Good News for People of All Nations
“You will be witnesses of me . . . to the most distant part of the earth.”—ACTS 1:8.
1. As Bible teachers, to what do we pay attention, and why?
CAPABLE teachers pay attention not only to what they tell their students but also to how they tell it. As teachers of Bible truth, we do the same. We give attention to both the message we preach and the methods we use. Our message, the good news of God’s Kingdom, does not change, but we do adapt our methods. Why? To reach as many people as possible.
2. When we adapt our preaching methods, whom are we imitating?
2 By adapting our preaching methods, we imitate God’s servants of old. Consider, for example, the apostle Paul. He said: “To the Jews I became as a Jew . . . To those without law I became as without law . . . To the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak. I have become all things to people of all sorts, that I might by all means save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23) Paul’s adaptable approach was effective. We too will be effective if we considerately adjust our presentations to fit the individuals we are talking to.
To “the Ends of the Earth”
3. (a) What challenge do we face in our preaching work? (b) How are the words of Isaiah 45:22 being fulfilled today?
3 A major challenge faced by those preaching the good news is the extent of the territory—“all the inhabited earth.” (Matthew 24:14) During the last century, many servants of Jehovah worked hard to reach new lands in order to spread the good news. What was the result? Breathtaking worldwide expansion. At the dawn of the 20th century, preaching was reported in only a few lands, but at present, Jehovah’s Witnesses are active in 235 lands! Truly, the Kingdom good news is being proclaimed even to “the ends of the earth.”—Isaiah 45:22.
4, 5. (a) Who have played a significant role in spreading the good news? (b) What did some branch offices say about those from abroad who serve in the branch territory?
4 What accounts for such progress? Many things. Missionaries trained at the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead and, more recently, upwards of 20,000 graduates of the Ministerial Training School have made a huge contribution. So have the many Witnesses who at their own expense have moved to lands where the need for Kingdom publishers is greater. Such self-sacrificing Christians—men and women, young and old, single and married—play a significant role in preaching the Kingdom message throughout the earth. (Psalm 110:3; Romans 10:18) They are greatly appreciated. Note what some branch offices wrote about those from abroad who serve where the need is greater in the branch territory.
5 “These dear Witnesses take the lead in preaching in isolated areas, help to form new congregations, and contribute to the spiritual growth of the local brothers and sisters.” (Ecuador) “If the hundreds of foreigners who serve here were to leave, the stability of the congregations would be affected. It is a blessing to have them with us.” (Dominican Republic) “In many of our congregations, there is a high percentage of sisters, at times up to 70 percent. (Psalm 68:11) Most of them are new in the truth, but single pioneer sisters who have come from other lands provide invaluable assistance by training such new ones. These sisters from abroad are a true gift to us!” (An Eastern European land) Have you ever considered serving in another country?*—Acts 16:9, 10.
“Ten Men Out of All the Languages”
6. How does Zechariah 8:23 point to the linguistic challenge in our preaching work?
6 Another major challenge is the great diversity of languages spoken on earth. God’s Word foretold: “It will be in those days that ten men out of all the languages of the nations will take hold, yes, they will actually take hold of the skirt of a man who is a Jew, saying: ‘We will go with you people, for we have heard that God is with you people.’” (Zechariah 8:23) In the modern fulfillment of this prophecy, the ten men represent the great crowd, prophesied about at Revelation 7:9. Note, however, that according to Zechariah’s prophecy, the “ten men” would come not only out of all nations but also “out of all the languages of the nations.” Have we seen a fulfillment of this important detail of the prophecy? Yes, indeed.
7. What statistics show that people “out of all the languages” are being reached with the good news?
7 Consider some statistics. Fifty years ago our literature was published in 90 languages. Today, that number has risen to over 400. “The faithful and discreet slave” has spared no effort in providing literature even for some whose language is spoken by relatively few people. (Matthew 24:45) For example, Bible literature is now available in Greenlandic (spoken by 47,000 people), Palauan (spoken by 15,000), and Yapese (spoken by fewer than 7,000 people).
“A Large Door” Leading to New Opportunities
8, 9. What development has opened “a large door” for us, and how have thousands of Witnesses responded?
8 Nowadays, though, we may not need to go abroad to share the good news with people of all tongues. In recent years, the arrival of millions of immigrants and refugees in economically developed lands has created numerous immigrant communities speaking many tongues. For instance, in Paris, France, some 100 different languages are spoken. In Toronto, Canada, the number is 125; and in London, England, more than 300 foreign languages are spoken! This presence of people from other lands in many congregation territories opens “a large door” leading to new opportunities to share the good news with people of all nations.—1 Corinthians 16:9.
9 Thousands of Witnesses are responding to the challenge by learning another language. For most of them, it is difficult; yet the struggle is more than balanced by the joy of helping immigrants and refugees to learn the truth found in God’s Word. In a recent year, nearly 40 percent of all those baptized at the district conventions in one Western European country had come from another land.
10. How have you used the booklet Good News for People of All Nations? (See the box “Features of the Booklet Good News for People of All Nations,” on page 26.)
10 True, most of us are not in a position to learn a foreign language. Even so, we can have a share in helping immigrants by making good use of the newly released booklet Good News for People of All Nations,* which contains an appealing Bible message in many different languages. (John 4:37) Are you using this booklet in the ministry?
When People Are Unresponsive
11. What additional challenge is faced in some territories?
11 As Satan’s influence grows in the earth, another challenge is more frequently faced—there is little response in some territories. Of course, this situation does not surprise us, since Jesus foretold that such a condition would exist. Speaking about our day, he said: “The love of the greater number will cool off.” (Matthew 24:12) Indeed, belief in God and respect for the Bible have waned among many. (2 Peter 3:3, 4) Consequently, in some parts of the world, relatively few individuals become new disciples of Christ. That does not mean, however, that the labors of our dear Christian brothers and sisters who faithfully preach in such unresponsive territories are in vain. (Hebrews 6:10) Why not? Consider the following.
12. What are two objectives of our preaching work?
12 The Gospel of Matthew highlights two main objectives of our preaching activities. One is that we “make disciples of people of all the nations.” (Matthew 28:19) The other is that the Kingdom message serves as “a witness.” (Matthew 24:14) Both objectives are important, but the latter is especially significant. Why?
13, 14. (a) What is an outstanding feature of the sign of Christ’s presence? (b) What should we keep in mind, especially when preaching in less responsive territories?
13 Bible writer Matthew recorded that the apostles asked Jesus: “What will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?” (Matthew 24:3) In response, Jesus said that one outstanding feature of that sign would be a global preaching work. Was he speaking about disciple making? No. He said: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations.” (Matthew 24:14) Thus Jesus showed that the Kingdom-preaching work itself would be an important feature of the sign.
14 Hence, as we preach the good news of the Kingdom, we remember that even if we do not always succeed in making disciples, we do succeed in giving “a witness.” Regardless of how people respond, they know what we are doing, and thus we share in fulfilling Jesus’ prophecy. (Isaiah 52:7; Revelation 14:6, 7) Jordy, a young Witness in Western Europe, noted: “To know that I am used by Jehovah to play a part in fulfilling Matthew 24:14 makes me very happy.” (2 Corinthians 2:15-17) No doubt you feel the same way.
When Our Message Is Opposed
15. (a) About what did Jesus forewarn his followers? (b) What enables us to preach despite opposition?
15 Adverse circumstances pose another challenge to preaching the Kingdom good news. Jesus forewarned his followers: “You will be objects of hatred by all the nations on account of my name.” (Matthew 24:9) Like the early Christians, Jesus’ followers today have been hated, opposed, and persecuted. (Acts 5:17, 18, 40; 2 Timothy 3:12; Revelation 12:12, 17) In some lands, they are at present the target of governmental bans. Still, in obedience to God, true Christians in such lands continue preaching the Kingdom good news. (Amos 3:8; Acts 5:29; 1 Peter 2:21) What enables them, as well as all other Witnesses worldwide, to do so? Jehovah empowers them by means of his holy spirit.—Zechariah 4:6; Ephesians 3:16; 2 Timothy 4:17.
16. How did Jesus show the link between the preaching work and God’s spirit?
16 Jesus underlined the close link between God’s spirit and the preaching work when he told his followers: “You will receive power when the holy spirit arrives upon you, and you will be witnesses of me . . . to the most distant part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8; Revelation 22:17) The order of events in this scripture is significant. First, the disciples received the holy spirit, and then they undertook the global witnessing work. Only with the support of God’s spirit would they have the strength to endure in giving “a witness to all the nations.” (Matthew 24:13, 14; Isaiah 61:1, 2) Appropriately, therefore, Jesus referred to the holy spirit as “the helper.” (John 15:26) He said that God’s spirit would teach and guide his disciples.—John 14:16, 26; 16:13.
17. When we are faced with fierce opposition, how does the holy spirit help us?
17 In what ways does God’s spirit help us today when we are faced with fierce opposition to the preaching of the good news? God’s spirit strengthens us, and it opposes those who persecute us. To illustrate this, consider an event in the life of King Saul.
Confronted by God’s Spirit
18. (a) What dramatic change for the worse did Saul undergo? (b) What methods did Saul use to persecute David?
18 Saul had a good start as Israel’s first king, but later he became disobedient to Jehovah. (1 Samuel 10:1, 24; 11:14, 15; 15:17-23) As a result, God’s spirit no longer supported the king. Saul became violently angry at David, who had been anointed as the next king and now enjoyed the support of God’s spirit. (1 Samuel 16:1, 13, 14) David seemed to be easy prey. After all, he held only a harp, whereas Saul wielded a spear. So one day while David was playing the harp, “Saul proceeded to hurl the spear and say: ‘I will pin David even to the wall!’ but David turned aside from before him, twice.” (1 Samuel 18:10, 11) Afterward, Saul listened to his son Jonathan, David’s friend, and swore: “As Jehovah is living, [David] will not be put to death.” But then, Saul again “sought to pin David to the wall with the spear.” However, David “dodged from before Saul, so that he struck the spear into the wall.” David fled, but Saul came after him. At that critical time, God’s spirit became Saul’s opposer. In what way?—1 Samuel 19:6, 10.
19. How did God’s spirit protect David?
19 David fled to the prophet Samuel, but Saul sent his men to seize David. When they arrived at David’s hiding place, however, “the spirit of God came to be upon Saul’s messengers, and they began behaving like prophets.” They were so overwhelmed by God’s spirit that they completely forgot the purpose of their mission. Two more times Saul sent men to bring David back, and the same thing happened each time. Finally, King Saul himself went to David, but Saul too was unable to withstand God’s spirit. In fact, the holy spirit immobilized him “all that day and all that night”—giving David sufficient time to flee.—1 Samuel 19:20-24.
20. What lesson can we learn from the account of Saul’s persecution of David?
20 This account of Saul and David contains a strengthening lesson: Persecutors of God’s servants cannot succeed when opposed by God’s spirit. (Psalm 46:11; 125:2) Jehovah purposed that David would be king over Israel. No one could change that. For our day, Jehovah has determined that the “good news of the kingdom will be preached.” No one can stop that from taking place.—Acts 5:40, 42.
21. (a) How do some opposers today act? (b) Of what are we confident?
21 Some religious and political leaders use lies and even violence to try to hinder us. However, just as Jehovah protected David spiritually, so He will protect His people today. (Malachi 3:6) Therefore, like David, we say with confidence: “In God I have put my trust. I shall not be afraid. What can earthling man do to me?” (Psalm 56:11; 121:1-8; Romans 8:31) With Jehovah’s help, may we continue to meet all challenges as we carry out the God-given commission to preach the good news of the Kingdom to people of all nations.
See the box “A Deep Sense of Fulfillment,” on page 22.
Published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Can You Recall?
• Why do we adapt our methods of preaching?
• “A large door” leading to what new opportunities has been opened?
• What is accomplished by our preaching work, even in less responsive territories?
• Why can no opposer stop the preaching of the Kingdom good news?
[Box on page 22]
A Deep Sense of Fulfillment
“Happy and enjoying their united service to Jehovah.” That describes a family who moved from Spain to Bolivia. A son of the family had gone there to support an isolated group. His evident joy so impressed his parents that soon the whole family—including four boys from 14 to 25 years of age—was serving there. Three of the boys are now pioneering, and the one who led the way recently attended Ministerial Training School.
“The challenges are many,” says Angelica, aged 30 from Canada, who serves in Eastern Europe, “but I get satisfaction from helping people in the ministry. I am also touched by the many expressions of gratitude from local Witnesses who often thank me for coming to help them.”
“There were so many different customs to get used to,” say two fleshly sisters in their late 20’s from the United States, who serve in the Dominican Republic. “However, we persevered in our assignment, and seven of our Bible students now attend the meetings.” These two sisters were instrumental in organizing a group of Kingdom publishers in a town where there is no congregation.
Laura, a sister in her late 20’s, has been serving abroad for over four years. She says: “I deliberately keep my life simple. This helps the publishers to see that modest living is a matter of choice and of soundness of mind, not of poverty. Being able to help others, especially youths, has been a source of joy for me that offsets the real hardships of serving in a foreign field. I would not trade my service here for any other life, and I will stay as long as Jehovah permits.”
[Box/Picture on page 26]
Features of the Booklet Good News for People of All Nations
The booklet Good News for People of All Nations contains a one-page message presented in up to 92 different languages. The message is written in the first person. So when the householder reads the message, it sounds as if you were talking to him.
The inside cover features a world map. Use this map as a means to establish a rapport with the householder. Perhaps you can point to the country where you are living and indicate that you would like to know where he is from. In that way, you may draw him out and create a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.
The foreword of the booklet lists several steps that we should take in order to give effective help to those who speak a language that we do not understand. Please read these steps carefully and apply them conscientiously.
The table of contents lists not only the languages but also the corresponding language symbols. This feature helps you to identify the language symbols printed on our tracts and other publications in different languages.
Are you using this booklet in the ministry?
[Pictures on page 23]
Our Bible publications are now available in over 400 languages
[Pictures on page 24, 25]
Can you serve where there is a greater need for Kingdom proclaimers?