1985 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses
Theocratic Expansion Moves Grandly Onward!
THE 60th chapter of Isaiah’s prophecy describes in thrilling language the marvelous expansion that is now taking place under the Theocracy. Beginning especially in 1919, the tiny remnant of the anointed ones moved into action to publicize the Kingdom and to expose Satan’s control of the secular and religious segments of this world’s system. From a human standpoint they did not stand a chance of success, but they represented God’s heavenly organization to whom the specific command had been given: “Arise, O woman, shed forth light, for your light has come and upon you the very glory of Jehovah has shone forth.”—Isa. 60:1.
Yes, amid the thick gloom and darkness of Satan’s world, glory and light from the very Source of all light and truth began to shine forth in ever-increasing brilliance. This was foretold to have a powerful effect: “Nations will certainly go to your light, and kings to the brightness of your shining forth.” (Isa. 60:3) Gradually, the faithful little band of light bearers pushed forward, extending their efforts in ever-widening circles. As Jehovah blessed their activities, evidence of unusual increase became apparent. People of the nations were indeed coming to the light. The marvelous expansion could be seen, as so graphically described at Isaiah 60:5: “At that time you will see and certainly become radiant, and your heart will actually quiver and expand, because to you the wealthiness of the sea will direct itself; the very resources of the nations will come to you.”
We certainly have become radiant with joy over what we see. Our hearts are quivering and expanding with excitement and happiness because of the marvelous theocratic enlargement that is taking place all over the world. What is taking place is being accomplished, “‘not by a military force, nor by power, but by my spirit,’ Jehovah of armies has said.” (Zech. 4:6) No human power could have brought about what we have witnessed in our lifetime.
A great mountain of opposition was raised by Satan’s wicked organization against Jehovah’s tiny army of illuminators right from the beginning of their public activities back in 1919. Without divine protection and backing, the entire organization that Jehovah was using to advance his Kingdom interests would have been destroyed by Satan’s hordes. Zechariah 4:7 refers to Satan’s opposition as a “great mountain,” and these words of Jehovah are addressed to his enemies: “Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become a level land. And he will certainly bring forth the headstone. There will be shoutings to it: ‘How charming! How charming!’”
Yes, Jehovah has done marvelous things in behalf of his illustrious name and people. The huge mountain of opposition raised by Satan could not thwart the advancement of His great purpose. Before the one pictured by Governor Zerubbabel, the Warrior-King Jesus Christ, the great mountain becomes a level plain. The symbolic temple-building work must go on, until completion, and the Headstone, the Lord Jesus himself, is placed in his exalted position. The Greater Zerubbabel will bring the work of reestablishing Jehovah’s worship at His spiritual temple to triumphant completion. All the Devil’s opposition will have failed, and as the joyful lovers of Jehovah behold the evidence of victory, they will burst forth into tremendous shoutings of praise: “How charming! How charming!” All heaven and earth will ring with songs of praise. All hearts will be overflowing with happiness and gladness.
Does it seem too much, therefore, to expect that “the wealthiness of the sea” and “the very resources of the nations” will come to spiritual Zion? Isaiah’s glorious prophecy from God’s Word portrays the fact that Jehovah will bring prosperity to his people, as we now see happening, and we know that this grand expansion will continue on and on, until the whole earth is filled with Jehovah’s glory.
God’s promise at Isaiah 60:22 is already being fulfilled. We have seen the ‘little one become a thousand’ in many lands. From the tiny group that began this work about 65 years ago, the ‘small one has become a mighty nation.’ As the thrilling reports come in from Jehovah’s worshipers all over the world, they prove that Jehovah is ‘speeding up the work in his own time.’
From Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, Australasia and the other islands of the sea come reports of amazing increases. We are overjoyed to be able to present to all of God’s people the heartwarming and encouraging good news of the marvelous things that Jehovah is bringing to pass. The amazing publisher peak of 2,842,531 for the 1984 service year is breathtaking. Worldwide there was a grand increase in average publishers of 7.1 percent. Almost every country reported a publisher increase. The number of congregations, 47,869, almost equals the total number of publishers that were active back in 1931 when we received the “new name,” Jehovah’s witnesses. Millions of the 7,416,974 Memorial attenders need spiritual food and help to become actively devoted to Jehovah. What an influx there would be if all these became active praisers of Jehovah! Theocratic expansion is moving grandly onward! Read the outstanding information as it is presented in this 1985 Yearbook and lift up your hearts and voices in radiant expressions of joy. Let your hearts quiver and expand with excitement as you see what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah is doing, and give him the glory and the praise for what has been accomplished.
Joyful News of Theocratic Increase in Africa
“What a Grand Year We’ve Had!”: This is the joyful expression from our brothers in South Africa, as they present their report. “We reached an all-time publisher peak of 34,363 in April.” “For the first time,” they add, “our black brothers have received permission to build their own Kingdom Halls. They can now meet together in vastly improved facilities, and this promises to be one of the greatest steps forward in that field.” The branch also reports the following joyful news:
“This past year we had the first full-scale interracial conventions in this country. The largest of these was in Johannesburg, where we had an attendance of 29,073. A person could attend the meeting of his choice—Zulu, Sesotho, Portuguese, Greek, English or Afrikaans. The multiracial baptism of 343 was an outstanding example of the unity of Jehovah’s sheep in this country.”
A young woman in Soweto, who had recently graduated as a witch doctor, asked the daughter of an African Witness: “Is there any truth in the world?” This led to the sister’s conducting a Bible study with her, and she immediately began attending meetings. But her mother was furious and told her that if she continued associating with the Witnesses she would have to repay the money spent on her schooling to become a witch doctor and she would also be evicted from the home. But the young woman burned all her demonistic paraphernalia, agreed to repay her mother the money, and continues attending all meetings.
“Much More Work for Us in Zambia”: Jehovah’s servants came to this fine conclusion because of the wonderful events of this past year. They were thrilled beyond measure when 393,431 persons came to the Lord’s Evening Meal. This outstanding figure is nearly seven times the number of publishers (58,925) who reported in January 1984. What a tremendous field this opens up for Zambia!
One brother relates that when a group was returning from witnessing, they came to a roadblock. After routine checking, a policeman asked if they were returning from preaching. The brother replied, “Yes,” adding, “we have been speaking to people who want the truth.” The policeman obtained a copy of The Watchtower, and arrangements were made to take the magazines to the police camp, where the brother established a magazine route.
“Jehovah Is Speeding Up the Increase”: This is the report from Ghana. They began with 22,304 publishers at the start of the service year, and the number rose to 24,551 in April 1984. But what joy came in August when 27,730 reported! Seven new peaks were reached during the eventful year. The outstanding total of 104,151 truth seekers attended the Memorial. Thus, as in so many other countries, there is a wonderful potential for steady expansion. Truly Jehovah is speeding up the increase in its time.
The branch report states that many people ask the publishers for the magazines as they walk along the streets. For example, a publisher relates: “I was surprised when one man who would not usually take any of our literature came to me asking for the magazines. He picked out six different ones. I then suggested a subscription, and, right away, he subscribed for both magazines.”
Thousands Searching for Truth in Zaïre: The branch rejoices to see “thousands of people searching for Kingdom truth and finding it within Jehovah’s expanding organization.” The big news for them during the year was the purchase of two square kilometers (500 a.) of land for the purpose of new branch construction. The new buildings and improved facilities should enable them to “cope with all the increased activity” in their territory. With an attendance of 139,856 at the Memorial, the 32,208 publishers (peak for August) know that a wonderful potential for expansion now lies ahead of them.
“It Has Been a Record Year”: This is how Jehovah’s servants feel in Liberia. Their Memorial attendance was likewise outstanding. With 1,151 average publishers, the remarkable number of 6,440 came to the Memorial, which is over five times that number. The congregation publishers averaged over 12 hours each per month in telling out the good news. The field is ripe for gathering in the meek ones. One three-year-old girl contributed indirectly to the fine increase. It seems that she visited her grandmother who read to her from the Bible Stories book. What the little girl learned made such an impression upon her that she kept talking to her mother about it, until her mother asked the next publisher who called at her door to help her to ‘know the Bible, too.’
Revitalization in Nigeria: The report from this land contains much cause for gratitude. They have had their best publisher report since 1975, with a peak of 113,537 sharing the good news during the 1984 service year. Nigeria is one of the largest members of our worldwide family of zealous witnesses of Jehovah. The fine expansion in Nigeria is a source of great inspiration not only to the rest of our brothers in Africa but to those all over the world.
Satan is angry because of the prosperity of the Theocracy, so he tries by all means to interfere. One brother relates that his house was invaded by radical political party members who tried to make him accept their policies. He says: “They attacked me with a club, but the blow was just like the brush of a feather. My wife protested and received a slap. We prayed to Jehovah, calling on his name. Then the mob became divided over us, fighting among themselves. Some entered our house to destroy our property. But they walked out like sheep. All in all they left us unharmed. After the ordeal, we found that our oldest child had assembled the other children and comforted them from the Scriptures, praying that nothing would harm us. We were happy that the truth had penetrated so deeply into her heart.” The branch commented: “Experiences like these provide optimism for future progress.” We are sure also that, with such unbreakable loyalty, these stalwarts are deeply loved of Jehovah.
Transformed by the Truth: In the Republic of Guinea a special pioneer started a Bible study with a man who was given the Kisi name Sengianndo, which means “one who disagrees.” He lived up to his name, for from childhood on he proved to be belligerent, aggressive, and very difficult to deal with. He was widely feared. However, within a short time after starting to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses, Sengianndo began to make dramatic changes in his life. He stopped fighting, quit smoking and heavy drinking, and began to cultivate a Christian personality. He became a mild, peaceable person. This became widely known in the area and deeply impressed many with the dynamic power of God’s message of truth.
Not Overlooking the Incapacitated: This experience from Sierra Leone shows the importance of not neglecting incapacitated persons whom we meet in the field service: A missionary sister started a Bible study with an 18-year-old crippled girl named Jay. She had not attended school because of her physical condition. It takes great effort for her to move about. Using wooden blocks to protect her hands from the ground, she propels herself forward by resting her body weight on her hands and swinging her legs behind her.
Through frequent calls on the part of the missionary, Jay began to learn the Bible’s truths, and she also learned how to read. Although she had ventured out of the small compound where she lives only once in 18 years, she asked if she could attend the Congregation Book Study on the same street where she lives. Imagine the apprehension of those in her family as they watched Jay leave the safety of her house and venture into the street! She has shown tremendous determination to make the truth her own. She attends all meetings, even though on occasion she has to “walk,” in the manner described, for four or five blocks to get a taxi to take her to the Kingdom Hall. She is now talking to others about the truth.
Encouraging News From Madagascar: “Toward the end of December 1983,” states the branch report, “we made an application for legal recognition of our work, and thanks to Jehovah, on February 24, 1984, our request was accepted. This does not mean that the ban imposed in 1970 has been lifted, but we could get registered under a new local association, and great was the joy of all the brothers when hearing the news. Service activity increased so that we reached two outstanding figures in April—1,708 publishers reporting and 8,977 attending the Memorial.”
Other African countries have sent similar encouraging reports. That vast continent is receiving a most amazing witness. There are millions of people there who can be helped, by means of home Bible studies, to harmonize their lives with Jehovah’s ways. With the many problems and difficulties that our brothers face in Africa, all this theocratic activity could have been accomplished only by Jehovah’s spirit. Now let us look at theocratic developments in another tremendous field, Asia.
Inspiring Reports from Asia
For thousands of years, the religions of Babylon the Great have enshrouded this most populous area in deepest spiritual darkness and mysticism. Now, however, the light of the Theocracy is penetrating that shroud, and great is the joy of those coming into the light. We are truly thankful that such wonderful results are forthcoming.
Progress in Pakistan: To see increase in a Muslim country such as Pakistan is most encouraging. A peak of 231 publishers has now been reached. This was brought about by increased auxiliary pioneer activity. Family ties are so strong that regardless of what religion people profess, it is difficult to break away from family traditions. However, by using 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, one young publisher was able to assist another young man to break away from a Pentecostal group. Now that young man and his friend are preaching diligently and making fine progress toward baptism. Even the most difficult territories are contributing to Theocracy’s increase.
“Accomplishments That Make Us Very Happy”: This is how India describes the past service year. They had five peaks in publishers and have reached 6,552, from 5,842 the previous year. Much of this is due to the work being done by the brothers who speak the local languages. For instance, seven conventions were held in the vernaculars, which enabled those attending to get so much more out of the talks. India’s new branch facilities are nearing completion. The new building is being occupied, and with more equipment, the brothers are looking forward to fine expansion.
A young college student was given the Evolution and Youth books by one of his friends. This young man, a Roman Catholic, believed in evolution and thought that the Bible was unreliable. Reading the two books changed his views. He came to see that there is a true God who holds out a sure hope for the future. Despite opposition from relatives, he studied the Bible with the Witnesses and attended meetings. He also witnessed to his fellow students. Though he was beaten up by some fellow students, he persisted in boldly speaking the Bible truth. The result was that eight of his fellow students were helped to dedication and baptism. He also shared the truth with his family members, and several of them started studying. One of his fleshly brothers got baptized, and his mother is planning on baptism. Three cousins, two of whom were Catholic nuns, also embraced the truth and got baptized. This made a total of 24 people who accepted the truth since he began his bold and zealous preaching four years ago. What a remarkable story!
Little Susan, in her school’s second grade, presented Bible stories so well in class that her teacher, a Roman Catholic, obtained a copy of My Book of Bible Stories. The teacher now uses that book in her religious instruction, and most of the students also have their own copies. Susan’s mother was overjoyed to see that all the first prizes with regard to religious instruction in that school were copies of My Book of Bible Stories.
Advancement in Sri Lanka: Buddhism and other Oriental religions predominate in this beautiful island country that lies about 20 miles (32 km) off the southeastern coast of India. One young sister with an ability to speak persuasively engages regularly in the auxiliary pioneer work. In five months she placed 1,059 magazines and obtained 185 subscriptions, which is about one fifth of the subscriptions reported by that branch for the past service year.
One Roman Catholic farmer, who kept people in fear by his bad temper and conduct, pursued cockfighting as his hobby. People would come from all around to bet as much as thousands of rupees on the fights. Finally, he came to a knowledge of the truth and saw that his hobby was not pleasing to Jehovah. At first his wife was opposed to the truth, but later she joined him. And even though he was offered 1,500 rupees for his famous fighting bird, they had him for supper one night. Now people all around the area wonder at the changes made in this man’s life, and it has resulted in a fine witness for the truth.
Remarkable Events in Japan: “We are thankful to Jehovah that he continues to bless the work in our country.” This is the heartfelt attitude of our brothers in Japan, where so many remarkable events are taking place in connection with Theocratic expansion. In August 1984 this country had its 68th consecutive monthly peak of publishers—92,022! Territory in Japan is covered more often now, some every seven or ten days. What an industrious people! Jehovah is richly blessing their efforts, as shown by the 1984 Memorial attendance of 224,696!
Japan can hardly keep up with all the needs of the “publisher explosion.” So they have now arranged to build another Bethel home, eight stories high, and a new six-story factory. When we remember that their present huge buildings were dedicated as recently as May 1982, it makes us wonder, “What next?”
A woman learned about the truth through a special pioneer, who patiently made return visits over a period of three years. When the special pioneer sister explained to this lady about love as defined in 1 Corinthians chapter 13, she became convinced that this was the truth. She had been active in her former religion and had led many relatives to it. Now she invited all these relatives and explained to them that she had finally found the true religion, and she encouraged them to learn Bible truths. What was the result? In five years’ time over 50 of her relatives have become Jehovah’s Witnesses. Among them was a carpenter who likewise shared the good news with his workmates, relatives and acquaintances. As a result, 24 of them came into the truth. All these people are mainly associated with three congregations in Toyama prefecture in Japan. Telling the truth to those closely related to you certainly can bring a great blessing. The pioneer spirit prevails all over Japan, as an average of 37 percent of the publishers share in some type of pioneer service each month.
Carrying On in a Troubled Land: It has been another year of war and violence in Lebanon. For more than five months, air service into the country was suspended, and it was difficult to communicate with brothers in lands under the jurisdiction of the branch office. Many brothers were forced to leave their homes and they became refugees in other parts of the country. Some were injured, though none were killed. Conventions were held in small groups, and field service was carried on by using the method that seemed best according to conditions in each area. Through it all, the brothers report, “We have never failed to receive the spiritual food that we need. For this we are thankful and pray that Jehovah will enable his servants here to continue in his service under whatever circumstances may yet come.”
Auxiliary pioneering has proved to be a blessing to many in Lebanon. After the death of her husband, an 84-year-old sister wrote: “All my children had grown up and were married and had families. They did not neglect me, but their visits could not overcome the feelings of loss and loneliness. Then one of the elders in our congregation suggested that I try auxiliary pioneering. I hesitated but finally decided to try it. What a joy! I felt that Jehovah had permitted me to live to this age so that I could experience auxiliary pioneering. I have continued as an auxiliary pioneer every month since.”
Israel Thankful for Increase: It has always been very difficult to witness to people in this land, but the branch is happy to report that they finally reached 300 publishers, for which the brothers are most thankful! Family ties are very strong, and many will not risk the opposition that comes from accepting the truth. But some take a firm stand. For example, one young man prayed to God for the truth, and a few days later he met a friend on the bus; he was invited to join in her Bible discussions. He made fine progress, and despite his father’s threat to ‘break both of his legs,’ he continued his Bible study. He even stood firm on the neutrality issue and endured solitary confinement in prison. He is still standing firm for the truth.
Also in Israel, a Muslim obtained some books at his door, but the Witnesses never returned for a further discussion. So when the Witnesses came the next time, he insisted that they come back, which they did. He began to study the Bible and came into the truth. This emphasizes the need to do what is possible to follow through on all interest manifested.
Thai Brothers Cheered by Baptisms: The recent district convention in Thailand made all in attendance very thankful, because 46 were baptized, which was about 4 percent of the 1,147 in attendance. More and more people in Thailand are rejoicing in the Kingdom hope. A member of the Bethel family in Thailand placed a Bible Stories book with a librarian at a Catholic school and inserted a tract telling about the Live Forever book. Later, a teacher went to the school library, looking for a book to use in teaching her students about the Bible. She found the Bible Stories book and liked it so much that she phoned the sister and ordered 30 copies for the students. When delivering these books, the sister was also able to place copies of the Live Forever book. This gave the sister the idea to visit librarians in the various schools and universities that usually have courses in comparative religion. She was thus able to place 280 books and 240 Life on Earth brochures and to obtain 20 subscriptions.
The Philippines Strides Onward: During the 1984 service year, a peak of 75,257 publishers was attained, and there was an average 8-percent increase over 1983. This is most gratifying and indicates that things are really moving forward in that land. About 200 applications for the pioneer service have been received each month, and as long as that trend continues, there will certainly be continued expansion in the field. In April there was a fine total of 13,984 auxiliary pioneers in the land.
Because of limited funds only the father in a family of seven was planning to attend the district convention in Manila. He is a fisherman, and catches were poor. Yet they prayed to Jehovah to help so that the entire family could attend the convention. Just before the convention the father and his 12-year-old boy went out to fish. They prayed to Jehovah to bless their efforts. After many failures, the boy suggested to his father that they try just one more time, which they did. They were surprised when they hauled in their net to find that they had a catch of over 500 kilograms (1,100 lb) of fish! By selling this, they had more than enough for the entire family to attend the convention.
Witnessing on Death Row: For many years elders in the Philippines have taken turns visiting the Muntinlupa National Penitentiary in Metro Manila and conducting Bible studies with those on death row who desired them. On one occasion, while a Bible study was being conducted inside a cell, another prisoner came close and began to listen. He did this during several studies. One day they were discussing the ransom and how Jesus’ sacrifice opened the way for forgiveness of sins. At this, the man who had been listening in on the study asked the elder: “Do you mean that even I could possibly be forgiven after all I have done?” He had been sentenced to death for killing a number of men.
Recently he dedicated his life to Jehovah and requested to be baptized. However, he was scheduled to be executed before the time for baptism in conjunction with the circuit assembly. So he made a request for postponement of his execution, and this was granted. He was baptized on June 29, 1984, and rejoices in his newfound relationship with Jehovah despite his impending execution. Three other condemned prisoners were baptized along with him in a rooftop tank in the prison.
A Bible Study That Produced Much Fruitage: In Korea a pioneer sister started a Bible study with a lady. Soon a Buddhist neighbor lady began to sit in on the study. The pioneer took 10 to 20 minutes during each study to direct remarks to the Buddhist lady to show the difference between the loving, merciful Creator, Jehovah, and the angry false gods that had to be appeased. She explained that Satan and the demons try to destroy people’s faith in God. One day the Buddhist neighbor asked the pioneer what would happen to her and her family if she destroyed all her idols and began to worship Jehovah.
Reassurance was given her, and the congregation elders assisted her in destroying the many idols that she had in her home. Though she was harassed by the demons after that, she knew the source of the problem and that it was not caused by deceased ancestors. In time seven members of this family were baptized—the lady, her husband and five children. The mother and one daughter are now regular pioneers. And what about the lady in whose home the study was started? She has been baptized, and four of her fleshly sisters are now studying.
Such experiences prove that the truth’s powerful effect is now penetrating the religious barriers of Satan’s world. Truly we have come to the time when people of the nations are learning that “God is with you people,” and they “earnestly go to soften the face of Jehovah.” (Zech. 8:20-23) This is also true in Australia and the Pacific islands, where we will now turn our attention.
Australia and the Pacific Islands Exult in Expansion
“Another Outstanding Year”: This is the way the Australian branch described the 1984 service year. For the first time the number of publishers has gone over 40,000, one reason undoubtedly being that the pioneer spirit has flourished remarkably. During April, 10,250 shared in the pioneer work, which was nearly 25 percent of the total publishers. Work among the aboriginal population continues to expand rapidly. A good number of Bible studies are being conducted with these people, and large groups of up to 100 regularly meet together. These groups are beehives of activity. Quite a number of the aboriginal brothers are sharing in the auxiliary pioneer work.
“A Year of Growth”: This is how New Zealand speaks of the 1984 service year. The service year started with the signing of a contract to purchase a 15-acre (6-ha) block of land on which to build a new Bethel complex. Hundreds of brothers and sisters volunteered to help with the work. Ever since the 1980 service year the number of congregations in this country has remained at 119, but this past service year saw the number increase to 132 congregations. The average number of publishers has increased by 8 percent. “Particularly exciting to us,” said the branch report, “was to surpass 1,000 auxiliary pioneers for the first time.” Bible studies went over 5,000 for the first time, and 18,066 attended the Memorial—the best attendance yet!
A divorced woman with seven children had a most unhappy and quarrelsome homelife. One day, at the funeral of her own father, she heard one of her grown daughters talking with another woman about the Bible. She went to spend a week at the home of this daughter. Usually they argued and fought, but things were different now. The daughter was so calm and got along so nicely with her family that the mother thought to herself: ‘Is this God whom she calls Jehovah able to remove hatred?’
A month later she started to study, and one by one, the things that she was doing wrong became straightened out, and she was baptized. She now serves as an auxiliary pioneer. Three daughters, one son-in-law and one sister with her two children are studying the Bible. She states: “My family life is so peaceful now. Thank you, brothers and sisters. Thank you, Jehovah!” What a happy outcome!
Guam’s Joyful Report: This branch brings us news that the island groups of the Marshalls, Ponape, Kosrae, Truk, Saipan, Yap, Belau, Kiribati and Nauru are receiving a fine witness on each main island. As one government official in Belau commented recently, “The name of Jehovah is well known in these islands.” During the past year, efforts to reach the outer islands, or atolls, were made by elders and missionaries who traveled there by boat, preached to the local inhabitants in their language and left literature for them to read.
In addition to producing The Watchtower in six different languages during the 1984 service year, the brothers rejoiced to receive the Live Forever book in Kosraean and Yapese. Kingdom News No. 31 in Gilbertese was the first publication that the Society has ever printed in that language. It was enthusiastically received by the people and resulted in new Bible studies. This tract was also produced in Kosraean, Marshallese, Ponapean, Trukese and Yapese. In April, 37 percent of the 614 publishers were in the pioneer service. The branch relates the following experience, showing how one young pioneer was blessed by standing firm for the truth despite strong family opposition:
“In September 1982, a 20-year-old sister became a regular pioneer. Soon severe persecution developed, since her parents had arranged for her to marry an unbeliever. Adhering strictly to the Bible counsel to ‘marry only in the Lord,’ she refused to marry this man. (1 Cor. 7:39) For the next six months, she was virtually a prisoner in her own home.
“She was determined that she would attend the Memorial in March 1983. Three times she asked her father for permission to attend, but he refused to let her go. She informed her parents that she would start attending meetings again. Her father was furious, and when she returned home from her first meeting in six months, he put her out of the house. With just her field service bag and the clothes she had on her back, she left home to stay with her aunt who is one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The very next day she engaged in field service once again. Now she continues zealous as a regular pioneer. She is conducting ten Bible studies. As for her parents, they apologized for the way they treated her for six months and begged her to return home. She has returned with the understanding that no one and nothing must stand in the way of her serving Jehovah.”
Gladness in Papua New Guinea: The brothers here rejoice because of fine progress toward maturity among the isolated congregations. This is a fine thing and is what will contribute to still more increase. Auxiliary pioneering increased 34 percent, which is further evidence of maturity, and Memorial attendance reached 7,704, over a thousand more than the previous year—a large field for expansion. A man who was contacted several years ago moved away, returning to his village. He attended a recent circuit assembly. After the assembly he went to the traveling brothers and stated that the village elders from the isolated area in which he lives had made the request that the Witnesses come to this area and take care of all the spiritual interest there. So, here too, they are coming and asking the way to Zion.
Good News From Fiji and Hawaii: The brothers in Fiji reached six new peaks in publishers, the last being in August, with 950 preaching. Many in Fiji are stepping out into the pioneer service and are becoming far more productive. Hawaii, too, was looking forward to fine increases during 1984 and was not disappointed. For the first time, over 5,000 publishers reported, and 23 percent of them were enrolled in some feature of the full-time service during April. Two congregations each reported 37 auxiliary pioneers, while in a third congregation the 31 pioneers were joined by 46 auxiliary pioneers, making a total of 77 pioneers in that congregation for the month of April.
Tahiti’s Spiritual Paradise: As one of the “paradise islands” of the Pacific, Tahiti is also experiencing the blessings of the spiritual paradise. The brothers there saw a 14-percent increase in publishers. They had peaks in Bible studies and return visits, which shows that they are making fine progress in teaching all who are anxious to learn about God’s Word. The brothers are visiting the outer islands with good results. On the island of Hiva Oa, it was necessary to wait until the six families had finished their church services. Then all six families obtained the literature offer, including a subscription for The Watchtower in Tahitian, with the church leader declaring that this was just the kind of literature he had been looking for in order to understand the Bible.
Theocratic Productivity in the Solomon Islands: Surprising progress is taking place there. The brothers were glad to reach a new publisher peak of 640 in April, and the attendance for Memorial was 3,210—over five times the number of publishers. They have gone out into three new islands during the past year. The Anglican Church has great power in these islands, and one special pioneer was invited by the church leader to speak before the single men. However, when he began to speak about Jehovah, some became angry and wanted to throw him into the sea. One young man faced the group and boldly asked: “Why are you people doing this? Maybe you had better throw the Bible out of your church!” The others turned on him, but he stood his ground. He started to study, adjusted his life and now spends many hours telling others about the good news.
The only publisher on one of the islands relates that a Bible student named Oswald was haled before the church elders and the bishop of the Anglican religion when it became known he was studying with the Witnesses. “Why are you studying with them?” asked the bishop sternly. “They are teaching me the Bible, and it is sweet to me,” was Oswald’s answer. “For many years now I have hungered to know the Bible, and I will not give up what I am learning.” Surprisingly, the bishop turned to the others and said: “Leave him alone! No one should be stopped from learning the Bible if he wants it that much.” The Bible truth is still sweet to Oswald and his wife, and they are learning more of it in their regular studies.
Set Free From Demonism: It was possible during the past service year for the branch in New Caledonia to organize a Pioneer School, with 12 local pioneers attending. Among them was a sister who, before she got the truth, had so many family problems that she used to go to the guérisseur (witchcraft doctor). In fact, she visited all such “doctors” practicing in New Caledonia, spending up to $1,000 a month, and with no results! Then she came in contact with the truth and realized that it was the unique solution to her troubles. She got rid of all her boucans (roots and leaves tied together and given by a guérisseur for protection). After she got rid of these objects, the demons started to harass her. She said she had to pray a whole day to Jehovah. Finally, after 24 hours of struggle, the demons left her. How happy this sister is now as she serves as a pioneer, sharing the truth that sets people free!—John 8:32.
New Branch Office Established: We do not desire to leave these beauty spots of the earth without referring to what has happened in Western Samoa. The high point of the service year to our brothers there was that a new branch was established in Apia on February 1, 1984. It now oversees the work in Western Samoa, Niue, Tonga and Tuvalu. Also a new congregation has been established in Vavau in Tonga. Whole families are responding to the truth, which means that a more solid condition exists in the congregations. These fine developments are the result mostly of the increased pioneer activity. Parents are being helped to include their children in their studies. One couple was disfellowshipped over 25 years ago. They realized where the truth was but did not try to return to the congregation. However, they brought up their children to follow Bible principles, with the result that their four daughters became active in the field service, engaging in pioneer activity. Now, joyfully, the father and mother have been reinstated and are happily reunited with their family in spiritual matters. What an unusual but gladsome outcome! But let us turn our attention now to theocratic expansion in the continent of Europe.
Heart-Cheering News from Europe
As with other parts of the world, space allows us to present only a few of the branch reports from Europe.
Continuous Increases in Italy: Situated right in the stronghold of Catholicism, the brothers in Italy have seen an amazing reversal take place. Under Fascist rule during World War II, the number of Witnesses in Italy had been reduced to about 100. Now, 40 years later, they have reached the amazing number of 116,555. With every report, the number seems to increase! A tremendous crowd of 250,868 came to Memorial, so the potential becomes increasingly larger.
One young brother enjoyed an extraordinary privilege because of a school assignment. The students were to make a drawing on the subject “Life Yesterday and Today.” Our young brother chose the picture from pages 131 and 150-153 of the Live Forever book. His was judged to be the best in his locality, and on December 2, 1983, he had the opportunity to go to Rome where the president of Italy was on hand to officiate at the proceedings. Young Alessandro carried a copy of the Live Forever book, and when the president came near, he handed it to him. The president thanked the youth and said: “I like this gift.” Other boys, seeing and hearing what happened, wanted to learn more. So this gave Alessandro more opportunities to give a good witness.
Another brother took his copy of the Live Forever book to work at the airport. It was lying on his desk, open at pages 12 and 13, when an airline pilot, along with two flight attendants, came by. He looked at the illustrations and said: “It would be very nice to live like that!” Then he asked the brother where he could get a copy. The flight attendants also wanted copies. Two days later the brother brought them the three copies. A few weeks later the pilot returned and ordered 37 copies. After a month the pilot went to Brother Alfonso again to order 48 copies for other pilots and crew members. Moreover, a colleague saw the book and asked for 31 copies. So, up to this time, Brother Alfonso has been able to place 120 of these fine books in this manner. It indicates how the people of Italy have been starved for spiritual food and why they are responding so well to the truth at present.
“Explosion of Interest on Every Front”: That is how the brothers in Portugal describe their service year. They are breaking out of their present boundaries and need to make ‘the place of their tent more spacious.’ (Isa. 54:2) Publishers, pioneers, Bible studies, yes, all branches of activity have reached amazing peaks, bringing excitement and joy to Jehovah’s people in Portugal. “Kingdom Halls,” says the report, “are overflowing with record meeting attendance. More than 10 percent of all congregations are either building or purchasing larger ones. Even at the branch, departments are crowding into the dining room. Jehovah willing, we hope to break ground next year for the construction of a new Bethel complex.”
The branch shares with us the joy of a previously disillusioned man: “At seeing what religion and politics have produced, I became dedicated to overthrowing the established social order. I joined a group of terrorists and received training in the handling of all types of weapons; I shared in many armed robberies. My life was in constant danger. As time went by, it became evident that we were fighting a losing battle. I was a frustrated man, overcome by complete hopelessness in life. Then a Witness knocked at our door. She told me about God’s Kingdom. Insisting this was a waste of my time, I suggested that my wife listen. She did, and a home Bible study was started. Finally, I agreed to attend the study. Words fail to convey the relief I felt in understanding the driving force impelling mankind toward evil. The marvelous Kingdom promise has given me a sustaining hope and purpose in life. My wife and I are happy now to be dedicated praisers of Jehovah, the true Liberator of the oppressed.”
Increased Field Efforts in France: This country is also advancing with our other happy family members in Europe. There was a 6-percent increase in publishers, reaching an average of 79,568. Auxiliary pioneers increased by 39 percent! Congregation publishers reached an average of 17 hours in the field service.
Jehovah Blesses Neutral Stand: The Netherlands is greatly encouraged by the advancement of theocratic interests there. The brothers report many fine experiences illustrating how people react to the message of life. For example, an interested man worked at the Rotterdam harbor mainly in connection with warships. His employment stood between him and his desire to be baptized. Hundreds had been laid off at the harbors, and anyone who had employment was considered fortunate. Yet this man asked the employer for work on merchant vessels rather than warships. He was not only refused but also threatened with being fired. The man approached Jehovah in prayer and returned to the employer with the same request. He expected to be fired. But he got what he least expected—work on merchant vessels. He was baptized at the next opportunity.
Ireland on the Increase: The brothers here report a 7-percent increase in publishers and are glad to have the Bible Stories book in the Irish language. One congregation was placing them at the rate of one every ten minutes. The brothers are reaching out into their rural territory, with fine results. On a cold and wet afternoon they came to a lady who had been so depressed that she prayed to God either to ‘take her or to help her.’ It was the very next day that the publishers called! She is now safely in the fold, saying: “I felt like a lost sheep that has finally found its home.”
The Live Forever book was placed with a man named Martin. When a return visit was made on him, he still had not read the book. However, the return visit prompted him to read it. Two things stirred his heart. One was the picture of the priest blessing weapons. This was something he had previously pondered over. The other point was a comment that Satan could cause people to feel too busy to study the Bible. He now decided that he must search out the Witnesses. As he drove into the city, he was praying: “God, if this is wrong, please don’t let me find the hall.” But he found it! The next day he came to the meeting, then to the Memorial and now attends regularly, bringing his two young daughters. He has to care for his wife who has a severe health problem, but he has made fine progress and shares in the field service. He has dedication in mind.
“A Truly Momentous Year”: This is the report from Britain. They were greatly stirred by the 1983 annual meeting of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania held at Leicester. To have members of the Governing Body there and to see at least 3,000 theocratic old-timers on hand had a most stimulating effect upon the country. They had the best pioneer year ever, and during August, they reached 97,495 publishers. Potential for increase is there, as shown by the Memorial attendance of 187,709.
A wonderful new experience for Britain this past year has been the construction of their first two “quick-build” Kingdom Halls. The branch reports: “The first hall, at Northampton, took four days. The second, at Dolgellau, in Wales, was put up in less than two days. This event received very wide publicity in Wales through radio, TV and the newspapers. The Cambrian News headlined its article: ‘1,000 Builders Prove Faith Can Work Wonders.’ Commented the paper: ‘Visiting building crews built Kingdom Halls in other parts of the world and in the process have developed a technique of a two-day project considered impossible by most contractors.’ Until the actual building of the hall, there was disbelief among many that such a project could be completed. A woman from the local chapel, contacted in field service, exclaimed: ‘You reckon you’ll build your hall in two days? Why, it’s taken us six years just to get the chapel bell mended!’”
Widening Out in Austria: The branch reports seven peaks in publishers and an all-time peak in auxiliary pioneers. The brothers say: “The pioneer spirit is really catching on, and we have had five consecutive peaks in that field.” They add: “Our Bethel extension project is well on the way. When completed, we will have floor space that is three times as much as we had before.” They are happy to be included in the grand onward movement of Theocracy’s increase.
“Clear Evidence of a Progressive Trend”: This is how the branch in Norway describes most features of the Kingdom work there, after a long period of only slow increase. Younger publishers are showing a growing interest in the pioneer work, and enrollment is increasing from month to month. Interest in the Kingdom message is greater. A new peak of 7,670 publishers was reached, and 14,228 attended the Memorial.
Back in 1972 a sister working unassigned territory in Norway met a woman who had several questions and seemed to be interested, so the sister asked for her address. She wrote two letters regarding the Bible’s good news, but she never heard from the woman. Then 11 years later the sister received a letter from the woman! She stated that her family had been in deep mourning, because a son had been murdered a month earlier. She and her husband decided to try to find some comfort by reading the Bible. Upon opening her Bible, she found one of the letters from the sister. So she wrote the sister for help. The sister contacted a Witness couple who lived about 60 miles (95 km) from this unassigned territory. When they called on the family, a Bible study was started. They are now making fine progress and feel comforted.
“The Grandest Year Ever”: This is the way Luxembourg describes the past service year. During some months the publishers reached an 8-percent increase, and the Memorial attendance was 2,537—one in every 170 persons in the country! The fifth Portuguese-language congregation was formed, as Jehovah’s Kingdom interests move grandly on.
Spain Moves Ahead: This country has but recently emerged from the oppression of political and religious powers, but Theocratic increase is plainly evident now. A peak of 56,717 publishers have reported, and 125,040 attended the Memorial. The regular pioneer ranks increased by 37 percent.
The branch reports the following experience of a young, steadfast pioneer: Teresa’s father was a pioneer, so when she became 12 years old she also became a pioneer. Everything went well for a while, but her mother became ill and died, placing more responsibility upon Teresa. But she stayed on as a pioneer. Then her father was killed in a tragic auto accident, and now she has to care for her younger sister. However, all these tragedies have drawn her closer to Jehovah, so she stays on as a pioneer and says: “With Jehovah’s help and that of the brothers, I will continue.” Jehovah will certainly richly bless such devotion.
Another experience from Spain illustrates the fact that honesty can be a powerful witness. Taxi driver Antonio was asked to take a couple to a town 17 kilometers out of the provincial capital, Málaga. He was determined to use the time to get in a good witness, which he did. The couple listened respectfully and even asked several questions. Some time later Antonio was approached by a man who asked if he recognized him. Antonio could not remember. “But aren’t you a taxi driver?” asked the man, describing the aforementioned journey. He explained that a few days after listening to the taxi driver’s Bible explanation, Witnesses had called at their door. They accepted a Bible study and were now baptized Witnesses themselves! “But what was it that impressed you the most about what I said?” Antonio asked. The reply: “You charged me only 383 pesetas for the service, when all other taxi drivers charge 500!”
“Everywhere Expansion Is Taking Place”: This is the report from Belgium, where regular pioneers have increased 15 percent. Auxiliary pioneers and publishers have also reached fine peaks during the year. One regular pioneer was richly blessed only 14 days after enrolling. A lady had been praying to God for many months for help, so she accepted a Bible study. Later, her husband, then her daughters, the eldest daughter’s fiancé, five in all, took to the truth.
Vigorous Proclamation of Jehovah’s Name: “This year Jehovah’s name has been proclaimed more vigorously than ever before,” says the branch in Finland. They reached a peak of 15,263 publishers. Pioneers keep increasing. Time in the field and home Bible studies are also increasing with most remarkable results.
“A Year of Many Blessings”: The German people lost much of their religious thinking after going through two world wars, but the branch in the Federal Republic of Germany says: “We can look back upon a year of many blessings.” The completing of the magnificent new branch facilities at Selters was the highlight of the year’s blessings, and now they have most remarkable facilities and a strong base of operations that will be able to care for the country’s needs for a long time to come.
Fine Progress Despite Opposition: The report from Greece is that the Greek Orthodox clergy have stirred up much trouble for the brothers over the years, but the tables are turning. In September 1983 the brothers were able to stand on the streets with the magazines, much to the consternation of their opposers. The clergy continue to make use of the law against proselytism. During the year, about 150 arrests were made. At least 38 cases have been brought before the courts. Of these, 35 were won while another 3 will be going to the court of appeals. The priests have fought hard to win but seem to be fighting a losing battle. In one instance, dozens of buses were on hand to transport demonstrators to a rally against the Witnesses, but there were not enough people to fill even one coach! A local official commented: “The priests have made real fools of themselves.”
Another victory has been won in the courts. In the town of Patras the inhabitants were compelled to pay a contribution for the building of St. Andrew’s Church. This was done by adding an extra charge to the electricity bill. When the brothers refused to contribute funds for the church, the electric company threatened to cut off their power supply. The case went to court. A headline in the newspaper Eleftheri Gnomi summed up the court’s decision. “The 118 Jehovah’s Witnesses Won the Battle in Court—The Law Regarding Compulsory Payment of Contributions for Building Saint Andrew’s Church to the Electricity Board Was Characterized as Unconstitutional.” The brothers were glad they could still have electricity!
Now let us move on to the reports from other parts of the earth.
Lands Where Our Work is Restricted
Since the Lord Jesus foretold that the world would hate his true followers, it is not surprising that there are bans on Jehovah’s work in some parts of the earth. (John 15:18, 19) In such lands the Kingdom publishers work under a great variety of circumstances, and they have to use good judgment and seek Jehovah’s guidance in finding ways to preach the good news.
The Challenge of Isolated Territory: Informal witnessing is a very important way to reach people in many of these lands, but more systematic preaching is done when possible. For example, in one land where the work is banned, the brothers sent out temporary special pioneers in an effort to work isolated territory. Working small towns posed a challenge for them since, within a short time, all in town get to know of the presence of strangers. So, although this is not usually done in such countries, the first thing the pioneers did was to make a visit on the local police officials to give them a witness. (Matt. 10:18) The result? In 14 places the police officials would not give the brothers permission to preach, but in 75 places there was no objection. In fact, some of the police officials even provided lodging for the pioneers in the police station! So the brothers, under those circumstances, could carry on their work of preaching right from there—without opposition. The pioneers made return visits on some of the police officials!
Alert to Informal Witnessing: In a European land where the work is banned a Witness reports this experience: “In a railway waiting room I observed a young woman who was weeping bitterly. I turned to her and asked what had happened. The tears became even more doleful, but after a while she told me that her husband threw her out of their house because he was interested in another woman. They had lived together for years, and had two children—and now she had decided to end it all by coming to the train station to commit suicide. I talked with her for a long time. The message of hope for all heartbroken people had a soothing effect on her. We completed our discussion at the place where she was now living. After some time, even her family conditions improved, so that she returned home. She has the Bible hope in her heart, a hope that saved her from suicide.”
This same land reports an increase in the auxiliary pioneer work. “This represents a big change in the thinking of the publishers during the past 15 years,” says the report. “There are also a few regular pioneers in our country, which is quite an achievement if you consider the way the ministry is performed; that is, searching for opportunities to bear witness and facing some danger every time.”
Refugee Camps in Mozambique: “There are still about 10,000 publishers in the eight circuits covering the camps at Milange on Malawi’s eastern border,” reports the Zimbabwe branch office, “with additional congregations scattered through the west of Mozambique and served by two traveling overseers. Our contact with the Milange camps has been hampered during the year because of lack of good communication. However, from the few reports we have received, we are convinced that our brothers in Mozambique, in company with our brothers the world over, will prove to be ‘not the sort that shrink back to destruction, but the sort that have faith to the preserving alive of the soul.’”—Heb. 10:39.
Integrity in the Face of Brutal Persecution: In one land where the work is banned, scores of our brothers are imprisoned because of their Christian neutrality. A report says: “They are severely beaten, whipped and coerced in every way to violate their Christian conscience. Frequently, prison terms follow one after another. In one case, after brutal beatings failed to break a brother’s integrity, some soldiers conspired to murder him. When a superior officer learned of their plot, he personally intervened and secretly had him transferred to another city, thus saving his life. (Compare Acts 23:12-35.) This past year 14 brothers lost their lives for refusing to compromise their Christian neutrality.” Many more experiences showing that our brothers are enduring faithfully under persecution could be recounted, but we turn our attention now to Latin America.
Grand Progress in Latin America and the West Indies
The same outstanding results of making known the good news also come to us from Latin America and the West Indies. Thrilling events are taking place as Jehovah is speeding up the grand ingathering of his sheeplike ones.
“Never Had Such a Wonderful Year”: So exclaimed a brother in Brazil with 40 years of full-time service. How true that is! Seven new peaks, culminating with 160,927 publishers, were registered during the year, and the amazing number of 474,450 attended the Memorial. Brazil has become one of the “big brothers” in Jehovah’s earth-wide family of devoted ones.
Early in the year all publishers received a personal letter inviting them to consider the auxiliary pioneer service for April. As a result, in some congregations whole bodies of elders and ministerial servants became auxiliary pioneers. A total of 37,404 took part in the auxiliary pioneer work that month. “The pioneer spirit,” said the report, “was so contagious that the Kingdom Halls just hummed with experiences and words of encouragement.”
A mother of 11 children became discouraged because she could not arrange to conduct a home Bible study. However, a brother suggested that she try the auxiliary pioneer work, which she did. She is no longer discouraged, because she now has four home Bible studies!
Yes, amazing things are happening in Brazil. One special pioneer visited a nearby town and placed 41 books. The next month, when he made return visits, the hotel owner informed him that the priest wanted to see him. The priest told him that he had seen the Bible Stories book, and he wanted more copies for his youth club. Then the priest said that he was going to announce at the next Mass that all could obtain copies of the book. The special pioneer returned four times and, all together, placed 220 copies of the Bible Stories book and 170 pocket-size books. He is now holding a number of home Bible studies with the interested ones. Such experiences show what a fertile field exists in Brazil, and that country will certainly go on from one grand increase to still more and more.
Legal Recognition in Argentina: One of the most joyful branches at this time is Argentina, because great victories have come to the brothers during 1984. For at least 33 years bans and laws were enforced against them, but they courageously pressed on, and Jehovah finally gave a resounding victory to our brothers in Argentina. On March 9, 1984, they were informed that at last they were authorized to operate as a legal religion. Another cause for joy was that in recognition of their status as a religious organization and out of respect for freedom of worship, the children of Jehovah’s Witnesses were exempted from participation in patriotic ceremonies.—For details see The Watchtower of November 15, 1984, page 27.
The enthusiasm of the brothers was reflected in a 10-percent average increase of publishers, going from 43,815 in 1983 to 48,282 in 1984. In April, 19 percent of the publishers shared in the pioneer work, and Memorial attendance reached 109,140. The number of congregations is increasing, with 52 new ones formed during the first ten months of the service year. A new Assembly Hall is being built for use in the Buenos Aires area. The branch facilities are too small to take care of all that is happening, so new property has been obtained. A large factory has been bought and will be made into offices and factory space, and the branch will build a new Bethel home right next to it. “Everything is booming,” says the report. Everyone is amazed but truly happy at what Jehovah is doing.
Two young publishers joined a group of others who decided to spend their vacation in the auxiliary pioneer service. They went into an isolated territory that perhaps had never before received a witness. Tears of joy came to their eyes when they related how the faces of their listeners lit up with enthusiasm when shown the beautiful illustrations in the literature. City officials, school authorities, judges and police listened to the message, and the prayer of these zealous vacationers went up to Jehovah asking Him to give the increase to the seeds they had sown. What a delightful way to spend a vacation!
Bolivia Thrilled With Its Report: What a thrill it was for the brothers in Bolivia to report that they had reached an 18-percent increase in publishers over last year’s average! The congregation publishers averaged nearly 12 hours per month and reported one home Bible study per publisher. A total of 17,671 sheeplike ones attended the Memorial—that is over four times the number of publishers! Conditions look very favorable for continued expansion. Regular pioneers are constantly increasing in number.
A former chief of police and his wife, who always refused to listen to the truth, began attending charismatic meetings. He obtained a Catholic Bible and by chance opened it to Isaiah 43:10. Calling his wife, he told her that they were no longer going to such meetings. After much effort, they located the Witnesses and are now both baptized and very zealous. Thus Jehovah sees to it that all who sincerely look for him will find him.
Searched for a Bible Stories Book: When a publisher in Guatemala offered the Bible Stories book to a man in a rural area, the man said: “I have been looking in all the bookstores for this book! There is a child here that takes a copy to school and rents it to her classmates for 15 cents a week.” Eagerly the man accepted the book, and a Bible study was started.
Reaching Mayan Indian Villages: “One of the highlights of this past service year’s activity,” reports the branch in Belize, “has been the annual field trip to visit the Mayan Indian villages in the south of the country. To reach these remote villages (12 in number) one must walk 113 miles (182 km) along jungle paths. So, a group of 12 brothers ventured with their backpacks and briefcases, carrying everything they would need for ten days. Their equipment included a small six-volt slide projector and motorcycle batteries. For the first time they showed color slides in these remote villages. A total of 568 people attended the showings telling about the global preaching work of Jehovah’s Witnesses. These hard-to-reach humble people were left with a better understanding of the Kingdom-preaching work.”
Riverboat Witnessing in Suriname: The branch in Suriname tells us: “This past year much work has been done in the interior of the country. Since there are very few roads, transportation is mainly by boat on the rivers. Special pioneers are on most of the larger rivers, busy preaching, and this year we started the work in the deep south on the upper Suriname River. Five special pioneers were assigned there, and three of them went all the way to the Pikin Rio, where the Granman (the chief of the whole river area) lives. He was very friendly and talked for some time with the three brothers. He provided a house for them and asked all the captains of the villages for their cooperation with the Witnesses. The special pioneers built their own boat, and in spite of the fact that they were there only a short time, they started a number of fine Bible studies, and some interested ones are now publishing the good news.”
Costa Rica Shares in Increase: This country had a most outstanding year of theocratic activity. For the first time, their publishers have gone over the 8,000 mark. One reason undoubtedly is that they are conducting about 9,000 home Bible studies. Where that feature of service is stressed, it results in much increase. The pioneers were very busy too. They have doubled in number, and the auxiliary pioneers show a 45-percent increase. Enlarged branch facilities are urgently needed, and a beautiful 15-acre (6-ha) plot of land located in one of the finest farmland areas in the country was purchased. It is 7 miles (11 km) from San José.
One brother tells of being assigned to a better position in the office where he worked, but another employee felt that she had much more seniority. She was told to train the brother for the position, but she made things as disagreeable as she could for him. Another worker approached the brother and told him not to put up with such treatment. He was advised to go to the supervisor and make trouble for her, but this he refused to do. Eventually, the woman became less hostile and even began to engage in friendly conversation with him. Later, she took literature from him and now studies regularly and is progressing in the truth. How much better that Christian course of action than turning her into an enemy and not being able to reach her with the truth!
“Publisher Explosion”: The exciting events in Mexico are referred to in their report as a “publisher explosion.” They happily report a 16-percent increase in publishers, with the peak now up to 151,807. The brothers attribute this mostly to a 26-percent increase in home Bible studies, which rose to 202,132 in June. Because of such studies, whole families are coming into the truth. The Memorial was attended by the amazing total of over 695,000!
The flag-salute issue is very much to the fore in Mexico, with the newspapers and TV making much ado over the situation. In Ciudad Juárez, various ones contacted an army official in an attempt to have him take some action against the Witnesses. He is reported as having said to them: “You should get to know Jehovah’s servants very well. If all the people in Ciudad Juárez were Jehovah’s Witnesses, there would be no more problems.” Some newspapers have also quoted from the School brochure, which has resulted in a very fine witness.
Our brothers in Mexico say: “Truly Jehovah has been good to us this past year.” To which all of us can heartily agree. The field in Mexico is certainly “white for harvesting,” and as the Master of the harvest sends more workers into that productive area, the “publisher explosion” will become still greater to the exquisite delight of all who love Jehovah.—John 4:35; Matt. 9:37, 38.
Moving Ahead Despite Violent Times: What can our brothers do in El Salvador where violence and lawlessness abound? They answer: “With Jehovah’s help we are content to be serving Jehovah here.” Thus, in spite of all the difficulties involved, 49,344 attended the Memorial—almost four times the average number of publishers! They have reached a fine peak of 13,427 publishers, who are conducting well over 20,000 home Bible studies. Plans are now under way for the construction of a new branch building in San Salvador. A new Assembly Hall has been purchased in San Miguel, right in the middle of an area of violence, but where there is also fine increase in the Kingdom work. Assemblies are being held here with no serious problems.
The following amazing experience illustrates the power of Jehovah in caring for his people. In a certain good-sized congregation, the surrounding area is sometimes under the control of the civil defense and at other times is controlled by the guerrillas. On an election day, the congregation meetings were held as usual. Some of the brothers hurried home right after the meetings were over, but others remained. A group of guerrillas appeared. These ordered the brothers to attend the meeting the guerrillas were going to hold. The brothers grouped together, and when the command was given for all to shout political slogans, they remained silent. They had to remain standing for over an hour, and then they were all asked to contribute 25 centavos to the cause. An upturned hat was passed around, but instead of dropping in money, they dropped in their magazines. This surprised the guerrillas, but they permitted the brothers to witness to them until 10:00 p.m. Finally, the brothers were allowed to go home, happy that they had maintained their loyalty to Jehovah.
Fine Progress in Chile and Colombia: Chile began the construction of a new branch office on June 4. “In spite of exceptionally heavy rains,” said the report, “the work is advancing, and the zeal displayed by willing workers has not been dampened.” The zeal of the brothers is also reflected by a 14-percent increase in publishers. Bible studies keep increasing. A total of 75,029 attended the Memorial. Auxiliary pioneers increased by an amazing 50 percent! Similarly, in Colombia, pioneer activity has continually increased, with the result that the publishers are growing in number. The city of Bogotá is forming one new congregation each month, and the peak of publishers has mushroomed to 23,117, a commendable 22.7-percent increase over the 1983 average.
Amazing Gains in Venezuela: This country reports with enthusiasm that during some months the publishers showed a 19-percent increase. Pioneers grew in number all year. The Memorial attendance—12,165 more than in 1983—was 93,263.
A six-year-old girl successfully showed a householder that God’s name is Jehovah even though she could not read. The lady was so impressed that she not only hugged and kissed the little girl but arranged for a Bible study, and she is now preparing for baptism.
The president of the Anticancer Society of Venezuela was so impressed by the article on smoking in the June 15, 1981, issue of La Atalaya (Spanish edition of The Watchtower) that he ordered 500 copies of the issue. Now all students who are given an assignment about cancer and smoking in their medical classes receive this issue along with their other study material.
“Exciting and Encouraging”: This is how Trinidad described their experiences for the 1984 service year. From January to April they had successive peaks in publishers and were most happy to have 2,082 auxiliary pioneers for April. This represented 54 percent of the publishers reporting for that month! One brother usually reads from the publications during his lunch breaks. This resulted in so much interest among his workmates that he decided to offer the magazine subscriptions to them. “Since they were surprised at their low cost,” he says, “I was able to obtain 36 subscriptions for the month of January.” He was also able to place 107 copies of the Live Forever book. He is now busy trying to develop all the interest that has been created.
Forging Ahead in the Dominican Republic: Blackouts and rioting interfered to some extent with the work in this country, but the brothers reached a total of 8,192 publishers for the first time. The Memorial was attended by 23,000 more than their publisher total, so they feel they have much work to do in helping all these people to make advancement. A circuit overseer invited one congregation of 21 publishers to work with him in the rurals. To his surprise, 41 people showed up, because all the sisters brought along their children. Needless to say, they had a most unusual and enjoyable time in the rurals.
“The Kingdom Increase Is Here”: This is the way our brothers in Guadeloupe feel. They are bubbling over with joy because of increased Bible study activity, which has reached the average of one per publisher, and they recorded a 9-percent increase in publishers for the year. Almost 10,000 attended the Memorial. One housewife, without knowing why, invited a publisher into her home after refusing to listen for ten years. The daughter also listened, and after a somewhat slow start, both mother and daughter became baptized and are zealous publishers of the truth.
Attitudes Changing in Grenada: The outburst of fighting that occurred in October 1983 has shattered some of the easygoing attitudes of many. They are still quite upset by what happened. Many have lost faith in political promises and are beginning to show more interest in the truth. A total of 1,175 came to the Memorial—three times the number of publishers, so they hope for continued increase in activity with fine results.
We would like to tell you more about Theocratic expansion in Latin America and the Caribbean but we must move on to North America.
North America Strides Forward
Far North Overcomes Prejudices: The brothers in Alaska had a 16-percent increase in publishers over the 1983 average, reaching 1,748 in March. The Memorial was attended by 4,397, so there are many more that can be helped to take up Jehovah’s true worship. They are doing their best to work the bush territory. Upon entering one isolated bush village, the brothers were told by the council representative: “Sorry, but you are not allowed to enter our village.” He was then shown the beautiful pictures in the Live Forever book and was informed that they desired to tell the people what the Great Creator had in store for them. At this, the official said: “You are welcome to our village.”
A highlight of the year was that 230 brothers came from as far away as California to Metlakatla on the Tsimshian Indian Reserve to construct a two-day Kingdom Hall. The local council had opposed the building for ten years, but, finally, allowed it to proceed. In 32 hours a beautiful 32-foot x 52-foot (9.8-m x 15.8-m) structure was completed. Practically the whole village came out to watch, and some said: “That is how we used to work together as a people.” Another two-day hall was finished at Wasilla, 50 miles (80 km) north of Anchorage.
“We Continue to Grow Marvelously”: This is how the brothers in Canada feel about the 1984 service year. Opposers in Canada have falsely proclaimed that the Society is falling apart, but the branch gladly points to 80,939 publishers, for a 10.7-percent increase over the 1983 average. Almost 23 percent of all the publishers were in the pioneer work in April. With that amount of zeal, more wonderful results will be forthcoming.
The Kingdom Halls are bursting at the seams in Canada, so they have built the astonishing number of 22 two-day Kingdom Halls during the service year. They have applications for nine more halls.
Joseph, a Jesuit priest, came to Canada from Czechoslovakia and obtained a copy of the New World Translation. The sister who called on him happened to remark that Peter was never in Rome. He sincerely believed that Peter had functioned there as head of the Catholic Church. However, in his research it became clear to him that Peter sent his greetings from Babylon rather than from Rome. He went to the local Kingdom Hall and was surprised that there was no clergy-laity distinction. He recognized also that the doctrine of transubstantiation was wrong. He later resigned as a Jesuit priest despite much pressure, and now he is a happy Kingdom proclaimer.
“A Banner Year of Theocratic Activity”: This is the report from the United States. Five new peaks of publishers were reached, the August peak being 690,830, for an astounding increase of 20,435 over July’s peak of 670,395 publishers. In April there was an all-time peak in auxiliary pioneers of 93,990. The number of regular pioneers climbed to 29,098 in April, which means that there were 123,442 persons serving as pioneers during that month!
Home Bible studies have advanced to 450,658, and the grand number of 1,611,310 attended the Memorial. What tremendous prospects for future expansion! A new congregation was formed every two or three days on the average, making a total of 159 new congregations formed during the 1984 service year. Subscriptions are running 3.9 percent higher than in 1983 and total magazines 11.8 percent higher. Truly theocratic expansion has come to this land.
In California, a newly interested nurse started a Bible study with one of her patients in a convalescent home. The patient was 100 years of age and years ago had seen the Photo-Drama of Creation. As the lady took in Bible truths, she told others about God’s Word. This brought opposition from the chaplain and others in the home. Undaunted, the young-at-heart centenarian kept on preaching, dedicated her life to Jehovah and was baptized at the ripe age of 102! Jehovah’s spirit can accomplish wonders.
“KINGDOM INCREASE” DISTRICT CONVENTIONS
If all the 117 “Kingdom Increase” District Conventions in the contiguous United States had been held in one place, there would have been the huge total of 1,159,898 happy attenders. They would also have been thrilled to see 10,625 new brothers and sisters baptized. Truly, the name “Kingdom Increase” was most appropriate, as this mighty throng assembled in 65 different locations throughout the country.
What joy followed the release of the new Reference Bible! How gladly the brothers received the new book Survival Into a New Earth and the excellent brochure extolling Jehovah’s name! Upon the release of the Divine Name brochure in Finland, the brothers exclaimed: “This is exactly what we need.” “We have longed for this.” “The walls of the churches are being made to witness for Jehovah!”
These district conventions were a tremendous source of encouragement to the British brothers. The total convention attendance of 136,524 was a new peak for them, and 934 were baptized. Among the many experiences enjoyed in connection with the conventions was that of a brother and his wife who were traveling to Cardiff when their car broke down. A farmer came out of his house and inquired what he could do to help. They told him they were going to the convention. On learning that they were Witnesses, he said: “There’s a car in the corner of the yard. Take it, enjoy your convention and return it on your way home.” The couple benefited from the high esteem the farmer had for Jehovah’s people.
MORE ENCOURAGING THEOCRATIC DEVELOPMENTS
Meeting the Needs for the Field: To help meet the field needs of Jehovah’s army of witnesses, the Society increased the number of Bethel family members by 9.9 percent, for a total of 7,233 worldwide. Just imagine, during the 1984 service year, these busy workers produced the amazing number of 59,188,650 Bibles, books and booklets! In addition, 503,500,555 Watchtower and Awake! magazines were produced in 102 different languages. Millions upon millions of handbills, tracts and other items were also printed.
Jehovah’s servants are working more vigorously than ever to feed sheeplike people, as foretold at Jeremiah 23:3-6. Worldwide, the brothers personally spent large sums—in dollars, marks, pesos, pounds, liras, and so forth—to preach the Kingdom message. The Watch Tower Society also spent the grand total of $19,437,938.73 (U.S.) during the 1984 service year in providing support for the field by caring for the needs of thousands of special pioneers, traveling overseers and missionaries. Jehovah’s people have certainly proved the truth of Acts 20:35: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.”
Computer Developments: During the past year Jehovah has given us better equipment than ever before to preach the good news speedily to the ends of the earth. Important tools in this increased publishing capability are the MEPS (Multilanguage Electronic Phototypesetting System) and the MEPS Setter. MEPS is a computer designed and built by the brothers to aid in publishing the good news to all the nations, to all language groups. MEPS does not translate but it enables a person to enter and correct text that has already been translated. It electronically arranges the text into pages that are then sent to the MEPS Setter for producing the pages on film.
MEPS is also used to handle subscriptions, literature orders and other administrative work of a branch office. Presently MEPS is being used in Brooklyn and the following 19 printing branches: Australia, Austria, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Nigeria, Philippines, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and West Germany. We plan to install this equipment in many more countries. Brothers and sisters from branches have been trained to operate and maintain this equipment. MEPS has the capability of handling languages such as Arabic, Greek, Hindi and Korean. Brothers are presently working on increasing the capability of MEPS to handle Chinese and Japanese. All of this is helping to speed up the work of making disciples of people of all the nations.
Simultaneous Publication: One of the most thrilling developments during the 1984 service year has been the move into simultaneous publication of the same material in The Watchtower in upwards of 20 different languages. This has been made possible, in most cases, by the installation of the Society-developed MEPS computer system. Copy for the English-language Watchtower is sent out to branches for translation. It is then entered and is composed with the help of this equipment. Thus, the same leading series of articles and the study articles are already being published in a number of languages. Around the world they have the same cover design for that issue.
This is proving to be a marvelous unifying force among Jehovah’s people. By early 1985 it is expected that 2,500,000 and more of those attending the Watchtower Study in countries around the world will be studying the same material in the same week. All will be unified in presenting the same message in the field through the Watchtower magazine. This also opens up the possibility of making any important pronouncement worldwide at the same time in this magazine. All of this is part of the grand campaign of unification that Jehovah is now carrying out among his people.—Eph. 1:9, 10.
EXULTING IN THE THEOCRATIC EXPANSION
It has been most difficult to decide what to include in this exceptional worldwide report for 1984. There is not nearly enough space to tell of all that Jehovah has done through his people during the past year. What is outstanding, however, is the spirit of enthusiasm and joy of our brothers everywhere.
Satan has always tried to bring about dissension among Jehovah’s people, and he has caused some people to attempt to disrupt the peace and unity of the loyal ones. Such disgruntled ones find no happiness with their lot in life, and they are howling at this time because of “breakdown of spirit.”—Isa. 65:13-15.
Neither these nor all the hordes of Satan can prevent the expansion of Jehovah’s interests in the earth. His command to the obedient ones as found at Isaiah 54:2-4 is to “make the place of your tent more spacious. . . . Do not hold back. . . . Do not be afraid, for you will not be put to shame.” Indeed! While Satan’s world and all his wicked agents are in anguish, Jehovah’s servants are exulting. This service year of 1984 has surpassed all other years in total accomplishments.
The time is near at hand for Jehovah’s Kingdom to “crush and put an end” to Satan’s entire wicked system. (Dan. 2:44) That righteous Kingdom rule must keep on growing and expanding until it fills the whole earth. Nothing can block this wondrous purpose of Jehovah. Therefore, let all who love Jehovah exult in the tremendous “theocratic explosion” that is now occurring and unite in glorifying him with thanks and gratitude.
[Chart on page 24-31]
1984 SERVICE YEAR REPORT OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES WORLDWIDE