They Courageously Proclaimed God’s Word!
Courage—even boldness—in the face of opposition. These qualities are displayed by true Christians, as shown in such publications as “Bearing Thorough Witness” About God’s Kingdom and Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom. Like our first-century fellow believers, we turn to Jehovah in prayer for his spirit and for help to speak his word with boldness.—Acts 4:23-31.
Regarding our preaching work during the first world war, one brother wrote: “God’s servants were energetically distributing the seventh volume of Studies in the Scriptures, entitled The Finished Mystery. It was reaching an unprecedented distribution. Kingdom News No. 1 was released in 1918. Next came Kingdom News No. 2, explaining why The Finished Mystery was suppressed by the authorities. This was followed by Kingdom News No. 3. These publications were widely distributed by the faithful anointed class. It took faith and courage to put out Kingdom News.”
Today, new Kingdom publishers usually receive training in the ministry, but that was not always so. Reflecting on his first experience in field service in 1922, one Polish brother in the United States wrote: “Having no knowledge of how to present the literature and speaking very poor English, I stood alone before the office of a doctor and knocked. A nurse opened the door. I will never forget that experience, for I was excited and frightened. As I was opening my satchel, all the books fell out at the feet of the nurse. I do not know what I said, but I placed a publication with her. By the time I left, I had gained courage and felt blessed by Jehovah. I placed many booklets that day on that business street.”
“About 1933, many brothers used sound cars to spread the Kingdom message,” said a sister. On one occasion, she and a Witness couple were preaching in a mountainous area of California, U.S.A. “The brother took the sound car higher up into the mountains, and we stayed down in town,” she recalled. “When he began playing the recorded message, it almost sounded as if it came from heaven. The townspeople tried and tried to find the brother, but they never could. After the record was finished, we called on the people and witnessed to them. I worked with two other sound cars and can assure you that most people did not want to hear the message. But they could not help but hear the talks as the message coming from the sound cars poured into their homes. We could always see that Jehovah caused the right method to be used at the right time. The method called for all the courage we could muster, but it always accomplished its purpose, and Jehovah’s name was glorified.”
In the 1930’s and early 1940’s, phonographs and recorded Bible talks were used in our ministry. One Christian woman recalled: “A young sister was working from door to door with the phonograph. After she started playing the record at one door, the man of the house became so infuriated that he kicked the phonograph right off the porch. Not one record was broken. Three men eating their lunch in a parked truck saw what happened, invited the sister to play the record for them, and obtained literature from her. That made up for the ill-treatment.” It took courage to endure such trials.
The same sister added: “I recall the beginning of the magazine street work in 1940. Earlier, there were information marches. In single file, brothers and sisters would make their way down the sidewalk carrying signs that read ‘Religion Is a Snare and a Racket’ and ‘Serve God and Christ the King.’ At the same time, free tracts were passed out to the people. It took courage to engage in these features of the work, but they served the purpose of keeping Jehovah’s name and people before the eye of the public.”
“Doing magazine work in small towns was very hard,” said another sister. “This was when opposition was strong against the Witnesses. . . . It took real courage to stand on a corner holding the magazines and calling out the slogans suggested for our use. Yet, we seldom missed a Saturday. Sometimes people would be friendly. At other times ugly groups would form, and occasionally we would have to slip away to avoid mob action.”
Despite persecution experienced during World War II, Jehovah’s Witnesses courageously carried on their ministry. In a 43-day campaign from December 1, 1940, through January 12, 1941, about 50,000 publishers in the United States distributed almost eight million booklets during what was called the “Courage” Testimony Period.
Many older ones in God’s organization vividly remember past challenges that called upon them to muster up courage. Some recall that for years, their courageous spirit was reflected in their oft repeated adage, Press the battle to the gate! What form our God-given message will yet take before the present wicked system ends remains to be seen. With divine help, however, we will continue to proclaim Jehovah’s word with faith and courage.
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Courage has always been required to engage in the Kingdom-preaching work