1979 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses
We live in a restless and mixed-up world. With each passing day people observe and experience things that add to their anxieties. Many are bewildered. They do not know what to do or where to turn to get relief from the pressures and problems of life. They see governments in turmoil. Economic problems go unsolved and inflation plagues many lands. Pollution is causing all kinds of health problems. Morally, there is a serious breakdown. Religious paradoxes and hypocrisy abound. Despite the “leadership” of many prominent individuals in government, business, science, religion, social activity and other fields, the world is in a mess.
With all the publicized talk that comes from leaders who wield authority in this world, it is timely to ask: Is there anyone among them who really knows the right way to go? Can there be found among the leaders of thought in the world anyone to whom people can turn to get satisfying answers to their vital questions, or to find a sure hope for the future? Whom can the people follow with assurance that they will not be disappointed? Is there a leader who can bring them out of their confused and bedarkened state and provide the direction they so sorely need at this time?
It is not at all presumptuous for us to say that there is a leader in whom people can place their full confidence. A little time is required for one to learn the facts so as to be convinced of this and to identify that leader unerringly. There is an abundance of evidence to support his claims and credentials if one will just take the necessary time and be patient enough to examine it. Really, that is asking so little if it means getting set straight and gaining the present and future benefits that come from following this leader. He has already done so much for those who have willingly chosen to follow him. Individuals who are not yet benefiting from his leadership still have an opportunity to take their stand on his side. If you have not yet made this decision, are you interested in doing so?
The situation today calls for someone altogether different from any of the multiplicity of imperfect human leaders who are failing to cope with mankind’s growing problems. There is an urgent need for a leader who can unify people from among all nations and who possesses qualifications to solve whatever problems need attention. It surprises many persons when they are told that such a leader has been actively on the scene for some time now. He has not come into this position by virtue of his being elected as the people’s choice. Primarily he occupies his office by reason of God’s appointment. About whom are we talking? Let’s briefly review a little history.
FOLLOWING OUR GOD-APPOINTED LEADER
Nineteen hundred years ago a group of close associates were given some unusual counsel by their leader about greatness. It was most appropriate since 10 of them had become indignant over a question involving prominence that had been requested for two other members of the group. Using an example, he said to them: “You know that the rulers of the nations lord it over them and the great men wield authority over them. This is not the way among you; but whoever wants to become great among you must be your minister, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave.” (Matt. 20:25-27) The speaker on that occasion was none other than Jesus Christ. He had already demonstrated his greatness by what he taught and the way he ministered to others. Previously, he had been telling his followers about the trials and kind of death awaiting him. The 12 men to whom he was speaking were his apostles. Two of them were brothers whose mother had asked that they be given positions at the right- and left-hand side of Jesus in his kingdom.—Matt. 20:17-24.
Not only was Jesus the recognized leader of those 12 apostles and other disciples who followed him, but he was destined to become a ruler, yes, a king sitting upon a throne, in the kingdom of God. (Matt. 23:10; 25:31-34) In pointing out what greatness involves, Jesus used himself as an example, tying in a twofold reason for his coming to this earth. Note his words: “Just as the Son of man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many.” (Matt. 20:28) Being sent from heaven, Jesus came to serve his Father, to do His will, at the same time ministering in a way that would benefit the world of mankind.
In order to accomplish his mission, it was necessary for Jesus Christ to leave the realm above, divest himself of heavenly glory and humbly accept an earthly assignment, where tests and trials would serve to perfect his obedience. According to the Scriptures, “he emptied himself and took a slave’s form and came to be in the likeness of men. More than that, when he found himself in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient as far as death, yes, death on a torture stake.” (Phil. 2:7, 8) It certainly took great humility on his part to serve God in this way. No other human has ever given up anything that comes near to comparing with what Jesus Christ gave up in order to please God.
In ‘taking a slave’s form’ Jesus came to minister or to serve. He did not waste time or procrastinate in carrying out his assigned work. Following his baptism in the Jordan River he was anointed with God’s holy spirit. Under its impulse he was led into the wilderness, where he no doubt meditated on the course ahead of him. (Ps. 19:14) During his 40-day period in the wilderness he successfully resisted the Devil’s temptations. (Matt. 4:1-10) Shortly thereafter Jesus embarked on an intensive work of preaching and teaching. There was no ambiguity about his message. Matthew’s account reads: “From that time on Jesus commenced preaching and saying: ‘Repent, you people, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.”’ (Matt. 4:17) He did not limit his activity to any one location, such as his hometown of Nazareth where he had been brought up. At a synagogue meeting in Nazareth, Jesus read his commission from Isaiah 61:1, 2. He left that town shortly thereafter to spend some time elsewhere in Galilee touring cities and villages, preaching the good news of the Kingdom and teaching, as well as performing miraculous cures. Multitudes were attracted to hear his words and seek relief from their infirmities. Observing their condition Jesus knew there was a need for more workers because the harvest was great. (Matt. 9:35-38) He saw to it that those workers were provided by training his apostles and disciples to go forth with the same message of hope that he was proclaiming. Due to the urgency of the time, they were not to be burdened down with an excess of personal effects; just the essentials would suffice.—Matt. 10:5-10; Luke 10:1, 2.
When the time came for him to “give his soul a ransom in exchange for many” he did not hold back but displayed his greatness by willingly submitting to a sacrificial death. (Mark 10:45) He was falsely accused of being a criminal blasphemer. Laying down his life in this way was not easy but was a real test of faith and devotion. This is evident from his prayer: “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from me. Yet, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matt. 26:39) His faithfulness until death glorified his Father’s name, proved his own integrity and worthiness to be exalted to God’s right hand and has resulted in the greatest benefits for the entire human family.
There have been many individuals down through the corridors of time who have tried to make a name for themselves in history as human leaders. But none can compare with Jesus Christ. He excels them all in greatness. Jesus stands alone as the one whom God has appointed as a leader, not just for the fleshly descendants of Abraham but for all national groups, that is, members of all races of mankind who choose to follow him. (Isa. 55:4) While the first ones to follow him in the first century of our Common Era were from among the fleshly nation of Israel, in due time people from among the Gentiles or non-Jewish nations accepted him and became his disciples.
In our time there are hundreds of millions of people who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ. But where is the proof that they are really such? As recorded at Matthew 16:24, Jesus said: “If anyone wants to come after me, let him disown himself and pick up his torture stake and continually follow me.” Are the hundreds of millions of adherents to Christendom’s churches doing that? Are they proving themselves his disciples by bearing righteous fruit and making known the truth concerning his kingdom? Christendom’s own leaders admit that they are not.
In striking contrast, Jehovah’s Witnesses recognize and publicly acknowledge Jesus Christ as their leader and model, whose steps they are determined to follow closely. (1 Pet. 2:21) They are obeying his command to preach the good news of the Kingdom in all the world for a witness, doing so in over 200 lands. They are also making disciples by teaching people all the things that Jesus Christ commanded should be observed. The fact that 95,052 new disciples were baptized during the 1978 service year gives evidence of their determination to fulfill the commission to preach the Kingdom good news and teach others right down to the conclusion of the system of things. (Matt. 28:19, 20) Are you one of such disciples? If not, would you be interested in becoming a dedicated follower of Jesus Christ, even as hundreds of thousands of others have because of being taught and helped by zealous servants of Jehovah God?
Jehovah’s Witnesses in these modern times are doing all they can to make disciples while there is yet time. They realize they must continue their God-given work of spreading the message from God’s Word without letup. As to the extent to which this must be done, they have taken to heart the direction provided by their leader, Jesus Christ. Toward the end of the 40-day period following his resurrection, Jesus assembled with some of his disciples at a prearranged meeting on the Mount of Olives on “the day that he was taken up.” On that occasion he made it plain that their work would extend far beyond Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, in fact, “to the most distant part of the earth.” (Acts 1:1-9) Hence, Jehovah’s Witnesses today are convinced, even as those early disciples of Jesus were, that their Christian activity must be carried out on a global scale, to the fullest extent possible. The 1978 Service Year Report of Jehovah’s Witnesses set out on pages 24-31 in this Yearbook is clear evidence that this and other commands given by Jesus Christ are being carried out today.
SOCIETIES AND CORPORATIONS USED IN CHRISTIAN ACTIVITY
In order to carry on the global Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making work properly, a number of religious corporations and associations have been formed. The principal purpose for establishing these various organizations is in line with what is set out in the articles of incorporation of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania (organized in the year 1884), namely, “to preach the gospel of God’s kingdom under Christ Jesus unto all nations as a witness to the name, word and supremacy of Almighty God JEHOVAH” and to employ such means as are necessary to accomplish that purpose.
The officers of all such corporations or associations are Jehovah’s Christian witnesses, dedicated servants of Jehovah God and disciples of Jesus Christ. They all perform any legal duties incumbent upon them freely, and without monetary consideration, all as unto Jehovah.—Col. 3:23, 24.
So that the religious activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses may be carried on as smoothly as possible, the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania has established branches in all parts of the world. There are 98 branch offices that care for the interests of God’s people in all the lands where the “good news” is now being proclaimed. The facilities in a number of these branches include printing plants where Bibles, books, magazines and other publications are produced for use by Jehovah’s Witnesses and for distribution world wide for the benefit of truth seekers.
This year saw the introduction of the highly efficient offset printing process on a large scale. It made possible the publishing of the Society’s first multicolored publication My Book of Bible Stories.
As part of its chartered purposes, the Watch Tower Society also sends out ministers and other representatives, such as missionaries, special pioneers and traveling overseers, into domestic and foreign fields. This has involved an expenditure of $14,914,756.03 this past year in all parts of the world. Voluntary contributions on the part of Jehovah’s Witnesses have made this possible and we are thankful to our heavenly Father for his spirit in moving the hearts of those who have shared their material resources and thus ‘honored Jehovah with their valuable things.’—Prov. 3:9.
WATCH TOWER’S VENTURE INTO COMPUTER OPERATIONS
The year 1978 saw considerable progress in the Society’s venture into computer operations. Why was this step taken? Because of the trend throughout the printing industry. Less and less equipment is being manufactured for printing by means of typesetting that involves the use of hot metal. So the Society has no alternative but to move into computer operation if it is to keep on publishing books and magazines. To this end, a meeting was held in Wiesbaden, Federal Republic of Germany, late in 1977 at which coordinators and other representatives from 17 branches directly interested in this major step met with representatives from the Brooklyn headquarters. The first of such computer systems was installed in Brooklyn in July 1978. It will be used for program development in three principal areas: (1) bookkeeping and records (2) magazine distribution (3) publishing. While these applications will be used first in Brooklyn, their design includes extension in the future to other branches.
BETHEL FAMILIES AROUND THE WORLD
Bethel means “House of God” and aptly identifies the residence of devoted men and women who care for the various activities at the branch locations around the world. The members of each Bethel family have unique privileges of sacred service. They are able to spend their full time at assigned duties that serve the interests of the Kingdom in all parts of the earth. They render a variety of services. Whether they have duties to perform in the Bethel home, care for work at the various offices, work in the factory producing the literature, or serve on one of the Society’s farms where food is produced for the Bethel family, they view all these assignments as essential. By close cooperation, members of the Bethel family are able to accomplish a tremendous amount of work in getting the Kingdom message out in printed form to all parts of the world. For example, during the past year they shared in producing a total of 70,576,240 Bibles, books and booklets and 422,285,935 Watchtower and Awake! magazines. Millions of other pieces of printed matter including tracts, programs, handbills, and so forth, were also produced.
The largest group serving in this way is located in the United States. At the Brooklyn headquarters there are 1,825 members in the Bethel family, and, together with the 646 serving at Watchtower Farms, we now have a total of 2,471. Earth wide there are upward of 3,000 who enjoy this special privilege of Bethel service. All of them share in preaching the good news of the Kingdom in association with the congregations to which they are assigned.
VARIOUS SCHOOLS IN OPERATION WORLD WIDE
The Society’s charter provides for the establishment of private Bible schools and classes.
The Watchtower Bible School of Gilead has been used ever since 1943 to train and equip dedicated and qualified men and women for missionary service. This past year, 53 graduated from the school and were sent to assignments in 25 lands. At the present time Gilead graduates are serving in more than 120 different lands in various parts of the earth. They are doing a wonderful work and their efforts have been richly blessed.
In Brooklyn, starting in December 1977, the first class of the new school for Branch Committee members began. During the year four classes were held. Others will follow in the 1979 service year. The course provides units of instruction on Scriptural subjects, organizational matters and practical training in the home, offices and factory. The entire program has been prepared to help those attending to fulfill the many responsibilities involved in caring for the work in their assigned territories. It has been most encouraging and upbuilding to them, and their wives who could be present, to be in association with the brothers at the Brooklyn headquarters. Their reports and experiences about the work in their own lands have been greatly appreciated by members of the Bethel family in Brooklyn and at Watchtower Farms.
A big responsibility rests on the congregation elders who are charged with paying attention to themselves and to all the flock over which the holy spirit has appointed them overseers. (Acts 20:28) Arrangements were made during the year for them to receive special instruction at the Kingdom Ministry School. Many new elders have been appointed within the last few years and they see the need to learn from more experienced elders as they cooperate with one another. The Denmark branch wrote: “This 15-hour course was just what was needed. Fine material was presented in an effective way with many questions drawing out the thoughts and insight of the elders on various points.”
Since the 1977 district assemblies, many have been looking forward to the benefits of the Pioneer Service School. During the year thousands of regular and special pioneers, missionaries and wives of traveling overseers have greatly benefited from the course. It has proved to be a tremendous source of encouragement to those who have attended the school, and they feel rejuvenated spiritually, determined to press on as more effective servants in preaching and teaching the good news of the Kingdom.
Since the course allows for those in the class to engage in actual field witnessing, some interesting experiences take place. In Colombia one group of 22 students obtained three subscriptions, placed 95 magazines and 124 books and started 30 home Bible studies. They themselves were amazed with the results when territory is covered thoroughly.
One 73-year-old pioneer in Jamaica said: “I had been thinking about giving up pioneering since I felt I could no longer manage it. The school has brought new life to me.” All of those who have gone to the school are now in a position to put their training to good use in territory where there is a greater need.
In all the 42,255 congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses the Theocratic School is conducted. Those enrolled are given regular assignments to present. All in the congregation are encouraged to keep up with the Bible reading program week by week. The benefits of this school are reflected in the improved ability our brothers now have to converse with others on Bible topics and to conduct home Bible studies more effectively. Also, the school has helped qualified male Christians to handle service meeting assignments and has trained many of them as public speakers.
In addition to these schools, some of the larger branches conduct a school for new members of the Bethel family. The instruction in all these educational arrangements is based on God’s Word. By making personal application of the things learned, individuals who are taught in the various schools are able to make their advancement manifest.—1 Tim. 4:15, 16.
FAITH MANIFEST BY WORKS
Throughout the world Jehovah’s Witnesses find that their taking in knowledge of the Bible increases their faith; they are strengthened by attending the regular weekly meetings of the congregation. Besides the Theocratic School there is a weekly service meeting and congregation book studies, as well as a public Bible lecture and the Watchtower study, all of which provide excellent material for consideration. These meetings build up the spirituality of God’s people, help them to cope with the problems of life and to live in accord with Scriptural principles, while also encouraging all associated to have a regular share in witnessing to others.
During the year Jehovah’s Witnesses spent 307,272,262 hours in the field service, endeavoring to help others. In addition to giving a witness concerning the Kingdom, their commission is to make disciples, actually teaching people the basic Bible truths that will enable them to come out of Babylon the Great, separate themselves from the world and take a firm stand on the side of the truth. (John 18:37) Service campaigns that received excellent support world wide included the tract distributions and placing the Blood booklet. Two fine tracts were used to good advantage. One dealt with the subject “The Family—Can It Survive?” while the other asked the interesting question “Why Are We Here?” These subjects provided a good basis for introducing the message at the doors, and for then developing a fine discussion wherever possible. Often literature was placed that led to home Bible studies.
Use of Bible literature by Jehovah’s Witnesses is helping them to reach many individuals with the truth. For example, in a new territory to which special pioneers were assigned, a report from Colombia says: “We want to let you know that the preaching work here in El Bordo has been accepted readily and in six weeks the four of us have placed 1,067 books. We are already conducting 18 home Bible studies. My 10-year-old son has placed 68 books and is conducting two studies. With the help of the nearby congregation in Pasto, we were able to get six benches and we have started to have meetings. Last Sunday there were 35 persons in attendance. We believe that, with Jehovah’s blessing, we will be able to start a congregation.”
Our brothers in Portugal are very happy to have a variety of Bible aids to use in their Bible study work, as indicated in this report: “How wonderful to have a publication for any type of person we meet! The Youth book has a strong appeal to teen-agers, and one young special pioneer brother placed 199 copies at high schools during a recent campaign. Above all, we rejoice to see more and more people seriously studying the Bible with us as the number of home Bible studies has been over 16,000 for the last two months.”
The special campaign with the booklet Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Question of Blood produced excellent results. It served to acquaint doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, judges and lawyers with the position of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Many letters were received at the Society’s headquarters, as well as at the branch offices, in which people expressed their appreciation for the fine Scriptural explanation presented in the booklet. It has enabled individuals in these professional fields to recognize the Scriptural and reasonable position taken by Jehovah’s Witnesses on this vital issue.
AUXILIARY PIONEER SERVICE
It has been observed that the ranks of the auxiliary pioneers have shown a fine increase in many countries throughout the world. Those unable to arrange their affairs to share in the regular pioneer service have found that they can continuously or at different times of the year share in the auxiliary pioneer work. Quite a number of elders and ministerial servants have been in a position to share in the auxiliary pioneer service, thus providing a fine example for others in the congregation. They have been able to spend more time with publishers in the field, especially with some of the younger ones.
‘THEY WILL FIGHT AGAINST YOU’
During the year our brothers have found great comfort in the yeartext taken from Jeremiah 1:19: “And they will be certain to fight against you, but they will not prevail against you, for ‘I am with you,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘to deliver you.’” Time and again Christians have placed their confidence in these reassuring words, especially in lands where there has been opposition to the Kingdom work and our brothers have come under great pressure and have suffered from violent persecution. There are more than 40 countries where an official ban or other restrictions have been imposed on the Christian worship and activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In all these lands our brothers demonstrate a victorious faith and willingly continue to endure the harassments, indignities, detentions and other forms of persecution because they follow Jesus Christ as their Leader and do good to people.—Matt. 24:9; 1 Pet. 3:16, 17.
In one African country the brothers find it extremely difficult and dangerous to meet together. Nevertheless, they remember the admonition at Hebrews 10:24, 25 and have found ways of coming together in worship. According to a report, “curfews in some places allow only two to six hours per day for freedom to move away from one’s home. This has posed big problems, especially in congregations where the brothers are scattered.”
In another African land our brothers are confined to certain areas where ‘their movements are greatly restricted; they are not allowed to leave the camps even to get needed provisions.’
In still another land the brothers are not allowed to receive literature from outside the country, although the spiritual food is somehow provided by our heavenly Father to sustain the brothers. In one African land 5 percent of the brothers have spent time in prison. Some are still there. A number have experienced tortures and three have been killed. (John 16:2) Jesus indicated that such things would befall some of his followers as a test of their faith and integrity. But, as in his own case, such faithfulness would work out to God’s glory and praise.—1 Pet. 1:6-8.
In addition to the official opposition that Jehovah’s Witnesses experience, we must not overlook what the Scriptures foretold about domestic opposition in divided households. Many of our brothers have to endure opposition from unbelieving members of their own families. In many cases the fine conduct of the believer serves to win over an opposer. (Matt. 10:34-38; 1 Pet. 3:1, 2) There has been opposition, but it has not stopped Jehovah’s Witnesses from worshiping God. Truly, our brothers have appreciated the truthfulness of the 1978 yeartext at Jeremiah 1:19.
“VICTORIOUS FAITH” INTERNATIONAL CONVENTIONS OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES
When the December 1, 1976, issue of The Watchtower first announced that plans were being made for the international conventions to be held in 1978, it said: “God’s Word clearly states that the ‘scene of this world is changing.’ (1 Cor. 7:31) Despite the increasing uncertainty and tension as the present system of things nears its end, the activity of God’s people must move ahead in having the ‘everlasting good news’ declared in all the earth. (Rev. 14:6) Therefore, if it be Jehovah’s will, a series of international conventions will be held during the year 1978.” By the end of the service year most of the international conventions that were planned for the northern hemisphere had become part of our modern-day history.
In reviewing some of the highlights of the “Victorious Faith” International Conventions it is evident that this was the big event of the year, another milestone in the forward movement of Jehovah’s visible organization. The lives of all of those who had the privilege of attending were certainly enriched by what they were able to see, hear and experience. As we are told at Proverbs 10:22: “The blessing of Jehovah—that is what makes rich, and he adds no pain with it.” For the abundant outpouring of Jehovah’s blessings we are certainly thankful.
FIVE-DAY PROGRAM GREATLY APPRECIATED
Many expressions of appreciation have been received for the timely and practical program that was arranged. The brothers felt that the information that was presented really came to grips with the problems of life and that what was served at these spiritual feasts was truly food at the proper time. (Matt. 24:45) There was something for everyone. Whether they were overseers, young people, married couples or little children, all received information that they felt was especially applicable in their lives.
The information on the first day’s program was particularly helpful to elders in the congregation, encouraging them to carry on as men and to pay attention to the flock as well as do the work of evangelizers. One brother who appreciated the points that were emphasized said: “The repeated reminders to us elders of our responsibilities was the highlight of this convention.”
Many who have been contemplating taking the step into the full-time service appreciated the second day’s talks on pioneering and Bethel service. Quite a number acted on the information by filling out applications to take up these branches of full-time service. The parts on that afternoon’s program enthused the brothers in preparation for the special witnessing that was to be engaged in during the convention. The brothers appreciated the Scriptural reasons that were given to show why we must work hard in our preaching activity, stay clean as bearers of Jehovah’s vessels and continue to walk by faith as we work together with God in the worldwide field.
The third afternoon focused attention on the youth in the organization, encouraging them to be examples in faith. There was a most enthusiastic response to the release of the new publication My Book of Bible Stories. It was certainly heartwarming to observe the reaction of many of the younger ones when they received their personal copies of the book at the time of its release. Many began reading it immediately and others clutched copies to their bosoms, indicating that they really treasured this new publication.
On the fourth day the talks dealing with marriage and making family life happy were very well received. Regarding the release of the book Making Your Family Life Happy, one individual said: “Families today are under much pressure. We are very happy to hear so much information designed to help families deal with these pressing problems.”
Then on the final day came faith-strengthening talks that were climaxed in the morning session by the release of the cassette tapes entitled “The Good News According to John.” Many were excited about the possibilities of using this tape recording in different ways to help the infirm and incapacitated as well as those who have difficulty in reading. The public talk on the subject “Jesus Christ—Victorious King with Whom Nations Must Reckon” incorporated a fine explanation of Psalm 45. The audience was impressed with the fact that the day of reckoning for all nations is near, but that those who are on the side of the warrior-king, Jesus Christ, need have no dread of that time of reckoning, providing they have the approval of this victorious king and his heavenly Father, Jehovah.
There were four dramas presented on the convention program, each one of them containing powerful points that were easily understood and that should be applied. Regarding the drama dealing with Lot and his escape from the doomed cities of the plain, one conventioner observed: “This drama emphasized how important it is to separate ourselves from any strong attachment to this system that has materialistic pursuits as its goal.”
SPECIAL CONVENTION WITNESSING
Prior to the series of conventions an insert in Our Kingdom Service built up enthusiasm for the special witnessing featured on the third morning of the convention. In most of the cities where this was carried on, an attractive yellow and blue plastic service kit was also included for use by the conventioners. Each service kit contained copies of the new brochure entitled “Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Twentieth Century,” which was released at the convention on the preceding afternoon. The kit also included current copies of The Watchtower and Awake! and the special handbills that were used to invite the public to attend the convention sessions and the public lecture.
It was observed that the majority of the brothers attending the conventions participated in this special witnessing campaign. In one city about 75 percent of Thursday’s attendance participated in the field service on Friday, which meant that 32,000 publishers were in the field that morning. One observer commented that in downtown Seattle, Washington (U.S.A.), it looked like a sea of dandelions Friday morning because of all the yellow service kits that were visible. In Honolulu, Hawaii, the brothers reported that the entire city was thoroughly covered as a result of the two conventions held there. In Dublin, Ireland, activity at the convention was closed down for most of Friday morning to allow everyone to participate in the special witnessing activity. The same thing was done at one of the conventions in Japan. It was marvelous to see the enthusiasm and spirit displayed by the brothers who shared in this special effort to reach the public with the Kingdom message. Fine publicity was given to the special convention witnessing. In several cities reporters from local newspapers accompanied the brothers as they went from house to house. Later, they wrote interesting stories that appeared in the local press.
CONVENTION PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS ROLE OF JESUS CHRIST
On the final afternoon the talk entitled “Did We Get the Sense of It?” reviewed the convention program. Judging by the enthusiastic response of the brothers, it was evident that the conventioners did grasp the meaning of the timely material that was presented. This included an appreciation for the role of Jesus Christ as a world conqueror and victorious king, the one whom Jehovah’s Witnesses recognize as their Leader and whom Jehovah God has appointed as head of the Christian congregation.
In the keynote address on the first morning the speaker had said: “What a grand privilege to be united with the Supreme Sovereign of all the universe through his Son, Jesus Christ, the One whose blood ‘cleanses us from all sin’! . . . Will you thus magnify the name of Jehovah and the kingdom of his Son, Jesus Christ? So doing, you too may succeed gloriously as world conquerors by faith.”
On the second afternoon the “Declaration of Our Faith” expressed the determination of the conventioners by saying: “We know we must give proof of our faith in Jesus Christ as our Ransomer and Head and King,. . .” (See pages 256-258.)
In harmony with the talk on the final morning, “To Whom Shall We Go but Jesus Christ? Jehovah’s Witnesses feel like Peter when he answered the question that the Master asked him: “You do not want to go also, do you?” The apostle Peter said: “Lord, whom shall we go away to? You have sayings of everlasting life.” Truly there is no other leader to whom we can turn.—John 6:67, 68.
In the public lecture a high point was reached when the speaker asked: “Are we joining in with the psalmist and saying for everybody to hear: ‘My works are concerning a king’? We have no reason to be ashamed of this king, God’s own anointed one. So our principal ‘works’ should be speaking, teaching and preaching about this royal Messiah. We are working mainly in behalf of his Kingdom interests, not in behalf of any of the worldly kingdoms that are nearing their disastrous end. We are stirred to use our tongues in advertising God’s kingdom and his anointed King.”
OTHER INTERESTING ASPECTS OF THE CONVENTIONS
In some lands international conventions were held for the first time. This was true of Portugal. Up until 1974 Jehovah’s people could have no assemblies in that country and so congregational meetings had to be held in small groups in private homes, and even so, the brothers were often troubled by the police. There were similar problems in the preaching work when some of the brothers were arrested and tried in courts. But this year, for the very first time in Portugal, public advertising of the convention’s main talk was carried out. It was quite an experience for the brothers to form such a big assembly organization and put on a five-day program.
A similar situation has obtained in Spain, and this year for the first time an international convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses was held on Spanish soil. As the brothers in Spain explained: “In 1973 it was impossible to obtain permission for such a convention. Since then there have been many changes in Spain, resulting in greater freedom of expression. Thus a search was started in 1977 to find a suitable location to bring together some 50,000 people.”
The brothers in Spain certainly have reason to rejoice over the 54,000 that attended the convention in that country. They received fine publicity in the press and over television, resulting in a countrywide witness being given.
Two international conventions were also held in Greece, a country where our brothers have suffered from restrictions for many years. The attendance of 28,417 at the conventions in Athens and Thessalonica brought great rejoicing to the brothers in Greece. It was a source of encouragement to have foreign delegates visiting them on these occasions.
For the first time, the brothers in Italy had more than 100,000 in attendance at the international conventions, which were held in Milan and Rome. All together 111,320 were present, thus giving a tremendous witness in that Catholic country. La Nota devoted a full page to the Milan convention, making the comment that it was the greatest non-Catholic assembly held in Milan for many centuries. The article went on to describe the brothers at the convention as orderly, quiet, precise, clean and organized. It also said that they were holding their convention in absolute serenity. The following week, while many persons in Rome were mourning the death of Pope Paul VI, Jehovah’s Witnesses held their convention in that city and received widespread publicity due to so many reporters being in Rome that week.
Over in the Orient four conventions were held in Japan with a peak attendance of 78,136. In order to get to the convention in Osaka, more than 800 brothers from Okinawa endured a very rough sea voyage that required 64 hours rather than the usual 35. They missed the first day’s sessions due to the delay caused by a typhoon. The same storm drenched the brothers at the first day’s sessions in Osaka, but the audience just stayed right on through the program.
Of the total number baptized at 71 conventions held in the northern hemisphere it is interesting to note that nearly 34 percent were immersed in the four countries of Portugal, Spain, Italy and Japan. Apparently there are still many to be helped in these lands before the four figurative winds of destruction described in Revelation, chapter seven, are released.
It was certainly stimulating to hear from so many of the missionaries serving in foreign fields as well as to have the privilege of meeting with them in the convention cities where this was arranged. In some places there were only a few present, while at the larger conventions there were sizable groups that came together. The largest missionary meetings were in Montreal, Canada, and Munich, Federal Republic of Germany. It was delightful for all present to enjoy a special meal together and to hear from those who have been faithfully serving in their missionary assignments. Many have spent 10, 20, 30 and more years in these special fields. Some from earlier classes of Gilead School have grown old in their assignments but are continuing on in faith, thus setting a fine example of endurance. Without exception the missionaries wanted to express their thanks to all the brothers whose contributions during the year made it possible for them to attend an international convention in their native country and visit with family members and friends. So through this report we are pleased to convey to Jehovah’s Witnesses throughout the world the thanks and appreciation of these missionaries for such generosity.
CHART SHOWING ATTENDANCE FIGURES AND THE NUMBER BAPTIZED AT CONVENTION CITIES
The following chart shows the attendance at the public meeting and the number baptized at each convention city. At a number of these conventions, sessions were conducted in various languages. For example, in Montreal, Canada, sessions were conducted simultaneously in Arabic, French, Greek, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish as well as English. The Montreal convention was also outstanding in that the largest number attended the public talk in that city when compared with all other “Victorious Faith” International Conventions held to this writing. It was the largest convention ever held in Canada and had a tremendous effect, not only on the people in the city of Montreal, but also on the Province of Quebec.
The series of “Victorious Faith” International Conventions that began with the first ones held from June 14 to 18 in the United States continued during September and October in Southeast Asia, and then from the latter part of November through January (1979) in Central and South America, the South Pacific and in several countries on the African continent.
WORLDWIDE SERVICE ACTIVITY
When we consider the service that has been accomplished during the 1978 service year, it gives us cause for gratitude. (Ps. 32:11) The activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the worldwide field are set out on the accompanying chart. At the conclusion of the alphabetical list of countries, you will find that a number of lands are grouped together. This is due to the severe opposition and other problems that exist in such places. Difficult conditions are being encountered in other countries too, but the dangers are such in the 16 countries whose reports are combined that it is not advisable to list them separately. In all parts of the world there are problems of one kind or another, including opposition, persecution, economic hardships and other trials. As with the apostles and early disciples, Jehovah’s servants today have been able to persevere in giving the worldwide witness because of the help and strength that God supplies. (Acts 26:22; 1 Pet. 4:11) They find much joy in thus serving despite the various trials that must be endured.—Jas. 1:2-4.
Reports have been received from 205 lands and islands of the sea. The decrease in the total number of countries lies in the fact that reports from several of them are now combined with those of other branches. For example, last year such places as Manus Island, New Britain, New Guinea, New Ireland and the North Solomons were listed separately. This year they are all included in the report from Papua New Guinea since they now form one country. Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharja are shown now as United Arab Emirates. Bequia, Carriacou and Tobago are now part of St. Vincent, Grenada and Trinidad respectively. And Bhutan now reports with India.
There has been an overall 1.4-percent decrease in the number of Kingdom publishers. This has had a bearing on the decline in other features of the work as far as the totals are concerned. There are individual countries where increases continue, whereas other lands show a leveling off or a drop in activity. While 95,052 new ones were baptized in expression of their faith, thus declaring themselves to be disciples of Jesus Christ, this has not resulted in a proportionate increase in the number of Kingdom publishers. On the contrary, there were 2,086,698, on the average, who shared in making known the “good news” compared with 2,117,194 the year before. The peak number of publishers came to 2,182,341, which is also below that of last year. It is obvious that for one reason or another a number did not share in giving a witness each month, and others became inactive.
How should we view this situation? There is certainly no need to become unduly disturbed and lose our spiritual balance. As with all other things, Christians let God’s Word adjust their thinking and set things straight in their minds. Jehovah always provides them with needed direction in his own time and way. He never forsakes his people. (1 Ki. 8:57; Ps. 94:14) During this new service year, we will confidently look to him, praying for his guidance and working to retrieve any who have strayed. (Matt. 18:12-14) If there are those in our congregations who have slacked their hand, efforts should be made, especially by those who are undershepherds, to encourage them kindly by word and, above all, by setting a good example.—Heb. 12:12, 13; 1 Cor. 11:1.
At the same time, we will have in mind the scriptures that forewarn us of what to expect. Some will stumble and fall away or become unfruitful for various reasons. (Matt. 13:18-22) Furthermore, as shown at Revelation 3:15, 16, the Lord Jesus Christ, who knows the spiritual condition of each one who professes to be his follower, does not tolerate lukewarmness. He advises any who are in that state now to rectify their condition if they are to please him. And just as some deviated from the truth in the first century, it is not surprising that the same thing happens today. Jehovah knows those who belong to him. (2 Tim. 2:18, 19) Warning examples of what befell the Israelites as they were about to enter the Promised Land should keep us individually from becoming overconfident. (1 Cor. 10:12) The seriousness of this matter is emphasized in the fact that 29,893 were disfellowshiped last year. There is no question that our faith is being tested today. Jehovah will retain in his favor and service only those who are clean, yes, the ones striving to meet all the Scriptural requirements and prove themselves fit to be entrusted with the “good news.”—Mic. 6:8; 2 Cor. 6:17-7:1; 1 Thess. 2:4.
In view of the 307,272,262 hours spent in Kingdom service, it is apparent that millions of persons have had opportunity to receive a witness. To aid individuals to learn of God’s purposes Jehovah’s Witnesses placed 25,580,648 books—607,899 more than in 1977—and 15,107,899 booklets, as well as 216,709,937 Watchtower and Awake! magazines in addition to 1,496,766 subscriptions for these two journals. To emphasize that Jehovah’s Witnesses are not just interested in arousing interest in the Kingdom message and placing Bible literature, they made 130,177,724 return visits and conducted 1,257,084 home Bible studies. Their aim in this is to make disciples by teaching responsive people ‘all the things that Christ commanded.’ (Matt. 28:19, 20) All such diligent efforts contributed toward giving a thorough witness to the most distant part of the earth.—Acts 1:8.
It is indeed a cause for rejoicing that we have again had over five million attend the Memorial of Christ’s death. Actually 5,095,831 were present and 9,762 partook of the emblems when this most important event was observed on March 23, 1978. How clearly this indicates that we have much to do in helping millions of righthearted persons to become regularly associated with the 42,255 congregations throughout the world!
Down through the years Jehovah has richly blessed the activities of his people. The following chart helps one to appreciate the progress that has been made during the past 60 years, showing the activity at 10-year intervals.
Looking ahead, the faithful remnant will continue to demonstrate that they “keep following the Lamb [Jesus Christ] no matter where he goes.” (Rev. 14:4) The “great crowd” who associate with them will do likewise. Unitedly they will all continue to obey their Leader, Jesus Christ, and to fulfill their twofold commission of preaching ‘this good news of the kingdom in all the inhabited earth for a witness,’ and of ‘making disciples of people of all the nations,’ knowing they have the full backing of Jehovah God and his Son.—Matt. 24:14; 28:19, 20.
[Chart on page 21]
LOCATION ATTENDANCE BAPTIZED
ALASKA, Anchorage 2,519 27
AUSTRIA, Vienna 14,359 203
BARBADOS, Bridgetown 6,142 45
BELGIUM, Brussels 23,567 289
BRITISH ISLES, Sheffield (first) 19,651 81
Sheffield (second) 16,842 50
London (first) 31,190 154
London (second) 30,272 97
Edinburgh 12,621 82
CANADA, Montreal 80,008 831
Winnipeg 16,164 93
Vancouver 22,819 165
Edmonton 21,599 137
DENMARK, Copenhagen 16,912 107
FINLAND, Helsinki 16,345 211
FRANCE, Marseilles 12,371 203
Lille 10,957 130
Nantes 10,197 171
Paris 28,827 445
Toulouse 9,365 127
Grenoble 11,702 133
GERMANY, Munich 58,559 647
Düsseldorf 50,186 427
GREECE, Athens 19,407 167
Thessalonica 9,010 132
GUADELOUPE, Pointe-à-Pitre 6,274 74
HAWAII, Honolulu (first) 8,730 67
Honolulu (second) 8,815 54
HONG KONG 1,321 30
IRELAND, Dublin 4,437 37
ITALY, Milan 45,880 1,080
Rome 65,440 1,208
JAPAN, Nagoya 10,282 238
Osaka 31,785 629
Sapporo 8,099 205
Tokyo 27,041 586
KOREA, Taegu 5,845 78
Seoul (first) 8,673 187
Seoul (second) 11,884 193
Taejon 5,169 73
LEEWARD ISLANDS, Antigua 1,717 35
MARTINIQUE, Fort-de-France 2,888 21
NETHERLANDS, Rotterdam 35,361 122
PHILIPPINES, Manila 35,684 305
PORTUGAL, Lisbon 37,567 1,130
PUERTO RICO, San Juan (first) 9,963 123
San Juan (second) 9,045 111
San Juan (third) 13,259 118
SPAIN, Barcelona 54,283 1,356
SWEDEN, Stockholm 25,338 248
TAIWAN, Taipei 1,603 22
Irving, Texas (Spanish) 16,682 162
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 50,143 330
New Orleans, Louisiana (first) 36,006 209
Washington, D.C. 52,302 306
Lakeland, Florida (Spanish) 7,725 90
New Orleans, Louisiana (second) 34,015 203
Pontiac, Michigan 58,410 301
Los Angeles, California (first) 47,243 249
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 41,965 238
St. Louis, Missouri 33,776 249
Houston, Texas 58,430 468
Los Angeles, California (second) 41,406 290
New York, New York 71,566 487
San Francisco, California 50,820 274
Cincinnati, Ohio 40,729 315
Monroe, New York (French) 1,969 28
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 36,996 279
Seattle, Washington 46,391 326
Los Angeles, California (Spanish) 28,905 416
Elmont, New York (Spanish) 24,012 319
TOTALS 1,807,465 19,023
[Chart on pages 24-31]
1978 SERVICE YEAR REPORT OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES WORLDWIDE
[Chart on page 32]
KINGDOM-PREACHING ACTIVITY AT 10-YEAR INTERVALS
Countries Average Hours of Books & Bklts. Magazines
Year Reporting Publishers Service Distributed Distributed
1918 14 3,868 19,116 359,384 13,140
1928 32 23,988 2,866,164 20,412,192 1,381,107
1938 52 47,143 10,572,086 26,772,882 6,933,307
1948 96 230,532 49,832,205 17,031,901 11,380,767
1958 175 717,088 110,390,944 16,038,445 86,498,251
1968 200 1,155,826 208,666,762 21,674,179 157,511,892
1978 205 2,086,698 307,272,262 40,688,547 216,709,937