Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Missionary Field
MISSIONARIES of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Asia and elsewhere are often asked: “Why don’t you have English classes like the other missionaries?” “Do you have schools that I can send my children to or hospitals for the sick?” The answer, of course, is no. But why not? In fact, what is the objective of the Witnesses? And what have they done for the people in these countries?
Contrast in Viewpoints
It is undeniable that the missionaries of Christendom have made many converts by the social services they provide. But because such works are directed mainly at satisfying the people’s material needs rather than their spiritual ones, these missionaries have not been successful in making real disciples of Jesus Christ. (Matthew 7:22, 23; 28:19, 20) More importantly, they have not been able to point out any permanent solution to the social ills they are trying to overcome.
Jehovah’s Witnesses, on the other hand, are concerned with the more important commission of preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom. (Matthew 24:14) This is not because they are unaware of or unconcerned about all the human suffering and injustices they see. Rather, it is because they recognize that the only remedy for these serious problems lies, not in human hands, but in God’s Kingdom.—Psalm 146:3-10.
That was precisely what Jesus and his disciples preached in the first century. “I must declare the good news of the kingdom of God,” Jesus said, “because for this I was sent forth.” (Luke 4:43) Jesus pointed to and preached about God’s Kingdom as the only complete remedy, for he knew that the world’s problems were too vast for man to cope with alone. Although Jesus performed many miraculous cures, he urged his disciples to “keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and [God’s] righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.”—Matthew 6:33.
Later, when Jesus sent out his disciples, he first told them: “As you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.’” Then he added: “Cure sick people, raise up dead persons, make lepers clean, expel demons.” (Matthew 10:7, 8) That sets the priority for modern-day disciples of Jesus Christ. They, too, must put preaching the Kingdom good news as their primary objective, over and above performing humanitarian works. That is what missionaries of Jehovah’s Witnesses endeavor to do.
Filling People’s Spiritual Needs
As a group of Christians, Jehovah’s Witnesses are engaged in a massive volunteer program of providing Bible education for the people. Being publishers of the good news, they are interested in helping others benefit from the Bible’s wisdom and counsel, both now and in the future. (Psalm 68:11) Why is this so?
The Witnesses realize that when people are helped to understand and follow the Bible’s counsel, they become better equipped to deal with the problems and pressures of life. On the one hand, they gain the moral fortitude needed to overcome enslaving and physically damaging habits such as smoking, overdrinking, misuse of drugs, poor hygiene, gambling, and sexual promiscuity. On the other hand, Bible truth helps them to make their minds over, bringing them a purpose in life and a realistic hope for the future.
Thus, by providing the highest form of education—that which comes from God’s Word, the Bible—Jehovah’s Witnesses are making a direct contribution toward raising the moral and physical health of the community in which they live and preach. Often this is noted by others who have observed them objectively. For example, Dr. Bryan Wilson of Oxford University, who studied the activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Africa, stated in a letter to the London Times:
“Jehovah’s Witnesses are hard-working and often more conscientious and enterprising than the average among their fellow citizens. They are enjoined by their leaders to pay their taxes promptly, to refrain from violence, and to avoid giving offence. They are orderly, honest and sober. These values were of great importance in the economic and social development of Western society, and it would not be an exaggeration to say that Jehovah’s Witnesses are among the most upright and diligent of the citizenry of African countries.”
In similar words, another observer in South America stated this in a newspaper editorial:
“The Jehovah’s Witnesses are hard-working, honest, God-fearing people. They are conservative and tradition-loving and their religion is based on the teachings of the Bible.”
So while Jehovah’s Witnesses do not put stress on what is commonly referred to as the social gospel, they actively contribute to community interests by helping others to bring their lives into harmony with the high standards of the Bible. (Romans 12:1, 2) Most importantly, they are also helping people everywhere to look beyond the injustices and inequalities of this rapidly deteriorating system of things to the new system of God’s making, soon to come.—Revelation 21:5.
[Pictures on page 8, 9]
Solutions to Social Ills by God’s Kingdom
Read in your own Bible the following scriptures and be comforted by seeing how God promises to do away with today’s problems and social ills in the following areas:
Employment Isaiah 65:21-23