Welcome to the 1985 “Integrity Keepers” Convention!
JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES are well known not only for their zealous house-to-house ministry but also for their large Christian conventions. These have been featured for more than a hundred years now, going back all the way to 1879. There is good Scriptural precedent for these conventions.
Three times each year the Israelites were required to come together for their festivals. Jehovah considered these so important that he repeatedly had Moses stress them in the Pentateuch. See Exodus 23:14-17; 34:22-24; Leviticus 23:4-22; Numbers 28:16–29:12; Deuteronomy 16:1-16. We also read that Jesus’ parents regularly went up to Jerusalem for the Passover festival.—Luke 2:41, 42.
For 38 years now, assemblies of Jehovah’s Witnesses have been following a pattern similar to that in ancient Israel. Twice each year we rejoice to come together for our circuit assemblies, involving anywhere from 8 to 20 congregations. Then we look forward eagerly to assembling once each year for our district, national, or international conventions. Do we appreciate these gatherings as much as we should? Not all our brothers throughout the earth have this blessing. Thus a recent report from a Balkan country where the work has long been under restrictions tells that “for the first time we could hold a district convention in a public hall . . . The brothers were very happy about it.”
They had reason to be happy, for it does seem that the greater the number of Witnesses that come together, the greater the happiness. One country reported in 1983 that “the ‘Kingdom Unity’ convention in December was indeed the highlight of the year,” and another described it as “the high point of the year.” It is no wonder that most of Jehovah’s Witnesses make plans, often at great self-sacrifice, to attend district conventions all three and a half days.
Last year we were privileged to attend “Kingdom Increase” conventions. The program told how fitting that theme was in view of the great increases in Kingdom publishers worldwide. Further, it stressed the obligations of each individual Witness in connection with that increase. And what fine instruments we received for our ministry—the Reference Edition of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, the Bible study aid Survival Into a New Earth, and the brochure The Divine Name That Will Endure Forever! This year another treat is in store! We rejoice to assemble in the “Integrity Keepers” convention. This theme calls attention to the importance of our sharing in the vindication of Jehovah’s name by keeping integrity through to the end of Satan’s system.
How important that theme is! It is bound up with the most important issue facing all intelligent creatures, namely, the rightfulness of Jehovah’s sovereignty, as upheld by creatures keeping their integrity in spite of all that Satan the Devil can do. It is not easy to be an integrity keeper in these “critical times hard to deal with.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5) It is the very opposite of following the line of least resistance. It means ‘going through the narrow gate and walking on the cramped road that leads to life.’—Matthew 7:13, 14.
Keeping integrity as ministers of Jehovah God involves two basic requirements. On the one hand there is the need to bring forth the fruitage of the spirit so that we may “adorn the teaching of our Savior, God, in all things.” (Titus 2:10) On the other hand we have the commission to preach and to make disciples, as we share in fulfilling Bible prophecy.—Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20.
To meet these two requirements, we need to keep on seeking first the Kingdom and God’s righteousness. We must fight against all the machinations of Satan the Devil, all the temptations that this old world puts in our way in the form of materialism and pleasure seeking, and we must do as Paul did, ‘pummel our bodies and lead them about like slaves.’ (1 Corinthians 9:27; 1 Peter 5:8; 1 John 2:15-17) Successfully overcoming threats to our integrity is no easy matter.
If we appreciate fully the challenge of keeping our integrity, we will come to the convention ‘conscious of our spiritual need.’ (Matthew 5:3) We will pay close attention to what is said from the platform, take notes, join heartily in the singing, and enter into the spirit of the prayers offered. Also, we will listen carefully to the counsel given on keeping our integrity toward Jehovah God, toward our marriage mates, and toward our fellow Christians. By talks, interviews, demonstrations, and dramas we will be encouraged and equipped to be more determined than ever to keep integrity down to the end of this old, wicked system of things.
Nor would we want to overlook the fact that our large gatherings serve as a witness to the world. This past January the “Kingdom Increase” convention was held at the River Plate Stadium, Buenos Aires, Argentina, for four days. It made big news! The local news publication Ahora presented a fine color-illustrated report on the convention, with the banner headline, “Faith Fills Stadiums.”
Under a large heading, “A Kingdom That Is Growing—That of Jehovah’s Witnesses,” a two-page article said in part: “Certainly incredible. Seeing is believing. Faith moves mountains. It has to be faith that motivated an average of 42,000 persons silently and with admirable order to fill the football stands of the River Plate Stadium during four days of this torrid summer. It has to be faith, also, that was able to assemble no fewer than 46,000 faithful without distinction of sex, age, culture, race, or nationality for the last day of the district convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses. . . . Whether or not we share their ideas and doctrines, this entire multitude deserves our greatest respect. They show themselves to be humble, far removed from the trivial things of daily life and the modern world it is our lot to share; they make a dogma of peace and love among the brothers.”
The article went on to say: “What about their organization? All was perfect. The police detailed there were bored as they had nothing to do . . . Not so much as a minor incident, provocation, or disorder occurred in the four days. . . . We are left with an immeasurable peace that the Witnesses appear to have . . . Wrong or not, they won our respect. What moves them? That faith. That faith that moves mountains.”
There is no question that, by our conducting ourselves as Christian ministers of Jehovah God, we can provide a fine witness to outsiders. True it is, being a Christian never was easy. Jesus said it meant taking up a torture stake. Doing justice to our “Integrity Keepers” convention will help us to be fine followers of Jesus Christ.—Matthew 16:24.