Appreciation Stressed at Gilead Graduation
“WHAT do you mean when you say, ‘I appreciate it very much’? Is it just words or is it full of meaning?” With those remarks, N. H. Knorr, president of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead, opened his address to the graduating students of the fifty-fifth class of this missionary school. It was September 10, 1973; the place, Jehovah’s Witnesses Assembly Hall in New York city, where a crowd of 1,975 had assembled. The fifty graduating students heard good counsel about the meaning of true appreciation.
The talk helped them to appreciate the value of knowledge and what Jehovah God is doing for us. “God appreciates us,” Brother Knorr said, and quoted Jesus’ words, “the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” (Matt. 10:29-31) The speaker stressed the need for the students to appreciate the value of their faith.—Gal. 5:6.
Brother Knorr, commenting on 1 Peter 1:7-12 (The New English Bible), said that ‘trials come so that your faith may prove itself worthy of all praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Then you will reap the harvest of your faith, that is, salvation for your souls.’ Preachers brought these students the good news of salvation, and now they would be going out as missionaries to bring this good news to others. Brother Knorr closed his talk, telling them to ‘appreciate their faith,’ adding: “You must keep your faith strong, that it may never waver and never get weak. Jehovah God appreciates your faith because that brings honor and glory and praise to him.”
With the conclusion of his talk, the graduating students from nine different countries filed past the Society’s president to receive their diplomas and hear mention of their assignments to twenty-four lands, including Honduras, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Iceland, Liberia, Peru, Thailand, India, Korea, Japan, Chile, Brazil, Pakistan and South Vietnam.
Just prior to the main address, there was a series of brief talks. For example, school instructor U. V. Glass told the students that they had been tested in many respects. For instance, 40 percent of them got baptized while their parents were not believers in God’s truth; further, half of these experienced family opposition. “This determination for God’s truth,” Glass counseled, “should stay with you”—because there were other areas in which they had not been tried. New things would come up to test their faith. He warned against the danger of being a complainer and of tiring out when we are so near the end of the present system of things.
M. G. Henschel explained why the future missionaries needed a five-month course of special training—that they might be spiritually strong to face up to different things, including a new language, a new climate, and so forth. ‘But others have done it, and you can too,’ he said. ‘And one thing that will help you to cope with annoyances,’ Henschel added, ‘is to keep a good sense of humor.’
F. W. Franz, vice-president of the Watchtower Society, encouraged the students to benefit by the example of a man who is seldom, if ever, spoken of as an example to imitate. This was a man of the tribe of Judah. What he did is mentioned in only two verses of the Bible. (1 Chron. 4:9, 10) His name was Jabez, and he became “more honorable than his brothers.” How? Because he called on the God of Israel: “If you will without fail bless me and actually enlarge my territory and your hand really proves to be with me, and you really preserve me from calamity, that it may not hurt me,—.”
Jabez was not making a vow but was offering a heartfelt prayer. Was he seeking more territory at the expense of others? No, explained Franz, he was praying for the peaceful enlargement of his territory. According to ancient Jewish tradition, he said, Jabez wanted to establish a school and teach the worship of Jehovah God. He wanted to get disciples for God. Since his motive was good, the Bible says: “Accordingly God brought to pass what he had asked.” So Jabez tried to cooperate with God, and Franz encouraged the graduating students to be like him, and, in effect, say: ‘Oh, if you will without fail bless me and actually enlarge my territory,’ enabling them to make more disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ!
In the evening the students put on a delightful musical program, which was followed by a thrilling Bible drama that presented the highlights of the career of the apostle Paul.
The entire program built up one’s faith and helped Jehovah’s people to appreciate that ‘the tested quality of our faith is of much greater value than gold and is a cause for praise and glory and honor.’—1 Pet. 1:7.