1975 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses
The apostle Paul, in the closing remarks of his second letter to the Corinthian congregation, said: “Finally, brothers, continue to rejoice, to be readjusted, to be comforted, to think in agreement, to live peaceably; and the God of love and of peace will be with you. The undeserved kindness of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the sharing [Greek, koi·no·niʹa] in the holy spirit be with all of you.” (2 Cor. 13:11, 14) Like Paul, the elders in the 34,576 congregations of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses around the world are keenly interested in helping all to think as one, to be in agreement, and to live peaceably. Jehovah’s witnesses everywhere have observed that the undeserved kindness of Jesus Christ has been upon them and the love of God has been with them, and there has been a sharing in the holy spirit. The dedicated servants of Jehovah have not only been interested in themselves and seeing to it that they gain a clearer understanding of God’s written Word, which God reveals through his spirit, but they have been very much interested in helping everyone else possible by sharing the good news of God’s kingdom with them.
Jehovah God wants us to have a sharing with him, to have things in common with him. That is why he has revealed his purpose both by sending his Son to earth and by his written Word. The apostle John was one to whom Jehovah revealed many things, and he writes to us: “That which we have seen and heard we are reporting also to you, that you too may be having a sharing with us. Furthermore, this sharing of ours is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And so we are writing these things that our joy may be in full measure.” (1 John 1:3, 4) John did not stop at just sharing this precious relationship and these truths with those already a part of the congregation. He continued to move out into the field that Christ Jesus had started to cultivate, along with the other apostles and early members of the body of Christ. They continued to plant and to water, and “God kept making it grow.”—1 Cor. 3:6, 7.
Having the knowledge that Jehovah reveals concerning his purposes places a real responsibility upon all those who dedicate their lives to Jehovah. They can no longer walk in darkness, as they did while in the world, but they must walk in the light, just as John said: “And this is the message which we have heard from him and are announcing to you, that God is light and there is no darkness at all in union with him. If we make the statement: ‘We are having a sharing with him,’ and yet we go on walking in the darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth.” (1 John 1:5, 6) How wonderful it is that Jehovah has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light! So we are “having a sharing with him” and we want to work together with him. If we are working together with God we should see results, and Jehovah’s witnesses have seen results this past year.
Not only have Jehovah’s witnesses become stronger spiritually but they have kept walking in the light, thus setting the proper example for hundreds of thousands of other people. They have aided people of all kinds to gain an approved relationship with Jehovah and to share with them in doing God’s will. They agree with John, who wrote: “However, if we are walking in the light as he himself is in the light, we do have a sharing with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”—1 John 1:7.
Jehovah’s Christian witnesses, who have been very active during the 1974 service year, know that during this period they have helped at least 297,872 persons to begin walking in the light along with them. They have been delighted to share the truth with these new ones, which truth has been revealed to them by holy spirit. As a result, these 297,872 have dedicated their lives to do the will of God and have been baptized, and they are now associating with God’s people in 207 different countries and islands of the sea. In the 34,576 congregations of Jehovah’s witnesses there are now 2,021,432 active proclaimers of the good news, working together to get the preaching of God’s kingdom accomplished before the “great tribulation” breaks forth. They have ‘plenty to do in the work of the Lord, and they know that their labor is not in vain in connection with the Lord.’ (1 Cor. 15:58) Briefly, we might take a look at what has happened in different parts of the world to see what is being done and consider some of the experiences these Witnesses have had. We might best do this by continents.
The past year witnessed a marvelous increase in the number of publishers throughout this vast continent. There are over 292,000 persons who are declaring the good news in Africa, and they are associated with about 6,350 congregations scattered in all the countries of Africa. What a joy it has been to the publishers of the Kingdom here to see over 35,500 newly interested persons dedicate their lives to Jehovah God and get baptized this past year. In this joyful work they have had some interesting experiences.
While the work is banned in Cameroon, Jehovah’s witnesses are by no means inactive. They still have their faith. They still study the Bible and they still speak to people about the good news of God’s kingdom. They were very active publicly before the ban came on, but now they take advantage of the opportunities for informal witnessing. They also conduct a lot of home Bible studies with people who want to know what we understand the Bible to teach. Jehovah’s witnesses are still there and are still working and still walking in the light.
In Ghana they have had their second full year of operating the printery in Accra. They are printing the Watchtower magazine in Ewe, Ga and Twi. There were as many as 19,445 preachers of the good news in Ghana, and they enjoyed good experiences. One day one of Jehovah’s witnesses found an envelope on the bus and, instead of mailing it to the owner, decided to take it to the person. When the brother presented the envelope to the owner, the man was speechless. He wanted to give the brother a reward, but the brother refused it. He said that if he wanted money he would have kept the cash in the first place. Then the man declared that, if everyone had that kind of neighborly affection, the world would be a better place. The result was a fine Bible discussion.
Interestingly, the man’s wife had studied with one of Jehovah’s witnesses but had stopped because of her husband’s opposition. In fact, she was the one who had lost the envelope and her husband had heaped angry words upon her. But now when the wife returned home that evening her children rushed to meet her to tell her what had happened. Of course, she soon found out that the one who returned the envelope was one of Jehovah’s witnesses. As a result, a home Bible study has been resumed in that home, this time including the husband and all the children. At last report all were making good progress in gaining knowledge of Jehovah’s purposes.
In the Volta region a publisher was given an allotment of Kingdom News tracts to distribute. He chose some distant villages in which to place the tracts. But he found that he did not have sufficient copies to go around. So he mailed one tract to each of the elders or chiefs in the villages that he could not reach. On the envelope he wrote in the Ewe language: “Very Important.” At the bottom of the front page of the tract he wrote: “Please gather the whole of your family, both young and old, and read this tract to them. The message is very important.” In one village the chief gathered all the people in the village and he had his grandson read the tract to all present. Each time a Bible text was mentioned, another person would open the Bible and read the scripture aloud. After hearing the whole message about the world crisis all became disturbed, since no one could give any satisfactory answers to the questions that were raised in the tract. A delegation from the village was sent to contact the publisher, begging him to come to the village so that they could learn more. What a joy for the congregation to arrange to do just that!
In the Ivory Coast, too, the truth really touches the hearts of some. This is the way one man reacted: During the individual’s one-month vacation he had the opportunity to study the Bible with one of Jehovah’s witnesses, and as a result of this one month of study of the book The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life he knew that he would have to legalize his marriage in order to live as a true Christian. So he sent his wife and three children to their home village so as not to live with them until he could be legally married. In the meantime he continued to study. He quit his secular work because it did not conform to Bible principles, and he found other work. Within a month he was able to arrange his affairs to legalize his marriage. After that he started to share in the field service, preaching the good news that he was learning. Seven months after his first study, the newly interested individual was already conducting twelve Bible studies of his own. All twelve attend the congregation meetings and two of them are already sharing in the field service. What a joy it was for the publisher to see this newly dedicated brother baptized at the “Divine Victory” assembly!
Kenya is very much alive with Jehovah’s witnesses today. During a short period of time in 1973 there was a ban on the work of Jehovah’s witnesses. But this was all put aside by the government and a very successful series of circuit assemblies followed. Then in December of 1973 the “Divine Victory” International Assembly was held in Nairobi, the capital city, with a peak attendance of 4,588 and with 209 persons baptized.
The branch office was opened again and, while the former workers in the branch had had to leave, the African brothers have learned to take care of many things. Jehovah’s spirit is powerful, and up to the present, under their direction and with Jehovah’s help, good progress is being made. A goodly amount of literature was shipped in during the year. New translations of publications are being made and the brothers there are hoping soon to receive new publications.
The Ethiopian brothers were also able to attend the international assembly in Nairobi, and they rejoice now to have the entire book The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life, as well as the book True Peace and Security—From What Source? in Amharic, and also parts of other publications. There are still a number of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses who are imprisoned because they have been preaching the Bible. This was due to the hostile action of the Ethiopian Church. One special pioneer has been held in prison for almost a year. The brothers, though, are not discouraged. They count it an honor to suffer for Christ’s sake.
In Liberia a brother serving as a supervisor of an adult education program was invited to take the job of assistant director of the national program. This would have required him to move to the capital city; it would also have been a time-consuming job. But it would have brought him a higher salary, more dignity, and opportunity to attend foreign conferences. However, the brother had just been appointed as the presiding overseer of the congregation, and he decided that it was more important to take care of the “sheep” entrusted to him. He put Kingdom interests first. He declined the offer, saying: “I have been appointed as presiding overseer to shepherd the flock of God, which I consider to be the most important work for a Christian. Leaving the congregation to accept a directory post in Monrovia would be seeking self-gratification. To me this would be spiritually detrimental in the eyes of God.” This brother wanted to share spiritual things with his small congregation in the interior of Liberia. What a fine spirit for an elder to have!
The work in Morocco continues in its second year under ban, but the brothers are very strong spiritually. It was necessary for quite a few Europeans to move out, so there was a decrease of about twenty publishers during the year. However, an interesting report comes from one Witness saying that relatives from France whom they had not seen for eleven years came to visit them in Morocco. The Witnesses decided to carry on their program of life exactly as they always did. Their meal was started with prayer. The following morning the visiting couple were included in a discussion of the daily text, and again prayer was offered before breakfast. A good discussion of the Bible was had during the day, and in the evening when a book study was conducted in the home the relatives were invited to attend. Before their return to France they were told that there would be an international assembly of Jehovah’s witnesses there in August. They attended the assembly and were impressed by the atmosphere of brotherly love. They obtained several publications, including the Yearbook, and continued considering the daily text as they had in their cousin’s home in Morocco. The husband gave up smoking and in a short time they enrolled in the Theocratic Ministry School and started in the field service. A little over a year later they were both baptized. Sharing the Word of God brought great joy to both parties.
Nigeria now has more Kingdom publishers than any country other than the United States. The latest report from Nigeria shows that 100,898 are sharing their knowledge of God’s Word with others in Nigeria. The Bethel family is delighted with their new factory, which is now supplying all the congregations with magazines. Persons who accept the truth leave behind their old personality with its practices. Two brothers were preaching to a young boy and gave him a lot of help. The father of the boy told the brothers that if anyone could change the bad habits of his son it would be Jehovah’s witnesses. “Why do you say this?” one of the brothers asked. The man pointed to his partner, John, and said that John was like his son before he became one of Jehovah’s witnesses, but now look at the change! John had been a fighter and troublemaker all his life. He was fined eleven times in one year for fighting. But when he started to listen to the truth, within a short period he made his mind over completely, much to the amazement of the local people.
In Rhodesia one of the very encouraging features of the past year’s activities has been the response to the call to serve where the need is greatest within the country. Each month for several months the Kingdom Ministry published in Rhodesia carried a list of three places where much help was needed. The brothers responded enthusiastically, with the result that many new places have been opened up, and now, instead of 462 congregations in Rhodesia, we have 513.
Tobacco in Rhodesia is a number one export product, and quite understandably many of the brothers have been affected by what was published in the Watchtower magazine about tobacco. While only a few were involved in personal use of tobacco, literally hundreds have been involved in its production. When the brothers left this work because of their determination to have employment that would not bring Jehovah’s disapproval whole congregations folded up. Many have returned to their tribal trust lands, isolated territories, and they are happy to share the truth with the people in those areas who have not heard it. Right now the Word of God is being preached in more areas within Rhodesia’s boundaries than ever before.
In Mozambique there are still around 36,000 Malawian brothers and sisters and people who fled with them living in refugee camps. The government authorities care for our brothers by giving them a place to stay, and food has been provided regularly along with medical supplies. The brothers have been allotted land that they can cultivate, so that they are able to raise their own food, and they should eventually become self-supporting. In June of 1974 the government allotted three large new areas in the northwest part of Mozambique where the brothers can settle. So it appears now that our brothers have sufficient land on which to raise their crops to take care of themselves. Many left the large camp at Mlangeni and moved to other locations.
Throughout the year circuit assemblies have been held, circuit overseers have visited the congregations inside the camps and this has resulted in improved quality in their meetings. As the service year ended the refugee brothers were eagerly looking forward to the thirteen assemblies arranged in the refugee camps so that they, along with their brothers throughout the world, could enjoy the fine program of the “Divine Purpose” District Assembly.
There are still about twenty brothers in prison in Malawi. On April 8, 1974, one of the brothers in prison was released and the prison warden told him to flee quickly to the Portuguese territory. He is now safe in one of the refugee camps. The brothers in the camps have continued their preaching and teaching work. Many people fled from Malawi when Jehovah’s witnesses were so cruelly persecuted, and the brothers have shared the truth with them. During the year 1,965 new brothers and sisters were baptized in the refugee camps. So good work is being done.
In Sierra Leone it is the custom among Kissi-speaking people that, if a girl sees a man she fancies, she may call out to him, “Liilanndoo,” which literally means, “Can I escort you?” If the man is interested he will give her kola nuts, and from this point one’s marriage arrangements can be started. One day two brothers, one already married, were engaging in the field service when a girl ran behind them saying, “Liilanndoo,” she taking a fancy to one of the brothers. The brothers did not want the worldly girl to follow them, nor did they have any intention of giving her kola nuts. So they stopped and gave her a witness concerning God’s kingdom. She expressed keen interest in the promised new system of things. Arrangements were made for the married brother’s wife to start a Bible study with the girl. Within a few months this girl dedicated her life to Jehovah and is a very active publisher. Needless to say, she has not been saying “Liilanndoo” to any strange men since coming into Jehovah’s clean organization.
In South Africa the most outstanding event of the year was the international convention in Johannesburg. Sunday afternoon of the convention there was a never-to-be-forgotten sight for the brothers in South Africa. The Rand Stadium was packed out with 33,408 African, Colored (mulatto), Indian and white brothers for the first real international gathering of Jehovah’s witnesses in South Africa. It was most truly a divine victory, because Jehovah made it possible for people of all races and languages in South Africa, with hundreds of visitors from overseas, to get together in one happy, united throng. It was an exciting experience! It was a sharing of the truth with people of many tongues, and everyone was simply bubbling over with joy.
The brothers in South Africa have their problems, though. Especially the European brothers are under pressure because of their neutral stand. More than one hundred young brothers are serving fifteen-month sentences in detention barracks because of the military issue. Hundreds of European children have been expelled from school because of refusing to share in drilling, flag saluting and singing the national anthem. At the same time hundreds of African children were expelled from school because they refused to share in prayers and singing hymns of false religion. In spite of these problems the brothers are strong and are determined to share the good news of the Kingdom with all persons.
In Togo Republic permission cannot be obtained to have district or circuit assemblies. But some of the brothers were able to go to Accra to attend the assembly there. However, so that all the brothers might share the spiritual food the branch in Togo Republic mimeographed the entire program of the assembly and sent a copy to each congregation, asking them to arrange for special meetings in which this material could be presented. The smaller congregations were to work with larger nearby congregations so that all would be able to share the spiritual food provided by Jehovah’s organization. This proved to be very successful and a source of very fine instruction and encouragement.
ISLANDS OF THE SEA
The people who live on the islands of the sea are not being overlooked in the preaching of the Kingdom good news. Many of them are called on regularly. In Hawaii, for example, the territory is being covered approximately twice a month; some congregations cover theirs once every three or four days. Making good use of their opportunities for field service, they call, not only at the homes, but also at places of business, and they witness to tourists on the streets.
Where the islands are scattered, special effort is put forth to share the “good news” with the people. In the Marshall Islands district of Micronesia, a group of nine publishers set out on a twenty-four-day trip on a copra ship, witnessing wherever the boat stopped. Their congregation aided them by providing food supplies. One of the stops they made was at Kili. The people living here were moved from Bikini Atoll at the time of the U.S. atomic bomb tests there. On landing, the publishers promptly worked the whole village with Kingdom News tract No. 16 and invited the people to hear an explanation of the subject that afternoon. The response was gratifying; seventy-two persons showed up, mostly adults. The meeting was held in a cool spot under the pandanus trees and the people sat on the sand. After the talk, questions from the audience were answered, and there was appreciative response.
The island of Malta is, religiously speaking, almost completely Roman Catholic. So, when a temporary pioneer sister was asked by a householder, “Is this Catholic?” she was not surprised. Knowing that in nine cases out of ten a negative answer would have ended the conversation, she replied tactfully, “This is a Catholic Bible that we are using.” The householder persisted, “Are you a Catholic?” The sister replied frankly, “No, we are Jehovah’s witnesses.” Understandably she was surprised when the householder responded, “Oh, well, in that case, you had better come inside.” After the first call, persistence was required to find the interested person at home again, but then a Bible study was started. In a short time the woman was sharing in the field service, and her first month’s field service report showed 50 hours and 2 home Bible studies of her own. On the same island a young girl first heard the truth when visiting the home of a friend. Despite family opposition, she made rapid progress in her study of the truth and, even before baptism, was regularly devoting between 70 and 80 hours in the field service each month.
New Zealand reports that the past year has been very eventful for them. Besides completing a new addition to the branch office, they enjoyed their “Divine Victory” District Assembly at Christchurch. They also had a fine time distributing the Kingdom News. And, according to the branch report, 1,077 persons were baptized during the year, which means that one seventh of all their Kingdom proclaimers came into the truth during the past twelve months.
Jehovah’s witnesses in Hong Kong have had a fine year in Kingdom service. Sometimes when an individual learns the truth in a land where there is deep, even reverent, respect for ancestors and members of one’s immediate family, it is very difficult. One young nominal Catholic lady, upon learning the truth, disposed of all her religious pictures and objects and wrote a letter to the church asking them to remove her name from the membership roll. But her father insisted that she continue to take part in the family ceremonies connected with ancestor worship. This she could not do and she made every effort to explain. She was given the choice by her father of either worshiping her ancestors or being cut off from the family. It was a difficult decision for this young lady who truly loved her father. She asked Jehovah for strength and then told her father of her decision. The father refused to recognize her as a daughter any longer. He would not even allow her to call him “father.” It proved to be most trying for this young lady to live in a home where everyone ignored her. But with the passing of time the father did observe his daughter’s fine conduct and came to admire her firmness in her new faith. Now their original relationship is restored. The young woman has been baptized, has shared in the temporary pioneer service and is making plans for the regular pioneer service.
In India, too, there are those steeped in false religious teachings that come in touch with the truth and make vast changes in their lives. There is a certain sect of Hindus that wear a symbol of phallic worship around their necks. A temple poojari (priest) of this sect was witnessed to and he took the Truth book. He was impressed by what he read and soon agreed to a Bible study. The result was most interesting. Both he and his family removed the phallic emblem from their bodies, cleared their house of idols and religious pictures of Hindu mythologies, and are now attending meetings at the Kingdom Hall.
Japan had a wonderful year of progress! There were 7,456 persons baptized during the service year, and 134 new congregations were formed. Thousands have been imbued with the pioneer spirit. Twenty-nine percent of all the publishers in Japan at the present time are pioneers. Japan enjoyed a 61-percent increase in publishers in August when a new peak of 26,355 publishers was reached. Nearly all the congregations average more than twenty hours per publisher each month in preaching the Kingdom good news.
With the release of the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures in Japanese there was much joy among the brothers. And the new factory in Numazu is putting out the Watchtower and Awake! magazines at such a rate that the Society has arranged for the purchase of another rotary press to keep up with the demand.
Even young persons can display love for Jehovah. As an example, one eleven-year-old boy baptized in Tokyo has been conducting Bible studies in the book From Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained since the age of four and has already aided one older person to come to the point of baptism.
At the close of the service year Korea, too, reports a splendid year of activity. They reached a peak of 26,474 publishers. Jehovah’s witnesses in Korea are alert to follow up all interest promptly. A publisher in Chonju met a responsive woman of about sixty years of age. The publisher said he would call again. The lady explained she did not live in that neighborhood, but mentioned the general neighborhood where she lived. A few days later the publisher covered that entire neighborhood, so as to find this interested person. A study was started and the woman studied every morning very early before starting off on her day’s work. By the time she finished the third chapter of the Truth book she had given up her superstitious practices in spite of initial opposition from her family. Even before her baptism she was spending one hundred hours a month in the preaching work. She is now a regular pioneer conducting thirteen home Bible studies. Through her efforts twenty-two of her relatives are studying with Jehovah’s witnesses.
The people of the Philippine Islands certainly have responded to the truth. There were 15,059 persons baptized during the past year, and a new peak of 76,671 publishers was reached. One of them not long ago was a young man holding a degree in philosophy, a sincere Catholic and vice-president of the Student Catholic Action organization, who was often disturbed by religious hypocrisy. In college his roommate had many unclean habits and this person tried unsuccessfully many times to get his roommate to reform. Then five months after leaving college, when he met his roommate again, he got a real surprise. He saw a tremendous change in his former roommate. Impressed with the effect that studying God’s Word with Jehovah’s witnesses had on his roommate’s life in just a few months’ time, he too undertook a study of the Bible. Then, after associating with Jehovah’s witnesses, he commented: “If these young men of unknown educational attainment have succeeded where we failed with all of our so-called learning, then here is wisdom far superior to what I have studied in college.” This sincere former Catholic is now a baptized publisher of the good news of the Kingdom.
The declaring of the good news of the Kingdom throughout Europe met with good success. In the twenty countries west of the Iron Curtain there were 452,353 active preachers of the good news, and their sharing this with the people of all these nations resulted in 56,845 being baptized and joining with Jehovah’s witnesses in this great work of helping others to understand the reason for all the trouble and distress in the world and what the ultimate outcome will be. There are now 6,928 congregations in Europe, and the brothers have had some very delightful experiences.
From Denmark we learn that while those accepting the truth today are usually younger people, we should never feel that the older persons will not be receptive too. One publisher studied for three years with a sincere elderly couple. After studying the book The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life they finally began to attend many meetings at the Kingdom Hall. They were deeply shaken when they saw how many clergymen deny God’s Word. Seeing the contrast between their church and the new association, they withdrew from the church organization. These two individuals are eighty-two and eight-four years old. The wife has been blind since she was seventy-six years of age, but she has a good memory and recalls many parts of the Bible. This has helped her greatly in her study of the Word of God. How happy they are to be sharing the truth with others, and in their old age they were baptized!
In Finland Jehovah’s witnesses are very delighted with their new printing plant, a large addition having been made to what they already had. They are distributing over 200,000 bound books a year and millions of magazines, and, through the sharing of the truth with others, more than 1,300 persons were baptized last year. Some of them first heard the truth through informal witnessing. A young dedicated person was working in a clothing store where there was a staff of about thirty. It seemed as though everyone there was very young and this caused the sister to think they would not be interested in the truth. Often the employees would talk about how much they enjoyed blood pancakes, but the young sister did not want to start in on a controversial subject with them. However, in time the subject of Christmas came up. One of the employees wanted to know what she was going to buy her husband for Christmas, and she said, “Nothing.” Well, this gave her an opportunity to explain the origin of Christmas. Interest was aroused. The employee lived in the same direction from the store as the sister, so they traveled together and talked. But where could they have a study? The employee’s husband objected to the truth, so the study was eventually arranged in the café during their lunch period. Sometimes in the summer they studied in the park, some weeks she conducted the study on the way to work and other weeks on the way home from work. Another one joined in the study and soon both were attending meetings. Both are now dedicated sisters, also another person working at the store has been baptized. All the staff now know who they are and there are more opportunities to witness. So it is beneficial when we share the truth with those around us.
The 1974 service year has been a wonderful one for the brothers in France. They rejoice over their 15-percent increase in publishers. The branch overseer writes that another one of the big events of the year was when they received the French edition of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. The brothers “exploded” with joy!
Germany enjoyed a year filled to the brim with blessings. The prospects of further expansion in the factory and Bethel home have thrilled the Bethel family. They are now looking forward to doubling their production of literature during the 1975 service year. The German printing plant at Wiesbaden has the privilege of supplying many of the brothers in Europe with literature, and it is hoped that during the next twelve months they will also be able to supply Italy and France with some new publications. West Germany now has 98,382 publishers; West Berlin operates separately inside of East Germany and they have 5,555 publishers in West Berlin. It is good to see the steady increase due to the sharing of the good news in these areas.
Greece has had its troubles with a change of government. It is still necessary to continue holding meetings with only a few attending in private homes. But what the families are studying and their belief and the effect they have on neighbors are truly telling. There is an interesting experience of a little boy who showed the right Christian conduct. Little John was playing outside his home when a neighbor woman called him and gave him money and asked him to go to the nearby store to buy her some cigarettes. The young lad said: “Aunt Katina, let me go to the grocer’s and buy for you whatever you like, sugar, coffee, macaroni, but no cigarettes.” “Why no cigarettes?” asked Aunt Katina. Because cigarettes do harm; they cause cancer, and I love you, Aunt, and do not like to do any harm to you.” The neighbor was impressed and looked for John’s mother. After a discussion about the child’s upbringing and this matter of cigarette smoking, John’s mother got a home Bible study started with her neighbor and all the family. Good progress is being made and they are learning the truth.
Another milestone has been reached for the Italian witnesses of Jehovah. In 1954 there were 2,587 publishers. In 1964, the report showed 8,774. And in 1974 there were 41,141. Just this last year they increased by over 10,000. The people in this Catholic country are anxious now to have Jehovah’s witnesses share the truth of God’s Word with them, they are listening to it and they, in turn, are sharing it with others. As in many other parts of the world during this past service year, Italy distributed Kingdom News Nos. 16, 17 and 18. The brothers responded in a wonderful way. There was great excitement and enthusiasm during the distribution. New publishers joined in this work. More Bible studies were started. Those who started out with tract distribution did not stop there. They continued, using The Watchtower the Awake! magazine and the books. They want to share the good things they have learned with as many people as they possibly can. One family received Kingdom News No. 17, with the result that sixteen persons in that particular family and relatives got interested in the truth, and four of them shared in the distribution of Kingdom News No. 18. The truth is powerful, and it makes the hearts of Jehovah’s witnesses everywhere happy to see the great influx of people who are fleeing from Babylon the Great.
In Portugal the brothers feel just like Paul, who wrote: “But thanks be to God who always leads us in a triumphal procession in company with the Christ and makes the odor of the knowledge of him perceptible through us in every place!” (2 Cor. 2:14) Yes, the preaching of the good news was accomplished in a magnificent way in Portugal during the past year. Eight consecutive publisher peaks were enjoyed from September to April, and then in June there was another peak of 13,111. We should keep in mind that the work in Portugal was banned under the old regime. Now that the government has changed there appears to be more freedom and the brothers can meet more freely. The service year started out with some of the brothers being arrested in five different cities and charged with ‘illegal’ meetings. Three of these cases were heard in court, but the judges rendered decisions in two of them clearly in favor of religious freedom, acquitting the accused. And on April 25, 1974, a new regime took over the country, thus ending forty-eight years of dictatorship. The new government declared freedom of expression and the restitution of civil rights. As far back as November 14, 1972, Jehovah’s witnesses in Portugal made a request for legal recognition and it is sincerely hoped now that the present government will act favorably on the papers filed so that the preaching of the good news can go ahead without any interference.
While a circuit overseer was visiting a congregation in Stockholm, Sweden, he did some witnessing with magazines on a busy street corner. He especially noticed one young couple. The wife went into a shop and the man sat outside. The publisher did not approach the man right away as he did not look too inviting; he wore long hair and was heavily bearded. Suddenly there was no one else on the street to talk to, so he handed the individual a handbill for a public meeting. The man read it thoroughly and then said: ‘This is really remarkable, that you invited me to a Bible lecture.’ Then he explained to the publisher: ‘Three months ago I began to wonder if life had any meaning; everything is looking so hopeless. The world cannot have many years left. So I bought a Bible because I heard someone say that these difficulties in the world were foretold there. But it is difficult to find what is written in that book. Do you know if it says so in the Bible?’ The publisher then showed him the book True Peace and Security—From What Source? and directed his attention to “What Will Be the Sign?” A good discussion was had, and later a visit was made on this young couple. A Bible study was started and then it was turned over to a local brother. The truth must be shared with all kinds of people, and we should not hesitate to do so.
Behind the Iron Curtain, too, our brothers continue to share the good news of the Kingdom with others. The pressures that come upon them from governmental sources vary from place to place, but they use all the means that are open to them to reach the people with the truth from God’s Word. In one of these lands there was a marvelous response to the invitation to enter the temporary pioneer ranks at vacation time. Many whole families and study groups arranged to do this and traveled to outlying territories to work. The weather proved to be very rainy, but this had its advantage. As a sister explained to one householder who was complaining about the rain: “Well, we do not mind the rain so much, because we are sure to find many people at home.” In one area where previously the response to the message had been poor, many people in the village gathered in the open air and a brother was able to deliver a talk to them, after which several asked to be called on in their homes. In another area a brother who was temporary pioneering reported: “The people in general were favorably inclined, only rarely did any refuse to listen to our sermon. We were able to get into every home and often we were invited to sit down.” In that same land a pioneer sister reports that from the studies she is currently conducting there are thirty-six persons who are seriously interested, among whom are nine men who are ready to get started in the field service.
In another land behind the Iron Curtain massive atheistic indoctrination over a period of many years has made it hard for people to accept anything having to do with God or the Bible. Often they react antagonistically or even violently. The publishers have to be ingenious in order to circumvent the prejudice so the people will listen. In one case an elderly Witness couple received the address of a woman who had shown some interest in the truth. The husband of the woman was very much opposed, as were other family members. So the brothers would meet with her for study elsewhere. In time she accepted the truth and got baptized. Now they discussed with their new sister ways and means for them to approach her husband. They arranged for the brother to call on him under the pretense of wanting to buy a few rabbits for breeding. The brother was to call on a certain day just before the noon meal. Things worked out as planned. The husband invited the brother to eat with them, and they had a long talk about rabbit breeding that ended with a few thoughts from the Bible. The husband invited the brother to visit him again in order to continue their discussion about rabbits, but this talk soon turned into a discussion of Bible truths. A third visit convinced the householder of the need to learn more of God’s truth. Next time the brother brought his wife along, and they, in turn, invited the householder to visit with them in their home. A regular Bible study was started. Soon the interest in everlasting life in God’s new order became much greater than the interest in rabbit breeding. The changed attitude of the husband also helped to get other members of the family to take an interest in the Bible’s message.
Another married couple in this atheistic land were pursuing materialistic pleasures to the hilt, indulging in all kinds of debaucheries. But they found no real satisfaction. The woman contemplated suicide and her husband was not far from such a state of mind. He then remembered his fleshly brother, who was one of Jehovah’s witnesses. They decided to make a trip to visit him. Their stay with him completely changed their outlook on life. They accepted the truth and found real purpose in living—serving God according to his standards, with the hope of everlasting life under his righteous kingdom.
In yet another land behind the Iron Curtain a thirty-year-old member of the Communist party was employed as a chauffeur. He had various goods to deliver but he would steal some of the things. On one occasion he was observed by an elderly Witness who asked him why he was doing such a thing. The young man answered that it did not make any difference, since the goods belonged to the State and the government was rich. The brother asked him whether there were any of Jehovah’s witnesses in his village, and the young man remembered having heard about an elderly woman there. The brother proceeded to give him a simple witness about honesty at one’s place of employment. The young man asked: “Are you one of Jehovah’s witnesses?” The brother said that he was. And the young man replied: “How is it, then, that your conduct is so good? I heard that Jehovah’s witnesses are very bad people and a burden to society.” A fine discussion ensued and the young man showed interest in learning more about the Bible. The brother obtained a Bible for him and soon the young man was making good progress. In time he wrote a declaration in which he stated that he was no longer going to be active in the political organization because he had become one of Jehovah’s witnesses. Alter he turned in his statement he was given notification that he had been fired from his job. The young man had no fear. Following this he was called to a security office, but he did not shrink back. He only requested that someone be allowed to come along with him to drive his car back home in case something would happen to him. Two persons went with him. When he arrived he was received by four men. He was asked: “Have you reconsidered and are you going to change your course?” The young man answered: “No!” The reply of the four men was hard to believe: “All right. Give us your Party membership book and you can go!” The young man and the two persons with him were amazed. Now that young man is a baptized Witness, and a courageous one.
From Alaska in the far north right on down through Canada, Newfoundland, the United States, Mexico and the Central American countries a very marvelous witness was given. On the North American continent now there are 692,327 publishers, and during the year 106,502 were baptized. There was truly a sharing of the truth with many others on this continent. There are now 10,383 congregations serving from Alaska to Panama.
In Canada plans were worked out for building a new Kingdom Hall on the property of the Society in Toronto and for enlarging the printing plant. This is necessary to take care of the fine witness that continues to spread throughout all that land. It is interesting to note that a French-language newspaper in Montreal featured an article entitled “As Religion Goes Down, Jehovah’s Witnesses Move Ahead.” The first paragraph of the article stated: “Whereas traditional religions are on the wane, with their churches getting emptier all the time, Jehovah’s Witnesses are experiencing increased membership and are even acquiring former church buildings and other facilities in which to gather their new members.” Jehovah’s witnesses’ sharing the truth with others is making big changes in Canada.
Next to the United States, Mexico has the greatest number of publishers of any country on the North American continent. They have now reached a new peak of 71,007, and during the year 13,678 were baptized. Many people in Mexico are having experiences similar to this one: ‘Through the book The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life I learned that the name of the true God is Jehovah. I took note that Jehovah does not like images in worship, so I immediately went to the altar in our home and told my wife: “None of this is any good; it is false; we are going to take it away.”’ While she looked on in surprise the man began to take down all the religious pictures, but he did not know what to do with them. He went out into the street and to the first person that came by he said: ‘Take these, you can have them all.’ He says, ‘We then thought, if Jehovah does not like images to be worshiped, then we should look for some church in which to worship.’ ‘We began to go to different ones but I was not satisfied. I told my wife that we would go to no more but that Jehovah would help us to find the right place. I prayed: “Oh, Jehovah, hear my prayer; teach me to do your will, for you are my God.” (Ps. 143:1, 10) A few days later while I was at work, some publishers spoke to my wife when they were going from door to door. My wife told them that we wanted to know where we could praise and worship Jehovah, so they left the address of the meeting hall. After that our whole life changed. We began sharing the truth with others.’
In Nicaragua the rebuilding of the Kingdom Halls and homes of the brothers in the Managua area moved ahead after the earthquake there. The economic conditions made living very difficult. However, the spiritual progress on the part of Jehovah’s witnesses has been truly amazing and thrilling to see. The majority of the fourteen congregations in the Managua area are still meeting in buildings with cracked walls or just under a galvanized roof in some patio. Interestingly, the attendance at these meetings has doubled since last year. The brothers had a 20-percent increase over last year’s average of publishers. They now have 2,689 sharing the truth with others, and 417 were baptized.
The outstanding event in South America was the “Divine Victory” International Assembly, which began in December and ran through January throughout all the countries of that continent. The thirteen nations of that great continent now have 179,974 publishers, and during the last twelve months 33,459 were baptized. There are 3,161 congregations scattered from the north to the south and the east to the west, and marvelous progress continues.
Argentina is enjoying great expansion. When the distribution of the Kingdom News began in February many persons joined with Jehovah’s witnesses in putting these tracts out. One elderly lady received the tract and requested from the Society the book True Peace and Security—From What Source?, which was sent to her address, and the congregation was notified of her interest. She was very much impressed with the prompt attention that Jehovah’s witnesses gave her. On the first visit a study was organized with this lady and, at eighty years of age, she is progressing very nicely.
Jehovah’s witnesses in Brazil had a wonderful year too. What will be remembered most is the “Divine Victory” International Assembly held in the Pacaembu Stadium in São Paulo at the end of December. The attendance at that time was 94,586. The assembly had a tremendous impact on the city and especially upon those who were interested in the truth. Immediately following the assembly, new peaks of publishers were reached, the first one in February—79,030. But in March, with the distribution of Kingdom News No. 16, the publishers reached 86,257. During June when the next issue of Kingdom News was distributed, 90,599 participated in sharing the good news with others.
When the 1974 service year began, paralyzing strikes, violence and unrest were part of day-to-day living in Chile. In every city there were long lines of people waiting to buy bread and other necessities; housewives spent an average of six hours a day in such lineups. Well, before the time for the “Divine Victory” International Assembly there was a change of government. Permission for the assembly was denied just one week before opening day, but then that decision was reversed when appeal was made to higher authorities. How the brothers rejoiced when they saw 21,321 in attendance and 1,502 persons baptized! Publishers showed a 22-percent increase for the year, but at the Memorial there were 36,454 persons in attendance, and that is three times the peak number of publishers! People of all kinds are seeing the need for God’s kingdom. Although difficulties and trials of many sorts have pressed in on our Chilean brothers, they have felt secure because of their reliance on Jehovah.
Growth in the theocratic organization is also evident in Ecuador. This past year they, too, enjoyed a 22-percent increase in the number of Kingdom proclaimers, and their Memorial attendance was almost four times the peak number of publishers. The increase has required expansion of the branch facilities, and this work is making good progress, most of it being done by the brothers themselves. Efforts are being made to reach everyone with the “good news” no matter how isolated they may be. A group of special pioneers, working from a mobile home with a jeep and two motorcycles, have been having good experiences in the southern part of the country. A young man told one of them that his brother and family were studying the Truth book together. Our brother decided to visit them, though it was a trip that took him four hours by jeep and another four hours on foot. He found the family and, sure enough, they had almost completed their study of the Truth book, the study being conducted by a member of the family. On hearing about a forthcoming circuit assembly the young man who was teaching his family and learning the truth himself at the same time made arrangements to attend, though he had to travel eight hours to get to town and another sixteen hours from there to the assembly location.
Much could be said about the magnificent progress of the work in all the continents and the islands of the sea. But the experiences that have been related thus far are typical of what is going on all over the world.
1974 WORLDWIDE REPORT
Jehovah’s witnesses in all parts of the globe are interested in what their fellow workers are doing in other parts of the earth. On pages 24-31 of this book you will find listed all the countries and islands where Jehovah’s witnesses are active and it will give you a good idea of what is being done in the way of preaching the good news, the hours spent, the return visits made, the Bible studies conducted, the number of congregations functioning and the number baptized in each country. This is of real interest especially to mothers and fathers who have sons and daughters in the missionary work in other parts of the world, also to those who have relatives who have gone to work where the need is greater. But even if you do not personally know some of these people, the interest on the part of Jehovah’s witnesses is world wide because Jesus Christ said, ‘This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.’ So we are very much interested in what is being done around the world.
It is interesting to note that, under the direction of the ninety-six branch offices that look after the work in 207 different lands, there are 34,576 congregations of Jehovah’s witnesses. Thousands of new Kingdom Halls have been built in all parts of the earth, and, in many instances, these are filled to overflowing. There is no question about it; God “furnishes us all things richly for our enjoyment.” For our part, we ought to “work at good, to be rich in fine works, to be liberal, ready to share.” (1 Tim. 6:17, 18) And no matter where Jehovah’s witnesses are, they want to share.
Let us briefly, for a moment, look at what they did world wide.
When there is an organization with 2,021,432 workers who are working with God and are backed up by his holy spirit, workers anxious to share the Word of God with other people, it is no wonder that 297,872 persons throughout the world dedicated their lives to Jehovah and were baptized.
Many of the workers spent their full time in the preaching of the good news. On the average, 14,525 of them were in the special pioneer work, and 112,610 others were in the pioneer and temporary pioneer work.
Along with all the congregation publishers, who averaged 1,753,578 in number throughout the year, they devoted 371,132,570 hours to preaching the good news of the Kingdom. With that many people talking that much, all around the world, people certainly heard about God’s kingdom.
Jehovah’s witnesses cannot spend all their time with the people in their homes. They have to earn their own living, take care of their families and look after life’s necessities. But they have printed sermons, books, magazines, booklets, and they leave these with the people on a small contribution. Apart from what they use in their own personal study, this is what they distributed last year in the way of publications: Bound books, 27,581,852; booklets, 12,409,287; magazines, 273,238,018 copies. In addition to that, they obtained 2,387,904 new subscriptions for the Watchtower and Awake! magazines. This, of course, kept the printing plants of the Society very busy. It was necessary to produce 51,663,097 bound books, 18,239,169 booklets, 236,093,830 Watchtower magazines and 235,017,799 Awake! magazines. In addition to this, they printed hundreds of millions of copies of tracts and other literature that they distributed in upward of 160 languages.
Jehovah’s witnesses are not just interested in distributing literature. They want people to read what they get, and that is why they make return visits. The record shows that they made 151,171,555 return visits on interested people, and every week throughout the year they were conducting on an average 1,351,404 home Bible studies. Someday soon, we pray, these people too will exclaim, “I will say to Jehovah: ‘You are my refuge and my stronghold’”!—Ps. 91:2.
We welcome all of these with whom we are studying the Bible, and other interested persons, to attend meetings at our Kingdom Halls, and to share with us in our worship as a congregation of God. Throughout the world there are 34,576 congregations, and you will be interested to know that on the evening of April 7, 1974, Sunday, there were gathered around the world at the celebration of the Lord’s evening meal 4,550,457 persons. So one can easily see that people are interested in what Jehovah’s witnesses are doing. We want to share the riches that God supplies, so that all those who hear the truth from God’s Word can ‘safely treasure up for themselves a fine foundation for the future in order that they may get a firm hold on the real life.’—1 Tim. 6:19.
[Chart on pages 24-31]
1974 SERVICE YEAR REPORT OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES WORLDWIDE