1989 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses
THEY are coming! You can see them! The invitation has been going out worldwide, and a multitude of people thirsting for righteousness are on the move. What is the attraction? A free supply of extraordinary water. Anyone who wishes can drink this water and live forever! Who is the supplier? Jehovah God himself has opened the door of opportunity for mankind to imbibe life’s water free.
Centuries ago, Jehovah inspired the apostle John to write down this prophetic vision concerning our day: “The spirit and the bride keep on saying: ‘Come!’ And let anyone hearing say: ‘Come!’ And let anyone thirsting come; let anyone that wishes take life’s water free.”—Rev. 22:17.
How many will accept the invitation? John’s vision recorded in Revelation 7:9 had to become a reality. He saw “a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes; and there were palm branches in their hands.” With confidence in the vision’s complete fulfillment, during the decades of this 20th century the anointed remnant of the bride class have never let up in saying “Come!” Every effort has been made to broadcast the message to all nations. The result has been a wonderful blessing from Jehovah God upon this great work of inviting people to gain everlasting life.
The “Great Crowd” Answers
While there are fewer than 9,000 members of the Lord’s bride class residing on earth today, their joy has risen to great heights as they have been joined by more than 3,500,000 of the great crowd who have also come to take life’s water free. (Rev. 21:9) Still more people are enthusiastically responding to the invitation. Those of the great crowd have joined in saying “Come!” As their numbers grow, the worldwide invitation, “Come!” is amplified. More people are hearing. In turn, more hearers respond and say, “Come!”
How many more will listen and come? No human can say. Regardless of the eventual number, excitement reigns among those proclaiming the invitation, “Come!” because news pours in from all corners of the earth to indicate that increasing multitudes are fleeing Babylon the Great and flocking to Jehovah’s organization. Eagerly, all those serving Jehovah in these last days await the world reports each year in order to learn about the increase of international praise to God. Annual reports strengthen the hearts and hands of those working in the field ministry as these give thanks and praise to Jehovah, who is making his earthly organization grow.—1 Cor. 3:6.
Much effort has been put forth by those extending the invitation during this past service year. A peak of 3,592,654 Kingdom publishers shared in the preaching work, and a total of 785,521,697 hours are on record as having been spent in that noble activity.
The faithful inviters conducted 3,237,160 home Bible studies on a weekly basis in order to help those listening to appreciate Jehovah’s marvelous provision through Jesus Christ for their everlasting blessing. Besides spending these many hours evangelizing, our brothers generously used their time to associate with the interested ones. Faithfully, Jehovah’s Witnesses would take them to Christian meetings, such as the Memorial of the Lord’s death, which 9,201,071 attended last April. Here and at other meetings, interested ones could become acquainted with the organizational arrangements of the congregations. They could see firsthand how the spirit of Jehovah affects those serving him and causes them to produce the excellent fruitage of that spirit. Friendly association in the congregations means so much to those responding to the invitation.
In the 1988 service year, 239,268 were baptized, symbolizing their dedication to Jehovah God. The previous year, 230,843 were baptized. The invitation “Come!” keeps going out and is reaching the hearts and minds of more hundreds of thousands than ever before. Momentum is building up. What a thrill to watch the great crowd grow! True to his word, Jehovah is ‘speeding it up in its own time.’—Isa. 60:22.
A Worldwide Response
How exciting are some of the experiences enjoyed in this great invitation work! For example, in Austria, a Witness lent the book You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth to a busy restaurant owner. That was early in 1983. The woman read the book, not to satisfy her curiosity, but rather to be able to give it back again. What impression did the information leave? The restaurant owner relates: “After reading the first few pages, I was enthralled by what I was reading. I said to myself, ‘If all of this is true, I should know more about it.’”
A study was started with this woman, and she began to tell what she learned to her children. Soon they too began to share the good things with their friends and relatives. After she and the youngest son left the church, her husband began to oppose her. Did her faith survive? “With Jehovah’s help, my son and I successfully endured the pressure exerted on us by my husband,” she says. “In addition, I still had to conquer my unclean habit of smoking, which I did, and in July 1985 I symbolized my dedication to Jehovah by water baptism. After giving up the restaurant business, I started auxiliary pioneering in February 1986, and since June of the same year I have been one of the happy regular pioneers.”
One of this sister’s daughters was baptized in May 1985 and joined her in the pioneer ranks. The mother’s firm stand for the truth has also resulted in Bible studies with 36 persons, of whom 14 are already baptized and 17 have started sharing the good news with others. What a fine reward for faithfully sowing in a spiritual way!—Compare Ecclesiastes 11:6.
In Guam, the wife of the proprietor of a food market received the invitation to “come” and “take life’s water free.” Despite her strong Catholic family and community, she began studying the Bible. Right away she started to witness informally. She did not fail to speak about the truth to her husband and to encourage her own family and the store employees to study the Bible with the Witnesses. About a year ago, this woman was baptized, to the amazement of her longtime acquaintances.
When the woman’s husband asked her to keep managing one of their stores, her time for the door-to-door ministry was curtailed. Undeterred, she continued to witness boldly to her relatives as well as to customers and employees at the store. What were the results? Four of her fleshly sisters and three of her sisters-in-law started to study. Her husband is now investigating the Bible, and she is studying with her three children. A foreign-speaking youngster, a friend of her husband, is also having a Bible study. As for the store employees, five have started studying. What a delight to see some of her relatives and employees, and their children—a total of 50 persons—present at the Memorial of Christ’s death! Yes, the invitation to take life’s water can effectively be extended by informal witnessing.
Throughout Nigeria, there are thousands of native herbalists, and nearly all of these practice some form of demonism in connection with their healing. One even used to threaten to kill the Witnesses. When a brother called at his house, the herbalist grabbed some prepared medicine, uttered incantations, and blew it in the face of the Witness. “In seven days you will be dead!” he screamed, and he locked himself in the house.
The Witness returned home and contacted one of the elders. Seven days later and very much alive, he and the elder decided to visit the herbalist. As the brothers approached, he ran out the door shouting that he was seeing a ghost. Hearing the commotion, people gathered, and eventually he calmed down. Arrangements were made to see him in three days. Thus, a Bible study was started, and this herbalist came into the truth.
Young people also join in giving the invitation, “Come!” In France, in 1983 eight-year-old David attended the Bible study that Jehovah’s Witnesses conducted with his mother. The boy told his grandparents all about the things he was learning, especially the Paradise hope. He even said to them: “I want you to become Jehovah’s Witnesses and be with me in Paradise.” Although they were practicing Catholics, his grandparents were touched by their grandson’s insistence, accepted a Bible study, and were baptized in 1986. Meanwhile, David’s mother stopped studying, but he continued. Every weekend he cycled 20 miles [30 km] to his grandparents’ home to participate in the preaching work and attend meetings with them. He also witnessed to two of his uncles, who are now also studying. Through this young boy’s witnessing activity, four of his relatives have come to a knowledge of the truth.
Good Conduct Bears Good Fruitage
One brother in Brazil explains how his conduct at work produced good results. “Where I used to work, at lunchtime there was always a line waiting to be served. Some would wriggle or even bully their way in front of others, resulting in arguments and fights. One worker who carried a knife and a revolver with him was often in the center of these fights. He noticed that I did not get in line but would stand nearby until the line ended. So he asked me: ‘Why don’t you get in line?’ I explained and gave him a brief witness. He was intrigued by our name, Jehovah’s Witnesses. Instead of lunging into line the next day, he tried to provoke me. The conversation went like this:
“‘You say you’re a Jehovah’s Witness. Well, show me in the Bible where God says we should be his witnesses.’
“‘Do you have a Bible at home?’ I asked.
“‘No, but my neighbor does and I can borrow it. If you can show me in the Bible that God says we should be his witnesses, I’ll be one.’
“‘Be careful what you say!’ I warned.
“‘I’m a man of my word,’ he boasted.
“I wrote down for him the text Isaiah 43:9-12. Upon arriving home, he went to his neighbor, who helped him find the text. ‘That’s enough!’ he told his neighbor. He went home and announced to his wife: ‘I’m going to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.’
“‘You’re crazy,’ she answered. ‘How can you decide in one minute that you are going to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses?’
“The next day at work, the man came to me and said: ‘You’re right. I want to be baptized soon.’ I explained to him that it does not happen just like that but that he would have to study the Bible first. A study was started, and in due time not only the man but also his wife and nine children were all baptized. He is now an elder. Three sons are ministerial servants. One daughter is a special pioneer. And from the number of people he has helped into the truth, you could form a congregation.”
Construction Projects Give Witness
In Australia more than 100 new Kingdom Halls have been built in the last three years, with 85 of these being erected and completed in two or three days using the “quickly built” method. Outstanding among these was an air-conditioned hall erected in one weekend at Port Hedland in Western Australia. This remote mining town is situated on the northwest coast about 1,000 miles [1,600 km] from the state capital, Perth. Since the town is surrounded by miles and miles of desert, practically all the building materials and most of the labor force had to be brought in from Perth and places even farther away. The travel expenses of brothers who volunteered to help build the hall came out of their own pockets. How the small congregation of 97 publishers in Port Hedland appreciated the love shown by their brothers!
And what a witness it was in the town! Seeing brothers from more than 63 congregations working in the blazing 102° F. heat [39° C.] made an impression on the townspeople. Two local cosmetics firms donated $800 worth of sun cream to help the workers cope with the intense rays of the sun. Many citizens were amazed that so many volunteer workers would travel so far at their own expense, and the enthusiasm and cooperative spirit of the workers impressed local officials. One official said: “It is a credit to you. I have never seen anything like it done in such an isolated region.”
In February 1988 Japan’s new six-story factory was completed, and it has been in use since March. Based on the brothers’ previous dealings with them, the Ebina City Fire Department trusts their work. Fire officials told the brothers at the branch: “When it comes to observing fire regulations, you are the model for Ebina City.” On completion of the new factory, the branch applied to the fire department for the routine inspection of a new building. They expected the usual two or three representatives from the department to come. Instead, the branch was surprised on March 1 to have almost half the entire city fire department visit, bringing with them a fire engine and a rescue troop. The firemen came not just to inspect but to learn how to use the branch’s own fire-fighting facilities. The chief inspector was so impressed with the branch’s compliance with the fire regulations that he said: “Everyone involved in fire fighting in Ebina should see this.”
Joyful News for Despondent Ones
A sister in Argentina relates how she came to know the truth and how she extended the invitation to others. “It depressed me greatly to see people get old without being able to do anything to avoid it. My doctor suggested travel to distract my mind, but that did not solve my problem. I got married, but that inner anguish continued. Some years later a woman came to my door, asking the whereabouts of a neighbor who had studied the Bible but had moved away. I invited the Witness into my house, and for two hours she explained interesting things from the Bible. What impressed me was the fact that God promises a new system where death will be no more, nor will there be old age, sickness, or suffering. That very day, I began to study the Bible. Sad to say, my family began to oppose me, poking fun at the study or showing complete indifference. Nonetheless, with my little daughter I began to attend the meetings. As soon as I could, I traveled some 1,200 miles [1,900 km] to tell the rest of my family the marvelous truths that I was learning. How happy I was when some responded favorably and began to study the Bible too!
“With time, little by little, the opposition decreased as different members of the family began to listen and take an interest in the truth. My parents, my husband, five brothers, and several nephews took their stand for the truth. Today, there are over 80 adult Witnesses and more than 40 children spreading the wonderful news of God’s Kingdom, some as elders and others as ministerial servants. I thank Jehovah that he sent someone to help me overcome my depression and give me and my family the hope of living forever in his new world.”
Gennaro, a brother in Italy, reports how compassion moved him to invite a stranger to “come.” “While I was giving a public talk in a Kingdom Hall, I noticed a man in the audience who was paying more than the usual attention. At the close of the meeting, I greeted him, and he confessed to me that his family life was extremely unhappy. His wife was strongly opposed to the truth and had even chased the brother who studied with him away from the house with a stick.
“Somehow I lost contact with the man. Later, I heard from the brother who had studied with him that he was at a hospital in a nearby town for treatment of a lung disorder. I went to the hospital, and since I did not know his surname, I began searching for him in each room. Finally, I found him. He was thin, disheartened, and depressed. When he saw me, though, joy spread over his face. He told me that he had had no visits from his relatives for months, and his wife could not come to see him very often either. I began a Bible study with him that day. After seven months, he was discharged and went home. His wife began to study, and a few months later both were baptized.
“Later this brother told me: ‘Remember the day you visited me in the hospital? Well you arrived just in the nick of time. A few minutes later, I would have put an end to it all by jumping off the balcony. But your words encouraged me, particularly when you assured me that I could become part of the largest family in the world, that of Jehovah’s organization.’”
In a country in Africa where our work is under ban, a man with some health problems also accepted the invitation to “come” and is now inviting others. Before learning the truth, many years ago he was stricken with tuberculosis and became paralyzed. Feeling hopeless because of being confined in a hospital, he contemplated suicide. Then he met some Witnesses who were also hospitalized there. A Bible study was started, stirring hope in this man’s heart. When he was transferred to another hospital, a special pioneer continued the study with him, and the local brothers would help him attend the meetings. Eventually he was baptized. After his physical condition started to improve, he became an auxiliary pioneer. Gaining strength from Jehovah, he later became a regular pioneer, and for the past ten years, he has served as a special pioneer.
How does this brother accomplish his preaching work? By moving about on crutches or in his wheelchair. He follows narrow jungle trails to get to his territory, which extends 18 miles [30 km] out of town. During the past two years of the ban, he has never missed his goal of 140 hours in field service, and most of the time he reports 160 to 180 hours a month! When brothers are arrested, he is the one who fearlessly goes before the officials in their behalf and gives a witness. What a source of encouragement he is to all who suffer in a physical way!
Are you having a full share in proclaiming the Kingdom message? May Jehovah bless you richly as you extend to others the grand invitation, “Come!” and “take life’s water free.”
Jehovah Satisfies Our Needs
Our heavenly Father knows just what we need and when we need it. The “Divine Justice” District Conventions, beginning in June 1988 and continuing into 1989, serve as an example of how Jehovah lovingly satisfies the needs of his people.
Concerning the convention program, the February 15, 1988, issue of The Watchtower said, “Be assured that Jehovah has in store for us ‘a banquet’ of good things that will strengthen and stimulate us for the work ahead.” The realization of that assurance greatly exceeded what was anticipated. Telephone transmissions of portions of the program at conventions held in the United States, Canada, Asia, and Europe had a significant unifying effect. As one report said, “It was electrifying to hear a mighty ‘Aye!’ when the resolution with its powerful exposé of Babylon the Great was adopted. The telephone tie-in with the key city was certainly outstanding.”
At many conventions missionaries expressed appreciation for the provision enabling them to be present. A pioneer at Vancouver, Canada, after hearing experiences by missionaries said: “I can’t describe how hearing all the missionaries strengthened my faith.”
More than 1,440,000 attended the conventions in Canada and the United States. In Europe over 1,100,000 benefited from the program. Vienna, Austria, was the key city for conventions in that country as well as for certain cities in West Germany, Luxembourg, and Switzerland. Over 80,000 heard the talks transmitted by telephone. More than 2,000 were in attendance at the Hungarian session. A brother representing the 3,600 that enjoyed the Yugoslav program exclaimed, “This was the convention of conventions.”
At conventions in Spain and Italy, the number baptized was exceptional. For example, it was 3.5 percent of the peak attendance in Valencia, 4 percent in Seville, and 4.2 percent in Oviedo. In Italy it was a similar story.
In Greece a new stadium in Piraeus was to be used, but the contract was canceled because of opposition from the Orthodox clergy. Within two days, the brothers arranged for the convention at Malakasa. There they have a fine Assembly Hall and a large open area, which accommodated upwards of 18,000. If the clergy thought that cancellation of the stadium in Piraeus would stop the convention, how wrong they were! Their opposition only resulted in wider publicity and strengthened the determination of the brothers.—Phil. 2:12.
During August, conventions in Venezuela and Brazil drew nearly half a million people. Typical of the fine publicity was a Brazilian radio report stating that “Jehovah’s Witnesses are giving a show of faith. They are giving an example of civility and faith very different from the soccer fans who give a show of litter.”
In the Far East, 88,120 were in attendance at conventions in Korea, and 2,130 were baptized. The Korean conventions were completed just before the Olympic Games started in that country. The manager of the Seoul Chamshil Gymnasium commented: “We are in the midst of preparing this facility for the 1988 Olympics in Seoul and they are only 50 days away. However, because of your reputation in the past, we let you use it.” Japan reported that 240,355 were at 33 of their conventions, with 3,828 being baptized. After the release of the Revelation Climax book, there was seen a steady stream of thousands of pioneers waiting in line to get their free copies of the book.
In the Caribbean, Kingston, Jamaica, was the key city for conventions in Antigua, Barbados, Guyana, and Trinidad. The peak attendance was reached Sunday afternoon, when 36,867 turned out to hear the public lecture.
With more than 4,000,000 having already attended these conventions by September, further reports on the “Divine Justice” District Conventions are awaited from countries in the Southern Hemisphere.
A new feature for circuits to enjoy spiritual fellowship and instruction started in the last service year. This involved one-day gatherings called special assembly days. A circuit overseer from the United States offered this observation: “The emphasis on personal study of the Bible and the publications and then making a greater effort to apply personally what we learn was very beneficial.”
During the 1988 service year, Kingdom Ministry Schools were also held for the benefit of elders and ministerial servants. The Zambia branch office writes: “The school, using the Watch Tower Publications Index 1930-1985, was right on time. So much of the information covered was just what our field needed.”
In addition, last year the Ministerial Training School began. What was it, and how will it help us?
Ministerial Training School Inaugurated
The Ministerial Training School was inaugurated on October 1, 1987, at the Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, Assembly Hall in the United States. Three members of the Governing Body, Brothers Jaracz, Klein, and Schroeder, participated in the program attended by over 1,600 brothers from the Pittsburgh area.
What is the school’s purpose? With the harvest ingathering numbering well over three million, the time is here for qualified men not only to take the lead in the evangelizing work but also to shepherd the flock and teach in the congregation. So the purpose of the Ministerial Training School is to equip men with spiritual qualifications to take on further organizational responsibilities.
What is the school’s curriculum? The eight-week course includes an intense study of the Bible. Administrative, judicial, and organizational matters, along with the responsibilities of overseers and ministerial servants, are considered, and specialized training is given in public speaking. The instructors give much personal attention to each student’s spiritual development.
Sunday, November 29, 1987, was graduation day for the 24 elders and ministerial servants of the first class. They received assignments to serve in ten countries. The second class of 26 elders and ministerial servants was held in Los Angeles, California. They graduated on Sunday, May 22, 1988, and will take up assignments in 11 lands. In Pittsburgh as well as in Los Angeles, the city overseer, Assembly Hall overseer, the two instructors, and a Governing Body member addressed those in attendance.
Altogether, congregations and territories in 15 lands will be benefiting from the services of brothers who went through the first two classes. This reminds us of the words found at Micah 4:1, 2: “And it must occur in the final part of the days that the mountain of the house of Jehovah will become firmly established above the top of the mountains, and it will certainly be lifted up above the hills; and to it peoples must stream. And many nations will certainly go and say: ‘Come, you people, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will instruct us about his ways, and we will walk in his paths.’ For out of Zion law will go forth, and the word of Jehovah out of Jerusalem.”
Did the students benefit from the school? Yes! A letter of appreciation from the first class expressed how they felt about the school course: “Without question, we have become more capable ministers. Truly, we as a class unanimously agree that this school has been the highlight of our spiritual lives.” A letter from the second class stated in part: “The course has exceeded all our expectations. None of us could have anticipated how thorough and intensive this would be . . . As we go to our respective assignments, we will endeavor to apply the fine counsel we received during the eight weeks.”
As to future prospects for expanding the school’s operation, four additional traveling overseers were trained as instructors during the first year. In a number of foreign countries, unmarried elders and ministerial servants who are interested in attending this school were interviewed. Arrangements have also been made for some English-speaking brothers in certain lands to meet with the district overseer when they attend their circuit assembly. These steps will make it possible for many more to benefit from the school and to be used wherever there is a need in the worldwide field.
Branch Dedications Bring Joy
“The congregations continued to be made firm in the faith and to increase in number from day to day,” wrote Luke as he described the speedy growth of Christianity in the first century. (Acts 16:5) Likewise in our 20th century, the steady yield in the number of Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide is solid proof that the call of the Lamb’s bride, “Come!” is being answered. (Rev. 22:17) What a cause for rejoicing! Along with that jubilation, too, comes the expansion of existing branch offices and the building of entirely new ones, with factories and Bethel Homes. For that reason, eight branch dedication programs were conducted during the past service year. Let us take a quick look at these exciting developments.
October 11, 1987, was a day of good cheer for our brothers in Ecuador as the new branch office complex was dedicated by Brother Daniel Sydlik of the Governing Body. During his stirring dedication discourse to an audience of 5,500 persons, he said: “For a sacrifice to be meaningful to Jehovah, it must first mean something to us.” How true those words were, since over a three-year period, more than 200 Ecuadoreans and 270 other Witnesses from 14 countries had come to work at the branch site at their own personal expense! Even a 12-year-old boy wanted to contribute to the construction project and made, perhaps, the most heart-touching contribution of all. While dying of leukemia, he asked his mother to send his contribution of S/118 sucres (59 cents) to the brothers at the branch.
In 1977 a brother out of his kindheartedness had donated an 84-acre [34 ha] strip of land, just about 11 miles [18 km] from the city limits of Guayaquil. Here the branch complex and Assembly Hall were built. Now that these beautiful buildings are completed, they will have a share in spreading the name of God by their very location. Each year hundreds of thousands of people motoring their way to the beaches will pass by this new branch complex.
Papua New Guinea
The date: December 12, 1987. The occasion? The dedication of a new branch office in a land of 700 languages—Papua New Guinea. And, the speaker? Brother Robert W. Wallen from Brooklyn headquarters, who, serving as zone overseer, gave the dedication talk to a happy audience of 564.
More than 35 years ago, in December 1951, two zealous Witnesses, Tom and Rowena Kitto, first brought the truth to the capital of Papua New Guinea, Port Moresby. By 1955, 61 publishers were busily preaching the good news. Today, the branch counts a peak of 2,023 publishers.
A branch was established there in September 1960, and the living room in the house of a publisher served as the first branch office. Later, the branch moved to a larger building. But the growth of the Kingdom work called for further expansion. So in May 1982, planning for a new branch office and home began. Based on plans drawn up at Brooklyn headquarters, a four-story building that includes residence, office, and factory space was constructed by volunteers from Australia, New Zealand, and, of course, Papua New Guinea. A total of 200 full-time workers (averaging 54 at any given time) donated their time and labor over a four-year period. In accord with the strict migration and labor laws in this country, the Government Labour Department requested that we train one Papua New Guinean with each volunteer worker on the project. Thus, 30 local brothers and sisters learned trades on the site.
The branch office has a unique appearance. For the first time in Papua New Guinea, colored concrete block was used on a building. There were times when workers felt exhausted and inadequate to cope with various problems, but Jehovah infused them with “power” to overcome their weaknesses. (Isa. 40:29) The new branch stands not as a monument to a builder but as testimony to the fact that Jehovah’s spirit has been operative on his imperfect servants. What happiness filled the hearts of our brothers when the final touches completed the project!
Aquila and Prisca used their house for theocratic purposes back in the first century. (1 Cor. 16:19) Likewise, a loving, humble brother in Guyana let his home be used for a branch office from 1914 until 1946, the year the first branch office and missionary home building was acquired. In 1946, the peak of publishers was 91. However, the 1987 service year saw a peak of 1,353 publishers. Plans to build a new branch office resulted from this fine increase.
A noble feat was accomplished by the hardworking sisters on the building project. They operated a makeshift cement-block factory. About 120 of them in teams of 10 to 12 at a time and using 16 molds were able to produce some 12,080 cement blocks in 55 days. The building itself could tell quite a story!
On weekends the building site was alive with volunteer workers from the local congregations. The country’s prime minister and his entourage even visited the work site and made complimentary remarks. One local carpenter commented: “You people are getting first-class work done on your building.”
On the evening of January 14, 1988, Brother Don A. Adams from Brooklyn headquarters, visiting as zone overseer, delivered the dedication discourse to 1,935 people gathered in the spacious auditorium of the National Cultural Center in Georgetown.
The truth has been preached in Ghana since 1924, but Saturday, January 30, 1988, will go down in the history of this land’s branch as a day to remember—new branch facilities were dedicated. The dedication discourse was given by Brother Theodore Jaracz of the Governing Body to an audience of 3,812 persons. The buildings have provided a powerful witness to Jehovah’s name. For example, a sister from the midwestern United States, whose unbelieving husband attended the Investment Conference for Ghana at the Kwame Nkrumah Conference Center in Accra, writes:
“While my husband was attending the conference, the Center was frequently referred to as the second nicest building in Ghana. This caused him to ask his guide, a Ghanaian building contractor, ‘What’s the nicest building?’ The guide answered: ‘Some church those Jehovah’s Witnesses built!’”
Among their many visitors during the year were 40 students and lecturers from the architecture faculty of the University of Science and Technology at Kumasi, some 200 miles [300 km] north of Accra. The group was so impressed by the new branch that the university’s lecturers proposed making the tour a periodic arrangement.
Ghana’s first branch opened its doors in Accra on January 1, 1948. Toward the close of the 1960’s, the 7,000 publishers had outgrown the “one-room” branch office. So a two-story, eight-bedroom Bethel Home was built. It was dedicated on March 19, 1963. Expansion took place again in 1973, and then in 1978 the present 18-acre [7 ha] property was acquired to accommodate printing operations.
Rain was falling early in the morning on April 3, 1988, in Honolulu, but the spirit was not dampened for the 5,870 who gathered in an arena to hear the refreshing dedication discourse given by Brother Milton G. Henschel of the Governing Body. Another 2,838 brothers, assembled on Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island of Hawaii, were tied in by telephone line for the day-long program originating in Honolulu. This dedication program concluded a whirlwind of theocratic activity that had begun in late March when several members of the Governing Body shared in the celebration of the Memorial as well as special assembly days on the islands of Kauai, Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii. What a grand spiritual occasion that proved to be in the 70-year history of Jehovah’s people in Hawaii.
How was property found on an island where building lots are at a premium? In 1985 a former supermarket building was put up for sale. Since the location was ideal, it was purchased in November of that year. After completing extensive planning and remodeling, in August 1987, office operations were transferred to the new location, which also accommodates two Kingdom Halls. The Bethel family settled into spacious new quarters located on the second floor.
When Charles T. Russell, the first president of the Watch Tower Society, visited Honolulu in 1912, there were no Bible Students in the islands. Today, Hawaii has 72 congregations and a peak of 5,729 publishers.
Throughout the years of Kingdom activity in Hong Kong, Jehovah has never failed to provide what is needed at the right time. All were reminded of this fact on May 7, 1988, when a new building was dedicated to Him by Brother Lyman A. Swingle of the Governing Body. But why the need for this new building?
Let us take a brief look at what has happened in Hong Kong since September 1, 1950, when a branch office was first established on Tai Po Road to care for all of nine publishers. Several years later, the branch was moved to 312 Prince Edward Road. By 1979 a search began for another location, which seemed an almost impossible task in this crowded city. Then one day a sister noted in a newspaper that a property was for sale at 4 Kent Road, Kowloon Tong. This was purchased, and the branch moved to a clean, quiet suburb ideally located in relation to the congregations throughout the colony.
The number of publishers reached the 1,000 mark in June 1983. Just four years later, the 1,600 mark was attained. To take on more work, the Bethel family would have to increase.
All efforts to purchase property on either side of the branch complex were in vain. Then one day a letter arrived in the mail advertising property for sale on the same street just four doors from the branch. When the brothers went to see it, they could hardly believe their eyes! Here was a modern building that had never been used. Yes, this became the new addition to Bethel. It is the building that Brother Swingle dedicated.
In Portugal, where, as a famous poet said, “the land ends and the sea begins,” fishing is one of the main activities. But in recent decades in this small European country on the Atlantic Coast, a different type of fishing has taken place, affecting the lives of multitudes of its almost ten million inhabitants.
On May 13, 1925, a spiritual fishing work began when Brother Rutherford visited Lisbon and gave a talk to a gathering of more than 2,000 persons. However, difficult years lay ahead for Jehovah’s people. The work was banned, our brothers were harassed and imprisoned, and the branch office operated underground from different homes.
As if struck by lightning, an old dictatorship was suddenly brought to an end by a political revolution on April 25, 1974. And by December, religious liberty for Jehovah’s people officially arrived. A large 20-room home was rented in February 1975 in Estoril to serve as the branch office and to care for the work not only in Portugal but also in Madeira, the Azores, Angola, and São Tomé. Ten years later this proved to be inadequate, for the number of publishers had swelled to 28,984. Thus, land for new facilities was sought and found, and an outside firm was contracted to put up the reinforced concrete shell. The rest of the construction project was completed by volunteer workers, all Witnesses.
How could such a large complex be financed? Although Portugal is not a wealthy country, the brothers contributed “beyond their actual ability” and were richly blessed for it. (2 Cor. 8:2-4) One family with five children consulted together to see what they could do to help. The daughters contributed their jewelry, and a son the money he saved for a bicycle. In a letter to the branch, the father wrote: “This contribution is the result of the sale of three bracelets, five rings, and a pair of earrings, besides the money from the children’s piggy banks.”
The dedication program was held on Saturday morning, April 23, 1988, in the new Kingdom Hall and was transmitted by closed-circuit television to the factory and by telephone hookup to the Restelo Soccer Stadium in Lisbon. The morning program concluded with the faith-stirring dedication talk by Brother Milton G. Henschel.
In the afternoon, Brother Henschel traveled to the stadium and spoke to an all-time record attendance of 45,522 persons on the theme “Will the Stones Have to Cry Out?” The facts prove that the stones will not have to cry out in Portugal, as the new August peak of 33,739 publishers testifies. Now in Portugal there is 1 Witness preaching the good news for every 291 inhabitants.
Cyprus, the third-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, has been the scene of Christian activity ever since Paul and Barnabas set foot there in 47-48 C.E. (Acts 13:12) With a population of some 620,000, the island is made up of Greek, Turkish, Armenian, and Maronite communities.
In modern times, the truth was introduced into Cyprus in 1924. From 3 publishers of the good news in 1925, the number increased to 59 in 1948 at which time the first branch office of the Society was established. By the time a new branch office and Bethel Home were built in 1969, the number of publishers had risen to 485.
But things changed dramatically in 1974. The use of the branch office came to an abrupt end. A coup to overthrow the president took place, followed a few days later by the invasion of the northern part of Cyprus by troops. During the fighting, the branch was evacuated as bullets penetrated the shuttered windows. So from 1974 the work was directed from a building that originally served as a missionary home in Limassol, the second-largest town in the island.
A building in Nissou, a small village more than 12 miles [19 km] from the capital, Nicosia, was bought and renovated. Brother Carey Barber of the Governing Body dedicated the new branch premises on August 2, 1988.
Those thirsting for righteousness are invited to “come” and receive Jehovah’s bounty. The continent of Africa is hearing that call and is responding enthusiastically. For example, in countries of East Africa under the oversight of the Kenya branch, runaway inflation and the pall of famine hovering over the brothers have not prevented them from enjoying a wonderful year of theocratic activity.
Physical handicaps have not hobbled the determination of whole-souled servants of Jehovah in Kenya. A brother with unbelieving parents was stricken with polio when a child and as a result needs crutches to walk. In order to attend meetings, he would walk nine miles [15 km] on Saturday, stay at the place of meeting overnight, and on Sunday walk the nine miles [15 km] back home. The joy, encouragement, and fellowship received from the meetings kept him going. Finally, after months of watching him walk back and forth to the meetings, his parents were convinced that he could not be deterred. Hence, they offered to assist him with money for transportation.
In a country cared for by the Kenya branch, there lived a high official of a political party. When our brothers were hauled before him and falsely charged with wrongdoing, he was always impressed with their fine behavior. Thus, he sometimes used his position, in absence of his superior, to release our accused brothers. In the meantime, he had political troubles with a powerful rebel leader operating in the area. The government assigned the official to hunt down and kill this rebel. To counter the government’s move, the rebel faction vowed to execute the government official. Subsequently he was transferred to the capital city, wrongly accused, and imprisoned. Before his release from prison, he met Jehovah’s Witnesses and accepted a copy of the book The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life. When he arrived home, a Bible study was started with him and his wife.
Meanwhile, the former rebel, who by now had settled down and was employed as a schoolteacher, also started to study with the same brother who was studying with this government official. By coincidence, these former enemies met at the brother’s home. What a shock! But gradually their hatred and distrust melted away. Both progressed in the truth along with their wives, and both were baptized on the same day.
At our place of work, how important is a good example of morality? One answer can be found in Senegal. A young man studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses read an issue of The Watchtower featuring the topic of honesty and saw the need to apply the advice on his job. So he installed locks on gas tanks to prevent fellow employees from stealing gas from the company’s cars. The employer noticed that much less gas was being consumed than usual and inquired why. When he learned of the young man’s actions, he rewarded him for his honesty by appointing him supervisor over the whole shop.
On the island of Madagascar, two pioneer sisters called at the house of an elderly man, who startled them with the question: “The soul is dead, isn’t it?” The man, thinking the pioneers were part of Christendom, expected them to answer: “The soul is immortal.” Instead, they countered: “What do you think?”
“The soul is dead,” the elderly man said firmly. “We agree with you on that, Sir,” the pioneers responded. Astonished, he asked them how he could explain this subject to others. A Bible study was started at once. The man confessed: “I’ve been praying to God for a long time to show me the truth. I have found it now, and I thank him so much.”
Our stand on neutrality often becomes a protection to us, especially when rival political groups take the law into their own hands and ruthlessly kill anyone who does not agree with them. Patrick, a brother living in South Africa, looked forward to his cozy bed after spending a pleasant evening with his family. Sudden loud banging on the door of his house shattered his peaceful sleep.
“Open up!” shouted members of a political youth gang, “otherwise we will break down your door and windows.” Courageously, our brother opened the door and faced the mob.
“Didn’t you hear that tonight we must all go and attack the house of the induna [military leader]?” they asked. Our brother explained that the reason he had not heard about it was that most people from his area know that he does not take part in fighting. “Get your weapons and prove yourself a man,” the youths demanded.
The brother reached for his sword of the spirit, the Bible, along with the Society’s publications and told them: “These are the only weapons I have.” Just the same, they forced him to go to their camp in order to explain his neutral stand to their leaders. Upon the brother’s arrival, a local youth who knew the brother exclaimed: “Why did you bring this man here? He is a Bible student. Let him go, and if there are any complaints about it, I will bear all the consequences.” Thus, neutrality became our brother’s key to freedom.
Jehovah’s people in the lands of Asia perform the Kingdom work diligently. Like a good farmer who “sows bountifully,” they have ‘reaped bountifully.’ (2 Cor. 9:6) In Burma a schoolteacher noticed a student who had a magazine hidden among her books. The teacher snatched it away. It was a Watchtower. On the spot, the teacher read it from cover to cover with keen interest.
After class, she asked the student where she had obtained the magazine. “From those people who go from house to house” was the reply. The teacher was anxious to meet those people. Her wish came true. A short time later, a pioneer called at her home. A home Bible study ensued. Now this teacher, a mother of six children, also teaches Bible truth by going from house to house as an auxiliary pioneer.
The influence of tradition and conformity runs strong in Israel. Often it is easier for Israelis in some other land to consider the Kingdom message objectively. For example, Keren set out to see the world after completing her military service in Israel. While living in the United States, she met Jehovah’s Witnesses. Enthusiastic about learning true Bible teachings, she had several Bible studies each week and regularly attended the meetings. She rapidly progressed to the point of dedicating her life to Jehovah. Was she apprehensive about returning to Israel because of opposition to her newfound faith by some of her family? No, she eagerly returned and serves regularly each month as an auxiliary pioneer.
An Israeli named Rami, after moving from country to country with his wife and their children, spoke with Jehovah’s Witnesses in New Zealand and liked what he heard. In the meantime, his parents, who lived in an area of Israel not preached to by the Witnesses, visited Rami. He had often witnessed to them by letter, but when they heard the good news of the Kingdom from the lips of their son, the father asked: “Why haven’t we been told this by our rabbi?” The parents began attending all the meetings and sat in on the Bible study the Witnesses conducted with Rami. Their stay of four months was long enough to convince them that they had found the truth. On returning home to Israel, the parents were ready to witness to their many relatives and friends and to face the resistance that many would show toward their new outlook on life. Immediately upon arrival, they contacted the nearest congregation, and since then the brothers have been conducting a Bible study with them.
To attend all the meetings, Rami’s parents travel a round trip of close to 80 miles [130 km]. Since their family is well known, news of their association with Jehovah’s Witnesses has spread like wildfire throughout their hometown. In order to attract attention to the good news, the father lays out a display of the Society’s publications in his business office. Thus, as a result of Kingdom seed sown far away in New Zealand, a good witness is now being given in that part of Israel. What happened to Rami and his wife? They were baptized last June.
A sister in Pakistan, new to the house-to-house activity, had her trust in Jehovah strengthened. When engaged in the field ministry, she and her companion were detained in a house by young men who objected to their preaching Christianity. One of them phoned his father, a police official, telling him to come and arrest the publishers. When the father arrived and saw the Watchtower magazine, he told his son not to interfere and said, “This is their faith, and they must preach this.” The young men demanded that the police stop them from preaching. The father, in a stern voice, told his son and the other young men: “If you wish to stop them, then you preach to them and convince them.” So the two publishers quietly left, fortified by the experience.
Ponchaleo, a young woman from a village north of Chiang Mai, Thailand, faced great pressure from her parents because of desiring the truth. Her parents were among the founders of the local church. Ponchaleo, however, was not deterred from studying the Bible, and she continued her Bible lessons at the home of brothers or at the Kingdom Hall.
Although she lives more than 12 miles [20 km] from the Kingdom Hall, she attends regularly. This is remarkable when you consider her physical condition. Several years ago, a severe attack of rheumatoid arthritis left her handicapped. Her physical condition has not affected her meeting attendance, but it has forced her to be largely dependent on her parents for financial support. However, sisters in the congregation taught her how to make sweets that she could sell at the market in her village. At first this small business venture brought ridicule from her parents and friends who thought that Ponchaleo would never earn enough money to help support herself in any appreciable way. Much to the surprise of her family, she is able to earn enough to pay for expenses incurred in attending meetings and even assemblies and conventions. With determination and faith, she resigned from the church and in February 1987 started in the field ministry. She has been a zealous publisher ever since. In July 1987 she was baptized at the circuit assembly at Phitsanulok.
Jehovah’s holy spirit empowers his organization to accomplish a great spiritual educational work. Thus, the words recorded at Isaiah 11:9 are finding fulfillment today: “The earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea.” This divine education has had a good effect, too, in secular educational circles.
For example, the brochure School and Jehovah’s Witnesses has helped our young brothers and sisters gain the respect of school authorities in Belgium. An educational officer for the city of Oupeye-Liège wrote the following letter of January 29, 1988, to all the headmasters:
“You are no doubt aware of the fact that during recent years the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses has greatly developed . . . This fact is nothing more than one of mankind’s phenomena that we have no right to ignore . . . In order to inform you, . . . I have chosen to forward to you photocopies of School and Jehovah’s Witnesses, a booklet edited by the Witnesses themselves. I would be grateful if you would see to it that, as far as possible, the totality of the wishes expressed in this booklet be respected by your teaching staff.”
Children of Jehovah’s Witnesses should earn high marks for their decorum in school. In Belgium, Nadia’s fourth-grade teacher disliked Jehovah’s Witnesses intensely. Just the thought of having a Witness in her class made the teacher so irascible that she would not only belittle Nadia constantly but also scream at the other children and strike them. One day, because of all the swearing in the class by the students, the teacher ordered each child to go to the blackboard and write a swearword as well as its meaning. She warned: “Anyone refusing will have points taken off the report card!”
“Madame, you can pass me up,” Nadia politely said. “I prefer to have fewer points than to write these words!” The teacher, though, did not back down. So Nadia marched to the blackboard, and next to each vulgar word spelled out by the students, she wrote, “IMPURITY.” Nadia thought that she had received ten points less, but what a relief to hear the teacher announce: “Nadia has a mark of 100 percent and all the others zero, as she is the only one knowing that these are words one should never use!”
Not-at-homes in the field ministry is a recurring problem experienced by our brothers in Britain. Pioneers have made intense efforts to tackle this problem. When Carol and Catherine decided to work the not-at-homes between six and eight in the evening, they had excellent success. “People are much more relaxed at the end of their working day,” they relate. “Many that listened had not been called on regularly, some even acknowledging they had never met us—and this in houses we have called on for years.” Another pioneer, who decided to find people before they left home to go to their jobs, started field service before eight o’clock in the morning. Over a period of time, she cleared up all her not-at-homes, placing 12 books and 108 magazines and starting two magazine routes and two prospective Bible studies. Are you also trying to be adaptable by changing your schedule to suit your territory?
The Greece branch reports that on an island near the coast of Turkey, an archbishop tried to hinder the Witnesses in their preaching activity. By means of a tract entitled The Great Problem: JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES, he broadcast throughout the island that a renowned theologian would be visiting to deliver a lecture on that subject. The Witnesses were regularly studying with one family among the 1,500 inhabitants of a certain village on the island. So the theologian was asked to visit this family to bring them back to the bosom of the church. A deacon was sent to inform the family of the theologian’s forthcoming visit. The interested man and his family explained to the deacon that they welcomed this visit. However, the theologian did not come alone. With him was the village priest, as well as the deacon and another church official. The interested man responded to all their questions by using the Bible. His answers to questions concerning the Trinity, God’s name, and other topics silenced them. Finally, the theologian turned to the three accompanying him and asked: “Why did you bring me to this leader of Jehovah’s Witnesses?” The interested person interjected: “Oh, I’m just new. I’m not even baptized!” The theologian, taken by surprise, clamored: “Let’s leave this place right now!”
Three hungry children, an unemployed husband, and substantial debts swayed Nati in Spain to accept an offer for quick money. She agreed to transport illegal drugs between North Africa and Spain. Because she was a novice to criminal activities, her nerves gave way, raising the suspicions of the border police. In desperation, Nati hid the bundle of contraband in a toilet. Her ploy was uncovered, and she was jailed on the serious charge of drug trafficking. Nati vehemently denied that the parcel belonged to her, and after a few days, she was released from jail.
Three years later, Nati started to study the Bible. She then learned that the court case against her was still pending and that, in fact, she had been sentenced in absentia to a five-year prison term and a fine of 300,000 pesetas ($2,419). Nati’s husband insisted that out of love for their four children—the youngest being only two years old—she should either not show up in court or, if she did, at least stick to her original claim of innocence. But Nati’s conscience had been touched by Bible principles, and she was now determined to tell the truth. With her Bible in hand, Nati explained to the judges her poor financial circumstances that led to the original error. She told the court of her newfound beliefs that not only obligated her to tell the truth but would impede her from ever doing anything unlawful again. “Jehovah knows that I have repented,” she concluded.
The verdict? Just two months’ probation! Nati is more convinced than ever that honesty pays, and thanks Jehovah and his Word for helping her.
Spain has Europe’s highest unemployment rate, so Faustino was overjoyed when his job application was accepted on a two-week trial basis, even though he had explained that he would have to leave work early two nights each week in order to attend his religious meetings. However, on the very first day of the trial period, he was surprisingly offered a permanent work contract. Why such an action for a worker unknown to the firm? One of the company’s directors mentioned to a client that they had hired one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. “If he is really a Witness, don’t let him go,” replied the client. “You can’t find workers like him anymore. They are truly reliable.”
How our heavenly Father must be pleased when he observes the activity of his people worldwide. At Psalm 149:4 we read: “Jehovah is taking pleasure in his people. He beautifies the meek ones with salvation.” Our brothers in Latin America have surely been exerting themselves to receive God’s good pleasure.
One day, a sister in Bolivia went to visit a lady who was interested in subscribing for The Watchtower and Awake! As she and the accompanying sister were standing at the door, she suddenly realized that they were calling at the wrong house. Before the householder came to the door, the other sister said, “Let’s leave!” However, they calmed down and reasoned that since they had already knocked, they had better wait and talk with anyone who answered.
Cheerfully, the housewife greeted our sisters as if they were long-lost friends. With a warm smile, she said, “You always come on a morning when I don’t have time to listen.” The householder invited our sisters into the house, and an exciting Scriptural conversation followed, with the householder accepting literature. When our sisters returned the following week, a Bible study was started with the householder, and in spite of her husband’s opposition, she made good progress. At the past district convention, she was baptized.
A missionary sister assigned to Bolivia started a Bible study with Josefa, who had been an unbaptized Kingdom publisher 15 years ago. She stopped associating with Jehovah’s Witnesses because she had been offended. On the very first study, the perceptive sister kindly considered with Josefa what the Bible says about accepting counsel and discipline. She quickly saw the practical value of the Bible’s counsel and accepted the information appreciatively. Josefa decided that no longer would she allow her past wrong attitude to prevent her from progressing in the truth. She is planning to be baptized and is already making arrangements to auxiliary pioneer.
The Pioneer Service School continues to have a positive effect in Chile, stimulating newer pioneers to stick with the full-time ministry and helping them to be more effective evangelizers by emphasizing personal interest in other people. One morning a pioneer sister, who had attended the school, was busy in the door-to-door ministry. At one home a maid answered and said that she was too busy to speak with our sister, because the woman of the house was sick in bed. The sister asked the maid to take the Awake! magazine to the sick woman and recommended that the maid show the woman the article on good health.
The sister relates: “I asked the maid to convey to the woman of the house my wish that she would recover from her sickness quickly and to tell her that, at another time, I would be happy to talk to her about the Bible’s promise of a paradise earth. When the maid returned, she invited me into the house. I entered the lady’s bedroom and saw that she was advanced in age and very sick. She had a sad look on her face. I explained my reason for calling, and she was surprised. She said she had decided to talk to me because even though I didn’t know her, I had expressed my wish for her recovery, and that made her happy.” A Bible study was started. Today that woman attends congregation meetings and has made needed changes in her life, hoping one day to become one of Jehovah’s dedicated people. How important it is to show personal interest in others!
Not all opposers really hate the truth, as is shown in the following experience from Paraguay. One day a man was contacted by a Witness and showed some interest in the truth. However, his father, a church minister, quickly forbade any communication with the Witnesses. The father threatened to break off all ties with his son if the son continued to receive the Witnesses into his home. For this reason, the son canceled all visits with the publisher. When his wife began to study the Bible, the son, like his father, began to oppose to the point of becoming violent. He would not allow the publisher to visit his wife in the home or even to pass in front of the house. The wife still wanted to learn more about the Bible, so the publisher continued the study by mail.
When this man discovered that his wife not only was still studying the Bible but was getting serious about the truth, his opposition increased. Even his children became fearful of him. He began to drink heavily and gamble. His wife endured all of this throughout the following seven years. But deep down inside, he felt remorse over his bad conduct.
Finally, the husband agreed to have one of the Witnesses visit him again. What a happy surprise for the wife and children when he agreed to have a home Bible study. When problems with the demons began to interfere with the family’s progress in the truth, the elders helped the family rely on Jehovah to gain the victory. With time the attacks passed. Together, the man and his wife have dedicated their lives to Jehovah and have taken steps toward baptism. This onetime strong opposer of the truth is now serving Jehovah happily along with all his family.
A man in Uruguay, whose sister is studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses, was sitting on a bench in the town square, when a scared five-year-old boy, the son of a Witness, came running toward him at breakneck speed. He was looking for protection from another boy who was chasing him and throwing stones at him. Pointing to the naughty boy, the young Witness said: “Bad boys like this one are going to die at Armageddon.” The man was surprised to hear the word “Armageddon” come out of the mouth of such a little child. He recalled having heard that word before, from his sister. So he asked the boy just what Armageddon was. On that very morning the boy had studied this subject with his mother, and so he was able to give the man a good explanation. Impressed by the child’s knowledge, the young man’s interest in the truth was whetted, and he asked for a Bible study. As the psalmist says: “Out of the mouth of children and sucklings you have founded strength.”—Ps. 8:2.
North America and Caribbean Islands
Malcolm, a young married man living in Canada, had been only casually acquainted with the truth when he became involved immorally with a woman whom he later murdered in a fit of jealous rage. His problem had always been an extremely volatile temper and an inability to control himself. When being sentenced to prison, he was described by a psychiatrist as “a homicidal killer.” On June 2, 1982, Malcolm received a lengthy prison sentence.
While in prison, he entered into discussions with various members of the clergy, sometimes sitting in on their religious services, but received no satisfying answers to his questions. Finally, through a prison worker who is one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, arrangements for a regular Bible study were made in April 1985. Malcolm has made major changes in his life since that time. His transformed outlook on life and his improved conduct have impressed prison officials, psychiatrists, and fellow inmates. His appreciation for the truth prompts him to share what he has learned with fellow prisoners, averaging 60 to 70 hours every month talking to them about the Bible.
As a result of Malcolm’s witnessing activity, one man recently released from prison is now attending meetings in another part of the country. Malcolm was given a day pass on January 23, 1988, that permitted him to attend a circuit assembly, accompanied by an unarmed guard from the prison. The next month, February, Malcolm, having been baptized, was approved as an auxiliary pioneer, and he plans to continue auxiliary pioneering on a regular basis. He hopes to become eligible for day parole in 1993 and a full parole in 1996. Thus, people from all backgrounds are responding to the good news.
Magazine witnessing is increasing in the Cayman Islands, with many people taking special interest in the articles. A brother who is a pioneer placed the Awake! magazine featuring “Women in the Workplace” with a businessman. After reading it, this man was so impressed that he decided it should be read by all his female employees. To make sure they would read the article, he made a photocopy for each one, attached a piece of paper to each copy, and asked that after reading the article, they sign on the paper to indicate that they had read it.
In Jamaica a sister was admitted to a hospital for surgery. She notified the hospital that she would not permit any blood transfusions. When one of the doctors asked her if she preferred to die without blood, she replied, “It is not that I want to die, but for Scriptural reasons, I will remain faithful to my God even if it means death.”
The next day the doctor returned and challenged the sister to show him where the Bible prohibited blood. She invited him to read Acts 15:28, 29. After reading the scripture, he responded, “But this does not say not to take blood transfusions.” The sister asked him: “Suppose you told your patient to abstain from alcohol, does that mean he must not drink it but can find other means to get it into his body?” Before the doctor could reply, a nurse who was listening to the conversation interrupted and said that she knew of a doctor who told one of his patients not to drink alcohol. The patient stopped drinking alcohol, the nurse continued, but poured it on bread and then ate the bread. The point was made, and the sister’s doctor said no more. He accepted an issue of the Awake! magazine containing an article with the experience of a Witness who was critically ill, yet refused a blood transfusion and survived. The doctor later read the magazine and encouraged other doctors and patients to read that magazine, too. The sister had her operation without blood and is recovering satisfactorily.
The brothers in the Leeward Islands spared no effort to attend the series of circuit assemblies and special assembly days during the past service year. They traveled by boat and car and, in some instances, on foot. On the mountainous island of Dominica, Penny, a sister with two sons, James and Thomas, was denied use of either of the family’s two automobiles for travel to the circuit assembly at the capital, Roseau, some 35 miles [55 km] from their home in the mountains. Undaunted, the trio set out on foot, ready to trek uphill and downhill. By the time they reached the outskirts of their village, they met their first obstacle—an overflowing river. Penny removed her shoes and was ready to cross, but James, age 11, was not as tall as his mother, and Thomas, age 5, was even shorter. The boys were afraid to attempt this scary venture. Observing their plight, a young man standing nearby carried the two boys safely across the river.
Off the trio hiked again, this time another mile or so before a driver in a car recognized them and offered them a ride, but only for a short distance. When he learned of their predicament, he felt pity and drove them another ten miles [16 km] to a coastal town, Portsmouth. Now they were still some 25 miles [40 km] from the assembly site. However, they were determined to get there, and between walking and getting more car rides, they finally arrived at their destination just in time for the start of the program.
In Trinidad and Tobago the brothers are having good success in using the new tracts. One Witness, named Anderson, has been very conscious of displaying them in his shirt pocket when traveling to and from work. Of the four tracts, the one with which he has the best success in spreading the good news is What Hope for Dead Loved Ones? With this tract, only the little girl’s head can be seen just above his pocket. Usually, that is enough to provoke the question: ‘What is that picture?’ or, ‘What tract do you have there?’ It gives him excellent opportunities to explain what the Bible says about the condition of the dead and the hope for their future.
Anderson relates: “In my office, one of the women asked about the tract. During our conversation, I not only shared with her the Scriptural message in the tract but explained all about our printing facilities, the many books and magazines that we publish, and the topics that they cover. She was impressed with my answer and then inquired if we had a Bible book for children.”
The next day, Anderson brought her the publication My Book of Bible Stories. She was simply overwhelmed at seeing the positive, bright, and simple presentation, with the related Bible verses at the end of each story. Because of her enthusiasm over the book, other women in the office requested literature for themselves too. Anderson concludes: “I placed ten Bible Stories books and three other publications, and every day I still make sure that I have my tracts sticking out of my shirt pocket.”
Islands of the Pacific
A song composed for the worship of Jehovah expressed well the Israelites’ contentment and happiness with their God. They jubilantly sang out: “Jehovah himself has become king! Let the earth be joyful. Let the many islands rejoice.” (Ps. 97:1) Yes, the islands of the sea have reason to be happy for their part in extending the invitation to come and drink of the waters of everlasting life.
The importance of setting personal goals is highlighted by an experience from one sister in Australia. During a recent two-month subscription campaign, she set a personal goal of 50 subscriptions. She felt she could obtain one subscription a day for the first month and then place 20 during the second month.
She relates: “I prayed regularly to Jehovah about my goal and then worked hard to make sure I reached it. Sometimes I had to go back three or four times before the householder had enough money to pay for the subscription. Return visits were made in the evenings and some early in the morning. One lady even offered to bring the money to my home, which she did.” Imagine the sister’s joy when she reached her goal—31 subscriptions during the first month! Did she get the 20 subscriptions the next month? Yes, indeed!
During the next few months, by following up on the interest, this sister started several Bible studies. Although not all the studies have continued, many individuals renewed their subscriptions. One interested woman is having a regular study in the book You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth and is making good progress. The sister relates: “I feel that all that I was able to accomplish was a result of setting a goal and being positive. One really needs to rely on Jehovah and work hard. Proverbs 10:22 is certainly true in my case: ‘The blessing of Jehovah—that is what makes rich, and he adds no pain with it.’”
The printed page of The Watchtower is powerful. It can change the attitude of its readers. In the Solomon Islands, people in some villages are still afraid to receive the Witnesses openly, since their religious leaders vehemently object. On one of the reef islands, when entering one of these villages to go from house to house, the publishers were attacked and told never to enter the village again to preach. The publishers live only one mile upstream and have to pass through this village every time they go to other places. Nevertheless, the people made them feel unwelcome. However, their attitude has now changed. They even greet the Witnesses. What happened?
Witness children who usually play at the river with homemade toy canoes started to use pages of old, discarded Watchtower issues as sails. They would let the water carry their little canoes downstream. Unknown to the Witnesses, the children in that other village would pick up the canoes. But who would collect the sails? The adults who are able to read would do so. As a result, the villagers changed their attitude toward the Witnesses. Even though they are still afraid to receive them openly, they are now friendly to them.
In Tuvalu, cared for by the Western Samoa branch, the year started with the Pioneer Service School, which has given added impetus to the preaching work. As a result, two pioneer sisters spent two months as temporary special pioneers in the island of Nanumanga, where 200 persons had attended the Memorial. Between them, the pioneers conducted a total of 21 Bible studies. At a recent church conference in Funafuti, the Protestant pastor from Nanumanga gave a sermon expressing his concern that most of the people on his island are attracted to the Witnesses and only a few “wise ones” have rejected them. He said that each morning he sees women waking up early and preparing their homes to receive the sisters who will be coming to conduct their Bible studies. The women are so interested in their Bible studies, he claimed, that when a child cries, they take the infant in one hand and keep on looking up scriptures in the Bible with the other hand. While he may have exaggerated matters, it does bear testimony to the effectiveness of the preaching of the truth on that island.—Phil. 1:15, 18.
At times, those who come from affluent backgrounds receive much family opposition because of their interest in the truth. One brother’s father is part owner of a large supermarket chain in Hawaii. The family expected him eventually to fill a management position. However, on becoming a Witness, the brother was happy to remain a store clerk. There was much turmoil for some time as family members tried to pressure the brother and his wife to change their mind. Because of the fine example set by the couple, the opposition has diminished. Our brother is now a ministerial servant and is still content to be a stock clerk, much to the amazement of his family and other employees.
Countries Under Ban
Fearlessly, the brothers stay loyal to Jehovah in countries where the Kingdom work is banned. Like David, they say: “In God I have put my trust. I shall not be afraid. What can earthling man do to me?”—Ps. 56:11.
Our brothers were living peacefully in the southern part of one African country when in 1975, because of their neutral stand, they were seized and hauled off to prison camps in the northern part of the country. They lost all their possessions. In the camps, at first they held their meetings in secret but later could meet openly. While living in the camps, they diligently worked in the fields—growing crops and raising chickens, pigs, and other livestock. Soon the resistance movement heated up the persecution and shattered the brothers’ normal living routine by harassing them, looting their possessions, and even murdering some of them.
Our brothers had to flee, and again they lost everything they owned. However, with cooperation from representatives of two relief organizations, the government arranged to fly our brothers back to the capital city, where the majority had resided originally. Many arrived destitute. Some were so poorly clothed that they felt too embarrassed to leave the airport. They asked themselves: “What are we to eat? . . . What are we to put on?” (Matt. 6:31) But Jehovah God provided. News about their plight was reported to the brothers in South Africa, who quickly arranged for relief supplies—83 tons of food and clothing. With the help of the Red Cross, the supplies were promptly delivered to our brothers. Congregations were soon reorganized. Their spiritual state today? Jehovah is richly blessing them. They have actually passed the peak number of publishers they had in 1975 when persecution started.
On account of the economic conditions in another country, most people eat just one meal a day. This has forced some, but not all, pioneers out of the full-time service and into secular work. Because of local difficulties, the expense reimbursements of the special pioneers often arrive late. With no food in the house, the wife of one special pioneer became discouraged and begged her husband to start secular work again. He encouraged her to trust in Jehovah fully. After praying together, they heard a strange noise in the darkness of the night. Quickly, the brother grabbed a lamp and spotted a type of armadillo under the table. He wasted no time capturing this highly prized meat, which solved their food problem for a few more days.
On another occasion after unsuccessfully searching for food, he met hunters who had captured a jackal but did not know what to do with their prey. Their religious custom prevented them from eating such meat. They asked the pioneer for his view on food. He explained that Christians are no longer under the Law covenant and that any flesh could be eaten as long as it was bled properly. That convinced the hunters, and they promptly killed and bled the jackal. They also gave the pioneer a big piece of meat to take home for his family!
Therefore, no matter what part of the globe we may call home, Jehovah, by means of his holy spirit and through the Lamb’s bride, is still sounding forth the invitation, “Come!” and “take life’s water free.”—Rev. 22:17.
[Chart on page 34-41]
1988 SERVICE YEAR REPORT OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES WORLDWIDE
[Picture on page 5]
Last year 239,268 people were baptized in answer to the call, “Come!”
[Pictures on page 14]
In Italy, part of the crowd attending the “Divine Justice” District Convention in Verona, and delegates in Leinì examining new book
[Pictures on page 19]
The first class of the Ministerial Training School graduated on November 29, 1987, and the second class graduated on May 22, 1988
[Picture on page 22]
In the South American country of Guyana, the new Bethel Home is a clay-brick structure. Dedicated January 14, 1988
[Picture on page 22]
The U-shaped building of the Ecuador branch houses the offices, kitchen, dining rooms, laundry, and residence rooms. Dedicated October 11, 1987
[Pictures on page 27]
The Papua New Guinea branch has residence rooms on the upper levels. The building also has an infirmary, a library, offices, a recording studio, a laundry, a kitchen, and a dining hall. Dedicated December 12, 1987
[Pictures on page 28]
The factory, offices, reception area, and Kingdom Hall of the Ghana branch are grouped in the form of a big “U.” Dedicated January 30, 1988
[Pictures on page 29]
The branch facility in Hawaii includes offices, a conference room, a dining room, and a kitchen. Also located in this complex are two Kingdom Halls. Dedicated April 3, 1988
[Pictures on page 30]
The residence block of the Portugal branch has 40 rooms, with a service wing. Solar heat is used. The four-story factory building has an office area and a Kingdom Hall. Dedicated April 23, 1988
[Picture on page 33]
In Cyprus, the branch has four apartments facing gardens. A Kingdom Hall was built alongside the property. Dedicated August 2, 1988
[Picture on page 33]
The new Hong Kong branch adds to the Kent Road facilities six bedrooms with bathrooms, a kitchen, and a dining room that can comfortably seat up to 36 persons. Dedicated May 7, 1988