Responding to Godly Training from Infancy
As told by Rose Cuffie
THE Bible, at Proverbs 22:6, says: “Train up a boy according to the way for him; even when he grows old he will not turn aside from it.” Since the principle applies to girls too, I consider myself blessed to have parents who did just so.
I was born in the year 1919 in Trinidad. Jehovah’s Christian witnesses were then helping my parents to study the Bible. So my parents started quite early to train their ten children in a godly way.
Very often we were taught with the aid of pictures, such as those in a book called “Scenario of the Photo-Drama of Creation,” which illustrated the true-life story of the Bible. For example, my parents would show me a picture of Noah building the ark, and then ask: Why was Noah saved when the flood came? Thus I learned quite early that Noah and his family survived because they were righteous. This made a lasting impression on me, so that I wanted to be like Noah, but never like the people who were destroyed by the flood.
Besides the use of pictures, my parents trained me by relating experiences they had had and which would help me to appreciate Bible principles. For example, my father related an experience that taught me that true Christians never compromise their faith. He said that when I was about five years of age, his employer, under pressure from a clergyman, gave him the ultimatum: “I am giving you thirty days to choose between your God and your job.” My father said that he knew God came first, and that he did not need even one day to choose. As a result, he was immediately dismissed from his job and left stranded in Tobago, about eighty-two miles north of Trinidad. My father was happy he did not compromise. Jehovah’s spirit moved his Christian brothers in Trinidad to help us move back there.
Singing songs of praise to Jehovah is another feature of homelife that I enjoyed and which also was a help in training me. My father obtained one of the songbooks produced particularly for children and first published by the Watch Tower Society in 1925; it was a small hardbound book of eighty songs with music entitled “Kingdom Hymns.” He helped us to learn to sing the songs, and as we learned them we would sing while we worked at home.
I still remember some of the words of the song entitled “Poor and Needy Though I Be.” Here is the first verse: “Poor and needy though I be, God Almighty cares for me; Gives me clothing, shelter, food, Gives me all I have of good.” The third verse: “Though I suffer here awhile, He has promised earth shall smile; When this time of trouble’s past, Blessing shall be mine at last.” I learned from this song to thank God for what I got, to be contented and to look to him for blessings.
Another way, a most important one, by which I was trained was by my parents bringing me to the meetings of the Christian congregation. Sometimes we would have to walk to meetings; other times we went by buggy or horse-drawn carriage with a convertible top and a rumble seat at the back. These meetings were important in my life.
As I responded to godly training, my appreciation for Jehovah and his purposes kept growing. So I was always happy to accompany my mother in the door-to-door preaching work. At first, after she spoke, I would hand a book, booklet or handbill to the householder. In the year 1933 I got started on my own. Then in March 1939 I made my dedication to serve Jehovah and symbolized it by water baptism.
Responding to godly training, I wanted more and more to do things for others. A fine opportunity came in 1943, when I was employed in a trade union office in Port of Spain. At that time there was a ban on our Bible literature due to the government’s misunderstanding of our Christian work. However, the office where I worked could receive all kinds of foreign papers without any difficulty; therefore I used the address of my place of employment to get copies of the Watchtower magazine from a Witness in Grenada. Though I did not get enough to go around to all the congregation, I helped to make typewritten copies, so that more of us could get this important spiritual food.
MAKING FULL-TIME PREACHING MY CAREER
In responding to the early training of my parents, I always attended meetings of the Christian congregation and read the publications of the Watch Tower Society. These, and especially the 1945 Watchtower that discussed chapter twelve of the Bible book of Ecclesiastes 12:1, 3, greatly influenced me. Verses one and three of that Bible chapter impressed me most: “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them. In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened.”—Authorized Version.
The article explained that youths should serve God before “the evil days” come, that is, old age with its physical problems. I reasoned that since I was twenty-six, and would soon be leaving my youthful days, there was no time to delay. I arranged my affairs to make my career the full-time preaching of God’s Word.
So in August 1946 I resigned from my secular job, and started the full-time preaching work in Grenada. I spent three years there, and two persons with whom I studied the Bible were baptized.
In 1949 I went to Trinidad for a Christian assembly, and while there I received an application form for the missionary school of Gilead. I filled out the application because I wanted to do whatever Jehovah directed, and I viewed this opportunity of being trained for missionary work as an evidence of blessings from Jehovah. On January 29, 1950, I left Trinidad for New York to attend the fifteenth class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead.
LIFE AT GILEAD SCHOOL
At Gilead School I learned a great deal more from the Bible than I knew before, though I had read it, and this deepened my appreciation for Jehovah and his purposes. After school hours I was assigned to do some work, and I enjoyed it, whether it was repairing clothing, darning socks, making beds, or picking strawberries. In this fifteenth class I was one of 120 students, all very busy people. Living, studying and working with so many others proved to be beneficial in that I learned to enjoy association with the variety of personalities in Jehovah’s organization.
Graduation of our class on Sunday, July 30, was a special feature of the first day of the “Theocracy’s Increase Assembly,” July 30 to August 6, 1950, at New York’s Yankee Stadium. On graduation day the school’s instructors, the Society’s president and vice-president all gave fine counsel and encouragement. The talk “The Way of Success,” based on Joshua 1:8, made a lasting impression on me. I can still remember the opening words: “Jehovah is conducting a Government school of success. There is nothing else on earth like it. Since it graduated a Master Instructor it has been in operation for nineteen hundred years.” I learned that my graduation from Gilead was not the end of study and schooling for me, but it was the beginning of living under a greater responsibility before God to keep on studying and using the knowledge gained to help others to get on the way of life.
Never before had I been among such a great crowd of Jehovah’s people. And never before had I realized that responding to godly training while one is young would lead to such a blessing.
In October I left for Guyana, South America, my new home, to continue full time in Kingdom service as a missionary.
MISSIONARY WORK IN GUYANA
When I arrived in Guyana, I found the climate to be tropical, similar to Trinidad, where I had come from. Here there are the same fruits as grown in Trinidad, such as papayas, pineapples, mangoes and a wide variety of bananas. These similarities between my homeland and my new assignment helped me to adjust.
When offering Bible magazines here on the streets of Georgetown, the capital, it is not strange to meet Africans, Amerindians, Chinese, East Indians and Portuguese. They can all understand English because that is the official language.
In 1952 my partner and I were assigned to help a small congregation at Hope Town, about eleven miles from New Amsterdam, across the Berbice River. The first Sunday after receiving the assignment, we crossed on the 6:15 a.m. boat, taking our bicycles with us. We rode about seven miles to the starting point in pouring rain, and our work proved to be rewarding. I started a fruitful Bible study with a teen-age girl. The next week her grandparents, her mother and two younger sisters were present for the study, and a brother and sister who lived away from home attended when they visited. All eight of these persons eventually became Jehovah’s Christian witnesses.
In 1953 we were privileged to bring the good news of God’s kingdom to the people who lived along the banks of the Berbice River itself. We used the boat that served the people twice a week, traveling from New Amsterdam to Paradise, a trip that took about twenty hours. Two of my Christian sisters from the congregation went with me. We planned to spend a week preaching the good news along this area. Shortly after we boarded the boat, we met a family and told them about our work. The parents asked us to come to their home first to teach them the Bible. So we accepted their hospitality.
It turned out that, though hospitable, they were not particularly interested in learning about God’s kingdom. So we left the next morning. Each day we continued up the river by using tracks along the bank, or getting a ride in a small boat. We preached to all we met along the way.
When our food supply became depleted, we found that there were no shops around from which to buy food. While we were reviewing among ourselves the fact that Jehovah always provides for those who faithfully do his will, someone offered to help us by taking us in his boat upriver to where food could be bought.
How happy we were to have shared the good news with so many people who lived along that river! One of the girls from the first home where we spent a night is married now, and we met her one day in a store. She asked me to come and study the Bible with her and her children.
In 1963 I was assigned to Georgetown, where I have had many rich blessings in helping others to know God’s truths. Remembering my early training, I have found it helpful, when conducting Bible studies, to use pictures to aid the young ones who cannot read to pay attention and to learn something, and also to help older ones to get the point that the picture illustrates.
I have also been able to use songs and experiences to help others, much as my parents helped me. For example, recently I discussed Song 87 in the book “Singing and Accompanying Yourselves with Music in Your Hearts” with one of my Christian sisters who was discouraged. The song, based on Psalm 55, is entitled “Throw Your Burden on Jehovah!” This helped her to throw her burden on Jehovah and she was encouraged to sing the song when feeling discouraged. As for my use of experiences in helping others—one person with whom I am studying the Bible was stimulated to straighten out her life through an experience I related to her that showed what another Bible student did to overcome the same problem.
When I came to Guyana in 1950, there were 206 persons proclaiming the good news of God’s kingdom. Now this number has grown to over one thousand, due to the hard work of many of Jehovah’s witnesses.
Making the full-time preaching work my career has proved to be a blessing for me. It has made me feel closer to Jehovah, because I spend more time in learning and teaching about him. The way I feel about this closeness is expressed at Psalm 125:2: “Jehovah is all around his people from now on and to time indefinite.”
How happy I am that I responded to godly parental training!