1978 Conventioners in Action!
Christian Witnesses Live Up to Their Name
Will You Be There To Share Unforgettable Theocratic Experiences?
The time for the 1978 “Victorious Faith” International Conventions fast approaches. Months of planning have gone into preparations to care for more than a million attenders at over 100 convention cities on the six continents of the earth. These gatherings will be held in some of the world’s largest stadiums, including olympic stadiums. The scheduled assemblies of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses, people of the one true Victorious Faith, promise to be no ordinary chain of events.
It is believed that this interlinking of people from over 200 lands will go down in modern theocratic history as another Christian milestone. Perhaps you, your parents or even your grandparents remember attending some of the previous outstanding conventions, such as in 1941 at St. Louis, 1950 and 1958 at Yankee Stadium, New York, 1951 at the London Wembley Stadium, and 1955 at Nuremberg, Germany, to mention a few. While it took much time, expense and inconvenience to travel from one end of the earth to the other to meet with Jehovah’s internationally gathered people in those days, Jehovah’s blessings were there for them in abundance, truly unforgettable and rewarding.
BIBLICAL PATTERN FOR ACTIVE CONVENTIONERS
The sizes of our modern conventions, even including the 253,000 assembled in New York in 1958, are dwarfed by the Biblical records of theocratic assemblies. The assembly of the Israelites in the wilderness at Mount Sinai under Moses in 1513 B.C.E., numbered over two million. (Ex. 19:1-19) But even this gathering was insignificant in size as compared to the vaster assemblies of angelic creatures in heaven, from time to time, to pay homage before Jehovah’s throne.—Job 1:6; Dan. 7:9-14.
Such a heavenly gathering is referred to at Hebrews 12:22, 23: “But you have approached a Mount Zion and a city of the living God, heavenly Jerusalem, and myriads of angels, in general assembly [panegyrei in Greek].” This Greek word literally means “to all-assembly” (see The Kingdom Interlinear Translation) or, as a commentator on this text says, “an assembly of an entire people.”a Webster’s unabridged dictionary says concerning the associated English word “panegyris,” “an occasion for laudation (glorifying), public praise.” So it seems that the angels not only attended to receive governmental instructions from the Universal Sovereign, but also were involved by rendering responses of praise. (Rev. 19:3) Even the Israelites at Mount Sinai made a response by way of resolution and thus participated in that convocation.—Ex. 19:8.
The significant Christian assembly in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost 33 C.E., was characterized by public participation. After the 120 assembled in the upper room received the holy spirit, they went outside to preach publicly “about the magnificent things of God.”—Acts 2:1-11, 41.
MODERN ASSEMBLIES HAVE FEATURED PARTICIPATION
At the Cedar Point Convention of 1922 a “Service Day” was set aside where hundreds of motorcars, each with five passengers, were volunteered days before to be led out into the countryside for witnessing from house to house.b At this convention and at the next six successive annual international conventions, special resolutions were passed by the conventioners, indicating their further participation. These were the beginnings of a global “locustlike” campaign under the leadership of “a king” (Christ Jesus), featuring field preaching that eventually covered all parts of the earth.c—Rev. 9:1-11.
In 1933 in the United States there were 12,600 publishers who volunteered to be ready on quick call for house-to-house field service on special missions in areas of civic opposition that interfered with the field preaching work. They were organized in “divisions.” On several occasions the “divisions” comprised 200 automobiles with five workers each. The cars would assemble at a certain rendezvous point at 9 a.m., each car group receiving a territory assignment sufficient for the five workers. Each worker was given a little bag with the special literature to be offered to the public for that morning’s field work.d By this means a quick, mass coverage was made of difficult territory in problem centers of certain cities. Indeed the Biblically described “locusts” were on the job. In effect, the Witnesses to this day continue as the foretold “locusts,” fully participating under their King, Christ Jesus.
ALL PLAN TO ATTEND—WORTH MAKING SACRIFICES
Just as all the angels were present for the heavenly assemblies and the happy worshipers in David’s time made the effort to get to Jerusalem to participate in the singing responses and shouts of praise, so should every one of us attend today. Then like King David we will be able to say: “I will laud [glorify] you in the big congregation; among a numerous people I shall praise you.” (Ps. 35:18) In Jesus’ day, he and others walked many miles to get to Jerusalem for the three happy festivals of participation each year. Yes, there were doubtless occasional inconveniences, perhaps some poor sleeping accommodations, and while traveling they may have had lesser food supplies amid heat and dust, but all that paled into insignificance when measured by the joy of being assembled with Jehovah’s people—holy and clean.—Lev. 23:2.
To be assembled with the “congregated throngs” of Jehovah’s people in 1978 will likewise require making sacrifices. Money needs to be saved to travel the longer distances for you and your family. Accommodations during the five days may not be quite as comfortable as at home; they may be expensive. You will need to adjust to the large crowds, as these happily move to and from over the convention grounds. In many assembly halls there may not be the same comforts as at home. Meals may be lighter, but the refreshments provided will be sufficient for maintaining physical strength. After all, it is the spiritual feasting that counts. So if we should have to put up with some minor creature discomforts, this will be more than compensated for by our being present as public praisers of Jehovah our Sovereign God.—Eph. 4:2.
PEOPLE MEET PEOPLE
One purpose of Jehovah in gathering his people together periodically in such large throngs is that there might be an international interchange of encouragement and experiences. (Rom. 1:11, 12) We of the United States need to get acquainted with dedicated people from many lands abroad who will be visiting us at our American conventions. Therefore we should be outgoing, take the initiative to introduce ourselves and mix with our brothers from other lands. Let our children get to meet children from non-American countries. At past international assemblies many friendships have been struck up and maintained by letter exchanges for years later. Enjoy every fleeting hour of the convention program during the five days, and also the hours between the sessions. Jehovah is bringing us visibly together as an international society of Christian witnesses to be viewed by the public on the world stage. Preliminary foundations for a post-Armageddon “new earth” are further being laid. Are you going to be present to share in the fulfillment of God’s purposes for our day?
We can adorn the assembly, also, by dressing in an appropriate, pleasing way. It is unthinkable that Jesus in his day, and the other happy Israelites who traveled to Jerusalem for the festivals, attended there unkempt as to grooming and shabby as to clothing, or even in lounging attire. Surely the angels in heaven always make their appearance before the Sovereign Majesty of the heavens in a respectful way. So in like manner the vast crowds of Jehovah’s people, young and old, who attend the assemblies should be well groomed, cleanly dressed in good taste according to the custom of their land. It may be that some of our brothers from other countries will come dressed in their clean, bright native costumes. Take an interest in the styles and colors displayed and be eager to have fellowship with them. Get to learn a few words of greetings in their language.
CLEANLINESS AND UPRIGHTNESS
All attenders should share in keeping the convention grounds clean and unlittered. Convention hall owners have commended us on this in the past. Do your part to keep up this fine reputation. We serve a “holy” God and therefore everything we do should be clean and upright. (1 Pet. 1:16) This likewise means that we continue to be honest in all our dealings, not only with our brothers, but also with all outsiders.
MAINTAINING GOOD ORDER
At all times we and our children should exercise the fruitage of the spirit, especially that of self-control. Remember, we must live up to our name, Jehovah’s Witnesses. That means we serve a God of order. (1 Cor. 14:33) Furthermore, being under the wise leadership of Christ Jesus, we cannot walk in the wild, uncontrolled ways of the wicked world.—Col. 2:5.
At the hotels, motels, private homes or wherever we are accommodated, let us walk decently as Christians. Obey the rules of the hotel or motel where you stay. Do not be marking up the property or making loud noise that disturbs neighbors. Honorably pay for the number agreed upon to stay in the room. When there are small social gatherings in the evenings, let these take place decently and with dignity. There should be a marked difference between our social gatherings and the carryings-on and antics of the non-Christians. Wherever we go or whatever we are doing, we should perform all things to God’s glory.—1 Cor. 10:31.
We regret to have to say that in the recent past a few brothers have acted in a disgraceful way that has brought reproach upon Jehovah’s people. They yielded to the ways of the flesh. May a good report in your case come in as from one motel owner in July, 1977, who wrote: “We certainly enjoyed having your people stay with us. Your people exemplify the very best in good moral conduct and principles. I commend the Watchtower Society. You are a fine group.”
A little wine makes glad the heart of man. (Ps. 104:15) But the immoderate use of it or of stronger drinks borders on drunkenness, which is improper conduct not befitting a Christian delegate at these conventions. Where there is immoral conduct of a gross nature at the conventions, the individuals should be reported to the Convention Administration so that the congregation elders where they are associated can be advised, enabling them to handle the matter properly and without needless delay. Convention times are joyous occasions, but they are not occasions for making raucous noises that disturb neighbors and outsiders.
WILL YOU BE ONE OF THE “LOCUST” BAND IN ACTION?
Friday morning of the “Victorious Faith” Conventions has been set aside for large-scale field service as has often been featured in the past. The joy of preaching the good news in those previous years will be recaptured as we go forth like “locusts” in a unique field campaign Friday morning. The service will be open to all dedicated Witnesses in good standing, unbaptized ones who meet the requirements to serve in the field (or pp. 128-130), and any others who may wish to accompany an experienced field publisher as an observer.
Each convention will have a Field Service Department that will work out all the details to carry out the campaign locally. This department will be under the supervision of the “Program Overseer,” who is one of the Convention Committee of three. Arrangements will be made for elders and ministerial servants who have volunteered to serve as field captains at the convention city to direct groups out from every motel and hotel where large groups of brothers are accommodated. Also, every Kingdom Hall will be a center from which field service is directed for those privately accommodated in the area around the Kingdom Hall. For those who desire to come down to the convention hall itself, arrangements will be made to take out large groups by providing transportation for them to serve the outer sections of the city and its environs. Also, the center of the city will be the scene of street work and store-to-store service.
Before leaving your congregation for the convention city, your elders will have organized what car groups they could for field service at the convention city. The car captain will obtain territory for the car group.
By 9:00 Friday morning, groups of Witnesses should be ready to move out into the field for house-to-house visitations, street work, informal witnessing and to speak with the public wherever they are seen in small groups, as at bus stops. You will not need to bring a book bag nor learn a presentation. A simplified and effective campaign of action will be outlined for you at the assembly, where you will also be able to obtain specially prepared equipment for the field.
At the close of the Thursday afternoon session, complete announcements and a demonstration will be given as to how to perform the service on Friday morning. Also, at the close of this Thursday session there will be released small, opaque, plastic witnessing bags for $1.00 each. Each bag will contain a supply of magazines, handbills and the release made on Wednesday. These items will be offered to the public in our field service. The plastic witnessing bag will have marked on both sides: “1978 ‘Victorious Faith’ International Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses.” This bag can be carried so that the public can see these words. Whatever literature is left over may be used on the way home or in your home territory.
Each witnessing bag will have sufficient literature for one or two publishers who may work together. It may be that at each hotel or motel special desks may be permitted in the lobby from which the assigned captains may issue territory. If so, the territory for each car group could be handed out Wednesday and Thursday as family groups come into the motel. Then at 9 a.m. Friday each group may go right out into the field for about two hours to complete the small assignments. There will be no need for assembling together for text and prayer. A few additional witnessing packages could be on hand Friday morning for those who may not have obtained their service kit at the assembly hall. Publishers may wish to bring their personal Bible along in case persons in the field ask questions that require a Bible answer. The plastic bag will be of sufficient size to hold the Bible in addition to the other items. The few words that need to be said at the doors will be explained at the close of Thursday afternoon’s session. Where the people do not accept the offer for the suggested contribution, the publishers should use the handbills to invite them to the convention sessions and the public meeting.
Upon completing your service in the field you may return directly to the convention site where refreshments will be available from 12 noon until time for the afternoon program to begin.
As a 1978 conventioner, plan to be in action in the field during this very special campaign. It will remain in your theocratic memory as a blessing from Jehovah. Like David, may we be able to say: “Among the congregated throngs I shall bless Jehovah.”—Ps. 26:12.
a Harper’s Analytical Greek Lexicon; p. 300.
c “Then Is Finished the Mystery of God,” pp. 235-8.