“The Silver Is Mine, and the Gold Is Mine”
IN THE sixth century B.C.E., King Cyrus of Persia released God’s people from captivity in Babylon. Thousands of them returned to Jerusalem to rebuild Jehovah’s temple, which lay in ruins. The economic situation of those returnees was precarious, and hostile neighbors opposed the reconstruction. Hence, some of the builders wondered if they would ever finish that momentous project.
Through his prophet Haggai, Jehovah reassured the builders that He was with them. “I will rock all the nations, and the desirable things of all the nations must come in; and I will fill this house with glory,” God said. As for the builders’ economic concerns, Haggai conveyed this message: “‘The silver is mine, and the gold is mine,’ is the utterance of Jehovah of armies.” (Haggai 2:7-9) Within five years after Haggai spoke those stirring words, the project was completed.—Ezra 6:13-15.
Haggai’s words have also motivated God’s servants in more recent times during large projects related to the worship of Jehovah. In 1879 when the faithful and discreet slave class began publishing this journal, then called Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, it contained the following statement: “‘Zion’s Watch Tower’ has, we believe, JEHOVAH for its backer, and while this is the case it will never beg nor petition men for support. When He who says: ‘All the gold and silver of the mountains are mine,’ fails to provide necessary funds, we will understand it to be time to suspend the publication.”
Publication has never been suspended. The first issue had a printing of 6,000 copies, in English only. Today, the average printing per issue is 28,578,000 copies, in 161 languages.* Awake!, the companion magazine to The Watchtower, has an average printing of 34,267,000 copies, in 80 languages.
Jehovah’s Witnesses undertake many projects that have the same objective that The Watchtower has—that of exalting Jehovah as Sovereign Lord of the universe and announcing the good news of his Kingdom. (Matthew 24:14; Revelation 4:11) The conviction of the Witnesses today is like that voiced by this journal in 1879. They believe that God is backing their work and that funds will be available for projects that have his blessing. In practical terms, though, how are the activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses financed? And what kinds of projects are they undertaking in order to preach the good news worldwide?
How Is the Work Financed?
As they preach publicly, it is not uncommon for Jehovah’s Witnesses to hear the question, “Do you get paid to do this?” The answer is no, they do not. Their time is given freely. These evangelizers spend many hours speaking to others about Jehovah and the Bible’s promise for a better future because they are motivated by gratitude. They appreciate what God has done for them and the extent to which the message of good news has improved their own lives and outlook. Therefore, they want to share these good things with others. In doing so, they follow the principle stated by Jesus: “You received free, give free.” (Matthew 10:8) Indeed, their desire to be witnesses for Jehovah and Jesus moves them to spend money out of their own pockets in order to share their beliefs with people, even those who live far away from them.—Isaiah 43:10; Acts 1:8.
The scale of this preaching work and the means used to accomplish it—printeries, offices, Assembly Halls, missionary homes, and so on—demand large expenditures. Where does the money come from? Financing for all these matters comes from voluntary contributions. Jehovah’s Witnesses do not require congregation members to give money to support organizational activities, nor do they charge for publications they distribute. If anyone desires to make a donation to support their educational activity, the Witnesses are happy to accept it. Let us consider what is involved in just one aspect of the efforts to preach the good news worldwide—translation.
Publications in 437 Languages
For decades the publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses have been among the most widely translated in the world. Tracts, brochures, magazines, and books have been translated into 437 languages. Translation, of course, like the other activities involved in preaching the good news, requires considerable resources. Just what does the translation process entail?
When the editors of the publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses finalize the contents of an English item, the text is made available electronically to teams of trained translators located around the globe. Each translation team is responsible for one of the languages in which publications are produced. Depending on the number of projects they are handling and the complexity of the language into which they translate—the target language—these teams may be made up of anywhere from 5 to 25 members.
The translated text is checked and proofread. The aim is to convey the thoughts contained in the original as accurately and as clearly as possible. This presents various challenges. When working on a text that uses specialized vocabulary, translators and proofreaders might have to do extensive research in both the source language (English or a secondary source language, such as French, Russian, or Spanish) and the target language to ensure accuracy. For example, when an article in Awake! discusses a technical or historical topic, a great deal of research is necessary.
Many translators work at branch offices of Jehovah’s Witnesses, either full-time or part-time. Others work in the area where the target language is spoken. Translators do not get paid for what they do. Full-time translators are simply provided with room and board and a modest reimbursement for basic personal expenses. Worldwide, there are some 2,800 Witnesses who serve as translators. Currently, 98 branch offices of Jehovah’s Witnesses host translation teams or supervise teams at other locations. To give just one example, the Russia branch supervises more than 230 full-time or part-time translators who translate into more than 30 languages, including some not widely known outside the area, such as Chuvash, Ossetian, and Uighur.
Improving the Quality of Translation
As anyone who has ever attempted to learn another language knows, it is not a simple thing to translate complex thoughts accurately. The goal is to represent accurately the facts and thoughts of the source text and at the same time make the translation read naturally, as though it were originally written in the target language. To achieve this is an art. It takes new translators years to master translation, and Jehovah’s Witnesses provide them with an ongoing program of education. Instructors sometimes visit the teams to give assistance in improving translation skills and using computer software.
This training program is yielding fine results. For instance, the Nicaragua branch of Jehovah’s Witnesses reports: “For the first time, our Miskito translators received training in procedures and techniques by an instructor from the Mexico branch. This has made a tremendous difference in the way our translators carry out their assignments. The quality of translation has markedly improved.”
Words That Touch the Heart
Efforts to produce the Bible and Bible-based literature in people’s mother tongue are aimed at touching their hearts, and that is exactly what is happening. In 2006, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Bulgaria were thrilled by the release of the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures in Bulgarian. The Bulgaria branch reports receiving many expressions of appreciation for it. Congregation members say that “now the Bible really touches their heart, not just their minds.” One elderly man from Sofia commented: “I have read the Bible for many years, but I have never read a translation that is easier to understand and that goes right to the heart.” Likewise, in Albania, after receiving her copy of the complete New World Translation in Albanian, one local Witness commented: “How beautiful God’s Word sounds in Albanian! What a privilege to have Jehovah speak to us in our own language!”
Translating the whole Bible may take a translation team several years. But when the result is that millions of people can truly grasp God’s Word for the first time, would you not say that all the effort is worthwhile?
“We Are God’s Fellow Workers”
Translation, of course, is just one of the many activities necessary to preach the good news effectively. The writing, printing, and shipping of Bible-based publications and the many other related activities of branches, circuits, and congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses require considerable effort and expense. Yet, God’s people “offer themselves willingly” to carry out this work. (Psalm 110:3) They consider it a privilege to be able to make their own contribution and view it as an honor that as a result, Jehovah considers them to be his “fellow workers.”—1 Corinthians 3:5-9.
It is true that he who says “the silver is mine, and the gold is mine” does not depend on our financial assistance in order to accomplish his work. Yet, Jehovah has dignified his servants with the privilege of having a share in sanctifying his name by their contributing to the preaching of lifesaving truths “to all the nations.” (Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20) Are you not moved to do all you can to support this never-to-be-repeated work?
For a list of the languages, see page 2 of this magazine.
[Box on page 18]
“THEY MAKE US THINK SERIOUSLY”
A 14-year-old girl wrote to the Cameroon branch of Jehovah’s Witnesses: “After buying my school supplies for the year, I was able to sell two of last year’s textbooks for 2,500 francs [$5, U.S.]. I am contributing this amount plus an additional 910 francs [$1.82, U.S.] from my savings. I would like to encourage you to continue the fine work you are doing. Thank you for the Watchtower and Awake! magazines. They make us think seriously.”
[Box/Picture on page 18]
A SINGULAR DONATION
The Mexico branch of Jehovah’s Witnesses received the following letter from Manuel, an appreciative six-year-old who lives in Chiapas State. As he does not yet know how to write, a friend wrote for him. Manuel says: “My grandmother gave me a mother pig. When it had baby pigs, I picked out the nicest one and raised it with the help of the brothers. With much love, I am sending as a donation what I received from selling the pig. It weighed 220 pounds [100 kg], and I got 1,250 pesos [$110, U.S.] for it. Please use the money for Jehovah.”
[Box on page 19]
‘USE THIS TO TRANSLATE THE BIBLE’
At the 2005 district conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Ukraine, the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures in Ukrainian was released. The next day, this message was found in a convention contribution box: “I am nine years old. Thank you very much for the Greek Scriptures. Our mother gave my little brother and me this money to take the bus to school. But when it was not raining, we walked to school and saved these 50 hryvnia [$10, U.S.]. My brother and I would like you to use this to translate the whole Bible into Ukrainian.”
[Box 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 Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania 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 Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, in accord with local bank requirements.
Stocks and Bonds: Stocks and bonds may be donated to Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania 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 Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania by means of a legally executed will, or Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania 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
[Pictures on page 19]
Miskito translators, Nicaragua branch