Gilead Graduates Go Forth as Zealous Harvest Workers!
“THE harvest is great, but the workers are few. Therefore, beg the Master of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:37, 38) Those words had special meaning for the graduating students of the 116th class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead as they prepared to go forth to their missionary assignments.
On Saturday, March 13, 2004, a total of 6,684 people gathered at the Watchtower Educational Center in Patterson, New York, and at satellite locations for the graduation program, during which the class received parting admonition and encouragement. All of us can benefit from the advice that was imparted, as we work zealously in the spiritual harvest.
The opening remarks by Theodore Jaracz, a member of the Governing Body and a graduate of the seventh class of Gilead, highlighted Jesus’ words: “Go . . . and make disciples of people of all the nations.” (Matthew 28:19, 20) How appropriate that was, since the graduates are being sent to serve in 20 different countries! He reminded the students that instruction from God’s Word has fully equipped them to be zealous workers in the all-important spiritual harvest.—Matthew 5:16.
How to Be Productive Harvest Workers
The first speaker on the program was Robert Wallen, who has been closely associated with Gilead School for years. Speaking on the theme “The Beauty of Compassion,” he told the students: “Compassion is the language that even the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” Jesus was keenly aware of the distress of others and sought to alleviate it. (Matthew 9:36) The students will find many opportunities to do likewise—in the preaching work, in the congregation, in the missionary home, and in their own marriage. The speaker urged them: “Let the beauty of compassion show itself in your life as you serve others. Only your best behavior is good enough for daily living in the missionary home. Therefore, be determined to clothe yourselves with compassion.”—Colossians 3:12.
Next, Gerrit Lösch, a member of the Governing Body and a graduate of the 41st class of Gilead, developed the subject “Publishers of Salvation.” (Isaiah 52:7) For people to be physically saved when the present system of things is destroyed, they must take in accurate knowledge from God’s Word, make public declaration of their faith, and get baptized. (Romans 10:10; 2 Timothy 3:15; 1 Peter 3:21) However, the primary reason for publishing salvation is, not to save humans, but to bring praise to God. Therefore, Brother Lösch admonished the prospective missionaries: “Take the Kingdom message to the extremities of the earth, and be zealous publishers of salvation, all to Jehovah’s praise.”—Romans 10:18.
“How Bright Are You?” was the question that Gilead instructor Lawrence Bowen raised. He referred to Jesus’ words recorded at Matthew 6:22 and encouraged the graduating students to keep their eye “simple” in order to “reflect spiritual enlightenment that glorifies Jehovah and benefits fellow humans.” From the outset of his ministry, Jesus set a perfect example in this regard by maintaining his focus on the doing of God’s will. Meditating upon the wonderful things his Father had taught him in heaven helped Jesus endure the tests by Satan in the wilderness. (Matthew 3:16; 4:1-11) Jesus demonstrated complete reliance on Jehovah in fulfilling what God assigned him to do. Likewise, in order to meet the challenges ahead, the missionaries must continue with good Bible study habits and fully rely on Jehovah.
Mark Noumair, a Gilead instructor and a graduate of the 77th class of Gilead, concluded this series of talks, speaking on the theme “Here We Are in Your Hand.” (Joshua 9:25) He encouraged the students to imitate the attitude of the ancient Gibeonites. Though Gibeon was “a great city . . . and all its men were mighty ones,” the Gibeonites did not demand recognition or expect to have things on their terms. (Joshua 10:2) They willingly served as “gatherers of wood and drawers of water” under the Levites in support of Jehovah’s worship. (Joshua 9:27) In effect, the members of the graduating class have said to the Greater Joshua, Jesus Christ, “Here we are in your hand.” Now, as they take up their foreign assignments, they need to accept whatever work the Greater Joshua gives them to do.
Experiences and Interviews
“Fully Open Up the Scriptures” was the theme of a discussion that Wallace Liverance, a graduate of the 61st class of Gilead and one of the instructors, had with a group of students. They related and enacted experiences that they had enjoyed in the field ministry during the course of the school term. It was plain that their intensive study of the Scriptures over their five months of training had reached their heart and motivated them to share with others what they had learned. (Luke 24:32) During the five-month course, one student was able to share with his own fleshly brother what he had been learning. This encouraged his brother to seek out the local congregation and begin his own study of the Bible. He has now qualified as an unbaptized publisher.
Following these experiences, Richard Ashe and John Gibbard conducted interviews with several longtime faithful servants of Jehovah, including traveling overseers who were receiving special training at the Watchtower Educational Center. They were graduates of earlier classes of Gilead School. One recalled that Brother Knorr had said this during the course of the class: “At Gilead you will do a lot of studying. But if you come out with a big head, we will have failed. We want you to come out with a big heart.” The traveling brothers advised the present class to be people-oriented, to deal with others as Christ did, and to accept humbly whatever assignment they are given. Applying this counsel will undoubtedly help the new missionaries to be productive in their assignments.
Go Forth as Zealous Harvest Workers!
The audience had an opportunity to hear from Stephen Lett, another member of the Governing Body. He delivered the main talk of the program, entitled “Go Forth as Zealous Harvest Workers!” (Matthew 9:38) In a literal harvest, the time for harvesting a crop is limited. There is a need for the harvesters to work hard. How much more important that is during the conclusion of this system of things! In the great spiritual harvest, lives are at stake. (Matthew 13:39) Brother Lett encouraged the graduates, not to ‘loiter at their business,’ but to be “aglow with the spirit” and to “slave for Jehovah” in this never-to-be-repeated harvest. (Romans 12:11) The speaker quoted Jesus’ words: “Lift up your eyes and view the fields, that they are white for harvesting.” (John 4:35) He then urged the graduates to show their zeal for the harvest work by putting forth genuine effort to reach people when and where they can be found and by taking advantage of all opportunities to do informal witnessing. Being alert to make things happen can facilitate the giving of an effective witness. Jehovah is a zealous God, and he expects all of us to imitate him and work hard in the spiritual harvest.—2 Kings 19:31; John 5:17.
In concluding the program, the chairman, Brother Jaracz, shared greetings from numerous branch offices and presented the students with their diplomas. One of the graduates read a letter from the class, expressing deep appreciation for the training they had received. Clearly, the graduation program of the 116th class made all in attendance more determined to go forth as zealous harvest workers.
[Box on page 25]
Number of countries represented: 6
Number of countries assigned to: 20
Number of students: 46
Average age: 34.2
Average years in truth: 17.2
Average years in full-time ministry: 13.9
[Picture on page 26]
116th 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) Ceansu, R.; Sparks, T.; Piña, C.; Turner, P.; Cheney, L. (2) Suardy, M.; Sjöqvist, Å.; Amadori, L.; Smith, N.; Jordan, A.; Boissonneault, L. (3) Matlock, J.; Ruiz, C.; Dular, L.; Vigneron, M.; Henry, K. (4) Sjöqvist, H.; Laux, J.; Ruzzo, J.; Gustafsson, K.; Boissonneault, R.; Jordan, M. (5) Henry, D.; Turner, D.; Kirwin, S.; Florit, K.; Ceansu, S. (6) Amadori, S.; Cheney, J.; Ross, R.; Nelson, J.; Ruiz, J.; Vigneron, M. (7) Florit, J.; Matlock, D.; Ross, B.; Laux, C.; Ruzzo, T.; Dular, D.; Kirwin, N. (8) Gustafsson, A.; Nelson, D.; Suardy, W.; Piña, M.; Smith, C.; Sparks, T.