A Letter from Brother Knorr
Hello! You had a question?
Since the October Kingdom Ministry provided information about Bethel service, you may have been wondering, ‘What is Bethel like, and what does one do there?’
To answer the first part of that question, ‘What is Bethel like?’ you could read page 254 of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Divine Purpose and get some idea. Briefly, the part of Brooklyn that looks toward the towering buildings of lower Manhattan as well as New York Bay and that is known as Brooklyn Heights is where the Watchtower Society has its headquarters. Here are a number of large buildings. Two of them, known to Bethelites as “124” and “107” accommodate around 500 persons each, and several others nearby take care of 200 to 250 persons. In addition to excellent living quarters we have many other very fine facilities. For example, a large modern Kingdom Hall, four dining rooms seating a total of about 1,500 persons, libraries, reception rooms, our own laundry, pressing shop, shoe repair shop; and there are a dentist, a doctor and several nurses to care for health needs. Bethel is a big home filled with dedicated servants of God.
Now the next question, ‘What does one do there?’ Living at Bethel enhances the spiritual lives of those who are members of the Bethel family. We do not live by bread alone but by every word proceeding from God’s mouth. Our daily spiritual program is most upbuilding. The members of the family have specially assigned seats in the different dining rooms of the home and the family meets together at 7 a.m. We have a fine discussion of the day’s text. Members of the family participate, and the brothers serving on the governing body take week-long turns in summing up the day’s comments. For new members of the family we have an excellent eight-month provision. This includes eight special lectures. Then there are twenty-six weeks of Monday-evening classroom sessions along with twenty-six Wednesday-evening lectures. The classroom sessions are divided into two sections: (1) Shepherding the Flock of God and (2) Teachings That Mold Our Lives.
Additionally, all members of the family are assigned to one of the 218 congregations in New York city. We have the same service privileges as any other congregation publisher. This includes field service, home Bible studies and sharing in the congregation meetings, being an elder or ministerial servant if the local congregation makes such a recommendation to the governing body.
Living with so many brothers and sisters is quite different from living in a little home with a father, a mother and a brother or a sister. It is a big family with lots of brothers and sisters, and everyone is tremendously busy here, each one having his assigned work.
We came to Bethel to serve Jehovah and to aid our brothers world wide by producing literature for their use in the ministry. All of us appreciate the good things that come from the Watch Tower headquarters in the way of Bibles, books, magazines, tracts, letters and, every month, the Kingdom Ministry. These are printed not only in English but also in many other languages. Of course, you would not be receiving these publications at such a reasonable cost if the printing were done by some commercial firm.
Having the Bethel home and printing plants that have been built over a period of sixty years makes it possible for the Bethel family not only to handle matters dealing with office correspondence but also to do printing work. They operate linotype machines, make printing plates, operate printing presses, work in the book bindery and do other things connected with making up the printed page. Others do carpenter work, machine-shop work, painting and so forth. It is part of a tremendous operation for producing literature that supplies Jehovah’s witnesses world wide with what they need for their ministry. No other organization on earth can put out publications as we do, such as the Truth book, at a cost of 25c.
We here at Bethel consider it a great privilege to be able to make literature at such a low cost and send it all over the world in so many languages. It is truly an honor to be a member of the Bethel family. But, while it is an honor, it involves a lot of hard work too, for which those who fully appreciate their privileges of service willingly give of their time and energies. The apostle Paul worked hard too, traveling to many parts of the earth in his evangelizing work. Jesus worked hard. Our brothers in the missionary field spend long hours and work hard in the ministry. Congregation publishers and pioneers everywhere throughout the earth are very busy with the preaching activity. They are all working hard.
But Bethel work is somewhat different in that, to a great extent, it is manual work from 8:00 in the morning until 5:40 in the evening, with an hour off at noon for dinner. We appreciate that when we came to Bethel we came to do what we were assigned to do and to learn whatever the Lord’s organization wanted to teach us in regard to printing the Word of God. Because of its importance, our work at Bethel takes priority over all other activity.
It is hard work, and that is why we invite young people, either single persons or married couples who are healthy, strong and who have no obligations, to be part of the Bethel family. Our letter in last month’s Kingdom Ministry pointed out what the requirements are. When a person comes, we hope he will stay at least four years. But for many it can become a career. Many members of the family have done that, and there are brothers and sisters at Bethel who have been here for thirty, forty, fifty or more years. They are still working each day and enjoying it.
Much depends on how one looks at life. Do you want to live in a little home by yourself, husband, wife and children? Or as a young man do you want to stay at home with the rest of the family, have your own car and go and come as you please? Or, would you like to give yourself wholeheartedly to Jehovah’s service and spend your life doing things for other people? That is what the members of the Bethel family do. They are working for many others, not for themselves or just those there locally.
Some people may say to you that they have been at Bethel and that the work was monotonous. Usually anything one does can become monotonous when one does not like doing it any longer. The farmer enjoys his work even though some persons could say that his work is monotonous. He plants and harvests, and he does it all his life. Terribly monotonous? But you do like to eat, don’t you? Look at what members of the Bethel family are doing. Some are cooks, housekeepers, office workers; others make books and others ship them out. But think of it: We are reaping the blessing of seeing a great ingathering as people read and study God’s Word together with the aid of the publications. Hundreds of thousands of new ones are associating with Jehovah’s organization. Would you call that monotonous?
Bethel is a fine place in which to serve. The brothers here often write letters commenting on how they have enjoyed their service privileges as members of this family. One young brother recently wrote: “It is perhaps the greatest privilege of service available to young ones. I feel like this is the best place to serve Jehovah in this time we live in. Had my decision of marriage not come up, I would without a doubt have remained at Bethel for quite a long time.”
A young man who wishes to get married after four years in Bethel service is often faced with the same problem about which this brother wrote. But how grateful the individual was for the training received at the “house of God”! Many brothers, after serving four years, return to the pioneer work with their wives, and others go into the missionary work after receiving training at Gilead School. Others become fine overseers in congregations. Often married couples who have previously had experience in Bethel service are called in again when they apply. Many have made Bethel their career as single persons too.
Bethel is a wonderful place in which to serve the interests of the Kingdom. Looking at it from every angle in life, one sees what a blessing it is. One does not have to cope with certain anxieties in life that others have to overcome. Because we throw our burdens on Jehovah, he in turn cares for our needs. We work with our brothers and sisters day in and day out. We know that what we are doing is a praise and honor to Jehovah’s name.
Serving together unitedly all the time is like being at a convention. You might say that attending a convention every day would be monotonous. But we doubt very much that Jesus found it monotonous preaching every day with the twelve to people who gathered around them. It was Jesus’ life’s work. That is the way we feel about it at Bethel; it is our life’s work, and we welcome you to consider applying for Bethel. If you think about Bethel from the point of its being a career, making it your life’s work, then you indeed can gain untold blessings and satisfaction in giving of your youth in the service of Jehovah.
We feel that Bethel is, as it were, the crossroads of the world, for reports and experiences come in from all parts of the earth, many of which are related to the Bethel family.
We hope this has given you some insight into what Bethel is like and what we do here. In brief, a person works hard and serves his brothers and others. Maybe you would like to share with us in this grand work. We have Bethel homes in Toronto, Canada; London, England; Wiesbaden, Germany; Japan; the Philippines; Australia; South Africa and elsewhere throughout the world as well as in Brooklyn. Applicants must be residents of the country where the Bethel is located, so please do not ask to be sent to another country. After you pray to Jehovah about this matter, it may be you will say: ‘Here I am. Use me!’
Think about your career and what you want it to be. If it turns out to be Bethel Service, write the Office of the President or any branch office and get an application. Volunteer for Bethel service!
Keep busy in Jehovah’s work. Buy out the time. Use it wisely, for the days are wicked.
With you in preaching and teaching the good news,
N. H. Knorr