Gilead Graduates Eager to Spread the Good News
“THE most wonderful thing we could ever dream of.” That was the way Anders and Amalia Groth felt about their missionary training. They expressed the feelings of all 48 graduates of the 97th class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead in adding: “Gilead training has motivated and prepared us, so we are eager to go to our new assignments.”
We can sense this joy as the students comment on the graduation program; 6,420 assembled on September 4, 1994, for the event.
“Theodore Jaracz of the Governing Body opened the program by speaking on the theme ‘Being Taught by Jehovah,’” said David Abel and his wife, Kelli. “The point we will never forget was when Brother Jaracz said: ‘We must acknowledge our own littleness in comparison to Jehovah,’ and illustrated it by the powerful lesson found in Job chapters 38 and 39. Brother Jaracz pointed out that while we have increased our Bible knowledge through Gilead School, we do not know the answer to every question. We must continue to study God’s Word.”
Christian and Angele Coffy now spoke: “We were impressed by the talk given by Max Larson on the theme ‘What Is the Value of a Good Foundation?’ We liked his comparing us to a building that needs a deep foundation in solid ground in order to stay stable even in an earthquake. By studying diligently, we can develop a closer relationship with Jehovah and can base our faith on deep knowledge so that we can stay stable in times of hardship.”
“The talk by Milton Henschel, president of the school, on the theme ‘The Fields Are White for Harvest’ will long be remembered,” noted Gary and Lynn Elfers. “The key scripture, John 4:35-38, stressed the privilege we have of entering a field that has already been sown by previous laborers. This will spur us on to work with a sense of urgency.” Agreeing with this, Jan and Sirpa Vaahtola observed: “Brother Henschel raised our anticipation concerning the harvest still ahead by giving the latest report from the Baltic States. The increase in Estonia was 51 percent, in Latvia 106 percent, and in Lithuania 51 percent. How thrilling! The brothers there are begging the Master to send out more workers. We were especially happy to hear this, as our assignment is to Estonia!”
“Joel Adams followed on the theme ‘Trust in Jehovah,’” recalled Kevin and Evelyn Cortina. “He advised us that we should never think that sometimes we can trust in Jehovah and sometimes we can rely on our own thinking. In our assignment we will face many challenges—health, food, language, customs, and so forth. All of them will require that we trust in Jehovah.”
Next came Gerrit Lösch, a member of the Governing Body, who developed the theme “Keep On Reflecting Jehovah’s Mercy.” Alen and Ann Marie Gokavi said: “He pointed out that it is a measure of Christian maturity to extend mercy to our fellow missionaries and those with whom we share the good news. Foreign assignments entail sacrifice, but if mercy is missing, then our sacrifice will be of very little value.” (Matthew 9:13) Peter and Fleur Hupston added: “Brother Lösch said we should be merciful to our brothers and sisters too, viewing them through the front end of field glasses, as it were, so their faults will be minimized instead of magnified.”
“Jack Redford, one of our Gilead instructors, followed on the theme ‘Can You Keep a Reproof?’” remembered Mickey and Sherry Minsky. “He pointed out that pride makes it hard to accept reproof and that if we are overly sensitive to counsel, we will lose out on its benefits. Then he gave some practical suggestions on accepting reproof based on Lamentations 3:27-31.” Charles and Joan Held chimed in: “Most of the time we are blind to our own shortcomings; therefore, we must view reproof as a way to open our eyes to things we were not aware of. Reproof or counsel from Jehovah is an evidence of his love for us.”
“Another instructor, Ulysses Glass, spoke on the theme ‘Acquire the Practical Wisdom That Leads to Life.’ He asked: ‘What will you do with what you have learned?’” said Kenneth and Lisbeth Ardkäll. “Then he gave an illustration based on Proverbs 30:24-26 about the little rock badger and how Jehovah has fully equipped it for life. We, on the other hand, are not instinctively wise, so we need to exert ourselves to acquire wisdom. Jehovah has equipped us with everything we need to do that. As long as we draw close to Jehovah and to one another in love, we will accomplish a lot.”
“Brother Karl F. Klein, a member of the Governing Body, warmly considered the 19th Psalm with us in his talk ‘A Jewel Among Jewels,’” said Jay and Gwen Abraczinskas. “He highlighted the psalmist David’s deep appreciation for Jehovah and the fondness he had for God’s Word.” “Brother Klein divided the psalm into three parts,” noted Keith and Donna Hornback. “Part 1 (Ps 19 verses 1-6) shows David’s appreciation for God’s creation, part 2 (Ps 19 verses 7-10) expresses his appreciation for God’s laws, and part 3 (Ps 19 verses 11-14) reminds us that, like David, we should want to have a good relationship with Jehovah.”
“We enjoyed the point that fear of Jehovah is vital if we are to avoid what is bad. This leads us to do what is pure in his eyes,” said David and Raylene Long. Frank and Vibeke Madsen concurred. “Brother Klein’s comments about how beneficial Jehovah’s reminders, laws, and commandments are nicely summed up what we learned at Gilead,” they said. “That made us even more determined to adhere to God’s Word in the future and to treat it like a treasure chest of jewels.”
Following the principal talk, the students received their diplomas, and their foreign assignments were announced. After an adjournment for refreshments, all reconvened for the afternoon session. The graduates participated in answering the questions propounded during an abbreviated Watchtower Study.
“Then came the student program ‘Trained to Become Kingdom Proclaimers in All the Earth,’” recalled Bob and Shannon Lakatos. “The first portion of the program dealt with student experiences in field service during our five-month course. It focused on the skillful use of questions in our ministry. An interview portion showed positive ways to face the challenges and changing circumstances of missionary life. The three slide presentations, of Costa Rica, India, and Malawi, gave us a glimpse of Jehovah’s worldwide organization.”
“The drama that followed, Be Theocratic, Not Worldly, illustrated the bad effect some worldly, independent-minded relatives can have,” noted Jesse and Michelle Duncan. “It showed that Christians must recognize the Theocracy’s guidelines and directions as necessary and beneficial,” added Wenzel and Kelly Koula.
A final song and prayer brought the delightful program to an end. As the graduates left in anticipation of their departure for foreign assignments in 18 lands, their thoughts were well expressed by this parting comment of Tommi and Jael Kauko: “We are very eager to go to our assignment and put into practice what we have learned. We have received so much—now it is our turn to give.”
[Picture on page 26]
97th 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) Hong, J.; Hong, D.; Groth, A.; Cortina, E.; Lakatos, S.; Hornback, D.; Acevedo, L.; Coffy, A. (2) Elfers, L.; Gokavi, A.; Ardkäll, L.; Abraczinskas, G.; Knott, K.; Lizer, T.; Abel, K.; Abel, D. (3) Duncan, M.; Gokavi, A.; Held, J.; Hupston, F.; Lakatos, B.; Long, R.; Minsky, S.; Acevedo, E. (4) Ardkäll, K.; Kauko, J.; Vaahtola, S.; Cortina, K.; Carson, N.; Minsky, M.; Lizer, G.; Koula, K. (5) Duncan, J.; Abraczinskas, J.; Vaahtola, J.; Madsen, F.; Madsen, V.; Long, D.; Carson, C.; Elfers, G. (6) Kauko, T.; Hupston, P.; Held, C.; Groth, A.; Hornback, K.; Koula, W.; Knott, D.; Coffy, C.