They Delight to Do God’s Will
JESUS set a pattern for all Christians by praying to his Father: “Let, not my will, but yours take place.” (Luke 22:42) That humble expression of submission to Jehovah is echoed today by millions of God’s servants. Among them are the 52 students of the 120th class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead. On March 11, 2006, the graduating class was delighted with the prospect of doing God’s will in various lands, even in the face of challenging circumstances.
What motivates these graduates to let Jehovah’s will direct their lives? Chris and Leslie, a couple assigned to serve as missionaries in Bolivia, put it this way: “Since we have disowned ourselves, we want to make ourselves available to do anything in association with Jehovah’s organization.” (Mark 8:34) Jason and Chere, assigned to Albania, add: “Every assignment that we have received from Jehovah’s organization has had its challenges. However, we have found Jehovah to be deserving of our complete trust.”
Encouragement to Submit to Jehovah’s Will
George Smith, a member of the Bethel family who serves in the Art Department, opened the graduation program with prayer. Stephen Lett, a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the chairman of the graduation program, welcomed all in attendance. Guests from 23 lands had traveled to the Watchtower Educational Center in Patterson, New York, to be present on this joyful occasion. Brother Lett told the graduating class that they are going to accomplish “something very powerful.” He drew attention to “strongly entrenched things”—such as false doctrines—that the new missionaries will be able to overturn by the power of the Scriptures. (2 Corinthians 10:4, 5) He concluded: “What joy it will bring you to be used by Jehovah to overturn strongly entrenched things in the honesthearted people in your assignments!”
Harold Jackson, a member of the headquarters staff, spoke on the theme “A Few Things to Remember.” He noted that the new missionaries should never forget to ‘seek first the kingdom and God’s righteousness.’ (Matthew 6:33) They should remember that “love builds up” and is an unfailing key to success. (1 Corinthians 8:1) He said: “Let love be the guiding influence in your dealings with others.”
Next, Geoffrey Jackson, a member of the Governing Body who served as a missionary from 1979 until 2003, asked the graduates, “Are You Responsible?” He stressed the need for having a balanced view of oneself and the ministry. Christians are responsible to work hard at planting and watering seeds of truth. However, giving spiritual growth is Jehovah’s responsibility, since it is “God who makes it grow.” (1 Corinthians 3:6-9) Brother Jackson added: “Jehovah holds you responsible to keep strong spiritually. But what is your greatest responsibility? To love Jehovah and to love the people you are going to serve.”
Gilead instructor Lawrence Bowen considered the theme “Know How You Ought to Conduct Yourself.” He reminded the students that Jehovah miraculously guided and protected the Israelites through the wilderness. (Exodus 13:21, 22) He guides and protects us today, in part by means of the anointed Christian congregation, “a pillar and support of the truth.” (1 Timothy 3:14, 15) The new missionaries are to uphold the truth, which gives guidance and protection to humble ones.
Wallace Liverance, another Gilead instructor, exhorted the graduates not to forget the word of God that is “behind” them. God’s word is behind us in the sense that the Bible was completed centuries ago. Like a shepherd calling out from behind a flock of sheep, Jehovah is behind his people, giving them direction through “the faithful and discreet slave.” (Isaiah 30:21; Matthew 24:45-47) Gilead School helped the graduates to grow in appreciation for that slave class. The “slave” even provided the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. The speaker encouraged the graduates: “Take this stored treasure of information, and use it to teach others.”—Matthew 13:52.
Doing Jehovah’s Will in the Field Ministry
In the program part “Eager to Declare the Good News,” Gilead instructor Mark Noumair highlighted some of the experiences the graduates enjoyed in the public ministry while attending Gilead School. (Romans 1:15) Interviews with graduates revealed that they had indeed shown outstanding eagerness to preach on every occasion.
The graduates received additional encouragement through an interview conducted by Kenneth Flodin with three traveling overseers who now serve in the United States. Richard Keller and Alejandro Lacayo, who in the past served in South and Central America, explained how they had coped with various trials and related some of the blessings they received while serving as missionaries. Moacir Felisbino recounted the training he had received while working closely with missionaries in Brazil, where he grew up.
Three experienced missionaries, Robert Jones, Woodworth Mills, and Christopher Slay, were interviewed by David Schafer. The three brothers related how they learned to act with confidence in Jehovah when experiencing hardships. They assured the class that the training they had received from Jehovah’s organization had prepared them well for their missionary assignments. Brother Mills summed it up this way: “It was not the intellectual part of Gilead that helped me the most, but it was what the school taught me about humility and love.”
Governing Body member Guy Pierce presented the principal talk, entitled “Jehovah Will Never Fail.” Adam failed, but did that mean failure on God’s part? Did God fail to create Adam perfectly, as some people say? Not at all, for “the true God made mankind upright.” (Ecclesiastes 7:29) Jesus’ course of integrity under the greatest test on earth proved that “Adam had no excuse, no reason to fail,” noted the speaker. Adam’s test of obedience in the garden of Eden was much less difficult than the test that Jesus faced successfully. Yet, Adam failed. Nevertheless, Jehovah will never fail. His purpose will be realized. (Isaiah 55:11) Brother Pierce told the new missionaries: “You have the privilege of honoring Jehovah with your self-sacrificing spirit. May Jehovah be with each of you wherever you serve him as missionaries.”
After conveying greetings from various branch offices of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the chairman, Brother Lett, presented the graduates with their diplomas and assignments. Vernon Wisegarver, a longtime member of the Bethel family, represented the audience in a closing prayer.
The 6,872 in attendance felt that the graduation program had renewed their zeal to do God’s will. (Psalm 40:8) Graduates Andrew and Anna said: “We dedicated our life to Jehovah. We made a promise to Jehovah to do anything he asks of us. It just so happens that Jehovah has asked us to go to Cameroon, Africa.” They and the other members of the graduating class are eager to embark on a career that will give them fulfillment and satisfaction. Yes, they delight to do God’s will.
[Box on page 17]
Number of countries represented: 6
Number of countries assigned to: 20
Total number of students: 52
Average age: 35.7
Average years in truth: 18.3
Average years in full-time ministry: 14.5
[Picture on page 18]
120th 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) Wright, S.; Suárez, B.; Croisant, B.; Davenport, L. (2) Johnson, A.; Ali, C.; Cady, K.; Guerrero, P.; Ases, A. (3) Ortiz, L.; Lyall, K.; Uzeta, M.; Perez, R.; Backus, K.; Caterina, C. (4) Palmer, B.; Loving, D.; Macdonough, J.; Bostock, D.; Benetatos, L. (5) Jasicki, M.; Sarafianos, E.; Stelter, C.; Vaira, R.; Woon, J.; Prentice, K. (6) Davenport, H.; Croisant, H.; Perez, M.; Vaira, E.; Suárez, A.; Caterina, I.; Wright, C. (7) Cady, K.; Macdonough, J.; Ortiz, M.; Woon, J.; Ali, J.; Ases, M. (8) Sarafianos, G.; Lyall, D.; Uzeta, C.; Stelter, P.; Prentice, G.; Johnson, A.; Benetatos, C. (9) Palmer, J.; Jasicki, W.; Backus, J.; Bostock, S.; Guerrero, J. M.; Loving, S.