A Worldwide Association Caring for One Another
AS FAR AS the eye can see, there are people. Many are elderly, some of whom are so disabled that they can hardly walk. There are women heavy with child and young couples with small children in tow. They are all refugees—men, women, and children—who have been forced by civil war, natural disasters, or other circumstances to flee their homes to seek refuge in a neighboring country. Some have repeatedly been forced to leave their dwellings. At the first sign of civil unrest or of a natural disaster, they grab a few household articles, gather their children, and head for a safer haven. Then, when conditions get back to normal, many refugees return to rebuild their homes and start over again.
Over the years, the Central African Republic has opened its doors to refugees from a number of countries. Recently, thousands of people, including many of Jehovah’s Witnesses, were obliged to flee the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo to the relative safety of the Central African Republic.
Brothers Come to the Rescue
Witnesses in the Central African Republic counted it a privilege to organize humanitarian aid. Accommodations were secured for arriving Christian brothers. At first, rooms were found in private homes, but as the number of refugees grew, it became evident that more substantial arrangements were needed. Some Kingdom Halls were transformed into dormitories. Local Witnesses set to work installing additional lighting, hooking up water pipes, and cementing floors for the comfort of those who were to be accommodated there. The refugees worked right along with the local brothers to establish these provisional dormitories. A full program of Christian meetings was arranged in the Lingala language so that the arrivals would be supplied with life-sustaining spiritual food. The close cooperation between local Witnesses and their guests showed that an international brotherhood is a reality.
Refugee families did not always arrive together. At times, family members who had got separated were reunited at their destination. A list of those who had arrived safely was kept at each Kingdom Hall. Arrangements were made to locate those still missing. The branch office that directs the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the country dispatched three vehicles per day to assist Witnesses who were still en route and to search for any who might be lost. These vehicles were identified by a large sign, which read “WATCH TOWER—Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
Imagine the joy experienced when a group of seven refugee children who had been separated from their parents spied a van owned by Jehovah’s Witnesses. They immediately ran to the vehicle and identified themselves as Witnesses. The brothers helped them into the van and took them to a Kingdom Hall, where they were eventually reunited with their families.
What has enabled these sincere Christians to cope with such circumstances, not just once, but repeatedly? They are absolutely convinced that we are living in the last days as foretold in the Holy Scriptures.—2 Timothy 3:1-5; Revelation 6:3-8.
Hence, they know that Jehovah God will soon put an end to wars, hate, violence, and strife. The refugee problem will be a thing of the past. In the meantime, in harmony with the apostle Paul’s admonition at 1 Corinthians 12:14-26, Jehovah’s Witnesses endeavor to take care of one another. Although separated by rivers, borders, languages, and distance, they are concerned about one another, so they are quick to act when someone falls into need.—James 1:22-27.
[Map on page 30]
(For fully formatted text, see publication)
Central African Republic
Democratic Republic of Congo
Mountain High Maps® Copyright © 1997 Digital Wisdom, Inc.
[Pictures on page 30]
Three Kingdom Halls were turned into reception centers
[Picture on page 31]
Kitchen facilities were immediately installed
[Picture on page 31]
More and more arrived
[Pictures on page 31]
Just born and already refugees