Jehovah’s Loving-kindness Abounds
IN PRAYER to the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, Jeremiah acknowledged Him as “the One exercising loving-kindness toward thousands.” (Jer. 32:17, 18) How true is this among Jehovah’s people today! During the past year, Jehovah’s loving-kindness abounded toward the 2,223,538 Witnesses who served in 216 countries and territories. His spirit enabled them to give a grand witness.
The chart on the following pages summarizes the work accomplished in different sections of the earth. These zealous Witnesses were very busy, devoting 321,424,305 hours to the work of proclaiming the good news of God’s kingdom and conducting 1,282,246 Bible studies in the homes of interested persons. Although magazine placements decreased somewhat, they distributed 24,972,749 Bibles and books explaining the Bible, an increase of 917,700 over the previous year.
Throughout the service year of 1977 there has been most commendable support of the full-time “pioneer” service, especially auxiliary pioneering. As shown by the chart, a number of countries that had many pioneers in the field enjoyed a fine increase. This has also been true in congregations where there has been a true pioneer spirit, and it is hoped that more and more congregations will foster pioneering.
As we approach the end, times get harder. (2 Tim. 3:1) Also, in many countries the people’s attitude is hardening. It is the same as in Jeremiah’s day, when Jehovah said of the people: “They have hardened their neck in order not to obey my words.” If your congregation has to work among a ‘hardnecked’ people, take courage! Rather than slow down in Kingdom activity, let us do as Jeremiah exhorted: “Sing to Jehovah, you people! Praise Jehovah!” (Jer. 19:15; 20:13) Yes, let us expend ourselves as co-workers with God while he gathers the remaining ones of his “sheep.”—1 Cor. 3:9; Jer. 23:3.
Faithful shepherds, elders in the flock who serve under the headship of Jesus Christ, continue ‘actually to shepherd the flock,’ and this is shown by the generally fine meeting attendances in the 41,635 congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses throughout the earth. (Jer. 23:4) A highpoint in attendances was reached on Sunday, April 3, 1977, when a total of 5,107,518 assembled to observe the Memorial of Jesus’ death. The “sheep” are still being gathered, and we rejoice that, during 1977, 124,459 new Witnesses were baptized. Do you use every opportunity to share zealously in this great gathering work?
REPORTS THAT STIMULATE
Although they are banned or otherwise restricted in some 46 countries today, Jehovah’s Witnesses are not dispirited. Tactfully they continue to give the witness, and with excellent results, as the report from these “OTHER COUNTRIES” on page 27 indicates. That the enemy has ‘not prevailed against them’ is shown by messages that filter through from time to time. For example, a 17-year-old sister writes from an Asian country that the missionaries had to leave more than two years ago. Using figurative language, she says:
‘We are doing quite well spiritually. (Ps. 44:8) I am having much progress in the fishing trade, especially informal fishing. I have caught three big fish recently, also many small fish. We like very much Psalm 27:1, 13, 14 and Isaiah 51:12-14. We received the food you sent and cooked it in the [local] manner, so that all can digest well.’
From an African country, where the Witnesses may meet only in small groups of two or three families, and where hundreds have been in and out of prison, comes the report that the Memorial attendance was more than 8,500, two and a half times the number of Kingdom publishers. One young Witness, who is awaiting baptism, is conducting Bible studies with a total of 60 persons.
From a restricted country in the Americas come these interesting experiences:
“Since the Watch Tower Society’s literature is banned, some have used other versions of the Bible in their preaching work. Calling at one door, a Witness started to read texts from a Catholic Bible that uses old Spanish. After listening to several scriptures the lady commented that these were hard to understand, and if he would wait a moment, she would bring him a much easier Bible. Much to his surprise she came out with the banned New World Translation of the Bible.”
“In one place authorities raided a house with three apartments, searching the first and the last, but not the middle one. Here our brothers were gathered for study!”
Despite growing professions of freedom of religion, some Eastern European countries continue to oppress the Witnesses. From one land comes information that the brothers have to report to the police once or even several times a day. Another place advises that the authorities take drastic steps in trying to stop the preaching work. When they tried to kill a brother by running a car into him on the street, he made use of his nimbleness as a former circus rider to jump clear and survive.
This interesting report comes from still another European country:
‘In some regions where there are no Witnesses the angels seem to find other means of speeding up the work of ingathering. A sister from another country felt the urge to visit her relatives with the “good news,” though this necessitated a trip of several thousand kilometers. One of her sisters-in-law showed intense interest and within three days they studied through the Truth book. Then, left on her own, this sister-in-law found another person eager to learn the truth. After studying twice through the same book, she too embraced the truth. The closest Witness was 1,600 kilometers [1,000 miles] away, but this brother made several return visits, and the next summer these persons were baptized. A year later, there were five baptized persons. Each year several more accepted the truth. After six years, the sister who first visited wrote her sister-in-law, inquiring guardedly, “How many trees do you have in your garden?” Back came the reply: “There are 35 trees in my garden; 25 have been washed and 10 will be washed next year.” What joy this letter brought!’
Truly Jehovah’s people have great joy in seeing the truth prevail. But the time for the “great tribulation” grows rapidly nearer. Zephaniah, who prophesied some time before Jeremiah, warned: “The great day of Jehovah is near. It is near, and there is a hurrying of it very much.” (Zep 1:14) In the meantime, the last ones of the “sheep” must be gathered. Will you share fully in this work? Enemies may fight ever more viciously against us. But we will continue to take courage in that precious promise given to the Jeremiah class: “They will not prevail against you, for ‘I [Jehovah] am with you . . . to deliver you.’”—Jer. 1:19.
[Chart on page 24-27]
1977 SERVICE YEAR REPORT OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES WORLD WIDE
(See bound volume)