“They Will Be Certain to Fight Against You, but They Will Not Prevail Against You”
THE Sovereign Lord Jehovah told youthful Jeremiah that He would make him “a fortified city and an iron pillar and copper walls” against any who might seek his destruction. In modern times, we as Jehovah’s Witnesses have like assurance from our God. Yes, under Satan’s influence, ‘they will be certain to fight against us,’ but they will not prevail. “For ‘I am with you,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘to deliver you.’”—Jeremiah 1:18, 19.
In outlying villages of the Solomon Islands, strangers enter at the risk of their lives, especially if they bring a new religion. That was the experience of two special pioneers of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Fierce-looking villagers trained bows and arrows on them. They had orders to shoot! As the situation became tense, an old man suddenly intervened, saying: “These are my visitors. Don’t harm them.” To the dismay of the villagers, he led them to his home. This man had heard of the Witnesses; now he obtained the book You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, and a Bible study was started. He immediately began to travel to the meetings. Today the brothers can witness freely in that area, thankful for Jehovah’s initial deliverance.
Deliverance has often come through being identified as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Because of the house-to-house preaching, people get to know who the Witnesses are and what their position is on issues of the day. In a small village in Peru, terrorists accused the villagers of having betrayed them. They rounded up the men of the town and put them in a line to be shot. (In similar situations entire villages had been wiped out.) But at this point, one of the terrorists recognized a brother and said to the executioners: “That man is not one of them. I know him to be a Jehovah’s Witness, and they don’t meddle in politics.” The brother was released. Certainly, Jehovah protects his own!
The island territory of Cyprus reports that the Greek Orthodox Church has been very active in trying to undermine the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The church distributes leaflets accusing the Witnesses of many things and discourages its people from having any discussions with the Witnesses. Some theologians have even organized themselves to visit people who have been studying with Jehovah’s Witnesses, trying to discourage them. Characteristic is what happened in Paphos, where Paul and Barnabas once overcame similar opposition. (Acts 13:6-12) A priest-theologian tried to convince three different persons to stop examining the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. They, in turn and separately from one another, arranged for a brother to join them in a discussion with this theologian. As a result, all three are now actively associated with the Witnesses. The priest commented, ‘I will never have another discussion with Jehovah’s Witnesses.’
Some priests went so far as to hit the Witnesses while these were doing house-to-house work in one of the villages. Strangely enough, a few days later, a whirlwind struck the village, destroying the roofs of many houses. Some villagers commented: ‘This is a punishment from God for what the priests did to Jehovah’s Witnesses.’ In this village, honesthearted persons are still accepting our brothers at their homes. In one instance, while a brother was presenting the current magazines to an interested person, one of the priests who had hit the brothers happened to pass by and told the brother to leave ‘his flock’ alone. The interested person said to the priest, ‘I am old enough to know what I am doing.’ So the clergy do not prevail against Jehovah’s Witnesses; their efforts backfire on them, and more people take their stand for Jehovah.
In a war-torn country in Central Africa, a circuit overseer was stopped for a routine check by soldiers. They objected to something in a letter that he was carrying and took him to police headquarters, where he was whipped and tortured by three soldiers. Although no charge was made against him and no trial was held, he was put in detention for one year. For six months he was kept in an overcrowded cell with 40 other prisoners. Because of the cramped quarters, they had to take turns sleeping, three hours at a time. The rest of the time, they had to remain standing. While our brother was there, 137 prisoners died, and he was given the work of putting their bodies in sacks for burial.
This circuit overseer kept up his spiritual strength by spending much time witnessing to fellow prisoners. His reports show over 30 hours a month spent in preaching; he conducted four Bible studies while in prison. One of his students even started witnessing to others. Through all his trials, Jehovah cared for this brother, who gives this advice to others: “When in prison, just leave everything in Jehovah’s hands. Wait on him. Trust in him. Don’t worry too much. Be faithful.”
In one area in Zimbabwe, children of Jehovah’s Witnesses were expelled from school for not participating in political exercises. Not satisfied with this, local gangs even burned down the homes of the parents and destroyed their crops. Witness families were forced to flee for their lives, leaving behind cattle and other possessions. However, the matter was taken to higher governmental authorities who kindly arranged for the families to return to their homes. Their cattle were restored, and the government has taken steps to reimburse the brothers for their losses. Jehovah’s Witnesses truly appreciate it when “superior authorities” thus show themselves to be ‘God’s ministers for good.’ (Romans 13:1-4) Through it all, a fine witness was given, and local people are now showing much interest in the Kingdom message. As one of the brothers put it, ‘We know that Jehovah can make such situations work out as a witness to his name.’
The past service year saw Jehovah’s blessing on the work in Malawi. It was only in areas where local villagers harbor hatred that the Witnesses experienced harassment. The following report testifies to this: “In many parts of the field, the situation is quiet. But in one congregation, two Witness families were badly molested by the youth leagues. The head of one of these families was so severely beaten that he was unconscious for four hours. Thereafter, he was taken to the police station, where the policeman on duty also continued to beat him and the others that were taken in with him. Later, however, a different policeman came on duty. This one was kind. He released the brothers and sent them back home, and they thanked Jehovah for this unexpected deliverance. It was later found that the cause of this incident was personal hatred by close relatives. Our Memorial attendance this year was encouraging. We had 23,476. This shows that there are still sheeplike persons who must be helped to become disciples of Jesus Christ here in Malawi.”
A country in Eastern Europe sent this message of appreciation: “We are thankful for the close contact we are experiencing with the Governing Body through all the channels of Jehovah’s earthly organization. By this we are allowed to see how our heavenly Father is gathering, through his Son and all the angels, his sheep today, and how we may have a small share in it. What a privilege this is! Our Father has blessed our efforts with increase. More time spent in the field, more auxiliary pioneers zealously preaching the good news, and the highest number of bound books ever loaned or placed in the field are the results of this blessing.”
The modern-day Jubilee horn has sounded loud and clear. The preceding tabulated report shows how Jehovah’s Witnesses in all parts of the earth are answering that call.