New Missionaries Strive for Real Success
SUNDAY, September 8, 1985, was a historic day for the 4,351 who crowded into the beautiful Jersey City Assembly Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses to witness the graduation of the 79th class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead.
The day was historic in that it witnessed the first use of the Assembly Hall after its official dedication. Then, too, it was the first time since 1970 that virtually the whole United States Bethel family had been together under one roof. This family, including workers at Brooklyn and the Society’s farms, has come to number more than 3,500. With the completion of the Jersey City Assembly Hall, there is at last a facility that can hold them all.
The day was especially historic for the 24 young servants of Jehovah from ten different countries who made up the 79th class. They had spent the previous five months in an intensive Bible-study and missionary-preparation course. Now, in the words of Albert Schroeder, chairman for the day, they ceased to be Gilead students and became Gilead graduates.
In the air-conditioned comfort of the Assembly Hall, these 24 new missionaries were given a send-off that they will long remember. The chairman reminded them that at Gilead they had learned many facts. But Gilead had put the emphasis on something that was more important: spirituality. The chairman then introduced a number of speakers to address some final words to the graduates.
Carey Barber, a member of the Governing Body, spoke about the search for happiness. Solomon, he reminded the graduates, found that the pleasures of this world do not bring happiness. (Ecclesiastes 2:1-11, 17) Hence Jesus stressed the need for spiritual things in seeking happiness. (Matthew 5:3) Therefore, the graduates should follow Jesus’ counsel. Then, even if their being missionaries involves giving up some fleshly comforts, they can still succeed.
The following speaker, John Booth, also of the Governing Body, reminded the audience that the older missionary Paul encouraged the younger missionary Timothy to keep on making progress in Christian conduct, personal study, and prayer. (1 Timothy 2:1, 8; 4:12-16) The new missionaries would need to make similar progress if they were to be successful. Then, the secretary-treasurer of the Society, Lyman Swingle, mentioned that recently he had asked missionaries in Brazil what counsel they would like to give new missionaries to help them succeed. “Tell them,” he was urged, “that when they reach their assignments, they should keep on reading the Bible and doing Bible research.”
David Olson, of the Service Department Committee, told the experience of a man who supervised part of the project that succeeded in putting a man on the moon. Later, this same man earned his living sweeping parking lots. He felt more of a success in his second career. Why? Because his new work allowed him time to serve Jehovah and care for his family. Truly, those who find delight in Jehovah, his law, and his service find real success.—Psalm 1:1-3.
Ulysses Glass, Gilead registrar, paid tribute to the graduates’ seriousness and respectfulness. He noted the interest they had taken in their studies and their keen desire to come to a full understanding of matters. Such things, he said, would help them in their assignments. Gilead instructor Jack Redford added that the first year in their assignments would be a challenge. Nevertheless, to succeed they should work closely with other missionaries, be patient, and cultivate spiritual joy.—Ecclesiastes 7:8, 9.
The final speaker, Watchtower Society President Frederick Franz opened his talk with the words: “It was worth living for 92 years to be present at an occasion like this!” Then he told the graduates the history of how Gilead got started and urged them to stay faithful in their assignments.
After the talks, the students received their diplomas, and there was a break for refreshments. Then they gave comments on the current Watchtower study under the supervision of Dean Songer of the Factory Committee. And they delighted everyone with a presentation of experiences, music, and some skits that conveyed their joy at having been at Gilead and their determination to seek “the more important things.” (Philippians 1:10) Finally, the graduates presented the timely drama: Seek God’s Righteousness for Survival.
And so the historic day drew to a close. It was a day that will long be remembered by the students as they follow the advice they had heard and strive for real success in their missionary assignments.