Kingdom Truth Penetrates the “Gibraltar of the North”
MANY people do not know where the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is located. But Jehovah God knows. There is no country, no town, no island, or any other location so small that our Creator would overlook it. He is having the “good news of the kingdom” under Christ Jesus preached “in all the inhabited earth.” (Matt. 24:14) Yes, Jehovah wants his word for today to be preached in Luxembourg, too, and that message is making fine progress here.
Luxembourg is a land-locked country of western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France and the Federal Republic of Germany. The Grand Duchy is noted for no fewer than 130 castles. In fact, its beginnings were based on the purchase of a small fortress, Lucilinburhuc, by Sigefroid, count of Mosellania. That was back in the 10th century. From that time on, Luxembourg escalated in importance as an impregnable “Gibraltar of the North,” until its capital’s fortifications were leveled in 1867.
RELIGIOUS CONTROL UNAVAILING
The adherents to Roman Catholicism long endeavored to make Luxembourg just as invulnerable to other religious teachings as the military fortifications had been for attacking armies. Dr. Joseph Meyers writes in his book Geschichte Luxemburgs (Luxembourg’s History): “The Spanish Habsburgers granted the church their full protection and strove by every means to further the religious disposition of the people. Liberals and dissenters were persecuted.” (Italics ours.)
Included in these “means” were at least 30,000 “witch trials” between the 15th and 17th centuries. About two thirds of these ended in the death of the accused. Dr. Meyers adds: “The Provincial Council had bookmakers and booksellers controlled, so that no forbidden literature would reach the people.”
Since those times of dense spiritual darkness, developments in the government of Luxembourg and in the country’s role in European affairs have been ever less conducive to attempts at religiously blindfolding the people. The government has exhibited an increasingly impartial and liberal attitude toward religious groups other than the Roman Catholic Church. Also, international traffic in the country—politically, financially, commercially, in connection with tourism and through the news media—has broadened the average Luxembourger’s outlook.
Even so, not very long ago the Catholic clergy still made efforts to curb the distribution of the literature of other religions. On October 4, 1958, the clergy-controlled newspaper Luxemburger Wort warned against the “Ernest Bible Students or whatever they call themselves,” actually referring to Jehovah’s Witnesses. “Their literature is on the Roman Index of forbidden books,” said the paper. “One may neither read it, keep it, nor pass it on to others.”
Luxembourg’s populace is about 95 percent Roman Catholic. Hence, it would be most unexpected for some “foreign” religion (that is, a religion not forced upon the people by historical developments, as was Roman Catholicism) to have much success here. However, God has determined that the “good news of the kingdom” will be preached “in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations,” including Luxembourg. And surely Jehovah is strong enough to do what he purposes. (Isa. 55:11) So, the work of proclaiming the Kingdom as mankind’s only hope has expanded greatly here in the past and continues to move forward.
FULL-TIME WORKERS DO THEIR PART
Missionaries trained at the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead and sent here have made an invaluable contribution to this expansion. For instance, two of them contacted a man who formerly leaned toward Communistic and atheistic thinking. He reports:
“God did not exist for me. But I thought that Jehovah’s Witnesses, who contacted me in their door-to-door work, were very nice people. So, I would let them talk to me about whatever they wanted—just not about God! And I made them leave their bookbags outside the house. But one summer day, a married couple came to my door. My home was in the middle of a wooded area where there was plenty of good, clean air to breathe. So, the couple spoke to me about the fine location in which I was living. From their accent, I knew that they were foreigners. The man was American and the woman Canadian. Since I have a son who lives in Canada, an interesting discussion developed and I invited the couple to come into the house.
“As soon as I learned that the man was a missionary of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I wished that I had not asked them in. But to be polite, I let them stay. Also, I had to admit that what they were telling me was the truth. They made more calls and started to study the Bible with me. That changed my whole attitude. I stopped my smoking and heavy drinking and began to attend the meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses. No one was happier about the changes that I made in my life than my wife, and she joined me in my new form of worship.”
Over 30 of the 775 Kingdom proclaimers in Luxembourg are in either the missionary or the “special pioneer” service. The Watch Tower Society’s branch office here also cares for the German-speaking part of Belgium. In that area, there are 10 special pioneers, as compared to a total of some 60 publishers.
These full-time workers, or pioneers, love their witnessing activity and the people in their territories. Oftentimes, however, difficulties prompt the question, Will I now be forced to give up my pioneer service? For instance, one woman in the special pioneer work suffered a complicated fracture of her leg. Her physician told her that she would not be able to walk properly for about six months. What would she do? This is her answer:
“I presented my problem to Jehovah in prayer, and then I resolved to start doing something about it myself. I began writing letters, using addresses of persons that other brothers and sisters of the congregation had not found at home in their door-to-door work. Also, in newspapers, I found addresses of persons interested in exchanging letters with others. Throughout the hospital, word spread that I was writing my letters, and what I was writing about. So, I had the opportunity to give a good witness to the physicians who mentioned the matter to me.
“The head physician wanted to read one or two of my letters. Another doctor, who did laboratory work, told me that as soon as I was able to use a wheelchair I should come and visit her, for she wanted to ask me a few questions. I later did this a number of times. Many patients would come from other rooms and I would answer their questions from the Bible. I was able to distribute much literature in the hospital, and every day I had my personal time schedule for carrying on my witnessing work. Thus, I was able to keep up my special pioneer activity throughout all the six months of my recuperation period.”
KINGDOM INCREASE AMID MATERIAL PROSPERITY
Due to such zeal and, above all, because of Jehovah’s support of the Kingdom-preaching work here, there is now one of Jehovah’s Witnesses to every 461 persons in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and one to every 967 in the German-speaking part of Belgium. Moreover, in 1977 the celebration of the Lord’s Evening Meal was attended by a total of 1,709 persons, a ratio of one for every 248 residents of the branch territory. So, not all people in Luxembourg strictly adhere to their national motto, “We want to stay what we are.” In the minds of more and more of these friendly and hospitable people the ‘strongly entrenched reasonings and lofty things raised up against the knowledge of God’ are being overturned.—2 Cor. 10:4, 5.
Although only some 357,000 inhabitants strong, Luxembourg is a very prosperous country. The Grand Duchy has occupied the first position in the Common Market as respects foreign trade. As of 1973, it was second highest in the number of telephones and hospital beds per capita. With the beginning of 1974, it was highest in the Common Market in automobiles as compared to its population. Housing and income figures also attest to the high standard of living. As the American Overseas Shopping and Services Guide puts it: “There is an enchanting atmosphere of well-being; for there are no blatant contrasts between wealthy intellectuals and the humble poor. Everyone has enough, everyone is content.”—20th Edition, p. 389.
As a result of such material prosperity, there are many distractions. But Jehovah’s Witnesses here take advantage of every opportunity, small as it might be, to spread the message of God’s kingdom. Especially good results have been attained by witnessing informally within families and among friends, acquaintances and workmates. This is well illustrated in these remarks of a man whose wife was a Witness:
“One day, my wife asked me whether I would let her invite a traveling overseer of Jehovah’s Witnesses over for supper. Since I did not have anything against what I thought to be her ‘odd ideas,’ I said that it would be all right. So the circuit overseer came.
“During the meal, we discussed various topics. Every time the conversation leaned toward the Bible, however, I stopped talking. Eventually, we began discussing hobbies. I was interested in history, especially ancient history. The circuit overseer asked me to get my lexicon and he read to me the names of some emperors and their empires. I was interested in speaking about them, but every time a name was mentioned, he would take his Bible and give me further information about the particular person and nation. In that way, he proved the reliability of God’s Word. When our discussion finally drew to a close and the traveling overseer left our home—at three o’clock in the morning—I felt the whole impact of what I had heard and just sat down and cried. I had begun to put faith in the ‘good news’ and was determined to continue.
“Several months later, I was baptized as another new witness to the name and kingdom of Jehovah and his Son, Christ Jesus. I was helped by my newly won faith to overcome my enslavement to tobacco, too. I had smoked 50 cigarettes a day, on an average, but completely stopped smoking one month before being baptized. I am immeasurably happy to be in the truth.”
REACHING ‘ALL SORTS OF PEOPLE’
Even within the boundaries of Luxembourg one can readily observe fulfillment of Jesus’ commission to his true followers: “Go . . . and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit.” (Matt. 28:19, 20) As the book Luxembourg, paysages du grand-duché (Luxembourg, Landscapes of the Grand Duchy) reports, by 1975 the number of foreign residents here already had exceeded 23 percent of the total population, which was the highest proportion of foreign workers in any Common Market nation. These foreign workers add to the already very international atmosphere in the country.
Here in Luxembourg, three languages enjoy almost universal usage: Luxembourgish, German and French. And quite a number of people can speak English as well. Native Witnesses are, therefore, in a good position to help French-, German- and English-speaking people coming in from other nations. Hence, the Kingdom work is progressing well among all language groups here. How many congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses are there in our branch territory? Thirteen German, three Italian, two Portuguese and one French. The truth is indeed reaching ‘all sorts of people’ in this country.—1 Tim. 2:3, 4.
Regardless of how much effort we put forth to help others spiritually, it must be acknowledged that we are “God’s fellow workers.” True, we plant, water and cultivate the seeds of truth, but Jehovah gives the increase. (1 Cor. 3:6-9) This has been borne out time and again. For instance, one brother writes:
“One day two elderly women, Jehovah’s Witnesses, called at my door. Although I had long had the desire to find the true religion, I was very uncooperative. After they had left, I prayed to God that he might help me to find the real truth. Soon, the two women made another call. Again I rejected their message. I simply could not believe that, of all people, Jehovah’s Witnesses should have the truth. But again the two women visited me. I was dumbfounded by their tenacity. For me there had to be just one explanation: These women had been sent by God as his answer to my prayers. So, this time I started asking them many questions and they arranged for a brother to call on me and start a home Bible study.”
Yes, one’s power of language is not the important factor in such cases. It is God who gives the increase. And Jehovah God does not overlook the call of even the most remote or humble person. He has a hearing ear toward all who sincerely call upon him, asking for the truth.—Acts 10:34, 35.
Despite Luxembourg’s economic, financial and political achievements here in Europe, many people would not venture to say where this country is situated. But it is evident that Jehovah God knows. Certainly, he is alert to the call of lovers of truth and righteousness here. Through his faithful witnesses, God is having the ‘good news” declared in all nations as a final testimony and as a message of life to any and all who are willing to accept it. Nothing—neither physical nor religious fortifications erected by opposers—will prevent Jehovah from reaching persons of honest heart and from bringing his work to a glorious and fruitful climax.—Mark 13:10; Rom. 8:38, 39.