Come to the 1984 “Kingdom Increase” District Conventions!
NO ONE understands better than Jehovah God himself the need for his servants on earth to meet in large assemblies. That is why he arranged for his ancient people Israel to meet three times each year in the place that he had chosen, Jerusalem. There they heard the law of Jehovah God read, received exhortation and doubtless enjoyed relating to one another how Jehovah God had blessed them.—Exodus 23:14-17; 34:23; Deuteronomy 16:16, 17; 2 Chronicles 8:13.
The Israelites, however, came together not only for these festivals but also on special occasions, as at the dedication of King Solomon’s temple, the festivities of which lasted 14 days, and for the inauguration of Jerusalem’s rebuilt walls in the time of Nehemiah.—1 Kings 8:65, 66; Nehemiah 12:27-43.
So it has been with good Scriptural precedent that the modern witnesses of Jehovah have been holding conventions for over a hundred years, actually ever since 1879. For at least 37 years now, we have, like the Israelites of old, been meeting three times a year, twice for our circuit assemblies and once for our district, national or international convention.
How enthusiastic were the reports on last year’s “Kingdom Unity” District Conventions!* The brothers sensed as never before their global unity. In many lands attendances soared to new peaks. For example, the African country of Zambia, with 57,034 publishers, reported a total attendance of 417,122 at 24 conventions. This attendance amounted to one person out of every 15 of the country’s population! Do not reports like this stir within us the desire to be present at this year’s “Kingdom Increase” conventions?
Why the Need to Assemble
Why do we need to come together for three and a half days to strengthen ourselves spiritually? Peter reminds us: “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion, awaiting and keeping close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah.”—2 Peter 3:11, 12.
Year after year the temptations and pressures increase to turn us away from performing these “holy acts of conduct.” It might even be said that daily the world is getting more violent, more wicked, more depraved, more corrupt, more degraded and more immoral. And the media on every hand give proof of it, the newspapers, the magazines, the radio, the movies and the TV. Especially those of us who have to associate with worldlings to earn a living or to get an education find our spirituality continually under attack.
Moreover, what pressures there are to turn us aside from “deeds of godly devotion,” which include the twofold work of preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom and making Christian disciples! The commercial world pressures and tempts us to become materialistic—to give so much time, energy and means to acquiring the so-called good things of life that little time and energy are left for sacred service. In this regard the entertainment industry appears to pose an even greater threat to God’s people. Well did Jesus warn us about these things, saying: “But pay attention to yourselves, that your hearts never become weighed down with overeating and heavy drinking and anxieties of life, and suddenly that day be instantly upon you as a snare. . . . Keep awake, then, all the time making supplication that you may succeed in . . . standing before the Son of man.”—Luke 21:34-36.
Our “Kingdom Increase” District Convention program has been designed so as to give all of God’s ministers the help they need so that they can indeed live by Jehovah’s righteous principles and so that they will be better equipped than ever to preach the Kingdom and make disciples.
Plan Now to Attend
Particularly do we want to bear in mind that these conventions are three and a half days long, beginning with Thursday afternoon. The field service this year will be on Friday afternoon. Comparing last year’s attendance figures of Thursday with those of Sunday raises the question as to whether some of us could put forth a greater effort so as to be on hand when the convention begins Thursday afternoon. One of the highlights of the convention last year was the talk on Thursday “Music That Praises Jehovah,” during which not only was the thrilling announcement made about a forthcoming new songbook but excerpts of nine beautiful melodies were also played, giving a foretaste of what the new songbook would be like. What a joy it will be for many of us this convention season to blend our voices with those of our brothers as we actually use the new English-language songbook during four days of convention!
Most of us get some vacation each year. Could not more of us plan to include the entire convention in that vacation? Or else, could we not sacrifice two days’ wages for the sake of a great spiritual feast? In Honduras some brothers have lost their jobs simply because of asking time off from work so as to attend a convention. A sister there asked for two days off to attend the “Kingdom Unity” convention and was threatened with being fired. A lawyer, whose wife is a Witness, heard of this and arranged a job for her with better pay following the convention.
The 1984 Yearbook tells of more than 27,000 Spanish and Portuguese brothers traveling all the way to Belgium for a convention, at a time when conventions could not be held in their own countries. It also tells of the hardships Alaskan brothers face to attend conventions. Regarding the efforts put forth by a Samoan brother to attend a convention in Fiji, we read: “He was not young, but old; not strong, but sickly; not sound of limb, but had a clubfoot; not endowed with good vision, but blind in one eye. To get to the convention he needed money, and to obtain it he had to gather coconuts. He carried about 15 of them at a time two miles to where he would husk them, cut out the meat and spread it out to dry, after which he sold the coconut meat, or copra.” It took him well over four weeks to earn enough to pay for his trip. May we be as determined to attend!
We should keep in mind, also, that our conventions not only serve to build us up spiritually but often result in a great witness being given to outsiders. For example, note what a reporter had to say in the November 1983 issue of the Greek magazine Galaxias about our “Kingdom Unity” convention in Athens. After giving quite a thorough coverage of each day’s program, he commented:
“Regardless of whether one accepts the viewpoints of Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses or not, one’s visit to the ‘Apollo’ Stadium during the sessions of Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses was an event that left a deep impression on the visitor. . . . No one can deny that their faith has deeply affected their personal life or, in other words, that they live their faith. Though they have zeal, they are not fanatics. They love God, but they love man too.”
Let every Christian witness of Jehovah, as well as all other lovers of truth and righteousness, put forth every effort to attend the “Kingdom Increase” convention—and that from beginning to end!
An incomplete count shows that, at 637 conventions worldwide, the total attendance was 4,749,537, and 62,448 new Witnesses were baptized.