1978 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses
“Happy are those hearing the word of God and keeping it!” In saying those words, as we find them recorded at Luke 11:28, Jesus may have had in mind the similar words of Psalm 112:1: “Happy is the man in fear of Jehovah, in whose commandments he has taken very much delight.” Jesus himself was happy and took delight in obeying his Father’s commandments, in hearing and observing God’s Word. Jehovah’s obedient servants through the years have realized that the keeping of Jehovah’s law, his orders, commandments and judicial decisions brings a “large reward.’’ Today Jehovah’s Witnesses are most thankful for the privileges that come to them in representing him. His word is always pleasant to their ears and they are determined to keep it and treasure it.—1 Tim. 1:11; 6:15; Ps. 19:7-11.
The arrangement that Jehovah established under the Mosaic law provided a shadow of good things to come. (Heb. 10:1) Those who complied with its requirements were blessed by Jehovah and they looked forward to blessings in the future. Most, though, reflected the attitude of our first parents by taking an independent course and becoming disobedient to God’s word. Though they heard it with their ears, they did not keep it. (Heb. 3:18, 19) Jesus summed up their attitude when he said that “with their ears they have heard without response.” (Matt. 13:15; Isa. 6:10) Repeatedly, Jehovah had reminded them of the vital need of hearing and keeping his word. For example, through his prophet, he said: “I, Jehovah, am your God, the One teaching you to benefit yourself, the One causing you to tread in the way in which you should walk. O if only you would actually pay attention to my commandments!”—Isa. 48:17, 18.
When Jesus appeared on earth, he established the Christian arrangement. He knew that only those adhering to God’s word could be truly happy. In his prayer to his Father on his last night on earth, he said that the taking in of knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ was necessary for one who desired to have life. (John 17:3) The knowledge contained in the Bible is truly life giving. It can be relied on, since God himself caused it to be written by means of his holy spirit. It is priceless. Men, as history shows, risked their lives to translate it and to preserve it for our benefit. Today, Jehovah’s Witnesses are dedicated to the task—sometimes also at the risk of their lives—of taking that Word to people of every nation and tongue.
Nowadays, as in ancient Israel, many are indifferent to the appeal of God’s Word, the Bible. Others shun it or outrightly oppose its distribution. But in doing so they are not happy; rather, they are glum. In spite of this, Jehovah’s servants proceed with their pleasurable work of upholding the Word of God. They know that more is required than merely reading the Word. As Jesus said in his revelation to John: “Happy is he who reads aloud and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and who observe the things written in it.”—Rev. 1:3.
A BIBLE-BASED ORGANIZATION
The disciple James was concerned that his fellow Christians might follow the wrong course of the Israelites and, after hearing the Word of God, become listless, and so he warned them: “You must do what the word tells you, and not just listen to it and deceive yourselves.” (Jas. 1:22, Jerusalem Bible) Only by diligently studying the Word of God can one prove oneself Christ’s disciple. Those in the Macedonian city of Beroea did just that, and Luke described them as being noble-minded. “Now the latter [Beroeans] were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with the greatest eagerness of mind, carefully examining the Scriptures daily as to whether these things were so.” They were students, researchers. They wanted to know if the Hebrew Scriptures backed up what they heard. They set a good example for all to follow.—Acts 17:11.
Jehovah’s Witnesses today follow this fine example. They are modern Beroeans, Bible students. At one time, because of their intensive study of the Bible they were actually called “Bible Students.” While they no longer use that as their name, having adopted the Scriptural name Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1931, they still studiously interest themselves in “examining the Scriptures daily.” They are devoted to the work commanded by Jesus of making disciples of people everywhere and “teaching them to observe all the things that Jesus commanded. They keep Jehovah’s Word and they preach it diligently on any and every appropriate occasion, whether the occasion is convenient to themselves or not.—Matt. 28:19, 20; 2 Tim. 4:2.
The organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses is truly Bible based. For the past one hundred years it has been holding forth the word of life. It has not turned aside from the truth. Loyal ones have made no pretense of only believing the truth, but have made it their own and actively advocated it, even though this has made them objects of persecution. In doing so they have become “a theatrical spectacle to the world,” like the apostles who were charged with upsetting the inhabited earth because of their insistence on adhering to the Word of God.—1 Cor. 4:9; Acts 17:6.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are “steadfast, unmovable, always having plenty to do in the work of the Lord.” They have not watered down the truths of the Bible as have Christendom’s clergy who offer to people, already “slumbering,” a ‘soft religion.’ (1 Cor. 15:58; 2 Cor. 11:14, 15) Christians know that what the world has to offer is as tinsel, ‘window dressing,’ so they keep their eyes, “not on the things seen, but on the things unseen. For the things seen are temporary [transitory], but the things unseen are everlasting.” (2 Cor. 4:18) Some of the “things seen” may appear desirable; they may have a ‘sugar coating.’ Men are tempted to look about and see what is available just for the asking. Jesus was presented with temptation by means of “things seen.” Satan asked him for but one act of worship, and all the “kingdoms of the world” would be his. Adamantly Jesus replied: “Go away, Satan! For it is written, ‘It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.’” Jesus rightly recognized the test for what it was—a trick to get him to compromise his sacred service and treasured relationship with his Father. To maintain our integrity, we must see temptations in the same light now.—Matt. 4:8-10; 1 John 2:15, 16.
Well, look around. What is available? What does Satan hold out as temptingly desirable? What is it that should be shunned as something that could cause Jehovah’s Witnesses to desert their sacred service? Why, for one thing, running with the world. Some who are now Jehovah’s Witnesses were once very much wrapped up in the ways of the world. They had what they called a ‘high time,’ seemingly enjoying it. But one who becomes a Christian puts this way of life in the past, as something to be despised. The apostle Peter said: “For the time that has passed by is sufficient for you to have worked out the will the nations when you proceeded in deeds of loose conduct, lusts, excesses with wine, revelries, drinking matches, and illegal idolatries.”—1 Pet. 4:3.
Former worldly associates may not understand why one who previously was satisfied with the “weak and beggarly elementary things” now concerns himself with hearing and doing the Word of God. So they resent it, and close their ears to the message of life that could have benefited them. Peter added: “Because you do not continue running with them in this course to the same low sink of debauchery, they are puzzled and go on speaking abusively of you.” (1 Pet. 4:4; Gal. 4:9) But see how many friends there are among Jehovah’s Witnesses that one acquires! One is no longer interested in partying with the world, risking the precious newly found relationship with Jehovah and His family.—Mark 10:30; 1 Pet. 1:22; Phil. 3:12-16.
Over the centuries, all the way back to the time when Adam and Eve, at the urgings of the Tempter, lost their happiness by rejecting the word of God and failing to keep it, the name of Jehovah has been besmirched. Especially was this noticeable with respect to those whom he chose to make his name-people. (Ex. 6:7) God commanded them not to take up his name in a worthless or vain way, thereby bringing reproach on him and his name. Dire consequences would be theirs for disobeying that command. (Ex. 20:7) To them Jehovah, through the mouth of Jeremiah, said: “I kept sending to you all my servants the prophets, daily getting up early and sending them. But they did not listen to me, and they did not incline their ear, but they kept hardening their neck.”—Jer. 7:25, 26.
Finally Jehovah sent his heavenly Son. Jesus was pained at the way God’s name-people were acting. He lived among the people of Israel and toward the close of his human life he summed up his feelings, saying: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the killer of the prophets and stoner of those sent forth to her—how often I wanted to gather your children together in the manner that a hen gathers her brood of chicks under her wings, but you people did not want it!” On behalf of his Father he said to religious opposers: “Look! Your house is abandoned to you. (Luke 13:34, 35) They had spurned both the Father and the Son. By what they did to the Son they dishonored the Father’s name. Jesus recognized their despising of him and his Father and what his Father’s name stood for, and in an illustration he said that “a man” (Jehovah) sent his beloved son for an accounting, saying, “They will respect my son.” But, though recognizing the son as heir, they said, ‘Come, let us kill him.” And kill him they did!—Mark 12:1-11.
A remnant of Israel agreed to ‘hear the word and keep it’ and were accepted into the Christian congregation. Now, seeing how Israel had disrespected Jehovah and his name, how would these followers of Christ act? Would they uphold God’s name and give to Jehovah an answer to the great besmircher, Satan the Devil? God had pleaded with Israel: “Be wise, my son, and make my heart rejoice, that I may make a reply to him that is taunting me.” (Prov. 27:11) As it has turned out, only a remnant of those who took the name “Christian” have given basis for such a reply. The command not to sully the name of Jehovah applies with equal force to Jehovah’s Witnesses today. And they are pleased to honor that name, to make it holy.
Today, almost universally, the God of the Bible is unknown to mankind. The name of God is not made holy. Rather, it is used vulgarly. The Bible to some is a myth, a ‘good storybook’ for children, but its prophecies are not taken seriously. Those who happily study the Bible, accepting it, “just as it truthfully is, as the word of God,” are considered by these persons as ‘old fogies.’—1 Thess. 2:13.
Faithful servants of God today, in the face of this dishonoring of the God of the universe, have gladly taken up the Bible name Jehovah’s Witnesses. (Isa. 43:10) Their purpose in life is to uphold that sacred name, even though their association with that name may bring to them ostracism by those who ostensibly are followers of Christ, yes, and from others. Their Master said: “If you love me, you will observe my commandments . . . If you observe my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have observed the commandments of the Father and remain in his love.” (John 14:15; 15:10) It brought joy and happiness to Jesus to observe the commandments of his Father and he therefore said that “those hearing the word of God and keeping it” would be happy.—Luke 11:28.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have found this happiness and real joy in being properly motivated in their work of bearing witness to Jesus and in preaching the good news of God’s established kingdom. (Rev. 12:17) Their motivation is not tainted with a desire to be “somebody.” While ministering to the spiritual needs of people, they refuse to accept adulation, as Jesus also refused to do, or to assume titles. Let the titles stay with those who seem to be so proud to bear them. Rather, Jehovah’s people are pleased to be fellow servants with the one who “made himself of no reputation.”—Phil. 2:7, Authorized Version.
Peter warned of false teachers who would quietly or privately “bring in destructive sects and . . . disown even the owner that bought them, bringing speedy destruction upon themselves.” Peter’s further warning was that others would follow them, thus causing the way of the truth to be spoken of abusively. (2 Pet. 2:1, 2) There is need to be on the alert so as not to fall into this subtle trap. Some actually do disown their owner. Others do not go so far as to declare openly that they do not know their owner, Christ. But by their actions, their speech and the careless way that they ‘walk in the truth,’ they in effect become suspect as to their love of Christ. They ought to take to heart Paul’s words at 1 Corinthians 15:34: “Wake up to soberness in a righteous way and do not practice sin, for some are without knowledge of God [“seem not to know God at all,” JB]. I am speaking to move you to shame.”
There is an old saying, ‘All that glitters is not gold.’ This also applies in a spiritual sense. Jehovah’s Witnesses are engaged in the most profitable work in all the earth. The benefits are outstanding. To have Jehovah’s favor is most valuable. Yet sometimes they are enticed by material treasures. But wisely Jehovah’s Witnesses prefer riches that endure, so they store up for themselves “treasures in heaven.” Paul warned: “The love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things, and by reaching out for this love some have been led astray from the faith and have stabbed themselves all over with many pains [“spiked themselves on many thorny griefs,” New English Bible].”—Matt. 6:19, 20; 1 Tim. 6:10.
Regrettably, materialism at times takes its toll among a few of Jehovah’s Witnesses, blurring their vision. It has been said that materialism is anything that stands between a person and his worship of Jehovah. So it need not necessarily be an expensive automobile, an ostentatious home or a large bank account. It could be anything that absorbs a person’s time and attention so that he neglects the worship due to Jehovah. What causes this lamentable situation to develop? Could it be neglecting a study of God’s Word, which is a “lamp” to guide the servant’s feet, and a “light” to his roadway? (Ps. 119:105) Without such guidance one can easily become a prey to materialism. Materialism can creep in if one neglects that most important communication with the Hearer of prayer. Personal study of God’s Word and constant communication with Jehovah deepen and strengthen one’s personal relationship with Jehovah. David said: “I keep Yahweh before me always, for with him at my right hand nothing can shake me.”—Ps. 16:8, JB.
Because of being constant and steadfast as witnesses of the Ruler of the universe, and by keeping themselves away from materialism, Jehovah’s Witnesses have enjoyed many blessings during the past year. “The blessing of Jehovah—that is what makes rich, and he adds no pain [sorrow] with it.” (Prov. 10:22) True, some have taken the brunt of persecution, but it is a fact of both theocratic and secular history that persecution has failed to stop the proclamation of God’s Word. Persecution has not brought pain or sorrow, so as to cause these Witnesses to lose faith. They have not been failures. They have had Jehovah’s blessing and they have been made rich. Their boldness in serving God has called for his protection, because they have continued in their firm, conscientious and fearless support of the truth. (1 Tim. 3:15) They may have been “pressed in every way, but not cramped beyond movement; . . . perplexed, but not absolutely with no way out; . . . persecuted, but not left in the lurch; thrown down, but not destroyed.’’ Yes, they have been blessed in their spiritual paradise, blessed in the knowledge that their steadfastness in ‘keeping the word of God’ earns them a place in God’s favor. They have contributed to answering Satan’s challenge to God.—2 Cor. 4:8, 9; Prov. 27:11.
MAINTAINING FAITH DESPITE PERSECUTION
Some of Jehovah’s Witnesses have to live and carry on their work of preaching the good news of the Kingdom under very trying conditions. Nevertheless, despite persecution, intimidation and pressure to compromise their faith, they keep their integrity. They take their stand against the Devil, “solid in the faith, knowing that the same things in the way of sufferings are being accomplished in the entire association” of their brothers in the world. They realize that endurance is necessary in order to inherit the promise; therefore they, as fine soldiers of Christ Jesus, take their part in suffering evil.—1 Pet. 5:8, 9; 2 Tim. 2:3; Heb. 6:12.
Satan is very angry at the continued faithful service of God’s witnesses in advertising the coming destruction of this system of things and he uses his influence as the ruler of the world to have the work curtailed if not stopped. Hence it is not surprising that from time to time he causes opposition that results in bans being placed on the work. During the year this occurred in the Congo Republic and in Indonesia, and there are rumblings in other places. This does not mean that Jehovah’s Witnesses in such places give up or quit. No, they persist in doing what is fine, sowing with a view to the spirit, and leaving the results to the Great Rewarder. (Gal. 6:8, 9) Jesus equipped his followers to be prepared for exactly what has occurred in this day and age, saying: “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. . . . A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his lord. . . . Therefore do not fear them.”—Matt. 10:22-26.
At the beginning of the service year, hundreds of our Malawi brothers were still in detention at Dzaleka, a camp in the north of the country, which had previously been used for political detainees. However, as the months went by, some were released. These brothers made their way back to their home villages and towns. What kind of reception awaited them?
In some cases the local village headmen allowed them to settle in their homes and begin recultivating their lands, which had been lying fallow while our brothers were in prison. However, in some cases the unbelieving relatives of Witnesses had taken over their lands and had begun cultivating them and these opposed our brothers, being allowed to return to their village homes. They reported the brothers to the police and to local political party officials, who have again harassed our brothers over the party-card issue. Some are still being held by the police without charge. Religious opposers have also added to the sufferings of our brothers, telling some of them that they will not be allowed to settle in their homes until they join other religions. Those Witnesses who were allowed to settle in their homes and cultivate their fields have been tormented in some areas by Youth Leaguers and party officials when these thought that the brothers would have money from harvesting their crops to buy political cards.
So the year ended with a number of our brothers in Malawi still homeless and without employment, having to move from place to place and eke out a living the best they could. We are pleased to report, however, that it is still possible to aid them spiritually and materially and that our Malawi brothers are extremely grateful to Jehovah and their brothers elsewhere for this loving assistance.
Those who must carry on under such adverse circumstances are not ‘written off’ by, Jehovah. They are not forgotten. They are assured: “God is not unrighteous [unjust] so as to forget your work and the love you showed for his name.” “I will by no means leave you nor by any means forsake you.” And their brothers remember them too in their daily petitions to the Hearer of prayer. When our brothers in other lands suffer under persecution, we suffer with them. The Emphatic Diaglott says that “whether one member suffer, all the members sympathize.” The “sympathy” has been shown not only by assisting them materially, but also by ‘taking up the slack’ and ‘putting on more steam’ in the preaching work.—Heb. 6:10; 13:5; 1 Cor. 12:26.
Even where there is no ban, some of Jehovah’s Witnesses are plagued by nationalism. They are asked to elevate “Caesar” above God. This they cannot do, so they are falsely branded as “antigovernment.” But this does not rob them of their joy, for they count it a privilege to be in the same category as Jesus, who, along with the apostles, said that where obedience to the State does not conflict with that owed to Jehovah, then such obedience should be rendered, but that prior allegiance rightly belongs to Jehovah.—Luke 20:25; Acts 4:19, 20; Rom. 13:1.
“Bullies” like to take advantage of children who they feel have no recourse but to submit. But youths among Jehovah’s Witnesses also are happy in “hearing the word of God and keeping it.” (Luke 11:28) They have heeded the word of Jehovah, through Moses, to meet together in the congregation along with their parents, “in order that they may listen and in order that they may learn, as they must fear Jehovah . . . and take care to carry out all the words” of God’s law. (Deut. 31:12) They have benefited from the experience of the three faithful Hebrews on the plain of Dura (Dan. 3:18) and the firm decision of the early Christian followers of Jesus (Acts 5:29) and are therefore equipped to face such “bullies.”
An experience illustrates this. In Africa, a twelve-year-old Witness conscientiously refused to sing the national anthem. The annoyed headmaster pressed him for a reason. Having ‘heard the word’ and being intent on “keeping it,” the boy said that the anthem was a hymn of praise to a false god called Nationalism and that his God, Jehovah, would be angry if he praised a false god. The headmaster, impressed by the sincerity and conscientious determination of the lad, commented: “If you had told me that earlier, I would not have sent you out of the class, because one should not make fun of the true God.” It is fine to see that young publishers appreciate the privilege of properly representing their God. This also provides Jehovah with an additional answer to his reproacher.
What is it that motivates Jehovah’s people, whatever circumstance they may be in, to serve him? The word they have heard and read commands them to be witnesses “to the most distant part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) That word they delight to keep. It pleases them to uphold Jehovah’s sovereignty, to comfort mourning ones, to direct them to the only means of salvation. But underlying all of this is their love for Jehovah, based on the first commandment, and their love for neighbor. (Matt. 22:37-39) And what is the reward they expect? The same reward that Jesus keenly anticipated: “For the joy that was set before him he endured a torture stake, despising [disregarding] shame.” Their joy in serving Jehovah is their strength. Rescuing persons of honest heart from the clutches of the evil one and assisting them to become praisers of Jehovah bring great satisfaction of heart.—Heb. 12:2; Neh. 8:10.
FORSAKING WORLDLY PRACTICES BRINGS JOY
In the world today, when things go wrong, the temptation is to ‘forget it all.’ Many try to do this by using alcohol and drugs. The accelerated use of drugs is becoming an alarming problem all over the world today. Doctors are at their wit’s end at the prospect of having to deal with a nation of drug addicts. Everyone knows that the taking of drugs only increases the problem. In this, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not go along with the world’s practice. They know what the remedy is and they endeavor to educate the people in their need of turning to Jehovah God and his Word, the Bible, so that they may hear it and keep it.
Among Jehovah’s Witnesses are some who formerly were victims of such vile practices, some having been heavily involved in drug abuse. These were helped to ‘make straight paths for their feet.’ (Heb. 12:13; 1 Cor. 6:11) Now they have dedicated themselves to Jehovah through Christ and are declaring the good news of God’s established kingdom. It happens occasionally that, by not remembering that “bad associations spoil useful habits,” a person who had started out in the right way in association with Jehovah’s Witnesses returns to his bad habits. (1 Cor. 15:33) He soon learns that he is miserable and yearns for the association of his brothers again. For example, in the Philippines, a brother was engaged in witnessing activity on the streets and noticed a bearded young man with a group of people. The young man looked somewhat familiar. It developed that he had formerly been associated with Jehovah’s Witnesses but had gotten in with the wrong crowd and was now on drugs. He expressed his disgust and said that he wanted to come back. Arrangements were made for a study with him and he is now encouraging some of his associates to study too.
The truth helped a person in Canada to make his mind over. He was trafficking in drugs illegally. A nationwide warrant was out for his arrest. For several years he evaded it. Then he started studying the Truth book. His conscience, now educated by the Bible, caused him to turn himself in. His attorney tried to dissuade him, unsuccessfully. In the trial, when the judge noted his honesty and his complete rehabilitation achieved through his association with Jehovah’s Witnesses, he gave him only a short suspended sentence. Now he is serving Jehovah, having given good attention to the Word, making his mind over, proving to himself the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.—Rom. 12:2.
One cannot be in a close relationship with Jehovah and act dishonestly. In Liberia a sister who worked in an airline office was told by her employer to tell any caller that he was out. She declined, telling him that this would not be honest, and her Bible-trained conscience would not permit her to lie. He became angry and had her transferred to another department. Her honesty was tested there too, for her new boss asked her to cover up a shortage in his petty cash. She prayed to Jehovah that night and in the morning told him the same thing that she had related to her former boss. Upset, he said no department would tolerate her attitude. But several days later he entrusted her with thousands of dollars. More importantly, her fine conduct moved a fellow employee to join her in meeting attendance and field service.
LETTING THE BIBLE SPEAK
In northeast Thailand a young sister worked as cashier in a barbershop. She refused to violate her conscience and accede to the owner’s request that she make out false tax declarations, and as a result was discharged. This freed her to enter the pioneer service. Later, the owner looked her up and asked her to return, as the cash register was always short. While appreciating this acknowledgment of her honesty, she preferred to remain in her chosen full-time preaching work. She was truly happy because she heard the word with understanding and kept it, treasured it and acted upon it. The Bible was her guide.
As a result of the fact that Jehovah’s Witnesses use the Bible when they speak to people, whether in house-to-house visits, in witnessing on the streets, or at home Bible studies, the organization progresses. In many countries today, the Bible is the sole piece of equipment that can be used, at least initially, in calling on people at their homes. So Jehovah’s Witnesses become proficient in its use, preaching the Word of God, having it at their “fingertips.” That this is successful is attested to by a report from Belgium. There members of a sincere family, formerly active attenders at one of Babylon’s churches, are now studying because Jehovah’s Witnesses made good use of the Bible. The father sang in the choir on Sundays. When other members of the family accepted a Bible study, he was urged by the clergy and others to throw Jehovah’s Witnesses out when they came to the home. Instead, he appealed to the priest to visit the family and straighten them out. When the priest and several vicars used inappropriate language but made no use of the Bible, the father was annoyed. He attended a district assembly, noted the kindness of the brothers and their cleanliness and order, and that they used the Bible; so he decided to associate with Jehovah’s Witnesses. He made tape recordings of the meetings and plays these for persons asking him why he quit the church.
When we make good use of the Bible, those we teach get the ‘sense of the word’ and start using it themselves. A newly baptized brother had been a part of a group of young people completely engrossed in doing the so-called “fun things of life.” This included “shooting drugs” and swallowing them, getting drunk, in fact, engaging in every form of immorality. A friend, studying with Jehovah’s Witnesses, impressed him with the great changes in his life. He told him what started it all. “He spoke to me from the Bible the things he was learning about Jehovah’s purposes,” he says. An unhappy, empty life for this seventeen-year-old became transformed into one filled with love for God and for neighbor. He now feels that he has eternal life before him, a life filled with meaning and purpose.
POSITION NOT IMPORTANT
When a person gets a knowledge of the truth and realizes that there is a short time in which to warn the people of the coming great tribulation and its battle of Har–Magedon, he often asks what he should do about his secular occupation. In this regard, he should consider his Christian responsibilities. If he is a married man, then he is obligated to provide for his family, and this may require his continuing in his present occupation. (1 Tim. 5:8) Some have been able to expand their share in Kingdom service without changing their secular employment. However, others have been able to make a change in employment that allows them more time for proclaiming the truth to others. Many are able to do regular or auxiliary pioneer work by adjusting their hours of secular work. For example, in Japan during this past spring, for four months in a row the total of pioneers reporting was more than 10,000, over 25 percent of all publishers, and many of these were elders and other family heads who had adjusted their regular employment in order to pioneer.
By careful planning and organization, housewives (with or without children) and young people, including those just leaving school and those on vacation, can enjoy precious privileges in the pioneer work, or otherwise reach out for more hours of service. Others on learning the truth have found themselves enslaved to time-consuming careers. Preferring to be slaves of God, they have made changes. In faith they have ‘tested Jehovah,’ and truly he has emptied out on them a blessing beyond their fondest expectations.—Mal. 3:10.
In France, a brother who formerly was a ballet dancer decided to attend an operetta with a group of Witnesses. When he picked up the tickets at the box office, there was a card in the envelope. It was from the star actor, asking the brother to visit him during intermission. He kept the appointment and there renewed acquaintance with one he had known many years before. The man had lost his wife and hoped to receive some comfort from him in view of their past friendship. The brother informed him that he was now one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and offered to study the Bible with him. His study soon convinced him that his life as an actor was shallow. He decided not to renew his contract to continue his twenty-year career on the stage. He soon found other employment, but, more importantly, he is now a faithful publisher of the Kingdom.
This experience is similar to that of a professional flamenco dancer in Spain. Her mother told her of an interesting conversation she had with a lady at their hotel about God and the Bible. The conversation was continued with the dancer herself the next morning. It so affected her that she immediately started witnessing to her troupe. Undaunted by insults and derision, she started studying, then attending meetings, and finally made her dedication. She canceled her contract. Thereafter, it took nine months before a steady job was obtained, but her new employment allowed her freedom to serve Jehovah and in this she has been richly blessed.
“In the morning sow your seed and until the evening do not let your hand rest; for you are not knowing where this will have success, either here or there, or whether both of them will alike be good.” (Eccl. 11:6) This proved to be true in Chile. Back in 1936 two publishers followed the train route to Bolivia on foot. They stopped at an isolated home for some water. They “paid” for it with a copy of The Harp of God. Twelve years later, the son of the recipients, then twenty-four, found this treasure. For the next eight years, though unable to locate Jehovah’s Witnesses, he studied and restudied the Harp, with ever-increasing appreciation. Some time later one of Jehovah’s Witnesses called at his house and offered The Watchtower to him on a subscription basis. He gladly subscribed and readily accepted the offer of a Bible study. As he progressed he dedicated his life to Jehovah and became an active preacher of the word. Overjoyed, he visited his parents’ isolated home, shared his joy with the family of eight and assisted them also to make a dedication.
An experience from another South American country shows how the sowing of seed had success ‘here and there.’ A young girl started studying the Truth book that had been placed with her. Later she discontinued the study, but, valuing the book, she sent it to her mother. The mother thought it would make a good present and gave it to her sister, who was going on a trip. The sister, however, stored it in a trunk in her son’s home. There her daughter-in-law found it and studied it. Her husband threatened to burn it, so she sent it to a friend who, in turn, gave it to his sister. What resulted from the seed sown and the much-traveled book? The “friend” has dedicated his life to Jehovah; the daughter-in-law is again studying and looking forward to baptism. Yes, indeed, the book The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life continues to have a tremendous circulation!
“YOUTH” BOOK A BOON
Now the book Your Youth—Getting the Best out of It, released at the district assemblies in 1976, is coming into its own. The way that this book has been received well illustrates the fact that when information that meets the needs of the people is made available, it is soon in great demand. To meet this demand there were printed in Brooklyn and shipped during the service year 9,003,062 copies of the Youth book.
This wonderful instrument provided by Jehovah through his “faithful and discreet slave” is greatly appreciated by young and old alike. When the book was released at the district assembly in Brazil, a seventeen-year-old remarked: “Our greatest pleasure was to see your interest in us. This book was the finest present I received in all my life. I am grateful to Jehovah and to you for giving us this book.”
Young pioneers in England reported that while they had experienced difficulty in house-to-house witnessing where older people would often ‘brush them off,’ they could choose young people to approach in street witnessing and get good results, with great encouragement to themselves.
In Trinidad a sister accompanied her husband to a dinner. During the evening a prominent member of a non-Christian faith asked her if Jehovah’s Witnesses had any trouble with juvenile delinquency. She said it was rare, but if there were an instance it would be handled in accord with Bible principles. She mentioned the new Youth book, its purpose and its price. Impressed, he said that in view of the poverty in that area, and the probability that many youths might not be able to afford even the small amount asked, he wanted to contribute $100 so that this fine book could be distributed among the youths.
A report from the Netherlands shows how young publishers can bring this valuable book to the attention of their classmates. A fifteen-year-old sister showed the book to two of her classmates. One immediately asked for a copy. Our sister, “just in case,” took three extra copies to school. All four copies were placed and the girls got busy reading them during recess. Others, noticing this and seeing the contents of the book, asked for copies themselves. Our young sister was asked to relate her experience at a circuit assembly. Four other young publishers decided to follow her lead and in a short time placed twenty books in their classes.
In Barbados a Witness schoolteacher was asked to be chairman of a prize-giving committee. As prizes the committee wanted to give books. The chairman suggested the Youth book. The committee found its contents and price most acceptable. Some fifty books were given as prizes and each committee member obtained one for himself.
SERVING WHERE THE NEED IS GREAT
Publishers in various parts of the world are still responding to the ‘Macedonian call.’ Wishing to use their time, efforts, abilities and resources to the best advantage, and, with the field already being well cared where they lived, they made themselves available to go where the need is greater. These have been doing a marvelous work. In many cases, they have had to learn a new language. In view of the increases in publishers, many have been of invaluable assistance in serving as elders in congregations. They have established new congregations and have assisted in the construction of Kingdom Halls. Some serve as circuit overseers and Branch Committee members. In many places they are the backbone of the organization. One of such “volunteers” said that he could not thank Jehovah enough for the privileges that he and his family enjoy in being so used. He expressed it: “Our life has real meaning now.”
Many who are now regular proclaimers of the Kingdom message became acquainted with the truth as a result of informal witnessing. Such witnessing, whether oral or written, continues to be an important means of reaching truth-hungry people. An experience from Portugal illustrates this. Family problems caused a pioneer’s field service to be interrupted. She read in the newspaper about a woman who had lost a close relative. This woman needed comfort, so she wrote her a friendly letter, offering comfort and hope in God’s promises. She did not expect to receive a reply. But seven months later this complete stranger telephoned her, belatedly expressing her appreciation for the letter. She said that, on receiving it, she had made up her mind that the next time one of Jehovah’s Witnesses called at her door she would listen. Now she was calling to invite the pioneer sister to be present at her baptism the following Sunday! An informal witness can be given to one’s unbelieving mate or others in the family, to one’s neighbor ‘over the back fence,’ to one’s fellow employee or fellow school student, or when traveling. There are the well-known Scriptural examples of Jesus’ witnessing to the Samaritan woman at the well, and of the evangelist Philip’s witnessing to the Ethiopian official in his chariot.
BRANCH COMMITTEE MEETINGS
Early in the service year, the Governing Body arranged for the branch coordinators and other members of the Branch Committees to attend, during October and November (1976), a series of meetings at the Brooklyn headquarters to consider various features of the branch activities and Kingdom service in general. The meetings proved to be informative and valuable. The discussion was of assistance to the Governing Body in getting a clearer picture of the work being carried on world wide by Jehovah’s Witnesses, and to determine how the headquarters could give further direction and guidance to the various branches.
All-day sessions were held (with the exception of Saturday afternoons and Sundays). In addition to the lectures and question-and-answer sessions, tours were made through the Bethel home and factories, and a very enjoyable trip to Watchtower Farms, one hundred miles northwest of Brooklyn, was arranged.
As this report is being made, arrangements are being completed to bring many more members of the Branch Committees to school at Brooklyn so that greater attention can be given to the needs of each individual branch.
Also, during the service year, members of the Governing Body and others made zone trips to all the branches. There were rewarding discussions with members of the Branch Committees, as well as with district and circuit overseers and other full-time servants. This enabled the members of the Governing Body to obtain firsthand information as to the condition of each branch and to discuss any problems that may have existed. Arrangements were made, too, for the visitor to speak to large gatherings of the brothers and interested ones. For the first time arrangements were made for all the missionaries, with few exceptions, to be brought to the branch to meet with the visiting brother and to share in a general get-together with him and other members of the branch Bethel family. The meetings with these missionaries were mutually encouraging and beneficial.
Over the years the missionaries have done valiant service in their foreign assignments and this is greatly appreciated by God’s people everywhere. They have had Jehovah’s blessing on their unsparing work, and have had great success in bringing many people to a knowledge of the truth.
One of the branch coordinators remarked that the zone visits are long remembered. He and other coordinators commented on the humility shown by the brothers serving as zone overseers as they endeavor to aid the branches to take a more positive view of the work. Each zone overseer endeavors to imitate the example of Jesus as a servant to his brothers.
There were other blessings during the year indicative of the forward expansion of the work. In order to keep up with the orders for literature from the field, so much needed to feed persons hungering for the truth, a number of branches have enlarged their facilities. Others are in the process of expanding their facilities or their operations. Among these are Australia, Brazil, Colombia, France, Greece, Japan, Kenya, New Caledonia, Nigeria, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Venezuela and Zambia. All of this is an indication of Jehovah’s blessings upon his servants who are intent on “hearing the word of God and keeping it.”
In the United States, arrangements were made for the Brooklyn factory to obtain two offset rotary printing presses so as to keep up with the demand for books and magazines. Additionally, to care more effectively for the increased work, a computer system was installed in the bookkeeping department.
Along with the expansion of branch facilities there was a continuous construction of Kingdom Halls world wide. This was because new congregations were formed and because facilities became inadequate due to increased attendance.
BLESSINGS OF THE DISTRICT ASSEMBLIES
At the “Joyful Workers” District Assemblies the brothers were thankful for a provision made whereby they could be assisted in dealing with doctors and hospitals with respect to the blood-transfusion problem. There was released the new booklet Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Question of Blood, and those present were informed that each congregation would be receiving a sufficient supply of the booklet so that every doctor, hospital administrator, nurse and lawyer could be supplied with a copy. The brothers have been looking forward with keen anticipation to a special campaign to place a copy of the booklet and a brochure in the hands of each of such persons, including each publisher’s personal physician.
All were also thrilled to receive, as releases at the assembly, the two new pocket-size books Life Does Have a Purpose and Our Incoming World Government—God’s Kingdom. Both books will be very fine aids to Jehovah’s Witnesses in paying close attention to the Scriptures and in making such information available to others.
There were also some other surprises at the assembly. These had to do with congregation organization, and this was more fully explained in an insert printed with Our Kingdom Service. As shown therein, to give better care to the records and files of the congregation, a permanent secretary will now be appointed. Thus there will always be someone on hand familiar with such details. This secretary will also handle all correspondence in behalf of the congregation, compile the field service reports and keep the Publisher’s Record cards.
Further, each congregation will now have a Watchtower study conductor and a Theocratic School overseer, each of whom will serve continuously. They may designate other elders to assist them or to substitute for them from time to time.
Another significant adjustment is the arrangement for the care of judicial matters. Instead of these being cared for by a stated committee of three (consisting of the presiding overseer, field overseer and Bible study overseer as in the past), the body of elders will henceforth select, whenever there is a need, elders whom they deem most suitable and Scripturally capable of handling a judicial matter as it arises. The body of elders will basically make use of elders experienced in such matters.
As the greatest Educator, Jehovah assuredly cares for his servants insofar as their training and teaching is concerned. He furnishes the highest form of education—education that reaches the hearts of his children, education that is solidly based on an accurate knowledge of him and of his Son, Christ Jesus. To this end he has provided schooling arrangements whereby all of Jehovah’s Witnesses can grow in understanding and in love. In addition to the Theocratic School in all the congregations, there is the Gilead School, which is operated by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., as a part of its religious activity. During the year a total of 51 students of the sixty-second and sixty-third classes of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead were trained for religious, missionary service. These students, assigned to various countries where the need is great, were equipped to go and make disciples of people in many lands, teaching them to observe the Word of God, and thus be in a position to enjoy life in God’s new order.
KINGDOM MINISTRY AND PIONEER SCHOOLS
Most of the elders of congregations world wide had attended the Kingdom Ministry School, but since the time they attended there have been a number of organizational changes. So they, as well as elders who had not had the opportunity to attend, welcomed the announcement at the district assemblies that there would be an opportunity for all elders—whether they have previously attended or not—to receive instruction in a new revised course. This is a greatly abbreviated course. Initially all the traveling overseers have the opportunity of attending. A new textbook, “Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock,” has been prepared. Following the course, each elder is permitted to retain his copy for future benefit in caring for his responsibilities as an overseer.
Even though Jehovah’s Witnesses have been very busy in preaching the good news of God’s kingdom far and wide, there are territories that have not been reached. In some countries there are large towns and cities that have so far not had the opportunity of “hearing the word of God.” In order to reach these territories, pioneers are needed, as was mentioned in the closing announcement at the district assemblies. Even in the United States, in order to develop the Kingdom work in territory that is seldom visited, there is a need for regular pioneers and special pioneers. To that end, beginning in December 1977, Pioneer Service Schools are being organized in the United States. The course is for a two-week period. The textbook used is entitled Shining as Illuminators in the World.
The Entrant’s School at Brooklyn Bethel is for the benefit of all who become members of the Bethel family. It has functioned well during the year. Periodically a group of new members embark upon a course of Bible reading and study that continues for an entire year. Studies and lectures are shared by each such group, these being conducted by older members of the Bethel family. Thereby an excellent groundwork of Bible knowledge and appreciation of God’s dealings with humankind is imparted to these students.
Not to be overlooked as a regular provision for education of Jehovah’s people are the circuit and district assemblies. Much research and study are put into the preparing of programs for these assemblies. It is truly amazing how Jehovah’s spirit interacts upon his people, so that information and suggestions for these programs, after being given prayerful consideration by the brothers at headquarters, result in presentations that are most timely and practical. Thus, for example, there were expressions received from the brothers in many lands in appreciation for the blessings received at the “Joyful Workers” District Assemblies. Just in the continental North American field there was a total attendance of 1,060,747, and 8,563 symbolized their dedication by water immersion.
Jehovah also rewarded his congregation in the 1977 service year in that for the first time there were gathered together over five million persons to celebrate the Memorial of Christ’s death. Many persons of honest heart, who learned of the truth through reading the publications produced by the Society and who attended the celebration, indicated that for the first time they understood the purpose of the celebration.
In Honduras where there are just 3,300 publishers, these made a special effort to invite all interested ones in the country to the Memorial celebration. The reward for their effort was an attendance of over 15,000! In order to accommodate the crowds, some of the congregations had up to ten or more celebrations in their territory.
Speaking of the momentous times in which we now live, Jesus prophesied: “Also, in all the nations the good news has to be preached first.” (Mark 13:10) This is what Jehovah’s Witnesses are now doing throughout the entire earth. The accompanying chart shows how extensive is the work accomplished during the service year of 1977. Truly, it makes our hearts glad to see that God’s people are so busy in proclaiming his kingdom in so many places. Rich blessings and fruitage have accompanied their zealous witnessing, as they faithfully gather in the “sheep” for salvation during the time of the “great tribulation.”
The report is set out in detail in the accompanying pages.
GLOBAL KINGDOM SERVICE ACTIVITY
During the 1977 service year there were several countries that went under ban, due to the wrath of Satan, as the preaching of the truth has further exposed his organization This brings to 46 the countries in which the spreading of the good news of God’s kingdom is officially prohibited or is under restrictions. While this results in some curtailment in the preaching work, our brothers in those countries have not ‘given up in doing what is fine.’ Their determination to serve the interests of Jehovah’s established kingdom is an inspiration to us all. In some instances the work has increased, with some who had become ‘weary in well doing’ waking up to their privileges and getting involved in providing an answer to Jehovah’s reproacher. Some who had become lax in meeting attendance now clamor to make their homes available for the assembling together of smaller groups, in places where public assembling is prohibited. So the ‘weak hands’ and ‘wobbling knees’ have been strengthened by Jehovah.—Gal. 6:9; 2 Thess. 3:13; Prov. 27:11; Isa. 35:3.
Kingdom preaching activity from 216 countries under the supervision of 96 branches reached a peak of 2,223,538 publishers. This was a decrease when compared with the year 1976. There are various factors contributing to this. With a decrease in the number of those reporting, it is understandable that the hours spent (321,424,305) of those reporting would be less. The number of those engaged in the pioneer service has increased nicely over last year, this year there being an average of 119,289 pioneer publishers, to compare with 113,926 the previous year. According to reports from congregations, many brothers and sisters have welcomed the new arrangement for auxiliary pioneer service. Some regular pioneers, being unable to reach the quota of hours suggested for them, due to health, age and other factors, transferred to the auxiliary pioneer service. There has been good support for the auxiliary pioneer service world wide and it is hoped that more will enroll and enjoy the blessings of Jehovah that attend it.
As has been seen from the foregoing report, Jehovah’s people are a publishing, printing and preaching society (Matt. 24:14; 2 Tim. 4:2), a teaching society (Matt. 28:19, 20; Col. 3:16), an evangelizing society (2 Tim. 4:5), and a witnessing society. (Isa. 43:10; Acts 1:8) All of this is reflected in the very gratifying report of the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses during the year 1977. What a privilege to represent the King of Eternity as the old system of his adversary nears its end! We look forward with keen anticipation to the continued favor of Jehovah as the blessings of his kingdom become more apparent.
[Chart on pages 24-31]
1977 SERVICE YEAR REPORT OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES WORLD WIDE