Courageous in the Face of Opposition
HOW would you feel if you were living in a land where your worship of the Creator was prohibited by law? Would you speak out boldly for your faith? Though using good judgment, would you take a measure of risk to present reasons for your Bible-based hope to others? (1 Pet. 3:15) Or would you deny it in the face of possible loss of freedom? Truly, it would take courage to uphold what you knew to be the truth. This courage has been displayed by many of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses in recent months.
RICH REWARDS FROM BEING COURAGEOUS IN WESTERN AFRICA
◆ While calling on persons who had previously shown interest in the Bible, a Christian witness of Jehovah in Africa noticed a woman standing beside a policeman. Suddenly this woman cried out in a loud voice: ‘Hey! Jehovah’s witness, where did you leave your briefcase? Are you walking around secretly now, carrying little books in your pockets in order to preach to the people?’ Fearlessly the Witness approached the woman and the policeman, asking her: ‘What does a briefcase have to do with the ban on Jehovah’s witnesses? Before the ban was placed on our work, was it the briefcase that spoke from door to door or was it the mouth of the Witness?’
‘We well know,’ said the policeman, ‘that the work of Jehovah’s witnesses is prohibited, but with mouths they still preach.’ Hearing these words, the woman entered her house, leaving the Witness with the policeman.
The Witness then posed this question: ‘If the chief of police gave you an assignment and thereafter a military official came along and tried to force you to do something else, what would you do?’ ‘I could not stop the work given me by the police chief. I work for the police, not the military,’ he replied.
In line with this answer, the Witness explained that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, had ordained the work he was doing as one of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses. This work is important because disaster is threatening all nations. The Witness explained that as a Christian he was obligated to speak to his neighbors so that they might be saved. He referred to a Bible prophecy showing that the wicked would perish even while standing up. The Witness pointed out that he could not stop preaching just because the president of the republic banned the work of Jehovah’s witnesses. If he were to stop now, could the president give him the reward of everlasting life?
Impressed, the policeman asked how he might obtain a Bible. The Witness immediately went to a nearby Protestant minister to buy a Bible with the money given him by the policeman. When he returned, the policeman wanted to know where the Bible says that the wicked would perish while standing up. The Witness opened the Bible to Zechariah 14:12. After reading this text personally the policeman was astounded.
The Witness then asked: ‘Does the Bible from which you just read belong to Jehovah’s witnesses?’ ‘No,’ replied the policeman. The Witness raised yet another question: ‘Since the minister has this Bible in his church and has preached to you, has he ever taught this to his members?’ Again the policeman answered, ‘No.’ The Witness pointed out that Jehovah’s witnesses are persecuted in all the world because they teach the truth of the Bible. Moved by these words, the policeman, in all sincerity, asked whether he could work for Jesus.
Arrangements were made for a Bible study. Three months later this policeman began attending meetings held by Jehovah’s Christian witnesses. Today he is proclaiming Bible truth to others.
◆ In the same country a male nurse began to study the Bible with Jehovah’s witnesses. So great was his interest that he wanted to study several times each week. After only two weeks of study, however, he was assigned to work at a place seventy-five miles away, where there were no Witnesses. Nevertheless, his appreciation for Bible truth moved him to preach from house to house despite the ban on Jehovah’s Christian witnesses. Everywhere news spread that someone was practicing a new religion. Word reached the assistant prefect, who called the man to his office, advising him that as a male nurse he was a state civil servant and had no right to engage in an illegal work.
Calmly the man replied that his work was important and that God was its author. Under no circumstances would he stop his activities.
Angered by the man’s fearless stand, the assistant prefect sent a lengthy report against him to his superiors. What was the outcome? Not the male nurse, but the assistant prefect was reassigned. And the male nurse was baptized late at night during a visit by one of the traveling ministers of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses.
PERSEVERANCE DESPITE FAMILY OPPOSITION
◆ For an individual to continue faithful to Jehovah God in a land where his worship is proscribed by law is not easy, especially when there is bitter family opposition. This was the experience of four fleshly sisters living in a village in Hungary. Three of the sisters were Christian witnesses of Jehovah. The other one had a real interest in the message of Jehovah’s witnesses, but married a man whose relatives were staunch Catholics.
Whenever this man visited his relatives, they would incite him against Jehovah’s witnesses. After one such visit he told his wife that he would not much longer bear the shame of having married into a family that had left the good Catholic religion. Another time he pulled a rope from his pocket and threatened that he would commit suicide. On several other occasions he nearly strangled his wife, demanding that she leave her religion. This difficult situation lasted for two years.
All during this time the sisters in the house endeavored to manifest Christian love and patience. Though repeatedly met with rebuffs, they tried to present the Bible’s message to this man. They continued to pray that their patience and love might bear fruit.
One evening this man, after having visited his parents, returned home completely infuriated against Jehovah’s witnesses. With a knife in his hand, he stood over the bed of his wife and little daughter, saying: ‘Now the moment has come when all of us must die.’ ‘If Jehovah permits it,’ said his wife calmly, ‘then do what you plan to do, but we will not give up true worship.’ Then the other sisters came in. They started to pray aloud, calling upon Jehovah’s name for help. The man then let the hand holding the knife slowly sink to his side. After a while he started to talk calmly. He showed regret for what had happened, acknowledging that he could not explain why he acted the way he did.
Shortly afterward this man had to go to another location for a certain time. Often he sent letters to his wife, asking for her forgiveness and promising to start a new life upon his return. His promises were not empty words. He began to study the Bible. Eventually he and his wife were baptized. Now he is helping others to appreciate that the way of life he once viciously opposed is true worship.
ACCEPTING BIBLE TRUTH REQUIRES COURAGE
◆ When a person has a deep love for righteousness, he is able to take a stand for Bible truth despite probable adversity. This was the case with an engineer in East Germany. At a meeting of the Communist party he told fellow members that he was going to resign. Asked why, he courageously replied that he was going to become one of Jehovah’s witnesses. At that an influential functionary jumped up and shouted: ‘You will have to repeat this before the district bureau; I will see to that.’
The day came for the party meeting of the district bureau, an organ of the party that has greater influence than the police force. But the engineer and his family were determined to continue in their new way of life, come what may. At the place of meeting the engineer did not see the man who had launched the action against him. Inquiring of a neighbor about this, he was told: ‘Don’t you know? He will not come. He lost his mind and was confined to a mental institution yesterday.’ How glad the engineer was for not having yielded to the pressure of possible adversity!
Surely those who take their stand for Jehovah God are in line for blessing. Whereas there may not always be a reversal of matters, they have the deep satisfaction of knowing that they have proved faithful to the supreme Sovereign of the universe. And He is the One who can reward them so abundantly that their sufferings appear to amount to nothing. As the apostle Paul wrote respecting the heavenly reward: “I reckon that the sufferings of the present season do not amount to anything in comparison with the glory that is going to be revealed in us.”—Rom. 8:18.