127th Gilead Graduation
Missionaries Sent “to the Most Distant Part of the Earth”
JESUS commissioned his disciples to be witnesses “to the most distant part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) Jehovah’s Witnesses take that command seriously.
In fact, over the past 65 years, missionaries trained at the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead have helped to spearhead this preaching work in over 200 lands. On Saturday, September 12, 2009, another 56 experienced ministers graduated after five months of training at the missionary school located in Patterson, New York, U.S.A.
The Power of Imagination
Stephen Lett, a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses and chairman of the graduation program, spoke to the class on the theme “Use Your Imagination Wisely.” He first warned the graduates of four ways not to use their imaginations. The first three points were: (1) Do not imagine that material things can provide lasting protection; (2) avoid imagining immoral activities; and (3) refrain from excessive worry, imagining how bad tomorrow might be. (Proverbs 18:11; Matthew 5:28; 6:34) Regarding the third point, the speaker said that an excessive worrier piles yesterday’s anxieties on top of today’s and then reaches forward to bring tomorrow’s anxieties back to today. “That’s a heavy load to bear,” said Brother Lett. The fourth point? The class was cautioned not to imagine that their life was better before they took up their missionary assignments. Doing so would cause them to miss out on the joys available to them in their new locations.
Brother Lett then encouraged the class to use their imaginations in four positive ways. He said: (1) Foresee situations that could be spiritually or physically dangerous, and avoid the calamity; (2) visualize the scenes you read in the Bible, and imagine that you are part of the event; (3) imagine that each person you speak to in your new assignment is a potential worshipper of Jehovah; and (4) develop empathy by imagining yourselves in the place of those to whom you preach.—Proverbs 22:3.
The Value of Training Others
David Splane, a member of the Governing Body, developed the theme “These Things Commit to Faithful Men,” based on 2 Timothy 2:2. When the apostle Paul instructed Timothy to train faithful men, Paul’s intention was for Timothy not only to teach these men established truths but also to encourage them to train others. The speaker told the class that there is a great need for men to take the lead in Christian activities. When and how will these ones be trained? Brother Splane encouraged the class to begin training these men right from the time the missionaries first begin studying the Bible with them.
How, specifically, can missionaries train Bible students to be faithful examples to others? The speaker outlined several ways. Missionaries need to train them to prepare well for their personal Bible study lesson. Then, as the students begin attending congregation meetings, they need to learn how to prepare on their own the Bible-based material discussed at the meetings. “If a person can’t study the Bible on his own,” reasoned the speaker, “he will never be able to teach others.” Brother Splane also said that missionaries can help new ones to be punctual, to support the preaching work financially, and to be obedient to those who are now taking the lead. He said the best way to teach these lessons is by setting a good example.
The Privilege of Being Witnesses
Guy Pierce, also a member of the Governing Body, spoke on a theme based on Jesus’ words recorded at Acts 1:8, “You Will Be Witnesses of Me.” He reminded the class that in the first century C.E., the nation of Israel lost the privilege of being witnesses for Jehovah. That privilege was given to a nation producing Kingdom fruits. (Matthew 21:43) The congregation of anointed Christians proved to be that nation. The speaker quoted the apostle Peter, who said that the “holy nation” of anointed Christians would “declare abroad” the excellencies of Jehovah. (1 Peter 2:6-9) So Jesus was not saying that Christians would be witnesses only of him and no longer be witnesses of Jehovah. After all, Jesus is called “the Faithful Witness.” (Revelation 1:5; 3:14) He is the foremost Witness of Jehovah and the model we follow.—1 Peter 2:21.
Today, the speaker told the class, Jesus’ words at Acts 1:8 have taken on greater meaning. Why? A momentous milestone in prophecy, as recorded at Revelation 11:15, has been fulfilled! God’s Messianic Kingdom has been established. Now, in a literal way, the witness work is being accomplished “to the most distant part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) Brother Pierce emphasized that missionaries bear witness about Jehovah and his Kingdom, not about themselves or about their former lifestyle, culture, and country. He encouraged the class to teach “as many as possible in the time that is left.”
Other Highlights of the Program
Alex Reinmueller, a helper to the Publishing Committee, spoke on the theme “Jehovah Will Give You Courage.” He said that if the missionaries rely on Jehovah’s power, He will help them to recognize their strengths, accept their weaknesses, face their fears, and give God their best.
Two of the instructors in the Theocratic Schools Department, Sam Roberson and William Samuelson, also addressed the students. Brother Roberson spoke on the subject “I Am With You,” based on Isaiah 41:10. He said that the missionaries will have many joys. They will also have problems. They can cope if they imitate King David, who cried out to his loving Father in prayer. (Psalm 34:4, 6, 17, 19) Brother Samuelson’s discourse stressed the need to continue developing thinking ability. Missionaries who do are able to refrain from reacting negatively to unkind remarks and do not easily take offense.—Proverbs 2:10, 11.
Jim Mantz, a helper to the Writing Committee, interviewed a Branch Committee member from the Republic of Georgia, another from Honduras, and a Country Committee member from the Republic of Tajikistan. These experienced brothers gave the missionaries advice on how to make friends of potentially antagonistic people by “conquering the evil with the good.” (Romans 12:21) Mark Noumair, another class instructor, hosted a lively discussion of the preaching experiences the students enjoyed during their Gilead training. The part had the thought-provoking theme “Yes, How Can I Help?”
The chairman concluded the program by quoting lyrics from the new song “See Yourself When All Is New.” The 6,509 in attendance went away more determined than ever to bear witness about Jehovah and his Son “to the most distant part of the earth.”
[Chart/Map on page 31]
8 countries represented
28 married couples
33.6 average age
18.3 average years since baptism
13.6 average years in the full-time ministry
(For fully formatted text, see publication)
Class assigned to the 22 countries shown below
CONGO, DEM. REP.
[Picture on page 31]
127th 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) Marshall, T.; Prudent, L.; Mashburn, A.; Rosenström, S.; Testa, A.; Takeyama, M.; Sisk, M.
(2) Grooms, K.; Miura, S.; Camacho, M.; Rozas, S.; Burch, M.; Meza, I.; Young, G.; Geraghty, S.
(3) Bonilla, C.; Knaller, D.; Parrales, R.; Hotti, S.; Takada, A.; Tournade, M.; Sopel, C.
(4) Miura, Y.; Parrales, K.; Prudent, K.; Colburn, S.; Willis, L.; Vääränen, A.; Sisk, B.; Takada, R.
(5) Grooms, J.; Vääränen, M.; Geraghty, B.; Stackhouse, R.; Wilson, A.; Bonell, E.; Camacho, D.; Meza, R.; Bonell, M.
(6) Takeyama, S.; Testa, G.; Colburn, T.; Mashburn, C.; Willis, W.; Tournade, L.; Burch, J.; Stackhouse, J.
(7) Wilson, J.; Young, J.; Marshall, E.; Rozas, M.; Knaller, J.; Hotti, N.; Rosenström, A.; Sopel, J.; Bonilla, O.