Gilead Graduates Urged to Imitate Ancient Gileadites
GOING out to serve as a missionary in a foreign land is not an easy thing. It means leaving behind friends, relatives and familiar surroundings. It requires adjusting to new circumstances and possibly facing unfamiliar problems. But there are abundant blessings that await those willing and able to make sacrifices in helping honest-hearted people to become devoted servants of Jehovah God.
The fifty young men and women who graduated from the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead on March 4, 1974, have reason to look forward to these blessings. This is because most of them received assignments to serve as missionaries in foreign fields.
The discourses given during the graduation exercises on Monday afternoon encouraged them to stick to their assignments so that they would not lose out on the joys of missionary service. One speaker admonished the graduates to keep as their goal the advancement of true worship, not allowing themselves to be sidetracked. Another stressed the importance of their having courage, imitating men like Joshua of old. Still another called attention to the need for using wisdom in pursuing each step they would be taking and not permitting their mental eyes to look behind them.
F. W. Franz, basing his remarks on 1 Chronicles chapter 5, pointed to the ancient Gileadites as an example worthy of imitation.
In the days of King Saul the Israelites inhabiting the land of Gilead east of the Jordan were enjoying great prosperity. Their livestock had become very numerous. So they courageously pressed forward in expanding their territory beyond the land of Gilead, toward the river Euphrates. This they did in harmony with God’s promise made to their forefather Abraham.—Gen. 15:18; 1 Chron. 5:10.
Hence, they came into conflict with the Hagrites (possibly descendants of Hagar and thus descendants of her son Ishmael, hence Ismaelites). The Gileadites faced tremendous odds. They numbered 44,760. But in the ensuing conflict they took 100,000 living captives. This was by no means the complete Hagrite force, for the Bible reports that ‘many had fallen slain.’ Manifestly the Gileadites could not have gained the victory in their own strength, and they did not do so. They looked to Jehovah God to help them. “It was to God that they called for aid in the war,” says the Bible account, “and he let himself be entreated in their favor because they trusted in him.”—1 Chron. 5:18-22.
Making application to the Gilead graduates, F. W. Franz urged them likewise to trust in Jehovah as they, equipped with the shield of faith and the sword of the spirit, God’s Word, would engage, not in physical warfare, but in spiritual warfare against great odds.
Following up F. W. Franz’ remarks, N. H. Knorr, president of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead, presented stirring admonition to keep on preaching in imitation of Jesus Christ, his apostles and other disciples. In the concluding portion of his talk, he related modern examples of the fine work done by missionaries and others in preaching the “good news.”
Thereafter the graduates received an envelope containing their diploma, and the president of the School announced their assignments of service in seventeen different lands.
In the evening the graduates of Gilead’s fifty-sixth class put on a most enjoyable program, featuring music from Europe, the Middle East and North America as well as two thought-provoking Bible dramas. The first of these dramas aided the audience to benefit from what happened to a prophet whose activities are related at 1 Kings 13:1-32; the other drama portrayed outstanding experiences of the Israelites during their forty years in the wilderness. Both were excellently done!
There can be little question that the graduates and others who shared in the joy of the occasion were impressed with the need to keep on preaching, imitating the courage and devotion of God’s servants of ancient times.