1974 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses
It takes faith to walk in the name of Jehovah, and that is what Jehovah’s witnesses did during 1973. They showed full faith in the coming divine victory, and gave “thanks to God, for he gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” (1 Cor. 15:57) They know that Christ Jesus came into his rightful rule in 1914. When the Devil and his demons were cast out of heaven thereafter because of the ‘war in heaven,’ this truly resulted in a divine victory, God’s victory. There is no question about the fury on the part of the Devil and his demons in trying to overwhelm the remaining ones of the seed of God’s woman during the time of Satan’s confinement here at the earth. But nothing that he or his demons can do in bringing suffering to mankind, and to God’s own faithful servants, will interfere with the final victory of Jehovah God over Satan’s visible and invisible organization.
Very appropriate and encouraging, then, for all of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses who were walking in the name of Jehovah was their 1973 convention theme “divine victory.” Climaxing the year were forty-one successful “Divine Victory” International Assemblies, with an overall peak attendance of 1,402,238. What joy, too, in seeing 39,313 baptized at these assemblies! They are determined to go on walking in Jehovah’s name “to time indefinite, even forever.”—Mic. 4:5.
Jehovah’s witnesses throughout the entire year were diligently proclaiming God’s kingdom as the only hope for mankind, and urging honest-hearted people to be disciples of Jesus Christ, putting their trust in Jehovah and fleeing from Babylon the Great and the rest of this system of things. Never before have Jehovah’s Christian witnesses enjoyed such a response in disciple-making as they did in the twelve months of September 1972 through August 1973. In that period of time, 193,990 persons from all nations and tongues were baptized after having dedicated their lives to do the will of Jehovah, with the prospect of sharing in his divine victory.
All the anointed remnant, along with those of the “great crowd” who are taking their stand on Jehovah’s side now, because they put their “faith in God, are under the protection of his power until salvation comes—the salvation which is even now in readiness and will be revealed at the end of time.” (1 Pet. 1:5, New English Bible) Of course, here the apostle Peter was addressing spirit-anointed Christians, but the same principle applies to all who have dedicated their lives to Jehovah God. They must put their full faith in Jehovah and in his divine victory, which he will bring about for his own vindication and for their salvation. Dedicating one’s life to Jehovah and being baptized are certainly not all there is to being a Christian. A Christian must prove his loyalty and devotion to Jehovah. Walking in integrity will bring trials and difficulties to those on Jehovah’s side. Christians must never forget that the serpent, the Devil, has led the whole world astray and that, since being cast out of heaven, “the Devil has come down to you in great fury, knowing that his time is short!” (Rev. 12:12, NE) So there will be trials, especially for those who have taken their stand for Jehovah’s sovereignty and who have declared that they will walk in their integrity before Jehovah.
Christians who know that salvation “is even now in readiness” and will be revealed “at the end of time” appreciate what the apostle Peter said: “This is cause for great joy, even though now you smart for a little while, if need be, under trials of many kinds. Even gold passes through the assayer’s fire, and more precious than perishable gold is faith which has stood the test. These trials come so that your faith may prove itself worthy of all praise, glory, and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Pet. 1:6, 7, NE) Jehovah’s Christian witnesses must put up a hard fight for the faith and be energetic in declaring the good news of God’s kingdom, even as Christ Jesus was. This they have been doing during the 1973 service year. Today there are upward of 1,758,000 ministers of God declaring the “good news” world wide, in 208 different countries, lands and islands of the sea. We feel that you will be interested in some of their experiences, for they show that “under trials of many kinds” their faith is being tested. Peter went on to say: “You must therefore be mentally stripped for action, perfectly self-controlled.” (1 Pet. 1:13, NE) That is exactly what Jehovah’s Christian witnesses are trying to do: keep themselves in good condition to serve their God Jehovah faithfully right down to the finish. They are not going to be worried about how difficult conditions may get world wide. They know that conditions will worsen.
Did not Habakkuk say: “Although the fig tree itself may not blossom, and there may be no yield on the vines; the work of the olive tree may actually turn out a failure, and the terraces themselves may actually produce no food; the flock may actually be severed from the pen, and there may be no herd in the enclosures; yet, as for me, I will exult in Jehovah himself; I will be joyful in the God of my salvation”?—Hab. 3:17, 18.
Let us briefly review some of the hardships and experiences of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses in different parts of the world. As we embark on this country-to-country tour, why not use the maps on the endsheets in the front and back of this book to locate the places to which we travel.
Senegal, along with its neighboring African countries below the Sahara, is in the grip of the most serious drought of the century. It is menacing the very lives of both men and beasts. The clergy of nearly all religions in the country have been busy arranging all kinds of religious services and days of prayer, but to no avail. As the Bible says: “Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.” (Rev. 12:12) People of Africa are thirsty, but not only for literal water; there is also a spiritual drought, and this is more serious. African people are religiously inclined, it is true, but not necessarily toward Christian teachings.
In Senegal a young man was brought up in a fetish-worshiping family. Though he was a nominal Catholic, he made daily sacrifices to the spirits. In time he obtained a copy of the Christian Greek Scriptures, from which he read daily. This helped him to appreciate that the Bible contained a wonderful hope, and then he met one of Jehovah’s witnesses. Immediately a study in the Bible was started, but, he having been a practicer of fetishism as well as a Catholic, getting rid of his objects of worship proved to be a great obstacle. His father had given him a goat’s horn as a protection, explaining that if he ever threw it away he would die. He knew of people who had drowned in the river when they threw away their jujus. Every evening he would first pray to God and then make a sacrifice to the goat’s horn. But when he studied in the book The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life the chapter on wicked spirits, he threw the horn away. This took faith, and he admits that he was afraid and wondered if he would ever arrive safely at an assembly of Jehovah’s witnesses. He did. His faith became strong and he recognized that Jehovah is the only true God. Soon thereafter he was baptized.
Those who get freed from false religion need to get a firm grip on the truth in order to endure all kinds of family opposition. A Moslem woman accepted the truth after studying with one of Jehovah’s witnesses. Before studying the Bible she dominated her husband, but now in her new role as a Christian she became submissive to her husband. Now he began to oppose her, trying to stop her from attending meetings at the Kingdom Hall. He locked her in the house so she could not get out. When he returned he found that she had made his favorite cake. This embarrassed him. However, it did not diminish his opposition. Because of the woman’s insistence on sticking to the truth, he decided to divorce her and gave her the customary three months’ notice before taking her to court. The husband took her before the judge, but when he saw that his bluff would not change her mind and that she stood firm, he told the judge to forget the divorce and said that he would try to settle the problems with his wife. He would invite his wife’s family to the house on meeting days just an hour before she would normally leave. He believed that she would not dare to leave them all, but she did. Because of her firm stand she was able to start a study with one of her own sisters who was wondering why she was willing to go through all this persecution for the sake of her new religion. This sister also smarted for a little while under trials of many kinds, but she is now a baptized sister and has proved to be a source of great encouragement to others in the congregation.
A Gambian woman was visited by a missionary in Dakar, the capital of Senegal. She showed interest, had a Bible study and prepared well. But she had many problems. She was separated from her husband because of his immoral conduct. She had just given birth to a fifth child. Her eight-year-old daughter took a keen interest in the truth and this was an encouragement to the mother. The young child zealously attended all the meetings and advanced rapidly. The daughter’s enthusiasm affected the mother and she, too, was moved to attend the Memorial celebration. She decided to return to her own country, Gambia, to look after her other children whom she had left in that country with her family. The missionary realized that when she returned she would have a lot of trouble from her family, and so she prepared her for the opposition. This proved to be true. However, the newly interested woman refused to submit to family pressure, and soon her eldest son accepted the truth, and he is now giving a fine witness in Gambia. This lady, her daughter and son, attended an assembly in Dakar and all were baptized. They have spent time witnessing not only in that city, but also in the bush country where no Witnesses before had called on the people.
Sierra Leone has 2,520,000 likable and happy people, but they speak more than twenty languages. So the missionaries and others have a problem in witnessing to all the inhabitants of the land. Excellent work is being done through the organization in achieving the goal of more literacy. The records show that in Sierra Leone, a country that is nearly 90 percent illiterate, 75 percent of all of Jehovah’s witnesses now read and write. What a joy it is for these African brothers and sisters to read the Bible themselves and to share in the ministry!
In the Republic of Guinea two new special pioneers were assigned to Conakry during the past year and they, along with ten local brothers, are trying to reach as many of the people in the capital as possible. They had a Memorial attendance of 626, so there are interested people. At a recent circuit assembly held in a small village, 225 enjoyed a fine program. During the year twenty-seven persons were baptized.
Liberia is making progress in building Kingdom Halls. A new one was just finished in Monrovia, the capital. In Tappita a tribal chief owned a very fine piece of property on the main road, but he was convinced that a genie (a spirit) lived in a tree on the property and regularly traveled through his property to another tree. For years no one had the courage to use the property. He finally sold the land to Jehovah’s witnesses, and in a few months they completed their Kingdom Hall without any disturbance from the “genie.” The hall is near the “tree,” and this fact has set many free from superstition. The people see that Jehovah’s witnesses have faith in the Bible.
The Kakata congregation in Liberia was building a new Kingdom Hall, but they ran out of funds before all the work was done. So a group of energetic sisters got busy and made homemade bread, gathered wood and arranged for various other items and soon, on a personal basis, they were “making market,” in this way raising sufficient funds to contribute to complete the Kingdom Hall.
The branch overseer reports that the Kingdom Halls are well filled in Liberia, and many of the meetings have as many as two to three times as many in attendance as there are publishers.
One of the main problems in the Ivory Coast involves legal marriage. In recent years the government has required legal marriage. However, most Ivoriens view it as dangerous to take a girl in legal marriage for fear she will use this secure position to be rebellious and to dominate her husband. It is also the custom to defer marriage until the girl has at least one child, as children are very important in the African way of life. This problem had to be overcome by a man who was a staunch Catholic and who was living with a girl whom he had no intention of marrying for many years. He was visited by Jehovah’s witnesses in their door-to-door ministry, and he showed interest. He took the Truth book and a Bible study was started. He stopped attending the church and in six months he had his name removed from the church register. Now one big hurdle remained for this man, that of legalizing his marriage. The wife, having no children, was not accepted by the husband’s family, and he, being of a different tribe, was not accepted by the wife’s parents. The truth, however, overcame all these obstacles. So with opposition from both families, no children, being ridiculed by their friends, they still went ahead and got legally married. The same week they started out in the field service, preaching the good news of God’s kingdom, and in April they were baptized at the circuit assembly, happily joining the great crowd of Jehovah’s witnesses. All of this required faith, but it brought great happiness.
For several years in Upper Volta there was but one lone publisher carrying on the preaching work. He has now been joined by six missionaries and several special pioneers, and during the year two congregations were formed. Last April seventy-four persons attended their Memorial celebration, and now they are conducting eighty Bible studies.
A special pioneer was going from house to house in the ministry and met a policeman. The policeman said to the pioneer: “You Jehovah’s witnesses do not have the right to work from house to house.” The policeman asked the pioneer to get into his car and he took him to the police station. As they went into the police station the captain looked up and exclaimed: “J——, how are you?” referring to the pioneer brother. The captain continued: “I have been wanting to see you. How much did you say the subscription was for the Watchtower and Awake! magazines?” The pioneer told him, and the captain immediately took the subscriptions for both magazines. He convinced his secretary that he too should have these subscriptions, and he also subscribed. The brother was able to give a fine witness to the others in the office, placing several books and many magazines. All this time the policeman that arrested him just stood, listening and taking in everything that was going on. Then the captain said to the policeman who brought the brother in: “Take your car and run J—— on home. It is too hot for him to be walking in the sun.” On the way home the pioneer brother gave the policeman a magazine and encouraged him to read it. One never knows what the outcome of opposition will be.
The Society’s new printery in Ghana ended its first year of operation, with over 240,000 copies of The Watchtower printed in the three languages, Twi, Ewe and Ga.
Early in March, fourteen young schoolchildren of Jehovah’s witnesses were expelled from school in Ghana because they did not participate in patriotic ceremonies that would have violated their Bible-trained Christian consciences. The public press made a concentrated effort to discredit Jehovah’s witnesses before the authorities and the public. However, this unusual publicity brought to the fore Jehovah’s name and aided many in the land to see the difference between true religion and the false.
In the Republic of Togo the year started out with six of our brothers in prison. They had already been in prison for one year without trial. The imprisonment was due to their refusal to buy membership cards for the only political party in the country. They were accused of having no respect for the government. The issues of flag salute, national anthem and blood transfusion were also brought into their case. It became very difficult for Jehovah’s witnesses throughout the entire country because the government pressed very hard to make everyone purchase a party card. Roads were blocked and all cars of the natives were stopped and checked as to whether the individuals had party cards. If they did not have cards they were taken by force to the office of the political party to make them buy cards. This made it very difficult for our circuit overseers to travel and visit the congregations. But still they managed to keep their schedules. Officials of the party even went from house to house to check on people in their homes.
Eventually a wave of violence spread over the country. Special pioneers were expelled from towns, others were not admitted to hospitals. They could not buy or sell their food in the marketplaces. Special pioneers could not cash their allowance checks at post offices. People who were employed were asked if they were Jehovah’s witnesses. It looked as though a ban might be put on the work of Jehovah’s witnesses.
In spite of all this trouble, the brothers kept calm. They met regularly in their Kingdom Halls, went in the field service and continued to preach the good news of the Kingdom.
The government and party officials were harsh not only with Jehovah’s witnesses, but also with those people who were not Witnesses and who did not buy party cards. In a town of 15,000 people the government went so far as to ask from the people back payment right to the time of the founding of the party. That was too much for the people. The market women went on strike for four days. Since people are not used to storing food, but buy fresh supplies at the market each day, all the people had to suffer, including the government officials, the party officials, the police and the soldiers in the camp. This brought things to a head, and shortly thereafter the radio and newspapers announced that no one should be forced to buy a party membership card. Membership would be obtained only by written application and by approval of the party committee. Since that time there has been no checking on the roads in search of people without cards, there has been no checking at hospitals, markets or working places. In fact, since February 1973 there has been only one instance where authorities troubled the brothers. The Kingdom work is now going on peacefully.
Jehovah has continued to bless the work of Jehovah’s witnesses in Nigeria. The work on the construction of the new factory and Bethel extension continued throughout the greater part of the year. There were fifty-two workers called in from the pioneer field, and missionary members of the Bethel family who had experience were also used in construction work. In addition, willing brothers and sisters, many from Lagos, volunteered on weekends. Members of the Bethel family are now living in the new building. Two new Heidelberg letter presses that were ordered from Germany, along with other equipment shipped from Brooklyn, have now been installed in the new 10,000-square-foot factory. Actual printing began on May 17, 1973, with the Kingdom Ministry in the Yoruba language. Now the new printing plant has begun printing The Watchtower in vernacular languages.
During the year there were attempts by opposers of God’s kingdom to stir up trouble on the issue of singing the national anthem in the schools in the midwestern states of Nigeria, and later in the southeastern states. A number of young witnesses of Jehovah were expelled from school in these areas.
Cameroon still has a ban on our work, but since May 1970 there has been a steady building up and consolidating of the underground organization, and Jehovah’s witnesses keep on preaching. While much pressure continues to be applied against the brothers by the authorities, it is evident that the brothers have been tested as to their love for Jehovah and their loyalty to his organization. The congregations are organized and are receiving spiritual food.
Kenya started its service year with the finest assembly ever held outside of Nairobi, with 2,161 in attendance for the public talk. Month by month the work progressed. Plans were made for the “Divine Victory” International Assembly to be held in Nairobi, December 26-30, 1973. Hundreds of Jehovah’s witnesses from Europe, America and Africa planned to attend. The first Kingdom Hall in Nairobi was dedicated, with 605 attending the special weekend activity. Everything appeared to be most favorable for much further unhindered activity.
Then came a shock announcement! In the newspapers of April 16, 1973, it was said that the government was going to take action against Jehovah’s witnesses. Two days later the official government newspaper published a notice banning Jehovah’s witnesses. No reason was given for the action. So representatives of the branch office and congregations throughout Kenya got in touch with government officials and members of parliament, seeking to find out why such drastic action was taken. No one seemed to know. Every effort was made to get the ban lifted. Then came another decision, on July 5—to expel thirty-six missionaries from the country. Midnight July 11 saw the last of the missionaries leave. But what a wonderful send-off they received! Hundreds of their brothers assembled at the airport in a warm display of brotherly love.
Suddenly, on August 20, 1973, the government newspaper carried the announcement that the ban had been revoked. The reason for this is yet to become known, but we are assured of this, namely, that Jehovah gave the victory. Once more the brothers were free to meet in their Kingdom Halls and the preaching work went ahead unrestricted. Arrangements were being made to hold the “Divine Victory” International Assembly according to the original agreement, using the Nairobi City Stadium.
It is hoped that many of our brothers in Ethiopia will be able to attend the assembly in Nairobi, but what will happen we are not sure. In the past three years the Ethiopian Orthodox Church has intensified its efforts to prevent any Christian activity on the part of Jehovah’s witnesses.
Shortly before the start of the service year several brothers in Ethiopia were called by the police for questioning. They were warned that their activity was known and that soon action would be taken against them. Suddenly, on August 27, 1972, as regular Sunday meetings were in progress, two meetings of Jehovah’s witnesses were interrupted by the arrival of big trucks, and 207 persons were arrested. Included were brothers and interested persons. Even though the law does not permit a husband and a wife to be arrested together, out of consideration for the children, on that day both were arrested. Ninety-six of the prisoners were summoned to the district court and, without any defense allowed, were sentenced to six months of imprisonment. The remaining ones experienced much more hardship. They were charged with establishing an illegal religious association. Brothers and sisters had to suffer the humiliation of having all their hair shaved off.
The brothers fearlessly preached the truth to other prisoners, building up interest on the part of some. The first night in prison turned out to be peaceful. Many discussions were held. These brothers only served one month of their sentence, because bail was arranged.
Shortly after their release on bail the 112 brothers were again called to the district court, which refused to hear any evidence, stating that the trial was not on religious grounds. After many adjournments the court upheld the six-month sentences. The whole procedure had been so antagonistic that the brothers were sure that they would have to complete their sentences in jail. So they made arrangements for the storing of their furniture in the homes of brothers so as not to pay accumulation of rents. Arrangements were made to look after many children, and some brothers asked the firms for which they worked if other Witnesses could work in their place during their jail sentences. Again there were many opportunities to preach in the prison before they were eventually released on bail after twelve days. Final decision was to suspend the sentences of about half the brothers. However, the warning was given that if these brothers met together they would be compelled to serve out their terms.
The zeal of the brothers is not dampened in spite of all these troubles. They will continue to try to get the work officially recognized. In the capital, Addis Ababa, the publishers have increased from 475 to 577 during the year. As one brother put it, “we have been persecuted, but not left in the lurch.”
In Uganda the year started out in a very promising way for Jehovah’s people. Five new missionaries had just been admitted into the country. Then on June 8, 1973, without previous warning, twelve religious sects were placed under ban, including Jehovah’s witnesses. By July 17, the remaining twelve missionaries had to leave. The brothers are not allowed to preach and meet openly, but Jehovah’s witnesses in Uganda will continue to hold firmly to their integrity and will carry on their Bible studies with interested people.
The attitude of the authorities toward the Christian work of Jehovah’s witnesses in Tanzania remains the same. Very good efforts were made during the year to talk to government officials requesting that the ban of seven years be lifted. At the end of May the brothers making a further approach were told that the government would not consider registering the work of the Society and that all activity on the part of Jehovah’s witnesses must cease. During the year five brothers were sentenced to one year of imprisonment, and at present ten others are awaiting a decision.
The greatest difficulty facing Jehovah’s witnesses in Tanzania has been unemployment. Many have started their own little businesses in order to make a living. Now the government is refusing to issue licenses to them unless they get a political card. The State comes ahead of one’s worship to God, they say.
In many parts of Zaïre our brothers enjoy relative freedom. They may meet together and preach the good news. On the other hand, there are many areas where there is much opposition. This opposition is due to local officials and their application of local laws forbidding any religion to function except those legally recognized. But more often the persecution comes because the brothers take a neutral stand toward political affairs. There are about 240 brothers in prison in Zaïre, most without trial or judgment. Some have received sentences of two or three years and have been fined up to $600. Missionaries working throughout the territory have encountered many difficulties too with the local officials, and some have been arrested. Despite the increasing difficulties throughout the land, the branch office has continued to function, and the needs of the brothers countrywide have been cared for.
Because the witness work is banned the brothers in Zambia cannot knock on as many doors as they used to. So now they are finding that more persons are seeking them out. People in some neighborhoods who were previously accustomed to having Jehovah’s witnesses call at their homes come out and ask a brother who is making an informal private call next to them when he is going to call on them. Persons have telephoned the branch office asking for someone to call to conduct a Bible study, because their relatives were having a Bible study somewhere else in the country. So even though the government put a ban on Jehovah’s witnesses and their house-to-house activity, the people of the country know that Jehovah’s witnesses are available and that they are carrying on private Bible studies with interested people. Many in Zambia think that Jehovah’s witnesses do not call on them often enough.
So our brothers are getting in touch with people throughout the entire country in one way or another, because at the Memorial in 1973 there were 194,133 persons in attendance. This meant that there was one person at the Memorial for every twenty-three persons in the country. How are you doing in your territory?
Rhodesia, to the south, reports that they are building their own branch office. The Society had a branch home there, but it was too small. So the branch building was torn down and there has now been constructed a three-story building with ten bedrooms, a fine lounge and dining room and a spacious office and shipping department. On weekends there were as many as seventy-five workers, male and female, all volunteers, helping in the construction. The Society certainly appreciates the wonderful cooperation and willingness on the part of all the brothers who helped in constructing this new Bethel home in Rhodesia. The Kingdom interests in Rhodesia will be served better through this office.
During the past year there has been a marked increase in the terrorist activity along the northern border of Rhodesia. The district overseer reports that the publishers always carry the Society’s publications with them, even when working on the farms. Often they have been stopped and asked for identification, and when the brothers produce the Society’s literature they are left alone.
Malawi still has a strong stench because of being cruel persecutors of Jehovah’s witnesses. Jehovah’s people escaped from their persecutors by fleeing across the border into Zambia and Mozambique. You have read through the publications of the Society how those who fled to Zambia were tricked and repatriated to Malawi. When they arrived back in their home country a number of the prominent representatives of Jehovah’s witnesses were imprisoned. Since Jehovah’s witnesses were again molested after they were repatriated from Zambia they again had to flee the country. This time the majority fled to Mozambique. They have been very favorably received by the authorities there. At this time there are upward of 36,000 of our brothers and their children, together with interested persons, located in more than ten different refugee camps.
The authorities in Mozambique have provided our brothers with land to cultivate, as well as food and medical supplies. The government has also furnished soldiers to guard the camps against terrorists and young thugs from the youth wing of the Malawi Congress Party who have been known to cross the border in an effort to infiltrate the camps to molest our brothers.
At the Mlangeni camp in Mozambique there are a number of departments similar to the departments at our assemblies to handle the affairs of the camp. The accounts department cares for the distribution of relief money and the payment of bills. There is a transportation department, which operates a number of trucks, cars and motorcycles that the brothers managed to take with them when they fled from Malawi to Mozambique. These vehicles are used for transporting trees and grass for building houses and for transporting mealie-meal (maize flour) for food, and so on. The food store looks after the distribution of food as it is received from the Portuguese authorities.
The authorities have allowed the brothers to continue having regular weekly meetings and assemblies inside the refugee camp, and there is a department in Mlangeni that plans the programs for these meetings. A large assembly area has been set aside for the purpose, and brothers meet there for discussions of the day’s text. This takes place at four o’clock in the afternoon each day. Prior to the discussion, singing is conducted for one hour, and the brothers and sisters sing Kingdom songs. They have forgotten some of them because they have been unable to sing openly in Malawi since the work was banned in 1967, but our Malawi brothers really enjoy singing the Kingdom songs. Before the ban in Malawi, at assembly time all in attendance would walk in a crowd to the baptism site singing the songs, as well as when they went into the field service and returned. So you can imagine the disappointment that it was for them not to be able to sing the songs after 1967. Now they are really enjoying themselves once again.
In addition to the large main platform, which our brothers have built in the refugee camp, the Mozambique government has allowed the brothers to build numerous Kingdom Halls. They now have more than thirty congregation meeting places, and eventually these will number over one hundred.
Our brothers and sisters have also taken advantage of the time they have together to concentrate on improving their literacy. Reading and writing classes are held at all the Kingdom Halls for both children and adults. At Mlangeni there are 110 such classes now. There are qualified schoolteachers among the refugees.
The Mlangeni camp also has a medical department staffed by brothers who are qualified health assistants. A very fine clinic of stone and concrete has been built by the brothers. Most of the refugees in the early days of the camp arrived with wounds, cuts and bruises from the vicious treatment they received in Malawi. Even now the cases handled each month number into the thousands. Also to be considered are the forty-six babies, on an average, born each month.
Life in the camps is similar to life in the villages in Malawi. Our brothers rise early and go to their work in various departments of the camp, while the sisters look after the cooking of meals and attending to the needs of their families. At the end of the day they return to the camp for singing practice and the discussion of the day’s text.
The Malawi brothers continue to maintain their integrity and, like the early Christians, they are rejoicing because they have been counted worthy to be dishonored in behalf of Jesus’ name.—Acts 5:41.
In the south of the country of Mozambique, near the capital of Lourenço Marques, the Kingdom work is also going ahead rapidly. There are approximately 1,200 publishers in the area. Although the work of Jehovah’s witnesses is not recognized in Mozambique, it continues to grow. The authorities are well aware of the neutral stand of Jehovah’s people and they appreciate the good influence they can be for the people in the areas where they live. There is no doubt that the Mozambique authorities have taken a humanitarian approach in their dealing with the thousands of our brothers who have descended upon the country as refugees, due to concern for their safety.
In November 1972 the South African branch office started to print The Watchtower and Awake! in English. This was a fine move on the Society’s part. Not only did the publishers in South Africa receive the magazines at least two weeks earlier than before, but the average magazine distribution increased by 30,000 per month.
Under the South African branch office comes the country of Botswana. More than a year ago all organizations, including religious bodies, were required to apply for registration under a new law called the Society’s Act. Jehovah’s witnesses applied, and it appeared as if registration would be granted. But suddenly, at the beginning of July 1973, the local brothers were informed by the registrar of the land that the government would not register Jehovah’s witnesses, and the organization was given until the twentieth of July to wind up its activities. After that date Jehovah’s witnesses would be considered illegal. By Jehovah’s undeserved kindness two circuit assemblies were scheduled before that date and so there was good opportunity to talk to the brothers and prepare them for the trials ahead. At the same time legal aid was sought in order to try to prevent the ban, but the ban came on anyway. At present the brothers are negotiating with government officials in an endeavor to have the ban lifted in order that the preaching of the good news may be done without further hindrance.
The good news is still being preached in St. Helena Island. There is one publisher for every sixty-six persons on the island. So everyone has had opportunity to hear the truth, and during the year nine new disciples were baptized. For the first time, schoolchildren were among the baptismal candidates.
In Swaziland the circuit overseer had no place to show his slides. At the last minute an auditorium was obtained. The question was how to inform the people of the community about the meeting. The circuit overseer went to the local schoolmaster and asked him if he would ask the children to invite all the parents to come to the meeting that Friday evening. The schoolmaster agreed, and within a few hours everyone knew of the meeting, and 120 turned out to see the slide showing.
Christ Jesus was born in Asia, but fewer people on this great continent believe his teachings than on any other continent of the world. However, Jehovah’s witnesses have earnestly endeavored to preach the good news on this vast continent. Starting at the opposite end from where Jesus began preaching, we look at the islands of Japan.
In recent years the Japanese people have had an ear for the truth. To meet the need, a new printing plant in Numazu was opened, taking over the printing of the Watchtower and Awake! magazines.
The “Divine Victory” International Assembly in Osaka was the outstanding event this past year. There were 31,263 in attendance, which shows how interested the Japanese people are in the truth.
Jehovah’s witnesses in Korea have had a wonderful opportunity during the past year for an interchange of encouragement. As in Japan, they also had a “Divine Victory” International Assembly. Many visitors from other lands came to Korea and enjoyed the hospitality of the brothers in Korea.
Other people, too, are enjoying the hospitality of Jehovah’s witnesses. For example, a man from a devout Catholic family happened to pick up the Truth book that his mother had obtained. No one in the home had bothered to look at it. He read the portion explaining the soul. It both shocked him and interested him. For a month he did not go to the Catholic church, but pondered over what he read. Then he looked up the Kingdom Hall and asked for more information. He was impressed, but he felt he should hear the other side again. He went to his Catholic priest and asked him a direct question, namely, Does the human soul go to heaven or hell after death? To his surprise the answer he got was, “When you die you just entrust your soul to God. That is all. Don’t worry about heaven or hell too much.” The priest made no attempt to defend the Catholic position. The interested man asked another direct question: Was man created or did he evolve? The priest told him that it was a scientifically established fact that man evolved and that the Genesis account of creation was only a myth. Then the priest asked if he had been in contact with Jehovah’s witnesses and warned him that he should not let them indoctrinate him. That was enough for this sincere Catholic man. He went to the Kingdom Hall again, this time to ask for a home Bible study. Since then, he, his wife, his mother and eleven of his family have become Jehovah’s witnesses, and now his brother’s family is also studying.
One of the sisters baptized at the assembly in Korea said: “I used to feel I could clean up six days’ wrong by attending church one day. I was known for my quick temper and fighting with my neighbors and my husband. When I began studying the Truth book it was not long before I realized that I needed to make some changes in my personality. I stopped going to church and began attending the meetings at the Kingdom Hall. I could really see the contrast between true Christians and the false, and I wanted to be like the brothers and sisters at the Kingdom Hall. I never missed a meeting after I started attending, and I began to try copying the mild personalities of the brothers. My neighbors and my husband noticed the change in me immediately. My husband now cooperated by coming home early on meeting nights to keep the house so that my children and I could attend the meetings. Now, after my baptism at the ‘Divine Victory’ assembly I feel I am a Christian seven days a week, not just on Sunday. My desire is to train my two children in the way of Jehovah, and I feel confident that my husband will also see the truth in time.”
Thailand is a country where a Christian has to be especially patient and enduring. After many years of hard work the service year started out with 436 publishers and finished with a peak of 468. Forty-five persons were baptized during the year. So it can be seen that a few accepted the teachings of Christ Jesus.
In Vietnam, when one looks back to the year 1957 when there were only five Witnesses announcing Jehovah’s kingdom, one has cause for happiness in that now there are ninety Witnesses preaching the good news of God’s kingdom in that country. The progress achieved has not been without obstacles, for this land has not known peace since 1939. Many people in Vietnam have been born and have died without knowing a single day of peace in their short lives. A number of our dedicated brothers and sisters have been put out of their Buddhist and Catholic homes by their parents because of their accepting the Bible truth. Others still live in divided households but maintain their integrity to Jehovah. Here, as in other parts of Asia, Jehovah’s witnesses are conscious of the fact that the work is not progressing as fast as in other nations. But with what means are at hand every effort is made to magnify Jehovah’s name and to declare the good news of the Kingdom.
Singapore, although having Jehovah’s witnesses under ban, continues to hear the good news of the Kingdom. The brothers feel free because the truth makes one free. The servants of Jehovah prudently use the literature for return visits and home Bible studies. They use just the Bible in their house-to-house ministry, and a goodly number of Bible studies are started.
One publisher reports that after the restrictions came on the work they followed the lead of the overseers in using only the Bible in the door-to-door work. After giving a sermon one reports: “I would come back once a week to help the individual further. In this way I have started more studies than it is possible for me to handle. In the past month I have had the privilege of conducting about twenty studies per week. Three of these have expressed themselves as wanting to become Christian witnesses of Jehovah.”
In Malaysia the highlight of the year was the “Divine Rulership” District Assembly. Six hundred were in attendance, including 150 from Singapore. The assembly was held under rather difficult conditions, however, because the authorities denied the brothers the required police permit just one day before the assembly was due to start. Thirty-one were baptized during this ‘defeat of persecution’ assembly.
Going farther west we arrive in India, and here the brothers have expanded the work into hitherto untouched territory. There are now four congregations organized in the Andaman Islands, and pioneers are serving in Nepal and Sikkim. With a population of 550 million people throughout India and only 4,000 publishers, it might appear to be impossible to find all the “sheep” still scattered in this vast subcontinent. But as the branch overseer expressed it, “We know the angels are supervising the ingathering work, and they know where to find and gather in those deserving ones.” He relates: “One day two strangers walked into our branch office and said they wanted to subscribe for The Watchtower in Hindi. They came from a town where there were no Witnesses, and where no work had been done. One of these men had been in Calcutta for some specialized training and one of the instructors was a witness for Jehovah who did some informal witnessing to his trainees. This man, on returning to his hometown, began talking to his workmates about what he was learning.” He told the brothers at the branch that now there is a group of one dozen meeting every week to study the Bible with the aid of the Truth book. The branch knew nothing of this, but now the circuit overseer will be visiting them regularly.
The now autonomous State of Bangladesh is part of the Indian branch territory, and the branch is trying to get Bengali-speaking pioneers into that part of the world. There are some technical difficulties to overcome, but passports have now been given to two Indian pioneers.
In Sri Lanka, the island south of India, there has been progress during the year. Fifty-six persons were baptized, and 907 were present at the Lord’s Evening Meal in April. The best results in helping people to gain a knowledge of the truth have been had in the area where the majority of the people are nominal Christians, especially Roman Catholics. Very few people yet have copies of even the “New Testament,” but they do have a yearning to read. With Jehovah’s witnesses calling on them and offering to teach them from the Bible, some very interesting experiences have developed. The truth has penetrated into the village of Bopitiya. A group study was started and it was not long before thirty were attending the meetings. The meeting attendance at the home used for a Kingdom Hall in Jaela has also increased to ninety. Jehovah’s blessing is evident on the work in this area, and our brothers there feel that there will be a very fine increase during the coming year.
In the country of Pakistan, to the northwest of India, the good news of the Kingdom continues to be preached, and a special pioneer sister reports that in the house-to-house work she contacted a Roman Catholic family of seven members. The English Truth book was used in the study along with the same chapters of the book that were printed in the Urdu Watchtower. Week by week the basic doctrines were handled, and great was their astonishment and appreciation for what they were learning. In two weeks’ time two of the daughters began to attend meetings. Shortly afterward the father began attending with the third daughter, and in just six months these four members of the formerly Roman Catholic family were sharing in declaring the good news and they enrolled in the Theocratic Ministry School.
Coming still farther west, we get to the Arab-speaking countries, and here we find very small groups of Jehovah’s witnesses, like 22 persons in Iran, 11 in Iraq, 14 in Kuwait, 35 in Jordan. There are larger numbers, like 161 in Syria and 1,483 in Lebanon. These are all preaching the Kingdom good news, but under very severe difficulties. Trying to present the message of God’s kingdom to Moslems is most difficult. Furthermore, conditions continue to be very tense in the Middle East. Those countries bordering on Israel have found that there is considerable guerrilla-type fighting in various parts of the country with commando raids. There is no question about the people of the countries very much feeling the need of peace and security. And so Jehovah’s witnesses are busy trying to tell them about how they can have these conditions.
Israel, of course, is the land where Jesus Christ walked about more than nineteen hundred years ago, preaching the good news of God’s kingdom. In this land today there are only 181 who profess to be Jehovah’s witnesses, and these are carrying on the ministry of God’s kingdom from house to house. How strange in comparison with the day of Pentecost when 3,000 were baptized in Jerusalem alone! It is very interesting, though, that during the summer of 1973 as many as 3,500 of Jehovah’s witnesses took advantage of tours arranged by the Watch Tower Society and visited this part of the world. Not only did they learn much about the ancient history of the land of Israel, but the travelers learned something about the modern-day activity of God’s servants there, meeting with the Israeli brothers.
Space does not allow to give all the details of the wonderful work being done in Europe. But just to mention a few of the happenings of the past year, there was a fine new addition made to the branch office in Finland. There have been some outstanding increases in Kingdom publishers in Spain, and the brothers are carrying on their preaching commission in a quiet and peaceful manner there. They are enjoying the protection and cooperation of all the authorities. Much fine work is being done behind the Iron Curtain. In the Scandinavian countries to the north in Europe and in Europe in general good progress has been made during the year. Of the Mediterranean area, it must be said that in Greece, Italy and Portugal to the west of Spain the work has prospered and has moved ahead wonderfully well.
The “Divine Victory” International Assemblies in Germany, France, England, Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy were blessings from Jehovah, and the information has been written up in the Watchtower magazine. All were outstanding events of the summer of 1973, and brought the work for the year to a fitting climax.
During the past year the same descriptions can be given to the work in North and South America and the islands of the sea. Jehovah’s rich blessing has been upon his witnesses in all these places, and fine progress has been made. All one needs to do to get an idea of what excellent work has been done is to review the chart beginning on page 24. By analyzing the figures there presented for each country regarding the peak in publishers and the number baptized, the hours spent in the field ministry, the home Bible studies conducted, one will see what was done world wide in the preaching of the good news of God’s kingdom.
As to the individual experiences of many of the publishers in many of these lands, some have had to undergo many problems and difficulties. However, our brothers in Africa have indeed suffered in the extreme in many instances. There are constant problems arising due to nationalism in most of the countries in the world. Jehovah’s witnesses everywhere take a neutral position and they are for God’s kingdom. They preach this world wide and look forward to divine victory. They certainly have enjoyed a rich feast of fat things during the past year at their “Divine Victory” assemblies throughout the earth, and this international series still continues in the southern hemisphere during the latter part of 1973 and the early part of 1974.
Briefly, now, let us look at the overall picture of the accomplishments of Jehovah’s witnesses world wide.
1973 WORLDWIDE REPORT
Probably it can best be summed up by saying that around the world 193,990 individuals dedicated their lives to serve Jehovah and were baptized. This in itself tells a tremendous story. Compared with last year, when there were 163,123 persons baptized, it is seen that the work moved ahead at a greatly accelerated pace, all to the honor of Jehovah’s name. To get the overall picture of what Jehovah’s witnesses did during the 1973 service year, it is suggested that you turn to the chart beginning on page 24. If you wish, you can analyze each country and see what increases or decreases were made in publishers during the year, how many were baptized, the time spent in the preaching work, the number of home Bible studies conducted, and this will give you some idea of the tremendous amount of work that was accomplished.
A brief summary of what took place world wide shows that 300,468,676 hours were spent in preaching the good news. The 1,656,673 publishers who were out in the field ministry each month, on the average, during the past service year conducted 1,209,544 home Bible studies each week. They called back to aid many other persons too, for during the year they made 131,657,832 return visits. All of this required a lot of work, and you can see that Jehovah’s witnesses were interested in turning the minds of the people to the Word of God.
To help them along these lines they also left literature in the homes of the people. They placed 21,761,877 bound books and 9,965,259 booklets discussing Bible topics. The Watchtower and Awake! magazines played a big part in providing reading material to interested persons, because 235,468,427 magazines were distributed. And in addition to that, 1,894,457 new subscriptions were obtained for The Watchtower and Awake! Jehovah’s witnesses urge everyone to subscribe for these magazines so that they will get immediate and continuous delivery right at their home of the fine information in the magazines.
Tuesday evening, April 17, 1973, was the outstanding day of the year for Jehovah’s witnesses. That was the day for the celebration of the Lord’s Evening Meal. At their Kingdom Halls on that evening there were 3,994,924 persons in attendance world wide, and 10,523, professing to be spirit-anointed Christians, partook of the emblems, the bread and the wine. During the past year 1,758,429 of these individuals who were in attendance engaged in the field service. This is the peak number of persons who have ever shared in the Kingdom work in some manner, from house to house or on the streets or by speaking to friends and neighbors and who reported their activity to the congregations of Jehovah’s witnesses. Of this number, 94,604, on an average each month, engaged in the pioneer work.
Under the direction of 95 branch offices that look after the work in 208 different lands and islands of the sea, there are 31,850 congregations established, compared with 28,407 just a year ago. So, many more congregations were established and enlarged because of the great influx of people who have fled from Babylon the Great and are now desirous of proclaiming the Kingdom good news.
Jehovah’s witnesses world wide have good cause to rejoice. “Although the fig tree itself may not blossom,” and ‘even though now they smart for a little while, if need be, under trials of many kinds,’ all of them have “cause for great joy” and each one will say, “I will exult in Jehovah himself.”—Hab. 3:17, 18; 1 Pet. 1:6, NE.
[Chart on pages 24-31]
1973 SERVICE YEAR REPORT OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES WORLDWIDE