Let Everyone Take Life’s Water Free
“I PERCEIVE that God is not partial, but in every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him.” These are the words of the apostle Peter when he saw that God manifested his arrangement to accept the Roman army officer Cornelius, along with his household, into the Christian congregation. (Acts 10:34, 35) Indeed, God’s will is that “all men should be saved and come into awareness of truth.” (1 Tim. 2:4, Byington) Today, over a far more widespread area than in the apostle Peter’s day, God is showing favor to men and women “of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues.” (Rev. 7:9) Moreover, he is drawing people of all walks of life and all kinds of circumstances to walk on the way to everlasting life.—John 12:32.
The African country of Nigeria furnishes a fine example of this gathering of all sorts of men and women to serve God “with spirit and truth.” (John 4:24) During the year 1975, 16,291 persons were baptized, and the total of 112,164 active witnesses of Jehovah became the second-largest body of these Christian people within the borders of any one nation. In Nigeria there are scores of tribes and many linguistic groups—the Hausas, the Yorubas and the Ibos, to name a few.
Among these Nigerian tribes, one who desires to conform to Christian standards has numerous barriers to overcome, such as polygamy and fetish worship, occultism, and so forth. Also, as in other lands, people, before coming to a knowledge of Bible truth, have generally been involved in practices that are out of harmony with the Christian principles of love, peace and morality. They must make changes to serve God acceptably.
For example, there is the Nigerian man who was head of his clan and president of the local Customary Court. By no means a poor man, he supported six wives and thirty-four children. He augmented his authority as chief by membership in a secret order and several occult societies, at the same time being a member of the Anglican (C.M.S.) Church. Then he began to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. “I began to realize,” he says, “that worldly glory is transitory. I resigned my chieftaincy and terminated my affiliation with occult societies and my membership in the C.M.S. Church.”
This man found it difficult to straighten out his marital affairs to conform to Bible principles. But, though it meant considerable cost to him, he brought his way of life into harmony with the Bible’s counsel to have but one wife—his original wife, spoken of in the Bible as “the wife of your youth.” (Prov. 5:18; Matt. 19:4-9) He registered his marriage with his first wife and separated from the other five, making arrangements so that they and their children would not suffer want. Now, being Scripturally qualified, he got baptized as a true follower of Jesus Christ.
This tribal chieftain’s experience is similar to that of another former head of a tribal clan and president of the clan court. On his first contact with Bible truth, in the 1940’s, he was too involved in his tribal affairs to give it careful attention, but this truth stayed with him. In 1962 he began to think seriously about his obligations to God. He saw that he had to settle his marital problem (he had eleven wives). Years passed, and then in 1970 he read an article in Awake! magazine entitled “My Life as a Polygamist.” He says: “I saw that the narrator was quite determined and serious-minded and as such God empowered him to overcome his problems. God could also do the same for me if I would be serious and determined. So I began putting my extra wives away and registered with my senior wife.” Then, after bringing the other features of his life into harmony with Bible principles, he was baptized and today is an elder in the Umuelemoha Congregation.
Among Nigerians now serving as Christian witnesses of Jehovah is a business tycoon who had amassed wealth by political manipulation. There is also the former tobacco merchandiser who had enriched himself to the point where he became known as a “money magnate.” Another received the truth when he was a humble wheelbarrow pusher in the Emugu market. A young man, the light-middleweight boxing champion of the East Central State, was preparing to seek the world championship title when he learned the truth that ‘a slave of the Lord does not need to fight.” (2 Tim. 2:24) Despite opposition and charges that he was ‘letting down his nation,’ he gave up his promising boxing career, was baptized as one of Jehovah’s witnesses, and is now determined to “fight the fine fight of the faith” in order to “get a firm hold on the real life.”—1 Tim. 6:12, 19.
Reminiscent of the Roman army officer Cornelius is the experience of a captain in the defeated Biafran army. He observed the honesty and steadfastness of Jehovah’s Witnesses during the civil war, at which time many of them were hated and mistreated. The first week after the war he began attending their Bible-study meetings, and he is now a baptized member of the congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Aba.
Likewise, a Biafran army lieutenant, a devout Catholic, was a firm believer in the sincerity of the clergy. ‘But,’ he says, ‘their activities during the civil war shocked me. They came to the war fronts to bless our weapons and used the pulpits as recruiting centers for the army, then turned around at the end of the war to condemn the very cause they had formerly espoused, in order to procure favor from the victorious side. I could not reconcile this shameless hypocrisy with true Christianity. I began to appreciate the neutral course taken by Jehovah’s Witnesses.’ When the war was over this man took time to learn Bible truth and to take a firm stand for Bible principles.
Similarly in all lands, a good condition of heart toward God overcomes all obstacles and receives His favor regardless of age, occupation or previous way of life. The message in God’s Word has power and strengthens one spiritually and morally. (Heb. 4:12; Phil. 4:13) Hundreds of thousands each year, the world around, are saying to those preaching the good news of God’s kingdom: “We will go with you people, for we have heard that God is with you people.” (Zech. 8:23) They are transforming their lives and making over their personalities with everlasting life in view. (Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:23, 24) Yes, in this serious time, God’s heartwarming invitation to everyone is: “Let anyone thirsting come; let anyone that wishes take life’s water free.”—Rev. 22:17.