The 101st Class of Gilead—Zealous for Fine Works
OUR Creator, Jehovah God, is zealous for fine works, and so is his Son, Jesus Christ. As our exemplar, Jesus showed zeal by carrying out his God-given assignment, which included giving “himself for us that he might . . . cleanse for himself a people peculiarly his own, zealous for fine works.” (Titus 2:14) The 48 members of the 101st class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead have certainly demonstrated their zeal for fine works. The graduation program for these missionaries was held on September 7, 1996, at the Watchtower Educational Center in Patterson, New York.
Practical Counsel to Remain Zealous
The chairman of the graduation program was Carey Barber, a member of the Governing Body, with over 70 years in the full-time ministry. In his opening comments, Brother Barber called attention to the preaching and teaching activity of Jesus, who was “the light of the world.” (John 8:12) He pointed out that Jesus did not keep that honorable role to himself but urged his disciples to let their light shine as well. (Matthew 5:14-16) This privilege of service adds meaning to a Christian’s life and places a weighty responsibility on the shoulders of all those who are “walking as children of light.”—Ephesians 5:8.
Following those opening remarks, Don Adams of the Executive Offices at Brooklyn headquarters was introduced. He spoke on the subject “Moving Forward, Not Backward.” Brother Adams drew attention to the Gilead School itself and its purpose—to extend the preaching of the good news to foreign lands. He spoke of the advancement of God’s organization, which has published Bible literature throughout the world in over 300 languages. The book Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life, published in 1995, has been made available in 111 languages and is scheduled to be printed in still more. It has already been instrumental in helping new disciples of Jesus to reach the point of dedication and baptism within just a number of months. So the new missionaries will have the latest Bible study aids available for their work.
Next, Lyman Swingle, a member of the Governing Body, spoke on the topic “Keep On Rendering Jehovah Your Sacred Service,” based on Revelation 7:15. Since Jehovah himself is a happy God, serving him continually is what makes one happy. (1 Timothy 1:11) As a result of this joyful service, a great crowd of individuals from all parts of the earth have come to worship him. Over the years, those who have been trained in Gilead School have had a share in helping many of these to come to an accurate knowledge of the truth. We have every reason, therefore, to believe that Jehovah will continue to bless those who are now being sent out to gather in more members of the expanding great crowd.
“Reflecting the Joy of Jehovah” was the theme highlighted by Daniel Sydlik, also a member of the Governing Body. He showed that all of God’s servants, including the new missionaries, have the privilege of teaching people the way of everlasting life and the way to get the best out of life now. “Teaching,” stated Brother Sydlik, “is a self-rewarding profession. It is reflected in the faces of the people who do the teaching and in the faces of the people who learn.” (Psalm 16:8-11) He quoted one missionary in Estonia who said, “We have the greatest message on the face of the earth, and it’s our face that shows it.” Our facial expression may open many doors and arouse interest. People want to know what makes Jehovah’s servants happy. “So give attention to your face,” counseled Brother Sydlik. “People enjoy seeing happy people.”
Ulysses Glass, who has shared in giving instruction to Gilead students since the 12th class in 1949, addressed the audience on the subject “With Patience, Guard Your Souls.” What is patience? It conveys the thought of waiting calmly for something, manifesting forbearance under provocation or strain. The patient person remains composed; the impatient one becomes hasty and irritable. “Many think that patience indicates weakness or indecisiveness,” observed Brother Glass, but “to Jehovah it bears the insignia of strength and purpose.” (Proverbs 16:32) What are the dividends that patience pays? “Patience in a moment of anger will spare you a hundred days of anguish,” says one Chinese proverb. “Patience enhances one’s personality,” commented Brother Glass. “In effect, it coats other fine qualities with a varnish of permanence. It makes faith desirable, peace long-lasting, and love unshakable.”
“It is a privilege to receive an assignment from Jehovah God through his organization,” stated Mark Noumair, who served as a missionary in Kenya for 11 years and is now a Gilead instructor. As he developed the theme “Unless You Have Faith, You Will Not Be of Long Duration,” Brother Noumair called attention to the example of King Ahaz of Judah. Isaiah assured the king of Jehovah’s backing in his assignment, but Ahaz still failed to trust in Him. (Isaiah 7:2-9) Brother Noumair then pointed out that missionaries—indeed, all of us—need to have faith in Jehovah in order to be of long duration in their theocratic assignments. The particular challenges of a missionary assignment demand strong faith. “Always keep in mind that there is no perfect situation in this system of things,” stated Brother Noumair.
Experiences That Encourage Zealous Activity
During the course of their Gilead training, the students each weekend spent time in the public ministry, which will also be the main concern in their missionary assignments. Wallace Liverance, a Gilead faculty member, interviewed 15 students, who related their experiences. Leon Weaver of the Service Department Committee and Lon Schilling of the Bethel Operations Committee then interviewed branch committee members from Africa and Latin America, who related experiences from the missionary field and who had some fine advice for the graduating missionaries. In Sierra Leone, it was pointed out, about 90 percent of those baptized during the 1995 service year had been assisted by the missionaries. What a fine record of zealous activity!
Finally, Milton Henschel, the Society’s president, addressed the audience of 2,734 on the subject “Jehovah’s Visible Organization Is Unique.” What makes God’s organization something without equal? It is neither its size nor its power but the fact that it is guided by God’s righteous regulations and judicial decisions. In ancient times it was Jehovah’s people, the nation of Israel, that were entrusted with his sacred pronouncements, which made that nation unique. (Romans 3:1, 2) Today, Jehovah’s organization is united as it operates under the guidance of Jesus Christ. (Matthew 28:19, 20) It is prospering, growing. Is there another organization on earth whose Governing Body consults God’s Word, the Bible, before making important decisions? In these and other ways, Jehovah’s visible organization is truly unique.
A delightful program concluded with the presentation of the diplomas and the reading of a letter from the class expressing appreciation for the special training.
[Box on page 22]
Number of countries represented: 9
Number of countries assigned to: 12
Number of students: 48
Average age: 31.7
Average years in truth: 13.8
Average years in full-time ministry: 9.8
[Picture on page 23]
101st 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) Swint, H.; Zezenski, A.; Highfield, L.; Mercado, S.; Diehl, A.; Chavez, V.; Smith, J.; Selenius, S. (2) Kurtz, D.; Clark, C.; Leisborn, J.; Mortensen, W.; Bromiley, A.; Toikka, L.; Marten, A.; Smith, D. (3) Zezenski, D.; Bjerregaard, L.; Garafalo, B.; Kaldal, L.; Chavez, E.; Fröding, S.; Khan, R.; Selenius, R. (4) Swint, B.; Bjerregaard, M.; Garafalo, P.; Holmblad, L.; Keyzer, M.; Fröding, T.; Palfreyman, J.; Palfreyman, D. (5) Minguez, L.; Leisborn, M.; Mercado, M.; Kurtz, M.; Diehl, H.; Toikka, J.; Clark, S.; Khan, A. (6) Minguez, F.; Marten, B.; Highfield, L.; Holmblad, B.; Bromiley, K.; Kaldal, H.; Mortensen, P.; Keyzer, R.