1988 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses
HE WAS only 33 years old when his life was cut short by execution. Yet, 1,900 years later, his message still lives! His name was Jesus Christ. Less than three days before his cruel death, while he was sitting in a grove of olive trees on a hilltop overlooking Jerusalem, he uttered a prophecy the fulfillment of which confronts everyone alive today with a life-or-death choice. He foretold that the “good news” of God’s Kingdom would be preached in all the inhabited earth.—Matt. 24:14.
Acceptance of that good news today means life eternal; rejection brings everlasting death. (Rev. 14:6, 7) Like Joshua of old, people desiring life must choose to serve Jehovah. (Josh. 24:15) The interests of God’s Kingdom must occupy the first place in their lives. (Matt. 6:33) But how would this vital message be spread?
Jesus’ instructions to his followers were simple and direct: Preach and teach. He wanted his disciples to imitate what he himself did. (Matt. 4:23; 9:35) They were to be preachers of the good news of the Kingdom; spirit-directed Kingdom preaching would become the heartbeat of true Christianity. Thus, fulfillment of Matthew 24:14 has propelled the message of God’s Kingdom to the most distant part of the earth.
Who are accomplishing this grand work today? Jehovah’s Witnesses. Our record of Kingdom preaching for more than a hundred years speaks for itself. We are following the same pattern and using the same theme in our preaching and teaching as Christ’s disciples did in the first century. Our current report proves that we have not slowed down in this work.
“YOU HAVE MADE THE REJOICING GREAT”
Jehovah’s Witnesses are harvesting with a spirit of rejoicing. As expressed at Isaiah 9:3: “You have made the nation populous; for it you have made the rejoicing great. They have rejoiced before you as with the rejoicing in the harvesttime, as those who are joyful when they divide up the spoil.” We rejoice that Jehovah has blessed our preaching and disciple-making work with more Kingdom workers and that he has given us the tools to help them. Thus, the following report gives us outstanding reasons to be jubilant!
During the last service year, on the average each month 3,237,751 Jehovah’s Witnesses were actively preaching, with a peak of 3,395,612 ministers. In one year’s time, we spent an extraordinary total of 739,019,286 hours—the equivalent of 84,000 years—in Kingdom preaching!
Jehovah’s Witnesses are also teachers. What is the purpose of Christian teaching? To make baptized disciples of Christ. (Matt. 28:19, 20) And since Jesus Christ worshiped Jehovah, his disciples must also become worshipers of Him.
In the 1987 service year, 230,843 were baptized as Jehovah’s Witnesses and disciples of Jesus Christ. The potential for additional disciples is great, since we conducted an average of 3,005,048 Bible studies each month. Let us now take a quick around-the-world look at some theocratic highlights that will also make us rejoice.
The past service year brought excellent results in France, with the following peaks in May: 96,954 publishers—including 10,180 auxiliary pioneers and 3,411 regular pioneers. This was the 22nd consecutive peak for regular pioneers. During May, about 15 percent of the total publishers were in some form of full-time service. Also, the publishers spent an average of 12.9 hours in the ministry and reported a peak of 65,806 Bible studies during this same month.
Portugal’s service year has been blessed with new publisher peaks in all the countries and territories where the branch supervises Kingdom preaching. Portugal alone had seven publisher peaks, topping the 32,000 mark for the first time. An outstanding development is that the number of home Bible studies now being conducted exceeds the number of publishers in five of the countries and territories reporting to this branch. What thrilling prospects lie ahead for a bountiful harvest!
“We are thankful to Jehovah that we were able to have another year of blessed activities,” says the Japan branch. During the service year, 125 new congregations were formed in Japan. The number of Kingdom publishers increased to 120,722 in August—the 104th successive monthly peak. What was most encouraging was the number of home Bible studies. In June 166,277 were held—a 14-percent increase over last year’s average. The new brochure “Look! I Am Making All Things New” proved to be a very effective tool in Japan for making return visits and establishing home Bible studies.
In May, the month of a military coup there, the Fiji branch witnessed its 29th consecutive peak in publishers. June saw another peak of over 1,300 publishers in the field. “All that you people have been telling us in the past is coming true,” a police inspector admitted to one Witness. “If all people in this country were Jehovah’s Witnesses, we would not have this national disturbance.”
For the first time, the publisher figure passed 45,000 in Australia, and almost every month saw a new peak in regular pioneers. The publishers were zealous for the field service, especially in April when they averaged 12.1 hours.
Since 1947, migration from overseas has accounted for close to 40 percent of Australia’s population growth. The European countries of Britain, Ireland, Italy, Yugoslavia, Greece, Germany, the Netherlands, and Poland have been the major contributors. Because of this influx, 58 ethnic-language congregations and 39 groups have been formed. They are delighted to have regular meetings as well as circuit assembly and district convention programs arranged in 20 different languages.
More recently, Australia has seen an influx of refugees from Vietnam, Laos, Kampuchea, Thailand, and other countries of Southeast Asia. The majority of these people have undergone extreme suffering and privation. Now that they are living in more stable surroundings, many of them are responding to the good news. For example, in Sydney 124 publishers and 24 pioneers make up a congregation that has a large Asian population in its territory. This congregation rejoices over its 220 Bible studies. The branch comments, “Truly, a great crowd out of all nations is being gathered for survival!”
In one African country where the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses has been under ban for about 20 years, 17 new congregations have been formed in the past service year. The congregations experienced an 18-percent increase in the average number of auxiliary pioneers. What was reaped by these busy auxiliary pioneers? More Bible studies are being conducted—a 22-percent increase!
Zambia reached a new peak of 67,144 publishers in April—16.5 percent higher than last year’s average. Many more are sharing in the pioneer ministry too. Regular pioneers increased 13.5 percent and auxiliary pioneers increased 20.5 percent compared to a year ago. During the year the branch registered the 1,715th congregation, an increase of 93 congregations since the start of the 1987 service year.
A pioneer in Zambia’s Copperbelt discovered a different way to make the good news appealing to others. He says: “I have always tried to talk to my workmate about the Kingdom good news, but he flatly refused to take any literature or magazines. One day I took our attractive calendar to work and showed it to him at lunch break. The man exclaimed, ‘What a beautiful calendar!’ He was so impressed that he even accepted a Bible study and is making good progress spiritually.”
The high point of the year in Burkina Faso was the decision to make more use of the local Moore language in teaching the congregations. Since February, selected study articles from The Watchtower have been translated and published in a monthly issue. Subsequently, Our Kingdom Ministry was also translated. Thus, nine of the French-speaking congregations joyfully arranged for their meetings to be conducted in the Moore language.
MAGAZINES—AIDS IN KINGDOM PREACHING
Publishers in Liberia have been averaging 15.4 hours monthly in the field ministry, resulting in a noteworthy peak in magazine distribution. “With 17,630 magazines distributed, more magazines were put into the hands of the public than in any month since March 1972,” writes the branch. “The attractive appearance of our full-colour magazines has undoubtedly stimulated the magazine activity in this country. Publishers are finding that their supply is exhausted within a few days of their receiving the new issues. People frequently approach the publishers on the street and ask, ‘Do you have any of the “Bibles” for me?’—meaning The Watchtower and Awake!”
“With the publication of our magazines in four colours since April 1987, many publishers have stepped up their magazine work tremendously,” reports the Zimbabwe branch. After receiving one of the first issues of these full-color magazines, a brother from a rural area of the country wrote: “I took a supply and stood at a business centre to offer the magazines to passersby. A few people accepted copies. On their way home, they showed them to their neighbours, and shortly thereafter there was a rush of people from the neighbourhood to get the magazines. In a few minutes, my supply was exhausted.”
In one Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) congregation, after having studied about magazine witnessing in the March 1, 1987, issue of The Watchtower, two brothers decided to apply some of the suggestions on their way home from the Kingdom Hall. They enthusiastically started to offer the magazines to everyone they met along the way. By the time they reached their house, they had placed 20 magazines.
Some publishers try novel methods in order to place subscriptions. In Argentina a brother decided to take his bound volume of the Awake! magazine to his Bible student and show him the different subjects considered during the year. The Bible student was impressed by all the information presented. He had just purchased some books covering related subjects for about $24.00. Now he could get similar information from our magazines for only $5.00 for a year’s subscription. Needless to say, the brother placed the subscription.
OUTSTANDING MEMORIAL ATTENDANCE!
On April 12, 1987, in less time than it took for one revolution of the earth on its axis, 8,965,221 Jehovah’s Witnesses and their guests, speaking over 160 languages, assembled in 210 lands to celebrate the Lord’s Evening Meal. The Watch Tower branches have sent in some thrilling reports.
El Salvador’s Memorial attendance was 58,933. Since the peak number of publishers for the year was 16,041, there is still a lot of work to be done there. El Salvador’s neighbor Belize had an outstanding Memorial attendance too. A total of 3,928 persons gathered, which is five times the peak number of publishers! This means that there was about one person in attendance for every 44 inhabitants of the country.
Zambia’s attendance at the Memorial was 381,129—16 percent higher than last year’s figure. Indeed, a great number of people desire spiritual assistance in this country. In Hong Kong 3,583 attended the Memorial, 45,466 were present in Belgium, and 198,797 assembled in France—double the number of publishers for all three countries. And the United States saw over 86,000 more attend the Memorial this year than last year, a total of 1,778,066. Mexico, with a peak of 222,168 publishers, had an astounding Memorial attendance of 957,081!
PIONEER SERVICE SCHOOL
With over 44,000 new pioneers, the Pioneer Service School has had no enrollment problems. After ten years of existence, the school is increasingly effective in training full-time evangelizers. Said one sister in Guyana who is 74 years old and a widow, “Though ill at the time, I had the joy of attending the Pioneer Service School.” Attendance, though, was a struggle for her. “Because I could hardly walk,” she continues, “the school instructor would come for me every morning and escort me to the class and back home every afternoon. With the encouragement from the Pioneer Service School, I am now able to do far more in service.”
The Pioneer Service School gives practical advice on how to help Bible students progress toward baptism. Another pioneer from Guyana said: “Before I attended the pioneer school, I had a Bible student who could not attend the meetings. Her excuse? She was always too busy with housework. After learning at the school how to show more personal interest in others, I put into practice what I learned. At my next Bible study, I gave my student advice that worked well. Since frequent visits from friends and relatives kept her from finishing her chores, I suggested that she ask them to help her with some of the housework. Now my student has time not only for the meetings but also for the field ministry.”
In Lebanon, December 1986 marked the month of the first Pioneer Service School since 1978. “We did not have any group large enough before to hold a class,” explains the branch office. “But with Jehovah’s blessing, the spirit of pioneering spread so fast that we had enough eligible pioneers to fill one class.”
One pioneer who appreciated attending the school in Zambia wrote: “I have gone through the pioneer book three times every year since school and have improved my service very much.”
“TRUST IN JEHOVAH” DISTRICT CONVENTIONS
As international tensions mount, the world’s future becomes bleak to more and more people. Why? Because they trust in such things as their riches, their wisdom, their might, or their political leaders. (Luke 21:25-28) But Jehovah’s Witnesses have a different outlook. We face the future with confidence because we ‘trust in Jehovah with all our heart and do not lean upon our own understanding.’ (Prov. 3:5) So it was timely that the series of three-day district conventions that began in June 1987 should underscore the theme “Trust in Jehovah.”
At the 24 conventions in the Federal Republic of Germany, a new peak in attendance was reached—159,361—some 8,500 more than in any previous year. The number of persons baptized was also a new peak for summer conventions—1,455.
The United States branch reports: “We were encouraged to see an attendance of 1,288,313 at the 123 ‘Trust in Jehovah’ District Conventions, with somewhat over 1 percent of those in attendance, or 13,562, being baptized. This is the first time in five years that the number baptized has been over 1 percent.”
In some parts of the world, the “Divine Peace” District Conventions that began in the latter part of the 1986 service year carried over into the 1987 service year. Panama and Ghana are two examples.
The brothers in Panama had a problem. Since political turmoil was upsetting the country, could conventions be held freely? Conditions did not look promising. People had been staging work strikes and street demonstrations, and the government had sent antiriot troops to disperse them with tear-gas bombs. Blame was put on the Catholic Church for using its pulpits to incite parishioners to protest. For example, one government newspaper printed front-page headlines accusing the archbishop of defying the government and inciting the people to revolt. In large letters at the bottom of the front page appeared the words: “‘Religion in Politics—Is This God’s Will?’ (See page 4).” On page 4 of this newspaper, an article with that title was reproduced from the Awake! magazine of April 22, 1987. It included a picture of a clergyman shaking hands with Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.
“The newspaper article was obviously published to show the contrast between our position and that of the Catholic Church,” writes the Panama branch. “As a result, while public auditoriums had been denied for political meetings, in the middle of this political unrest, we were able to hold our district conventions with a combined attendance of more than 10,000 persons.”
The Ghana Branch Committee was concerned about giving a thorough witness in the unassigned territories in the northern part of the country. Hence, brothers and sisters from the south were encouraged to attend the “Divine Peace” District Convention scheduled for the northern city of Tamale. The response? Overwhelming!
“We anticipated some one thousand participants, some of whom we figured would make their own travel arrangements,” reports the branch office. “So we wrote to a bus company and requested ten buses with 70 seats each. But when the reservation forms from the congregations came back, over 3,000 had decided to attend the Tamale convention! How were we to find buses to move all of them to the convention?”
Transportation in Ghana is in short supply, and much of the 400-mile [640 km] road from the port city of Accra in the south, where the branch is located, to Tamale is in poor condition. So bus companies are reluctant to take on the business. But two companies agreed to lease the branch a total of 28 buses. However, four more buses were needed.
“The Ministry of Trade and Tourism had imported four luxury, air-conditioned coaches for the purpose of developing tourism in Ghana,” continues the branch report. “The ministry, however, had refused to rent the coaches to any tour group. We made application for these coaches. It seemed hopeless at first. Finally, Tuesday afternoon, just before the Wednesday morning when the coaches were needed, the minister signed the letter releasing the buses to us. The tour director at the minister’s office said to his colleagues when he saw the minister sign the release letter: ‘Jehovah is working!’”
So off trekked the brothers with their families in a convoy of 32 buses. This sight in itself was a great witness all the way to Tamale. No other group had ever moved so many people at one time. People along the route were abuzz with excitement, talking about the amazing things Jehovah’s Witnesses can accomplish.
In addition, the Ghana edition of Our Kingdom Ministry encouraged the brothers going to Tamale to make it a point to spend at least one hour each day in field service, either before or after the convention sessions. So at seven one morning, two brothers called at the guesthouse where three members of the Branch Committee attending the convention were accommodated. They said: “Brothers, we are working this territory and have run out of literature. Do you have anything we can use so we can continue?”
Therefore, Tamale, a predominantly Muslim city with a population of 146,000, was thoroughly covered by house-to-house witnessing. Even Bible studies were started. The peak convention attendance of 4,220 shows that many interested persons from the town attended the convention. The branch report concludes: “We are indeed hopeful that the two Tamale congregations will do a good watering of the seed so bountifully sown and that in his own time, Jehovah will make it grow.”—1 Cor. 3:6.
‘CROWNING WITH GOODNESS’ RESULTS IN EXPANSION
“You have crowned the year with your goodness,” wrote the psalmist. (Ps. 65:11) The efforts of our brothers in the field were “crowned” with increases that have necessitated Kingdom Hall and branch expansion construction. The following are a few examples:
With another marvelous year of activity behind it, Mexico looks forward to an exciting service year in 1988. The construction of a new Bethel complex of 126 rooms is already progressing very well. A large building is also being added to the present printery. And Mexico is the first branch to install two new four-color presses and two bindery lines simultaneously. All these projects should be completed during the new service year.
Portugal’s construction of a new Bethel Home continues to dominate their building program. “To date,” states the branch report, “all construction costs have been covered by local contributions.” This included the value of many personal items and possessions. All kinds of building materials, as well as pigs, chickens, sheep, and ducks, were also made available.
Not too many years ago in Colombia, it was considered good if 15 new congregations were added during the year. Now in only one day, the Service Department received 13 applications for new congregations in just the coastal city of Barranquilla! During the past service year, 143 new congregations have been formed in the country.
Some 30 years ago, the city of Medellín was known for being the center of Catholicism in Colombia, and the country boasted that 99 percent of its population were Catholics. Because of the moral decline, drug traffic, and the dwindling faith of its populace, Medellín is now one of the more unsafe cities in the country. These changes have caused many honesthearted persons to react favorably to the preaching of the good news. There are now 35 congregations in and around Medellín. “All this increase has created more Kingdom Hall ‘emergencies,’” says the branch. What the local brothers did in the small town of Segovia, not far from Medellín, illustrates their willingness to meet this emergency situation.
The district overseer reported: “In Segovia there is a handful of 32 publishers. Of this total, 17 are sisters, all very hard workers. A year ago this small group bought a lot, started making their own cement building blocks, and gathered other materials for the construction of a Kingdom Hall. The circuit overseer had visited shortly after the lot was obtained. When he returned five months later, what a surprise it was to find the hall completed! All the work had been done on Saturdays, Sundays, and at night.” The hall is even large enough to seat a small circuit assembly. The first one held there had 263 in attendance, with 5 persons being baptized.
A volcanic eruption followed by a killer mudslide devastated the area around Armero, Colombia. Our worldwide brotherhood responded willingly. After the physical needs of the survivors had been cared for, the Governing Body gave approval to the branch to use the remaining funds to care for the spiritual interests of the brothers. Therefore, suitable Kingdom Halls were built in the area affected by the volcano so that spiritual education could continue without interruption.
The congregation of La Dorada was one of three congregations receiving international aid to assist in constructing a new Kingdom Hall. Much of the construction work was done by sisters and interested persons, since there were only six baptized males in that congregation. However, loving help was provided by a group of brothers from Bogotá. And in less than a week, La Dorada had a new Kingdom Hall. Construction started on Thursday, and on the following Monday evening, they had their first meeting, with 200 in attendance. Arrangements were also made for new halls in Mariquita and Lérida. After surviving the ravages of the volcano’s rushing wall of mud, many Colombians are now seeking the refreshing waters of truth.
To take care of a large throng of worshipers in Argentina, 121 new congregations were formed during the service year—an average of 10 congregations per month! In many places, the Kingdom Halls are too small, and in others there are four or five congregations meeting in the same building. The branch started a Kingdom Hall fund and soon will begin granting loans for new halls. Special arrangements now are being made to unify the manpower and contributions of the congregations in order to finish a number of Kingdom Halls and then start to build new ones.
The Sri Lanka branch saw three new congregations organized this past service year, one of these in the politically troubled north. Five congregations have built their own Kingdom Halls. The one at Chilaw was completed with the help of brothers visiting from the Federal Republic of Germany.
A circuit overseer in Kerala, India, reports that two congregations recently constructed their own Kingdom Halls. One of these has a seating capacity of 120. Within this first year, the attendance grew so much that the congregation needs to hold two sessions of meetings at different times.
Providing Kingdom Halls is a real problem in Taiwan, since congregations have difficulty renting suitable facilities, especially in the cities. Often when a place is found, the landlord raises the rent so high after the first year that the brothers have to move. During the past year or so, eight congregations—38 percent of the total congregations—have either moved into new Kingdom Halls or begun obtaining their own buildings. Congregations in larger cities purchase several adjacent apartments on the same floor of a building and convert them into a Kingdom Hall.
In the United States, the number of congregations increased by 211 by the end of this service year. That is an average of four new congregations each week! With these increases, more Kingdom Halls are needed. By December 1987, the Society Kingdom Hall Fund had made money available for the building of 387 Kingdom Halls. During this past service year, 108 halls benefited from this fund.
QUICKLY BUILT KINGDOM HALLS ARE EVERYWHERE
The idea of building Kingdom Halls complete and ready for meetings in just a few days began in the United States. It was developed and became more organized during the past decade. By 1987 the idea had borne fruit around the world. For example, on the weekend of June 26-28, 1987, New Zealand Witnesses began and completed that country’s first quickly built Kingdom Hall at Cambridge in the North Island—and people noticed.
“Project Close to a Miracle” was the front-page headline in the Cambridge Edition, the local newspaper. The accompanying article continued: “On Friday it looked like the whole world had moved into Arnold Street. Up to 800 Jehovah[’s] Witnesses from all over the North Island descended on a property and proceeded to work something close to a miracle. They set out to build a Kingdom Hall complete with landscaped garden in two and a half days. And they did! Perhaps the most mind-boggling aspect of the exercise was the organisation and sheer quiet of the operation.”
In Belize, a group of 13 publishers had an attendance of 30 or 40 at their meetings in San Pedro, Ambergris Cay, but they had no Kingdom Hall. They were meeting on the deck of a brother’s home, so they decided to proceed with a quickly built Kingdom Hall. However, obstacles blocked the way. Since they are located on an isolated island some 36 miles [58 km] from Belize City, they would have to transport every piece of their Kingdom Hall to the island. Such a project had never been undertaken before in Belize. They planned to use local types of wood that can withstand the elements but are very hard. Holes would have to be drilled before the sections could be nailed together. All of those working on the project would have to come over by boat or plane. Jehovah’s blessing was evident, for the Kingdom Hall was built and dedicated with 247 in attendance.
September 1986 was the month set for Denmark’s first quickly built Kingdom Hall. Newspapers, radio, and television reported favorably on the event. Since then, the year has been ‘crowned with goodness’ by the construction of seven more quickly built halls.
In the Netherlands, it was long thought that quickly built Kingdom Halls could not be constructed there because of government laws and regulations. But the cooperation of the authorities and the willingness of the brothers made that country’s first quickly built hall an enormous success. As a result, much interest in the Kingdom message was stimulated in that area of Europe.
Of Luxembourg’s 20 congregations, 12 were involved in working on new Kingdom Halls or enlarging existing ones during this service year. These comprise 60 percent of the country’s congregations. Just to the north, Belgium thus far has two regional building teams that have erected six quickly built halls, with more projects ready to start. What causes for rejoicing!
Canada, also demonstrating growth, constructed 11 Kingdom Halls during the year. Thus far, Canada has a total of 120 quickly built Kingdom Halls. Nine of these are double halls. A new Assembly Hall is under construction in Montreal, with plans to start using it by the end of 1987. Canada now has eight Assembly Halls.
The Federal Republic of Germany has 11 building committees. During the past service year, 19 quickly built halls have been constructed. An additional 62 Kingdom Halls have been built or are in the process of construction. Jehovah has crowned this service year not only with rapid building work on 81 Kingdom Halls but also with the dedication of the ninth Assembly Hall. Thus, all circuits in the Federal Republic of Germany are accommodated in beautiful Assembly Halls, which are also being used for foreign-language district conventions.
Britain now has five Assembly Halls serving 75 percent of that land’s Kingdom publishers.
The past service year brought new peaks in publishers to Jehovah’s people in Norway. This increase, however, has created a great need for Kingdom Halls. “Up till now we have completed 25 quickly built Kingdom Halls, which have caught the interest of the press and the public,” reports the branch office. For example, in one Norwegian city the brothers went to the city building authorities to have certain matters clarified pertaining to construction. Before leaving, they told of their plans to build the hall within three days. As the brothers were descending the stairway, a roar of laughter came from all in the office. The officials simply could not believe that it was possible to build such a large building in just three days!
Work on the hall advanced even faster than planned. By noon on Friday, the roof was on and the bricklayers were halfway through with their work. Then one of the officials who had laughed came by in his car and saw what was happening. He excitedly rushed down to the office and said, “Boys, they are making it!”
All the officials felt embarrassed and agreed that they should apologize in some way. One staff member was the conductor of a band consisting of employees in the municipal offices. He suggested that on Saturday they march to the building site and play for Jehovah’s Witnesses, “apologizing” in this way. All agreed. So the 180 brothers were surprised to see a band marching up the street and onto the building site, playing several melodies for their enjoyment.
‘LEGALLY ESTABLISHING THE GOOD NEWS’
The past service year has been one packed with action. Our brothers have faced the challenge to establish legally the preaching of the good news.—Phil. 1:7.
Concerning the South Pacific islands of Vanuatu, the New Caledonia branch office writes about an outstanding legal victory over the issue of the building of a Kingdom Hall. The Council of Protestant Churches strongly opposed this project. Despite the fact that the brothers had obtained a lease for the land and had made all the specific plans to get a building permit, they received a letter from the government stating that because of the opposition of the churches, it would be impossible to build such facilities. A letter was written to the prime minister about this problem. Months passed before the local congregation received a reply from the prime minister that allowed the construction to proceed.
More and more, a person’s religious beliefs are being used as a wedge to influence court decisions in child-custody cases. In Alaska, for example, an unbelieving husband requested custody of a child because he did not want his son raised as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Our sister explains:
“When I did choose to serve Jehovah whole-souled, my husband filed for divorce. He was against our belief on the proper use of blood. [Acts 15:28, 29] My attorney wasn’t too agreeable about our stand on blood either, but by my using the book Reasoning From the Scriptures, she became very sympathetic on that issue. She stated that now even she would think three or more times before giving her own children blood. She asked if the Reasoning book could be used in court. So while I was on the witness stand, I used the information from the Reasoning book almost word for word. The outcome? I was granted custody of my son. The following day, the judge issued a court order stating that when my son was visiting his father, in case of an accident his father had to tell medical personnel that my son was of the Jehovah’s Witnesses faith and that they had to seek alternate blood methods.”
In the United States, the Society’s Legal Department makes available to those Kingdom publishers facing a child-custody case a packet of information containing favorable legal decisions and suggestions on trial techniques. The packet has been instrumental in helping some publishers who faced divorce action from opposing mates to retain the custody of their children. Writes one publisher: “I felt that the packet of legal cases was an encouragement to me in that it showed very clearly how Jehovah provides and cares for his servants on earth. Also, I appreciated the suggestions in handling the trial, which proved beneficial.”
The Canada branch reports: “We won ten child-custody cases either by court decision or by negotiated settlement.” The cases were conducted to protect the rights of the believing parents to give religious instruction to their offspring and to take them to congregation meetings—rights that some unbelieving parents and lower court judges tried to deny. Our brothers have also defended 11 cases wherein doctors have tried to force blood transfusions on patients. One case involved an adult and the others involved minors whose parents had wanted alternative medical treatment.
In Denmark, two non-Witness doctors writing in Ugeskrift for læger (Medical Weekly) have taken up the question of Jehovah’s Witnesses and blood transfusion. The doctors requested clear guidelines from the responsible authorities. Although the health authorities have not wished to do this, they have indicated that there will be no official prosecution against doctors who wish to respect the Witnesses’ refusal of blood, even if the patient should die.
Bitter confrontations with certain doctors and hospitals over blood transfusion still occur in Korea. But there have been a few breakthroughs. In its issue of October 20, 1986, the medical newspaper Hu Saing Bo reported the successful case of open-heart surgery without blood on an eight-year-old son of one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Dr. Park Young-kwan said: “Too much blood has been used in open-heart surgery in Korea until today. We have to develop the method in this country to perform open-heart surgery with as little blood as possible or completely without blood.” The news article mentioned that the Buchun Sejong Hospital is planning to provide open-heart surgery without the use of blood for any patient. It is encouraging to know that successful open-heart operations have been performed on children of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Legal battles may be lost or won in the courts. What counts, though, is who wins the final battle. That outcome is certain. There can be only one winner—Jehovah God, whose name and word will be vindicated.
Africa Speaks Out!
The psalmist said: “Out of the mouth of children and sucklings you have founded strength.” (Ps. 8:2) Eight-year-old Moses, of Sierra Leone, is a fine example of this. He enjoys the field ministry and often makes his own arrangements to work along with others in the congregation. But something bothered him. He always had to borrow magazines and brochures for use in service. How, though, could he get his own literature, since his parents did not give him any spending money? Without discussing his dilemma with anyone, he decided on a way—he would save some of his school lunch money! After three days, he had saved enough funds for three brochures. What will he do with the money when he places the brochures? “Why, I’ll take it to the Kingdom Hall and get some more!” replies Moses.
“Aglow with the spirit” well describes Jehovah’s people in Liberia. (Rom. 12:11) They saw a new peak of publishers with 1,576 reporting—a 20-percent increase over last year’s average. The Memorial attendance of 8,254 is an exciting barometer of the degree of interest in the Kingdom message in the land.
A stimulus to greater acts of service was the dedication of their new branch office last March. A new sports stadium built by the Chinese was selected for the dedication program. This was the first time that the facility had been used for a religious event. How would the atheistic Chinese management respond? Upon seeing the way the 2,126 attenders comported themselves, one management representative said: “We can see you people have done this kind of thing before. You are welcome to come back anytime.”
Two days before the Memorial, a congregation in Liberia was faced with a real problem. Their usual meeting place was booked for a worldly event, and the only alternative was an empty hall with no chairs. Over 400 were expected to attend, so the brothers approached the local school system where they had borrowed chairs before. Their request was flatly refused. Too many chairs had been stolen by other groups, they were told. One time a religious group had left the chairs outdoors for an entire weekend.
Appeals from our brothers failed. The authorities were adamant. Finally, after field service, a group of brothers called on the superintendent of the school system to make one last appeal. A brother explained to her that Jehovah’s Witnesses are well organized and honest, and that at our assemblies it is not uncommon for someone losing ten cents to recover it at the Lost and Found Department. Surely there would be no problem if the chairs were used by Jehovah’s Witnesses on this occasion, he reasoned.
Despite this plea, the superintendent remained unmoved. At this moment the silence was broken when the six-and-a-half-year-old nephew of one of the brothers ran in from the superintendent’s front yard, saying with excitement that he had found money in the yard. He handed five dollars to his uncle, who turned it over to the flabbergasted superintendent. “If any of my own children had found this money,” she confessed, “they would have pocketed it, viewing it as their ‘good luck’ from God.”
The brothers were permitted to use all the chairs available. She was going to relate this act of honesty to her religious prayer group, and if any other religion asked her why she allowed our brothers use of the chairs, she would reply that Jehovah’s Witnesses were honest, and she knew they would take good care of them. The 474 in attendance enjoyed the Memorial, and all the chairs were returned that same night.
In South Africa a former persecutor of Jehovah’s Witnesses has embraced the truth. One day when this man and his friends were discussing politics, a brother politely interrupted their conversation and introduced them to the Bible’s viewpoint on the subject. The men, eager for more information, bombarded him with questions. One of the men showed keen interest in the Bible’s answers. When the brother visited him at his house, he said: “I really want to read the Bible, but who can help me?” The brother arranged for a Bible study using the Zulu-language edition of the book You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth. Soon the man sheepishly confessed to the brother that some years previously he had lived in a country where Jehovah’s Witnesses were banned. While serving as a soldier in the army of that country, he persecuted the Witnesses. Now the truth has changed his life. He has become a zealous Kingdom proclaimer, who is happy to be carrying a satchel of Bible literature instead of guns.
Asia ‘Praises Jah’
“Praise Jah, you people!” is the ringing cry ending the book of Psalms. (Ps. 150:6) Read the following experiences to see how the lands of Asia have ended their service year with such a joyous shout too.
The Hong Kong branch observed an interesting trend during the past service year. Publishers are more alert to opportunities to speak the truth, and as a result, people not only are listening but are quick to show appreciation. Interested ones regularly attend meetings soon after starting to study the Bible. For example, the father of a young man died. In connection with matters relating to the death, the young man and his mother went to the office that had employed his father. Noting the young man’s grief, a brother working in the office spoke to him about the hope of the resurrection and gave him a copy of the book Is This Life All There Is? Not long after this, another publisher called at the young man’s door and placed with him the book You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth. The young man eagerly read the entire book and decided to attend a meeting at the Kingdom Hall. He was impressed with the warm reception he received and agreed to a home Bible study. After studying for one month, he is regularly attending meetings. Furthermore, he has now read the book Life—How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation? and is currently reading the book Worldwide Security Under the “Prince of Peace.”
An elderly pioneer sister from Japan regards the hospital waiting room as her territory. What theocratic strategy does she use? She sits and reads the Society’s publications, waiting for some curious person to stop and ask what her books are about. One day a voice behind her said, “What do I have to do to get a copy?” She turned and saw a young man of college age. He had been peering over her shoulder, trying to read the booklet In Search of a Father. “You see, I too am searching for my father,” he explained. The sister gave him the booklet and promised to meet him again at the hospital. A few days later she met him again. This time she encouraged him to read about another Father, Jehovah God. When contacting the young man after several months, she was surprised and elated to learn that he had found two fathers—one, his natural father and the other, the almighty God Jehovah. The young man, his mother, and his father now found practical admonition in the booklet. As a result, the whole family began to study the Bible with the Witnesses.
“This has been a banner year for us,” declares the Taiwan branch. Their average increase in publishers is 13 percent—the highest percentage of increase for the branch since 1959! Kingdom Halls built in several places a year ago are now filled to capacity.
In order to progress spiritually, newly associated ones must be willing to make adjustments in their lives. To illustrate: Several women who worked at the same factory started studying with missionaries. The truth’s effect soon became apparent. They refused to work overtime on meeting nights, a thing unheard of in most factories, where employees work long hours. However, their honesty and exemplary work habits soon earned them more responsibilities. They were assigned the trusted duty of keeping production records.
A problem arose in the factory when all the Bible students applied for the same vacation days in order to attend the district convention. The solution? The women agreed to come back to the factory each day after the convention and work for an hour at night. The company offered the women a full day’s wage for this service, but the women refused because they had asked for the vacation time to attend the convention and did not want to take a day’s wage for an hour’s work.
After their baptism, they desired to pioneer and so left that full-time job in an effort to find work with a more suitable schedule. Their former boss, though, approached the sisters and offered them each three days of work per week and agreed to their terms of “no overtime on meeting nights and days off for conventions.” The company figured that it would save money by rehiring the sisters. How so? Because they could work well without a supervisor. Also, they would not steal. The boss concluded that if the Witnesses are that faithful to their God, then surely they would be trustworthy in the company also.
The Philippines branch reports: “From the island of Mindanao comes this experience of keeping integrity in one’s place of work. A young sister in the city of Davao was working in the office of the mayor as a secretary. She was conscientious in her work, reporting early and not loitering at her job. However, her position was not permanent, so after a period of time it came up for review. The immediate head of her department did not recommend her for continued employment in that position. Instead, he offered her a higher position, provided she would have an immoral relationship with him. This she flatly refused even though it would mean the loss of her employment. She placed full faith in Jehovah and was rewarded. Her good secular work came to the attention of other officials. They moved her to another government office with a higher position and salary.”
Malaysia is registering new peaks in most features of service. Although the political and economic situation is unsettled, sincere sheeplike ones are hearing the voice of the Fine Shepherd. For example, a Bible study was started with a Eurasian lady and her sons. They lived in poverty because her husband was unable to support the family. Also, since childhood, her eldest son had been possessed by demons. For help, the mother often consulted the Chinese Taoist mediums and Malay medicine men (bomohs). As a matter of fact, to protect themselves against demon attacks, all in the family, including the father, wore a talisman (tangkal). When the family realized that Jehovah dislikes anything even smacking of spiritism, all removed their “protective” charms immediately except the father. That was a mistake. The father again came under demon attack. This time, though, the mother called out Jehovah’s name and prayed aloud for half an hour. Finally, the attack stopped. Thereafter, the father also removed his tangkal. One week later he found a job, and things began to turn around financially for the family. The man and woman also realized that they had to legalize their marriage, and the whole family is now progressing well in the truth.
The bursts of hot warfare disrupting the peacefulness of Sri Lanka have not dampened the spirit of Jehovah’s Witnesses in that country. They have enjoyed a 13-percent increase in the average number of Kingdom proclaimers. True, the conflict brought loss of belongings to some of the Witnesses, but so far, none have suffered physical harm. By adjusting the times and places to fit the circumstances and the governmental curfews, all congregation meetings have been held. This included circuit assemblies and district conventions as well as a pioneer school in the war-torn north.
Publishers, though, in the war zones of the north and east have had a number of narrow escapes. People have dug trenches and have covered them over with sandbags so that when bombs are falling and machine guns are firing from helicopters, they have places to hide. Religious and caste differences are quickly forgotten as people dive into these shelters for protection. During one bombing, Hindus huddled in a trench were shouting to their god Muragah for help. One who had learned about Jehovah told them to call out to Jehovah because he is the only God who could save them. This they all quickly did.
Also in Sri Lanka, a young pioneer called on an elderly Methodist who objected to her visit by saying, “How can a youngster like you teach me the Bible?” The pioneer replied: “Really, I didn’t come to teach but to share with you something I learned that made me so happy I just have to tell others.” The pioneer’s response aroused the old man’s interest. “Then tell me, what did you learn?” he asked. “I have learned how to live forever,” answered the pioneer. The pioneer was invited in and Scriptural matters were discussed at length. Now the elderly man is studying the Bible with the pioneer.
Latin America ‘Does the Work of an Evangelizer’
“Active” is a word that well describes our brothers living in the countries of Central and South America. They have been very busy ‘doing the work of an evangelizer’ this past service year, as the following experiences clearly show.—2 Tim. 4:5.
Brazil chalks up another year of expansion both in the number of Kingdom proclaimers and, more importantly, in the quality of their ministry. Memorial attendance was 23-percent higher than in 1986, with 657,784 persons in attendance. Six new peaks of publishers were reached, with a final peak of 216,216. There was also a peak of 261,423 home Bible studies conducted.
Quality was evident in the increasing number of Kingdom proclaimers entering full-time service and in publishers traveling to open up new territories. Ten peaks in regular pioneers were registered during the year. More than 750 publishers spent weekends and vacations in at least 110 previously unworked towns, with amazing results. Thousands of pieces of literature were placed, dozens of Bible studies started, and a number of public talks given. The following letter is a typical reaction of interested persons in these areas:
“I’m very happy that you sent two young ladies to my town, since it enabled me to get to know Jehovah’s organization. They were a real blessing to me from Jehovah. I’m sorry to learn that they will soon be leaving us. Please, dear brothers, if at all possible, let them stay with us a little longer.—R.M.P.”
A highlight of this service year for Brazil was the release of the new, large-print New World Translation Reference Bible in Portuguese. Several newspapers and magazines carried articles about it. Veja, a well-known newsmagazine in São Paulo, published an article with the heading: “JEHOVAH’S BIBLE—The most complete version of the Scriptures released,” stating in part:
“Last week, Jehovah’s Witnesses released in Brazil the Bible with the most abundant marginal notes and parallel texts on record. Entitled The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, the work was organized in the United States with the aid of computers and edited in a single volume of 1,600 pages. In Brazil, [the new Bible] has an initial printing of 50,000 copies, which is excellent. A good national edition has an average of 5,000 copies.”
The magazines printed in four colors are producing fine results in Brazil. Never before has the branch received so many subscriptions: 49,154 in one month. Vicente, a train engineer, travels a lot of the time and is limited in his door-to-door ministry. He read in The Watchtower that a sister had placed 59 subscriptions by offering them to her workmates. So he decided to try it. He set his goal at ten subscriptions for April. “I got a real shock,” he wrote. “I reached my goal in two days! So I raised it to 20 but reached that in seven days. A third goal of 30 was reached by the middle of the month. So I set my goal to place as many as did the sister whose experience I had read. Imagine my joy when I was able to report 68 subscriptions for the month!”
Another brother, on hearing the elders encourage auxiliary pioneer service, applied for it in March. He enjoyed it so much that he continued in April and placed 79 subscriptions in the two months, most of them at his place of work.
Even a four-year-old child did her part. A friend came to visit her family for a few days. One day the visitor felt like reading and complained, “Is there nothing to read in this house?” The young Witness, with hands on her hips, retorted, “So there’s nothing to read in this house? Just wait a minute.” She ran to her mother’s room, climbed up on a chair, and got a stack of her mother’s magazines, The Watchtower and Awake! She took them to the visitor and said, “Now see if there is nothing to read!” The friend enjoyed them so much that the youngster said: “If you want to, you can receive them at home by mail.” The result: two subscriptions.
Ecuador had representatives from 13 different nations working on their branch project this past service year. The high point for the volunteer construction workers was the time they spent in field service, despite the language barrier. Open-air markets, bus terminals, and the streets were ideal places for them to do witnessing. Often just displaying one of the illustrated books, such as My Book of Bible Stories, or a colorful brochure is sufficient to attract large crowds of people. A group of eight brothers from the construction crew preached in the market one morning and placed 73 books, 51 brochures, and 30 magazines. At another time, a group of four witnessed at the bus terminal and placed 133 brochures and 13 books. They could have placed more literature, but their supplies ran out.
An earthquake jolted San Salvador, the capital city of El Salvador, just as the service year got started. At least 14 brothers, as well as interested persons, were killed. Many Kingdom Halls and private homes crumbled. The quake’s greatest effect on the people was, not the pain from material loss, but the emotional shock it caused. On top of this, the continued political violence that sweeps the country burdens the people. Also, water and electricity are rationed for long periods of time, while inflation gallops away with the value of the people’s money.
In this dismal atmosphere, however, the brothers are spiritually optimistic because the branch has kept them busy in theocratic works. Help was organized for congregation members who lost their homes in the earthquake. Kingdom Halls were repaired. Then December brought a big spiritual boost—four “Divine Peace” District Conventions. The total attendance was 30,003, with 521 baptized. The Memorial was attended by 58,933—almost four times greater in number than their peak of 16,041 publishers.
North America and the Islands of the Caribbean ‘Bear Witness’
Whether persons are rich or poor, small or great makes no difference to Jehovah’s earthly servants; they will continue to ‘bear witness’ to all people. (Acts 26:22) Some householders may wonder why we keep calling after they have told us they are not interested. But there are very good reasons why we return. Consider this example from Canada:
A woman visited by two Witnesses made it quite clear that she wanted nothing to do with our religion. Later, while doing her housework, she began thinking about the Witnesses. Questions about our beliefs came to her mind. So she got into her car and drove up and down the streets to search for the two Witnesses. They were nowhere to be found. She then drove to her friend’s house, thinking they may have visited her friend. No, they had not stopped there, she was told. Her friend did say that she worked with a Witness and offered to get the two women together. The sister who was contacted explains:
“On the initial call, much to my surprise, there were five women present, who bombarded me with such questions as, ‘Why do you call yourselves Jehovah’s Witnesses?’ ‘Why do you go from door to door?’ and ‘Do you believe in Jesus?’ I spent three hours answering their questions. Since that initial call, I have returned an average of three times a month and have met with 5 to 15 people each time.”
In a six-month period of time, our sister placed 313 magazines, 171 booklets, and 272 books with that group. But now the sister says: “I make every effort to encourage the group to take advantage of our individual home Bible study program.” It will be most interesting to see what yet develops.
Schools are fertile ground for the sowing of Kingdom seeds. One young Witness from Canada says about the book Life—How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation?: “I decided to place it on my desk in such a way as to make it quite visible to other students. Five came over and looked at it. I pointed out its various features. Three students asked me to get them a copy. Next, I asked the school librarian if she would like one. She agreed to accept it as a donation to the library. The following day, she told me she had signed the book out already and asked for one for herself and another for a friend. Finally, my science teacher accepted two copies. The librarian has also asked for two more since then. I have found that if you put forth the effort, Jehovah will bless it. He blessed my effort with the placement of 11 books.”
Youths in Guadeloupe are also urged to make their school a territory in which to witness to their schoolmates and teachers. However, good conduct in school is also essential. Last December, in one class pupils were assigned to recite a lesson on Christmas. A young sister declined and offered to recite a lesson on another subject. The schoolteacher became furious and led the class in mocking our sister.
But by the third quarter of the school year, conditions had changed. The teacher confessed to the mother of our young publisher: “Jehovah is with you; he protects your daughter. Not only is her conduct excellent, but she also does excellent schoolwork, achieving good averages. I want to congratulate you. You have educated your child well. Just this afternoon I told the entire class that your daughter’s God, Jehovah, is the true God and is more powerful than the gods of the other religions because your daughter’s conduct is always respectful, while her schoolmates create disorder and do bad things.”
The Netherlands Antilles is a territory of linguists. Dutch is the official language. Papiamento is the native language, while English is the commercial language. Many people also speak Spanish because the Netherlands Antilles is a group of islands very close to the shores of Colombia and Venezuela. Thus, the average person speaks and reads several languages. “To our amazement,” writes the branch office, “the island of Curaçao, with a population of 171,500, has six daily newspapers, and they all stay in business year after year. Since the people here like to read, they read our literature too. They really appreciate our lovely magazines. One of the big events of the year has been the appearance of the Papiamento edition of The Watchtower in full color. No doubt this has helped us to increase our placements of magazines during the service year.”
It is no wonder that Martinique had a Memorial attendance of almost three times the number of publishers. People in that island make rapid progress in applying the truth. For example, one week after a pioneer sister and her husband started a Bible study with a married couple, the newly interested ones attended the book study and, soon after, all the meetings. One month later they were part of the audience at the district convention. Since the man was a leader of a trade union, the organization of the convention impressed him. What a difference in decorum from his union meetings! The man also associated with a group that practiced yoga. But now he said: ‘The Bible is a better therapy for calmness of mind and heart and is of so much greater help to resolve personal problems than is the practice of yoga.’ Eight months after his first study, he symbolized his dedication to Jehovah by water baptism, and his wife and eldest daughter are now publishers.
Europe ‘Proclaims Liberty’
While the threat of nuclear war hangs like a menacing cloud over Europe, Jehovah’s Witnesses proclaim a liberty that only Jehovah can bring. (Isa. 61:1) This good news is being heard even by those difficult to reach, as the following experience shows.
Austria made a concentrated effort during the past service year to reach people who are deaf. A young deaf man in that country found a copy of The Watchtower in the waiting room of a railway station. He was curious, picked up the magazine, and began to read. The word “Jehovah” puzzled him. ‘The name of one of Jesus’ apostles,’ he thought, and continued reading. One article touched his heart, and since it had always been his desire to teach people about God, he made a visit to the branch office in Vienna. There he received the address where the deaf have their meetings. He attended the first meeting that same week even though it meant traveling 56 miles [90 km] each way. His zeal has produced fruitage already. Another deaf couple are studying the Bible and are regularly at the meetings.
In Sweden the Lutheran State Church is struggling against the wind. Over 90 percent of the population belong to the church, but only a small minority attend church regularly. People resign their membership by the thousands every year. Clergymen in the southern part of Sweden are worried. They arranged two seminars to discuss the situation. Since Jehovah’s Witnesses are known as one of the fastest-growing religious groups in Sweden, the organizer of the seminar called the branch office and asked if one of Jehovah’s Witnesses could come and inform them about our beliefs, methods, and organization. A district overseer was sent. He gave a talk and answered their questions.
At the first seminar, held in February 1986, some 50 priests and other representatives of the church were present. They listened attentively, with a mild and polite attitude. After the session, 5 books, 25 brochures, and 30 magazines were placed.
The next seminar was held in February 1987. Some 20 clergymen, a professor of sociology of religion, and an assistant professor of theology at the University of Lund attended. When introducing the district overseer as a speaker, the chairman, a vicar, said: “First, I want to tell you that I am sure that none of us priests here would agree to preach on the same conditions as our guest speaker does. I know that he does it full-time and without a salary. On the contrary, we priests complain over our salaries, requiring more and more all the time.”
During the session, many questions were raised and the audience seemed to accept the explanations given. After the session, most of them lined up in front of the brother and asked for literature. About 25 brochures and 20 magazines were placed. A young clergyman told the brother that he admired our organization. “It’s amazing to see how you stick together in such a united belief and brotherhood in more than 200 countries around the world,” he said and sighed over the difficulties the church is having in Sweden.
Some 50 miles [80 km] from Madrid, Spain, are situated two high-security prisons where dangerous criminals and terrorists are incarcerated. In one of these prisons, which is being renovated, a room is being prepared to be used exclusively as a “Kingdom Hall” and study room for those who wish to consider the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. In the other prison, as many as 50 inmates regularly meet together to listen to recordings of the meetings held by the local congregation.
The prisoners who attend these meetings look different from other prisoners. They are neatly groomed and dressed, and they even wear ties, which none of the other prisoners do. A “No Smoking” sign is prominently displayed at the meeting location.
More importantly, these prisoners are applying what they are learning. One prisoner had been meticulously planning a bank robbery, which he was going to carry out after his release. He scrapped those plans because of the Bible truths that he had learned. Another has decided to marry the woman with whom he had been living for nine years. Yet another prisoner appeared at the meeting with a black eye. When asked what had happened, he cheerfully explained that a fellow inmate had punched him, but he was very happy because he had been able to hold himself in check and not return evil for evil.
‘Glorify Jehovah in the Islands of the Sea’
From the islands of the sea comes a voice that is truly glorifying the name of Jehovah. (Isa. 24:15) The island of Réunion, lying in the Indian Ocean east of Africa in the Mauritius branch territory, is one example of that voice. While busy in the preaching work, a young brother met a musician who already had some of our Bible publications. The musician belonged to a rock music band of five persons, who grew and sold marijuana. Nevertheless, the brother invited the musician to the district convention of 1986. Three from the band came the first day of the convention, and all five attended the last day. A Bible study was started with all of them. Four band members belonged to the same family, and despite opposition from their family, they destroyed their marijuana plantation. Next, they donated the microphone they used for their rock music to the congregation. Within three months, all five changed their lives to the extent that they qualified as publishers.
East of Australia you will find New Caledonia. During the past service year, this branch office sent several brothers to the islands of Wallis and Futuna, where the Catholic Church dominates the people’s lives and is strongly opposed to our work. Quite a few brothers from these islands live in New Caledonia. During a recent visit, the brothers met a college teacher from the Catholic Church. He told them that lately there had been some class discussions on other religions, and all the students wanted to speak about Jehovah’s Witnesses’ beliefs. After doing some research and listening to talks based on our publications, one student remarked: “It is surprising to see that those from our ethnic group who have become Witnesses seem to be more open-minded, more reasonable, and have a remarkable knowledge of the Bible. It looks as if this movement has succeeded in changing people. We do not see the same impact on people in our church.”
From the Pacific island branch office of Hawaii, we hear reports of young ones still in school who are also taking a stronger stand for Jehovah. “Because I was scared of getting a negative response from my classmates, I can remember when I used to give them the most simple reasons for my shunning worldly things,” admits one Witness girl. “Well, not anymore! I’ve learned to take each individual pressure and use it as an opportunity for further witnessing. It has improved my relationship with Jehovah and my own self-esteem.”
With such sincere efforts, she has placed much literature and conducted as many as seven different Bible studies. Her science teacher said to her: “I have talked to a few of Jehovah’s Witnesses before when they came to my door, but it took until this year through the discussions we’ve shared, the literature I’ve read, and your ability to speak up for what you believe to be right to finally broaden my understanding of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ organization. I have great admiration for your efforts and accomplishments, and now I can also respect your religion. Thank you for not clamming up and for taking the time to explain your faith to me.”
The young sister sums up her attitude toward witnessing at school this way: “One thing I’ve learned: Even though we are separated from the rest of the publishers and pioneers and from the field service meetings, we are never separated from our territory. For 30 hours a week, we have a territory no one else is able to work.”
Countries Under Ban ‘Sing of God’s Strength’
Jehovah’s influence frustrates the evil plots of opposers, thus enabling his earthly servants to ‘sing of God’s strength.’ (Ps. 59:16) Our brothers living in countries where the Kingdom work is banned cannot be silenced. Their evangelizing continues.
One day in November 1986, in an African provincial town, a small group of brothers who were gathered in a private home for the Service Meeting were arrested. Included in this group was the special pioneer who takes the lead in the congregation. He was badly beaten and kicked by one of the two policemen who had carried out the arrests. “He’s the one who keeps the others preaching in spite of the ban! It’s his fault that the others are in jail,” he yelled.
During the beating, the brother cried out to Jehovah for help and strength. The jailer who was watching told the one doing the beating that he had better stop, adding, “You should beware of mistreating servants of God!” This had an effect because the following day the policeman came to the brother to beg pardon for what he had done. “What I did was very bad,” he said contritely. He further confessed that he knew that Jehovah was the true God. The special pioneer and the others were released a week later. Now when the police see our brothers engaging in the ministry, they leave them alone.
In another African country, a congregation with only 35 publishers had 19 new publishers baptized. “The Watchtower saved my life!” said one of them previous to his baptism. Here is what happened:
He had been an official of the ruling political party. The head of the local guerrillas and his gang went hunting for this man. On arriving at his home, the guerrillas found him reading a Watchtower magazine. They asked him if he was a member of the church that published that magazine. He replied that he was not yet a member but was studying with the Witnesses and hoped to become one. They told him that they knew he was an area official of the ruling party, but “because of the magazine” he was reading, they were not going to kill him. They left him alive.
Excitedly, this interested person dashed to the meeting place and explained to our brothers that he would have been dead if it had not been for the Watchtower magazine. He was now determined to become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
In lands where persecution is prevalent, Jehovah can blind the enemy to protect his servants, as this experience from an African country shows. Notice of the circuit overseer’s forthcoming visit arrived at a congregation at the same time a brother was disfellowshipped. The disfellowshipped one became vindictive and told the police he knew the date of the circuit overseer’s visit, and he could lead them to the home and identify this “big fish,” an important man in our organization.
The authorities showed keen interest and anxiously awaited the occasion. Then, unexpectedly, the circuit overseer advanced the date of his visit to this congregation by several weeks. When the disfellowshipped man led the police to the home where he surmised the circuit overseer would be visiting, there was great disappointment. Upon learning that the police expected to arrest the circuit overseer, the brothers told the police that this informer was no longer one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. When asked why, the brothers answered that he was not living a Christian life and had therefore been disfellowshipped. Angered by falsely raised hopes and embarrassed, the police said: “Well, if he’s not good enough for you, he’s not good enough for us either,” and hauled the disfellowshipped man off to jail.
From an Asian country under ban, one of the pioneers met a young man at the door who showed keen interest in the Bible discussion. Since she did not have any literature with her, she promised to call back and give him something to read. The following week she returned. After a one-and-a-half-hour discussion, he took the book You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth. He said: “You know, I have been praying to God for three weeks to send someone to help me understand the Bible. I believe you are an answer to my prayer.” The sister and her husband now conduct a Bible study with this interested person.
In one Middle Eastern country, a brother was persecuted by his family; they considered him an apostate. When he told his mother that he was going to get married by a minister of Jehovah’s Witnesses, she adamantly refused his invitation to attend the wedding celebration. She considered her son’s marriage a form of adultery because it would be contracted outside of her church. At last, he convinced her to attend his wedding. She went reluctantly, but as she listened to the talk given by an elder, she started to weep. Her other son, also in attendance, was surprised. He asked his mother why she was sad. She said she had attended many marriage celebrations, but this was the first time in all her life that she understood just what marriage is, its reason and its meaning. She wept because she was happy. Now the mother and the other members of the family are in the truth.
Interestingly, in the March 15, 1987, edition of The Sunday Gleaner from Kingston, Jamaica, an editor, after reading the 1987 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses and commenting favorably about our rapid growth, concluded his editorial with this statement: “If the insistent urging to preach more is heeded in this service year, the 1988 Yearbook should be even more impressive.” Yes, after considering the report of our past service year, we can conclude that it is indeed “even more impressive.” Thus, thanks to Jehovah, from one end of the earth to the other the evangelizing work of Jehovah’s Witnesses continues.—Ps. 75:1.
[Box on page 27]
International Volunteer Construction Workers
During the month of November 1985, 11 volunteers—ranging in age from a 26-year-old single brother to grandparents 59 years old—left the United States for Africa. Their mission? To assist in the construction of a new branch facility in a country that serves more than 100,000 Witnesses. Since then, over 800 volunteers skilled in the construction trades and representing 12 branches have been helping on 13 branch construction projects. Some workers volunteered for a minimum of one year, others for a two-week to three-month stay. How do these volunteers and their families feel about such an assignment? Here are some of their expressions:
□ “For years I have worked hard, but in the world. Now all my energies go to Jehovah’s organization. To have nothing to do with the world is a relief, and to expend yourself for Jehovah is a physical, emotional, and spiritual joy.”
□ “It is difficult to explain the strong friendships that developed in the short time I worked on this project.”
□ “We as a family want to thank you for the privilege my husband had as an international construction worker. Even though none of us were able to go with him, his experience has benefited the whole family. It shows us how unified Jehovah’s organization is everywhere. Also, it helped him see how we can simplify our lives so that we, as a family, can serve Jehovah more fully.”
[Box/Pictures on page 24, 25]
Expansion at World Headquarters
In January 1983 the Society purchased in Brooklyn, New York, one half of a 200-foot-square [61 m] city block containing a nine-story factory building. This building has now been completely renovated. Then in December 1986 the Society purchased the other half of the same block containing another nine-story factory building. These two buildings are now connected to the original four-building factory complex by a bridge that is 161 feet long [49 m] and 14 feet wide. [4 m]
Since 1978 the Society has installed and put into operation in its Brooklyn plant eight Harris high-speed, four-color, web offset printing presses. (Four similar presses are in use at Watchtower Farms, about 100 miles [160 km] north of Brooklyn.) To keep up with increased printing demands for Bibles, during the past service year the Society purchased three more new offset presses. They are Hantscho five-unit, four-color, high-speed web offset presses. Two of these are two-web presses for book and magazine printing. The other is a 116-foot-long, [35 m] four-web press for printing on Bible paper. With this new press, the Brooklyn plant now has three presses for printing on Bible paper.
Additional property for housing the Brooklyn Bethel family was acquired in February 1987. The 11-story structure is located at 97 Columbia Heights and will have 127 rooms, with underground parking space for 30 cars. A hired contractor completed the shell of the building, and the Society’s personnel will finish the interior construction by approximately September 1988.
The two recently purchased nine-story factory buildings that occupy a city block
The newly built 11-story Bethel Home at 97 Columbia Heights
[Chart on page 34-41]
1987 SERVICE YEAR REPORT OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES WORLDWIDE
[Picture on page 7]
Portugal had seven publisher peaks, topping the 32,000 mark for the first time
[Pictures on page 15]
“Trust in Jehovah” District Conventions attract record crowds
[Picture on page 18]
Newly built Kingdom Hall, Kerala, India
[Pictures on page 26]
Branches where international volunteer construction workers assisted