Mexico Gets a Rich Cultural Boost
MORE than 48,000 of Mexico’s people have learned to read and write during the past twenty-eight years through the efforts of a unique association of volunteers. By means of the finest publications available, these unselfish workers are also assisting many thousands to learn uplifting principles that truly enrich the quality of their lives and culture.
In a mighty chain reaction, the humanitarian work of Jehovah’s witnesses has spread across Mexico. From about 7,000 in 1950, the number of field workers has mushroomed elevenfold to about 80,000 in 1975! More than 185,000 persons were present at large assemblies held across the nation in late 1974, and then 304,284 attended the annual meeting commemorating Jesus’ death, on March 27, 1975.
Local Study Halls all over are thronged with attentive people at the five instructive meetings held each week. In some areas attendances may be up to four times the number of local Witnesses. The 25 Witnesses in Vizcaino, Durango, were delighted to welcome 485 persons to a special color-slide program presented by a traveling overseer. And of the 480 people who came to see this program at Las Huertas, Durango, only eleven were Witnesses!
These groups grow quickly, often becoming so large that they must divide. During one recent six-month period, nearly 300 new groups, called compañías, were formed. Mexico now has over 2,800 compañías serving its people. More than 350 of these are in the Mexico City area.
Last year alone, these groups taught over 2,000 persons to read and write, so that they can now more readily study worthwhile publications for themselves. One person who was eagerly telling her neighbors about these things had not yet mastered reading and writing herself. Nevertheless, when she met a housewife who could not read either, she at once made arrangements to return and teach her. “But how are you going to teach her, since you do not know yourself?” asked her companion afterward. Well, as this determined worker was taking literacy instructions herself, she passed along the same information to her own student!
Local authorities have also been favorably impressed by another benefit of this unselfish activity. Many who formerly lived together outside of legal marriage, after learning of the Creator’s high moral standards, have changed their way of living. For example, away up in the mountain village of Yahuio, Oaxaca, thirty-three couples have legalized their marriages since 1969. Imagine the surprise of the authorities when even aged couples who have lived together for many years come to them to do this!
Cultural benefits have also found their way into Mexico’s prisons. A number of prisoners serving their sentences at a penal island off the Pacific coast have been helped to reform their lives in accord with righteous standards. A group of them are now holding regular meetings on the island, as well as assisting other prisoners to rehabilitate their lives. Such prisoners at the border city of Tijuana are allowed to use a prison auditorium for their meetings, and they have divided the entire prison into zones so that other prisoners can be systematically helped. They call their group Compañia Libertad (Freedom Company)!
Even criminals still on the loose have been helped. A group of Witnesses returning from an assembly were stopped by bandits intent on robbery. One of the group asked to speak privately to the bandit leader. He then asked the leader if he recognized him—a former associate in crime! This former wrongdoer gave the bandit leader one of the instructive publications that had helped to change his life, with the result that the surprised bandit released the travelers unharmed. Now this bandit leader has reformed his own life, and is busy helping—instead of harming—others.
The power of truth and of following right principles has helped to improve lives in other ways too. A married couple who had been studying for just two months expressed a desire to tell others about what they were learning. It was tactfully explained to them that some changes in personal appearance would be necessary to reflect the modesty befitting those who do this cultural work. To the surprise of those who knew this couple, both were on hand for activity the very next morning, modestly and neatly attired. That very night the man had awakened the barber to get his hair cut, while his wife had lengthened her dresses!
APPRECIATING ITS VALUE
Often those who appreciate this humanitarian work are surprised to learn that it is done without cost. When one person heard a marriage talk full of good practical counsel for the newlyweds, he asked how much was charged for such fine counsel. After being told that no charge is ever made, and that the speaker paid his own expenses to the wedding location, this person exclaimed: “The other day when my son got married, the priest charged us 1,500 pesos ($120) and he did not say anything!” Arrangements were made at once to help this person to study the righteous principles that motivate such unselfish service.
A Catholic priest who appreciated one of the instructive talks given by a traveling overseer at Colima, Colima, invited the speaker to his home. “I would like to have you talk to me about the condition of the dead,” he said, “because I just lost my beloved nephew in death.” Why should a priest desire such information? He admitted: “To be very honest—what I have been telling other people in this circumstance is not satisfactory to me now.” Says the Witness: “Immediately we began to study together the comforting material on the condition of the dead from the book The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life.”
Even the “Circo Alegria” (“Joy Circus”), a traveling circus company composed almost entirely of Witnesses, appreciates the value of regular meetings for study and association. When they entertain in areas where Study Halls are near, they join the local group for meetings and cultural work among the people. But when the troupe visits an isolated area, they still hold their own meetings—in one of the circus trucks! In fact, even though the show does not earn as much in these smaller towns, the troupe often chooses to visit them so as to reach even these isolated people with their unselfish cultural work.
Thus tens of thousands of conscientious workers are rendering a truly fine service to the people of Mexico, helping them to improve the quality of their lives and culture. Surely Mexico is getting a rich cultural boost!