1987 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses
THE first weekend of the 1986 service year of Jehovah’s Witnesses was marked by events that were a foretaste of global blessings to follow. First, there was the dedication, on Saturday, September 7, 1985, of the Jersey City Assembly Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, known locally as the former Stanley Theater. Then, on September 8, this lovely 4,300-seat auditorium hosted the graduation of the 79th class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead. Joy overflowed not only at hearing and seeing the excellent spiritual programs there presented but also at having such a beautiful structure to use in praising Jehovah God.
An unusual problem arose when the Jersey City property was purchased, in that the local city administration refused renovation permits. The Witnesses sued the city for denying them their constitutional rights. The case came before Judge Debevoise. Without delaying, the judge rendered a well-reasoned opinion indicating that the city’s opposition ‘unconstitutionally infringed on the plaintiffs’ religious liberty interests.’ He stated: “High in the pantheon of civil rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution is the right to be free of laws prohibiting the free exercise of religion or abridging freedom of speech.” Armed with the necessary permits, hundreds of well-organized volunteer workers then swarmed into the building, completing the mammoth task of renovation in just nine months. In the meantime, Jersey City residents had voted the opposing administration out of office.
What did the local community think of this bright gem, the refurbished Stanley Theater, that now sparkled in their midst? The new mayor, Mr. Cucci, described it as “not a restoration or a renovation, but a new world.” A congressman remarked, “I can tell that you are not interested in quantity of people but quality.” The chairman of PATH Railways, which serves the area, said: “I have watched the workers and progress, and you people need to be congratulated. This is tremendous. I am so glad you restored the building. It is truly beautiful.” An elderly couple who live nearby were amazed to see the work that went into reconditioning the hall. The wife exclaimed: “Now we can walk around this neighborhood at weekends without being afraid! There should be more people like you in the world. You should be proud of this fine place. No, we should be proud of this place.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses are indeed happy about having this Assembly Hall, truly a testimony to what can be accomplished by workers dedicated to Jehovah God. (Eccl. 3:10-13) But what other spiritual benefits does this place provide? For one, these expanded facilities make it possible for the headquarters Bethel family, together with guests, to meet under one roof for special programs. This large group of Bethel workers (now numbering 2,750 at Brooklyn and 930 at Watchtower Farms) is responsible for organizing and equipping the worldwide body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and their activity sets the pattern for the grandest global campaign of witnessing about God’s Kingdom in the world’s history. Further, the graduates of Gilead School are sent forth from this place to reinforce the worldwide army of preachers. And local circuits, each comprising about 20 congregations, now have a spacious hall where they can unite for annual assemblies and other special events.
The Jersey City Assembly Hall is just one of dozens of such halls that are being built or remodeled throughout the earth. To help accommodate the 328 congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the New York area, the Albemarle Theater in Brooklyn was also procured. Hundreds of volunteer workers have toiled long hours in converting this into a fine 2,376-seat Assembly Hall; additionally, two 250-seat Kingdom Halls are being constructed in the basement. This facility, and some 30 other lovely Assembly Halls throughout the United States are helping to ‘make the place of our tent more spacious.’—Isa. 54:2.
From Canada to Argentina, from Norway to Australia, God’s people are selflessly supporting the construction of Assembly Halls. Australia recently built its fourth Assembly Hall in Adelaide, and volunteer workers completed this in 52 days—matching the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls in Nehemiah’s day. (Neh. 6:15) Moreover, scores of Kingdom Halls are being erected. To cope with the urgent need for expansion, dozens of new halls have been built in North America and Europe in less than two days. Canada alone has erected 80 of these quickly built halls. A grand witness is given to the community, as hundreds of well-organized volunteers go into action. A Kingdom Hall that was nonexistent early Saturday is often completed, fully equipped and landscaped, for its first meeting Sunday evening!—Ps. 149:1.
‘EQUIPPED WITH EVERY GOOD THING’
It is also necessary to equip Jehovah’s Witnesses with study material and instruments that they can use in preaching “this good news of the kingdom . . . in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations” before the end comes. (Heb. 13:21; Matt. 24:14) This global activity must be well organized. Procedures need to be simplified and work arranged in an orderly manner so that waste of time, effort, and expense is avoided. (1 Cor. 14:33, 40; Eph. 5:15, 16; Prov. 18:9) This is watched carefully with regard to streamlining office and service arrangements and in order to take better care of the continuing expansion of Jehovah’s organization.
In the United States, building renovations in Brooklyn, New York, have included much work at 30 Columbia Heights and 360 Furman Street. To help out in this, and also in construction at Watchtower Farms, Wallkill, New York, brothers from throughout the United States have been invited to volunteer as temporary workers for a period of one or two weeks. These visiting brothers have experienced, too, the joys of Bethel life. There has been a grand “interchange of encouragement,” and the visitors have returned to their home congregations to spread further the spirit of unity and love.—Rom. 1:11, 12; 1 Cor. 1:10.
During the year, three new high-speed MAN-Roland rotary offset presses were installed at Watchtower Farms—each capable of printing a thousand magazines a minute. From January 1987, both the Watchtower and Awake! magazines printed at that factory will appear in four colors in major languages. At Brooklyn, it has been necessary to order three high-speed Hantscho offset presses and new bindery lines to expand capacity for producing Bibles and books. Computerized electronic equipment has also been obtained to enhance the prepress work of processing the beautiful four-color artwork that is now featured in so many of the Society’s publications. Certainly, “this good news of the kingdom” needs to be dressed and produced in as attractive a form as is economically reasonable.—Compare Isaiah 52:7; Romans 10:15.
At the Selters, Germany, branch of the Watch Tower Society, it has been necessary to order a third high-speed Koenig and Bauer press and more bindery equipment to increase further production of Bibles and books for the European field. In Italy a four-color MAN-Roland press is also working overtime in producing books and magazines, as well as Bibles, for the rapidly expanding Italian field.
The Japan branch, which is building a six-story factory addition and an eight-story Bethel Home addition, is now using one of its original Tokyo Kikai color presses and two new high-speed Mitsubishi presses in producing millions of books, magazines, and Bibles. Japanese was the first language after English to come out with the New World Translation Reference Bible. Then 200,000 deluxe Bibles with marginal references were made for the use of the brothers and people studying the Bible, and now 200,000 regular-edition Bibles are being produced for field distribution. The Society’s New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures is appreciated both by the brothers and by the public in Japan as being the most accurate and easy-to-read Bible translation available in the Japanese language.
Other Watch Tower Society branches that will be printing magazines in four colors from 1987 include Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Republic of Korea, and South Africa, and it is hoped soon to add Mexico to the list. Our magazines that do not yet have four colors are also very attractive. Altogether, The Watchtower is printed simultaneously, with the same contents, in 33 languages around the world.
MEPS (Multilanguage Electronic Phototypesetting System), developed by the Society, has been invaluable in supporting simultaneous publication, and it is proving to have many other practical applications. MEPS is now operating in Brooklyn, at Watchtower Farms, and in 27 of the Society’s branches earth wide.
Are the Watch Tower Society’s New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures and Bible textbooks, brochures, and magazines appreciated by truth-hungry people? Yes, indeed! There are so many today who are “conscious of their spiritual need.” It is only the rich spiritual nourishment to be derived from God’s Word with the help of these publications that can satisfy the people’s appetite for truth and make them really happy. (Matt. 5:3; John 8:32) Thus, in the United States alone, more than a million copies of the timely book True Peace and Security—How Can You Find It? were distributed in April. Subscriptions for the Watchtower and Awake! magazines processed by the Society at its Wallkill, New York, factory during 1986 totaled 1,798,466, a 13.3-percent increase over the previous year. The subscriptions obtained worldwide in the field during the same period, in close to 100 different languages, totaled 1,982,148.
The table below lists production in the Society’s factories during 1986. Altogether, 41 branches produced magazines, including many to refresh our brothers in countries where God’s work is banned.—Prov. 25:25.
CARING FOR EXPANSION
The expansion of the global witness work of Jehovah’s Witnesses has called for much expense in purchasing, constructing, and renovating properties; in equipping factories and offices at headquarters and in the Society’s 93 branches; and in providing for the material needs of the 8,920 volunteers who serve in the Bethel families. In addition, during 1986, a total of $23,545,801.70 was spent in financial support of the many other volunteer workers in the field, such as the 2,762 missionaries, 13,351 special pioneers, and overseers and their wives for the world’s 3,353 circuits and districts. Much of this expense is covered by the goodwill contributions of congregations, individual witnesses of Jehovah, and other interested persons around the earth. Even young children have appreciated this privilege, as indicated by the expressions on the opposite page. Truly, ‘God loves such cheerful givers.’—2 Cor. 9:7.
When disasters affect Jehovah’s people in different parts of the earth, local branches of the Society immediately arrange to care for necessary assistance, and the Governing Body at Brooklyn directs use of a relief fund according to the seriousness of the situation. During the year destructive cyclones struck Fiji and the Solomon Islands in the Pacific area. In the Solomon Islands, there was heavy loss of life, but at the time, our brothers from that area were attending a circuit assembly in another location. Thus, they escaped with their lives. The Australia and Papua New Guinea branches airlifted more than 35 tons of rice and canned meat to the stricken brothers. Cooperation of the local brothers in caring for one another and rebuilding shattered homes is a marvelous demonstration of the true Christianity based on John 13:34, 35.
INTEGRITY KEEPERS TO THE FORE!
As summer moved down to the Southern Hemisphere, further “Integrity Keepers” Conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses were held. How stimulating were those gatherings, and especially as many of Jehovah’s Witnesses traveled from other lands to encourage their brothers and receive much encouragement in return! What a grand brotherhood this is, for it enables Jehovah’s people to feel at home and enjoy happy association wherever they may travel on this earth! The apostle Peter said of Jehovah: “In every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him.” (Acts 10:35) That makes such men acceptable to one another too. All have been brought into precious union with God, with Christ, and with one another—just as Jesus prayed it should be.—John 17:20, 21.
In the Americas there were outstanding gatherings in Haiti where 16,260 attended, in Colombia and Peru with attendances of 56,537 and 62,607 respectively, and finally in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where over 57,000 conventioners exulted in their freedom to meet openly after 33 years under ban.
The conventions in Taiwan, the Philippines, and Thailand hosted hundreds of foreign delegates from more than 20 countries. In Taiwan it was a joy to see the tribal people, the Chinese, and the visitors mingling as one happy family. The public talk in Mandarin was given by a native from the Amis tribe who has applied himself over the years to learning several languages and who serves on the Branch Committee for that land. The conventions in Manila no doubt made a contribution toward the tremendous growth in the Philippines, from an average of 78,867 publishers in the field last year to a peak of 95,746 in April 1986. Similarly, the publishers in Thailand were greatly stimulated, their number increasing to 914 in March, while in April 157 auxiliary pioneers reported, 80 percent more than the previous peak.
A sister who attended the special convention in Christchurch, New Zealand, wrote: “I just have to express my deep appreciation. The program and the association with all our brothers from near and far are indeed a demonstration of unity in the worship of Jehovah our God.” In January 1986, delegates had come to New Zealand from 12 nations as diverse in location and culture as Fiji, Japan, United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Niue, Solomon Islands, Hong Kong, Canada, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, and Australia. The 9,546 publishers in the country were happy to see 14,848 in attendance.
AFRICAN CONVENTIONS WERE TIMELY
From Zaire comes the report: “The international ‘Integrity Keepers’ Convention was a milestone. How thrilling it was to have over 32,000 packed into the football stadium on the last day, Sunday, December 22! The conventioners came from over 20 nations, and a total of 604 were baptized.” All kinds of obstacles loomed up, yet Jehovah always moved them out of the way. Some religious opposers had said that Jehovah’s Witnesses must never be permitted to use that open-air stadium. But its use was granted! Before and after the assembly, there were heavy rains and floods, yet during the four days of the convention, there was no rain. A crisis suddenly arose when a football team was scheduled to arrive from the Republic of Korea to play a match in the stadium on Friday evening. The brothers prepared to shorten the program on Friday and dismantle the platform. However, the entire Korean team took ill with a stomach virus, so the convention could go on! The manager of the stadium remarked: “Your God is powerful, and you must have been praying very hard!”
Everything in Zaire seemed geared up for a bigger expansion when suddenly, on March 12, 1986, the president signed an ordinance banning our work! Missionaries were compelled to leave the country. However, the “Integrity Keepers” Convention had marvelously strengthened the 35,000 brothers in that land to continue serving Jehovah courageously.—Job 27:5; Prov. 27:11.
The convention held at the Jamhuri Park in Nairobi, Kenya, was attended by 8,139, including delegates from 32 countries; 121 were baptized. One special pioneer brother came by bicycle from his assignment in turbulent southern Uganda. He was on the road for about one week, traveling some 500 miles (800 km). The bicycle was worn out by the time he reached Kenya, but he was in good spirits and certainly not sorry for having made the long, hazardous journey. Other brothers who came from various East African countries had to save their funds in some cases for an entire year in order to make the journey to Nairobi and then return home. Large tour groups came from Austria, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Scandinavian lands, and the United States.
Fine publicity was given to the convention. During a 15-minute interview with three brothers on a government television station, questions were answered as to what Jehovah’s Witnesses were doing for the people of Kenya. The spiritual and moral benefits of the Kingdom message were outlined, as well as the Society’s reading-and-writing program for assisting some of the local native people. The Reasoning book that had been released at the convention on Thursday afternoon was also shown to the television audience and a sample of its contents was presented. Then, a Nigerian brother, dressed in his native costume, was among those interviewed and he conveyed a report on the activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses in that country.
A leading Nairobi newspaper, the Daily Nation, said: “They came to Nairobi on planes, trains, buses, bicycles, and on foot. They met at the arena, Jamhuri Park. Who are they and what are they coming to see?
“The badges hanging on their chests read: ‘Integrity Keepers.’
“They have not come to an agricultural show. They do not expect to see horses and a floodlight tattoo. They have come to listen to the word of Jehovah at the convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses. . . . One fascinating aspect of the convention is the warmth observed between the participants. Yet they come from many different nationalities.”
There was a tremendous response for field service at the convention and it was estimated that 80 percent of those attending participated. The visiting delegates particularly commented on the fine reception they received in their house-to-house activity and the amount of interest that was found. Unquestionably, a tremendous witness was given, and as far as the Witnesses in Kenya and the visiting delegates were concerned, the impression was a deep and lasting one spiritually.
From South Africa comes this further report: “In sharp contrast to the escalation of racial violence during the past year, the unity, peace, and genuine love among Jehovah’s people reached new heights. This was demonstrated at two unforgettable district conventions, attended by 77,920 of all races and languages at Durban and Johannesburg.” Outstanding was the mingling together of the various language groups between sessions—the Sepedi, Sesotho, Tswana, Xhosa, and Zulu, as well as Afrikaans and English. Visitors even came from as far away as Japan.
The “Integrity Keepers” Convention was an occasion for all of Jehovah’s Witnesses and many newly interested persons to remember. Available reports from 851 locations around the earth show a total attendance of 5,688,335, with 75,606 being baptized.
DIVINE PEACE AMONG GOD’S PEOPLE
Appropriately, “Divine Peace” was the theme of the district conventions that started in the Northern Hemisphere in the summer of 1986 and are even now continuing in other lands. The year 1986 had been dubbed by the UN as the International Year of Peace. But did it answer the need for peace? Although the world’s religions gave full support to the Year, prospects for true peace continue to crumble. This is because the nations of earth look for peace to come in their way. As God’s prophet foretold, they are “saying: ‘There is peace! There is peace!’ when there is no peace.” (Jer. 8:11) Real peace on earth will come only when God’s Kingdom in the hands of his Son, Jesus Christ, ‘crushes and puts an end’ to the governmental systems under Satan’s control.—Dan. 2:44.
In the meantime, Jehovah’s people “seek peace and pursue it” in God’s way. (1 Pet. 3:11) The “Divine Peace” District Convention, with its four successive days stressing the themes of “God Will Bless His People With Peace,” “Having Our Feet Shod With Good News of Peace,” “Observing the Oneness of the Spirit in the Uniting Bond of Peace,” and “The God of Peace Will Bruise Satan Under Your Feet Shortly,” has proved to be a grand blessing for the peace-loving Witnesses. Reports on these conventions are appearing in the Watchtower and Awake! magazines. Zambia, Africa, with a population of 6,776,232, had an amazing attendance of 629,953, at least one out of every 11 of the population. These conventions have strengthened us for the work at hand and cemented our confidence that the archpeacebreaker, Satan, and all his works will soon be removed from this earth.
FIGHTING LEGAL BATTLES
In India, a test of integrity came in November 1985 when Witness children in a school in the state of Kerala became a center of controversy because of refusing to sing the national anthem, though they were willing to stand respectfully. As efforts to explain our position to the school and educational authorities were unsuccessful, the matter was taken to court by the children’s father. However, the district court rejected this appeal, and when the case was referred to the state High Court, there, too, the ruling went against the Witness children. By this time a number of children in other schools in this state (as well as a few in a neighboring state) were made to stop attending school.
The father of the Witness children appealed the case to the Supreme Court of India in New Delhi. The appeal was admitted in February 1986, and the case was heard before two Supreme Court justices from July 29 to 31, 1986. A fine witness regarding the pure worship of Jehovah and the strictly neutral stand of God’s people was given to this highest judicial authority of the land. In deciding in favor of the children, the Court stated: “Our tradition teaches tolerance, our philosophy teaches tolerance, our Constitution practices tolerance, let us not dilute it.”
Newspapers in Turkey gave wide publicity to the district convention held September 21-23, 1985. In this way a splendid witness was given to the entire country. People whom we could never reach read about Jehovah’s Witnesses and our message—that God’s heavenly Kingdom is the only solution for all the problems of mankind. The brothers could enjoy three days of a happy spiritual feast, which was especially appreciated by the 23 brothers in Ankara who had been arrested at the previous year’s convention but were now released after one year in prison.
However, the question remained, how would the Council of the Supreme Court of Appeal rule on freedom of assembly? On May 26, 1986, the Council announced its verdict, and it was in our favor! By a majority decision, the court acquitted Jehovah’s Witnesses from all charges—and this on the same day that Brother Henschel was making a brief visit. Because of the favorable decision, it was arranged for him to give two talks in our hall of worship in Istanbul. This was very much appreciated, especially since it was only the second time after many years that a member of the Governing Body was able to speak freely to a great crowd of brothers in our own hall.
At the time of Jesus’ human birth, the heavenly army of angels praised Jehovah, saying: “Glory in the heights above to God, and upon earth peace among men of goodwill.” (Luke 2:14) Those who have goodwill from God certainly do live at peace with him and with one another. They thus enjoy a blessed union with God and Christ, and they are united in carrying out Jesus’ command: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit.” How have these modern-day witnesses of Jehovah fared in this precious assignment during 1986? Wonderfully, for Jesus continues to fulfill toward them his promise: “And, look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.”—Matt. 28:19, 20.
The “1986 Service Year Report of Jehovah’s Witnesses Worldwide” as it appears on pages 34-41 of this Yearbook, should bring rejoicing to all the 3,229,022 Kingdom publishers who, as a peak, had a share, however small, in this marvelous record. Running through the figures at the bottom of the chart on pages 40 and 41, please note that the average of 3,063,289 publishers is 6.9 percent more than last year’s average. What a fine total of new brothers and sisters baptized—225,868, an increase of 19 percent! And just look at the average of special, regular, and auxiliary pioneers in the field each month—391,294, up by 21.2 percent! The number of congregations has increased 5 percent, hours spent in field service 15.3 percent, and Bible studies conducted each month with newly interested persons 14.6 percent. Then there is the new peak of Memorial attendance—8,160,597, which is 4.7 percent more than in 1985.
However, it is not merely the figures that make us happy. We exult at what they represent. They show that Jehovah is blessing his people as they share in fulfilling prophecies such as that of Isaiah 12:3-5: “With exultation you people will be certain to draw water out of the springs of salvation. And in that day you will certainly say: ‘Give thanks to Jehovah, you people! Call upon his name. Make known among the peoples his dealings. Make mention that his name is put on high. Make melody to Jehovah, for he has done surpassingly. This is made known in all the earth.’” The chart shows that Jehovah’s name has indeed been made known in 208 distinct countries and territories of the earth. The figures are impressive. And note that “33 Other Countries” are represented, places where Jehovah’s Witnesses work under restrictions or ban and which are not named in the report, for the protection of our brothers. How busy these loyal Witnesses were in recording a 4.6-percent increase in publishers, and a 23.3-percent increase in the average of pioneers in the field each month!
What kind of success and what experiences are Jehovah’s Witnesses enjoying around the earth? Though we do not have room to report on every country, here is a sampling of what has been happening during 1986:
‘Streaming to Jehovah’s House’ in North America
A volunteer who came all the way from Alaska to Brooklyn Bethel to share for one week in temporary construction work had this to report: The Wasilla, Alaska, Congregation witnesses to a territory that is 200 miles (320 km) long surrounding North America’s tallest mountain, Mount McKinley, which is 20,300 feet (6,200 m) high. But many here are streaming to another elevation—“the mountain of the house of Jehovah.” (Isa. 2:2, 3) In just two years the congregation has increased from 47 to 127 publishers, and in the past year the number of regular pioneers has grown from one to 11. Whether by plane, automobile, or on foot, the witness in Alaska continues to expand, so that there is now one Witness to every 262 persons in that otherwise frigid land.
In Canada, the service year ended with a fine new peak of 88,130 publishers. Pioneer service continues to expand. Two of the Canadian pioneers are over a hundred years of age. They have been in full-time service without interruption since 1914! One of them, Janet McDonald, lives in New Brunswick. The other, Grace Lounsbury, who is affectionately called Amazing Grace, lives in Montreal. Four auxiliary pioneer brothers, younger in years, showed initiative by starting their service about 11 o’clock at night and working together through till the wee hours of the morning. They visited all-night restaurants and stores, and desk clerks who had little to do. They talked to many people who had never had an opportunity to meet Jehovah’s Witnesses before and placed many books, as well as magazines.
Zealous Kingdom publishers in large cities are using the telephone to reach people in tight-security apartment buildings. On one call, even a wrong number got results. The man who answered was an immigrant who, along with his wife and a friend, had arrived in Canada only three months earlier from China. Though he explained to the Witness that he was an atheist, he was kind enough to listen to the Bible texts she read and to her explanations. An arrangement was made to meet him and his wife for further discussion. The Witness decided it would be best to use the book Life—How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation? to show that existing things must have had a Maker. What a surprise the clear evidence was to the couple! They were convinced to think beyond the claims of atheism. They beamed at the way the Creation book made so much sense in its arguments. This motivated them to look into the Bible. Now a regular Bible study is being held with them.
In the United States, a sister in Texas was following up a subscription renewal that had been given to her and found that not only did the woman want to resubscribe but she also brought out advertisements she had cut out of the magazines during the year. She wanted nine books. The sister was glad to provide these and asked her if she would like a Bible study to follow up on the Bible course she had been taking through the magazines. The woman responded favorably and is now attending meetings; four other members of her family are also studying. What a joy it is to see a peak of 744,919 publishers in the continental United States—almost one quarter of all Kingdom proclaimers on earth!
“It is an association that grows by leaps and bounds.” This appraisal of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Mexico was expressed in the weekly newspaper Veredicto. How fittingly it describes the activity in that land during 1986! Publishers leaped forward to a peak of 198,003 in the month of August. Home Bible studies bounded up to an average of 300,473. This means that 11 percent of the studies in the world were being conducted in Mexico. In 12 months 634 congregations were enrolled, an average of almost two each day!
Despite the fact that a new addition of over a hundred rooms was dedicated in April 1985, already another addition to the Mexico Bethel is being planned to house the continually increasing branch family as it cares for the rapidly expanding organization.
Phenomenal Growth in Central America
In Guatemala there was splendid support for a special three-month campaign in isolated territory. It was called “Step over into Macedonia and help us.” (Acts 16:9) The branch office provided printed presentations in the four main Indian languages: Cakchiquel, Mam, Quekchí, and Quiché, and more than 120 towns and villages were reached with the good news of Jehovah’s Kingdom. How did people respond? One group of brothers wrote: “They accepted the good news with great enthusiasm, and it was marvelous to see their eyes shining while they attentively listened to the encouraging Kingdom message.” The branch received this appeal from an Evangelical pastor: “I have based the major part of my teaching on the book The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life. I have come to know that only Jehovah’s Witnesses study the Scriptures thoroughly, and I know that I have to associate with the Witnesses. You could help us in this area by sending two pioneers.”
From war-torn El Salvador comes the report: “The Memorial attendance for this year was 51,151; this shows that there is a good prospect for future growth in this country. During the service year we had seven new peaks in publishers; our publisher peak up until now is 15,119 for the month of August 1986.”
In Honduras there was a Memorial attendance of 20,080, many times the new publisher peak of 4,436. Pioneer service continues to expand. During the months of May and June, 59 brothers and sisters went through the three classes of the Pioneer Service School. One sister wrote: “The two weeks that I spent there were the happiest of all my life because I learned how to serve Jehovah, my brothers, and my neighbor better. Now, by putting into practice what I have learned, I notice that I have more success in my Bible studies and in the preaching work, also in dealing with my brothers and the members of my family. Furthermore, my desire to cooperate with the organization and my love for it have increased.”
Panama reports that many publishers are beginning to see the importance of the pioneer work. More than a hundred new regular pioneers have enrolled during the year, almost half the number that were previously serving! In the month of March, a total of 657 served as auxiliary pioneers, which is an increase of 55 percent over the previous peak. One out of every seven publishers in the country had a share. In May a total of 7,822 Bible studies was reported—almost two for each publisher.
Pace Quickens in the Caribbean
Jehovah foretold that he would “speed it up in its own time.” (Isa. 60:22) Thus, Jamaica reports that the pace of increase has certainly quickened over the past three years. For example, it took nine years to increase from 6,000 to 7,000 publishers but just four more years to reach the 8,000 mark. The book Reasoning From the Scriptures is helping the publishers to give an effective witness and to answer questions on return visits. The following experience from a sister highlights its usefulness in overcoming objections. She writes: “Yesterday I was making a return visit on a lady who had shown some interest, but whose husband is somewhat opposed. After a Scriptural discussion, she said to me, ‘Show Harry [her husband] why Jehovah’s Witnesses do not celebrate Christmas or birthdays.’ I then opened the Reasoning book and simply read straight from it what is said under the heading ‘Christmas.’ As I read, I looked up to find him nodding his head in agreement and saying, ‘I can see that, I can see that.’ His wife was elated. I did the same thing under the heading ‘Birthdays’ and got the same response. His wife was so delighted at his acceptance that instead of saying ‘I,’ she said ‘we’ will be coming to your meetings. The husband did not disagree.”
In Haiti an assistant pastor in a Protestant church later became a special pioneer with Jehovah’s organization. He himself tells us: “One day I was visited by two sisters who came to tell me that God’s Kingdom was the only hope for mankind. At that time I was a pastor and sincerely believed my religion was the only true one. Sometime later, I had a discussion with another one of Jehovah’s Witnesses on the Trinity. The ring of the truth and the high moral standards of Jehovah’s Witnesses cultivated in me a desire to hear more from the Bible, so I started studying with the Witnesses and attending meetings at the Kingdom Hall. I tried to preach in my home church the new truths I was learning but found this stirred up opposition against me. I soon saw that my church was no longer the place for me, so I quit attending in spite of inducements offered by the other pastors. I was baptized and started as an auxiliary pioneer. Later, I was invited to take up special pioneer service and am now a ministerial servant and am preaching the good news in the same town where I was pastor. It is a real joy for me to conduct many Bible studies with those who once called me pastor.”
In the Dominican Republic, two new and two older missionaries were assigned to a new missionary home in Dajabón, a small town near the Haitian border. The 12 publishers there were happy to receive help. Many new studies were started immediately, and it became evident that a Kingdom Hall was needed. Brothers from the United States, Canada, and from as far away as Germany came to help the local brothers. Within three weeks they were able to hold their first meeting in the newly built Kingdom Hall. The unity that was shown in this multinational effort gave a great witness to the local people, many of whom started to attend meetings and to study. At their first Memorial celebration as an established congregation, they were overjoyed to welcome 114 attenders! One veteran missionary of 40 years was asked, “When will the increases stop?” His reply warmed the heart: “When the whole earth is filled with Jehovah’s servants!”
The Leeward Islands branch writes that, to accommodate the increased attendance at meetings and assemblies, larger meeting facilities are a critical need. The brothers show much initiative in raising the necessary funds. A pioneer on the island of Nevis writes: “After leaving the circuit assembly where the brothers had spoken about raising funds to build an Assembly Hall, we decided to do some baking. In six months, with baking only on Friday, we were able to raise over $3,000 toward building and equipping our Kingdom Hall.” One of the local bakers observed the fine quality of the brothers’ bread and repeatedly sought to hire the pioneers to manage his bakery. They told him: “We are not in Nevis for secular work. We are devoted to serving Jehovah full-time.”
Knowing the influential power of a good example, Paul said: “Become imitators of me, even as I am of Christ.” (1 Cor. 11:1) It is far better to say, “Do as I am doing” than to say, “Do as I say.” One elder, a service overseer in Barbados, was given a Service Meeting assignment on obtaining subscriptions. He realized, however, that in order for him to be effective and persuasive in the presentation of his part, he should have obtained at least one subscription. But he had not yet got any. So, while lying in bed at night, he thought about friends to whom he might offer the subscription. He came up with the names of six persons. The next day he contacted these six persons, and four of the six accepted the subscription offer. Needless to say, he was able to speak with great conviction and enthusiasm at the Service Meeting, telling the brothers, “Do as I have done.”
A quickly built Kingdom Hall was constructed over the December holiday period in Scarborough, Tobago. Some 800 brothers volunteered to travel from Trinidad to do the bulk of the work. It was a great witness to the entire island of Tobago, as it is the only Kingdom Hall in the island. It was put up in just three days!
South America Shows ‘Zeal for Fine Works’
Much is happening in South America, and it is hoped these few reports will convey something of the zealous spirit that is abroad in the field there. (Titus 2:14) For example, Venezuela attained its 42nd consecutive peak in regular pioneers—2,553—and a peak of 35,248 publishers, a 28-percent increase over last year’s average. With an average of 52,451 home Bible studies being conducted and a Memorial attendance of 128,627, the prospects for further expansion seem limitless.
In a small village in Suriname, near the French Guiana border, the congregation built a large Kingdom Hall. It serves also as a dormitory for the brothers from the rivers in the deep south, as they travel by boat along the river to attend assemblies. While staying at this halfway house, they go out preaching, hunt and fish together for food, and rehearse the program for the circuit assembly. After the assembly, they return again to their homes by way of this Kingdom Hall. Many local people have become impressed by the love and care the brothers show for one another, so they, too, want to become part of our worldwide brotherhood and so start studying the Bible.
In Bolivia a brother lunching in a crowded restaurant was reading The Watchtower. A stranger came to share his small table. Noticing the brother’s magazine, the man commented that he, too, had been a reader of The Watchtower. “I would really like to know the Bible like Jehovah’s Witnesses do,” he said. “You can,” replied the brother. “We offer free home Bible studies to those who are interested.” The result? The man is now our baptized brother and has also joined the growing ranks of the regular pioneers. Many deserving ones are being sought out and gathered in Bolivia. (Matt. 10:7, 13) Baptisms this year totaled 642, and Memorial attendance was 21,674—an increase of 4,505 over 1985. What a potential for further grand increase!
The branch in Brazil writes enthusiastically: “Over half a million! Or, rather, 533,400 was Brazil’s Memorial attendance figure for 1986.” Thrilled beyond words, Jehovah’s people in that land had peak after peak of publishers, culminating with 196,948 in August. Bible studies surpassed the number of publishers, with an all-time high of 211,541 in June. During the year, well over a hundred Kingdom Halls were built and dedicated, including one in the town of Manacapuru in the heart of the Amazon jungle, and people are flocking to these halls in ever-increasing numbers. Assembly Halls are being constructed in five major cities.
Religious pastures, hitherto undisturbed, are being thoroughly worked. Confrontations with priests and pastors are frequent, and the resultant discussions enable sincere persons to see who has the truth. A Pentecostal preacher who had told his flock to beware of those who use a strange name, Jehovah, was forced to admit, under pressure from the members of his church, that this is indeed God’s name. It caused such a stir that, as some residents were heard to say, “The name Jehovah is the talk of the town.”
In Argentina, too, the brothers are having to ‘stretch out their tent cloths’ to accommodate the influx of new ones. (Isa. 54:2) A peak of 61,373 publishers is now taking part in the work, an increase of 15 percent over the 1985 average. Meeting attendance in most congregations is from 150 to 200 percent of the publisher total.
All seven members of one family are pioneers—father, mother, and five children, the youngest being 15. They hold various part-time jobs, and all of them cooperate in taking care of the home, even washing their own clothes. What has this industrious family accomplished in the ministry? At present they are conducting 44 home Bible studies. In the last 12 months they have helped 12 people to become a part of Jehovah’s organization. When asked why they are all pioneers, the mother answered: “It is because of our great love and appreciation for Jehovah. We cannot forget that our service depends to a great extent on the depth of our appreciation rather than on our circumstances.”
The branch in Chile reports: “We have had new peaks of 29,340 publishers, 47,065 Bible studies, 50,076 attendance at district conventions, and 90,290 Memorial attendance. It is amazing how rapidly people are responding to the good news and accepting Bible studies! This service year we have had an 12-percent increase in publishers and a 22-percent increase in Bible studies!” At a parent-teacher meeting in Chile, the parents were expressing their opinion about the need to prepare their children to adapt to modern society. A lawyer who is studying with Jehovah’s Witnesses told the group that if they were going to prepare their children to adapt to this society they would have to teach them to lie, steal, and be immoral. Rather, they should teach their children to be different, just as Noah and Lot were. The societies of those days perished, but those who were different and harmonized their lives with God survived. What a surprise for those in attendance! A good witness was given by this well-respected person.
Many branches in Central and South America are very busy with branch construction, nearly all of which is accomplished by volunteers, hundreds of whom have come from foreign countries.
Praising Our Creator in Europe
“Know that Jehovah is God. It is he that has made us, and not we ourselves.” (Ps. 100:3) It is hard to get this Scriptural truth across in European countries, where atheism, materialism, and spiritual apathy hold sway. So the book Life—How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation? is truly a boon!
For example, Denmark reports several peaks of publishers, the last being in August, when they reached 15,186. The Creation book has been of great importance to the work there and is offered with enthusiasm. A man who had seen it wrote to the Society: “Please send your masterpiece Life—How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation? to the following  addresses.” Money for books and postage was included. One brother wrote: “My goal was to work zealously with the book and try to reawaken the ‘old days’ when we placed a lot of books . . . I set the goal at 25 books for the month. . . . It was not too high . . . I placed 35.” A brother related that he started studying the Creation book with a man who was a staunch evolutionist. After a few months’ study, this man believed in God, came to the public talk of the circuit overseer in the Kingdom Hall, and happily attended the circuit assembly in the new Assembly Hall.
In the Netherlands, a brother who works for a large company was extremely happy when the Creation book came out. The nature of his work there was related to science and culture, so he could make a special effort to recommend the book to fellow employees. He used the illustration of the cell on pages 48 and 49, and this evoked much interest. On the first day of offering the book, he took eight orders and was paid in advance. In a short period the brother distributed 40 Creation books as well as 2 Bibles and 24 other books. During the 12 years that he has worked for this firm, he has sown “seed” to the extent of 350 books and dozens of magazines.
In addition to such spiritually upbuilding work, much literal building is also progressing in Europe. In France, where a peak of 92,397 publishers reported in August, four Assembly Halls and ten quickly built Kingdom Halls have recently been erected, and more are planned.
In Belgium, where the latest peak of publishers is 22,202, Kingdom Halls have to be enlarged, and new ones are being constructed. For the first time, a Kingdom Hall was built in two days, to be followed by a second one. This has resulted in a tremendous witness in the country. Newspapers, radio, and TV were impressed at seeing volunteer Witnesses from England, the Netherlands, and France working along with the Belgian brothers. A contractor was approached for the purpose of renting equipment for the two-day Kingdom Hall construction. He said to the brothers: ‘It is impossible to build in such a short time. If you succeed, you will not have to pay rent for the equipment.’ The brothers did not have to pay rent!
Quickly built Kingdom Halls have also been a success in Norway. So far, 12 such halls have been completed, and 30 more are planned. The latest one was built in Kirkenes, a few miles from the Russian border. The newspapers gave these building programs great publicity. One editor wrote: “Fantastic! This is the only word that can describe what happened last weekend when Jehovah’s Witnesses came flocking to help the local congregation. This is a spirit that is missing in most areas today. What the local congregation has done together with fellow believers inspires deep respect.”
Portugal reports: “The service year commenced with footings being laid for the new Bethel Home. This much-needed facility is the first Bethel the brothers have been privileged to build. How thrilling to see they have contributed to cover all building expenses to date even though this country has the poorest standard of living in all of Western Europe! This single event has sparked great interest in Jehovah’s visible organization.” The service year in Portugal was marked by a peak of 30,505 publishers and a record Memorial attendance of 76,212.
An elder in Portugal relates concerning informal witnessing: “During my lunch hour I placed a Creation book with a colleague. We would only meet occasionally, but each time there was a brief conversation about the truth. As he manifested doubt in the Bible’s inspiration, I placed with him the book Is the Bible Really the Word of God? One day a Witness called at his home when he was out and left the tract offering the book You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth. He made it a point to find me on the lunch hour and request this publication. After this, it was amazing to see his progress just through reading the book himself. He shaved off his beard and improved his hairstyle and general appearance. Then he surprised me by saying he was now convinced this was the truth and had decided to associate with Jehovah’s Witnesses. The previous Sunday he had looked for a Kingdom Hall in the area where he lived and had already attended his first meeting. It was then that a home Bible study was started, and after only three months, he was attending all meetings regularly and was a zealous publisher, eagerly awaiting baptism at the “Divine Peace” District Convention.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses in Finland recently dedicated a large new addition to the branch facilities. We are well known in Finland, as the ratio is now almost one publisher to 300 inhabitants. More and more people are coming to the meetings because they can see the good living habits and moral standards of the Witnesses.
Likewise, in Austria, where construction of a big extension to the branch is nearing completion, the fine Christian conduct of our pioneer ministers at places of employment has repeatedly contributed to opening up part-time jobs. One sister relates: “A pioneer has been working for a tax adviser, and she was highly respected for her good work. Another employer asked this tax adviser whether he could recommend an honest part-time worker. The tax adviser told him to call at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses since they very often desire part-time work. Because of the good conduct of this pioneer, I was able to get that part-time job and now also enjoy pioneer privileges.”
Cyprus writes that magazine street work, once a weak feature there, is catching on with the brothers. All congregations in the large towns are regularly using every Saturday morning for sidewalk witnessing. Even young children enjoy this work. For instance, a boy of six working with his mother distributed 20 magazines. He said to his mother: “I place the magazines and you report them, but I would like to be a publisher.” Recently an opposer, who claims he was sent by the Orthodox Church in Greece, has appeared with other rowdies outside the Kingdom Hall in Limassol. This noisy group not only tries to disturb the meetings but follows the brothers into the field and tries to discourage householders from listening to the Kingdom message. However, the brothers have stymied this tactic by holding meetings for service in small groups in private homes.
Spain joyfully reports a peak of 65,680 publishers and, with only three exceptions, a new peak in regular pioneers for each of the past 40 months. The tiny country of Andorra also registered splendid increases, finally reaching a peak of 108 publishers. While full freedom to preach is enjoyed in Spain, such is not the case with one of Spain’s former colonies, the republic of Equatorial Guinea. In December, our Kingdom Halls there were sealed by government order. A so-called religious liberty law was presented to the country’s legislative body but was rejected because of that body’s evident prejudice against Jehovah’s Witnesses. One of the deputies whose wife is a Witness made an eloquent defense of our standards and moral norms before the legislature.
Africa Sees “A Great Light”
The light of truth is beaming into every corner of the vast continent of Africa. As in the days of Jesus’ preaching here on earth, many people are seeing “a great light.”—Matt. 4:16.
These include even young children. In Senegal, a Bible study was begun with the mother of a boy of seven. Her son often asked questions about God, so a study was started with him also, using the brochure Enjoy Life on Earth Forever! When he saw Picture 58 in the brochure, he understood right away Jehovah’s attitude toward idols. One day the father asked his young son to go to church, but the boy strongly objected: “The church is full of idols, and Jehovah does not like that!” The son’s attitude aroused the father’s interest in the Bible, and now a regular study is held with the entire family. How true are Jesus’ words: “Out of the mouth of babes . . . you have furnished praise”!—Matt. 21:16.
From the Ivory Coast comes a heartwarming report about a family of 12 that is affectionately called the “great crowd.” During the yearly vacation the family decided to do all they could in the ministry, so five members (the father, mother, and three baptized children) enrolled as auxiliary pioneers. Two other children who are not yet baptized are also cultivating the pioneer spirit and closed ranks with the five in making an extra effort. Goals were set, too, for the five youngest ones. At the end of the month the “great crowd” family could report 637 hours of field service, 460 brochures and 350 magazines distributed, 189 return visits, and 25 Bible studies. They wrote: “It was such an agreeable month, and we strongly felt how the family bonds were strengthened. We thank Jehovah for the wonderful blessing!”
In Burkina Faso, where water is scarce and the desert is advancing, our brothers look forward to a literal fulfillment of Isaiah 35:1: “The wilderness and the waterless region will exult, and the desert plain will be joyful and blossom as the saffron.” However, they are now seeing the prophecy fulfilled in its major spiritual sense, and this gives them joy and hope. Kingdom publishers grew to a total of 324. Their peak of 717 Bible studies and the Memorial attendance of 1,235 show also that ‘the heat-parched ground has become a reedy pool, and the thirsty ground as springs of water.’ Jehovah keeps making it grow.—Isa. 35:7; 1 Cor. 3:6.
The 32,211 Witnesses in Ghana widely advertised the Memorial of Christ’s death, with the result that 122,936 were in attendance. A university student expressed himself this way after the celebration: “I have attended Communion many times in my church, but this is quite different. I see that this is just like what the Bible says, and I think you have the truth.” This person attended the very next meeting following the Memorial and has continued ever since. He was baptized recently.
Construction work on Ghana’s new branch building, most of which is being done by 140 local volunteers, moves rapidly toward completion. It is of interest that 42 foreign volunteer construction workers are rotating between the Portugal, Ghana, and Nigeria projects, according to the need for their trade skills. These come from the United States (25), Canada (2), Sweden (6), Britain (4), Germany (2), the Netherlands (2), and Australia (1). At least all can speak the pure language of truth!—Zeph. 3:9.
Construction work on the new Bethel complex for Nigeria is progressing very well. Deer and antelope in the woods on this property are becoming accustomed to the construction activities and are not afraid to come out in the open at evening time. Since the property is completely walled in, it is hoped that they will remain to adorn the Bethel grounds. Nigeria reported an all-time peak of 128,461 publishers in July. Regular and auxiliary pioneers continue to increase, and this is having a powerful impact on the territory. During house-to-house work in April, an elder was told: “In the past two to three weeks the preaching of you people has intensified. Does it mean that the end is at hand?” The elder pointed to recent events throughout the world and showed that it is urgent to help people to learn the truth. The man agreed that he needed to do something about it without delay.
Exciting developments in Liberia include renovation of an expanded branch home and a Memorial attendance of 7,839, almost six times the number of publishers. A sister who teaches in a government school was asked to give Bible instruction to all the primary classes, using My Book of Bible Stories and the brochure Enjoy Life on Earth Forever! Now, each day, the sister enjoys sharing the truth about Jehovah’s purposes with the students.
In Zimbabwe, as fervor for political participation is whipped up, our young ones are presented with real tests of their faith. Some have been threatened and others have been expelled from school. In one school neighborhood, opposers even went so far as to burn down the local Kingdom Hall. However, our youth continue to give a fine witness at school. With the help of My Book of Bible Stories, one 15-year-old girl settled a debate that had arisen in class. The teacher was so impressed that she asked for a copy. After reading some of it, she asked for other literature. This young sister now writes: “Every morning I am given a chance to speak to the class, and I have a special Bible-question time with the class.” She is happy about this privilege of remembering her Creator in the days of her youth!—Eccl. 12:1.
Standing “Solid in the Faith” in Asia
Many of our brothers in Asia serve under great pressure. But Jehovah has equipped them to stand “solid in the faith.” (1 Pet. 5:9) For example, in strife-torn Lebanon the brothers rejoice to have the booklet Examining the Scriptures Daily. For the first time, they can read the day’s Bible text and its comment in Arabic in the one publication. In one large family, every child, even the youngest boy, age five, has a personal booklet. They all bring their Bibles and booklets to the breakfast table, and a lively Bible study session ensues. The five-year-old got used to the habit and also brings his booklet to dinner and to supper for text discussion.
In Israel, bearded mobsters had continued demonstrating in front of the Tel Aviv branch and Kingdom Hall. But the police moved in and put a stop to their rowdy behavior. More than a hundred neighbors called at the branch at different times to express sympathy. A young Bedouin working across the street became curious, studied, and accepted the truth. He changed his job to conform to Bible principles and is now witnessing from house to house. Lawless opposers in another area gave mass distribution to an abusive tract that included the name and address of the local pioneers. But this boomeranged on the opposers when a lady who had been wanting to contact the Witnesses found the tract in her letter box. She looked up the pioneers, and they started a home Bible study with her.
This was a turbulent year in the island paradise of Sri Lanka. Papers had headings like: “War in Paradise,” ‘A Nation at War With Itself.’ But Jehovah’s Witnesses are at peace with one another, regardless of race or background. Publishers reached a peak of 996. The pioneer spirit is growing in the hearts of many who see the diminishing value of material assets and the increasing value of spiritual pursuits. This is reflected in a 43.7-percent increase in regular and auxiliary pioneers.
Reginald is a young special pioneer in Sri Lanka who has good teaching ability. He has about 20 home Bible studies. He explains to them that he is not alone but with a congregation and enthusiastically tells them about the wonderful meetings that they should attend. Many of his students are to be seen at the meetings.
What will life be like in Hong Kong after the territory returns to Chinese sovereignty in 1997? What will be the dangers of life when a nuclear power plant is built just 30 miles (50 km) from the city? These are two big questions on the minds of the people there. Many are leaving this territory, and others are planning to leave. In such an atmosphere it is heartwarming to see our 1,416 brothers and sisters showing firm faith in Jehovah’s promises and putting the interests of his Kingdom first in their lives. A special pioneer in India started a study with a Roman Catholic man, whose wife, brother, and mother were opposed to his studying with Jehovah’s Witnesses. But in trying to talk him out of studying, his brother also became interested in the truth and started to study. These two brothers were employed in making idols. When, after a few weeks of study, the folly of idol worship became clear to them, they destroyed all their idols as well as the tools used to make them. One of them learned painting and supports his family now by painting homes. He resigned from the Catholic Church, started out in the field ministry, and is looking forward to getting baptized. The wives of both of the men also became interested in the truth and started attending meetings. It is so gratifying to see such families making good progress in the worship of the living God, Jehovah.
The Republic of Korea reports that the big thing again this year has been the amazing pioneer spirit. Including the auxiliary pioneers, one third of the publishers have been in some form of full-time service on the average each month.
Because of much unfavorable publicity on the blood issue, many doctors and hospitals in Korea have refused to treat the brothers. When a sister in Inchon needed stomach surgery and requested that it be done without blood transfusions, the doctors responded with rantings about Jehovah’s Witnesses being inhuman, fanatical, a pseudoreligion, and so forth. The sister tactfully dropped the subject just then but gave the doctors a copy of the book Life—How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation? The next time the doctors came to her room their attitude had changed completely. They commented that the material in the Creation book was presented in a very scientific and logical way. The doctors said, “If your religion studies such matters on such a high level, then you must have a very logical reason for refusing blood transfusions.” They successfully performed the surgery without blood.
Among Islands of the Pacific
“Hear the word of Jehovah, O you nations, and tell it among the islands far away.” (Jer. 31:10) In obedience to these prophetic words, Jehovah’s Witnesses are zealously preaching throughout the vast domain of the Pacific Ocean.
This includes Micronesia, where 738 publishers and pioneers (including 49 missionaries) serve the island districts of Guam, Belau, Kiribati, Kosrae, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Ponape, Rota, Saipan, Truk, and Yap. A new peak of 1,735 Bible studies was reached in May, a 32-percent increase, and 3,743 attended the Memorial. A schoolteacher and former politician who had studied in Truk for one year returned to his isolated outer-island home. There he began to tell others about the things he had learned. One day he heard on the radio an announcement of the Memorial observance on the main island, 20 miles (32 km) away. He invited his neighbors to rise early and join him in catching a 6:30 a.m. ferry to attend. A former Protestant minister readily accepted, and despite torrential rains they took the trip. Both enjoyed the Memorial discourse immensely. They set aside time the next day to hear the missionaries explain further truths and then returned to their outer island. This teacher’s love and appreciation for Jehovah continues to grow. He is now conducting a Bible study in Trukese with the former Protestant minister, using The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life—the book that helped him to know the true God, Jehovah.
In Papua New Guinea, an imposing new branch facility is nearing completion; 240 Australian brothers, as well as many native brothers, volunteered to help with construction. When accommodations were needed for the workers, the local parliament offered them a side building if they would move it out quickly. Sixty brothers moved it in just nine hours! With its 1,827 publishers, the territory has a total of 8,000 associating at the meetings. But it is a mammoth task to teach these, as they speak 600 languages and 400 dialects!
There were several incidents involving overzealous schoolteachers who singled out the children of Jehovah’s Witnesses and punished them for not saluting the flag or singing the anthem. In most cases when the children or parents presented the brochure School and Jehovah’s Witnesses to the individuals concerned, the problem was quickly resolved. A representative of the Religious Affairs Department of the government also advised the branch office, saying that he had straightened out the thinking of one headmaster who had caused trouble in the past.
On one of the islands of Vanuatu, more than a hundred people attended the Memorial, though there are only four publishers on that island. Members of an ethnic group called small nambas came down from the mountains and heard the Memorial talk. They were very surprised to learn that there is a hope for everlasting life on earth. At the end, they made this comment: “It is what we want! We left our churches to go back to our customs because we don’t want to go to heaven; we would like to live on earth forever. Please tell us if our customs are agreeable to your God.” All through the night, the brothers explained in their local languages the marvelous future that Jehovah holds in store for all mankind.
“I have overcome a number of obstacles to become a special pioneer,” wrote a young sister in Fiji. “Before taking up the truth, I was influenced by young teenage peers to seek riches and ‘the good life.’ I met an Australian Caucasian who wanted to marry me and live in Australia. But then the truth intervened in my life. When the man came back to Fiji, he put $600 in my hand to help with wedding arrangements. It is rare that a young Fijian girl has such a sum on her hands. But I returned the money, explaining that I could marry ‘only in the Lord.’ (1 Cor. 7:39) This angered my worldly parents, who, like other Fijian families, look on a marriage alliance with a Caucasian as a family asset. So they would have nothing further to do with me.
“I progressed in the truth to the point of qualifying for pioneer service, and just when I applied for it, the Australian man appeared again to see if I had changed my mind. I explained that my determination to serve Jehovah was firmer than ever. This service year I was appointed as a special pioneer, and I am happy to be used by Jehovah to do his work, as I take ‘a firm hold on the real life.’”—1 Tim. 6:19.
In the Cook Islands, two recently baptized Witnesses were formerly respected members of the local “Christian Church.” They are now busy witnessing to past associates. One brother excels at informal witnessing and keeps Bibles in his car, his tractor, and his place of business. He is helping nine inmates of the local jail. Because they were allowed out of jail periodically on work projects, the brother hired them, witnessed to them, and now studies with them. He engages regularly in the auxiliary pioneer service. This brother, prior to studying the truth, could not read or write.
At the close of the service year, the Bethel family in New Zealand moved into its beautifully appointed new branch home, situated on 17 acres (6.8 ha) of bayside property on the outskirts of Auckland and constructed entirely by the voluntary labors of our brothers.
A circuit overseer in New Zealand makes a point of calling on every house in the territory. He and his companion witnessed at a Presbyterian youth hostel. During the conversation the master of the hostel informed the brothers that the hostel’s youthful residents complained persistently of learning nothing from church services. The circuit overseer was invited to come and study the Bible with these boys. Arrangements were made for a local brother to fulfill this responsibility, and 22 were present for the first study. To meet the individual needs of the students better, the number of conductors was increased to five and then to ten. Fourteen of the youthful hostel residents attended the Memorial at the Kingdom Hall. The hostel authorities are pleased with “the great job that is being done with the boys.”
In the parched center of Australia, an island almost as large as the continental United States, the Alice Springs Congregation cares regularly for several isolated groups of Aborigines. One settlement of 150 Aborigines is 188 miles (300 km) away, mostly by dirt road. Spiritism is quite strong among them, but they are humble, friendly, and teachable. Many have come to appreciate the truth and some are even in the full-time service. Recently, an Aboriginal pioneer brother pulled into a service station to fill his gas tank. As he was neatly dressed in suit and tie, the owner asked him what he was doing. The pioneer explained that he was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and was helping the Aboriginal people to live better lives. This impressed the owner, who wished our brother well and said: “There will be no charge for the petrol [gasoline].” The brother later returned, bringing along with him a copy of the Live Forever book. The owner gladly accepted the book. The next time our brother went to fill his tank, the man expressed his appreciation for the book and thanked our brother for coming and then said once again: “No charge for the petrol!”
At the Society’s Australia branch, a three-story office addition is being built, as the publisher peak in that land grows to 44,362.
‘Speaking the Word of God Fearlessly’
As in the apostle Paul’s time, there are places on earth today where Jehovah’s Witnesses must show “all the more courage to speak the word of God fearlessly.” (Phil. 1:14) How are our brothers in those lands facing up to bans, beatings, and other persecutions in order to “declare abroad the kingdom of God”? Please note the figures under “33 Other Countries” at the foot of the Worldwide Report on pages 40-41. Jehovah has answered our prayers “more than superabundantly” in empowering these 273,381 Witnesses to ‘let their light shine’—and brilliantly at that!—Luke 9:60; Eph. 3:20; Matt. 5:16.
A country in Europe writes: “The family had a very fine time in the field. We tried to supply them with the food needed in their work, and they used this material very effectively. During the years of underground work since we came out of the concentration camps 40 years ago, our activity keeps on increasing; we are conducting more Bible studies and return visits are coming up. More and more we spend our time in the actual house work, and more people are coming in contact with the good news. The time spent in this work is climbing, and more auxiliary pioneers are using their time wisely.”
Another European country reports: “Just prior to Christmas, when the people go about purchasing gifts, one sister offered them the Bible as the most valuable gift, with fine results. In four months she placed 150 Bibles. When the festive days were over, she continued to offer the Bible. Approaching a young couple on the street, she asked: ‘Do you have any questions about the Bible?’ ‘Oh, yes,’ said the husband, ‘Where can I get one?’ The sister handed him one right away. He said to the wife: ‘You should hold onto this book and never let it go, now that we have one.’ Then they gave her their address so that she could call and study with them. This sister purchases the Bibles in the bookstores and places them with the people at the same price.”
A branch in the Pacific Islands, where Jehovah’s work is banned, states: “Reports and complaints have been piling up in various government offices, resulting in many brothers being called up for interrogations. This has led to some court cases.” However, as the brothers are friendly and use good judgment, relatively few persons report them and many officials do not press matters. Opposition has served only to further publicize Jehovah’s Witnesses and their work, as they continue even to witness at the people’s homes.—Matt. 10:12, 13, 16, 19, 20.
In a country in Africa, several Witnesses were taken to a military camp where the sisters and brothers were separated. A friendly soldier advised the sisters to shout loudly if the officers wanted to do anything bad to them. They replied that they had already determined to do this. They prayed fervently to Jehovah for his protection. One of the sisters relates: “While we sat quietly, the leader came and forcefully grabbed my arms and twisted them round my back. Holding me tightly, he tried to force me to the floor. I wriggled my arms free and pushed him against the door. His arm was hurt, and so he called his fellow soldiers to help him.” Finally, the other soldiers said they would report the matter to their superiors. So this officer let our sister go. As she walked homeward, one of the soldiers approached and said: “The one who has allowed you to go is not him but your God. Go and worship Him even more.”
Nearby, in another restricted country in Africa, a special pioneer studies with an entire family. Concerning their four-year-old daughter, he reports: “When her parents were out, the neighbors tried to persuade the little girl to smoke a cigarette, telling her that it would give her strength all day long. She refused, saying: ‘I want to respect my father even if he is not here to see me. Papa taught me that cigarettes are poison and that the Bible forbids them because they dirty the body that Jehovah gave us.’ The neighbors were so impressed by the child’s answer that they told her parents about it and arranged to study with the Witnesses.” How wise it is to have small children share in Bible studies!
In another country in Africa where our work recently came under a ban, most congregations had to meet in small groups for the Memorial. They also had to be careful about inviting newly interested ones. This explains why attendance is less than last year, though the actual figure is still nearly three times the number of publishers. The brothers in one town were betrayed by a churchgoer of Babylon the Great. This person told soldiers that on the night of March 24, Jehovah’s Witnesses must come and worship in their Kingdom Hall. The soldiers waited there from five o’clock until midnight, but the brothers, who were meeting in small groups, never came. The next day the informer was called, beaten, and fined $100 for giving wrong information!
In another part of the same country, a local chief held a special meeting to speak against Jehovah’s Witnesses. He tried to incite the people and held up a copy of My Book of Bible Stories. He told them that they should arrest anyone going around with that book. His rantings only stimulated the curiosity of some of the local people, who asked to see the book. They told the chief that they must examine it in order to recognize it. The chief allowed them to do this, and when they turned its pages, they were filled with appreciation. They sent word to the special pioneer (who lived in another village) to bring some books, and they contributed for ten copies. The special pioneer relates: “Thus I was able to start ten Bible studies, and some of these new ones are progressing toward field service! I had never preached in the chief’s village, and if the chief had not spoken against us, then maybe these ones would not have had the occasion to learn the truth.” Jehovah can use even our opposers to direct honest ones to Bible truth.
In another country in Africa, a problem arose with regard to burial places for Jehovah’s Witnesses, since these are not a legally recognized religion. The brothers boldly presented the matter to the local authorities and were able to obtain a plot of land within the municipality. More recently, the local authorities felt that cemeteries of religious groups had become too ostentatious, so they decided to establish a modest standard. When they came to the cemetery of the brothers, they saw an example of the modesty that they wanted, and after inquiring as to whose cemetery it was, they immediately decreed that in the future all graves and tombs should follow the pattern set by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Still another report from Africa exemplifies the integrity-keeping spirit that is so outstanding among Jehovah’s Witnesses: “In spite of arrests, beatings, and imprisonments, our courageous brothers and sisters continue to give an ever bigger witness, especially in the interior. The sterling examples of faithful overseers incite the brothers to fine works. In January the first circuit was officially organized. The circuit overseer had himself been imprisoned for several months but was released just before the district convention. Even new ones are not afraid to be arrested for practicing the way of truth. During the year, 101 were baptized, and two new congregations were formed. A new peak of 572 publishers was reached in June, the congregation publishers showing their zeal by averaging over 15 hours a month in the field service. Over a thousand Bible studies are being reported, so prospects for future increase are great.”
[Box on page 13]
Dear Watchtower Bible and Tract Society,
I am 12 years old. I would like to give this check for $7.50 to put where it is needed.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your real life experiences in the Watchtower and Awake. I enjoy reading them very much.
Sisterly love, A. O.
I Like the Live Forever BOOK. I am seven years old, and I Placed five Live Forever BOOKS in two weeks. THANK you for the pretty pictures in it. I Have FUN in service. I am sending you part of my ALLOWANCE [$1.00].
Your friend, E. S.
I got this money [$50.00] when I sold my horse. I want it to go to the building work at Bethel. I’m looking forward to going there with my family.
Thank you for all the good work you do for Jehovah.
Sincerely, R. G.
Dear Watch tower bible & tract Society,
This is my $1.40. I got it by making oatmeal raisin cookies. And selling them. I’m nine and a half. I have short shiny blond hair, hazel eyes and I weigh 55 pounds. I’m in fourth grade. And I read alot.
I am writing you this note to give you the money. [$1.00] You have made good publications. I am looking to get baptized soon. I really enjoy the truth. I look forward to playing with all the animals.
P.S. Write back. I have a stamp for you.
[Chart on page 11]
1986 Production in Principal Branches
Country Bibles and Books Magazines
U.S.A. 27,269,926 201,982,628
Germany 6,790,127 26,519,615
Italy 2,722,200 32,397,550
Japan 2,841,739 43,198,566
Others 4,334,311 246,118,096
TOTALS 43,958,303 550,216,455
INCREASE 23.6% 3.7%
[Chart on page 34-41]
1986 SERVICE YEAR REPORT OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES WORLDWIDE
[Pictures on page 7]
Jersey City Assembly Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses
Showing: foyer, Gilead graduation audience, the marquee, exterior view, and one of foyer murals
[Pictures on page 9]
A thousand magazines a minute! Watch Tower four-color presses
Selters, Germany, roll stand
Ebina, Japan, general view
Rome, Italy, control panel
Wallkill, U.S.A., magazine delivery
[Pictures on page 18]
“Divine Peace” District Conventions
Typical stadium crowd, thrilling new releases, Austrian “island” stage, many baptisms
[Picture on page 24]
[Picture on page 26]
[Picture on page 31]
[Picture on page 33]
La Paz, Bolivia
[Picture on page 47]
Castle Combe, England
[Picture on page 50]
[Picture on page 55]
Seoul, Republic of Korea
[Picture on page 57]
[Picture on page 63]