Supporters of True Worship—Then and Now
DO YOU remember the name of a man who wept over the ancient city of Jerusalem? ‘Jesus,’ you may say—and, indeed, Jesus did so. (Luke 19:28, 41) However, centuries before Jesus walked on earth, another faithful servant of God similarly wept over Jerusalem. His name was Nehemiah.—Nehemiah 1:3, 4.
What caused Nehemiah to be so sad that he wept over Jerusalem? What did he do for the benefit of the city and its inhabitants? And what can we learn from his example? To answer, let us review some events of his day.
A Man of Feelings and Action
Nehemiah was appointed governor of Jerusalem, but before that, he was a high-ranking official in the Persian court in the city of Shushan. Yet, his life of comfort did not diminish his concern for the welfare of his Jewish brothers in faraway Jerusalem. In fact, the first thing he did when a delegation of Jews from Jerusalem visited Shushan was “to ask them about the Jews, those who had escaped, who had been left over of the captivity, and also about Jerusalem.” (Nehemiah 1:2) When the visitors responded that the people of Jerusalem were “in a very bad plight” and that the city wall was “broken down,” Nehemiah “sat down and began to weep and mourn for days.” After that he expressed his feelings of sadness in a heartfelt prayer to Jehovah. (Nehemiah 1:3-11) Why was Nehemiah so sad? Because Jerusalem was the center of Jehovah’s worship on earth, and it had been neglected. (1 Kings 11:36) Moreover, the city’s broken-down condition was a reflection of the poor spiritual state of its inhabitants.—Nehemiah 1:6, 7.
Nehemiah’s concern for Jerusalem and his compassion for the Jews living there moved him to give of himself. As soon as the Persian king allowed him to take a leave of absence from his duties, Nehemiah began to plan the long trip to Jerusalem. (Nehemiah 2:5, 6) He wanted to give his strength, time, and skills in support of the needed repair work. Within a few days of his arrival, he already had a plan in place for the repair of Jerusalem’s entire wall.—Nehemiah 2:11-18.
Nehemiah divided the huge task of repairing the wall among many families, all of whom worked side by side.* More than 40 different groups were assigned to repair one “measured section” each. The result? With so many workers—including parents accompanied by their children—giving their time and energy, a seemingly overwhelming task became manageable. (Nehemiah 3:11, 12, 19, 20) Within two action-packed months, the entire wall was repaired! Nehemiah wrote that even those who had opposed the repair work were forced to acknowledge that “it was from our God that this work had been done.”—Nehemiah 6:15, 16.
An Example to Be Remembered
Nehemiah contributed more than his time and organizational skills. He also used his material means to support true worship. He used his own money to buy back his Jewish brothers from slavery. He lent money without interest. He never “made it heavy” upon the Jews by demanding an allowance as governor, something to which he was entitled. Instead, he kept an open house to feed “a hundred and fifty men, and those coming in to us from the nations that were around us.” Each day he provided “one bull, six select sheep and birds” for his guests. In addition, once every ten days he offered them “every sort of wine in abundance”—all at his own expense.—Nehemiah 5:8, 10, 14-18.
What an outstanding example of generosity Nehemiah set for all of God’s servants then and now! This courageous servant of God freely and willingly used his material means to support the workers so as to advance true worship. Appropriately, he could ask Jehovah: “Do remember . . . O my God, for good, all that I have done in behalf of this people.” (Nehemiah 5:19) Surely Jehovah will do just that.—Hebrews 6:10.
Nehemiah’s Example Is Followed Today
It is heartwarming to see that Jehovah’s people today similarly display warm feelings, a willingness to act, and a self-sacrificing attitude in behalf of true worship. When we hear that fellow believers suffer hardships, we are deeply concerned about their welfare. (Romans 12:15) Like Nehemiah, we turn to Jehovah in prayer in support of our afflicted brothers in the faith, asking him: “Please, let your ear become attentive to the prayer of your servant and to the prayer of your servants who take delight in fearing your name.”—Nehemiah 1:11; Colossians 4:2.
However, our concern for the spiritual and physical welfare of our Christian brothers and for the advancement of true worship does not affect merely our feelings. It also moves us to action. Those whose circumstances allow are impelled by love to leave the relative comfort of their homes and, much like Nehemiah, move to other locations to give assistance to those in need. Undeterred by the less comfortable living conditions that such volunteers may face in some parts of the world, they support the advancement of true worship there, serving side by side with their Christian brothers. The spirit of self-sacrifice they display is truly commendable.
Doing Our Share Close to Home
Understandably, most of us are not able to move to another location. We support true worship close to home. That is also illustrated in the book of Nehemiah. Note the detail that Nehemiah adds about some of the faithful families who shared in the repair work. He wrote: “Jedaiah the son of Harumaph did repair work in front of his own house . . . Benjamin and Hasshub did repair work in front of their own house. After them Azariah the son of Maaseiah the son of Ananiah did repair work close by his own house.” (Nehemiah 3:10, 23, 28-30) Those men and their families contributed greatly to the advancement of true worship by doing their share in the repair work close to home.
Today, many of us support true worship in our own communities in various ways. We share in Kingdom Hall construction projects, disaster relief efforts and, most important, the Kingdom-preaching work. In addition, whether we are able to participate personally in construction or relief work or not, all of us have a heartfelt desire to support true worship with our material means, just as Nehemiah so generously did in his day.—See box “Characteristics of Voluntary Giving.”
Finding the necessary funds to finance our growing printing activities, relief efforts, and numerous other services performed around the globe may at times seem overwhelming. Recall, however, that the task of repairing the huge wall of Jerusalem also seemed overwhelming. (Nehemiah 4:10) Yet, because the task was divided among many willing families, the work was accomplished. Likewise today, finding the considerable means to carry out our worldwide activities will remain within reach if each one of us continues to care for a portion of the work.
The box “Ways in Which Some Choose to Give” shows several ways in which the Kingdom work can be supported financially. During the past year, many among God’s people have given such support, and the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses would like to use this opportunity to express their deep gratitude to all whose heart impelled them to share in this voluntary giving. Most of all, we thank Jehovah for his rich blessing on the wholehearted efforts of his people in promoting true worship throughout the world. Yes, when we reflect on how Jehovah’s hand has guided us over the years, we are moved to echo the words of Nehemiah, who thankfully said: “The hand of my God, how it was good upon me.”—Nehemiah 2:18.
Nehemiah 3:5 notes that some prominent Jews, “majestic ones,” refused to share in the work, but they were the exception. People of varied backgrounds—priests, goldsmiths, ointment mixers, princes, traders—all supported the project.—Verses 1, 8, 9, 32.
[Box/Pictures on page 28, 29]
Ways in Which Some Choose to Give
CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE WORLDWIDE WORK
Many set aside, or budget, an amount that they place in the contribution boxes labeled “Contributions for the Worldwide Work—Matthew 24:14.”
Each month, congregations forward these amounts either to the world headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses or to the local branch office. Voluntary donations of money may be sent directly to the Treasurer’s Office, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, 25 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, New York 11201-2483, or to the branch office that serves your country. Jewelry or other valuables may be donated as well. A brief letter stating that such is an outright gift should accompany these contributions.
Money may be donated under a special arrangement in which, should the donor have a personal need, the donation may be returned to him. For more information, please contact the Treasurer’s Office at the address noted above.
In addition to outright gifts and conditional donations of money, there are other methods of giving to benefit Kingdom service worldwide. These include:
Insurance: The Watch Tower Society may be named as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy or in a retirement/pension plan.
Bank Accounts: Bank accounts, certificates of deposit, or individual retirement accounts may be placed in trust for or made payable on death to the Watch Tower Society, in accord with local bank requirements.
Stocks and Bonds: Stocks and bonds may be donated to the Watch Tower Society as an outright gift.
Real Estate: Salable real estate may be donated to the Watch Tower Society either by making an outright gift or by reserving a life estate to the donor, who can continue to live therein during his or her lifetime. Contact the branch office in your country before deeding any real estate.
Gift Annuity: A gift annuity is an arrangement whereby one transfers money or securities to the Watch Tower Society. In exchange, the donor, or someone designated by the donor, receives a specified annuity payment every year for life. The donor receives an income-tax deduction the year the gift annuity is established.
Wills and Trusts: Property or money may be bequeathed to the Watch Tower Society by means of a legally executed will, or the Watch Tower Society may be named as a beneficiary of a trust agreement. A trust benefiting a religious organization may provide certain tax advantages.
As the term “charitable planning” implies, these types of donations typically require some planning on the part of the donor. To assist individuals desiring to benefit the worldwide work of Jehovah’s Witnesses through some form of charitable planning, a brochure has been prepared in English and Spanish entitled Charitable Planning to Benefit Kingdom Service Worldwide. The brochure was written in response to the many inquiries received regarding gifts, wills, and trusts. It also contains additional useful information on estate, financial, and tax planning. It informs individuals of a variety of ways that gifts may be made either now or through a bequest at death. This brochure may be obtained by requesting a copy directly from the Charitable Planning Office.
After reading the brochure and conferring with the Charitable Planning Office, many have been able to assist Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide and, at the same time, maximize the tax benefits of doing so. The Charitable Planning Office should be informed of and receive a copy of any relevant document pertaining to any of these arrangements. If you are interested in any of these charitable planning arrangements, you should contact the Charitable Planning Office, either in writing or by telephone, at the address listed below or at the office of Jehovah’s Witnesses that serves your country.
Charitable Planning Office
Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania
100 Watchtower Drive
Patterson, New York 12563-9204
Telephone: (845) 306-0707
[Box on page 30]
Characteristics of Voluntary Giving
In his letters to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul mentioned three significant characteristics of voluntary giving. (1) When writing about a monetary collection, Paul instructed: “Every first day of the week let each of you at his own house set something aside.” (1 Corinthians 16:2a) Thus, giving needs to be planned in advance, and it needs to be done systematically. (2) Paul also wrote that each person should give “in keeping with his income.” (1 Corinthians 16:2b, New International Version) In other words, an individual who wants to share in voluntary giving can do so proportionately. Even if a Christian earns but little, the resulting small amount that he may contribute is valued by Jehovah. (Luke 21:1-4) (3) Paul further wrote: “Let each one do just as he has resolved in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7) Sincere Christians give from the heart—cheerfully.
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Nehemiah was a man of feelings and action
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Voluntary contributions support printing activities, relief efforts, Kingdom Hall construction, and other beneficial services around the globe