Anticipating the Needs of the Harvest
1 During the past year many brothers in all parts of the country have had the privilege of attending dedication programs for new Kingdom Halls. These have certainly been joyful occasions. Brothers have related interesting facts about the history and progress of the work in their respective localities. They have shown how Jehovah prospered their efforts in the ministry, resulting in many new ones becoming part of the congregation. It has been observed, time and again, how Jehovah has also opened the way for congregations to obtain property and build new places of worship.
2 Because of the rapid growth of the organization during recent years, the Society Kingdom Hall Fund was established in 1983 to meet the growing demand for new Kingdom Halls. Since that time, in the United States more than 150,000 new Witnesses have been baptized. This outstanding increase has required the formation of hundreds of new congregations, thus creating a need for hundreds of new Kingdom Halls. Since it was set up, the Society Kingdom Hall Fund has been made available for the construction of 387 new Kingdom Halls for congregations in the 48 states under the United States branch. Obviously, the need for new Kingdom Halls continues and many more must be built as Jehovah continues to ‘speed up’ the ingathering work.—Isa. 60:22.
3 In the September 1983 Our Kingdom Ministry, the point was made that Kingdom Hall construction had not kept pace with the formation of new congregations. Why? The article stated: “Basically the problem is economic. Whereas it is true that some expansion into outlying areas has been difficult or impossible because the brothers have not been able to build or otherwise provide appropriate Kingdom Halls in those areas, the problem the organization faces today primarily is found in the urban areas where property values have skyrocketed to such an extent that individual congregations, including large ones, have been unable to purchase even a site for the construction of a Kingdom Hall. In addition, exorbitant real estate prices have placed existing buildings suitable for conversion into Kingdom Halls out of the reach of the brothers.” The brothers have responded wholeheartedly to this need and many Kingdom Halls have now been constructed in such urban areas.
GIVING IN FULL MEASURE
4 The spirit of giving originates with Jehovah God who is the most generous Giver of good gifts. (Jas. 1:17) He is generous with all and he richly blesses those who in imitation of him practice giving freely and in full measure. (Acts 20:35) This was the experience of many in the first century who demonstrated appreciation for spiritual provisions by generously caring for the material needs of fellow Christians in another area. (2 Cor. 9:6, 7) In encouraging this spirit among the brothers today, appointed overseers are fulfilling what was written about them at Isaiah 32:8.
5 Abilities and opportunities to give vary according to our individual circumstances, but upon examining our personal situation, we may find that we spend much on ourselves for convenience, pleasures, and even luxuries, in addition to day-to-day needs. (Luke 21:4; Matt. 6:25, 33) At times, it may be necessary to deny ourselves some of the things we would really like to have in order to support Jehovah’s house of worship. It is not unusual to observe this taking place among Jehovah’s people today. (Prov. 3:9, 10) It is this self-sacrificing love for the worldwide brotherhood in obedience to Jesus’ “new commandment” and example that makes Jehovah’s Witnesses stand out today as true disciples. (John 13:34, 35) To the extent that we imitate Jehovah and prove obedient to Jesus’ commandment, we can expect to reap the joyful results.
REGIONAL BUILDING COMMITTEES
6 In anticipation of the needs of the harvest, arrangements have been made for more Regional Building Committees to assist in the construction of Kingdom Halls. Positive results are being seen as capable men have become involved in organizing the work.
7 Some committees have projects scheduled a year or more in advance. Obviously, much work needs to be accomplished in the days ahead. Although more Kingdom Halls are needed, it is preferable that skilled craftsmen not be asked to work with more than one Regional Building Committee. Many of the brothers have congregation and family responsibilities and these cannot be neglected. For the sake of maintaining proper balance in these and other matters, this seems to be the reasonable course. (Phil. 1:9, 10; 4:5, 6) It may be that some congregations planning to build will be asked to delay their project for a while so that the schedule for Regional Building Committees does not become overloaded.
8 Each Regional Building Committee contacts the skilled craftsmen from within its own area prior to the construction dates of a planned project, giving notice sufficiently in advance so that the volunteers can adjust their schedules accordingly. Careful planning has enabled Regional Building Committees to determine how many workers will be needed for each phase of a construction project. These are scheduled to arrive at the time that their particular skill is needed. Thus, they are fresh and ready to work when that phase of the project is to begin. When their services on a project are no longer needed, they return home and share in the local congregation meetings and activities along with their families.
9 Regional Building Committees are continually training spiritually qualified brothers so they can assist in a meaningful way on future building projects. One Regional Building Committee reporting on the construction of a double Kingdom Hall over two successive weekends said that they followed the suggestion in the December 1986 Our Kingdom Ministry insert about having only skilled help and local volunteers present. At no time were there more than 200 volunteer workers on the site. This worked very well and all were kept busy. No one worked through the night.
LOCAL BUILDING COMMITTEES
10 If a local building committee has in mind asking for assistance from the Regional Building Committee, it would be advisable for them to contact the Regional Building Committee at the outset, even before property is purchased. Thereafter, as progress is made, matters can be closely coordinated. Much of the work can be organized by the local elders and those from neighboring congregations who have volunteered. Ordinarily, the general work force also comes from local and nearby congregations, while the Regional Building Committee schedules additional volunteers who have skills not available locally. The Regional Building Committee is in a position to offer suggestions as to how they can proceed. The cooperation of both the local building committee and the Regional Building Committee is essential if a project is to run smoothly. With careful planning and good communication, potential problems can be avoided.
11 It may be that a congregation has brothers who are qualified to build or remodel its Kingdom Hall, but advice or other specific assistance is needed. In this case, there is no objection to the brothers’ proceeding on their own to the extent possible. At the same time, the brothers can feel free to call on the Regional Building Committee for the additional help that is needed. By seeking specific advice or assistance from the Regional Building Committee, schedules can be worked out in such a way that skilled workers will not be away from their families and home congregations longer than is actually necessary.
12 Jehovah’s people are a forward-looking people. It is obvious that Jehovah is bringing the increase. Last service year the number of congregations in the United States increased by 211. This is more than four each week! We must anticipate the needs of this harvesttime. No doubt the continued generous spirit of giving on the part of the brothers will allow the Society Kingdom Hall Fund to provide financing for more Kingdom Halls across the country. The funds that have been contributed for the advancement of the Kingdom Hall construction work are an evidence that Jehovah’s faithful servants are quick to see a need and are willing to meet that need in a whole-souled manner.
13 It is certainly most commendable that many congregations have eliminated extra or unnecessary features from their construction plans and in this way have reduced costs. It can be observed from the Kingdom Halls shown in this insert that congregations have built modestly, though attractively, and thus have not imposed a burden upon their brothers who assist with construction or upon the resources of the Society Kingdom Hall Fund. (Phil. 2:4) Regional Building Committees are encouraged to give suggestions to this end.
14 As congregations have come to hear of the needs of their brothers in other places, they have responded just as the Corinthians did in the first century when they heard of the needs of their Judean brothers. Paul encouraged them to volunteer assistance in a material way. He wrote: “Nevertheless, just as you are abounding in everything, in faith and word and knowledge and all earnestness and in this love of ours to you, may you also abound in this kind giving.” (2 Cor. 8:7) Thus Paul associates the giving of needed funds with faith and knowledge and love, and encourages such giving. He reminded the Corinthians of the principle that to sow sparingly is to reap sparingly and then encouraged them: “Let each one do just as he has resolved in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Although giving was entirely voluntary, no one needed to feel he could not share, for Paul said: “God, moreover, is able to make all his undeserved kindness abound toward you, that, while you always have full self-sufficiency in everything, you may have plenty for every good work.”—2 Cor. 9:6-9.
15 This type of giving by the brothers is not taken for granted. The Society regularly receives letters of appreciation for the Society Kingdom Hall Fund. One congregation writes: “All the brothers and sisters would like to express appreciation for assistance through the Society Kingdom Hall Fund. What a wonderful provision this is from Jehovah.” They go on to relate: “The community was truly given a fine witness as to the love and unity of Jehovah’s people. We have heard many favorable comments.” Regarding another project, the brothers state: “It is the most outstanding building in this area, from the standpoint of looks and quality of construction. Recently a man and his wife came to the hall and asked for a subscription to The Watchtower and Awake! and a book explaining the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He said that he was really impressed by the building of the hall. Many local people who had been opposed to Jehovah’s Witnesses came by during the open house and looked at the building and were very impressed. We are truly thankful to Jehovah for the fine provision of this much-needed new Kingdom Hall. And we thank you brothers for your assistance in the financing of it.” The generous giving on the part of Jehovah’s people must certainly bring joy to his heart, as it does to all the brotherhood.
16 It is still necessary to ask many congregations that have a pressing need for a new Kingdom Hall facility to delay their projects until such time as sufficient funds become available to provide needed loans. Each month as additional contributions are received and loans are repaid, the Society will progressively contact these congregations to let them know that funds are available.
17 Jehovah’s promise of continued prosperity for his organized people is being fulfilled today. (Isa. 54:2, 3) Are we individually doing what we can in cooperation with him in this regard? Our efforts in the field ministry are bound to result in further ingathering of new ones into the fold. This requires the providing of appropriate accommodations for new congregations. Your generous contributions to the Society Kingdom Hall Fund have helped many and will surely continue to assist in caring for future increase by providing funds to construct new Kingdom Halls.
18 Jehovah’s modern-day servants will continue to show the same spirit as that encouraged by Paul at 2 Corinthians 8:13-15: “For I do not mean for it to be easy for others, but hard on you; but that by means of an equalizing your surplus just now might offset their deficiency, in order that their surplus might also come to offset your deficiency, that an equalizing might take place. Just as it is written: ‘The person with much did not have too much, and the person with little did not have too little.’” With this generous spirit moving Jehovah’s devoted servants to give freely of their personal talents, skills, hard work, and material possessions, his name will be exalted even more with the coming of many more dedicated praisers into the one fold of true worshipers.—Rev. 7:9.
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CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE SOCIETY KINGDOM HALL FUND ASSISTED IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF ALL THE KINGDOM HALLS PICTURED IN THIS INSERT
Boca Raton, Florida
Salinas, California—Double auditorium
Wahoo, Nebraska—Remodeled gymnasium
Prince Frederick, Maryland
Mt. Gilead, North Carolina
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Fort Smith, Arkansas