1976 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses
World wide Jehovah’s witnesses have been rejoicing because of “the undeserved kindness of God which brings salvation to all sorts of men.” (Titus 2:11) The 1975 service year report reveals that 295,073 men, women and children from all nations dedicated their lives to do the will of Jehovah God. These individuals have associated with Jehovah’s witnesses in their 38,256 congregations around the world and have kept themselves very busy telling others about the things they have learned.
What have they learned? That God’s kingdom is the only hope for mankind. Therefore, these newly baptized persons are studying the Bible diligently along with other witnesses of Jehovah in their Kingdom Halls. They are putting on new personalities. Yes, they are acting upon the fine counsel of the apostle Paul when he urged: “You should be made new in the force actuating your mind, and should put on the new personality which was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loyalty.”—Eph. 4:22-24.
Jehovah God sees to it that these individuals are given a lot of assistance from the older men or elders in the congregation. Centuries ago, the apostle Paul left Titus in Crete so that he might correct things that were defective and make appointments of older men in city after city. This was done so that the proper lead might be given. As Titus visited the various congregations, he kept on speaking things suitable for healthful teaching. With good guidance by the elders, benefits would be enjoyed by those in the congregation. That was Paul’s wish, for he wrote: “Let the aged men be moderate in habits, serious, sound in mind, healthy in faith, in love, in endurance.” Encouragement was given to those who were older in the truth and in age. They were to set a fine example for those just coming into the truth and associating with Jehovah’s organization. In Titus chapter two Paul advised this elder to “keep on exhorting the younger men to be sound in mind, in all things showing yourself an example of fine works; showing uncorruptness in your teaching, seriousness, wholesome speech which cannot be condemned; so that the man on the opposing side may get ashamed, having nothing vile to say about us.”—Titus 2:1, 2, 6-8.
Paul was very interested in everyone in the congregation, and Titus was to have similar concern. The apostle desired that the aged women be reverent in behavior so that they might recall the young women to their senses. Then, among other things, these young women would show love for their husbands and children. They too would be “sound in mind, chaste, workers at home.”—Titus 2:3-5.
In those days, some slaves also associated with the congregations, and Titus was not to ignore them. Paul’s counsel was: “Let slaves be in subjection to their owners in all things, and please them well, not talking back, not committing theft, but exhibiting good fidelity to the full, so that they may adorn the teaching of our Savior, God, in all things.”—Titus 2:9, 10.
This fine elder appointed by the apostle Paul to look after the congregations in Crete was to be interested in everyone in the congregation. So it should be today. All the elders should be interested in everyone associated with Jehovah’s organization, young and old. At the same time, the elders themselves should set a fine example in good works, also in the use of wholesome speech. A Christian’s language shows what kind of an individual he is. His conduct at home and in the congregation tells much about him. In every way, a Christian’s habits must be exemplary, if he is to help others and “adorn the teaching of our Savior, God.” The New English Bible puts it this way: “For in all such ways they will add lustre to the doctrine of God our Saviour.”
The Christian’s way of life, as observed by others, will make the Word of God brilliant. Why? Because people see what God’s Word has done for that individual in putting on the “new personality.” Certainly, the study of God’s Word, the appreciation of the doctrine that God, our Savior, has given to us, really produces changes in the lives of Christians. Others can easily see this, if we allow the Word of God to control our lives and make them over.
The Word of God is not meant for persons in only one part of the world. Jehovah’s witnesses feel the importance of preaching this good news in all parts of the earth. From around the world hundreds of experiences have been submitted by the Watch Tower Society’s branch offices. Let us look at just a few countries. Those that we can cover here are listed alphabetically.
AUSTRALIA: The branch overseer writes: “In an effort to enlarge our love for any who will hear God’s Word, 1,121 ships were worked at various ports. . . . Many seamen from countries where the work of Jehovah’s witnesses has been banned have been able to get literature in this way.”
In this vast country, many brothers and sisters witness by letter. One sister, upon reading about a couple whose young son was killed when thrown from his pony, wrote to the parents concerning the resurrection hope. Some time passed without a reply, but around Christmastime the sister received a greeting card from the mother, expressing gratefulness and asking her to write again. After this the woman’s husband died and further letters containing Bible truths were sent to her. Six months passed without a word. But you can imagine the sister’s joy when she received a letter one day informing her that the woman and her oldest son were being baptized, and that the son had the pioneer work as his goal in life. Later this woman’s mother also accepted the truth.
AUSTRIA: Some young brothers desiring a certain secular job had to attend a special training school for eight weeks of the year. As one of the brothers left home, his parents admonished him: “Never forget that you are one of Jehovah’s witnesses.” This young brother told the engineer that he would not be able to take part in some school ceremonies because of being one of Jehovah’s witnesses. While his schoolmates said that this young man was narrow-minded, they soon changed their opinion. One day the teacher said that they would have a free discussion on religion. The young brother then talked to the entire class for about an hour concerning confession, Jesus Christ, the holy spirit and the organization with which he is associated. Fellow students now had a different opinion of this young man. He knew his Bible, and, in addition, his conduct at the school added luster to his beliefs.
Love for Jehovah gave this young brother the opportunity to speak with others about the truth during this period of his special training. He was able to have a daily Bible reading with his roommate. Soon one of his school colleagues went along to the congregation meetings with him. How fine it was that this young man never forgot those words of his parents: “Never forget that you are one of Jehovah’s witnesses.”
BARBADOS: Basically, the people on this island are conservative and do a lot of thinking before they decide to do something about the truth. During the past year a faithful sister presented a copy of Kingdom News to a certain man who responded by inviting her into his house, saying that he wanted to talk to one of Jehovah’s witnesses.
Once inside, he said: “I want to be one of Jehovah’s witnesses. What must I do to become one?” The sister, of course, highlighted knowledge and association, and invited him to attend meetings at the Kingdom Hall. After attending his first meeting, he remarked: “Never have I felt so happy in all my life.” Within eight months the man and the woman with whom he had been living were legally married, and were preparing to undergo baptism. The Word of God changed their whole life and, in turn, enabled them to engage in good conduct that adorned the Word of God.
BELGIUM: The excellent attitude of one of Jehovah’s witnesses helped a certain man to embrace true worship. One of Jehovah’s witnesses was associated with a group of bricklayers, some of whom could not stand even the sight of the Witnesses. It so happened that one of these bricklayers, new at this kind of work, was unable to fix the corner of a wall. Naturally, he did not want to ask one of Jehovah’s witnesses to help him. He became more and more nervous and angry, perspiring freely as the wall went from bad to worse. The Witness saw what was taking place, left his work and asked this man if he could rectify the situation. After correcting the work, this brother came over to the man about every two hours to give him some help. During the weeks that followed he gave this new man some very useful suggestions.
The hatred that this bricklayer had for Jehovah’s witnesses could not possibly continue after such expressions of consideration. Moreover, he noticed that the brother showed the same attitude toward all the workers on the job. If they needed help, the Witness was willing to teach them. He did not loiter at his work either. Nor did he steal anything from the building site. While this new man was working on the job, he realized that Jehovah’s witnesses possessed the truth. The attitude of this witness of Jehovah encouraged him to study the Word of God. Finally, this man himself accepted the truth. The good conduct of the brother had ‘added luster to the doctrine of God.’
BOLIVIA: Much effort was lovingly expended during the service year by “roving special pioneers.” They worked in isolated territory for four months. Consequently, twenty unworked provinces in Bolivia received the Kingdom good news for the first time. Due to this good work, much progress has been made in some mining towns. Many humble Bolivian miners made big changes in their lives after learning the truth. These miners’ lives are steeped in pagan superstition, and because they work in the cold, high in the mountains, it is common for them to chew cocoa leaves to deaden the pangs of hunger and extreme cold.
While some of these special pioneers were visiting the congregation at Chorolque, seventeen thousand feet in elevation, a man who was studying the Bible with Jehovah’s witnesses was contacted. He emphasized how difficult it was to drop the pagan ways, because of the fear of man. The Bolivian miner leads a close community life with his fellow workers, and the pressure to conform to tradition is deeply rooted. Many miners feel that if they do not make a sacrifice to Pachamama (their goddess of the earth) before entering the mine, they will have an accident, or may even lose their lives because of offending this goddess. To stand alone takes real courage and God’s spirit. In this area, a small group of Jehovah’s witnesses are making over their personalities to follow God’s way.
In the vicinity of another mining town, San Vicente, there were only four baptized brothers. Little did the pioneers realize that in the ten-month period between visits the Kingdom truth would flourish there, until there were twenty-one baptized publishers. One never knows where God’s “sheep” will be found.
Nor can we tell in advance just what a piece of literature containing God’s message will do, or where it will go. The Society’s pocket-sized books have brought about wonderful results. For years a university student had many doubts about Bible matters. One day he picked up the book Is the Bible Really the Word of God?, which a family member had obtained. This young man became so engrossed in the material that he read the publication all the way through before putting it down. When the Kingdom publisher returned, a study was started with this university student. The young man began attending meetings and shared his newfound knowledge of God with his girl friend. Moral changes had to be made in their relationship before he could qualify to be a preacher of the good news. However, he married the young woman, and at a recent circuit assembly both of them were baptized in symbol of their dedication to Jehovah. God’s Word truly has power to make changes!
BURMA: Even young children among God’s people can guard the heart and act according to Bible principles. A six-year-old girl whose father is an elder in the congregation was taken to her grandparents to spend a few days with them. When sitting at the table for lunch, she noticed that her grandmother had prepared some small roasted animals for lunch. She asked: “How were these slaughtered?” The girl wanted to know if the animals were properly bled. When the grandmother answered that they were not bled, the young girl said that she could not eat any. Of course, the grandparents were surprised and asked, “Why not?” This six-year-old said: “My father told me that as a Christian I should not eat that which is not properly slaughtered.” The grandmother then tried to persuade the little girl to eat some of the food, saying that the father was not there but was fifty miles away. Why, her father would never know anything about it! But the young girl replied: “I don’t worship my father. Even though he is not here to see me, Jehovah God, whom I worship, is here.” The conversation paved the way for those elderly people to get interested in the truth.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Often there is strong opposition to the truth from persons within a Christian’s household. (Matt. 10:36) However, when one takes a firm stand for the truth and manifests the fruits of the spirit, that person’s conduct adds luster to the Word of God. In a small village a woman began studying the Bible with one of Jehovah’s witnesses and started attending their meetings. She faithfully did this until she dedicated her life to Jehovah and underwent water baptism. Her husband then became strongly opposed, and when his wife prepared to travel to a district assembly he not only refused to give her money necessary for the trip but said that he would tear up their marriage certificate if she went to the assembly. A special pioneer living nearby who had helped this sister lovingly gave her half of her allowance for the month and assisted this woman to get to the assembly. When she returned, her husband angrily left. He found another woman and brought her home to live with him, in the same house in which he lived with his first wife. Though this brought tremendous emotional pressure upon the sister, she faithfully remained in subjection to her husband, manifesting “chaste conduct together with deep respect.”—1 Pet. 3:1, 2.
Finally, the husband sent the second woman away. After this, he told the special pioneer that seeing his wife’s faithful endurance made him realize that she really had the truth. He obtained the book The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life and studied it carefully. Now this man is actively striving to develop the same integrity toward Jehovah God that his wife has shown. What brilliance this wife’s conduct gave to the doctrine of God, our Savior!
CONGO: The brothers in this land have had a year filled with theocratic activity. In addition to their doing the preaching work, several Kingdom Halls have been built and a number of others fully renovated. Now all twelve Kingdom Halls in Brazzaville have electric lights and eleven of them have sound systems, enabling everyone to hear easily. Due to the changes and improvements, already there has been a marked increase in meeting attendance.
In the Congo, a certain young girl had a strong desire to serve God and wanted to become a nun, but the parents were not in favor of this idea. Later in life she often thought of the Bible text that says “the workers are few.” (Matt. 9:37) She was always sorry to see the bad conduct of the priests and the trouble that the church members seemed to have. Could there be a better church somewhere? One day she asked an individual where she could go to learn more about religion, and was told that perhaps Jehovah’s witnesses could help her. Later on, she talked about it to another neighbor who was a religious teacher; he also was quite disgusted with conditions in the church. In an effort to find the truth, they decided to visit every church in town. They started with Jehovah’s witnesses. Arriving at the Kingdom Hall, they were surprised. Never before had they been received with such hospitality. The Witnesses were so warm and friendly and the meeting itself was very good! After the meeting this woman’s neighbor asked for a Bible study and both of them got Truth books. On their way home they agreed that there was no need to visit any other churches. They had found the truth and they would stay with it!
This woman learned fast. That same week she told the man with whom she had been living immorally, and by whom she had a child, that they would have to stop living together because Jehovah God does not tolerate fornication. Shocked, he had to move out. This woman now started to preach to her friends and family, including her oldest daughter. This fourteen-year-old daughter refused to receive confirmation in the Catholic Church because she also wanted to be one of Jehovah’s witnesses. Soon, the mother, the daughter and the neighbor were preparing to be baptized. Indeed, the applied counsel of God’s Word enables individuals to lead lives pleasing to Jehovah.
The Kingdom-preaching activity of Jehovah’s witnesses in Gabon comes under the direction of the Society’s branch office in the Congo. Though the work is under ban in this particular African land, it is encouraging to learn that during April there were 26 temporary pioneers there. These hardworking brothers and sisters averaged 111.6 hours in the field service. This fine work was done even though they could be arrested and be put into prison if found preaching. That takes real faith!
In this land, too, preaching the Word has had a good effect on many. To illustrate: Three young Gabonese girls took up prostitution as a means of making a living. Upon learning about the Bible’s moral standards, they changed their lives, harmonizing them with Scriptural principles. This meant leaving their former way of life and taking up humble work, such as being washerwomen. They also had to be very courageous in refusing their former partners in sexual impurity. But they made these changes and are now faithful Christians, having symbolized their dedication to God by water baptism.
CYPRUS: After the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, it became necessary for the brothers in the southern part of the island to help those who became refugees from the northern part. A large amount of secondhand clothing and blankets were distributed among the brothers. Foodstuffs and other necessary things were purchased for their use. The branch overseer reports that none of these brothers and sisters had to stay in tents or suffer from the want of food and clothing; all of them were able to settle in houses.
When the Turkish invasion took place, a certain family had to abandon their home and all their belongings and flee. The woman was pregnant and they also had a thirteen-month-old baby. They found a small house just outside of Limassol, but were very unhappy and desperate. The mother was crying most of the time, wondering why all these bad things were coming upon mankind. In October of 1974 a young witness of Jehovah visited this woman, spoke to her about world conditions and left her some good news in the form of the Watchtower and Awake! magazines. Later, the Witness visited again and explained the Kingdom hope. The woman listened with pleasure, but was suspicious that this was a trap. She had one or two Bible discussions. Thereafter the family moved to a better house in Limassol. “We can get rid of Jehovah’s witnesses too,” the woman told her husband. So they left, not telling anyone their new address. But they were in for a surprise. The very morning after moving they opened their door and saw the same sister who had been making return visits on them. Without knowing it, they had rented a house right next door to Jehovah’s witnesses! In fact, the woman learned that she was surrounded by families of Witnesses—one to her right and one to her left. What else was there to do but start studying the Bible again? The woman now says: “How glad we are for that, because my husband and I were baptized in July 1975 at a circuit assembly.”
DAHOMEY: While engaging in door-to-door preaching work, a brother met a young couple who obviously were in the middle of a family quarrel. Being allowed to speak, he read Ephesians 4:26, where it says: “Let the sun not set with you in a provoked state.” Then he went on with his sermon. The young couple were very pleased to learn of this fine principle and accepted the invitation to attend a public meeting at the Kingdom Hall that very day. It so happened that the talk was on marriage. This further helped them to appreciate the practical counsel that one can find in God’s Word. Deeply moved by what they heard, they readily accepted the arrangement for a home Bible study.
After just a few weeks of studying the Bible, they realized it would be necessary to bring their lives into harmony with God’s Word, and took the necessary steps to have their marriage legalized. Soon the wife began sharing in the field service, and the husband was making very fine progress. How happy they are that the brother was alert and offered helpful Bible counsel! Now their lives, too, can add luster to the Word of God.
There are undoubtedly many who are “skinned and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matt. 9:36) One Sunday morning a Catholic man went to church but the priest told those in attendance that he had not prepared any sermon. For that man, this was ‘the last straw.’ He decided to leave the church and look elsewhere. But where would he go? For some time he had prayed about the matter. He recalled having talked to Jehovah’s witnesses from time to time and so decided to go to the Kingdom Hall. The man talked to some brothers at the meeting and a Bible study was started with him. After going through chapter two of the Truth book, he wrote a letter to the church saying that he was no longer a member. The priest visited him, but the interested man told the priest that after thirty-three years of being “hungry and thirsty” he had now found the truth.
The Bible study continued. Some weeks later, the man told the brother conducting the study that he owned a hotel noted as a place where immorality was carried on. He asked what he should do. The brother showed him the Bible principles involved and the man decided to sell the hotel. Not long afterward, he got rid of that business and with a clear conscience became a very serious and zealous publisher. Those who make such changes in life ‘adorn the teaching of their Savior, God, in all things.’
EL SALVADOR: About fifteen years ago, a missionary found a couple who showed some interest in the Kingdom message. Repeated efforts to start a home Bible study did not succeed because the man’s secular work as a member of a musical trio interfered. Years passed, the musical trio prospered, and they were called on to perform at dances, banquets and other occasions. Leading such a life, the man fell into more worldly ways. This caused problems in his marriage. Although being a nominal Catholic, he stopped attending church because he could not accept the use of images in worship. In time, his wife left him for a seven-month period to visit a daughter in Canada. During that time of loneliness, he reflected on his life and its lack of purpose, and concluded that what was missing was spirituality. He wanted to be close to God. For the first time in his life the man knelt down and prayed to God that he might find the true religion. That very morning he remembered the missionary who had called on him years earlier. Although he did not remember her religion, he felt that she could help him to come to know God. Through the years, he had seen her on the streets of the business district. Every day he went there, looking for this missionary. On the fourth day, spotting her, he literally ran after the sister, calling out “Madam, Madam.” She had a faint recollection of this man, who immediately asked for a Bible study. Arrangements were made to study with him and, his eighteen-year-old son. After a few months, the man’s wife returned from Canada after receiving glowing letters from her husband and son stating that they had found the truth that will lead to eternal life. The family began attending all weekly meetings of the congregation. Their personalities soon had changed. The son was baptized and began temporary pioneering. Both parents became active in the preaching work and planned to be baptized at a district assembly in December of 1975. All of them are continually expressing their deep appreciation for the privilege of coming to know Jehovah and his ways, and they are delighted with the peace and happiness that now prevail in their household.
As a little girl, one woman had a great desire to know the only true God, the Father of Jesus Christ. She was raised a Catholic and fruitlessly searched for God in one church after another. As a young girl she began living with a married man many years older than she was. Her life centered around this man. Fourteen years passed. Still her desire to know Jehovah was not satisfied. Then suddenly her companion lost his life. Having centered her life around that man and material things, she saw no ray of hope for the future. What would she do? From that time on, the woman suffered from insomnia, had no appetite, lost weight. Life had little meaning. If she wanted to keep living, she knew that she had to find the true God. That was her only hope.
One day this woman went to the cathedral and prayed to God. Her prayer changed to tears and she cried and cried. She remained there for hours but no relief came. She left, walked into a bookstore and bought a Bible. She reasoned that since God has given us his written Word, certainly someone should understand it. So from church to church she went, speaking to any she thought could help her unlock the mysteries of the Holy Book.
Then one evening this woman went to visit a neighbor. While she was there a young lady came to the door. The neighbor recognized her as one of Jehovah’s witnesses and said that she did not have any interest in listening to what the young lady had to say. But the searcher for truth rushed to the door and asked the young lady: “Can you help me to understand the Bible?” Indeed she could! A Bible study was started that very night. She was so hungry to learn the truth that arrangements were made for the study to be held every day for ten days. Day by day, the woman drank in the knowledge of God’s Word. Her life changed. For the first time in many years, she began to sleep and regain her appetite. Before long she was like a new person. Sometime later she was baptized. Now she finally has found what she had been looking for all her life.
FIJI: A thrilling event for the brothers in Tahiti was the visit of Brothers N. H. Knorr and F. W. Franz in February 1975. Though the meeting held for the benefit of the Tahitians in Papeete was not publicly advertised, 749 attended. The next evening 500 came to view colored pictorial slides shown by Brother Knorr at one of the local Kingdom Halls. During the visit, Brother Knorr made arrangements for a new branch office of the Watch Tower Society to be established, and by April 1, 1975, Tahiti became a new branch, separate from Fiji. The branch overseer says: “This is truly an outstanding achievement since the work in Tahiti started only sixteen years ago when three families from Los Angeles, California, in the United States, moved here to serve where the need was greater.”
The branch overseer goes on to say: “No sooner had Fiji lost one of the nine countries it was administering than another country was added, the Tokelau Islands, a group of three small coral atolls situated 270 miles north of Western Samoa, with a total population of 2,000 people. Two small groups of publishers and interested ones were located on two of these islands. How did the work get started here? Two local doctors, while attending medical school in Fiji, received the truth, and on their return to their home country they began preaching the good news and organized meetings.” How marvelous it is to see young men coming to a knowledge of the truth in one land and then returning to another to carry the Word of God to the people! And so the message of the Kingdom gets out into every nook and corner.
Would you be willing to leave a comfortable five-bedroom home in a modern city and move with your wife and eight children to a materially poor and undeveloped island to serve where the need is greater? In 1973, this was the question that faced Brother David Wolfgramm, a citizen of the Tonga Islands. When Brother Wolfgramm handled a meeting part entitled “Am I Free from the Blood of All Men?” he says he came to see where his responsibility was. The Wolfgramms moved to Tonga and have been a very welcome addition to the group publishing the good news there. They have shared in pushing the work farther afield into more than 150 islands of the group.
FRANCE: The year 1975 will be memorable in the history of Jehovah’s witnesses in France. The most noteworthy event was the lifting of the twenty-two-year ban on The Watchtower. Though efforts were made over the years to have this ban lifted, they were without success until now. A few weeks after a new president had been elected, a letter (dated June 10, 1974) was sent to him personally by the French Association of Jehovah’s Witnesses. It requested that the ban on The Watchtower be lifted. The Association received an acknowledgment informing them that the matter would be examined. Finally, the Journal Officiel of the French Republic, dated December 1, 1974, published a decree made on November 26, 1974, annulling the decree of December 19, 1952, which had banned the circulation, distribution and sale of The Watchtower. Thus the French brothers were able to receive the January 1, 1975, issue of the French Watchtower for their personal study and meetings. A few weeks later they were able to begin offering this magazine from house to house. How happy they were!
To add to this joy, in December 1974, the one thousandth congregation was organized in France. In May 1975 a new peak of 64,091 publishers was reached in France. The “Divine Sovereignty” assemblies were held at the close of the year, and the total attendance at the seventeen assemblies in France reached 82,349.
The country of South Vietnam, which has been taken over by the Communists, now is under the supervision of the Society’s Paris branch office. As far as can be learned, there are about 100 of our brothers remaining in Saigon. Looking back over the past year, all of Jehovah’s witnesses are grateful for the protection the Almighty Sovereign of the universe, Jehovah God, has granted their fellow believers in that land. Before the Communist take-over in April, Jehovah’s witnesses in South Vietnam experienced six consecutive monthly publisher peaks. They reached a peak of 120 proclaimers of the good news. Three congregations were meeting in the branch home and a missionary home. The average meeting attendance on Sundays ran around 180 persons. During the year, a district assembly was held in Saigon. The highlight of the year was Brother Knorr’s visit in Saigon before the take-over by the Communists. At that time he showed photographic slides of the work of God’s people in different parts of the world, and then gave a very encouraging talk.
After Saigon fell, all communication with the local brothers ended. They having received good counsel and Scriptural help in previous years, we feel certain that their faith will manifest itself. For the first time, these brothers will have to continue preaching without the aid of missionaries. However, Jehovah knows their situation, and we are confident that he will continue to protect and care for the faithful ones.
In the evacuation of South Vietnam, many thousands of people were sent to various nations, particularly the United States. One missionary couple that came out of Vietnam have now been assigned to work in one of the refugee camps in California. They have met many whom they knew in Saigon, and so these missionaries are going from tent to tent, and Bible truth is reaching hearing ears. Regular congregation meetings are being held at one of the refugee camps. Surely Christians world wide will continue praying for their brothers in South Vietnam.
HONDURAS: September 18, 1974, was a date of calamity in Honduras. Hurricane “Fifi” struck and brought upon that country the worst natural disaster in its history. In hours, some 1,600 brothers—two thirds of all the Witnesses in the country—found themselves in a devastated area. The hurricane left behind a wreckage that destroyed communications, roads, bridges and homes. It was truly a disaster. Immediately, however, a full-scale loving relief effort was begun by the local Witnesses and fellow believers in other parts of the earth. Within hours, Christian love displayed itself, and relief from many directions came flowing into Honduras. Before the month had passed, sixty-three thousand pounds of supplies were distributed among the needy brothers, their families and friends.
By Wednesday, November 6, the brothers and sisters of Honduras, as well as interested persons, hurtled all the obstacles related to the hurricane and assembled at a one-day circuit assembly, which was held in the heart of the devastated region. That evening four thousand persons were in attendance. Not only were they interested in restoring material things; they needed spiritual food. Emotions ran high and tears of joy came to the eyes of our brothers as they saw and heard their brothers and sisters around them. They then realized for the first time the full impact of having been preserved alive, with not one missing, although many came from towns and villages that had been almost totally wiped out, leaving hundreds, yes, thousands, dead. Amazingly, not one Witness lost his life in the hurricane. Many expressions of appreciation for the love they had been shown were made on the part of all the brothers.
INDONESIA: The healthy activity of Jehovah’s witnesses in Indonesia has drawn the ire of religious leaders. Moslems view the house-to-house work as an intrusion.” The nominal Christian clergy say that Jehovah’s witnesses are creating confusion.
Relentless pressure has been applied in local areas to have the organization banned, or at least restricted, including the doing of house-to-house preaching. The government has now forbidden house-to-house calls with literature and also has ruled that no approach may be made to those who already have a religion. Jehovah’s witnesses in Indonesia are adjusting to the new situation. They call on all who formerly showed interest and they do incidental witnessing, as well as find other ways to present the good news.
ISRAEL: This country, with all its troubles, has enjoyed another outstanding year of progress in the congregations. They had a 21-percent increase in publishers, reaching a new peak of 263 in April 1975. There were 444 in attendance at the Memorial celebration. These figures are not large in comparison with some other lands, but they show that progress is being made in a land where the going has been difficult.
The branch reports an experience of a young man with a criminal background, and whose aunt was associated with one of the congregations. She often witnessed to this young man, but he never responded. Then one day he agreed to attend a talk given by a visiting zone overseer. The talk impressed the man greatly. He soon accepted the offer of a home Bible study and the influence of God’s Word on his life has been so great that he has left his former way of life, has become active in the field service and has dedicated his life to Jehovah. The big change made in his personal life also saved his marriage. He and his wife were at the point of getting a divorce, having nothing in common on any subject. But now that they are both publishers of the good news, they live according to Bible principles and are happy members of the Christian congregation.
The issue of neutrality came to the fore very prominently in Israel during this past year, and brothers are serving prison sentences because of their Christian stand. Sometimes their families have been deprived of food because these young men were the breadwinners. But the brothers in the congregation have rallied to their aid and provided the families with their needs. Some of these imprisoned brothers had been elders or ministerial servants. Members in the congregations have filled these positions too. So fine progress was maintained throughout the year, despite this interference.
LEBANON: Like other parts of the world, Lebanon has seen much trouble. Throughout the spring and summer and now in the fall of 1975 there has been much heavy fighting between the rival political factions in and around Beirut, the capital. Despite explosions and machine-gun fire day and night in all parts of the city, resulting in loss of material things, none of Jehovah’s people have been reported killed or injured. This is truly remarkable because many of them were living in areas where some of the heaviest fighting has occurred.
There are many stories of narrow escapes through gunfire and rocket attacks. One meeting place was badly damaged and the congregation lost its chairs and other material things. At times, meetings had to be held in family groups while the fighting raged outside. But all have been spiritually fed throughout this continuous turmoil. The preaching work also has gone on as the brothers have spoken to frightened neighbors about God’s kingdom and the time when war will be no more.
Some time ago a committee of a Protestant church in Aleppo, Syria, met to consider ways of opposing the activities of Jehovah’s witnesses. After much discussion one of the older men expressed the opinion that there appeared to be many conflicting ideas about the Witnesses. So he felt it would only be fair for some of the committee to speak with them, getting information firsthand on what they believe. All of those present were very much against this idea. So this gentleman said that if they did not want to appoint some member of the committee to make the investigation, he would do it himself.
After many discussions with the Witnesses over a period of a year, he informed the church committee that, rather than opposing Jehovah’s witnesses, they should learn from them and help them in the work they were doing. That was enough to get him kicked off the committee. This shocked him in view of all the years of service he had rendered to the church. So the man began attending meetings of the Witnesses. He saw what true brotherly love is and what the spirit of cooperation means among those responsible for the oversight of the congregation. Soon he was publishing the good news. Of course, he did not neglect calling on his former church colleagues to give them the message of the Kingdom. This brought much opposition and persecution from his family and others, but he stood firm and was recently baptized in symbol of his dedication to God. How happy this man is to have learned in old age how to serve Jehovah acceptably!
MALAYSIA: Many young brothers and sisters here must show real fortitude and face severe parental opposition. Two brothers, ages seventeen and eighteen, experienced opposition because they refused to participate in pagan customs and rites in connection with their grandmother’s death. These boys were beaten, abused and threatened with broken legs, expulsion from the house and confinement in a boys’ institution. But they would not compromise. Two friends of these boys also were harassed. Their parents often came to the Kingdom Hall, shouting loudly at the brothers assembled, once even dragging two of the boys away. However, these four young men continued to attend meetings regularly, and they shared in the field service. Though often punched, kicked and treated badly, they are doing well. They prepare thoroughly for every meeting and comment frequently. They show the zeal and integrity peculiar to God’s people. Happily, some of their own fleshly brothers and sisters are now showing interest in the truth.
MOZAMBIQUE: On June 25, 1975, Mozambique received its independence from Portugal. There was a festive spirit throughout the land and everywhere was heard the cry “Viva Frelimo!” When such nationalistic feelings exist, problems arise for those who wish to remain neutral.
Because Jehovah’s witnesses maintained Christian neutrality in Malawi, having refused to join a political party, they fled from Malawi and were located in six refugee camps along that country’s western border in Mozambique. They are now being repatriated. Some of these refugees were taken by truck to the Malawi border where a “welcome” speech was delivered to them by the Malawi government minister of the Central region. He said: “You left Malawi of your own accord, and now you are returning of your own accord. The ruling Malawi Congress Party is still here. Now go back to your homes and cooperate with your local party officials.”
This repatriation from Mozambique to Malawi began on August 19. So, as the 1975 service year ended, thousands of our Malawian brothers were walking the roads leading to their homes. Some of them had to walk as much as two hundred miles or more. Many, on arriving in their home villages, found that the local villagers would not help them for fear of reprisals from political officials. In one region a circular was sent to all party representatives stating that Jehovah’s witnesses should not be allowed into their own villages unless they were prepared to buy a party membership card. In many cases they have had to flee into the bush for safety. Some of them have been beaten badly because of their refusal to compromise. Another report has come through saying that some of the brothers were stripped naked and paraded before local villagers for the same reason. Only Jehovah can make “the way out” for our repatriated Malawian brothers. (1 Cor. 10:13) They are unwanted in their own country and they cannot return to Mozambique. There is nowhere for them to go.
Yet, in spite of all these difficulties, many new ones have associated with them and more than 2,000 were baptized last year.
During the last year the Society continued to give much help to our Malawian brothers in the refugee camps in the northern part of Mozambique. By June 1975, well over $200,000 (U.S.) had been spent on their behalf. The largest single expense was food. Twenty tons of clothing, mostly mailed from South Africa, were supplied to these refugee brothers. They were also sent medical supplies.
Furthermore, the Society arranged to have one copy of the Cinyanja-language Truth book, as well as a copy of the book Listening to the Great Teacher, also in Cinyanja, given free to each publisher in the camps. The Watchtower magazine reached them regularly, too, at no cost to them. Our refugee brothers greatly appreciated the consideration and generosity of their brothers earth wide who made these relief measures possible. But now the situation is bad, and the majority of the brothers, it seems, are being forced to return to Malawi, with nowhere else to go. All we can do now is pray in behalf of our brothers in Malawi. The prayers of the righteous have much force.—Jas. 5:16-18.
NORWAY: Incidental witnessing brings results. A circuit overseer was traveling by train to attend a meeting. Opposite him was a young man reading a book on politics. The brother asked this individual if he believed that the world could be saved by politics. No, the young man did not believe that the world could be saved by any means. The brother started to talk to him about the Bible. The young man asked many questions concerning Gog of Magog, the harlot of Revelation, and so forth. He listened intently, and when they reached their destination they exchanged addresses.
The next week the young man traveled twenty-five miles by bike to the branch office in Oslo to obtain eight books. Upon reading what Revelation, chapter seventeen, means, he went to the State Church and resigned. A Bible study was arranged with the young man. He has really shown concern for his family and has made many trips back home to witness to them and to other relatives. A study was begun with his own brother, who is now making fine progress. All of this happened within four months and really highlights the need to have an evangelizer’s spirit.
PAKISTAN: For twenty-eight years there have been publishers in Pakistan. This relatively new land was formed on August 15, 1947. Since then, two missionaries, along with a number of other brothers, have worked diligently among the nation’s 66 million people. The going is difficult, but the joy of the publishers is wonderful as they see progress being made in this Moslem country. Could you keep your enthusiasm up for years and be overjoyed with twenty-six people dedicating their lives to God in one year in the entire country? Well, the missionaries, pioneers and congregation publishers of Pakistan rejoice that they now have a new peak of 184 publishers.
While working for the government a woman learned the truth and was baptized. When her contract ended last year, the question arose: ‘Should I return to my own country or continue serving where the need is greater?’ She has arranged to retire from secular work and stay in the congregation where she learned the truth and now is enrolled as a regular pioneer. With only five congregations throughout the whole land, what joy the brothers and sisters of Pakistan express in finding twenty-six new disciples of Christ Jesus in one year, as compared with a previous high of seventeen.
ZAÏRE: Jehovah’s witnesses in this land are not recognized by the government. While there is no outright persecution in most parts of the country, this lack of recognition has caused considerable difficulty for God’s people. Large assemblies cannot be held. Congregation meetings are often closely watched by local authorities, and threats are made to deter the Witnesses from preaching openly. Because the brothers and sisters keep their neutrality, some have had their jobs taken from them, or have experienced beatings and imprisonment. Their children have been expelled from school. All of this, however, does not discourage the Kingdom publishers. They have not slowed down in their preaching activity. To the contrary, a greater witness than ever was given in Zaïre during 1975.
THE WHOLE WORLD: For your convenience, the annual report of Kingdom preaching in the whole world is set out on pages 24-31. Listed there alphabetically are all the Watch Tower Society’s branch offices, and under each branch the various countries under its care. It is truly an encouraging report, for it shows that Jehovah has directed his people, and during this past 1975 service year a grand witness has been given. Those enjoying the privilege of making known the Kingdom good news reached a peak of 2,179,256, which is 157,824 more than the number of those advertising God’s kingdom last year.
People have to know about the kingdom of God. Jesus Christ declared: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matt. 24:14) So, diligently, this worldwide preaching of the good news goes on, and these servants of Jehovah spent 382,296,208 hours in talking to people about the divine purpose, eleven million more hours than during any previous year.
Jehovah’s witnesses were interested, too, in leaving things to read with the people who were anxious to learn more about God’s purpose. So world wide during their twelve months of field service they placed 28,410,783 bound books and Bibles and 12,163,807 booklets of 32 or 64 pages each, as well as 293,705,005 Watchtower and Awake! magazines in addition to the 2,111,730 subscriptions for these magazines. However, they were not satisfied merely with placing literature. They made return visits, trying to encourage the people to read the literature, or even study the Bible with Christian publications as an aid. In fact, Jehovah’s witnesses were able to conduct 1,411,256 home Bible studies each week in the homes of interested persons. They made 155,336,481 return visits during the year. What a tremendous effort they put forth to help people to get an understanding of God’s Word!
To aid Jehovah’s witnesses in the Kingdom-preaching work, in their own printing plants in the United States, Germany, Finland and Greece, and in other printeries, they manufactured 63,305,420 bound books and Bibles and 513,705,582 Watchtower and Awake! magazines, as well as 22,190,340 booklets, so that people in all nations who wish to read and study the Word of God can do so with the aid of these publications.
The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania had, on the average, 2,456 missionaries working throughout the world and they are included in the 15,734 special pioneers. These special pioneers are working 150 hours every month in the preaching work. Additionally, there were 114,491 regular and temporary pioneers devoting about 100 hours a month to the field service. On the average, each month throughout the whole twelve months there were 1,932,224 congregation publishers, many of whom spent from 10 to 20 hours in the field service. All these fine workers total up to 2,062,449 publishers, on an average, out in the field each month. And sometime during the year they attained the high peak of 2,179,256 publishers.
During the 1975 service year Jehovah’s witnesses were able to help 295,073 individuals see the need of dedicating their lives to Jehovah God and being baptized in water to symbolize that dedication. They are now associated in 38,256 congregations in 210 countries.
These are not the only people interested in the work that Jehovah’s witnesses are doing. Each year at the time for the celebration of the Lord’s Evening Meal, or Memorial, many of those with whom Bible studies are conducted, and other interested persons, come together with Jehovah’s witnesses at their Kingdom Halls world wide. On March 27, 1975, after six o’clock in the evening, 4,925,643 persons gathered together to commemorate the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. This means something to them. Jesus’ death upon the torture stake can mean everlasting life for them, if they exercise unfailing faith in Jehovah, his Son and the kingdom by which God will bring them the blessings of life in his promised new order.
Jehovah’s witnesses world wide are not loved by the nations of the earth. It is just as Jesus said: “You will be objects of hatred by all people on account of my name.” (Matt. 10:22) Though this be true, and Jehovah’s Christian witnesses know that they are going to suffer persecution, they believe the Bible’s words: “Throw your burden upon Jehovah himself, and he himself will sustain you. Never will he allow the righteous one to totter.” (Ps. 55:22) So, while these fine Christians are in the world, they are not a part of it. They are interested in the Sovereign Ruler of the universe, Jehovah God, and they take their stand definitely on his side. Jesus said: “The hour is coming when everyone that kills you will imagine he has rendered a sacred service to God.” (John 16:2) Nevertheless, God’s people will not turn back from their dedicated purpose of walking in integrity and magnifying Jehovah’s great name.
Marvelous things are happening. During this past year, the disciple-making work has been done openly in Portugal, instead of in an underground fashion, for the government there has recognized Jehovah’s witnesses as a religious body in that land. We thank Jehovah for this. In Greece greater freedom has been granted to Jehovah’s witnesses, so that they can declare the good news.
While Jehovah’s people are persecuted in many countries, they have not been stopped. Even behind the Iron Curtain and in other difficult lands there are 177,861 publishers of the Kingdom. This is an 8.8 percent increase over last year. That was the average every month during the 1975 service year. They reached a new peak of 185,804 publishers. Even though they have to work underground and keep themselves fairly well hidden in Communist lands, and in other countries where the work is more or less banned, there was an attendance of 291,460 at the Memorial in these lands. Just imagine! During the past year these persecuted Christians were able to devote 19,003,812 hours to preaching the good news of the Kingdom in their lands.
This work of Jehovah’s witnesses will continue because it is God’s time for the preaching of the good news of the Kingdom world wide. While conditions may get worse for them, they will also get much worse for the nations of the world. These nations stand against God and his sovereignty. They refuse to accept his kingdom as the only hope for mankind. The result will be great tribulation for all the nations and their religious systems in the final destruction of this present system of things. Jesus prophesied that this good news of God’s kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations and then the end will come. (Matt. 24:14) That means the end of this present system of things. It will be followed by the glorious millennial reign of Jesus Christ, the Messianic kingdom for which Christians have prayed to God, saying: “Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.” (Matt. 6:10) So until that day Jehovah’s Christian witnesses have work to do, and under His direction they will continue to do it.
Jehovah’s witnesses are grateful for the God-given privilege of declaring the Kingdom message throughout the earth. Certainly they are pleased that by their Christian words and deeds they can ‘adorn the teaching of their Savior, God, in all things.’ (Titus 2:10) Despite persecution or other hardships, what a joy it has been to work together as a body of Christian witnesses of Jehovah God in declaring this good news during the 1975 service year!
[Chart on pages 24-31)
1975 SERVICE YEAR REPORT OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES WORLD WIDE