Babylon’s Fall Published in Japan
“SHE has fallen! Babylon the Great has fallen, she who made all the nations drink of the wine of the anger of her fornication!” That stirring angelic announcement was heard for the first time by the apostle John back in the first century of our Common Era. During our time, however, in “the Lord’s day,” it has been echoed by Christian Witnesses of Jehovah in the hearing of all mankind.—Revelation 1:10; 14:8.
Babylon the Great is the worldwide system of false religion, of which Christendom is the most reprehensible part. Throughout “the time of the end,” Jehovah’s judgments against her have been boldly published by Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world. (Daniel 12:4) For example, the Watchtower issues of April and May last year carried powerful articles exposing the guilt of false religion and her coming destruction. More than 50 million copies of those issues were distributed worldwide—a mighty declaration of the doom of Babylon the Great!
Japan Gears Up
An example of the enthusiasm of Jehovah’s Witnesses for those special issues was seen in Japan, stronghold of the Shinto-Buddhist sector of Babylon the Great. In Japan the December 1988 issue of Our Kingdom Ministry notified the congregations of a special campaign of field service planned for the months of April and May 1989. Calls to support this special magazine activity went out in subsequent issues of Our Kingdom Ministry, as well as through letters to the congregations and the bodies of elders.
The response was outstanding. With Jehovah’s help, during those two months of last year, Japan received a witness as never before.
Auxiliary Pioneer Service
The December 1988 announcement included these words: “We encourage you to have the goal of enjoying auxiliary pioneering during April and May, especially April.” This thought was repeated in the February 1989 issue of Our Kingdom Ministry, which urged the brothers to ‘adjust their daily schedule so as to have as many dedicated ministers as possible enroll as auxiliary pioneers in April.’
The Witnesses took these reminders to heart. The result? An all-time peak in the number of auxiliary pioneers. In March 1989 the number of auxiliary pioneers had already reached a new peak of 24,115. But in April that figure was almost doubled to 41,055. Truly a remarkable effort!
In many congregations, all or most publishers shared in some feature of the full-time service in the course of the two months of special activity. This often took a lot of organizing. One housewife doubted that she could share, since she lives almost 3,000 feet [900 m] up in the mountains where transportation services are limited. Nevertheless, she really wanted to auxiliary pioneer. So the elders arranged to help her with transportation, and she, along with all the other publishers in the congregation, enjoyed a month of pioneering.
The fine lead of the elders was exemplified in the Osaka Prefecture, Takatsuki City, Otsuka Congregation of 77 publishers, where all elders and ministerial servants were among the 73 who shared in some form of pioneer service. Those pioneers also included all the young baptized publishers still attending school. The pioneer spirit shown by these young Witnesses was typical of that seen in many congregations. For example, of the 23 baptized teenagers in the Heiwadai Congregation in Tokyo Prefecture, 11 are regular pioneers, and 11 auxiliary pioneered in April. In that congregation, a total of 93 publishers pioneered in that same month.
A Special Day of Activity
The March issue of the Japanese edition of Our Kingdom Ministry encouraged the brothers with these words: “Magazine work has been supported on not only the second and the fourth Saturdays but on every Saturday of the month. The zeal the brothers are showing is commendable. In April the magazine work is also scheduled for every Saturday, but please make a special effort to set aside April 8 for magazine day so that everyone may share in magazine work on that day. In order to sound a warning to all who will listen, it is necessary to distribute these timely issues widely.”—Isaiah 61:2; Revelation 18:4, 5.
In February the Japanese edition of Our Kingdom Ministry had stressed this vital work. It said: “On the second Saturday, April 8, let every one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Japan—now numbering over 130,000—share in the magazine work.” Elders were encouraged to schedule different kinds of magazine activity covering the whole day so that as many as possible could take part. Thanks to the positive response of the elders and the wholehearted support of the rest of the publishers, the day was a resounding success. We could say that on that day a crescendo was reached in Japan in the proclamation of Jehovah’s judgments on Babylon the Great.
For instance, in the Ushioda Congregation in Yokohama City, the elders arranged for service that would continue for 13 hours, from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Included were two periods of street witnessing, as well as times for visiting people who previously had not been at home and for regular house-to-house witnessing. Most publishers were able to share in at least one of the arranged features of service, and a number shared in almost every feature of activity planned.
Continuous service was also planned in the Jonan Congregation, Fukuoka City. There, arrangements were made covering the hours from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., with just a short break at midday. Included was time for house-to-house witnessing, visiting business territory and shopping areas, and calling where nobody had been contacted on previous visits. Some Witnesses in that congregation reported up to eight hours of preaching activity for the day!
The wholehearted response of the brothers was seen in Wakayama Prefecture, where all 55 publishers in the Kainan Congregation shared in the special day of activity. One sister there, a regular pioneer, gave birth on April 7. Did that stop her from witnessing on April 8? No. She offered the magazines right there in the hospital! Showing a similar spirit, a brother from Osaka Prefecture was forced to attend to matters at his secular workplace on April 8. How could he share in the special activity? He made his workplace his territory and obtained five subscriptions.
A sister in Saitama Prefecture longed to share in the special activity for the day, but she had to travel almost 800 miles [640 km] to Asahikawa City with her unbelieving husband. She did not give up, though. In Asahikawa, she went with her two small children to the railroad station, and there, outside the station, she found what she had hoped for: a crowd of publishers from the local congregation engaged in field service. She was able to share with them in the day’s activities.
The Japanese Our Kingdom Ministry especially encouraged elders to arrange street witnessing for April 8, and this became a prominent feature of that special day. As it happened, there was heavy rainfall throughout the country, but that did not dampen the brothers’ enthusiasm. Most showed the same spirit as that seen in three handicapped sisters in the Minamata Congregation, Kumamoto Prefecture. Despite their ages—65, 80, and 85—they braved the bad weather and were a fine encouragement to the rest of the congregation; they also attracted the attention of many passersby.
While doing street witnessing, one sister in Kashiwa City West Congregation asked a man: “Have you ever heard of Babylon the Great?” When she offered the April issues of the magazines, the man said, “Not interested” and walked away. However, when he came to the railway crossing and stopped, he was muttering to himself, “What is Babylon the Great?” A brother who was doing street witnessing nearby overheard him and walked along the road with him, explaining what Babylon the Great is. The man accepted the magazines.
Some congregations had never before done street witnessing. But since April 8, they have made it a regular part of their activity. And no wonder! Street witnessing is a very successful way of finding people who are not otherwise accessible. One sister in Naha City, Okinawa, engaged in street witnessing outside an office building that Jehovah’s Witnesses are not allowed to enter for the purpose of witnessing. She placed 12 magazines in an hour by approaching those entering and leaving the building.
A sister in Muroran City, Hokkaido, engaged in street witnessing outside department stores in the city center. She told a man who accepted the magazines: “If you would like to learn more, we can visit you in your home.” He gave her his address, his telephone number, a map to his house, and the times when he would be at home! The following week, she and a brother visited him and found that he lived in an apartment that was closed to regular ministerial visits by Jehovah’s Witnesses. The young man had been convinced by his personal Bible reading that Christendom did not have God’s favor. He was searching for true Christianity and was happy to start a regular home Bible study.
A publisher in Kawasaki City shared in street witnessing on the afternoon of April 8. At the end of the time she had allotted, she spoke to one last person, a young woman who said that she had previously studied the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. But she had met with opposition from her parents and afterward had entered university and moved into a dormitory. So she quit her study. However, thanks to street witnessing, she gladly started her Bible study anew and is already attending meetings.
As a result of so many supporting the special activity, placements of magazines—especially those carrying the judgment messages against Babylon the Great—were tremendous. A congregation publisher in Osaka Prefecture placed 205 magazines in April. In the Kagoshima City, East Congregation, 14 publishers placed more than a hundred magazines each, while the isolated group of 12 publishers in Ogawa Town, Ibaraki Prefecture, distributed a total of 1,388 magazines during April.
Indeed, in Japan as a whole, 3,293,266 magazines were placed in April of last year—92 percent more than in April of 1988! How powerfully Jehovah’s judgment message sounded out against Babylon the Great!
Power Beyond What Is Normal
Certainly, as in all other parts of the world, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Japan were positive and zealous in the spring of 1989. Their experiences gave clear evidence that Jehovah blessed their zeal and supported their efforts to publish his judgments against false religion. For some, it was not easy to take part; nevertheless, they were determined, and Jehovah blessed their zeal. Many live in territory that is frequently worked, but they showed the same spirit of urgency and enthusiasm as their brothers in other areas. In all cases, the words of Isaiah proved true: “He is giving to the tired one power; and to the one without dynamic energy he makes full might abound.”—Isaiah 40:29.
No doubt their experiences reminded them of the words of the apostle Paul: “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the power beyond what is normal may be God’s and not that out of ourselves.” (2 Corinthians 4:7) Yes, when a person puts the Christian ministry, “this treasure,” first in his life, he experiences God-given “power beyond what is normal.” May Jehovah continue to use his servants in Japan and in all other lands to give a thorough witness before the end comes.—Matthew 24:14.
This year, the April and May issues of The Watchtower will feature cover series on “Who Will Lead Mankind to Peace?” “World Peace—What Will It Really Mean?” “Millions Now Dead Will Live Again,” and “Armageddon—When?” Why not plan to share this information with your neighbors? Be sure that as many as possible are made aware of the wonderful good news that God has preserved in the Bible for our day.