125th Gilead Graduation
Missionaries Encouraged to Be Like Jeremiah
“THIS class of Gilead serves as a historic milestone,” declared Geoffrey Jackson of the Governing Body. He was addressing the 6,156 people who were attending the graduation of the 125th class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead on September 13, 2008. With the 56 graduates from this class, Gilead School has sent out over 8,000 missionaries to “the most distant part of the earth”!—Acts 1:8.
Brother Jackson, chairman of the graduation program, asked, “Will credibility enhance your ministry?” He then listed four things that build credibility: having the right attitude, setting a good example, basing one’s teaching solidly on God’s Word, and focusing on making Jehovah’s name known.
David Schafer, who serves with the Teaching Committee, discussed the topic “Will You Understand Everything?” He assured the Gilead students that they can “understand everything” needed to serve as missionaries if they continue seeking Jehovah and humbly recognize “the faithful and discreet slave.”—Prov. 28:5; Matt. 24:45.
Next, John E. Barr of the Governing Body spoke on the theme “Let Nothing Separate You From God’s Love.” Brother Barr’s fatherly counsel relieved the graduates and their parents of any apprehension they might have had about what the new missionaries may face in their assignment. “Being in God’s love is such a secure, comfortable place to be in our life,” he explained. Nothing can separate the missionaries from God’s love unless they separate themselves from God.
Sam Roberson of the Theocratic Schools Department encouraged the audience to fit into “the garment of garments.” By studying what Jesus had done and applying it to themselves, the graduates can “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 13:14) Next, William Samuelson, overseer of the Theocratic Schools Department, highlighted what makes a person honorable. It is not man’s view but God’s view that makes one honorable.
Michael Burnett, one of the instructors, interviewed the students regarding their field service experiences. Although most students were assigned to well-worked territory while in Gilead School at Patterson, New York, they found interested ones. Gerald Grizzle of the Convention Office interviewed three brothers attending the School for Branch Committee Members. Their comments helped to prepare the Gilead graduates for what awaits them in their foreign assignments.
The talk “Be Like Jeremiah” was given by David Splane of the Governing Body, a graduate of the 42nd class. Although Jeremiah was apprehensive about his assignment, Jehovah strengthened him. (Jer. 1:7, 8) God will do the same for the new missionaries. “If you are having trouble with someone,” said Brother Splane, “sit down and write out ten qualities that you just love about that person. And if you can’t count the ten, it means that you don’t know the person well enough.”
Jeremiah was self-sacrificing. When he wanted to quit, he prayed, and Jehovah was with him. (Jer. 20:11) “When you feel discouraged,” said Brother Splane, “talk it over with Jehovah. You will be surprised at how Jehovah will help you.”
At the conclusion of the graduation program, the chairman reminded the audience that the graduates have learned several ways to build up their credibility. As they bear witness in their assignment, their credibility will enhance their testimony.—Isa. 43:8-12.
[Box on page 22]
Number of countries represented: 6
Number of countries assigned to: 21
Total number of students: 56
Average age: 32.9
Average years in truth: 17.4
Average years in full-time ministry: 13
[Picture on page 23]
125th 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) Hodgson, A.; Wall, A.; Beerens, K.; Hortelano, M.; Newman, L.; De Caso, A. (2) Jenkins, J.; Jarzemski, T.; Méndez, N.; Corona, V.; Canalita, L. (3) Fryer, H.; Savage, M.; Tidwell, K.; Erickson, N.; Dyck, E.; McBeath, R. (4) Perez, L.; Puse, L.; Skidmore, A.; Young, B.; McBride, N.; Rondón, P.; Goodman, E. (5) Beerens, M.; Ferguson, J.; Pearson, N.; Chapman, L.; Wardle, J.; Canalita, M. (6) Perez, P.; De Caso, D.; Young, T.; Rondón, D.; Goodman, G.; Jenkins, M.; Dyck, G. (7) Corona, M.; Wall, R.; Puse, S.; Méndez, F.; Jarzemski, S.; Savage, T. (8) Newman, C.; Ferguson, D.; Skidmore, D.; Erickson, T.; McBride, J.; Pearson, M.; Chapman, M. (9) Hodgson, K.; Wardle, A.; McBeath, A.; Tidwell, T.; Fryer, J.; Hortelano, J.