Island Witnessing That Began With a Honeymoon
More than 60 years of Kingdom preaching in the Leewards
LIKE an emerald necklace, the romantic Leeward Islands form the eastern boundary of the Caribbean Sea. It was in 1920 that W. R. Brown and his new bride visited Montserrat to proclaim the good news of God’s Kingdom. During the course of the year they also witnessed to people on the islands of Dominica, Barbados and Grenada.
Regarding their activity, W. R. Brown stated: “It was a joyful honeymoon in Jehovah’s service.” Two years later he wrote to the Watch Tower Society: “By Jehovah’s help I have given the witness throughout the majority of the Caribbean Islands and made disciples in many. Should I go over them again?” The reply: “Proceed to Sierra Leone, West Africa, with wife and child.”
Disciple Making Continues
Today, more than 62 years after Brown’s visit, over 700 witnesses of Jehovah are active in preaching the “good news” throughout the Leewards. And many people are manifesting interest in the Bible’s message.
Take the case of an elderly woman on the mountainous island of Dominica. During the course of her Bible study, Psalm 143:1, 10 was considered. There we read: “O Jehovah, hear my prayer . . . Teach me to do your will, for you are my God.” Tears filled her eyes and rolled down her cheeks as she explained: “It has been years now that I have asked God to send someone to help me to know him. It is just now, I realize, that my prayer has been answered.”
Through the encouragement of a traveling overseer, three young men decided to move to a more remote section of Dominica to declare the “good news.” Their efforts have been richly rewarded. Within a short time they were conducting 16 Bible studies. Once, when one of the young men remained at home because of sickness, interested Bible students came to the house to seek out someone who would teach them the Scriptures.
In a secluded village of the Dominican rain forest, a Catholic woman accepted from one of Jehovah’s Witnesses the book The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life. For more than a year she left it on a table beside her bed, occasionally reading portions of it while in bed. One day she read: “Little children, guard yourselves from idols.” (1 John 5:21) Impressed by this scripture, she took the cherished idol of her “saint” from its pedestal in the corner and began to scrutinize it in comparison with what she had read. For years she had prayed before this darling of her eye. Her children were not permitted to run in the home, for fear of disturbing the idol. Now, in its back was an ugly hole where a mouse had eaten through the lace and plaster. In full view of her astonished children, the woman carried the statue into the yard, where she smashed it in the rubbish container.
Having completed a study of the Truth book with the help of a Witness family that had returned to the island, this woman and her son and daughter were baptized. A family of six from the same village later accepted a Bible study, and they also are now baptized servants of Jehovah. In time, 14 people were meeting there regularly to study the Bible and tell others about the truth that leads to eternal life.
Migration Affects Witness Work
Because many people come to the Leeward Islands temporarily as tourists or as workers, the effects of the activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses are not always discernible here. Indicative of this is a letter received some time ago by the Leeward Islands branch office of the Watch Tower Society located on Antigua. The letter said:
“I am writing to try to get in touch with a sister with whom I started studying in 1970. I cannot remember her name. I was stubborn about my religion at the time and gave her a hard time. After I left Antigua and came back to Mississippi [in the United States], I became more and more dissatisfied with our religion and its many changes. Two of Jehovah’s Witnesses came to my door here, and I started studying again. Six of our family are all baptized Witnesses today, and our two youngest children, ages 10 and 8, love the truth too. I wanted to let this kind sister know that I am truly sorry for the way I treated her, for I was very blunt. But her efforts were not in vain.”
Jehovah Gives the Increase
In view of the increases in the number of Kingdom proclaimers, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been concerned about procuring suitable meeting places, Kingdom Halls. In 1977 a fine 500-seat hall, one of the largest in the islands, was completed in Antigua. The four congregations there rejoice in being able to use it for assemblies and special events. In several villages of the Leewards, Witnesses donated land for halls, shared in clearing building sites and contributed money toward the construction work.
Since W. R. Brown’s query about the advisability of covering the islands again, Jehovah’s Witnesses have devoted many hundreds of thousands of hours in proclaiming the good news in the Leewards. Attesting to the fact that there still is an urgent need to go over them is the large number of genuinely interested people among the 1,905 present at the 1982 Memorial of Jesus Christ’s death. Many of these individuals have regular Bible studies conducted in their homes by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Thus, by this and other Kingdom-preaching activities, these islands are continuing to hear the joyful proclamation: “Jehovah himself has become king!”—Psalm 97:1.
[Map/Picture on page 28]
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