1977 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses
“Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.” With these words, Christ Jesus, the Faithful and True Witness, forcefully called attention to the primary importance of God’s kingdom. He taught mankind to pray for God’s kingdom to come. Crowds of people observed Jesus going to cities and villages and preaching the good news of the Kingdom. Disciples of Jesus were invited to share in being Christian witnesses of Jehovah and were commanded by Jesus to go likewise among the people and “preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.’”—Matt 6:10, 33; 9:35; 10:7.
Not only those of the first century of our Common Era who would be followers of Jesus Christ, but all who have been Christian witnesses of Jehovah in imitation of Christ Jesus since that day have been under command to preach the good news of the Kingdom. Those who live at this time, during the conclusion of the system of things, are faithfully complying with Jesus’ words: “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.
In recognition of the primary place that God’s kingdom occupies in his grand purpose for the universe, at an international convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Cedar Point, Ohio, in 1922, the stirring call to action was sounded out, “Advertise, advertise, advertise, the King and his kingdom.” That has certainly been done since then on an ever-increasing scale. Although there were fewer than 50,000 of Jehovah’s Witnesses world wide telling the good news of the Kingdom back in the 1920’s, with full faith and confidence in Jehovah God they went forward inviting others to join them in this work. With the blessing of Jehovah God, in the 1976 service year just completed, a great crowd of 2,248,390 of Jehovah’s Witnesses reported sharing in the Christian work of Kingdom-preaching. New ones who took up the work were many; 196,656 dedicated themselves to Jehovah and were baptized during the past year. This work was accomplished in 210 lands and islands of the sea—clear evidence that the good news of the Kingdom is now being preached in all the world for a witness to all the nations.
This great Kingdom-preaching work becomes ever more important as the end of this system of things draws near. It is carried on under all kinds of conditions and with a variety of reactions on the part of the people and the nations, even as Christ Jesus himself described, in Matthew chapter 10. On that occasion, when sending out early Christians to do this work, he told them: “Into whatever city or village you enter, search out who in it is deserving, and stay there until you leave. When you are entering into the house, greet the household; and if the house is deserving, let the peace you wish it come upon it; but if it is not deserving, let the peace from you return upon you. Wherever anyone does not take you in or listen to your words, on going out of that house or that city shake the dust off your feet.” (Matt. 10:11-14) The Christian requirement is to go to the cities and villages and houses of the people and tell them the good news of the Kingdom. While such work is a demonstration of Christian love for one’s neighbor, not everyone appreciates it. At some houses people welcome the good news of peace that is brought to them, but there are undeserving ones who do not want to listen, and they are not forced to do so. It is in compliance with Jesus’ instruction that those who carry the good news visit the houses and present the good news, so there is no reason for them to be discouraged when they see that many will not listen. Rather, they rejoice to find those who do listen and are content to know that they are doing what Christ Jesus says Christians should do. Are you participating in such Kingdom service?
OPPOSITION TO KINGDOM WORK
From early Christian times until now, those who have told the Kingdom good news have suffered many things from opposers, but they have not been surprised. It is as Jesus stated, “You will be objects of hatred by all people on account of my name; but he that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved.” (Matt. 10:22) True Christians know that there is something good accomplished by their enduring opposition. Jesus described the situation in this way: “Look! I am sending you forth as sheep amidst wolves; therefore prove yourselves cautious as serpents and yet innocent as doves. Be on your guard against men; for they will deliver you up to local courts, and they will scourge you in their synagogues. Why, you will be haled before governors and kings for my sake, for a witness to them and the nations. However, when they deliver you up, do not become anxious about how or what you are to speak; for what you are to speak will be given you in that hour.” (Matt. 10:16-19) The apostles and other Christians sent out by Christ Jesus in the first century suffered many things, but a great witness was given among the nations of that day and it has not been erased from history.
Right down to this day there is opposition from those who are against God and his kingdom. In more than forty lands, official bans, restrictions, limitations and violent persecution are now being experienced by Jehovah’s Witnesses. During the service year 1976, Argentina, Benin and the Central African Republic joined the list of nations officially proscribing Christian worship as carried on by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Nevertheless, Jehovah’s Witnesses are showing endurance. They know that they must persevere right to the end of this system of things.
Jehovah’s Christian witnesses understand why opposition comes and what they are to do. Christ said: “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his lord. It is enough for the disciple to become as his teacher, and the slave as his lord. If people have called the householder Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household so? Therefore do not fear them; for there is nothing covered over that will not become uncovered, and secret that will not become known. What I tell you in the darkness, say in the light; and what you hear whispered, preach from the house-tops. And do not become fearful of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; but rather be in fear of him that can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.” (Matt. 10:24-28) Rather than cave in under fear, a true Christian lets his light shine in whatever way may be possible.
Jehovah’s Witnesses recognize that it is a privilege to be used by Jehovah God, and the fact that they are scattered in all parts of the world makes it possible for them to go among the people everywhere with the good news, providing people an opportunity to go on record as to how they stand with Almighty God and his Son, Christ Jesus. As Jesus put it: “He that receives you receives me also, and he that receives me receives him also that sent me forth. He that receives a prophet because he is a prophet will get a prophet’s reward, and he that receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will get a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water to drink because he is a disciple, I tell you truly, he will by no means lose his reward.” (Matt. 10:40-42; compare Matthew 25:31-46; Acts 5:33-39.) Whether men realize it or not, the way they deal with those who are really Christian witnesses of Jehovah has a great bearing on their prospects for the future.
“NOW IS THE DAY OF SALVATION”
Jehovah’s Witnesses know that, although they are deep into the period of time that is destined by God to experience the end of this system of things, the Kingdom-preaching work has not yet come to its end. They have clearly in mind the words of the apostle Paul: “Working together with him, we also entreat you not to accept the undeserved kindness of God and miss its purpose. For he says: ‘In an acceptable time I heard you, and in a day of salvation I helped you.’ Look! Now is the especially acceptable time. Look! Now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor. 6:1, 2) Indeed, Jehovah’s Witnesses are pleased that the day of salvation has not come to an end but that the present time still affords them a wonderful opportunity to show further love for people by telling them the good news.
True followers of Christ do not become disheartened when they see that many people do not appreciate the purpose of God in this day of salvation; they continue patiently and without letup in their preaching and disciple-making work. They are happy to spend time in teaching people of all nations to observe the commandments of Jesus Christ. Great joy is found in aiding such people to come to a knowledge of the truth and to take a stand for God and his kingdom under Christ Jesus. Each time someone makes a dedication to God and takes up His service, it represents another victory against the evil opposer of Jehovah God, Satan the Devil. Knowing that they are having a share in the grand Kingdom work, Jehovah’s Christian witnesses have reason to rejoice as they observe Jehovah God accomplishing his purpose for these “last days.”—Matt. 28:19, 20; 2 Cor. 6:14-17.
SOCIETIES USED IN KINGDOM-PREACHING WORK
Over the years, in order for Jehovah’s Witnesses to carry on their religious work world wide, they have formed a number of religious corporate societies under the laws of various lands.
More than a hundred years ago, in 1872, a few sincere Christians met in a small town in the American state of Pennsylvania to study God’s Word. Out of this small meeting grew the worldwide organization of Christian witnesses of Jehovah. These men and women have come from all walks of life, all religions, all nationalities, all tongues, and have gladly undertaken the preaching of the good news of God’s kingdom and sought to make disciples of people of all races. (Acts 1:8; Matt. 28:19) In the year 1884, in an effort to further this work, these followers of Jesus Christ formed a corporation under the laws of the state of Pennsylvania, which corporation was then given the name Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society. In later years, with approval of the state of Pennsylvania, the name was changed to Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania.
In the year 1909 it appeared convenient for Jehovah’s Witnesses to move their headquarters to New York city, and this required that they form a corporation in the state of New York. So they organized what was called Peoples Pulpit Association, now known as Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., for “religious purposes, the dissemination of Bible truths in various languages by means of the publication of tracts, pamphlets, papers and other religious documents, and for religious missionary work.” As the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses continued to branch out in their religious field, they found it necessary to become legally established in London, England. On June 30, 1914, the International Bible Students Association was incorporated there in order to carry on the religious work of Jehovah’s Witnesses. As time went on, other legal, nonprofit religious corporations were organized in many other lands, such as Germany, France, many countries of South America, Japan, in fact, on all populated continents of the world. Jehovah’s Witnesses gladly comply with the laws of various governments in forming these corporations in order that they can carry on their work in peace and quiet. All these religious corporations work harmoniously together to accomplish one work, the preaching of the good news of God’s kingdom in all the world for a witness.
These Christian witnesses of Jehovah daily try to improve the people, morally and spiritually, by carrying on Christian preaching from house to house and by private Bible study in the homes of the people. It was Jesus himself who said, “Go . . . make disciples of people of all the nations,” so Jehovah’s Witnesses preach to people in all nations and teach them the Bible. They do not need authorization from any man to do this work because it is a God-given commission. Jehovah’s Witnesses are not nationalistic. They are a body of people fully dedicated to Jehovah God, desirous only of doing his will and showing love for mankind just as their Father in heaven has shown love by sending his Son into the world so that everyone exercising faith in him might gain everlasting life.—John 3:16.
To carry on this religious work world wide, the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania has established branches throughout the world and has sent its representatives to the ends of the earth. It has built printing plants to produce Bibles, books, magazines and other publications that can help people to understand the Bible. The production and distribution of these publications constitute an integral part of their religious activity.
Today Jehovah’s Witnesses are active in 210 nations and island groups. During the past service year they spent 359,258,019 hours preaching the good news of God’s kingdom, and during this time they distributed millions of Bibles, books, pamphlets and magazines to people of all nations. To date, this literature has appeared in 194 tongues. The Watch Tower Society has sent out ministers and other representatives in the capacities of missionaries, special pioneer workers, circuit and district overseers to all parts of the world, and the expense for this activity alone was $11,519,454.32 last year. Jehovah’s Witnesses world wide have gladly supported this work through voluntary contributions.
Around the world Jehovah’s Witnesses have 97 branch offices. Working in these branch offices there are upward of 3,000 members of Bethel families. The largest group is located at the international headquarters in Brooklyn, New York. All these dedicated servants of God appreciate their privilege of serving their brothers throughout the earth. They were pleased, during the year, to share in producing the Kingdom message in printed form at printing plants located in a number of countries, as follows: 2,484,919 Bibles; 102,638,842 books and booklets; 513,282,880 Watchtower and Awake! magazines; and additional millions of pieces of printed matter. Also, they took care of work at the various offices and shared in preaching in association with many congregations.
KINGDOM LITERATURE FOR 1976
The Watchtower magazine is the principal instrument of Jehovah’s organization in dispensing spiritual food earth wide. During the past year the circulation of this magazine reached 10,300,000 copies in 78 languages. That The Watchtower is greatly appreciated is indicated by expressions received from time to time, such as the following: “I am eighty-six years old and have not missed reading our wonderful Watchtower magazine for over fifty years. How could I do so now that this old decaying body is being sustained mostly by spiritual food? Please mark my subscription ahead for ten years. And may my prayers be answered in behalf of the ‘faithful and discreet slave’ and all the sheep gathered to the side of the Good Shepherd. Agape, along with tender affection.”
Also, the companion magazine, Awake!, has publicized many events in the earth affecting Jehovah’s Witnesses and has set forth the record of integrity that these faithful Christians have made in African countries such as Malawi, Mozambique and Benin. The News Service Department at Brooklyn has also been instrumental in obtaining much publicity for these events through television, radio and other news media. Thus many persons were advised concerning the issues for which Jehovah’s Witnesses are fighting and their unshakable loyalty in living up to Bible principles.
“Your Future—Shaky? or Secure?” and “How Crime and Violence Will Be Stopped”—these were the titles of two Kingdom News tracts prepared during the year for worldwide distribution. The second of these, smaller in size and offering a free booklet, brought three times the usual number of responses from the public. Three new 32-page booklets were also prepared for use in promoting the home Bible study service during the Watchtower subscription campaign. These were entitled “A Secure Future—How You Can Find It,” “There Is Much More to Life!” and “Is There a God Who Cares?”
At the “Sacred Service” District Assemblies, those attending were delighted to receive three new bound books, all pocket-size, of 192 pages, each with a first printing of two million copies. The first of these, entitled “Your Youth—Getting the Best out of It,” found ready acceptance among teen-agers, who rejoiced when each of them received a free copy at the assemblies. One young girl had read the entire book before the assembly ended. “The Youth book held my attention all the way through,” wrote another fifteen-year-old baptized Christian girl. “I didn’t put it down until I’d read it cover-to-cover. Loved it!” A boy of the same age commented: “I have gone through it twice and still find it very helpful to read certain portions when problems come up.”
The second book, entitled “Holy Spirit—The Force Behind the Coming New Order!”, provides a most enlightening study on Jehovah’s active force and its operations. And the third book, with the title “Good News—to Make You Happy,” is written in clear, simple form as a Bible study book for Orientals and other persons who know little about the Bible. At one assembly, a Chinese lady was so impressed by this book that she immediately obtained twenty copies to mail to friends and relatives in Hong Kong.
Over the years Jehovah’s Witnesses have published literature in 194 languages. All these publications have been used to teach the Kingdom message.
ORGANIZED PROGRAM FOR TEACHING
Teaching and education in the Word of God are indispensable in the activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses. While recognizing how vital it is to teach others who desire to become disciples of Jesus Christ, they are conscious of their own spiritual need. (Matt. 5:3) This need is being fully satisfied, as Isaiah foretold: “All your sons will be persons taught by Jehovah, and the peace of your sons will be abundant.” (Isa. 54:13; John 6:45) Provision for feeding those in God’s household is made at five congregation meetings each week, two semiannual circuit assemblies, and yearly district or national conventions. In addition, there is specialized training in a number of schools for the benefit of those enrolled.
In the first century of our Common Era, the early Christians came together regularly to be taught by God, and there was an orderly arrangement in their meetings, as indicated by Paul’s words at 1 Corinthians 14:26-33. Likewise today there is an organized teaching program.
At their public meetings, for example, speakers give talks on a variety of subjects, including prophecy, doctrine, problems of daily living and vital questions of the day. Such information helps members of the congregation as well as sincere outsiders who attend and are interested in Bible truth. (1 Cor. 14:24, 25) Usually the study of the Watchtower magazine follows the public meeting. Its purpose is to provide spiritual food at the proper time as prepared by the “faithful and discreet slave.” (Matt. 24:45-47) Those attending this meeting are encouraged to participate, and many of the new ones associating are doing this.
In each congregation smaller groups also meet every week at convenient locations to examine the Scriptures, using a recommended textbook published by the Watch Tower Society. These studies are held in the homes of hospitable brothers. By meeting in smaller groups it is possible for the appointed conductor to give more personal attention to the spiritual needs of each one.
Since their commission is to preach and to make disciples, it is appropriate that Jehovah’s Witnesses hold a weekly service meeting. The program is outlined in the monthly publication Our Kingdom Service. This past year emphasis was placed on improving our personal use of the Bible in presenting the Kingdom message.
The Theocratic School is conducted each week, usually on the same night as the service meeting in most congregations, and trains those enrolled to give short talks or to discuss Scriptural subjects with individuals. A qualified overseer offers helpful counsel and suggestions for improvement. Jehovah’s blessing has certainly made this school productive of fine public speakers for the platform and of more effective field praisers.
OTHER SCHOOLS IN OPERATION
During the 1976 service year, the 60th and 61st classes of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead were trained for missionary service. A total of 51 students graduated from these classes. There is no question that this school does much to increase the spiritual stature of each student, improving his ability as a proclaimer of the good news and as a disciple-maker, helping him to acquire a deeper insight into Christian principles of conduct and preparing him for future responsibilities in the missionary field.
Elders in the congregations carry a heavy load of responsibility. To help them to fulfill what they are called upon to do, the Kingdom Ministry School provides appropriate training. In some countries elders are invited to attend at the branch facilities of the Society; in other lands, to make it convenient for the elders, the school moves periodically from one city to another. The two-week course better equips them for their shepherding, teaching and evangelizing responsibilities as they care for the flock of God.—1 Pet. 5:1-4.
For those who become members of the Bethel family at Brooklyn, a five-month Entrant’s School operates continuously. It provides new members with a course of study that helps them to adjust to their new assignment and the Bethel routine.
All these schools are part of the organized teaching program of Jehovah’s Witnesses to advance Kingdom interests in all parts of the earth.
APPRECIATION FOR ASSEMBLIES
Throughout the earth God’s people were strengthened by the practical programs presented at the semiannual assemblies for circuits of about twenty congregations. Many fine comments were heard on the way in which the theme based on Joshua 24:15, ‘As for us, we shall serve Jehovah,’ was developed. Also, the theme, ‘Become doers of the word,’ based on James 1:22-25, was greatly appreciated, tying in the entire program and giving more thorough coverage to certain portions of the scriptures in Bible books such as James, Micah and others. As ideas and suggestions are garnered from many parts of the earth, these are given careful attention. An effort is then made to provide a balanced spiritual feast that is beneficial to all age groups, newly interested ones as well as those long in the way of the truth.
This was also true this past year in connection with the four-day “Sacred Service” District Assemblies. One old-timer in the truth said regarding the assembly: “Every aspect of the lives of God’s people was touched on and emphasized—families, youths, elders, field service—all benefited spiritually.” Some felt that the greatest impact came from the personal, pointed nature of the program.
FAITHFUL UNDER PERSECUTIONS
During the 1976 service year the brothers in Malawi and Mozambique continued to experience many difficulties. Thousands of them are located in an area of Mozambique just south of the tip of Malawi. Here they are living in refugee camps and are under the surveillance of Mozambique troops. Reports indicated that the Malawi refugees were able to plant gardens and had good crops this year, helping them with the problem of getting sufficient food. However, it was necessary for the brothers from surrounding areas to lend assistance, and relief work was done. It was possible to get some supplies of food, clothing and medicine, although not enough medicine could be obtained. Also, it was possible to get some supplies of literature to the brothers for their spiritual needs. During the year the authorities forced the closing of assembly halls that the brothers had constructed in the camps. The brothers were not able to assemble in large numbers as in the past. However, there is still a form of circuit work being done, and every effort is being made to assist the brothers spiritually.
In Malawi itself the official position of the government has not changed. Though conditions improved, there are reports of scattered persecution. Many hundreds of brothers are imprisoned and during the year some additional groups were arrested and sent to prison. Violent persecution subsided in quite a few areas, but from other areas there were reports that servants of Jehovah were beaten or murdered because of maintaining integrity to Jehovah. Many of the brothers have had to flee to the bush, as they were not able to continue living in their homes due to the fanatical pressure of the political youth groups. Efforts are still being made to try to force the brothers to join the political party and to involve themselves in the affairs of this world, which they cannot do.—John 17:14-16.
It has been a source of great encouragement to see that the Malawian brothers have maintained their integrity. A great witness has been given throughout the world by the integrity-keeping servants of Jehovah in Malawi. We continue to hope that one day freedom of worship will be granted to Jehovah’s Witnesses according to the laws of Malawi. Until that time comes, every effort will be made by brothers in the surrounding areas to give help. In the 1976 service year the brothers in Rhodesia alone assisted our brothers in Malawi and Mozambique through the expenditure of more than $10,000. Branches in some other countries were also able to give material assistance and financial help. Although the conditions are difficult, it is hoped that the assistance arrangements will be able to continue so that the material and spiritual needs of the brothers who are confined in the camps will be filled. Brothers in all parts of the world have reported that they continue to remember their Malawian brothers in their prayers, and we all keep looking to Jehovah to direct matters according to His will.
During the past year the small West African country of Dahomey changed its name to People’s Republic of Benin and declared itself to be a Marxist-Leninist Socialistic country. Problems began to mount for Jehovah’s Witnesses in that country. Pressure was put on them to violate the law of God. In some areas the house-to-house witness work was prohibited, some Kingdom Halls were closed or taken over for political meetings. The climax was reached at the end of April. Announcement was made that Jehovah’s Witnesses were banned in the People’s Republic of Benin. Persecution followed and in some places it became so violent that the brothers had to abandon their homes and flee to other countries. Severe beatings were suffered by many of Jehovah’s servants. It has now become very difficult to meet together for Bible study in Benin. Again there was an opportunity for brothers to help one another, and in the true Christian spirit the brothers from nearby countries have given assistance to their Benin brothers. All continue to look to Jehovah for the strength and help necessary in these circumstances. A witness has been given and the world has taken note of the faithfulness of Jehovah’s people even under much persecution. Every effort will be made to continue giving encouragement and help to our beloved brothers in Benin.
At the end of the service year the president of the Republic of Argentina signed a decree banning Jehovah’s Witnesses and their activities. A number of brothers were arrested in the northern part of the country. The office and printery in Buenos Aires were closed and the brothers were not able to take out even their own personal belongings. News of this ban spread to all the world and shocked many people. Reports have been received from Argentina that additional Christians have been arrested because of meeting together to study the Bible and that many of the brothers are under police surveillance. Legal action has been taken by Jehovah’s Witnesses to get removal of the restrictions against freedom of worship. No doubt in due time, from the decision of the court it will be seen whether the Constitution of Argentina is in effect at this time and there is freedom of worship, or whether liberty has disappeared in that country. But in either event Jehovah’s Witnesses there will continue to be exemplary citizens of the land, obeying God’s laws and doing good to their neighbors as Christians should. Brothers in all parts of the world are remembering the Argentinian brothers too in their prayers.
Another country that joined the list of those prohibiting Jehovah’s Witnesses and their Bible educational work was the Central African Republic. While at this time we do not know what measures the government will take against Jehovah’s Witnesses, we feel confident that the faithful servants of Jehovah God will continue to worship Him just as our brothers have done in so many other lands around the world where efforts have been made to suppress the preaching of the good news. God’s kingdom is the hope of the world of mankind; those who love God and his kingdom continue to proclaim this fact as good news.
The list of countries where Kingdom work is officially interfered with has increased to more than forty throughout the earth. All of this gives further evidence that we are in the period of time when this system of things will come to its end under the Kingdom rule of Christ Jesus.
ASSISTING BROTHERS IN DISASTER AREAS
In February, news reached the world of a great earthquake disaster in Guatemala. Within a few hours brothers from neighboring countries were in Guatemala with relief materials. The elders quickly organized and tried to locate all the brothers. Building materials were obtained and many small houses were quickly constructed. Money was sent from the Society’s relief fund in Brooklyn and contributions were also sent direct by brothers in other places. The Guatemalan brothers were able to see the love and interest of their brothers in other parts of the world. What joy there was that not one dedicated servant of Jehovah had perished in the disaster that took more than 23,000 lives in Guatemala! Likewise, in the tremors experienced in northern Italy, where much relief work also was done, not one of the brothers lost his life.
Another opportunity to help brothers came in the Pacific area when typhoon Pamela smashed into the island of Guam. Damage was widespread. The Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses lost part of its roof and the missionary home there was no longer habitable. As quickly as possible relief funds and materials were supplied. Houses and other material things can be replaced and repairs can be made. Happily not one of the brothers lost his life in that storm disaster. While these things go on, the brothers have an opportunity to comfort those who mourn, pointing forward to the time when such disasters will no longer occur. The witness work continues in Guam.
So wherever disasters and problems come along, whether large or small, Jehovah’s servants are quick to show love for their brothers by coming to their aid. This is Jehovah’s way and brings a real blessing to all who serve him. Surely as troubles continue to mount throughout the world, Christian brothers will not cease to be a blessing to one another.
During the year Jehovah blessed the Kingdom work in many ways. Individual Christians can plant seeds of truth or come along and water them, even as Paul and Apollos did, but it is Jehovah who makes things grow. (1 Cor. 3:6, 7) As the Kingdom work grows throughout the world, efforts must be made to have the facilities and “tools with which to do the work.” Hence, on the scene in Venezuela brothers worked hard through the year in preparation of a new branch headquarters in the city of La Victoria. It is hoped that these facilities will soon be ready for use.
It was necessary to enlarge the buildings in Canada and in Japan, and those projects were completed during the year. Branches in El Salvador, Finland, France, Guatemala and Zambia have been working on additions to their branch buildings. A large new branch printery building is being completed in Greece as the Kingdom work continues to grow in that part of the world. Construction is also under way at the branch in South Africa.
As the work increased, a new branch office was established in New Caledonia in the South Pacific. Every effort will be made to continue keeping in stride with the expansion of the work and giving help to the individual servants of Jehovah in the congregations through the body of elders, through the congregation arrangements and through the branches.
In addition to the expansion of branch facilities many of the thousands of congregations throughout the world have found it necessary, because of increased attendance at meetings and starting of new congregations, to construct new Kingdom Halls or to enlarge and remodel the ones already in use. All this activity has served to give a further witness.
THE KINGDOM WORK
While buildings in a way cause a witness to be given, effective witnessing includes teaching people from the Word of God. That is why during the service year much encouragement was given to all of Jehovah’s Witnesses to try to improve in their personal methods of communicating with others about the truth, in harmony with Romans 10:13-15: “For ‘everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.’ However, how will they call on him in whom they have not put faith? How, in turn, will they put faith in him of whom they have not heard? How, in turn, will they hear without someone to preach?” First-century Christians took the position stated by Peter and John at Acts 4:20: “As for us, we cannot stop speaking about the things we have seen and heard.” So even in times of stress and persecution the Christian point of view is to keep on preaching the Word, and we pray to Jehovah to help us to do so.—Compare Acts 4:29-31.
To be in a better position to give assistance to all the publishers throughout the field, the Governing Body made an arrangement to have meetings with traveling overseers in the United States field. A group of them met at the Kingdom Hall in Brooklyn Bethel at the end of March and the Governing Body members attended to hear expressions on the part of the traveling overseers. By meeting with several other groups of traveling overseers throughout the country it was possible to get a good view of the ‘appearance of the flock.’ Also, before the service year ended arrangements were made to have a meeting of branch coordinators and other brothers from branches all over the world in October and November during the new service year, as it is evident that there is yet much work to be done.—Prov. 27:23.
With appreciation of the continuing inflation and economic pressure, efforts were put forth to assist the brothers in the full-time service to continue in their work. So allowances were increased for those in the full-time service who receive such. Special pioneer hours were reduced to 140 per month to help them to continue in the full-time service, to give them time to do shepherding work in the congregations and also to find some means of income, if this is necessary in their case. Also, the hour requirement for regular pioneers was reduced to 90 per month or a minimum of 1,000 for the service year so that they might be able to continue to meet their economic needs and stay in the pioneer service. During the year quite a number had been forced to leave the pioneer service because of economic pressures.
Announcement was made that temporary pioneer service would be discontinued and a new service called auxiliary pioneer service instituted, requiring a person to spend only 60 hours in the field service each month. This was received with great enthusiasm. Reports at the end of the year show that many quickly took up the auxiliary pioneer service and enjoyed it very much. It is sincerely hoped that all these adjustments will contribute to increased spreading of the good news throughout the world in this day of salvation.
To assist the congregation elders in their work, special attention has been given to the activities of the circuit overseer. During his visits there will be meetings of the elders and ministerial servants, and certain points will be provided from headquarters to discuss among the elders at the time of the visit of the circuit overseer. Additionally, the mature help of experienced circuit overseers will be useful to the elders in considering recommendations of elders and ministerial servants and their qualifications.
WORLDWIDE SERVICE ACTIVITY
It is a pleasure to see that again this year reports of Kingdom service came from 210 different lands and islands of the sea, now under the supervision of 97 branch offices. This year there was a peak of 2,248,390 Kingdom publishers reporting service activities. In 1975 the peak was 2,179,256. While there were more Kingdom publishers in the field service during 1976, the report of activity shows that the hours were fewer, namely, 359,258,019 hours, to compare with 382,296,208 hours for the previous service year. There are not as many pioneer publishers as the year before—114,026 special and regular pioneers reporting, to compare with 130,225 the year before. Since there were some 16,000 fewer pioneers, the hours were also down. There were also reports that some publishers in the congregations did not spend as much time in the field service as formerly. There is still much work to do in the Kingdom-preaching activity and it is hoped that in the new service year, with the adjusted arrangements for pioneer service, and increasing appreciation for the privilege of Kingdom service, we are going to see more time devoted to the service of Jehovah in the field.
It was a fine year for distribution of the printed message. A total of 46,350,687 Bibles, books and booklets were put in the hands of people all around the world. The three new booklets that were produced during the year contributed to the witness, as the report shows an increase of a little over 10 million booklets distributed when compared to last year. The magazine distribution came to 279,351,007. In addition, millions of copies of Kingdom News were distributed in many languages.
The report also showed that 145,680,279 return visits were made on interested persons and that, on the average, 1,339,466 home Bible studies were conducted each week. This field, return visits and conducting Bible studies, is vital in helping persons to gain the way to salvation. We hope to see these activities increase in the new year.
There are very good possibilities of seeing an increase in the ranks of the number telling the good news to others, for this year at the celebration of the Lord’s Evening Meal (Memorial) 4,972,571 attended around the world. Of these, 10,187 partook of the emblems, indicating their position as spirit-begotten sons of Jehovah God. Appreciation of the ransom sacrifice of Christ Jesus and what Jehovah has so wonderfully provided through his Son will surely move many of those who attended to tell others about the good things that Jehovah is doing on behalf of mankind. Those who are now publishing the good news can help the new ones, and all of this will result in more praise to the name of Jehovah God.
For the first time we see over forty thousand congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses organized around the world. In the previous year there were 38,256 congregations, and this year 40,155! It is good to see that Jehovah’s servants are not forsaking the assembling of themselves together.
On the preceding pages there is a chart that lists the countries and the activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses throughout the world. There are a few countries that are not found in the alphabetical list by name but that are grouped together. These are countries where there is particularly severe opposition and considerable danger to those who are worshipers of Jehovah. In those places the brothers have to meet in secret but they too do not forsake assembling together. In some cases it may mean the loss of their life if they are found telling the good news of God’s kingdom to others, but they courageously keep on doing good for their neighbors even under the shadow of such severe punishment. We pray that Jehovah God’s protecting care will continue with them. Endurance is required to perform the service of God in these difficult “last days.” It is a joy to see the faithfulness and perseverance of Jehovah’s Witnesses throughout the world.—Heb. 10:35, 36.
[Chart on pages 24-31]
1976 SERVICE YEAR REPORT OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES WORLDWIDE