Graduates of Gilead’s 59th Class Urged to Stick to the Work
SEPTEMBER 7, 1975, was graduation day for the students of Gilead’s 59th class. They had successfully completed an intensive five-month course, designed to equip them for missionary work. During the morning program held at the Assembly Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Queens, New York, speakers emphasized the importance of a fine relationship with God and the need for the graduates to stick to their missionary assignments.
U. V. Glass reminded the graduates that they are “sheep” of Jehovah God under the loving care of Jesus Christ. Using Psalm 23, he explained that its beautiful description of God’s shepherding finds a basis in the actual experience of sheep and shepherds.
E. A. Dunlap stressed that success will not lie in the missionaries’ own strength or ability but in ‘accepting the undeserved kindness of God and not missing its purpose.’ (2 Cor. 6:1) He encouraged them to remember that their purpose is to carry God’s name to the people in their assignment. By sticking to that purpose, as did Joshua of old, even when faced with opposition, the graduates could be certain of success.—Josh. 1:2, 3; 21:45.
Illustrating the value of continuing in one’s assignment, M. G. Henschel related the following experience: A musician began to think seriously about the purpose of his being alive and prayed to God. He remembered a missionary who had called on him fifteen years earlier. He began looking for her and, since she was still in her assignment, was able to locate her, identifying her on the street. As a result, one of the man’s sons has already become a dedicated servant of Jehovah and other members of the family are making progress toward this end. What a fine blessing this missionary experienced because of having remained in her assignment!
In his comments, M. H. Larson showed that the graduates possessed lifesaving spiritual food and should, therefore, be willing to weather stormlike problems to help people. He counseled them to be like the Hebrew prophet Habakkuk, who said: “At my guard post I will keep standing, and I will keep myself stationed upon the bulwark; and I shall keep watch.”—Hab. 2:1.
Among other things, G. M. Couch directed attention to the example of Jesus Christ, who left behind his heavenly home to minister to sinful humans. Yet Jesus Christ was happy. Why? Because he understood the importance of his assignment and saw good in people. By imitating Jesus Christ, the graduates could likewise find happiness in their assignments.
Addressing the graduates, F. W. Franz showed why they were not being sent by any ecclesiastical body such as exists in the churches of Christendom. According to the Scriptures, neither Philip nor the apostle Paul, two outstanding evangelizers or missionaries in the first century C.E., received missionary assignments from the apostolic body at Jerusalem. Both men did their work under the direction of the real head of the Christian congregation, Jesus Christ. Paul had, in fact, been directly chosen by Jesus as an apostle to the nations. Later, at the direction of God’s spirit, Paul and his companion Barnabas were sent out from the Antioch congregation. Both men recognized their assignment as having come, not from men, but from Jesus Christ. The missionaries trained at Gilead School can also be confident of Christ’s backing and direction.
Concluding the morning program, N. H. Knorr highlighted the importance of maintaining a good relationship with God through wholesome speech. He urged the graduates to “add lustre to the doctrine of God our Saviour.” (Titus 2:10, New English Bible) How could they do so? They could make this doctrine beautiful and brilliant in the eyes of others by their wholesome speech, fine manners, honesty, trustworthiness and, yes, by their being Christians whole-souled. Thus they would be backing up God’s Word by what they said and did.
In the afternoon the graduates put on a delightful program that included two informative dramas drawn from the Bible and present-day experiences.
Truly the admonition to remain faithful to Christian assignments and to safeguard one’s relationship with God by ‘adding lustre to his doctrine’ was most timely for the graduates and all others in attendance. Only by doing this can any of us hope to continue experiencing God’s favor and blessing.