A Contrast—Missionaries with an Urgent, Lifesaving Work
UNDER the title “When Missionaries Are Expelled,” the January 29, 1975, issue of The Christian Century pointed out that many of Christendom’s “missionaries are coming under fire for criticizing local government.” This is an outgrowth of their efforts at social reform, involving political activities and protest movements.
But are such missionaries copying the pattern that Jesus set? In one land, from which some of such missionaries were recently expelled, a college leader wrote to a prominent newspaper: “The government under which Jesus lived was corrupt and oppressive; . . . Yet the Savior attempted no civil reforms. He attacked no national abuses . . . [Why?] because the remedy did not lie in merely human and external measures. To be efficient, the cure must reach men individually, and must regenerate the heart.” (Italics added)
In contrast to the missionaries of Christendom, there are today missionaries who are helping to reach the hearts of individuals with the Bible’s lifesaving message. These are missionaries of Jehovah’s witnesses. Twenty-five more of such were graduated from the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead on Sunday, March 2, 1975.
During the graduation program, held at an assembly hall of Jehovah’s witnesses in New York, a number of speakers who addressed the graduating class made plain this contrast. The school’s registrar, E. A. Dunlap, told them that during their schooling they “had been built up spiritually,” even as Jesus’ disciples had been by witnessing the transfiguration. (Matt. 17:1-9; 2 Pet. 1:16-19) What was the objective? Now these missionaries were to go forth to thirteen distant lands “to build up others.” This is their work, not social reform.
N. H. Knorr, president of the Watchtower Society, clearly showed that the missionaries were to preach “the kingdom of God that people have to accept and come in line with,” just as did Jesus. People need to be helped to be “in God’s image,” manifesting his qualities. The speaker called attention to Ephesians 5:1, where Christians are urged to imitate God, the apostle Paul writing: “Try to be like him.” (New English Bible) That means making changes in one’s personality.—Eph. 5:2-8.
Could the missionaries expect to have success in reaching the hearts of persons? They were encouraged by an experience related by the speaker concerning a woman in Italy who was raised for fifteen years in a convent. Finally she left and took up prostitution. When, years later, she learned the Bible’s message from Jehovah’s witnesses, she quit the “profession,” even though she now had three children to support. She studied the Bible and got baptized. Local Witnesses helped her financially until she got a job, and now she is actively helping other people “to be like him,” Jehovah God.
Another speaker, F. W. Franz, the Society’s vice-president, forcefully impressed on the audience the urgency of the Christian preaching work. He stressed that, according to dependable Bible chronology, 6,000 years of human history will end this coming September according to the lunar calendar. This coincides with a time when “the human species [is] about to starve itself to death,” as well as its being faced with poisoning by pollution and destruction by nuclear weapons. Franz added: “There’s no basis for believing that mankind, faced with what it now faces, can exist for the seventh thousand-year period” under the present system of things.
Does this mean that we know exactly when God will destroy this old system and establish a new one? Franz showed that we do not, for we do not know how short was the time interval between Adam’s creation and the creation of Eve, at which point God’s rest day of seven thousand years began. (Heb. 4:3, 4) But, he pointed out, “we should not think that this year of 1975 is of no significance to us,” for the Bible proves that Jehovah is “the greatest chronologist” and “we have the anchor date, 1914, marking the end of the Gentile Times.” So, he continued, “we are filled with anticipation for the near future, for our generation.”—Matt. 24:34.
In the afternoon the students put on excellent Bible dramas, including one that emphasized the urgency of keeping one’s senses in the remaining time. The drama involved the attitude of Noah and his family prior to the flood, as they preached and built the ark. According to Jesus’ words at Luke 21:34, 35 and Matthew 24:37-42, Noah’s experience should alert us to keep on the watch and to be active in the urgent, lifesaving work of preaching about God’s kingdom and helping persons to be like Him.