Gilead Graduates Urged to Cultivate Good Communication Skills
ON SUNDAY, March 4, 1990, more than 4,100 persons filled the Jersey City Assembly Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses for the graduation exercises of the 88th class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead. The 24 graduates had come from 6 countries and were now being sent to a total of 13 countries.
The program started at 10:00 a.m. After a song, George Gangas, now more than 90 years of age and a member of the Governing Body, opened with fervent prayer to Jehovah. Following this, the chairman, C. W. Barber, also a member of the Governing Body and himself a graduate of Gilead’s 26th class, briefly discussed some of the rapid changes on the world scene. He concluded by saying: “Never has there been a more wonderful opportunity to be witnesses of Jehovah’s supremacy and his righteousness.” Then he proceeded to introduce the various speakers on the morning program.
Vernon Wisegarver, a member of the Factory Committee in Brooklyn, chose the theme “Be Skilled in Your Work.” Drawing on the illustration of a village blacksmith who forged a strong chain that, fastened to an anchor, saved the lives of all on a ship during a storm, he likened the Gilead graduates to the blacksmith. By teaching people the Bible, they will help them to build a lifesaving chain of godly qualities, using the skills they developed in their Gilead training. He encouraged the graduates to continue honing their teaching skills and to stand before the greatest of all Kings as “skillful workers.”
Next, John Barr, a member of the Governing Body, spoke on the topic “Taste and See That Jehovah Is Good.” His remarks were based on Psalm 34:8, which says: “Taste and see that Jehovah is good, O you people; happy is the able-bodied man that takes refuge in him.” He admonished them: “Taste everything in your missionary assignment. Try it all. Don’t be afraid of it. Then you will be able to experience Jehovah’s goodness in a way that you have never experienced it before. Never be choosy. Never say, ‘I don’t like this.’ Taste it.”
Charles Woody, a member of the Brooklyn Service Department Committee, spoke on his selected subject, “Keeping a Balanced View of Ourselves.” He said: “We enjoy being with those who have a balanced view of themselves, who do not always have to have their own way, who are quick to commend and build up others, and who, though possessing knowledge, do not make others feel that they do not have it.” He further stated: “As missionaries you will want to attract people to the truth, not distract them. Your humble manner will be invaluable in helping to accomplish this.”
Lyman Swingle, a member of the Governing Body, next spoke on the theme “The Next Chapters, What Will They Tell Us?” He began by saying: “Today you begin a new chapter in your life. What will you write in these chapters from now on into the future?” He reminded them: “Everything that you do should bring honor and glory to Jehovah,” and he added: “Be sure that your decisions are based on God’s Word. Remember Proverbs 3:7, which says: ‘Do not become wise in your own eyes.’ Be found faithful in carrying out your assignment.” He concluded by saying: “We trust that you will never finish writing your biography, that you will live forever.”
Next, Jack Redford, one of the school’s instructors, exhorted the graduates: “Be Living Sacrifices.” He began by saying: “Missionary service is a life of sacrifice. . . . We love you for your self-sacrificing spirit.” Quoting from Philippians 2:17, where the apostle Paul said that he had been poured out like a drink offering, meaning that he was willing to expend himself as a living sacrifice, he asked: “But how are missionaries often like drink offerings?” He then related two experiences regarding missionaries who expended themselves beyond what is required. One made 16,000 bricks with his own hands and built the first Kingdom Hall in his assigned country. The other experience concerned a sister who accompanied her husband out into the jungle, where living conditions were very primitive. The local sisters all appreciated her because they recognized that she was pouring herself out as a ‘living sacrifice.’ But then the speaker reminded the students that sacrifice is of no value if it is not coupled with obedience. Using the account of King Saul and the Amalekites, he exhorted: “Always remember that obedience is better than sacrifice. Never try to bargain with Jehovah. Always do what he tells you to do.”
The chairman then introduced the other instructor in the school, Ulysses Glass. Brother Glass began by saying: “The 88th class was and is a happy class. Other classes were happy too. Why, then, does your happiness stand out?” He showed that happiness “is not a goal but a result of right works. It is the process of getting there that brings the reward.” He quoted an author whose life was changed by seeing the phrase: “Success is a journey, not a destination.” The author vowed that he would stop evaluating happiness on the basis of arriving at destinations instead of seeing his whole life as a continuing journey. “There is no way to happiness,” he said. “Happiness is the way.” Brother Glass then commented that this class had captured the essence of those words. He concluded by exhorting all the students: “Continue to walk in well-watered places. Whatever problems you may encounter, may the happiness that belongs to those who love and fear Jehovah continue to be yours.”
Then came the feature discourse of the morning, which was delivered by another member of the Governing Body, Karl Klein, who chose the theme “Cultivating Christian Communication.” He began by reminding all that Jehovah is the greatest of all communicators. His only-begotten Son, the Logos, was used as Jehovah’s Chief Spokesman, and he communicated God’s will and instructions to the earthly creation. When Jesus was on earth, crowds were astonished at his way of teaching. Never had they heard a man speak like him. At Matthew 28:19, 20, Jesus encouraged his disciples to be good communicators by going out into the world, teaching his commands to others and making them disciples also.
Then, speaking directly to the future missionaries, Brother Klein said that there are four avenues for missionaries to be concerned about in cultivating good communication skills: between husband and wife, with others in the missionary home, with those in the branch office where they are assigned, and with those they meet in the field service. “You start communicating before you open your mouth,” Brother Klein said. “Your bearing and grooming communicate impressions to the householder.” He then gave several illustrations to prove his point and concluded with these exhortations: “Be lowly in mind. Keep the lines of communication open. Strive to be better communicators.”
After greetings were read, diplomas of merit were handed to each of the graduates by the chairman. Then the class presented a resolution addressed to the Governing Body and the Bethel family, read by Paul Angerville of Guadeloupe.
The afternoon session started with a Watchtower Study. After that, the students put on a program that gave the audience opportunity to see something of their classroom atmosphere, to observe their informal get-togethers in their rooms, and to hear many of their field service experiences since coming to Gilead five months previously. Finally, there was a fine drama with the theme Doing What Is Right in Jehovah’s Eyes. The drama was enacted by publishers from the Lyndhurst, New Jersey, Congregation. The day ended with a concluding song, followed by a prayer by Fred Franz, the Society’s 96-year-old president.
[Box on page 27]
Number of countries represented: 6
Number of countries assigned to: 13
Number of single brothers: 2
Number of married couples: 11
Number of students: 24
Average age: 32.7
Average years in truth: 14
Average years in full-time ministry: 9
[Picture on page 26]
88th 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) Magney, D.; Rogers, L.; Foster, S.; Foley, R.; Untch, L.; Jonasson, G. (2) Buri, H.; Buri, B.; Krammer, M.; Hudson, D.; Underkoffler, J. (3) Angerville, P.; Olsson, M.; Jones, A.; Untch, R.; Krammer, A.; Hudson, C. (4) Foley, L.; Magney, J.; Jones, A.; Jonasson, H.; Foster, M.; Rogers, M.; Underkoffler, R.