment, new missionaries should not think that their freshness from school equips them to direct the missionaries there, or the native residents of the land who are mature or who may be serving as overseers in congregations. Rather than talk proudly of their own learning, they should humbly listen to the experienced missionaries. They should devote their attention and efforts toward learning how best to help the people of that country to get an understanding of God’s Word. Wisdom, if exercised, will direct them to concentrate on this, their primary work, and will prevent them from letting their attention be diverted to unprofitable things.—Prov. 17:24; 16:9.
Milton G. Henschel, a director of the Watch Tower Society, counseled the graduates that in the wise pursuit of their missionary career they should keep their faith strong. They could count on such faith to accomplish much for them, as the apostle Paul emphatically illustrated in the eleventh chapter of Heb the Bible book of Hebrews.
The prospective missionaries were greatly encouraged by the words of another speaker, Fred W. Franz, the Society’s vice-president. He called attention to a fact of scientific wisdom, namely, the law of gravity, a force that exerts itself throughout the physical universe. Then he pointed out that Jehovah’s holy spirit is a far more powerful and all-pervading force. One can have full assurance that this force operates just as powerfully in the most remote, isolated territory as it does in one’s homeland, where one may have been surrounded by Christian brothers.—Ps. 139:7.
In his extensive quotations from the 139th psalm, F. W. Franz stressed David’s words: “If I should spread out my couch in Sheol, look! you [Jehovah] would be there.” (Ps. 139:8) Accordingly, a missionary of Jesus Christ should not fear the prospect of dying in his assignment, or feel that he must go back to his loved relatives to end his days. For, by his holy spirit ‘God can reach right into the very grave and resurrect you!’ Franz exclaimed. ‘However,’ he concluded, ‘you are not going to your assignments to die, but to live—to live to declare God’s Kingdom good news to the people so that they, in turn, can live.’
All fifty students qualified to receive the School’s Certificate of Merit. As they filed across the platform they were also handed their assignments, to nineteen countries. When the 5,000th graduate of the School was announced—a young man from Austria who was being assigned to Taiwan—he was cheered heartily by the audience.
In the afternoon the students’ turn came to entertain and edify the audience. This they did, first by an informal program that presented music typical of the eight lands they represented. Then came the afternoon’s highlight, a drama that the students had been preparing for several weeks. Entitled “Jehovah Blesses the Loyal Ones,” it focused on the time in which we are now living, so near to God’s new order, and encouraged moral cleanness in loyalty to Jehovah; fine counsel in this critical period when immorality is rife in the world.
Gilead School, located in Brooklyn, New York, was established in 1943 to train those among Jehovah’s witnesses who are able and willing to be sent to a foreign missionary assignment. On arriving at their foreign assignment, these missionaries are provided with adequate housing and food by the Watch Tower Society, but they do not live expensively or idly, as do many of Christendom’s missionaries.
The Gilead graduate missionaries have spearheaded the Kingdom proclamation throughout the earth. In 1943 the number of active ministers and preachers of the good news, outside the United States, was 53,839. By 1970 the number had grown to 1,094,510. Truly as Jesus said: “Wisdom is proved righteous by its works.”—Matt. 11:19.