“Kingdom Increase” Conventions—What Rich Spiritual Feasts!
JEHOVAH promised that ‘the little one would become a thousand and the small one a mighty nation.’ He himself would “speed it up in its own time.” (Isaiah 60:22) And in some lands since World War II, Kingdom proclaimers have increased a thousandfold. To this very day, Jehovah’s Witnesses are experiencing splendid increases in Brazil, Italy, Japan, Mexico—indeed around the earth. How appropriate, then, that their recent assemblies should be called “Kingdom Increase” District Conventions!
More important than numerical increases, of course, are the rich spiritual blessings we enjoy as witnesses of Jehovah. And how many we enjoyed at this convention! A review of program highlights should refresh our minds, gladden our hearts, and strengthen our determination to apply the fine counsel.
The Overall Effect
In the contiguous United States alone, 117 conventions were held. A total of 1,159,898 were present (35,828 more than last year), and 10,625 were baptized. The four days were filled with spiritual feasting and rejoicing, and the program was like a trumpet sounding distinct notes—Scriptural counsel to strengthen the heart and conscience.
“The talks zeroed in on every facet of life,” said one conventioner. Heard, too, were comments like these: ‘On getting home, I will have more to think about than I have had after any other convention.’ “It always seems that this year’s convention is better than last year’s, but this year’s was the best ever!” Yes, the program truly was outstanding.
These conventions also served to advertise Jehovah’s name and Kingdom. For instance, this was done when many Kingdom proclaimers shared in the field ministry on Friday afternoon. Then, too, there was much good coverage by the media. Newspaper, radio, and television reports focused on convention activities and the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“The Little One Becomes a Thousand”
Based on Isaiah 60:22, this was the theme of the opening day. The talk “Listen and Become Wise in Your Future” urged conventioners to listen to counsel especially applicable to them and work on those points when they returned home. (Proverbs 19:20) Then came the chairman’s talk “Together Let Us Exalt God’s Name,” a most encouraging discussion of Psalm 34. Exalting Jehovah’s name means praising it under all circumstances and showing respect for all the Creator’s spiritual provisions. And how grateful we should be for the superb spiritual provisions he makes through his organization!
Heartwarming, indeed, was the feature “Declaring Jehovah’s Works to the Next Generation.” For years, the older ones among us have experienced God’s goodness and therefore have much to tell those who are younger. And elderly Witnesses do not retire. Why, all members of the Governing Body keep very active although their ages range from 59 to 91 years! Moreover, Scriptural and modern-day examples show how fitting it is for the younger generation to respect and cooperate with older servants of Jehovah.
The importance of holiness was emphasized in the talk “Keeping Spotless, Unblemished and in Peace.” (2 Peter 3:14) To keep spotless, we must avoid the world’s immorality and greed. Maintaining peaceful relations with others requires that we be yielding as regards our preferences and that we conduct ourselves as lesser ones.
Next, conventioners were urged to be “Talking About the Glory of His Kingship.” For instance, we can witness informally if we carry tracts and other literature, make good use of our opportunities and cultivate a positive frame of mind. The feature entitled “The Increase Is On” showed that large numbers are responding to the good news. Why, in 40 years Jehovah’s Witnesses have increased from about 126,000 to more than 2,842,500, with over 7,416,900 attending the Memorial! Encouraging expressions were heard from some who shared in this grand increase.
The first day’s program ended with the stirring talk “Survivors Into a New Earth” and the release of a new book entitled Survival Into a New Earth. It focuses attention on 47 prophetic patterns and descriptions of people who will survive the end of this system and inherit the earthly realm of God’s Kingdom. This publication certainly was received with great enthusiasm.
“Declaring Abroad the Kingdom”
The second day of the convention had this as its theme, and the program emphasized our privilege of declaring the Kingdom message. Pioneers interviewed during the talk “Will You Enter the Large Open Door?” told about the sacrifices they made to become full-time ministers but testified that entering this large door had resulted in deep satisfaction and the blessing that makes one truly rich. (Proverbs 10:22) Those not in the full-time ministry had reason for serious reflection when the speaker asked: “Do our circumstances permit us to enter the pioneer service?”
As aptly shown in the next talk, the apostle Paul was “Intensely Occupied With the Kingdom Good News.” (Acts 18:5) Since preaching the good news is one of the main reasons for the existence of the Christian congregation, each present-day witness of Jehovah may wisely ask: “Am I a zealous proclaimer of the Kingdom? Is there any reason why I cannot share regularly each week in some feature of Kingdom preaching?”
The talk “In Your Training Aim for Godly Devotion” showed that such devotion means being personally attached to Jehovah. And while some secular education is necessary, we may well ask: What is my goal, a secular career or trying to please Jehovah?
Secular education also was considered in the modern-day drama Divine Education Increases Kingdom Fruitage. This highlight contrasted the dangers common to attending college with the rewards of full-time service. Youths appreciated the straightforward counsel, and one young man remarked: “That drama was not an exaggeration.”
A delightful surprise that morning was the release of Kingdom Melodies No. 5. And ever so many expressed appreciation for the new songs used on the program.
The afternoon program began with the keynote address “Kingdom Fruitage Increasing in All the World.” It interwove a verse-by-verse discussion of Isaiah chapter 60 with a review of Kingdom increase since 1919, noting such high points as the adoption of the name Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1931 and the proper identification of the “great crowd” in 1935. (Isaiah 43:10-12; Revelation 7:9) Attention was drawn to the increases we enjoyed during World War II and since then, fulfilling Isaiah 60:22.
All of this was an apt prelude to the talk “A Joyful People—Why?” What reasons we have for joy! Ours is a happy God, and joy is a fruit of his spirit. We enjoy the light of truth, the protection of Bible-based morality, the finest association, and the privilege of making Jehovah’s heart glad by maintaining our integrity and preaching the good news. In fact, many conventioners joyfully shared in the Kingdom-preaching work that afternoon, following a talk that heightened appreciation for the great variety of printed material so helpful in our ministry.
“Practicing the Things We Learn”
The third day began with two elders discussing the daily text and focusing attention on the foregoing theme. Then came a symposium entitled “Measuring Up as a Christian Family.” First considered was the responsibility of the Christian husband, who needs to answer such questions as these: Are you careful never to use your headship for selfish ends? Do you set a fine example by keeping material interests in their proper place as you teach your children to put the Kingdom first in life? Are weekends viewed merely as times for recreation or primarily as opportunities to share in sacred service?
The next talk, “A Wife Who Shows Deep Respect,” pointed out that the wife’s Scriptural role originates with a wise, just, and loving God who knows what is best for all. Of course, a wife should also be accorded respect. It may not always be easy for a woman to show deep respect for her husband, because he is not perfect. But showing such respect gains Jehovah’s approval, results in family harmony, and will bring a woman happiness.
Especially did young people benefit from the talk “Children Who Honor Their Parents.” Honoring parents requires obeying them from the heart and guarding against wrong inclinations. So a Christian youth may wisely ask: Is what I am doing bringing honor to God, my parents, and me?
Further counsel for young people was presented in the feature “Youths, Do Not Be Deceived.” It included several fine interviews and emphasized the need to resist the Devil’s attempts to deceive us. This was followed by the talk “Sons Who Make Jehovah’s Heart Glad,” which showed that Jesus, David, and others gladdened Jehovah’s heart in their youth. Similarly, by fine conduct and zealous service, many youths among us are making Jehovah’s heart glad today. (Proverbs 27:11) What a privilege!
The baptism talk, “Subjecting Ourselves Under Jehovah’s Mighty Hand,” emphasized the fact that a person is loyal either to God’s organization or to Satan’s. Dedication and baptism require changes in the way we think, speak, and act and call for regular presence at meetings and a full share in the Christian ministry.
Three main responsibilities of overseers were driven home in the afternoon discourse “Elders, Imitate the Great Shepherd.” (1) Elders must take seriously the obligation to feed God’s flock, avoiding last-minute preparation. (2) By example and precept they must protect the flock from such dangers as permissiveness, excessive pleasures, illicit sex, and apostasy. (3) Elders need to share regularly in the shepherding work.
A discussion between an elder and a ministerial servant next clarified “What It Means to Submit to Kingdom Authority.” The root of disregard for rightful authority is selfishness, which got its start with the Devil. Submitting to Kingdom authority means following Bible principles and being submissive to those appointed to take the lead among us.
Yet what if a close friend tells us that he has committed a gross sin but wants us to keep it secret? The soul-searching talk “Do Not Share in the Sins of Others” stressed the need to be loyal to Jehovah and his organization. If we are unable to persuade our conscience-stricken friend to confess to the elders, we should go to them about the matter. Actually, this is for the wrongdoer’s own spiritual well-being, and reports indicate that a number of individuals have acted in harmony with this counsel.
A talk that elicited much favorable comment was the one entitled “At Which Table Are You Feeding?” By extending the principle of the apostle Paul’s counsel at 1 Corinthians 10:14-22, we realize that to feed at Jehovah’s table means to give God the worship due him and to feed on his truths. We must therefore avoid “the table of demons” by being on guard against such things as illicit sex, materialism, improper entertainment, and philosophies critical of God’s Word. Limiting ourselves to Jehovah’s table results in joy, contentment, and a sure hope.
The third day’s closing talk was entitled “The Sacred Scriptures Increase Our Accurate Knowledge of God.” After tracing the Watch Tower Society’s record in printing various Bibles, the speaker thrilled his listeners by announcing the release of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures—With References. It contains over 125,000 cross-references, very helpful footnotes, and a valuable appendix. What a boon to Bible students!
“No End to the Abundance of Kingdom Rule”
This was the theme of the convention’s fourth and final day. The first major talk centered attention on the question “Do You Abhor What Is Bad?” We need wisdom to determine what is bad and must actually hate, or loathe, badness, for following a wrong course brings Jehovah’s disfavor and can harm us and others. (Romans 12:9) Moreover, we need to realize that when Jehovah says something is bad, it really is bad and should be avoided.
Next, it was stressed that “Kingdom Increase Adds Responsibility.” Yes, great increase places an obligation on all those who have been in the truth longer. They have to care for the spiritual interests of newer ones. Among other things, this can be done by showing hospitality and by setting a fine example in all forms of sacred service.
Guard Against Disgraceful Folly was the title of the second drama. Effectively portrayed were the bad consequences of Achan’s greed. (Joshua, chapter 7) The drama also showed how a similar incident of disgraceful folly could impede the flow of God’s holy spirit in a congregation. How this underscored the need to do our part to keep the organization clean while guarding our own hearts against temptation!
The afternoon began with the public talk “A Government That Accomplishes What Man Cannot.” You can read information from this heartening message on pages 10 through 20 of this issue of The Watchtower.
Next came the talk “The Honor of Bearing Jehovah’s Name.” It was based on the brochure The Divine Name That Will Endure Forever, released that forenoon. The speaker noted that the Bible’s most important truth is not the ransom or the hope of life in Paradise but the fact that Jehovah is the one true God. As bearers of Jehovah’s name, we must acknowledge that he is the Great Purposer, love his qualities, and do our best to imitate them, making his name known at every opportunity.
In the final talk, “Kingdom Organization Geared for More Increase,” the speaker stressed our great privilege to be living in this time of increase. However, we must maintain the quality of our worship, and individually we should keep moving forward. As one speaker said in closing: “With Jehovah and his Son giving us divine support, let us go forward as a Kingdom organization geared for more increase. We have every reason to exalt God’s name together, now and forevermore.”
So it was that the “Kingdom Increase” District Conventions struck a positive and spiritually stimulating note. From beginning to end, they truly were rich spiritual feasts.
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Modern-day applications of Bible principles give convention dramas added impact
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The thousands baptized have subjected themselves under Jehovah’s mighty hand
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Conventioners were thrilled to receive the superb reference edition of the New World Translation
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A stirring Bible drama underscored the need to guard against disgraceful folly