New Missionaries Urged: “Stay Loyal!”
SUNDAY, September 12, 1982, was a warm, humid day in New York City. But one group about two thousand strong hardly noticed it. These were the ones who headed early in the day for Jehovah’s Witnesses Assembly Hall in the borough of Queens to witness the graduation of the seventy-third class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead.
Promptly at 10 a.m., the chairman for the day, Leo Greenlees, a member of the Teaching Committee of the Governing Body, called for attention. The loud buzz of conversation died down, everyone found his seat, and the proceedings were opened with a song of praise to Jehovah and a prayer. In his opening comments Brother Greenlees reminded the students that they were “fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19) Up to now, he said, most of their fishing had been in “local waters.” Now they were going to faraway places to do “deep-sea fishing.” Gilead had taught them the necessary techniques for this kind of fishing.
Then Brother Greenlees introduced Grant Suiter, a member of the Publishing Committee. This speaker referred to the restoration prophecy in Hosea chapter 2 verses 21 to 23. The graduates were very much blessed, he said, to be entering the missionary field at a time of sowing and a time of real ‘answering back’ between Jehovah God and his people.
Next, Calvin Chyke of the Factory Committee encouraged the students to continue developing “godly devotion.” (1 Timothy 4:7, 8, 12) “The power of your godly devotion,” he said, “will move others to want to join you in sacred service.”
Personnel Committee representative Dan Sydlik followed. He explained that warm personal relationships between people do not happen by chance. You have to make them happen. “Even something as small and as free as a smile can help,” he said.—Romans 12:13.
The Writing Committee was represented by Lloyd Barry, who encouraged the new missionaries to be sure to include good spirituality when they packed to travel to their assignments. He also advised them, in the words of the prophet Haggai, “Be strong . . . and work.”—Haggai 2:4.
The two instructors of Gilead School were then invited to give final words of counsel. Ex-missionary Jack Redford cautioned the students: “We all have our ups and downs. Anyone can handle the ups. It is how you handle the downs that will determine how you endure in the missionary service.” And School registrar Ulysses Glass urged them to face up to problems they would meet with in their assignments maturely, as grown people.
Finally, the president of the School, Frederick Franz, addressed the students. This speaker, who has now entered his ninetieth year, reminded them that they serve a great Shepherd who is also a world ruler. He urged them to stay united and loyal in the worldwide flock and concluded: “May the Most High God through his Shepherd, Jesus Christ, bless you and use you mightily in your assignments.”
The students were given their diplomas, and the chairman adjourned the program for lunch. Then, at 2:15 p.m., a study of the current Watchtower magazine was conducted by Don Adams, of the Bethel Home Committee, with the students giving the comments. Afterward, they put on a delightful program of music and experiences, and finally they enacted a moving and encouraging Bible drama.
By 4:30 in the afternoon the program was concluded. Then, with these fine words of counsel still ringing in their ears, the students prepared to go and be “fishers of men” in their distant missionary assignments.