1986 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses
KEEPING INTEGRITY TO JEHOVAH—that should be the foremost thought and greatest desire of every worshiper of the only true God. Why is the matter of integrity so important? Well, consider the words of Proverbs 27:11. Here, just as a loving father would say to his son with regard to taking a right course to clear away reproach wrongfully brought upon the family’s good name, Jehovah says to every true worshiper of Him: “Be wise, my son, and make my heart rejoice, that I may make a reply to him that is taunting me.” It is by keeping integrity to Jehovah in every aspect of life that one can daily provide Jehovah with a reply to give to his Taunter, Satan the Devil. What a wonderful thought that is! By remaining blameless, faultless in Jehovah’s eyes, it is possible for imperfect creatures to share in clearing Jehovah’s name of all reproach and fill his heart with joy!
Who today can rightfully lay claim to making Jehovah’s heart rejoice? This 1986 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses supplies the answer. As you read its pages you will be thrilled to find that monthly upwards of 2,865,183 men, women, and children, drawn from all different national backgrounds throughout the world, are faithfully upholding Jehovah’s side of the issue of universal sovereignty. For some, doing this has meant suffering hardship, imprisonment, and even death at the hands of the Taunter’s agents. Hundreds of thousands have faithfully held up under stress of divided households or ridicule from workmates or schoolmates. Others have had to endure the problems brought on by old age or ill health. The majority have had to resist the day-to-day pressures of this old system of things. All who have truly proved to be faithful witnesses of Jehovah have been putting Kingdom interests first in their life. (Matt. 6:33) Thus, Jehovah has been able to say of them individually as he did of his faithful servant Job: “Even yet he is holding fast his integrity.”—Job 2:3.
The importance of keeping integrity to Jehovah was kept prominently before the minds of all of Jehovah’s Witnesses during 1985 by the series of “Integrity Keepers” Conventions. Starting in North America during the month of June, they have gradually extended right around the globe in the succeeding months and will continue into the early part of 1986. At a number of special conventions, thousands of delegates from other lands were present. This gave them an international flavor and helped to cement even closer the bond of love that is truly experienced among Jehovah’s people in all parts of the earth.—John 13:34, 35.
The first of these special conventions was held in Montreal, Canada, July 11-14. It is interesting to read what the Canada branch had to say about it and its fine effects: “We are especially happy about the success of the Montreal convention. The attendance of 78,804 was outstanding, as was the baptism figure of 1,004. The provision of a camping area for the brothers was a special feature of the convention, and the fact that seven brothers of the Governing Body were present brought us particular pleasure. The publicity in the news media was excellent, and we are confident that the Montreal convention will be a further stimulus to the work in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada. It was good to have so many of our fellow Christians from the United States as well as representatives from other lands in attendance. It was most encouraging.”
In Europe after months of preparation, thousands of visitors were welcomed to conventions held in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Poland, and Greece. Authorities had kindly granted permission to hold four large conventions in Poland during August 1985. The largest stadiums in the country (in Poznań, Chorzów, Warsaw, and Wrocław) were used. Delegates from 16 countries were represented in the total attendance of 94,134. It was exceptional to see 3,137 baptized. Excitement ran high at each convention. Commenting on the convention at the Dziesieciolecia Stadium in Warsaw, the Kurier Polski said: “The big letters of the convention theme ‘Integrity Keepers’ had been placed on the playing field. The podium for delivering the talks and baptizing new believers had been constructed nearby. The assembly program involved common prayers, songs, lectures, and dramas on moral-ethic subjects. Because of the Warsaw gathering of Jehovah’s Witnesses the stadium has been restored to its former fine condition. Garbage and weeds have disappeared. The railings have been painted . . . many clean toilets have been additionally constructed.” Other newspapers also pointed out that all of this was the result of voluntary service on the part of hundreds of brothers.
When the apostle Paul and his companions visited Thessalonica in the first century, it was said of them: “These men that have overturned the inhabited earth are present here also.” (Acts 17:6) The same words may well be applied to the convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses held on the hilly outskirts of Thessalonica, Greece, August 22-25. Peak attendance was 11,517. On the first day, the local press reported: “The fight is on! Jehovah’s Witnesses vs. the Greek church.” However, it was apparent to all in attendance that Jehovah’s Witnesses are an orderly, peaceable people, interested only in defending God’s Bible truth against tradition and false doctrine.
In its losing battle against the integrity-keeping Witnesses, the Greek Orthodox Church resorted to demonstrations and falsely charged that the Witnesses are “foreign agents” and are “not Christians.” A leading Athens newspaper published a rebuttal, stating that the thousands of Witnesses who had come from 18 countries in the Orient, Europe, America, and Africa were interested in visiting sites where Christianity got started, and that “Jehovah’s Witnesses more nearly resemble the early Christians than do members of the more orthodox congregations.” The newspaper featured an interview with a visiting representative from Brooklyn along with pictures in color of the convention activities and of the baptism.
On the final day, 21,218 attended at the Apollon Stadium in Athens, and 4,632 at nearby Malakasa, making a total attendance of 37,367 for the three conventions. And 368 new Witnesses were baptized. The local brothers called it “the joyful assembly.”
The cities of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo were chosen for special three-day conventions in Brazil, August 23-25. Anticipating record attendances, the branch engaged the largest stadiums in both cities: Estadio do Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro and Estadio do Morumbi in São Paulo. However, the peak attendance surpassed all expectations, a combined total of 249,351 crowding into the two arenas on Sunday! This vast crowd was also overjoyed to learn that 2,654 had been baptized. Jehovah is certainly speeding up the work in that land!—Isa. 60:22.
The thousands of brothers privileged to visit these and other special conventions will never forget the warm and loving welcome that they received. Strengthened in their determination to maintain their integrity to Jehovah, they returned to their home countries and congregations with hearts overflowing with joy following such “an interchange of encouragement . . . each one through the other’s faith.”—Rom. 1:12.
Since the start of this series of conventions many letters of appreciation have been received by the Society. One person was moved to say: “Our ‘Integrity Keepers’ Convention this year was the precise thing that I needed to continue with determination to serve Jehovah with integrity and truth.” One Spanish circuit overseer summed the matter up when he wrote: “The entire program from the beginning to the end will help all of us to maintain our integrity in this time of the end.” We pray that this series of conventions indeed will do this for all who attended and that, no matter what obstacles and tests may lie ahead, their determination will be as expressed by the psalmist David: “As for me, in my integrity I shall walk.”—Ps. 26:11.
The goal set before Jehovah’s Witnesses for 1985 was, “Fully accomplish your ministry.” (2 Tim. 4:5) The question of interest to all of us is this: To what extent was this goal achieved? The chart on pages 34 to 41, together with the following interesting reports and experiences from many parts of the earth, gives a resounding answer to that question. As a result of the millions of hours spent in witnessing to their neighbors about the Kingdom, the Bible study aids left in their hands, the subsequent return visits made, and the Bible studies conducted, there were 189,800 that symbolized by water baptism their dedication to do Jehovah’s will. These stand as proof that Jehovah’s Witnesses have accomplished their ministry during the 1985 service year. These are ‘their letter, inscribed on their hearts and known and being read by all mankind.’—2 Cor. 3:2, 3.
One outstanding feature of last year’s service report is the ever-increasing number joining the ranks of the pioneers. Last year literally thousands came to appreciate that the pioneer service was for them ‘a large door of opportunity leading to activity.’ (1 Cor. 16:9) How encouraging then it is to find that, on an average, 322,821 were in a position to share in the full-time service in 1985. That is a 25-percent increase over the previous year. Here is how one 19-year-old pioneer sister expressed herself after attending the “Integrity Keepers” Convention: “I’m determined more than ever to continue to exert myself to endure in the most satisfying work ever. I deeply appreciated the talk directed to pioneers Friday morning and the opportunity to be amidst the throng of full-time servants. It made my heart swell with so much happiness!” There is little doubt that this increasing army of full-time workers has been a major factor in the ever-increasing rate at which “a great crowd” are joining their voices in saying: “Salvation we owe to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb.”—Rev. 7:9, 10.
It is understood, of course, that not all of Jehovah’s people are in a position to enlarge their service privileges by stepping into the full-time service. But this has not prevented such ones from ‘fully accomplishing their ministry’ to the extent possible under their particular circumstances. So, whatever place of service you may enjoy in Jehovah’s organization, as you read the following exploits of Jehovah’s integrity-keeping witnesses, you can rejoice in the fact that during these closing days of this wicked system of things you have had some part in making Jehovah’s heart rejoice!
Zealous Ministers in Africa
It is heartwarming to behold what is being accomplished today in Africa with regard to preparation of people for survival into the “new earth.” The zeal that they are showing for sacred service is outstanding, and Jehovah is richly blessing their efforts. In some lands Memorial attendance exceeds 100,000; elsewhere, 300,000. And Jehovah’s spirit is moving the brothers to respond to the need for workers. For example, the increase in pioneers is 54 percent in one branch; 203 percent in a two-year period in another. During April, the number in full-time service soared to such levels as 35, 37, 59, and 70 percent of total publishers for various countries.
CHAD: This past year has witnessed some of the most vicious killing and plundering in this country’s rapacious 20-year civil war. The problems of war and persecution have been compounded by famine. Amid these pressures our brothers in Chad feel as did the apostle Paul when he wrote: “We are pressed in every way, but not cramped beyond movement; we are perplexed, but not absolutely with no way out; we are persecuted, but not left in the lurch; we are thrown down, but not destroyed.”—2 Cor. 4:8, 9.
A schoolteacher here who had two wives and six children had been enslaved by demon worship since childhood. His mother, a well-known clairvoyant, was reportedly possessed by four demons. The entire family gathered twice a year to offer sacrifices to these demons. When both of the wives of the schoolteacher died within six months, he inquired of the demons through his mother as to the origin of death. The demons lyingly said that they did not know. Later, when his eldest daughter also died, he agreed to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. In time, this former fearful slave of the demons became a happy ‘slave of the living and true God.’—1 Thess. 1:9.
GHANA: Much interest is being shown here in the good news. The 43,579 home Bible studies reported in November exceeded the total publishers by about 16,000. At the Memorial, 101,926 were present. The increase has made new branch facilities an urgent need, and good progress has been made on these. Contributions to support the work have come from persons of all ages and in varied forms. A nine-year-old sent a note, saying: “Herewith my ₵50.00 to support the construction work. I sold iced water to get this money. With loving greetings to you all.” Another girl, ten years old, sold her hen for ₵200 and took the money to the presiding overseer to be sent to the Society to help with the construction work. Some have sent live goats, sheep, pigs, and chickens. A brother donated large logs to be sawed and used as timber. Others have lent equipment.
IVORY COAST: Some who now praise Jehovah were first located when they were in prison. A young Muslim on vacation abroad got into a heated argument over money and killed a man. As a result, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Seeing no way out, he contemplated suicide, by starvation if necessary. But then he was contacted by two Witnesses who were preaching in the prison. Gradually Berté’s thinking changed. For the first time in his life he began to experience real joy. Finally, he was baptized in a large barrel in the prison courtyard, with some 50 prisoners and guards as observers. His territory is the prison. For a time he had a prison population of some 6,000 to whom to preach. Now he is in a prison that has about 1,000 inmates. Here he has been an auxiliary pioneer, conducts 23 Bible studies, and shares in meetings that are regularly attended by about 40 persons.
KENYA: The pioneer spirit has caught on in eastern Africa, and grand blessings go hand in hand with it! In Kenya the number of regular pioneers has gone up 270 percent in four years, and more than 10 percent of all publishers are now regular pioneers.
A wonderful work is being done here with the brochure Enjoy Life on Earth Forever! Nearly 100,000 were placed in 33 languages by about 7,000 publishers in eastern Africa during this service year. At times the publishers find themselves being followed by people who saw someone else’s brochure and want copies for themselves.
A polygamist, after reading the brochure, arranged to send his second wife away even before the Witness made a return visit. In one instance a non-Witness went around to his neighbors and used the brochure to ‘straighten them out’ as to their conduct, especially regarding polygamy. He said: “Even though your church allows you to do that, you see here according to the Bible it is not allowed.”
In one congregation, use of the brochure resulted in 41 new studies in two months. A sister had been conducting a study with a woman who did not seem to understand or retain what they discussed but who begged the Witness to continue studying with her. The brochure brought about a rapid change. Now she could remember what they studied. After completing the brochure, she was ready to take her stand for the truth and to start publishing. No wonder that in Kenya 3,422 publishers are conducting 5,172 Bible studies.
SENEGAL: During the past year, greater efforts were made to reach more people living in the vast, unassigned territory. As one means of doing this, brothers in the cities were encouraged to talk to people at train and bush-taxi stations. In this way they have been able to contact people from the most distant parts of the country. One man thus contacted wrote to the branch for more information. He obtained a supply of the brochure Enjoy Life on Earth Forever! to use in conducting a spiritual program in the school where he taught. A missionary visited to help him get started. The students learned God’s name, about God’s preparation of the earth for man, and how the first human soul came into existence. While the school was closed for the rainy season the students were assigned to copy the brochure in Arabic and to practice reading it. Now a fellow teacher, who works even farther in the interior, has taken 40 brochures and a Bible to begin the same program in his school.
SIERRA LEONE: Many of those embracing pure worship experience opposition from family members, even as Jesus foretold. (Matt. 10:32-39) Such was the case with Jonathan, who grew up in a rural area in Sierra Leone. His forefathers had been juju priests for four generations, and he was being groomed to carry on in the same line of work. But as Jonathan began to study with Jehovah’s Witnesses he learned that, not “medicine” or animal sacrifices, but serving Jehovah in the way outlined in the Bible is what brings God’s favor. When he made it known that he would not follow the family profession, bitter opposition ensued. His family refused to let him attend school. When he went to Christian meetings, they would not feed him, saying: “Let God feed you!” Jonathan did not go hungry. He remained firm for what is right and was baptized. He also taught himself to read and write. In time, his mother too accepted the truth, and he serves as a regular pioneer.
SOUTH AFRICA: In this branch we are now publishing, simultaneously with the English, eight different language editions of The Watchtower, four language editions of Awake!, and nine editions of Our Kingdom Ministry. Hence Jehovah’s Witnesses in South Africa are now able to enjoy the same spiritual food at the same time as their brothers around the world.
The whole world has heard of the turbulent situation that has developed in South Africa. How has this affected our African brothers? In some places mobs would not accept their neutral stand. Some were threatened; others had their homes burned down. But they are determined to maintain integrity. As a result of all the turmoil, many people, whether they are white or black, have come to realize that there is no hope in human governments and schemes. And many who formerly would not listen are now showing a keen interest in the only message of real hope—God’s Kingdom by Jesus Christ. The field is ripe for harvesting. No wonder home Bible studies have increased by some 8,000, to a peak of over 32,000!
ZAIRE: The Kingdom work has moved ahead in Zaire faster than ever during the past year. Regular pioneers increased by over 40 percent during the year. And the Memorial attendance of 153,356 was more than four times the number of Witnesses in the country.
A missionary reports that an 18-year-old girl began to study the Bible and attend congregation meetings. Soon her mother opposed what she was doing. (Matt. 10:36, 37) The girl was expelled from the house and told to go live with those with whom she studied the Bible. At the same time her mother accused her to a military official in the city, complaining that her daughter spent all her time studying and running to meetings instead of working at home. However, the official to whom she complained was also interested in the Bible and was being visited by Jehovah’s Witnesses. He asked the mother if she had chased her daughter out to be a thief or a prostitute like many others of her age. “Otherwise, do not hinder her Christian activities,” he said. “I officially authorize her today to attend all meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses and to continue her studies of the Bible. I condemn your unchristian action of chasing her from home. We are here to apply the law, and there is freedom of religion.” The girl returned home and continues to make progress in the truth.
ZAMBIA: From Zambia, located to the south of Zaire, comes another very encouraging report. Bible studies well exceed the number of publishers. And the Memorial attendance of 311,314 is well over five times the number of publishers.
Kind acts have resulted in the starting of some Bible studies. One of our sisters had a neighbor who always wanted to pick a quarrel with her. But one day that woman was in difficulty when her child broke some plates in a shop and the mother had no money with which to pay for them. Our sister came to her aid, paying on her behalf. This kindness so deeply touched the woman that the following morning she came to the sister’s home and requested that a Bible study be conducted with her.
ZIMBABWE: The issue of neutrality is becoming more intense. In one area a local politician encouraged the people to beat the Witnesses when these called at their homes. Although appeals to the authorities often bring relief, there are still strong elements that openly resent the loyalty of our brothers toward Jehovah God and his Son. But as one elder put it: “Our brothers are happy to endure these trials because it helps us to prove the quality of our faith.”—Jas. 1:2-4.
The Desirable Things of the Orient
Long ago Jehovah foretold that “the desirable things of all the nations” must come into his house of worship. (Hag. 2:7) They are coming from the Orient, as from other parts of the earth, in increasing numbers.
BURMA: Although brothers in one area had to walk for more than six days through mountainous territory at elevations of 6,000 to 8,000 feet (1,800 to 2,400 m) to attend a convention of Jehovah’s people, they proved that they truly are conscious of their spiritual need. (Matt. 5:3) Many arrived two days before the program was to begin, but they promptly inquired whether there would be a talk that night. It was arranged. In the evening after convention sessions, the traveling overseers were called on by the brothers to give further talks and to relate experiences.
When given opportunity to hear God’s Word, even some persecutors respond favorably. A special pioneer’s two sons, aged 10 and 7, were constantly harassed by their schoolmates for being Jehovah’s Witnesses. Their caps would be pulled off, their clothes were marked with ink and were cut, their schoolbooks were stolen, and sometimes the boys were beaten. Though the parents spoke to the teacher and the troublemakers were counseled, the harassing continued. Then one day the younger son took My Book of Bible Stories to school and witnessed to the boys. Even the bullies listened and became friendly. The parents were surprised one evening to see their sons coming home with five other boys, the former bullies. From then on, the boys regularly read the Bible Stories book with their schoolmates.
INDIA: To care for the needs of theocratic expansion here, it was most timely that the new branch building and Kingdom Hall were completed in Lonavla; and in January these were dedicated.
A Hindu woman became interested in the truth as a result of sitting in on a study in a neighbor’s house. In time she came to realize that Jehovah is the true God, but she was afraid that her husband might find out about her interest in this “new” religion. In the meantime he became interested in the Bible’s message when visiting the hut of a friend who was studying with the Witnesses. He, too, came to realize that what he was learning was the truth. But he was afraid to mention it to his wife, because she was very religious and had many religious pictures and idols in their home. Then one day he saw on the bed in his home the booklet Is There a God Who Cares? Recognizing what it was, he excitedly asked his wife: “Where did you get this?” She timidly explained, and her husband was overjoyed. Soon a study was being conducted in their own home with them, their three children, and the grandmother.
ISRAEL: Our brothers in various parts of Israel have encountered an outbreak of vicious opposition. What began as the daubing of abusive graffiti on the branch building by Jewish religious fanatics soon became mob attacks on the building, arson attempts, and the planting of a fragmentation bomb at the building entrance. Protest demonstrations have been mounted twice weekly, attended by up to 400 black-coated, bearded religious extremists. They make prodigious efforts to scare the brothers and interested persons from attending the meetings, and they lie in wait for them as they leave the hall. But attendance has remained high, and the spirit of the congregation is strong.
What have been the results? Publicity by news channels has caused the whole country to know about Jehovah’s Witnesses and their basic beliefs. Government officials have been given a witness. Many curious onlookers have visited the branch to ask questions and obtain literature. The ears of sympathetic persons have been opened to the good news. And the resolve of the brothers to stand firm has been strengthened.—Phil. 1:12-14.
LEBANON: There still is no real security in the country, nor is there hope of improvement under the present world system. However, all the brothers are determined to continue serving Jehovah wholeheartedly, and they experience Jehovah’s help and protection.
In April, 22 percent of the total publishers in the country shared in special, regular, or auxiliary pioneer work. Wrote one of the elders: “I have been in the truth for 29 years, and this is the first time I have auxiliary pioneered. I was thrilled.”
Among the auxiliary pioneers was a newly baptized sister who has four children and an unbelieving husband. She also has some physical problems. During the month, she started three new Bible studies with her neighbors, and she had another, unexpected blessing. Because she spoke about the truth almost every day with her husband, he became interested and started to attend meetings.
THAILAND: Response to auxiliary pioneer service has been good here, as in other lands. One sister expressed her appreciation for it, saying: “My health is not so good. Many nights I had to take pills in order to be able to go to sleep. After I started to auxiliary pioneer regularly, my health improved. I don’t take pills anymore in order to go to sleep. In the evening I can hardly wait to have a bath and go to bed. Walking from door to door helps me a lot to be able to sleep better, besides the many spiritual blessings I receive that make me a happier person.”
TURKEY: The past year proved to be a very critical one for God’s people in Turkey. In December of 1984, the State Security Court sentenced 23 brothers for ‘trying to establish a theocratic order in Turkey.’ About a week later, eight more were arrested in İzmir. The first group was acquitted and released in June of 1985. The second group, about three months later.
In the meantime, the strong bond of love among the Witnesses was strengthened. Breadwinners had been imprisoned. But others of the brothers lovingly contributed materially to help their families, and even brothers from other lands generously assisted.
As Jesus foretold, the persecution also led to a greater witness. (Matt. 10:18) The letter writing done by our brothers in other lands made it necessary for many officials to deal with the matter. And the newspaper reports reached people who otherwise might not have heard about the Witnesses. Even in prison a witness was given.
Willing Workers in the European Field
For many years there has been extensive sowing of Kingdom seed in the European field. Now is the time of harvest. Jehovah’s Witnesses beg the Master of the harvest to send out workers, but they also volunteer to share more fully in that work themselves. As a result, in ever-increasing numbers they are enrolling to be pioneers.—Matt. 9:37, 38.
BELGIUM: In this violent world we meet many who have been contaminated by the spirit of rebellion. A couple of pioneers helped a fighter who was an alcoholic to put on the new personality. (Eph. 4:23, 24) To make the necessary changes, that man had to wage a war within himself. One evening he again stumbled. He entered a café (a bar), drank, and almost started a fight. Returning home, he gave vent to his feelings, breaking up a table and some chairs. He even tried to tear up a Yearbook. He wanted nothing more to do with the truth; he felt unworthy. But after further encouragement from the pioneers he began to attend the congregation meetings. It was difficult for him to stop smoking; but he discarded the cigarettes, and later his pipe. After that, his style of clothing changed. What a transformation! Since his baptism he regularly participates in the auxiliary pioneer service.
BRITAIN: The field in Britain is getting a more intensive witness than ever before. Outstanding is the fact that for the first time there were over 100,000 Kingdom proclaimers sharing in the work. Further, the number of pioneers reached a new peak every month for the first ten months of the year, and during the month of May, 11,425 shared in auxiliary pioneer service.
This has also been a year of activity respecting Assembly Halls. After much searching, the brothers located a beautifully situated facility 25 miles (40 km) south of London. This is now being remodeled. On August 1, work started on another hall, to serve the brothers in the northeast part of England. And a committee is investigating the possibility of yet another Assembly Hall, in the Bristol area. This should make it possible for the vast majority of the brothers in Britain to have circuit assemblies in their own halls.
Among those baptized at the convention in Leeds was a woman who had prayed to God for help after the death of her husband. The next day two Witnesses called. She listened politely but, as a member of the Church of England, declined their literature. Minutes after they had left, however, she recalled her prayer to God for help and ran out of the house to call them back, but she could not find them. That night she prayed again, this time to have the Witnesses return. The very next day two different Witnesses called, not realizing that the house had been visited the day before. The 72-year-old householder was put in touch with the Witnesses who had called earlier, a study was started, and now she is our sister.
DENMARK: The release of the Danish edition of the complete New World Translation was an event that met with great enthusiasm. A supply of 60,000 copies was received, but only 1,000 remain. Even the public press has given it much publicity, some 40 newspapers and magazines containing reports concerning it.
Some persons in Denmark are taking hold of the truth very quickly. José is one of these. He often prayed to God, and just the day after he prayed that God would send someone to him to explain the purpose of life, two Witnesses knocked on his door. Appreciating what he heard, he went to the Kingdom Hall the next day. Two days later he was at his second meeting, and the following day he had his first home Bible study. When he had to choose between attending a 40-year celebration at his place of work and going to the Kingdom Hall, he chose association with Jehovah’s people. He learned why it is wrong to smoke, so 14 days after his first contact with the Witnesses he made a solemn promise to Jehovah that he would not smoke anymore. And he has not, although he had smoked 20 to 30 cigarettes a day and for 16 years had unsuccessfully tried to stop. During the first two months he read 12 of our books. Shortly after that, he was out in the field service, and within four months he was baptized.
FINLAND: The time has come for Jehovah’s name to be widely known, and no power can prevent it. The Finnish State Church is making a new translation of the Bible, one that carefully conceals the divine name. Meanwhile, a local newspaper reported this concerning recent renovations made in a church: “The scratching of old paint has led to the discovering of new findings in the church of Kuhmoinen. The word ‘Jehova’ has been found right above the altar. The fate of the word, which has caused some confusion, and the great wall painting, which was uncovered about a month ago, now lies in the hands of the parish council.” They decided to panel the wall, leaving the name and the painting behind it for future generations. But in every home in the township people discussed this matter.
FRANCE: Jehovah’s blessing on the pioneer activity, with new peaks of full-time workers most months of the year, has made us very happy.
Young ones face many tests of integrity in school. In Delphine’s new school the boys and girls would greet each other with a kiss on each cheek. But she explained that, as a Christian, she could not allow that. Later, on the bus, some of the boys started off in singsong fashion: “Delphine, a kiss! Delphine, a kiss!” One day after lunch some of the boys tried to force her to kiss them, but she prayed, resisted strongly, and the boys left her alone. Later one of them came back and told her that he admired her for the courage of her convictions. So she was able to give him a good witness about the Kingdom, explaining the high standards that Jehovah expects of all who want to share in its blessings. During the school year she was also able to explain her beliefs to the entire class.
GERMANY: Anticipation for the conventions was great, but this was surpassed by the actual joy over all the good things received. The brothers were very enthusiastic about the books Reasoning From the Scriptures and Life—How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation? But, in addition to these, they also received in German the revised edition of the New World Translation with its 125,000 cross-references. The brothers felt overwhelmed with all these provisions and expressed heartfelt thanks.
One day an elderly man obtained the Live Forever book from a brother who was sharing in street witnessing. A return visit was made at his home. In just four weeks the man asked: “What do I have to do to leave ‘Babylon the Great?’” When he went to the clerk’s office to resign from the church, the woman on duty inquired: “At your age you want to resign from church?” He is 82. The man replied: “Have you ever heard of Jehovah’s Witnesses?” She answered: “Now I understand everything.” Within two months he was out in the field service.
GREECE: When the apostle Paul and his companion Silas preached in Philippi they were dragged before the civil magistrates by irate opposers. Today also such opposition is a common occurrence for Jehovah’s people in this land. (Acts 16:19-24) During the first ten months of the service year, there were 84 court cases here involving the preaching of the good news. Sixty-seven of these were won in the lower courts, and two saw positive results in the court of appeals. Others are still pending.
The beautiful island of Corfu was the focus of much attention in the press because of clergy opposition to the congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses there. For about a month a group of around 50 people headed by three priests met outside the Kingdom Hall during each meeting. Holding crosses, they sang hymns, interspersed with shouts of “Antichrists,” “Traitors,” “Get back to Brooklyn.” The police tried to keep order, but in time the action of the group stirred up an unbalanced person first to smash the windows of the Hall, and later to set fire to it, resulting in $4,000 worth of damage. Then a brother’s car was set on fire. The national press carried reports. Finally the case came to court. In a courtroom filled with priests, the case continued for five days. One who came forward on behalf of Jehovah’s Witnesses was a university professor. He spoke for about an hour and a half, saying among other things: “The Middle Ages have come back to our town, and the acts of these men [pointing to the priests] have no place in our democratic society. They have nothing to do with what Christ taught, whom these men [the priests] badly represent.” As a result of this case, a tremendous witness was given, not only in Corfu, but throughout the country.
IRELAND: On June 1, 2 the first quickly built Kingdom Hall in Ireland was erected. TV stations gave it wide publicity. One newspaper proclaimed in bold type “The House That Jehovah Built—In Just 30 Hours!”
Some persons who used to say they were not interested have changed their mind. A girl whose cousin became a Witness was only interested in proving her cousin wrong. Since they always ended up arguing about it, they decided not to discuss it anymore. Later, when this girl and her boyfriend broke off their relationship, she took an overdose of drugs and was taken to the hospital. At the urging of another sister, the Witness dropped in to see her cousin on her way home from service. When the Witness told her cousin what she had been doing that day, the cousin said that sometime she must attend a meeting ‘out of curiosity.’ The sister had a talk scheduled on the Theocratic Ministry School, and her cousin agreed to attend that. Our sister dropped off a copy of the Live Forever book for her. Two days later the cousin agreed to study. Now she, too, is sharing in the field service.
ITALY: The past service year has truly deepened our appreciation for Jehovah’s blessings on his faithful servants. The month of August saw 127,526 Kingdom proclaimers busy in the service. The total of regular pioneers in May was up 72 percent over the report for the previous May, and the Memorial was attended by 275,902. What developments there have been since 30 years ago, when an international convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Italy was attended by just 4,531!
The good news must be preached with impartiality, not neglecting anyone, realizing that Jehovah sees what is in the heart. For many years there was a drunkard in Venice who was known as The Glassmaker. Under the influence of alcohol he would disrobe in public, and when the police tried to stop him he would throw himself against a shop window in the piazza, breaking the glass. From this he got his nickname. The apartment in which he lived was filthy. But when Witnesses called on him he showed genuine enthusiasm for the truth. The first return visit lasted three hours. Progress was fast. He stopped smoking and drinking. He got rid of his large collection of pornographic magazines. Soon he was at meetings. The brothers helped him to clean and paint his apartment. All of this resulted in a fine witness to neighbors and acquaintances. On meeting him at the Kingdom Hall, a former drinking companion of his said: ‘If The Glassmaker can change that much, then I too can become a Witness.’ He asked the brothers to visit him. How true it is that Jehovah’s ways are higher than man’s and God’s thoughts than man’s thoughts!—Isa. 55:6-8; Rom. 11:33.
NORWAY: For some time a sister had been calling on an elderly man on her magazine route. He was always friendly and took the magazines but would barely open the door. Was it worth the sister’s effort? In time publishers in another area met a young housewife who recognized the magazines and readily invited the publishers in. A study was started. She and her husband made rapid progress to baptism. What contributed to that rapid progress? Well, the woman is the daughter of that elderly man. For years he had been telling his daughter about the Bible’s wonderful hope for mankind and showing her how The Watchtower could help her to find answers to her questions.
PORTUGAL: Portugal is struggling with a bumper crop of inflation, unemployment, and much anxiety about the future. But these very conditions are helping many honesthearted ones to see their need for God’s Kingdom.
In Almada, one of the first cities where Kingdom preaching was done in this country, there is now a ratio of one Witness to every 105 inhabitants. And the Memorial was attended by one in every 45 persons there! Is there any sign of letup? No; this circuit has more pioneers and conducts more home Bible studies than any other in the country!
SPAIN: As never before, Jehovah’s dedicated servants here are praising the name of Jehovah. (Ps. 113:1) In the 26 months following May of 1983, Spain registered 25 peaks in regular pioneers. Their number went up 92 percent during that period. Such zealous activity is a factor in increases of many kinds. Spain now has a peak of 61,110 Kingdom proclaimers.
Fourteen-year-old Yolanda learned that a special flag ceremony was planned at school for the next day, this involving an oath as well as ceremonial kissing of the emblem. Her first thought was to tell her parents, who would allow her to be absent from the ceremony. But what about the younger Witnesses in the lower grades? They might find themselves in a difficult situation when confronted with pressure from both teachers and peers. So, at recess time she sought out young Mónica, Joan, and Silvia, explaining the situation to them, and they went together to the Director’s office. Yolanda spoke for the group: “Mr. Director, we have come to talk to you about the ceremony that is to be held tomorrow, that is, the oath to the flag, and I want to tell you that as Christian witnesses of Jehovah we do not swear to the flag, since that would be worshiping it, and for worship we already have our God, Jehovah. And since we respect your religion, I would like you to respect ours.” Replied the Director: “Very well, go and tell your teacher and the teacher of the others that you will not be present tomorrow for the ceremony.” Thus Yolanda’s bold action in behalf of her young schoolmates helped them to avoid walking unknowingly into a difficult situation.
SWEDEN: People in general in Sweden show great indifference toward the Bible and its message. But, instead of allowing that to dampen their zeal, the brothers have increased their activity. A new all-time peak of 20,037 shared in the field service during April. Over 20 percent of them were pioneering.
During his zone visit, Brother Henschel recommended that we pay more attention to the young ones in the congregations. Arrangements were made to increase the help being given to them. Many had gone in the field service with their parents but had made little progress. However, when personally taught what standards publishers must meet and how to do the field service effectively, they come to have a very different view toward meetings and the field activity.
Outstanding Growth in North America
For over a century Jehovah’s modern-day witnesses have been active in North America. Today, in a manner that far exceeds anything they expected, they see fulfilled the promise: “The little one himself will become a thousand, and the small one a mighty nation. I myself, Jehovah, shall speed it up in its own time.” (Isa. 60:22) That ‘might’ is not merely in numbers, but especially of a spiritual sort, because of reliance on Jehovah. It moves them to share whole-souled in proclaiming the already established Messianic Kingdom of God. What a marvelous privilege this is!
ALASKA: The brothers in Alaska express how Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world feel. Appreciatively they write: “It is a pleasure to convey our warm love and greetings to you brothers who are loyally serving Jehovah’s earth-wide Kingdom interests! Not one day passes without our feeling the effects in one way or another of the assistance given to us by Jehovah’s organization. We thank you for this loving care. Of course, we realize that Jehovah ‘is not far off from each one of us.’ (Acts 17:27) Such closeness is a special blessing.”
In their vast territory, it seems that young people predominate. The average age is 28. And many youths are showing genuine appreciation for the privileges of service that are open to them. A high-school girl, for example, decided to auxiliary pioneer while still attending school. In harmony with a provision for On Job Training, she arranged to have part of each school day for the field ministry. Every week she turned in a sheet stating how many hours she worked, her duties, new knowledge or skills learned, how she could improve, experiences, and so forth. This has opened up opportunities to discuss with her teacher Jehovah’s name, quickly built Kingdom Hall projects, and pioneering. Her teacher has been favorably impressed.
CANADA: The theme of “Kingdom Increase” that was highlighted during 1984 was no wishful thinking! It was then and continues to be exactly what is taking place, with Jehovah’s blessing.
A reflection of the growth is manifest in the building of new Kingdom Halls. By summer, the number of quickly built Kingdom Halls had reached 55, with 10 more scheduled before winter. In Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, a quickly built Assembly Hall was erected in just six days this past spring, and the dedication was held exactly one week after construction began. It can be used as four side-by-side Kingdom Halls. Then when interior walls are recessed, the building opens up into an auditorium seating 1,200 for circuit assemblies. Work on this project caused quite a sensation in the area. As one professional who visited the site said: “Awesome! Awesome!”
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Outstanding! That expression describes the fine record of activity of Jehovah’s people in the United States during the 1985 service year. During August, a new peak of 723,220 publishers shared in the ministry. That is 179,763 more than the average just five years ago. There were also new peaks in hours, return visits, and home Bible studies.
An outstanding aspect of the report is the growth in the pioneer ranks. With 100,145 sharing in auxiliary pioneer service during April, a total of 136,996 were in the pioneer work that month. Eight new peaks in regular pioneers were reached during the year. Large numbers of applications flooded in after the “Integrity Keepers” Conventions.
A former Catholic who was raised in Mexico is one of these zealous ones. She has been one of Jehovah’s Witnesses for 40 years. But recently she began to ask herself, “What am I doing?” She realized that, whatever it was, it could not be as important as engaging in the preaching work. So, although she is 93 years of age, she enrolled as a regular pioneer and now has the joy of conducting six home Bible studies.
A Great Crowd Praise Jehovah in Central America and the Caribbean
In prophetic vision the apostle John saw a great crowd of praisers of Jehovah “out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues.” (Rev. 7:9, 10) Included in the fulfillment of that vision, there are proving to be large numbers from Central America and the Caribbean.
BELIZE: The field here is ripe for harvesting. (John 4:35) The Mayan village of Santa Cruz is part of this fruitful field. There, three families decided to leave their religion because of wrongs that they observed. They prayed together that they might find the truth. Soon one of the group met a Witness doing street work in the town of Punta Gorda. He listened but took no literature. The next month he returned, this time to ask if Jehovah’s Witnesses would set up a church in Santa Cruz. Our brother explained the nature of our work and some of our beliefs. The man wrote down the scriptures and left, again without taking literature. The others in the village liked what he shared with them, so they set about erecting a thatched building to serve as a meeting place. Next month the man was back in Punta Gorda to explain that they now had a building ready for meetings. He insisted that our brother give a definite day and time when he would come. Though their knowledge is limited, the three families have been witnessing freely, even from door to door. When the brothers arranged to show slides in the village, these families gathered an audience of 126 to see them. By that time the families had studied just a few chapters of the Live Forever book.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: The Kingdom work is thriving here, and the future seems to be very promising. There have been ten consecutive peaks in publishers this year. And there are over 14,000 home Bible studies, to compare with a peak of 8,930 publishers. Many new Kingdom Halls are being built.
Sometimes encouragement to read our Bible literature comes from an unexpected source. That was true in La Vega. A sister called on an elderly woman who is Catholic and who said she refused to listen to anyone who does not talk about Mary. When the sister said, “OK, let’s talk about Mary,” the woman still refused. But when the sister next called at the homes in the territory, the elderly woman walked into the home of a neighbor as our sister was offering the magazines. “That’s the same article on marriage that the priest had in church on Sunday,” the elderly woman said. “He said that it is a very good article and that everyone should read it, because it would help them solve their marriage problems. The priest had 15 copies and gave them out to the church members.” Although the woman’s daughter protested at first, the mother replied: “The priest read from the magazine in church and told the congregation that when the Witnesses came to their homes they should accept the magazines and read them.” All three who were present did just that.
GUADELOUPE: The brothers in Guadeloupe have indeed felt as if new ones were coming into the organization like a large flock of doves in flight. (Isa. 60:8) The 3,500 publishers were thrilled to see over 500 more added to their ranks during the year.
One Sunday a lady approached the Catholic priest after Mass and told him that her son had asked: “Why, if Jesus Christ died for us, do we still see men who continue to sin and who continue to die?” She asked for help. The priest offered no explanation but instead said: “I suggest that you go out of the church, cross the street, and stay there a little while. Soon you will see Jehovah’s Witnesses coming along. Then approach them and stop one, but not an adult, no, but go to the youngest child among them and ask him to answer your question. To be sure, he will gladly tell you exactly what to answer to your son.” The woman was stunned.
GUATEMALA: At one place the military reserve officer brought pressure on people who were studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses and who were conducting themselves as Christian neutrals. Several of them were taken from their homes at night and imprisoned. The officer accused the local pioneer of provoking this situation. Appeal was made by the brothers to the higher military authorities, seeking opportunity to explain the reasons for their position. After listening for a full hour, the officer in charge of the entire area granted them an exemption order, relieving them of civil patrol duty. This exemption order was then delivered to the military reserve officer. Some months later the pioneer was able to start a Bible study with that reserve officer. Now he is attending all the meetings at the Kingdom Hall and is encouraging others to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. He wants to make the needed adjustments in his own life so that he can become a servant of Jehovah.
HONDURAS: Here, too, there is excellent increase and potential for much more. In the country home of the Catholic bishop of Tegucigalpa, the caretaker and his wife were contacted by a Witness. They had never owned a Bible but begged our sister to bring them one and to teach them from it. Upon learning that God has a personal name, the man asked the bishop about it, but the bishop said that he was too busy to talk to him and asked him to leave the room. The bishop’s right-hand man later acknowledged that God’s name is Jehovah but told the caretaker to leave him alone because he was busy. The man could not help but observe the contrast between their attitude and that of our sister who gladly walked for miles to discuss the Bible with them. Now they were even more eager to learn.
JAMAICA: Again there has been excellent response to pioneer service. The number enrolling as regular pioneers increased 50 percent over last year.
In one school a teacher wrote a religious song on the blackboard and asked the students to sing it. When a young Witness did not participate, the teacher became angry. After our sister explained that the song was not in harmony with her beliefs, the teacher replied: “Well, sing one of your songs.” So she sang “Life Without End—At Last!”—and the whole class listened right to the end. She says: “I was a bit nervous, but with Jehovah’s help I accomplished what I had set out to do. When I looked at the teacher’s face, I could see that she was no longer angry.”
MEXICO: Of the more than 173,000 publishers, upwards of one third have come into the truth during the past three years! And more growth is in sight. The number of Bible studies being conducted has jumped to 263,788. Even more outstanding is the Memorial attendance of 781,904. There are literally hundreds of thousands of sheeplike ones here to be helped.
“Throbbing with zeal!” That describes the spirit of our brothers in Mexico. The number of regular pioneers increased by an average of 35 percent and auxiliary pioneers by 30 percent. Among the regular pioneers are many whose circumstances are not unlike those of Angelita. With an unbelieving husband, four small children, and a partially crippled leg, she first took the matter of pioneering to Jehovah in prayer. Then, after receiving practical suggestions from the elders in her congregation, she began her regular pioneer service. Since then, because of her fine example, two other sisters in the congregation have also become pioneers. Now her husband too is studying the Live Forever book and is attending meetings.
In the face of the flag-salute issue in the schools, young ones are standing firm for true worship. Ten-year-old Miguel was called in to the principal’s office for questioning. There, before a group of teachers and a school inspector, he gave a fine witness. Nevertheless, he and the other children of Jehovah’s Witnesses were expelled for not saluting the flag. Later on, after they were readmitted, Miguel’s teacher—impressed with the young boy’s conviction and integrity—began asking him questions about the Bible. Amazed at the answers he received, the teacher began studying the Bible. Now, along with his wife, his sister, and his mother-in-law, he regularly attends congregation meetings, participates in the field service, and plans to get baptized soon.
PUERTO RICO: Jehovah’s Witnesses are in every corner of this island. But they realize that there is much work yet to do, and during the year the regular pioneer ranks increased by 25 percent.
Many young ones are preaching with good effect. A girl attending kindergarten took her Bible Stories book to school with her. When she began to explain the stories to her classmates, nearly the whole class crowded around. Seeing their interest in the book, the teacher asked for a copy, and the young Witness offered to give her one if she promised to read it. Each day the girl asked the teacher whether she had read the book, until finally she did begin. Before long, the teacher as well as her daughter showed up at the Kingdom Hall. She is now a baptized Witness who greatly appreciates the zeal of that young child who witnessed faithfully in school.
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO: An amazing 56 percent of the total publishers were in auxiliary pioneer service during April.
A brother who auxiliary pioneered during March decided to concentrate on obtaining subscriptions. In street work, he would offer subscriptions to those who obtained magazines. He also offered subscriptions to those with whom he had contact in his secular work as caretaker of a dock and a boathouse. Many of these were businessmen who are seldom at home. Generally they accepted the subscriptions for themselves or as gifts for friends. During March he obtained 182 subscriptions, and 41 in April.
Reviewing the year’s activities, the brothers say, along with David, “The measuring lines themselves have fallen for me in pleasant places.”—Ps. 16:6.
South Americans Flock to Jehovah’s House
Long ago God’s Word foretold: “It must occur in the final part of the days that . . . many peoples will certainly go and say: ‘Come, you people, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah . . . and he will instruct us about his ways, and we will walk in his paths.’” (Isa. 2:2, 3) It is thrilling to observe the fulfillment that this is having in South America. Meeting places are often overcrowded. And when conventions are planned, the most spacious facilities available are needed to care for the throngs.
ARGENTINA: Total publishers increased until they reached 56,585 in August—a 17-percent increase during the year. Bible studies have exceeded 70,000, and Memorial attendance shot up 24 percent to 135,379. Many of the Kingdom Halls are no longer large enough; these are being expanded, and new ones are being built. The brothers have two Assembly Halls now, one of these being put to use at the end of June and the other in July.
After 29 years of government restrictions, we had our first large assembly in the city of Buenos Aires, using the largest soccer stadium in the country. It was a dream come true. In attendance were 46,117, and 1,193 were baptized. Total attendance for our series of nine conventions was 97,917. Reported one magazine article: “Jehovah’s Witnesses have gained the respect of all.”
For the past 35 years our brothers of military age have had to serve prison terms of from three to seven years because the government did not recognize their Christian neutrality. Many were beaten, and at least two died because of inhuman treatment in military prisons. But now, on the recommendation of the local body of elders, young men who are baptized, are active in the preaching work, and are registered in the Theocratic Ministry School are given a certificate from the Association of Jehovah’s Witnesses. This certificate is presented to the military authorities, and the brothers are exempted from military service. Many of these young brothers are using this provision as a means to enter the pioneer service.
BRAZIL: For many years Jehovah’s people have longed for the day when The Watchtower would be published simultaneously in many languages. Starting with the issue of January 1, 1985, that became a reality for Brazil. No more six-month time lag! Huge containers packed tight with all the components for two high-speed rotary offset presses had arrived in August of 1984, and with the invaluable assistance of experienced brothers from Brooklyn, one press was functioning by January. How thrilling now for the Portuguese-speaking congregations to be able to partake of the spiritual food at the same time as their brothers worldwide! In March, the Theocratic Ministry School became simultaneous with the program in English. By April the second press was operating, with everything set for simultaneous publication of Awake!, starting with the issue of July 8. During 1985 they also received, in Portuguese, the new songbook Sing Praises to Jehovah. Now they are equipped not only for simultaneous “feeding” and publishing but also for simultaneous singing, and all of this to Jehovah’s praise and glory.
Enthusiasm ran high during March and April. A personal letter had been sent to all publishers in February encouraging participation in the auxiliary pioneer work. As a result, 19,410 shared in March and 22,636 in April. To everyone’s delight, publishers reached a peak of 177,904 in July.
The potential for further increase is manifest in many ways. One is the Memorial attendance, which reached a remarkable 483,880 this year! Another is the number of Bible studies—nearly equal to the average number of publishers.
CHILE: For the first time in ten years we were able to have a convention in Santiago. What a joy that was!
The literature that we distribute can have a powerful effect in the life of a person. A man visited by a missionary lives some 50 miles (80 km) from Concepción, and the trip over rutted roads that are often used only by ox-drawn carts requires several hours. At first the man was not particularly interested, but he did accept some literature. Upon reading it, he realized that what he was learning was the truth. He traveled to Talcahuano (near Concepción), went to a meeting at the Kingdom Hall, and obtained more literature. So much did he like what he read that he planned to build a Kingdom Hall on his property. The land was leveled and he was ready to start construction when the missionary made the first return visit on the man. It was pointed out to him that there was no one out there to conduct meetings. So, for the present he has postponed the construction project. By the time of the next return visit, he informed the missionary that he was making monthly trips to the congregation in Talcahuano, to attend meetings and to get literature. He had also obtained 24 cassettes at the Kingdom Hall. Now, every night after their meal, he and his wife read the literature and listen to the tapes, often till one in the morning.
COLOMBIA: The publishers are working enthusiastically to reach people with the Kingdom message, and response to the good news is truly outstanding. This is indicated in part by the fact that 114,777 attended the Memorial.
There has been an excellent increase in the regular pioneer ranks—now some 55 percent more than a year ago. Many of these are in circumstances that require real self-sacrificing effort. For example, in Neiva three young publishers in one family, though still attending high school, enrolled as regular pioneers after having served for several months as auxiliary pioneers. Zeal such as that stirs up others.
ECUADOR: Some interested ones are taking hold of the truth very quickly. One such is a lady who requested a study because her brother had become a Witness and she was greatly impressed by his excellent conduct. At her second study the sister studying with her touched on the matter of smoking. Next week the woman announced that, since learning the Bible’s viewpoint on smoking, she had not touched a cigarette. Next came images. Her house was full of them. But one scripture was all that was required to convince this humble woman. (Deut. 7:25, 26) The following week at the end of the study she left the room and then returned with her arms full of images, saying: “This is for you to see that my decision is serious.” With that, she proceeded to burn them all. Now she began attending meetings and has not missed one since. Shortly after this she overcame an even more difficult problem, breaking off an immoral relationship with a married man. Now, for the first time in her life she was able to experience genuine happiness, as she was able to serve Jehovah with a clean conscience.
GUYANA: During the year we have had peaks again and again in total Bible studies. The number far exceeds our total publishers. Less than two years ago the New Amsterdam Congregation reported only 40 studies; now they have 160. One congregation regularly reports over 250 studies.
Interest in the truth is also reflected in meeting attendance. Kingdom Halls are overflowing on Sundays. Circuit assemblies report attendances double the number of publishers. And Memorial attendance was more than triple the number of publishers.
Gordon and Yvette, two of those baptized this year, had to make some big changes in order to qualify. Within a few weeks after coming in touch with the truth, they ceased practicing spiritism. (He had been a priest of the church.) They also quit selling marijuana and cigarettes, blackmarketing, stealing electric current, and being outlandishly dressed and groomed. They had been living together without legal marriage for seven years, but Gordon explains: “When I learned that I was committing a crime against God I decided to get married.” What brought about these changes? They were impressed by the use of the Scriptures in the first meeting they attended. And the Witness who studied with them used the Bible extensively to help them to understand how Jehovah viewed the things they were doing.
PERU: January 27, 1985, was a memorable date for the work in Peru. A new branch office and Bethel home was dedicated by M. G. Henschel of the Governing Body, with 34,238 in attendance.
In anticipation of “All Souls Day” (November 1) the special pioneer in Azángaro, using the Society’s publications for source material, prepared a talk on the subject “To Hell and Back—Who Are There?” One with whom he studied the Bible had friends in the district of Muñani, 23 miles (37 km) away, so he sent them notice of the meeting. On Sunday it was pouring rain, but 14 showed up for the Watchtower Study. However, halfway through the study, a truck pulled up outside, there was a rush for the door, and an unbelievable 103 persons filed in, filling every nook and cranny. They had come to hear “who had gone to hell and come back.” The entire group stayed until midnight, conversing and asking questions. The driver of the truck stated: ‘We were tired of all the confusing teachings of the Evangelists and Catholics and at last we know what the soul is, where the dead are, and what hope there is for the dead.’
SURINAME: In the interior of the country, in the rain forest (which is largely isolated from the rest of the world) world wars and earthquakes as evidence that we are living in the last days have very little meaning to people. But they are deeply affected by demon worship and idolatry. They believe in all sorts of gods—a tree, an animal, a special stone in a river. They ask the sun-god when the dry season will begin and how long it will last.
Last year the dry season did not last very long. However, in order to attend their convention, our brothers started early to clear their fields and to plant cassava. In contrast, people who listened to the demon priests held off from working their fields until rites were performed to ask the sun-god for a longer dry season. When the rains came, only the Witnesses had enough to eat. As a result, a woman who had been greatly opposed to the truth visited one of the Witnesses and said: “Your God, Jehovah, is really a wise and loving God to take care of you even in these things.” Now she and her husband are studying three to four times a week and have destroyed everything they had that was connected with demon worship.
The Islands Rejoice in Jehovah’s Kingship
After announcing, “Jehovah himself has become king!” Psalm 97:1 exhorts: “Let the many islands rejoice.” On the islands of the Pacific and of the Indian Ocean there has been enthusiastic response to this exhortation.
AUSTRALIA: The tremendous increase in this island continent has caused many congregations to take a fresh look at their Kingdom Halls. Most have found it necessary to make plans for either a new hall or expansion of their present one. For many, the need is urgent, as present halls are literally overflowing. Eleven quickly built Kingdom Halls were erected this year. In one state the brothers organizing the work are now booked up to construct a hall each month through October of 1986! This activity has not gone unnoticed. Two of the halls have become stopping places for tourist coaches, the guides explaining how the halls were built in two days.
Good progress is being made among the aboriginal communities. In a place called Duck Creek, an entire community has been studying with the brothers for a number of years, and they now call themselves Jehovah’s Witnesses, though no congregation has yet been formed there. As a result, the clergy ceased visiting that community. However, a new clergyman in the area decided to introduce himself to the community as the new minister. Well, the aboriginal folk decided to put him to the test. They asked him what God’s name is. He had anticipated that question and so replied: “Jehovah.” Then they asked him to show them where the name is in the Bible. He had no idea. Proudly they declared: “We all know it is in several places in the Bible, and one of them is Psalm 83:18.” At that, they politely informed him that he need not bother calling again.
FIJI: The brothers in Fiji rejoice to be able to say: “A thousand report for the first time!” Five consecutive peaks were also reached in regular pioneers.
People now respond quickly and decisively. A South Indian Hindu, after just two studies in the Live Forever book, saw the folly of image worship and made a bonfire of his idols. What remained was thrown into a creek. This man, along with his wife and children, is making excellent progress in the truth.
GUAM: This branch looks after the Kingdom work in the island districts of the Marshalls, Ponape, Kosrae, Truk, Saipan, Yap, Belau, Nauru, and Kiribati. Together, they have a new peak of 717 publishers. They also conducted up to 1,470 home Bible studies, and 37 percent of all the publishers were in full-time service during April.
HAWAII: The brothers here look back on a year filled with fruitful activity and blessings from Jehovah. During April, 23 percent of all publishers were engaged in some aspect of full-time service. And their experiences were strengthening, though some tested their faith.
A pioneer sister working rural territory encountered a man who yelled at her and slammed the door. As she left, he released two German shepherd dogs and commanded them, “Go get her.” She knew that she could not outrun the dogs, so she turned and, while hoping to use her book bag as a shield, repeatedly called out Jehovah’s name. (Prov. 18:10) The dogs were running so fast that, when they tried to stop, they skidded right past her. But then, instead of attacking, they walked back toward the house as if they did not even see her. By this time both husband and wife were commanding the dogs to go after her. But the dogs sat down and refused to move. How grateful our sister was to Jehovah for his protection!
JAPAN: “Your blessing is upon your people,” wrote the psalmist. (Ps. 3:8) We have seen abundant evidence that Jehovah’s blessing has been upon his servants in Japan this past year. In May 1985, for the first time, they reported over 100,000 Kingdom publishers. It was their 77th successive peak. Following the new start after World War II, it took 30 years of diligent work to reach 50,000 publishers. Then it took only six years more to reach 100,000. Certainly ‘Jehovah speeds it up in its own time.’ (Isa. 60:22) These Kingdom proclaimers conducted up to 150,000 home Bible studies, and Memorial attendance this year was 258,728, so we are confident that, with Jehovah’s blessing, more growth is coming.
A fine pioneer spirit continues to prevail throughout the country, even though territory coverage is frequent. On an average, there were 22,346 regular pioneers and 16,274 auxiliary pioneers. Including special pioneers, the total in various branches of pioneer service throughout the year was 40 percent of the average number of publishers.
A father who is in the truth today was helped, at least in part, by his three-year-old son. In a burst of anger the father, thinking he had his wife’s Bible, had hurled it out of the house. Actually it was his son’s Bible. The boy rushed out in the rain and fell several times in the mud before he retrieved the book. Bringing it indoors, he began to wash it gently under the tap. The father was dumbstruck. He had never seen his son show such concern for any of his toys, and he was shocked at the effect of his action on the boy. All of this moved the father to find out what his son was being taught. Today that father is our brother, and along with others, he has enjoyed auxiliary pioneering several times.
MALAYSIA: An Indian family experienced the marvelous liberating effect that God’s Word can produce. For three days and nights a demon attacked their two-month-old son, causing him to struggle and scream as he foamed at the mouth. When the husband consulted a spirit medium, the demon left the child but entered the wife. Feeling that their house was haunted, they moved. To find relief, the wife began to practice Yoga, but in vain. She bought amulets for a considerable sum of money, but these did not work. Finally she thought seriously about God. A tenant who was having discussions with Jehovah’s Witnesses lent her his Truth book. She read it and then requested a Bible and a study with the Witnesses. In time, her husband joined the study. Now, freed from demon control, they share with others the good news that has brought such freedom to them.
MAURITIUS: There is a real pioneer spirit in the congregations here. When one of these pioneers was conducting a study with a couple on this island, the man was impressed with the scripture at John 4:24: “God is a Spirit, and those worshiping him must worship with spirit and truth.” The man went to visit his Catholic priest and asked him if he knew of this Bible text. What a surprise when the priest replied: “How do you expect me to keep all this in my mind?” The man answered: “As you know, I am a teacher, and if I don’t know that two and two make four, how can I teach? For you, this Bible text should be as simple as two and two.” The priest admitted that he did not know how to worship God as explained in this text. The man and his wife now regularly attend the meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
NEW CALEDONIA: During the past year, New Caledonia has been in the news because of violence on this once-peaceful Pacific island. Despite this, the Kingdom work moves ahead. The day before the scheduled visit of the president of France, riots began at Nouméa, leading the government to impose a curfew. The police directed that our meetings be canceled. But L. A. Swingle, a member of the Governing Body, was due to arrive for the dedication of the new Assembly Hall and for the district convention. When contacted personally, the head of the police told us that, as former head of the police forces in Lille, France, he knew and trusted the Witnesses. He had never had any difficulty with large crowds of them. So it was possible to hold the meetings as planned.
NEW ZEALAND: The speeding up of the work has been evident not just in numerical growth but in the rapid spiritual progress being made by individual Bible students. Students are now asking to attend meetings and to become “regular publishers.” They are doing much personal reading apart from their Bible studies. They are responding readily not only to what they hear but also to what they see at the meetings. Desirable changes in dress, grooming, moral behavior, and life-style are occurring quickly. Some are sharing in the preaching and disciple-making work before they themselves have completed their study of the Live Forever book. Qualifying for baptism within six to eight months is not uncommon.
In determining causes for such remarkable growth, we cannot overlook the Live Forever book with its warm and practical teaching appeal. One sister, after holding her first study in this book with a neighbor, suggested another study the following week. “Next week?” responded the neighbor. “What’s wrong with tomorrow?”
PAPUA NEW GUINEA: The good news is reaching some of the most isolated islands, and it is obvious that Jehovah’s spirit is bringing increase. A number of young people from the Tasman Islands were working on Bougainville Island when they were contacted by Witnesses. Soon they wrote back to the older people on the Tasman Islands telling them what they were learning. As a result, a group of women there began to study the Society’s publications. Because of the interest shown, one of the chiefs sent a message saying that he would like to have the Witnesses visit the islands and establish a mission. Now, although none in the group have been baptized, there is a Kingdom Hall there, and meetings are being held regularly. That island has a population of only 200 or so, with 35 inhabited houses. Up until recent years, the chiefs of the clans that control the islands had rejected all efforts of religious groups to establish missions there.
PHILIPPINES: The 1985 service year was truly outstanding. An excellent new peak of 83,670 publishers was reached in April. During the same month, over 22 percent of the publishers were in the auxiliary pioneer work. And eight successive peaks in the number of regular pioneers were recorded during the first ten months of the year.
A sister in Davao became blind six years ago during an operation. But this did not stop her from sharing fully in the field ministry. In fact, she increased her activity because she wanted to prove that her blindness would not hinder her from serving Jehovah. First she auxiliary pioneered. After successfully meeting her hour requirements, she enrolled as a regular pioneer. She does her own housework and cares for a nine-year-old boy. Now she conducts six home Bible studies, four of which are in distant territories. How does she do it? With the help of sisters in the congregation. This has helped those sisters to increase their own field activity, and two of them are now regular pioneers themselves! As she says: “Keeping busy every day for the benefit of my loved ones and neighbors and assisting sheeplike ones to learn the truth makes my life meaningful.”
SOLOMON ISLANDS: On the island of San Cristóbal, the Anglican bishop called a meeting of the church elders, also inviting Oswald and his wife, a couple who had been studying with Jehovah’s Witnesses. The bishop reprimanded the church elders. Trying to shame them, he held a large knife to his throat and said, “I will kill myself if you don’t teach the people the Bible properly.” One of them replied, “How are we going to teach the people, because you haven’t taught us?” At this, Oswald and his wife fearlessly stood up, and he said: “Please take out the names of my wife, my family, and myself from the church membership book, because we want to be Jehovah’s Witnesses. For a long time now we haven’t learned anything from the church. We are going ahead to study with Jehovah’s Witnesses.” He later wrote to the Society’s branch office: “We are very happy to be out of false religion and to be a part of Jehovah’s organization where we can get life all the way.”
SRI LANKA: This island off the southern tip of India has been in the news because of ethnic problems and terrorist activity. Never before have there been so many refugees, never so many living in such fear.
Among those baptized this year was a former insurgent. As he now walks down narrow trails to witness, he recalls when he used to travel on those same trails with guns. He was brought up as a Buddhist and was a fighter for what he considered to be justice and equality. In time he became a leader of a group of insurgents based in the jungle. But, he acknowledges, all of their fighting won justice and equality for no one. In 1971 he was imprisoned and narrowly escaped execution. When Jehovah’s Witnesses contacted him in 1980, what they said about righteousness, peace, and justice by means of God’s Kingdom appealed to him. Later, when at an assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses with his family, a talk setting out Bible principles as to cleanness and dress reached his heart. During the intermission, he got a haircut and shave as well as more suitable clothing. What a surprise his wife and children had when he returned! Now he, too, is sharing the good news of peace with others.
Courageously Witnessing Despite the Prohibitions of Men
What is being done to spread the Kingdom message in lands where the activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses is under government restriction or even banned? Our brothers continue to obey God as ruler rather than men. (Acts 5:29) They react as did those Christians in the first century, concerning whom the apostle Paul wrote from prison: “Most of the brothers in the Lord . . . are showing all the more courage to speak the word of God fearlessly.”—Phil. 1:14.
In one country where the work is thus restricted, the number of regular pioneers has increased by 161 percent in three years. In a land on the edge of the desert with its scorching heat, 39 percent of all publishers were in full-time service in April. In yet another land where there is heavy persecution one out of every four publishers was an auxiliary pioneer in April. In some of the congregations there, over half the publishers enrolled as auxiliary pioneers. Seven who auxiliary pioneered did so in prison, and they had exceeded the 60-hour requirement by midmonth!
Though exercising caution in harmony with Jesus’ counsel at Matthew 10:16, our brothers have stepped up their theocratic activity. They see that in their territory, too, “the harvest is great, but the workers are few.”—Matt. 9:37.
Reflecting the intensity of their work in one land is the comment of a man who was approached on the street by a publisher. The man said: “This is the ninth time today that a Jehovah’s Witness wants to talk to me about religion. I guess it is about time I do something.” He agreed to a Bible study. And many more are also having studies. One land where the work is banned reports 1.6 Bible studies per publisher; another reports 1.8.
The brothers in a country of Eastern Europe say: “The compelling force of Jehovah’s holy spirit is obvious. We sense this force, and it is a joy to see our faithful brothers and sisters willingly being moved by it.” With zeal and ingenuity, they carry on their ministry. At his place of work a brother kept a Bible in his locker. As a result, one of his workmates asked if he could obtain a copy for him. So our brother brought him a Bible and put in it a slip of paper with a list of scriptures explaining such subjects as the last days, the sign of Christ’s presence, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and conduct. He also included some excerpts from the book You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth. To help his workmate to find the scriptures, he jotted down the page number where each was located. As a result, the workmate spoke to others about what he had found in his Bible. In time others wanted Bibles, and they too received copies—with notes. In this way, within a short time, 13 Bibles were placed through informal witnessing.
Carrying on their field service in a way that is discreet, a teenage auxiliary pioneer and her eight-year-old brother went to a park and sat down next to an elderly lady. Soon a Bible discussion was under way. Then the lady’s husband arrived and shared in the discussion. He asked to meet the parents of the children and gave them his address. As it turned out, he had been baptized but was inactive, allowing family problems to separate him from Jehovah’s organization for 30 years. He acknowledged that their meeting in the park was probably no accident, because ‘you were the third ones that witnessed to me.’ He and his wife are now studying the book “Let Your Kingdom Come,” and they are attending the meetings that are open to the public in that land.
When literature is offered in countries where the work is restricted, discernment is needed. On being asked what religion he represented, one brother responded: “The true Christian religion, which is not divided.” (1 Cor. 1:10) To have stated “Jehovah’s Witnesses” would have brought a prejudiced reaction. But the man accepted the Live Forever book. During the next two weeks he read it and reread it repeatedly. He confessed that he had been looking for the truth for 40 years and that the contents of the book had truly brought him freedom.
From a country of Eastern Europe the responsible brothers write: ‘We stand in awe at what has been happening here with the help of Jehovah’s spirit.’ They emphasized to the brothers the starting of new Bible studies, and they also filed an application asking for a license to import tens of thousands of Live Forever books. The import license was granted. The brothers were thrilled with the spiritual food. At a factory one of our brothers lent his book to a workmate, who in turn was asked by others whether they could borrow it. All together, ten persons read that book, and two of them asked for a home Bible study. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of Bible studies for the entire country.
The pressures involved in the fulfillment of Revelation 13:16, 17 are felt strongly in some areas. In one country, young people who do not identify themselves politically are not allowed to take school exams; they have no job opportunities, have no official identity card, are not allowed to travel, cannot buy essentials in government-owned shops, and will not be admitted to a hospital. In the face of all this, our young brothers prove themselves both faithful and zealous.
In an African land a brother who refused to perform military service was cruelly beaten. He was threatened with a gun to his head, then with a saber to his throat. He was ordered to dig his own grave, was partially buried, then wounded with gunfire. But he writes: “Although enduring a difficult test, I wish to say that serving as a pioneer has greatly helped me in keeping integrity. As long as I have life, I will gladly continue serving Jehovah.”
Even where there has been harsh persecution of true Christians for many years, the Kingdom work has not stopped. Spiritual food is provided for the brothers. The preaching work goes on, but with caution. In another African land where such difficult circumstances exist, our brothers are still conducting over 8,000 home Bible studies. On one occasion a youth turned some Witnesses in to the police, but the police sent them back home. The young man then repeatedly said to the brothers: “Please pray for me although we take you to the police.” He admitted feeling that the way they treat the brothers is satanic, and he asked for a Bible study. Perhaps he, too, will become a true Christian, as did Saul of Tarsus.
Because of government ban, the brothers sometimes meet in thick woods, but interested ones still learn of the meetings. In one instance, following assembly sessions in the woods, after most of the brothers had departed and a few were cleaning up, a man stepped out from between the trees. “Excuse me that I have come here,” he said, “but unintentionally I have heard everything until the conclusion. I am a caretaker of these woods. What is your religion, if I may ask?” “We are Jehovah’s Witnesses,” answered the brothers. “I liked very much what I heard,” said the stranger. “I heard—it was announced—that you will come also tomorrow?” “Yes.” “Then I shall be here also.”
From an Asiatic land our brothers write: “Over the past year in particular we have been experiencing what Jesus said, ‘Why, you will be haled before governors and kings for my sake, for a witness to them and the nations.’ (Matt. 10:18) Invariably, when the brothers face the issue boldly and give a respectful witness from the Bible, the interrogations eventually stop, and surveillance lessens, enabling them to carry on the preaching and the making of disciples effectively.” They report that weekly congregation meetings are being held and attendance is increasing, seminars are arranged, pioneer schools are conducted, and conventions are held (sometimes in connection with a wedding). Jehovah is providing the means for his people to fully accomplish their ministry, and he is actively helping them as they do so under adverse conditions.
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1985 SERVICE YEAR REPORT OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES WORLDWIDE
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