View Matters From God’s Standpoint
IN NEW YORK, U.S.A., September 14, 2002, was a warm and sunny day. On that day, an international crowd of 6,521 met at the Patterson Educational Center and two other complexes of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the region. The crowd gathered to witness the graduation of the 113th class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead. The students came from 14 lands and had spent the past five months preparing for missionary service in 19 countries to which they were assigned.
Carey Barber, in his 98th year of life and a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, served as chairman of the program. He called attention to the nearly 60-year heritage of Gilead School, which has equipped thousands to go out in the missionary field. Brother Barber remarked: “It is no exaggerated claim that grand results have come from their further training. Literally hundreds of thousands of meek ones throughout the earth have dedicated their life to Jehovah and have taken up his true worship and sacred service because of the help that trained missionaries have given them.”
Prior to attending Gilead, many of the students demonstrated interest in expanding their ministry. One couple had spent over a year taking classes in Mandarin in an effort to reach a large ethnic Chinese population in their home area in Canada. Another couple began studying Albanian on their own and eventually moved to Albania to care for the growing interest in the Bible there. Others in the class came to Gilead from Hungary, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic, lands to which they had moved to serve where there was a great need for teachers of God’s Word.
Now, before departing for assignments in Africa, Eastern Europe, Central and South America, and the Far East, all the graduating students were encouraged to take God into account in all they do.
View Matters From God’s Perspective
Following his opening remarks, Brother Barber introduced Maxwell Lloyd, a member of the United States Branch Committee. He highlighted the theme “View All Matters From the Standpoint of God.” Brother Lloyd called attention to the examples of David and the Son of God, Jesus. (1 Samuel 24:6; 26:11; Luke 22:42) After reminding the students that their five-month study of the Bible had given them training in viewing things from God’s standpoint, the speaker asked: “When conducting Bible studies with people in your new assignment, will you help them to reason on matters from the standpoint of God?” And as regards counseling others, he advised the students: “Don’t say, ‘From my standpoint, I feel . . .’ Rather, help them to see what God’s view is. Following this course, you will prove to be a real blessing to those with whom you associate in your assignment.”
Next on the program was Gerrit Lösch, a member of the Governing Body. Speaking on the theme “I Am With You,” he called attention to many occasions when Jehovah said to his faithful servants, “I am with you.” (Genesis 26:23, 24; 28:15; Joshua 1:5; Jeremiah 1:7, 8) In our day, we can have the same confidence in Jehovah if we remain faithful. Brother Lösch pointed out: “Do you worry whether you will find people with whom to study the Bible? Remember, Jehovah said, ‘I am with you.’ Do you worry about having enough in a material way? Jehovah said: ‘I will by no means leave you nor by any means forsake you.’” (Hebrews 13:5) Brother Lösch concluded by reminding the students that Jesus promised to be with his faithful followers in the disciple-making work.—Matthew 28:20.
“Will You Find Your Security in the Fire?” was the theme of Gilead instructor Lawrence Bowen. He noted that because of the issues raised in Eden, all those who have desired to give Jehovah exclusive devotion have been faced with difficulties and, at times, fiery trials. He encouraged the graduating students to follow the example of Jesus, who found true security by fully relying on Jehovah and accepting the fiery tests that Jehovah permitted to perfect his Son’s obedience. (Hebrews 5:8, 9) Jehovah can be compared to a refiner of gold who applies just the right amount of heat to remove impurities. Of course, faith tested by fire provides far greater security than refined gold. Why? “Because refined faith can take any pressure,” said Brother Bowen, “and it equips us to endure all the way to ‘the end.’”—Matthew 24:13.
Another Gilead instructor, Mark Noumair, asked: “Will You Be Likable?” His theme centered on the words of 1 Samuel 2:26, which describe Samuel as “likable both from Jehovah’s standpoint and from that of men.” After considering Samuel’s example, Brother Noumair, who spent over a decade in missionary service in Africa, stated: “You too can become very likable in God’s eyes by sticking loyally to the work God has given you to do. He has given you a precious missionary assignment.” Brother Noumair then encouraged the graduating class to view their assignments as a sacred trust from God and to adopt God’s thinking in carrying out their assignments.
During the school term, the students had many opportunities on weekends to share with people in the area “the magnificent things of God” set out in the Bible. (Acts 2:11) In fact, they were able to speak about these things in ten different languages. Wallace Liverance, another Gilead instructor, interviewed a group of students who related their experiences under the theme “‘The Magnificent Things of God’ Rouse People to Action.” He noted: “The spirit impelled those in the upper room at Pentecost to speak about ‘the magnificent things of God.’ That same spirit works today in all of God’s faithful servants.” Some have even been motivated to learn new languages with a view to witnessing to many more people.
Practical Advice on Viewing Matters From God’s Standpoint
Following the opening talks, Gary Breaux and William Young, members of the United States branch staff, interviewed members of different branch committees in lands where missionaries are currently serving as well as a couple who spent 41 years in the missionary service. One observation made was: “Those demanding the least stay longer. They focus attention on the reason why they came. They know they came to preach the good news and to help people come to know Jehovah.”
David Splane, another member of the Governing Body, rounded out the program with a talk on the theme “You Are Not Going Far!” What did he mean by that, in view of the fact that the 46 graduates were now being sent to lands around the globe? He explained: “No matter where you are on earth, you will always be in the house of God as long as you are faithful.” Yes, all faithful Christians, no matter where they may be physically, are serving in a part of God’s great spiritual temple, or house, which came into existence at the time of Jesus’ baptism in the first century. (Hebrews 9:9) How comforting for those in attendance to know that Jehovah is near to all his faithful servants on earth! Just as Jehovah was interested in Jesus when he was on the earth, so He is interested in all of us and our service to Him, no matter where we may be. So in matters of worship, we are never far from one another and from Jehovah and Jesus.
After acknowledgment of greetings received from around the world, the announcing of assignments, and the reading of a letter from the class that expressed appreciation for the training received at Gilead, the chairman brought the program to a successful conclusion. He encouraged the new missionaries to keep up their good work and to rejoice in Jehovah’s service.—Philippians 3:1.
[Box on page 23]
Number of countries represented: 14
Number of countries assigned to: 19
Number of students: 46
Average age: 35.0
Average years in truth: 17.2
Average years in full-time ministry: 13.7
[Picture on page 24]
113th 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) Ligthart, M.; Hosoi, S.; Berktold, A.; Liem, C.; Aoki, J. (2) Baglyas, J.; Bouqué, S.; Bossi, A.; Alton, J.; Escobar, I.; Escobar, F. (3) Stoica, A.; Stoica, D.; Freimuth, S.; Karlsson, M.; LeBlanc, R. (4) Bianchi, R.; Bianchi, S.; Kaminski, L.; Joseph, L.; Paris, S.; LeBlanc, L. (5) Paris, M.; Skidmore, B.; Horton, J.; Horton, L.; Skidmore, G. (6) Liem, B.; Alton, G.; Quirici, E.; Langlois, M.; Steininger, S.; Aoki, H. (7) Langlois, J.; Steininger, M.; Bossi, F.; Kaminski, J.; Bouqué, J.; Ligthart, E.; Hosoi, K. (8) Baglyas, J.; Quirici, M.; Karlsson, L.; Freimuth, C.; Berktold, W.; Joseph, R.