“God Will Fully Supply All Your Need”
As told by Harold P. Woodworth
WHEN I was a child I had a motto in my bedroom: “God shall supply all your need.” (Phil. 4:19) That Bible text from the King James Version left a lasting impression on my mind and life. I had a loving mother who helped me to appreciate the Bible. That was one of the first needs that Jehovah provided. My mother had an intense love of the Holy Scriptures. She would sit on my bed and read to me at night. She was always ready to answer my questions.
HOW I LEARNED GOD’S TRUTH
In 1911 my brother Eldon went to a Bible lecture in a theater in our hometown, Marengo, Illinois. Immediately he recognized the truth taught by the International Bible Students, as Jehovah’s Christian witnesses were then known. The next Sunday he took my mother and me. From that start we attended meetings and conventions of the Bible students without letup. The instruction in God’s Word and Christian association have been a needed safeguard all through our lives. It was God who supplied that need.
God’s truth brought us comfort and relief from the senseless Babylonish doctrines of eternal torment, the Trinity and the burning up of our beautiful earth. My mother was eager to share the truth with others, and she would hitch up the horse and buggy and call on the neighbors to tell them the good news of God’s kingdom.
Traveling representatives of the Watch Tower Society, then called Pilgrims, made regular visits to our little “class” or congregation of Bible students. They provided needed instruction and encouragement. And their personal experiences, sometimes told to us as we would eat together, left lasting impressions, just as the experiences of the prophets and apostles of Jesus Christ still thrill and instruct us.
In 1914 the Watch Tower Society showed the Photo-Drama of Creation in the Opera House in our town. This photographic account of what the Bible is all about included picture slides as well as moving pictures to be synchronized with phonograph records. Movies were new then, and the eight hours of wonderful Bible instruction attracted the largest crowds we ever had. I tried to help by handing out free tickets.
In 1915 we went to Chicago to hear C. T. Russell, the first president of the Watch Tower Society. The same year, on July 4, I was baptized. That day is as fresh in my mind as yesterday. I was only thirteen years of age, but I wanted to be a servant of Jehovah and a follower of his faithful Son.
EARLY ASSEMBLIES AND PRIVILEGES
My first big convention was in 1917 at Aurora, Illinois, and that will never be forgotten. Then the last Sunday of that year, we waded through deep snow to go to the homes with the powerful message: “The Fall of Babylon,” a special issue of The Bible Students Monthly. This tract enraged the clergy, and later the book The Finished Mystery was banned and the officers of the Society were unjustly sent to prison. Those were trying times, but when the ban was lifted I ran to a neighbor who had eagerly wanted that book.
The release of our Christian brothers and the Cedar Point, Ohio, convention of 1919 served a great need, and the witness work was revived. What a privilege to be at that assembly!
In time my heavenly Father provided me fulfillment of a need in a way that has helped to shape my life. At a small convention I saw a gracious, neat young woman, and I fell in love with her. We would meet at conventions, and she was such a delightful and inspiring friend. She loved the truth with all her heart and was serious about sharing the good news with others. Her companionship during the years was a protection to me against worldly influences. Eight years later Mildred became my wife. I have never heard of a better place to find a loyal friend and marriage mate than at a meeting of God’s people, especially when one’s need also is made known in prayer.
After my brother Eldon went to Bethel, the headquarters of the Watch Tower Society in Brooklyn, New York, it left me as the only male member of our small congregation. That was 1920. I recall that when Pilgrim R. L. Robie was with our “class” one time he announced that “Brother Harold” would conduct the meeting. That encouragement I never forgot, and it helped me to be considerate of those who are young in years and who are trying to learn to serve Jehovah.
“Millions Now Living Will Never Die,” a startling subject, was advertised far and wide through public talks, newspaper ads and a comprehensive booklet. I printed up some big cards and put them on cemetery fences just to let people know that cemeteries would eventually go out of business.
SHARING IN THE WITNESS WORK FULL TIME
When I was in high school I started to learn the printing trade, and this developed into a business of my own. It kept me more and more involved for ten years. Seeing my spirituality slipping away, we decided to sell out and enter the pioneer service, that is, full-time preaching under the direction of the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society. Now and then pioneers or full-time ministers would visit us, and this was one of the reasons for our decision. Also as I looked back to the Cedar Point convention of 1922 and thought of the blessings I had had in the witness work, it made me hunger for more blessed privileges in God’s service.
In 1934 my wife Mildred and I agreed to keep ourselves ready to go wherever we were sent by the Watch Tower Society. That decision brought peace of mind and many blessings. Over the years the Watch Tower Society sent us to sixteen states to tell the good news of God’s kingdom.
Our first assignment with the Society’s sound car took us to five southern states, and in seven months we visited 213 cities. The use of sound equipment on an automobile was a new preaching method, and it drew large audiences.
After this we went to isolated territory in New Mexico. This assignment was about two hundred miles long. Then our attending the Los Angeles convention in February 1936 and hearing the Society’s president J. F. Rutherford speak on a nationwide radio network on “Separating the Nations” was a wonderful stimulus to us in our preaching work as we traveled. Each day we would travel on new and sometimes lonely but interesting roads. We found interest in the Bible’s message among cowboys, Mexicans, Indians, ranchers and miners. It was an exciting life. We would go as far as we could each day and often sleep in our car at night. Sometimes we found interested ones that cordially asked us to stay with them overnight. Then we would talk with them about the Kingdom hope for hours.
MORE BLESSINGS DESPITE PERSECUTION
Opposition came from the clergy. One drunken black-robed priest threatened to run us out of Silver City, New Mexico, and then had us arrested. But we found Jehovah’s promise true: “‘Any weapon whatever that will be formed against you will have no success, and any tongue at all that will rise up against you in the judgment you will condemn. This is the hereditary possession of the servants of Jehovah, and their righteousness is from me,’ is the utterance of Jehovah.” (Isa. 54:17) Several years later, instead of just two Christian sisters with us for the Memorial, there were over forty persons present. In the fall of 1969 there were two congregations—one Spanish and one English-speaking in that same territory, and on a visit it was my privilege to speak to a hundred Witnesses.
In 1937 when we went to the Columbus, Ohio, convention, the president of the Watch Tower Society, J. F. Rutherford, called for two hundred special pioneers. My wife and I were among them, and so another blessing came into our lives—a special assignment in El Paso, Texas. The following year the zone work was started, an arrangement in which a representative of the Society’s headquarters would spend one week with each congregation to encourage and strengthen it (now called circuit work). It was my precious privilege to enter the zone work in New Mexico and west Texas. Our first zone assembly was in Alamogordo, New Mexico, with ninety-nine present.
Persecution came in 1940. Hatred and suspicion broke out nation wide. There were threats, arrests, slander and intense opposition in almost all our territory. Jail sentences were handed out to innocent full-time ministers, the public officials often cooperating with the clergy, who instigated the persecution. My life was threatened on a number of occasions. The demons, through misled humans, engineered a flood of intense persecution against Jehovah’s Christian witnesses and their ministry.
Under intense pressure I made an error in judgment and wrote the Society that ‘I wasn’t born with courage.’ The reply was one that I will never forget: “Courage comes from knowing that Jehovah is backing you up.”
In May 1941 the Society sent us a letter to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where we served as full-time proclaimers of God’s kingdom. That letter directed us to go to Cleveland, Ohio, to do some printing work for the Society, and we worked hard there till the close of the historic Glad Nations Theocratic Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1946.
Next came the assignment as presiding minister of a Christian congregation at Tiffin, Ohio, where we served for two years. Then near the end of 1949 came a totally unexpected letter—an invitation to enter the circuit work. Jehovah supplied the strength beyond what is normal, and for the next eighteen years I was privileged to serve circuits of Witnesses in Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Maryland, a portion of West Virginia, then New York and South Carolina.
The privilege I had of recommending the formation of thirty new congregations, and especially of seeing those congregations grow, has brought deep satisfaction.
Circuit assemblies have always been a highlight of our lives. At one circuit assembly in Detroit I had the privilege of giving the baptism talk, and at the conclusion it seemed as if half the audience stood up—167.
I enjoy working with children, and what a joy it has been to meet at the Society’s headquarters some mature workers we had known when they were small. Some of those children that I worked with at big assemblies are now grown up and are in foreign assignments, faithfully serving the interests of God’s kingdom.
Attending the European assemblies in 1955 broadened our appreciation of God’s organization. To see at Nuremberg, Germany, over 107,000 on Hitler’s former parade grounds for the worship of the God he had defied, recalled the cablegram of warning our small congregation had sent to Hitler on October 7, 1934.
A call to the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead in 1956 was another loving provision of Jehovah for our need, and we were privileged to be in the 28th Class, which graduated in February 1957. Several refresher courses have provided needed strength.
Of course, there have been problems, but loving and understanding letters from the Society have kept us close to the organization and served a great need. Knowledge that Jehovah’s spirit guides the “faithful and discreet slave” has been a great incentive to endurance.—Matt. 24:45-47.
In the fall of 1967 when my wife was ill and unable to travel with me in circuit work, the Society kindly assigned us to Charleston, South Carolina, as special pioneers. In spite of asthma and repeated cases of sickness, she kept on faithfully to the end of her earthly life. We had visited over two hundred congregations, some of them many times, and what a treasure that is! I never refused an assignment from the Society, and Mildred was always willing to go with me wherever we were sent.
Back in 1924 she wrote: “Each moment is precious in these days and I am trying to consecrate each moment to my Master’s service. I feel very weak and incapable of this great responsibility of being an ambassador for my Lord. His grace is sufficient, I know, and I am willing that every bit of my energy and being shall be used in His service.” That is what she did till her death on June 18, 1968.
Now I appreciate the privilege of full-time service as I have for the past thirty-six years, and I am also blessed with the responsibility of being presiding minister for a new congregation embracing four large islands adjoining Charleston, South Carolina.
To look back over the years since my childhood and see the miraculous growth of Jehovah’s people has helped me to have increased appreciation of the scripture: “My God will fully supply all your need to the extent of his riches in glory by means of Christ Jesus.”—Phil. 4:19.
“Jehovah’s expressions of loving-kindness I will sing about even to time indefinite. For generation after generation I shall make your faithfulness known with my mouth. Happy are the people knowing the joyful shouting. O Jehovah, in the light of your face they keep walking. In your name they are joyful all day long and in your righteousness they are exalted. For you are the beauty of their strength; and by your good will our horn is exalted.”—Ps. 89:1, 15-17.