“Things Building Up Our Expectations”
IT WAS a warm Sunday morning, September 10, when 4,155 gathered in the beautiful Assembly Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Jersey City, New Jersey, for the graduation exercises of the 87th class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead. In attendance were the 24 students and their invited guests along with members of the Bethel family from Brooklyn and the Society’s farms.
The audience was brought to order promptly at 10:00 a.m. by Albert Schroeder, who served as chairman for the day. After an opening song, prayer was offered by John Barr. Both brothers are members of the Governing Body. Brother Schroeder presented a brief profile of the class and remarked that the graduates were “prepared to share in the globalized activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses, now in 210 lands.” He then proceeded to introduce seven speakers.
Robert Wallen, who works in the Executive Offices at the Brooklyn headquarters, based his theme, “Have Intense Love for One Another,” on 1 Peter 4:8. He said that missionaries need to help one another, and since all the students of this class were married, he directed his comments especially to married couples. “A wife must love her husband even though she may learn a foreign language faster than he does,” he counseled. “She should be understanding and compassionate. Also, she must try to understand him when he has his weekly cook day!” (Usually, each missionary is assigned a regular day to prepare that day’s meals for all living in the missionary home.) Then the speaker described the frustrations and humorous experiences some husbands have when learning to cook, such as the experience of the husband who used baking soda instead of baking powder. Brother Wallen also pointed out that the husband should “be perceptive of his wife’s needs,” since so much of the husband’s time may be spent taking care of congregation responsibilities. To both husbands and wives, he said: “Always be upbuilding; do not make negative remarks, even to each other. Avoid isolating yourselves. And when you make mistakes, admit them.”
The next speaker, Daniel Sydlik, a member of the Governing Body, chose the theme: “Keep Alive the Fire of God’s Spirit,” based on 1 Thessalonians 5:19. “Fire can both warm and destroy,” he said. “Sometimes missionaries encourage and sometimes they intimidate. An old African man once said: ‘Blow gently,’ as on a spark you are trying to bring to life! When talking about the things you may find in your assignment—open sewers, flies, noisy traffic, a new country, an unfamiliar religion—show respect. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Learn to ‘blow gently’ and keep alive the fire of Jehovah’s spirit.”
Then the theme “Bound Into Your Assignment With Enthusiasm and Caution” was developed by Kenneth Flodin, overseer of the Bethel Home at Watchtower Farms. Since Gilead School is now located at Watchtower Farms, all the graduates were well-acquainted with Brother Flodin. Two areas of caution were developed in his talk: (1) materialism and (2) negative talk and negative thinking. “Avoid selfishness and be selfless” was the counsel. “Look ahead to comforts and nice things in the new world; don’t be seeking them now,” he said. To help the students avoid negativism, the speaker quoted Numbers 13:28, 32. “Sometimes,” he said, “people see the same thing, and some will have a negative view, others a positive view. Like Caleb of old, trust in Jehovah. Tell others your positive thoughts. And if negative talk is encountered, change the subject to avoid negative thoughts.”
Lloyd Barry, a member of the Governing Body and himself a former missionary, gave practical advice. “Love, joy, and peace are essential qualities for new missionaries,” he said. “You will be cognizant of the weaknesses of others in your missionary home, but focus on your own weaknesses.” He recalled his early days in Japan when the missionaries enjoyed fish every day, but then new missionaries arrived who were allergic to fish. So the menu changed out of love for the new ones. He also advised: “Keep your sense of humor; never let the sun set on any problems you are having. Keep peace in the home, and you will be happy in your missionary life.”—Ephesians 4:26.
Jack Redford, one of the Gilead instructors, then spoke on the subject: “Jehovah Will Finish Your Training,” basing his remarks on 1 Peter 5:10. He said: “Jehovah can train you by permitting situations to arise that are difficult to handle. As he trained the apostles to handle personality conflicts, he will train you. Do not despair when there are differences of opinion. Be ready to adjust your personality. Pride makes this difficult, but humility makes it possible. Learn to be flexible. Jehovah will also train you to get along with others. Just ‘do not give your heart to all the words that people may speak’ about you.” (Ecclesiastes 7:21, 22) Persecution also serves as training. Missionaries who have endured persecution are happy and have no regrets, only joy at having been trained by the persecution.
Ulysses Glass, another instructor, then gave his final words to the graduates. He focused on Ephesians 4:1-3, commending the class for demonstrating the uniting qualities described therein and encouraging them to continue to do so, saying: “Peace is a bonding agent, and it is necessary for unity.” He then continued with Ephesians 4:4-6 and reviewed the awesomeness of God’s spirit, reminding all that “Jehovah is the Source of all dynamic energy. We should stand in awe of him; it is a fearful thing to fall into his hands.”—Hebrews 10:31.
Then all listened with keen interest to Theodore Jaracz, a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, who spoke on the featured theme: “Things Building Up Our Expectations.” Reasoning on 1 Corinthians 2:9, he said: “This verse is not talking about things of a material kind, for the next verse, 1 Corinthians 2:10, speaks of ‘the deep things of God.’ This involved ‘God’s wisdom’ in relation to the ‘sacred secret,’ his ‘hidden wisdom’ that had come from beyond this solar system, yes, from God himself.” (1 Corinthians 2:7) The audience was then referred to Isaiah 64:4, which was a reminder to ‘keep in expectation’ of God and of the things that he has prepared.
What expectations God’s people really have! Brother Jaracz pointed out the following: “In 1919 there was the fall of Babylon the Great; in 1922 the thrilling exhortation to ‘advertise the King and the Kingdom,’ to preach the established Kingdom worldwide; in 1935 God’s people learned the significance of the ‘great crowd’ at Revelation 7:9; in 1943 they saw Gilead School begin sending out missionaries to the ends of the earth; today, in 1989, you graduates have the privilege of telling good things to people in your assignments who are eager to hear.”
After the diplomas were awarded, one of the students read a heart-touching letter of appreciation from the class.
In the afternoon, Lon Schilling, coordinator of the Watchtower Farms Committee, conducted an abbreviated Watchtower Study. Then the students presented a delightful musical program and enacted some of their field service experiences. Following this, local publishers presented a timely drama entitled: “Coping With Satan’s Crafty Acts.” Finally, after listening to interviews of six of the new graduates, the happy throng sang a closing song and were delighted to join in prayer with the 96-year-old president of Gilead School, Frederick Franz.
[Box on page 23]
Number of countries represented: 5
Number of countries assigned to: 10
Number of married couples: 12
Total number of students: 24
Average age: 30.9
Average years in truth: 13.4
Average years in full-time ministry: 9.2
[Picture on page 23]
87th Graduating Class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead
In the list below, rows are numbered from front to back, and names are listed from left to right in each row.
(1) Heindel, E.; Andrews, D.; Casavant, D.; Montanez, E.; Nale, P.; Koukaras, S. (2) Miell, T.; Heithaus, M.; Melton, T.; Hagberg, N.; Kettinen, M. (3) Kettinen, L.; Andrews, W.; Koukaras, E.; McCollough, S.; Melton, G.; McCollough, J. (4) Heindel, W.; Casavant, G.; Miell, G.; Montanez, J.; Nale, M.; Hagberg, I.; Heithaus, K.