Equipped for Missionary Service in the 1990’s
A SPECIAL era is beginning for missionary service. With the doors of opportunity opening on many new fronts, all of Jehovah’s faithful Witnesses are eager to press on to even greater activity.
So it was with keen anticipation that the 24 students of the 89th class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead attended their graduation program on September 9, 1990. An audience of over 5,000 invited guests and members of the Bethel family gathered for the graduation of these new missionaries, who had already received assignments to ten countries. Originating at the Assembly Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Jersey City, New Jersey, the entire program was also heard by those assembled at Brooklyn Bethel, Watchtower Farms, and the Watchtower Educational Center at Patterson, New York.
Promptly at 10:00 a.m., Theodore Jaracz, a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses and chairman for the day, called for an opening song. Following this, prayer was offered by Arthur Worsley of the Brooklyn Bethel family. The chairman then referred to Acts 10:33, where the Roman centurion Cornelius said to Peter: “We are all present before God to hear all the things you have been commanded by Jehovah to say.” It was noted that the historic events taking place in Peter’s day were to open up the way for the good news to be declared to people of all nations.
Philip D. Wilcox, from Watchtower Farms, gave the first of seven stimulating talks. Drawing on Philippians 4:7, he took as his theme “Let the Peace of God Help You in Your Assignment.” He said: “Jehovah God is the Source of all true peace. He enjoys peace in a total, or absolute, sense and does not experience any distressing anxiety, apprehension, or mental uneasiness. Consequently, there is a serenity and peace surrounding the resplendent presence of Jehovah on his throne, as indicated by the emerald-green rainbow seen by John in vision. (Revelation 4:2, 3) His peace extends outward beyond himself to all those who will allow it to help them. Will you let it?” Brother Wilcox outlined two vital helps, prayer and a willingness to wait on Jehovah. (Micah 7:7; Philippians 4:6) Nothing God permits can cause us lasting injury, he observed.
Lloyd Barry, a member of the Governing Body, followed on the theme “Keep Smiling.” He began with the saying, “Laughter is good medicine.” He remembered that phrase because back in 1955 it was the cover topic for the first issue of the Awake! magazine to appear in the Japanese language. But what kind of laughter? Not the boisterous, senseless “laughter of the stupid one.” (Ecclesiastes 7:6) Rather, it is the cheerful, relaxed laughter of missionaries and others who respond to David’s invitation always to “rejoice in Jehovah.” (Psalm 32:11) Brother Barry observed that despite severe trials, Job could keep smiling, for he knew he was keeping integrity to God. Missionaries who are steadfast despite trialsome experiences like Job’s will receive the greater blessing at the end. (Job 29:24; 42:12) The speaker concluded: “Keep busy, keep smiling, and you too will reap Jehovah’s everlasting smile of approval.”
The next speaker was Richard E. Abrahamson, who chose the theme “Let Your Reasonableness Become Known to All Men,” based on Philippians 4:5. According to the underlying Greek, the word “reasonable” can convey the sense of “yielding.” Some missionaries have had problems solely because of personal preferences. One was shocked at the way a fellow missionary hacked off a piece of cheese at the table. After 22 years of missionary service, the one who had been shocked observed that most troubles start over matters of no greater consequence than how someone cuts cheese. The speaker advised: “Learn to adapt, like a tree in a windstorm. There are many benefits to being yielding, such as being better able to endure trials and stick to one’s assignment with peace of mind.”
Milton G. Henschel, of the Governing Body, discussed the theme “A Large Door Leading to Activity Is Open.” Brother Henschel noted that Jesus loved people, felt pity for them, and taught them many things. From Ephesus the apostle Paul wrote the Corinthians: “A large door that leads to activity has been opened to me, but there are many opposers.” (1 Corinthians 16:8, 9) Despite this opposition, Paul taught in the school auditorium of Tyrannus for two years, so that the Kingdom message came to be known throughout the district of Asia. (Acts 19:9, 10) The open door led to success in his preaching. The Ephesian congregation was still functioning at the end of the first century.—Revelation 2:1-7.
Jack D. Redford, a Gilead instructor, spoke on the theme “Keep Testing What You Are.” (2 Corinthians 13:5) Gilead missionaries have opened new fields and strengthened congregations already formed, enduring much and resisting the bait the Devil has held out to turn them aside. And new ones keep joining the ranks. With two graphic experiences, the instructor illustrated how vital it is to test one’s faith. One missionary lost his privileges after he haughtily ignored warning counsel about a wrong course. In contrast, another remained in her assignment with joy, although in her first three months there, she had been reduced to skin and bones by sickness that also resulted in loss of her hair and her hearing. She is still there after 42 years and, through Bible studies, has helped 156 persons to baptism. Brother Redford concluded: “Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Never take his bait. Keep proving what you yourselves are. Jehovah will care for you.”
Next, another instructor, Ulysses V. Glass, spoke on the theme “Wisdom Is With the Modest Ones.” (Proverbs 11:2) He used a wristwatch with a solar-powered battery to illustrate that the light of God’s Word can keep us “charged.” “But,” he pointed out, “knowledge alone does not give wisdom. Modesty is also required by God.” (Micah 6:8) Modesty will lead us to fear God, and “the fear of Jehovah is the start of wisdom.” (Proverbs 9:10) True, we must think something of ourselves; self-condemnation can be destructive. Jehovah has granted special ability to some, as he did during the construction of the tabernacle, but faithfulness in modesty must be worked at. “During the term,” Brother Glass told the class, “you gave evidence of dependability and respect. Display this same faithfulness in your assignment, and God will bless you.”
Albert D. Schroeder, of the Governing Body, gave the featured talk entitled “Well Equipped for Missionary Service in the 1990’s.” He began: “The 1990’s have already had a roaring start. Many Eastern European nations have been rocked. Several months ago the Berlin Wall was opened. The New York Times carried a headline: ‘August 1990, the Month That Shook the World.’ So, you graduates are living in a time of shaking. Have your five months of study prepared you for it? Absolutely yes!” He then mentioned some of the helpful features of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures—With References and how a study of it has made God’s Word come alive. Another powerful instrument that has equipped the students is “All Scripture Is Inspired of God and Beneficial,” now in its revised 1990 edition. The recent publication Mankind’s Search for God should also be a powerful help for missionaries. Brother Schroeder concluded: “So then, brothers, thank Jehovah for the wonderful, priceless education that you have had—one that is solid and cannot be shaken. Go forth with Jehovah’s blessing and have full confidence in him and our wonderful Leader, Jesus Christ. The words that we have in the Scriptures are indeed inspired and will guide and direct you in the missionary work.”
Greetings from 11 countries were read. The students received their diplomas, and one of them read a heartfelt letter to the Governing Body and the Bethel family.
The afternoon session included an abbreviated study of The Watchtower, conducted by David L. Walker, a member of the Watchtower Farms Committee. Then the students used the inspiring theme “The Power of Prayer in Preaching” in acting out field experiences. A local congregation presented the stimulating drama Set Free to Promote True Worship, based on Ezra’s returning to Jerusalem to promote true worship. Brother Frederick W. Franz, the president of Gilead School, concluded with a moving prayer.
[Picture on page 24]
89th 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) Ahr, K.; Johnston, L.; Ng Ying Kin, V.; Sukkau, A.; Rodriguez, A.; Myklebust, N. (2) Ahr, H.; Verbeek, P.; Verbeek, K.; DeBolt, S.; DeBolt, S. (3) Sukkau, W.; Ayala, L.; Ayala, S.; Jenson, R.; Ng Ying Kin, J.; Myklebust, T. (4) Rodriguez, C.; Ferlisi, G.; Ferlisi, L.; Tank, J.; Jenson, K.; Tank, J.; Johnston, P.