“Out of the Mouth of Babes”
WHEN Samuel was a young boy, he stood firm for right principles despite the wickedness of the sons of High Priest Eli. (1 Samuel 2:22; 3:1) In the days of Elisha, a little Israelite captive in Syria gave a courageous witness to her mistress. (2 Kings 5:2-4) When Jesus was 12 years old, he spoke boldly to the teachers of Israel, asking questions and giving answers that astounded onlookers. (Luke 2:46-48) Throughout history Jehovah has been served faithfully by his young worshipers.
Do young people today show that same faithful spirit? Yes, indeed! Reports from branch offices of the Watch Tower Society show that many, many believing youngsters “offer themselves willingly” in Jehovah’s service. (Psalm 110:3) The fine results of their endeavors encourage all Christians, young and old, “not [to] give up in doing what is fine.”—Galatians 6:9.
A good example is Ayumi, a little Japanese girl who became a publisher when she was six years old and made it her goal to witness to everyone in her class. She got permission to place several publications in the classroom library, preparing herself to answer any questions that her schoolmates might ask. Almost all her classmates as well as the teacher got to know the publications. During her six years of elementary school, Ayumi arranged for 13 Bible studies. She was baptized while in the fourth grade, and one of her friends with whom she had studied was baptized in the sixth grade. Moreover, the mother and two older sisters of this Bible student also studied and were baptized.
Good Conduct a Witness
“Maintain your conduct fine among the nations,” said the apostle Peter, and young Christians take this command seriously. (1 Peter 2:12) As a result, their good conduct often gives a fine witness. In the African country of Cameroon, a man came for the second time to a congregation meeting of Jehovah’s Witnesses and happened to sit beside a small girl. When the speaker invited the audience to look up a passage in the Bible, the man noticed that the little girl quickly found the verse in her own Bible and attentively followed the reading. Her attitude so impressed him that at the conclusion of the meeting, he went to the speaker and said: “This small girl has made me want to study the Bible with you.”
In South Africa there is a school where 25 students are children of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Their good conduct has resulted in a fine reputation for Jehovah’s Witnesses. One teacher confided to a Witness parent that she did not understand how the Witnesses manage to train their children so well, especially since her own church had proved incapable of helping young ones. A new teacher came to assist in the school and immediately noticed the good conduct of the Witness children. She asked one of the Witness boys what she would have to do to become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He explained that she should have a Bible study, and he arranged for his parents to follow up on the interest.
In Costa Rica, Rigoberto recognized the ring of truth when two classmates used the Bible to answer his questions about the Trinity, the soul, and hellfire. What they said carried weight with him not only because of their ability to use the Scriptures but also because their excellent conduct was so different from what he had witnessed in the churches of Christendom. In spite of family opposition, Rigoberto is making good progress in his Bible study.
In Spain two Witnesses of Jehovah—one of them nine years old—visited a man named Onofre. While the adult Witness did most of the talking, the young Witness followed along in the Scriptures and quoted some Bible texts from memory. Onofre was impressed. He decided that he wanted to study the Bible at the same place where that young boy had learned to handle the Scriptures so well. Hence, early the following Sunday morning, he went to the Kingdom Hall. He had to wait outside until mid-afternoon, when the Witnesses came for their meeting. From then on, he made fine progress and recently symbolized his dedication by water baptism.
Effective Young Witnesses
Yes, Jehovah uses young ones as well as adults to reach the meekhearted. Such was further seen in an experience from Hungary. There, a hospital nurse noticed that whenever visitors came to see a certain ten-year-old patient, they would bring her reading matter as well as food. Intrigued, she wondered what a young girl would be reading about and found that it was the Bible. The nurse talked to her and later said: “From the first moment, she was really teaching me.” When the young girl left the hospital, she invited the nurse to attend a convention, but the nurse turned her down. Later, though, she agreed to attend the “Pure Language” District Convention. Soon after, she started a Bible study, and one year later she was baptized—all as a result of a little girl using her time in the hospital to read Bible literature.
Ana Ruth, in El Salvador, was in her second year in high school. She had the habit of leaving Bible literature on her desk for others to read if they wanted to. Noticing that the literature disappeared and then reappeared after some time, Ana Ruth discovered that a schoolmate, Evelyn, was reading it. After a while, Evelyn accepted a study and began attending congregation meetings. Eventually, she was baptized, and now she serves as a regular auxiliary pioneer. Ana Ruth is a regular pioneer.
In Panama a sister started a study with a woman whose husband began to oppose the truth to the point that the study almost stopped. However, gradually the husband’s attitude softened. Some time later, his fleshly brother, a Witness, asked him to install a burglar alarm in his house. While he was installing the alarm, his nine-year-old niece came home looking very sad. He asked her what was wrong, and she said that she and her older sister had gone to conduct a Bible study but the person was not at home, so she had not been able to do anything for Jehovah that day. Her uncle said: “Why not preach to me? Then you will do something for Jehovah.” His niece ran happily to get her Bible, and a study was started.
Her mother (the man’s sister-in-law) was listening. She thought that the whole thing was just a joke, but every time the man went to her house, he asked his niece for a Bible study. When the mother saw that her brother-in-law was serious and had some difficult questions, she decided to conduct the study herself with her daughter present. He began to study twice a week and made rapid progress. Finally, he reached the point of dedication and was baptized at the same assembly as his wife—thanks to the fine attitude of his young niece.
Courage of the Young Gives a Fine Witness
The Bible says: “Be courageous and let your heart be strong. Yes, hope in Jehovah.” (Psalm 27:14) These words apply to all of God’s servants, and young as well as adult applied them during the past year. In Australia, when a five-year-old girl started in a new school, her mother went to the teacher to explain the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The teacher said: “I already know what you believe. Your daughter has explained everything to me.” This young girl had not been too timid to approach her teacher on her own to explain her faith.
Five-year-old Andrea in Romania also showed courage. When her mother left the Orthodox faith to become a Witness, her neighbors refused to listen to her. One day at the Congregation Book Study, Andrea heard the service overseer stress the need to preach to one’s neighbors. She thought seriously about this, and back home she said to her mother: “After you leave for work, I will get up, arrange my bag with literature just as you do, Mommy, and I will pray to Jehovah to help me talk about the truth with the neighbors.”
The next day Andrea did what she had promised. Then, mustering up her courage, she rang the bell of a neighbor. When the neighbor answered the door, this little girl said: “I know that since my mother became a Witness, you don’t like her. She has tried to talk to you several times, but you did not want to listen to her. This is upsetting to her, but I want you to know that we love you.” Then, Andrea went on to give a fine witness. In one day, she distributed six books, six magazines, four booklets, and four tracts. Since then, she has been regular in the field service.
In Rwanda our brothers have had to show great courage in view of the strife there. On one occasion a family of Witnesses was put in a room where soldiers prepared to kill them. The family asked permission to pray first. This was granted, and all except the daughter, Deborah, prayed silently. According to a report, Deborah prayed out loud: “Jehovah, this week Papa and I placed five magazines. How are we going to get back to these people to teach them the truth and help them get life? Besides, how am I going to be a publisher now? I wanted to get baptized in order to serve you.” Upon hearing this, a soldier said: “We cannot kill you because of this little girl.” Deborah responded: “Thank you.” The family was spared.
When Jesus made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem near the end of his earthly life, he was greeted by vast, cheering crowds. The crowds were made up of children as well as adults. According to the record, young boys “were crying out in the temple and saying: ‘Save, we pray, the Son of David!’” When the chief priests and the scribes protested at this, Jesus retorted: “Did you never read this, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings you have furnished praise’?”—Matthew 21:15, 16.
Is it not thrilling to see that even today Jesus’ words are true? “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings”—and, may we add, teenagers and young men and women—Jehovah has furnished praise. Indeed, when it comes to praising Jehovah, there is no minimum age.—Joel 2:28, 29.