“Come to Me, . . . and I Will Refresh You”
Phenomenal Increase Necessitates Quick Expansion
“COME to me, . . . and I will refresh you,” said Jesus Christ. (Matthew 11:28) What a heartwarming invitation from the Head of the Christian congregation! (Ephesians 5:23) When we reflect on those words, we cannot fail to appreciate a vital source of refreshment—association with our spiritual brothers and sisters at Christian meetings. We certainly agree with the psalmist who sang: “How good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!”—Psalm 133:1.
Indeed, our associates at those gatherings for worship are the best, and the spiritual atmosphere is safe and pleasant. For good reason, then, one young Christian said: “I go to school all day long, and it tears me down. But the meetings are like an oasis in the desert, where I am refreshed to make it through the next school day.” A Nigerian youth remarked: “I have found that close association with others who love Jehovah helps me to stay close to him.”
The local Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses fills a great need as a center for true worship in the community. In most places, meetings are held at the Kingdom Hall at least twice a week, and Bible students are encouraged to attend as soon as possible so as to benefit from refreshing association there.—Hebrews 10:24, 25.
An Urgent Need
It is noteworthy, however, that not all of Jehovah’s Witnesses enjoy the use of a suitable Kingdom Hall. Phenomenal increase in the ranks of Kingdom proclaimers worldwide has created an urgent need. Thousands of Kingdom Halls are still needed, especially in developing lands.—Isaiah 54:2; 60:22.
To illustrate: There were only ten Kingdom Halls for 290 congregations in the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. That country had an urgent need for many Kingdom Halls. In Angola most of the congregations are meeting in the open because there are only a limited number of Kingdom Halls. Similar needs exist in many other countries.
Since 1999, therefore, an organized effort has been made to assist with Kingdom Hall construction in lands where limited resources are available. To help care for building projects in such lands, experienced Witnesses have volunteered their services. When such efforts are combined with the willing spirit and the availability of local volunteers, the results are very encouraging. In turn, local Witnesses are benefiting from the training they receive. All of this is helping to meet Kingdom Hall construction needs in their respective countries.
Practical assistance is thus provided in a flexible approach to Kingdom Hall construction that incorporates local methods and materials. The goal is not only to meet the tremendous need for Kingdom Halls but also to develop a maintenance program suited to local circumstances.—2 Corinthians 8:14, 15.
What is the effect of these efforts to provide places of worship? Early in 2001, a report from Malawi stated: “What has been accomplished in this country is really impressive. In the next two months, we will complete additional Kingdom Halls.” (Pictures 1 and 2) In Togo volunteers were able to build a number of modest Kingdom Halls in recent months. (Picture 3) Fine work done by willing volunteers is also helping to provide suitable Kingdom Halls in Mexico, Brazil, and other lands.
Congregations find that when a Kingdom Hall is built, local people realize that Jehovah’s Witnesses are there to stay. Many had seemingly been reluctant to associate with the Witnesses until a suitable place of worship was available. The Nafisi Congregation in Malawi reports: “Now that we have a suitable Kingdom Hall, it is resulting in a fine witness. Therefore, it is easy to start Bible studies.”
Members of the Krake Congregation in Benin endured much ridicule in the past because the former Kingdom Hall was primitive compared with some churches. (Picture 4) Now the congregation has a fine new Kingdom Hall that represents true worship in a modest yet dignified manner. (Picture 5) This congregation had 34 Kingdom publishers with an average attendance of 73 at Sunday meetings, but 651 attended the Kingdom Hall dedication. Most of them were townspeople who were favorably impressed upon seeing that the Witnesses were able to build a hall in just a short time. Reflecting on past developments in this regard, the Zimbabwe branch wrote: “Within one month of building a new Kingdom Hall, attendance usually doubles.”—Pictures 6 and 7.
Without a doubt, the many new Kingdom Halls help to provide places for the spiritual refreshment of both dedicated Christians and interested people. “We feel a great joy,” said a Witness in Ukraine after the local congregation started using its new Kingdom Hall. “We saw with our own eyes how Jehovah helps his people.”
[Box/Pictures on page 10, 11]
Generous Support Appreciated
Jehovah’s Witnesses are thrilled to see the rapid progress that has been made to meet the urgent need for new Kingdom Halls around the globe. The steady increase in the number of Jehovah’s worshipers in various countries requires that many new Kingdom Halls be built in the future. Why, on an average, during the 2001 service year, 32 new congregations were formed every week! Such congregations need places to meet and worship.
The question may arise, ‘How do we finance such projects as the construction of new Kingdom Halls, especially in countries where the brothers have limited financial resources?’ The answer involves both divine support and human generosity.
True to his promise, Jehovah pours out his holy spirit upon his servants, enabling them “to work at good, to be rich in fine works, to be liberal, ready to share.” (1 Timothy 6:18) God’s spirit impels Jehovah’s Witnesses to support the Kingdom-preaching work in every way—devoting their time, energy, personal labor, and other resources to Christian activities.
A spirit of generous giving motivates Witnesses and others who assist with the expansion and construction work in a financial way. Apart from helping to defray the regular expenses of the local congregation, they contribute toward construction work in other parts of the earth.
In each congregation, there are boxes clearly labeled “Contributions for the Worldwide Work—Matthew 24:14.” There individuals can deposit voluntary donations if they so desire. (2 Kings 12:9) All donations, large and small, are appreciated. (Mark 12:42-44) These funds are used in a variety of ways according to the need, including the construction of Kingdom Halls. Such funds are not used to pay salaried executives because Jehovah’s Witnesses have none.
Do contributions to the worldwide work accomplish their purpose? Yes, they do. The branch in Liberia—a country ravaged by civil war—reports that the majority of the local Witnesses face unemployment and serious financial problems. How could Jehovah’s people in this country obtain suitable places of worship? “The generous contributions of the brothers in other lands will be used to finance the work,” notes the branch office. “What a wise and loving arrangement!”
The local brothers contribute too, despite their limited means. The African country of Sierra Leone reports: “The local brothers are behind the effort and are happy to give of their labor and whatever financial contributions they can to support the construction of Kingdom Halls.”
Ultimately, this building effort brings praise to Jehovah. The brothers from Liberia say enthusiastically: “The construction of suitable places of worship throughout the country will show the people that true worship is here to stay and will dignify and adorn our God’s great name.”