Unitedly Building to Praise God
PEOPLE on one of the Solomon Islands were noticing a new Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses. One lady said: “In our church, we have many fund-raisers. We ask our members to give money, but we still don’t have enough funds to build a new church. How do you Witnesses get your funds?” The Witness to whom she spoke replied: “We worship Jehovah as a worldwide family. Our congregation and our brothers around the world donated what was needed for the new Kingdom Hall. Jehovah has taught us to be united in all things.”
You see unity among Jehovah’s Witnesses in all their activities, including the building of thousands of Kingdom Halls. Such unity in carrying out these projects is not new. It has existed among God’s people for millenniums. How so?
Building the Tabernacle and the Temple
Jehovah had the nation of Israel in mind when he told Moses over 3,500 years ago: “They must make a sanctuary for me.” (Exodus 25:8) Regarding the design for this construction project, Jehovah further said: “According to all that I am showing you [singular, referring to Moses] as the pattern of the tabernacle and pattern of all its furnishings, that is the way you [plural, referring to the entire nation] are to make it.” (Exodus 25:9) Jehovah then laid out detailed plans for the sanctuary’s structure, furnishings, and accessories. (Exodus 25:10–27:19) This “tabernacle,” or tent, was to be the center of true worship for all Israel.
We do not know how many people worked on the project, but all of the Israelites were invited to support it. Moses told them: “From among yourselves take up a contribution for Jehovah. Let every willing-hearted one bring it as Jehovah’s contribution.” (Exodus 35:4-9) How did the Israelites respond? Exodus 36:3 states: “They took from before Moses all the contribution that the sons of Israel had brought for the work of the holy service so as to do it, and, as for the latter, they still brought to him a voluntary offering morning after morning.”
Soon there were piles of donated goods, and the people kept bringing more. The craftsmen doing the work finally told Moses: “The people are bringing much more than what the service needs for the work that Jehovah has commanded to be done.” So Moses gave the word: “Men and women, do not produce any more stuff for the holy contribution.” What was the result? “The stuff proved to be enough for all the work to be done, and more than enough.”—Exodus 36:4-7.
Thanks to the generosity of the Israelites, the tabernacle was completed within a year. (Exodus 19:1; 40:1, 2) By supporting true worship, God’s people honored Jehovah. (Proverbs 3:9) In time, they would take on a much larger building project. And once again, all who wished could have a part, whether they had construction skills or not.
Almost five centuries after building the tabernacle, Israel began construction on the temple in Jerusalem. (1 Kings 6:1) This would be a magnificent, permanent structure of stones and timbers. (1 Kings 5:17, 18) Jehovah gave the architectural plans for the temple to David “by inspiration.” (1 Chronicles 28:11-19) But he chose David’s son Solomon to lead the building work. (1 Chronicles 22:6-10) David gave the project his wholehearted support. He acquired stones, beams, and other materials and contributed large amounts of his own gold and silver. He also encouraged his fellow Israelites to be generous, asking them: “Who is there volunteering to fill his hand today with a gift for Jehovah?” How did the people respond?—1 Chronicles 29:1-5.
By the time Solomon began the building of the temple, he had on hand thousands of tons of gold and silver. There was so much copper and iron that there was no means of weighing those metals. (1 Chronicles 22:14-16) With Jehovah’s backing and the support of all Israel, the project was finished in just seven and a half years.—1 Kings 6:1, 37, 38.
“The House of the True God”
Both the tabernacle and the temple were called “the house of the true God.” (Judges 18:31; 2 Chronicles 24:7) Jehovah has never needed the shelter of a house. (Isaiah 66:1) He had those structures built to benefit humans. Indeed, at the inauguration of the temple, Solomon asked: “Will God truly dwell upon the earth? Look! The heavens, yes, the heaven of the heavens, themselves cannot contain you; how much less, then, this house that I have built!”—1 Kings 8:27.
Jehovah said through his prophet Isaiah: “My own house will be called even a house of prayer for all the peoples.” (Isaiah 56:7) The sacrifices and prayers offered up at the temple, as well as the ceremonies held there, allowed godly people—Jews and non-Jews—to draw close to the true God. They gained Jehovah’s friendship and protection by worshipping at his house. The prayer that Solomon offered at the temple dedication emphasizes this truth. You can read his touching expressions to God at 1 Kings 8:22-53 and 2 Chronicles 6:12-42.
That ancient house of the true God passed off the scene long ago, but God’s Word pointed to a time when people of all nations would be gathered to worship Jehovah at a far greater spiritual temple. (Isaiah 2:2) The one perfect sacrifice of God’s only-begotten Son, prefigured by the animal sacrifices offered at the temple, would be the way of approach to Jehovah. (John 14:6; Hebrews 7:27; 9:12) Jehovah’s Witnesses are now worshipping God in that superior way, and they are helping many others to do likewise.
Modern Building Projects
All over the world, Jehovah’s Witnesses serve the true God. They make up “a mighty nation,” whose population continues to grow. (Isaiah 60:22) The principal meeting place of Jehovah’s Witnesses is the Kingdom Hall.a Thousands of these buildings are in use, and thousands more are needed.
Jehovah’s Witnesses “offer themselves willingly” to build the needed Kingdom Halls. (Psalm 110:3) Often, however, local Witnesses lack the necessary building skills, and some regions that are seeing fine increases suffer from severe poverty. In 1999 the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses instituted a program of Kingdom Hall construction to help overcome those obstacles. Through this program, Witnesses who are skilled in construction trades have traveled to distant places to train their brothers and sisters to build Kingdom Halls. Those trained workers have then continued the building work in that region. What has been the result of this special effort?
By February 2006, Jehovah’s Witnesses in lands with limited resources had seen more than 13,000 new Kingdom Halls constructed. Read the words of some who are using the new Kingdom Halls.
“The congregation had an average attendance of 160. At the first meeting after the new Kingdom Hall was built, the attendance rose to 200. Now, six months later, they have an attendance of 230. Jehovah’s blessing on the construction of these modest yet functional buildings is evident.”—A circuit overseer in Ecuador.
“For years people have asked us, ‘When will you ever have a Kingdom Hall like the ones we see in your publications?’ Thanks to Jehovah, we at last have a presentable place of worship. We used to hold the meetings in a brother’s store, with an average attendance of 30. At the first meeting in the new Kingdom Hall, 110 people attended.”—A congregation in Uganda.
“Two regular pioneer sisters report that it is more enjoyable to work the territory since the Kingdom Hall was built. People are more willing to listen in the door-to-door ministry as well as in informal settings. These sisters now conduct 17 Bible studies, and many of these Bible students attend the meetings.”—Solomon Islands branch office.
“A pastor who lives nearby says that the new Kingdom Hall adds to the respectability of the whole neighborhood and that local people take pride in it. Many who pass by comment on the beauty of the hall. This gives the brothers fine opportunities to witness. More and more people want to know about our worldwide brotherhood. Many who had not attended meetings for years have been motivated to associate regularly again.”—Myanmar branch office.
“A sister invited an interested man to the construction site in his neighborhood. The man later said: ‘I thought that the workers would not let me in. To my surprise, the Witnesses greeted me kindly. Men and women were working hard, not wasting time. There was harmony and a good spirit.’ The man accepted a Bible study and began attending the meetings. He later said: ‘My thinking has changed. I will not leave God now that I have found him.’”—Colombia branch office.
Our Support Is Important
Building Kingdom Halls is an important part of our sacred service. The way in which Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide have supported that work—financially and otherwise—is truly commendable. We should remember, though, that other aspects of sacred service are also vital. From time to time, Christians are victims of natural disasters and need our help. Production of Bible literature plays a key role in supporting sacred service. Most of us have witnessed the power of a Bible-based magazine or book placed in the hands of a rightly disposed person. In addition, support for missionaries and others in special full-time service is very important. Such self-sacrificing Christians play a key role in the expansion of the preaching work in these last days.
Those who contributed to temple building rejoiced greatly. (1 Chronicles 29:9) Today, giving support to true worship with our contributions likewise brings us happiness. (Acts 20:35) We experience that happiness when we place our contributions in the box designated for the Kingdom Hall Fund and when we contribute to the worldwide work, thus supporting other projects associated with the preaching of the good news of the Kingdom. In a wonderful way, Jehovah’s Witnesses today are united in true worship. May all of us be filled with the happiness that comes from supporting that worship!
a For the origin of the term “Kingdom Hall,” see Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, page 319, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
[Box/Picture on page 20, 21]
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 to the office of Jehovah’s Witnesses that serves their respective countries. Voluntary donations of money may also be sent directly to Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, Attention Treasurer’s Office, 25 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, New York 11201-2483, or to the branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses that serves your country. Checks sent to the above address should be made payable to “Watch Tower.” Jewelry or other valuables may be donated as well. A brief letter stating that such items are an outright gift should accompany these contributions.
CONDITIONAL-DONATION TRUST ARRANGEMENT
Money may be placed in trust with Watch Tower for use worldwide. However, upon request the funds will be returned. For more information, please contact the Treasurer’s Office at the address noted above.
In addition to outright gifts of money, there are other methods of giving to benefit Kingdom service worldwide. These include:
Insurance: Watch Tower may be named as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy or 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 Watch Tower, in accord with local bank requirements.
Stocks and Bonds: Stocks and bonds may be donated to Watch Tower as an outright gift.
Real Estate: Salable real estate may be donated either by making an outright gift or, in the case of residential property, 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 a designated corporation that is used by Jehovah’s Witnesses. 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 for the year in which the gift annuity is established.
Wills and Trusts: Property or money may be bequeathed to Watch Tower by means of a legally executed will, or Watch Tower may be named as 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 to provide information on a variety of ways that gifts may be made either now or through a bequest at death. After reading the brochure and conferring with their own legal or tax advisers, many have been able to help support the religious and humanitarian activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide and maximize their tax benefits while doing so. This brochure may be obtained by requesting a copy directly from the Charitable Planning Office.
For more information, you may contact the Charitable Planning Office, either in writing or by telephone, at the address listed below, or you may contact the branch 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
[Picture on page 18]
Our united efforts make it possible to construct beautiful Kingdom Halls worldwide
[Picture on page 18]
New Kingdom Hall in Ghana