Examinations Yet Ahead for a Graduating Class
APRIL 10, 1977, was graduation day for the students of the sixty-second class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead. In addition to final remarks from the two regular classroom instructors, U. V. Glass and K. Adams, the program included searching talks by members of the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses. A. D. Schroeder, who himself had been a long-time instructor in the School, was chairman. Though school examinations had been completed four days earlier, the graduation discourses made each student examine himself and alerted him to examinations that he must yet face.
W. K. Jackson reminded the audience of the graduation of the first class of Gilead School, back in 1943. At that time, as he said, N. H. Knorr, president of the Watchtower Society, had told the graduating class: ‘You can expect hardships, calling for endurance, but Jehovah God will sustain you.’ Would they endure? What about the sixty-second class? Jackson told of recently meeting graduates of the first class who are still in full-time service abroad. They told him about their experiences, well aware that Jehovah had sustained them. “Jehovah is not going to forsake you either,” Jackson assured this new missionary group that would soon be leaving for service in twelve lands.
With great feeling, the next speaker let the class know that there was much schooling yet ahead for them. “You’ll be in Jehovah’s permanent school of life-giving instruction forever,” said G. D. Gangas. Telling them about one of the big lessons to be learned in that school, he said: “All of us have pride and jealousy. Don’t say you don’t have it. You do. We need to get rid of it.” To help, he urged them to take to heart the counsel in Galatians 6:3.
Again probing deep and urging each one to consider his motives, E. C. Chitty spoke first of service at the world headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Brooklyn, New York, and then of missionary work. He counseled: “Don’t let personal happiness be a deciding factor” in whether you stay with your assignment. Happiness comes from doing Jehovah’s will. At times endurance is needed, but confidence in Jehovah’s arrangement is shown by willingness to serve, even at personal cost. He pointed to Jesus’ own example, in his prayer at John 12:27, 28, and that of the apostle Paul as expressed at Acts 20:23, 24, as setting a pattern for all to take to heart.
Tying in nicely with what had already been said, K. F. Klein cautioned the students: “One of the most important and yet most difficult lessons to learn is that of lowliness of mind.” He especially emphasized how important it is in getting along with fellow missionaries, and he illustrated how a craving for greater personal recognition could cause one to lose sight of the fine privilege of service that he had. He concluded: “You will enjoy to the full your privilege as a missionary if you are content to be a lesser one.”
Before the distribution of diplomas, F. W. Franz also addressed the class. He reminded them of the school examinations that they had had earlier, but then arrested their attention by asking: “Have you had the more vital and serious examination of your kidneys?” He showed from Job 19:27 that in the Bible “kidneys” often represent the innermost recesses of one’s being. So, when Jeremiah 17:10 says that Jehovah ‘examines the kidneys,’ Franz explained, this is not a medical examination, but is done in a judicial capacity. In their postgraduate life, the speaker pointed out, the missionaries will face such an examination of their kidneys. How? In that new situations in life will confront them. When put to the test, what will they really prove to be, deep inside? The psalmist David, though a sinner, did not fear such an inspection by God. (Ps. 26:1-3) Nor should we. Concluding, Franz advised: “Be genuine Christians, not hypocritical, not counterfeit. Be sound Christians down to the core of your personality. If you are, you will pass the examination of your kidneys with everlasting credits to yourself and a clean bill of spiritual health.”
Later in the day, following a discussion of The Watchtower, there was a student program of multilingual entertainment, also two fine Bible dramas: “Youths, What Is Your Goal in Life?” and “The Scriptural Adornment of Christian Women.”
All present for the program realized that the spiritual examinations discussed, and the counsel in the dramas, were not only for the missionaries. Each one found that he was asking himself, ‘Am I really the sort of Christian that I ought to be?’