Assembling to Promote Victorious Faith
STANDING firm in the midst of the many problems facing today’s world are more than 2,000,000 courageous Christians. Moreover, the fact that their current series of over 100 international conventions will bring together well over 2,000,000 persons makes these people a spectacle before nations and individuals. And dramatic indeed is the theme of these Christian gatherings: “Victorious Faith.”
On the convention’s opening day, the keynote address has focused attention on these words: “This is the conquest that has conquered the world, our faith.” (1 John 5:4) “What kind of conquest is this conquest by faith?” asked the speaker, answering: “Well, to have faith means to be so thoroughly convinced concerning things unseen or things of the future that these become a reality to the believer. True Christian faith, far different from credulity built on shifting sands of emotion or superstition, is built on the sure foundation of Jesus Christ. Like ‘gold, silver and precious stones,’ it is indestructible.” (1 Cor. 3:11-14) But how does such faith manifest itself?
FAITH FINDS A WAY
For some, mere attendance at one of these conventions posed a test of faith. To illustrate: The spirit of victorious faith was embodied in the comment of a woman from the United States who attended the convention in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She needs kidney dialysis treatment every other day. Not having a portable unit, for each treatment she would have to enter a hospital in that city. Would this stand in her way? No indeed! She said: “I’m not going to let a little thing like that stop me!” And it did not.
Victorious faith also was in evidence when a large family from the northern United States attended the Montreal convention. A fire had destroyed their home, and they were living in a school bus converted into a camper. The mother, a recently baptized Christian, adopted the attitude, “Jehovah will provide.” Most of the family’s meager funds were used to make the vehicle roadworthy, but its motor failed near Montreal and they incurred an expensive towing charge to the assembly’s Trailer City. Fellow Witnesses voluntarily paid half the towing bill and, upon learning that the motor could not be repaired, arranged for the family to travel back to their home region with friends. Trailer City residents also contributed enough for the family to purchase an equivalent vehicle on their return. The father, not yet baptized, was so overwhelmed by this spontaneous generosity that he wept, saying that he actually was experiencing the love he had read about in the publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses.—John 13:34, 35.
Among the thousands present at the “Victorious Faith” International Conventions in New Orleans was a married sister who was there “alone” with her child of four and a six-month-old baby. “No one in my family is in the truth,” she writes, “and while I was there at the Superdome I felt as if I were in an oasis. I knew I’d enjoy it and expected it to be good, but I had no idea of the joy that awaited me to be in one place with all those brothers and sisters.” The specially recorded music also was touching. “When the first song was sung,” she admits, “I could not get through it because I was weeping with happiness.”
THEY MADE A CONQUEST BY FAITH
Those large convention audiences have included many persons who had just made a conquest by faith. How? By abandoning worldly ways, dedicating their lives to Jehovah God through Jesus Christ, and getting baptized in water. Of the 785,051 persons attending the 20 international conventions in the United States, 5,539 individuals were baptized. With the aid of God’s holy spirit, some of them had made profound personality changes.—Col. 3:8-10.
For instance, one man and his wife were involved in drugs when she began studying the Bible in 1974. Whereas he continued to pursue that course of life, “she chose Jehovah’s way.” In 1976 the man was granted a divorce by the secular government, but in 1977 he lost all his worldly possessions. Then he remembered what his wife had said about the “last days.” (2 Tim. 3:1-5) After contacting many denominations of Christendom, he became convinced that they were not teaching Bible truth. So the man prayed to God to show him the true religion and to help him to find peace of mind. One day he obtained the address of the local Kingdom Hall and recalls:
“I went there that night and received a Bible free from one of the brothers, even though I offered to pay for it. My looks had convinced him that I needed a Bible, for my hair was way down to my waist. I began to read it that night and, after a while, I realized that I did not understand it. So I went back for further help, received a Truth book [The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life], and was told a brother would study with me. This I eagerly accepted.
“Since then, my former wife and I were remarried (on July 1, 1978) and were privileged to attend the ‘Victorious Faith’ Convention together with our sons, aged 16 and 14, where I was baptized [on July 22].”
HAPPY FAMILIES WITH VICTORIOUS FAITH
It is not inactive faith—mere belief in something spiritual—that can reunite separated marriage mates. What is needed is dynamic faith—indeed, victorious faith. In a day when marriages are breaking up and families are falling apart, such faith is winning out. It is resulting in happy family life.
To a great extent audiences assembled for the “Victorious Faith” International Conventions are made up of Christian families, those guided by God’s Word, the Bible. Interestingly, in one of the Canadian convention cities a deputy mayor remarked: “A point worthy of note is your obvious concern for family life and your life-style that leads to righteousness. This is something I am interested in and I am glad to see you people doing something about it.”
Fittingly, the fourth day of these international conventions has as its theme “Have Faith to the Saving of Your Household.” (Heb. 11:7) Pointedly, the talk “Coping with Marriage Problems in This Modern World” shows that individual selfishness often is at the root of marital difficulties. Nevertheless, by cultivating Christian qualities it is possible for husbands to be men of God and for wives to be women of God. The program’s various features leave no doubt that it is possible—with victorious faith—to make your family life happy.
To attain happiness in marriage, however, some adjustments may be required. For example, in an experience related at the Winnipeg, Manitoba, international convention, one man admitted: “I also had a hard time accepting headship, as it was much easier for [my wife] to take the lead. But in time this has worked out.”—Eph. 5:21-23, 33.
What a delight it is to observe entire families manifest victorious faith in today’s world! Truly noteworthy was the very large family attending the Spanish international convention in Los Angeles, California. Bible truth began to filter to that family in 1917 when the grandfather started reading the publications of God’s people. Years later, the widowed grandmother moved to Mexico and began studying the Bible with some full-time Kingdom proclaimers in that country. Her 12 sons and daughters were required to participate by reading a book and giving a report on it. Today there are more than 150 members of this family displaying victorious faith, among them elders, ministerial servants and pioneers (full-time declarers of the “good news”). In fact, 106 members of this family attended the Spanish convention in Los Angeles.
VICTORIOUS FAITH AMONG THE YOUNG
If happy family life is to be attained, children and youths must not be ignored. Fittingly, then, an entire convention day is devoted to the theme “Youths, Be Examples in Faith.” (1 Tim. 4:12) Featured on the program this day is the faith-strengthening drama “Youths—What Is Your Goal in Life?” It deals with the faith and unselfish godly service of the young man Timothy, an associate of the Christian apostle Paul.
Three natural brothers were among those participating in this drama at the “Victorious Faith” International Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They all agreed that the “greatest testing point and strengthening of their faith came as a result of the death of their father after a sudden illness.” What had helped these youths to have victorious faith? One of them, Lawrence, answered: “The Truth has kept our family together. When my father was alive, he was strict with us. He used to gather us boys together to tell us things about life.” “And he always encouraged us to keep going forward,” added Lester, age 17. He also remarked: “Mother just continued in his steps and organized our family to continue onward in the faith.” Leon, age 20, who portrayed Timothy in the drama, said: “The [congregational] elders, who gave us companionship and invited us along in field service, helped us to keep our faith strong.” Yes, Christian youths do have faith that wins out in today’s world.
BENEFITS ALREADY IN EVIDENCE
These international conventions have been designed to promote victorious faith. Yet, those adhering to God’s Word already give evidence that they have benefited from its counsel. One motel owner in the San Francisco, California, area stated: “It was a pleasure to have my place filled with Jehovah’s Witnesses. May I say, your children are so well behaved. They don’t tinker with the ice machines, play around with the elevator, or run up and down the hallways as the children usually do.”
San Juan, Puerto Rico, also was a city in which Jehovah’s Witnesses gathered for international conventions. There one hotel manager stated: “I am especially happy with the children. We have absolutely no problems with them and they conduct themselves very well. In spite of the fact that there are more than 200 of Jehovah’s Witnesses as guests in the hotel, there is much silence. I wish that [all who] stayed here were Jehovah’s Witnesses. I have never seen anything like it, that so many children and adults could be so united and humble.”
A man who has for nine years been a security guard at a stadium used by Jehovah’s Witnesses in San Juan said: “I find that the organization is fantastic . . . I personally feel much at ease. I have no problems with you. Look, I don’t even carry a club. But it isn’t this way at other religious conventions. You treat me with great respect . . . Even the children obey me! That never happens!”
VICTORIOUS FAITH FOSTERS BROTHERHOOD
These gatherings of Jehovah’s Witnesses have attracted much attention. A contributing factor has been the prevailing spirit of brotherhood and unity. For instance, writing in The Times—Picayune, Wesley Jackson described the Witnesses as “good people, leading extremely high moral lives, which makes them very family-oriented.” He also stated: “The many thousands of Witnesses here this week, and they come in all different shapes and sizes, colors and nationalities, are basically very devout Christians whose religious beliefs differ somewhat from the rest of the Christian community. That they are close-knit is obvious from the large throngs which have converged on this city for the first of two international rallies being held in New Orleans.”
The spirit of brotherhood and unity evident among Jehovah’s Witnesses also was noted in an editorial appearing in the Washington Afro-American of June 24, 1978. It stated:
“Although much progress has been made in improving race relations, some researchers have recently seen causes for discouragement. Their appraisal: few blacks and whites sit in the same church pews.
“During sessions of the ‘Victorious Faith’ International Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses it is apparent such a division does not exist. The 48,000 delegates to the meeting under way at the R. F. K. Stadium eat, worship, and associate together with no racial distinctions.”
Realizing, as they do, that God “made out of one man every nation of men,” Jehovah’s Witnesses are at unity world wide. (Acts 17:26) Like the Christian apostle Peter, they know that “God is not partial, but in every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him.” (Acts 10:34, 35) Hence, while racial, national and other divisions continue to fragment the human race, the “Victorious Faith” International Conventions are providing a testimony to the entire world that there is one united people displaying invincible faith.
“DECLARATION OF OUR FAITH”
Certainly, victorious faith has been emphasized at these international conventions. For instance, the public talk inspired increased faith in Jehovah and his Messianic King. That discourse, entitled “Jesus Christ—Victorious King with Whom Nations Must Reckon,” vividly portrayed the Son of God as a warrior king who must ride in the cause of truth, humility and righteousness and fight for the establishment of a new order over all the earth.—Ps. 45:3-5; Isa. 26:9.
Yet, right now, with international conventions in session throughout the earth, how appropriate it is that Jehovah’s Witnesses should make a “Declaration of [Their] Faith”! This they have been doing at each convention. These Christians with victorious faith are registering their joy at being part of the only real international brotherhood on the face of the earth. They are expressing their determination to move forward in the service of the Most High God, Jehovah, and to make public declaration of the Kingdom message until the end of this system of things. Moreover, they are determined never to turn their backs on the One who has done so much for them and has given purpose to their lives.
VICTORIOUS FAITH CALLS FOR ACTION!
However, affirmation of faith is one thing. Putting it into action is another. (Jas. 2:18-20) Friday morning of the “Victorious Faith” International Convention is being devoted to activities in the field. Equipped with literature carried in colorful kits advertising the convention, the delegates are witnessing from house to house, at business places, on the streets and elsewhere. For instance, upwards of 20,000 Witnesses participated in this activity in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and its suburbs. At New Orleans, Louisiana, more than 30,000 took part in this work.
In various cases, television or other news media personnel accompanied the Witnesses in their Friday morning field service activity. Cheryl Ernst, a staff writer of the Everett Herald, wrote in that Washington state newspaper: “They marched forth from the Kingdome [in Seattle] 40,000-strong, like Joshua’s army . . . Faith was their armor, the Bible their weapon and words their ammunition.”
What impression was made by this special activity? In St. Louis, Missouri, a man approached a Witness doing street work and remarked: “I’ll say one thing about Jehovah’s Witnesses: Your women dress like ladies.” Donna Balkan, a staff writer of the Ottawa, Ontario, Citizen, wrote: “Even the most steadfast nonbelievers could be touched by the delegates’ friendly, pleasant manner. Attempts to disagree with them were thwarted by kind words—after all, it’s not easy [to] argue with people who talk constantly of love, peace, and the ‘ideal living conditions,’ which the Kingdom of God will bring to mankind.”
THEY KEEP BUILDING VICTORIOUS FAITH
Jehovah’s Witnesses confidently await the “ideal living conditions” and other blessings that God’s kingdom will bring to humankind. Yet, the worship of Jehovah God and devoted service to him already have given them a rewarding purpose in life. Also, because of applying Scriptural principles, they now enjoy happy family life and have the satisfaction that results from personality changes that harmonize with the divine will. And these Christians rejoice that true brotherhood and unity bind them together in this divided world.
Yes, Jehovah’s Christian witnesses furnish proof that faith can win out in today’s world. However, they know that it is vital to keep building faith, and their current conventions are benefiting them to that end. One family of delegates put matters quite well in writing: “Brothers, everyone came away from this assembly better able to face the many problems we all deal with in day-to-day life. Thank you for all the work that went into it, and all of it to Jehovah’s praise.” Indeed, these international conventions are promoting victorious faith.
[Pictures on page 8, 9]
IT IS ACTIVE AND BRINGS JOY—as illustrated by this happy group of Kingdom proclaimers and united family sharing in convention witnessing activities
The apostle Paul encourages young Timothy. Instructive Bible dramas are featured at all conventions
Argentinians meet Africans. In this divided world, Jehovah’s Witnesses of all nations form one international brotherhood
This newly baptized married couple have just demonstrated that they are now sharing in the conquest by faith