1990 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses
The proof is everywhere. You see it in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas, and far-flung islands of the sea. ‘Proof of what?’ you may ask. That increasing multitudes are glorifying God and proving themselves genuine disciples of Jesus Christ.
How are they doing this? By bearing much fine fruit. This is what we should expect, for Jesus himself said: “My Father is glorified in this, that you keep bearing much fruit and prove yourselves my disciples.” (John 15:8) When someone selects literal fruit for the table, he looks for fine quality. Should we look for anything less in the life and works of those who claim to be Christ’s disciples? Since quality is important, it should be conspicuous in the activity and way of life of everyone who is serving God.
In glorifying God, Christians also serve the vital interests of their fellowman. Hence, their work is in striking contrast to the usual tasks of humans. What specifically is their big work? At Matthew 13:18-23, Jesus illustrated the point for us. In Mt 13 verse 23 of that passage, he identified those persons getting the sense of the word of the Kingdom as the ones who really do bear fruit, producing 100- or 60- or 30-fold. Therefore, the work of true Christians is to bear fruit—to proclaim that the Kingdom is God’s instrument for ushering in blessings of endless life for earth’s inhabitants. That is what Jehovah’s Witnesses have been doing throughout this century. In 1989 they produced fruit in even greater quantity than ever before by preaching the good news of the Kingdom to people in 212 lands.
What makes Jehovah’s Witnesses so different? It is our Bible-based message and the godlike qualities associated with our vital work. Jesus stressed certain essential qualities that his followers would cultivate and display. At John 13:35 he told them: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.” No matter where they would serve in the worldwide field, this Christlike, self-sacrificing love would identify them.
They would also have the joy their master had. (John 15:11) Not only would they have joyful prospects but their witnessing would bring them joy. Furthermore, though living in a troubled world, they would have peace. (John 14:27; 16:33) This unique peace they would retain even though the majority of people would reject their message.—Matt. 10:12, 13.
Love, joy, peace—these qualities are first among those listed at Galatians 5:22, 23 as fruits of the spirit. Producing these and other godlike qualities while engaging in the Christian ministry and in all aspects of our daily life glorifies God and wins his approval. (Matt. 7:17-20) By bearing much fine fruit, we, the worldwide association of Jehovah’s Witnesses, are giving overwhelming evidence that we are walking worthily of the glorious name we bear and that we are true disciples of Jesus Christ.—Col. 1:10.
Exulting in Our Spiritual Paradise
Long ago Jehovah foretold the flourishing spiritual condition that his nation of people now enjoy. (Isa. 51:3) With the extension of our spiritual paradise comes an increase in the number of people inhabiting it. (Isa. 26:15; 60:22) Thus, what a joy to see so many peaks in the number of publishers during the last service year! While the average number of Witnesses each month was 3,624,773, there was a peak of 3,787,188 who shared in bearing fruit. It was the greatest year ever for the amount of time spent in Kingdom preaching, a total of 835,426,538 hours being devoted to the great work that glorifies Jehovah.
To prove that they truly are Christ’s disciples, Jehovah’s Witnesses make it a point to teach others all the things that Christ Jesus has commanded them. That is why they conducted 3,419,745 home Bible studies each month on the average, resulting in the baptism of 263,855 new disciples during the year. The potential for multitudes of others to become actively associated with Jehovah’s people can also be seen in the fact that 9,479,064 attended the Memorial. Consider now some of the absorbing and fascinating experiences and reports for the past service year.
Sowing and Reaping Bountifully
Despite great internal political unrest in Panama, the branch reports another fruitful year for Jehovah’s Witnesses. The total of 731 baptized this past service year was more than three times the number of persons that were baptized the previous service year and was about 13 percent of all the publishers in the country. The number of publishers enrolled as regular pioneers continues to increase, and there are now about three times as many as there were in the 1984 service year.
Our brothers on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe have had seven peaks in publishers. The latest one in May, with 5,980 reporting, makes for a ratio of 1 publisher to 55 inhabitants. Are the brothers discouraged because of calling repeatedly on people in the territory? The branch answers: “No, not at all!” As a result of their frequent visits, the number of home Bible studies reached a peak of 8,438.
In Jamaica love displayed by the brothers has resulted in a fine witness. When Hurricane Gilbert struck the island, 35 Kingdom Halls were damaged. Also, 11 other Kingdom Halls along with 238 homes belonging to the brothers were destroyed. This triggered a great outpouring of love by the international brotherhood. Volunteers from the United States, Canada, and the Netherlands Antilles along with the local brothers repaired and rebuilt the damaged structures. The branch writes: “A lady who has been studying and attending the meetings had her house repaired by the brothers. This had a marvelous effect on her, and since then she has become a publisher. Her sister, noticing the love shown, asked for a Bible study. One month later, she submitted a letter of resignation to her church and has been attending congregation meetings in spite of ridicule and opposition.”
Increase continues in Costa Rica. “What a joy it was for us to reach a peak of 12,001 publishers this service year!” reports the branch. “Also, in January 1989 we were overjoyed with the number of auxiliary pioneers, 2,007 as compared with the 785 of our previous peak.” And Malaysia writes: “The 1989 service year has proved to be a very joyful one.” Last February the brothers passed the 1,000 mark in publishers. Subsequent new peaks brought the total to 1,102. The Memorial attendance was a new peak, 2,790.
Fine conduct on the part of our brothers includes being “peaceable with all men.” (Rom. 12:18) This attracts honesthearted ones. In Kenya a woman was antagonistic toward the truth and forbade her children to play with Witness children. However, after some time, she approached her Witness neighbor to ask what made Witnesses so different. “You never fight. Your family is so peaceful,” she said. A Bible study was started with her, and today this woman is in the truth.
In New Zealand a Church of England newsletter alarmingly referred to “a crisis of faith.” It mentioned that some country churches are closing down and that it was no longer possible to sustain a paid ministry in all country areas. In contrast, the branch report from that country comments: “In evidence of a living faith, a peak of 11,007 Kingdom proclaimers—a 9.6-percent increase over the previous year’s average—shared in making ‘public declaration for salvation.’”—Rom. 10:10.
In war-torn Lebanon, as in other restless spots on earth, it takes great faith to attend meetings and share in preaching the good news. While the brothers were attending a meeting at their Kingdom Hall, bombs began to explode nearby. As the heavy bombardment continued and got closer to the building, many of the friends attending the Watchtower Study became increasingly distressed and worried. Sensing this, the overseers warmly and calmly encouraged everyone to put his confidence and trust in Jehovah, who guards the souls of his loyal ones. (Ps. 97:10) After surviving that ordeal, they thanked Jehovah for their safety.
A bountiful harvest is being reaped in Portugal. Five years ago the branch cared for a total of 34,091 publishers in six territories. Now there are 48,044 publishers. This is a 41-percent increase. The peak number of home Bible studies reported in all territories was 61,657, a splendid 64-percent increase during the five years. Some months, several congregations in one country had more reporting as pioneers than as publishers. For example, one congregation reported 10 regular pioneers, 83 auxiliary pioneers, and 58 publishers. They still consider their territory productive, as they report 99 home Bible studies, and this in a city where the publisher to population ratio is 1 to 160.
An act of kindness can be a stepping-stone in helping others learn the truth. While walking home from field service, two Portuguese publishers noticed an elderly woman who appeared to be ill as she got off the bus. They stopped and asked the lady if she needed help. She was so surprised that two complete strangers would show interest in her that she insisted on knowing what it was that sparked such a kind gesture. This opened the door for a brief witness. The lady readily gave the sisters her address and warmly invited them to visit her. The return visit was made, and a home Bible study was started. Soon the lady destroyed her idols, started attending meetings, and is now sharing Bible truths with friends and family alike.
Informal Witnessing Bears Fruit
Jesus counseled his disciples to let their light shine. By doing this at every opportunity today, Jehovah’s Witnesses reach many people with the good news. A brother in Brazil reports: “I always keep my Bible and literature in my locker at work so I can witness during the lunch hour. I placed the book You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth with a male nurse in the factory. At about the same time, another brother placed a copy of the same book with a female nurse, who merely put the book away in a drawer. A third nurse found that book and read it through in seven hours, enjoying it immensely. She talked about the book to the male nurse with whom I had placed a book, and he introduced her to me. I invited her to a meeting, and she came with her three children. A Bible study was started with the family. One of the daughters is now preparing for baptism. The mother and the other daughter share in the field service, and the husband is studying and attending meetings with them.”
In a Central American country where our work is restricted, a brother waiting at a bus stop offered two tracts to a young man who was also waiting there. A fine conversation about God’s Kingdom ensued. Finally both had to leave. Several months later a visiting speaker came to the brother’s congregation accompanied by a young man. When this young man saw the brother, he approached him and said: “Do you remember me? I am the man you talked to at the bus stop some months back. A few weeks after you gave me the two tracts, I accepted a Bible study. Today I am a publisher and plan to be baptized soon.”
Building More Kingdom Halls
As the ingathering continues during this harvest season, there is a need for more Kingdom Halls. Despite some opposition from religious circles in Italy, the branch there writes that Jehovah’s Witnesses are “emerging from makeshift halls, such as garages, warehouses, basements, and shops, and are now gathering together in fine Kingdom Halls or Assembly Halls in full view of the public eye.” There are now 12 Assembly Halls in Italy. One was inaugurated this past summer, and another three are under construction.
In Chile more than 50,000 home Bible studies are being conducted, and the Memorial attendance was three times the number of publishers. The branch says: “It has become quite urgent to build more Kingdom Halls that dignify Jehovah’s worship, and this has been an outstanding development during the service year.” With the construction of 12 large new Kingdom Halls in Bolivia, the prospects for future growth there look much brighter.
Ireland reports that even congregations with fewer than 30 publishers have been able to construct fine Kingdom Halls. Much work has also been done in Taiwan. Of the 22 congregations now in operation on the island, 12 have either built or purchased their own Kingdom Halls or are in the process of doing so.
Kingdom Hall construction continues apace in Australia. More than 170 new Kingdom Halls were constructed during the past five years. Five projects were completed this past year in Trinidad. Two other congregations rebuilt halls in order to accommodate the increase. In Jamaica the “quickly built” method of constructing new Kingdom Halls was used for the first time. At one site the town mayor turned up to see the finished building. He had misgivings about the project at first, and he felt that anyone who said it could be completed in two days was crazy. But after seeing it with his own eyes, he marveled at the brothers’ ability.
On April 1, a change in the status and organizational procedure of Jehovah’s Witnesses took place in Mexico. Prayer may now be freely offered at all congregation meetings, and the Bible may be used in field service. A woman, active in a Catholic Bible study program, said about the Witnesses’ new religious freedom: “If they left us speechless before, now that they are opening the Bible at the doors, we are lost!”
In recent years the door opened in Eastern Europe for dedicated Christians to bear fruit to a greater extent. In Poland, extended discussions had been held between responsible brothers and government officials concerning the granting of legal status to our brothers. On May 18, the application for the religious association of Jehovah’s Witnesses was accepted and officially registered—just in time for the large conventions that were planned for Chorzów (near Katowice), Poznan, and Warsaw.
Just over a month later, on June 27, the brothers in Hungary rejoiced when legal status was granted to Jehovah’s Witnesses in that country. For the first time, the authorities allowed them to use public auditoriums for their district conventions in various cities.
Jehovah’s Witnesses everywhere rejoice with their fellow workers in Mexico, Hungary, and Poland. May Jehovah richly bless their activity as they bear Christian fruitage and fully carry out his will.—1 Thess. 4:1, 9, 10.
Facing the Blood Question
The rapid spread of AIDS worries the world, including the small South Pacific island of Tonga. In early November last year, a one-day conference was held on the causes and prevention of AIDS in Tonga. A representative from WHO (World Health Organization) was also present. Among the questions asked was whether nonblood volume expanders were available in that country. Those present were made aware of the stand that Jehovah’s Witnesses take regarding the use of blood. And the booklet Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Question of Blood was distributed along with the October 8, 1988, issue of Awake! dealing with the subject of AIDS. With the exception of one person, all readily accepted the publications.
On the nearby islands of Western Samoa, a doctor on the medical board for the national hospital pointed out that doctors should treat patients in accord with their wishes and not undermine the patient’s conscience. He explained that Jehovah’s Witnesses are willing to undergo alternative forms of medical treatment, so even from a medical viewpoint, surgeons have good reason to respect their wishes.
Conventions Where Throngs Bless God
The psalmist David found great delight in being among the congregated throngs that bless Jehovah. (Ps. 26:12) And indeed that has been the feeling of Jehovah’s people worldwide during the past service year. There were 6,273,804 that attended the “Divine Justice” District Conventions during the latter part of 1988 and early 1989.
For some brothers it required exceptional effort to be in attendance. For example, in Myanmar (formerly Burma) because of dangerous conditions in some places, it was unsafe to travel. Despite the risks, some publishers walked for days and rode overcrowded trains so as not to miss out on their spiritual feast. And in Kenya the publishers either rode bicycles or walked for miles in order to attend.
Regarding the nonracial atmosphere evident at our conventions, a brother from Zambia who went to South Africa wrote: “It was marvelous to be present here at the convention in Johannesburg. I really enjoyed the association with brothers of different races—all together as one family.” A young Muslim man in Senegal who had never attended any of our meetings was greatly impressed by the loving spirit of the conventioners and the clear stand taken by Jehovah’s Witnesses against wrong practices. After the program on Saturday, he no longer felt right about keeping the amulets and good-luck charms that he had tied around his waist for protection. “I see no more need to put confidence in them,” he admitted. “I know it is Jehovah’s Witnesses that have the truth, and none of them wear amulets for protection. It is Jehovah who protects them.”
The cleanness and good order that are characteristic of our conventions give a favorable witness. An administrator at one stadium in Brazil said: “It was a pleasure to have you here, since it means that the stadium will be cleaner and left in order. You are to be congratulated for your cleanness. Come back again!”
The 1989 district conventions carried the theme “Godly Devotion.” From many parts of the earth, there were reports of excellent attendance and of myriads being baptized. For instance, attendance for the United States branch territory reached 1,366,700, and 18,011 persons were baptized. This series of conventions will continue into the early part of the 1990 service year in the Southern Hemisphere.
However, during the month of August 1989, the focus was on Poland. What Jehovah’s people experienced there was unforgettable.
Historic Poland Conventions
In October 1987, at the annual meeting of the Pennsylvania Corporation of the Society, it was announced that in 1989 international conventions would be held in Poland. At that time few people realized how significant these gatherings would prove to be. Both Chorzów and Poznan hosted the conventions simultaneously on August 4-6; then Warsaw did so on August 11-13.
It was estimated that 140,000 persons from 22 countries would be attracted to these spiritual feasts. However, the total attendance came to 166,518, and the number of countries exceeded the original estimate.
For two weeks straight, starting on July 28, the airport in Warsaw was just buzzing as day after day Polish brothers welcomed delegates arriving from all parts of Europe as well as from Japan and North America. Some delegates traveled as much as 7,000 miles [11,000 km], mostly by rail, for six days and six nights. Visitors came from Siberia, Kazakhstan, the Caucasus, and the Baltic States, as well as from the Ukrainian Republic. Despite the delays experienced due to the vacation season and other problems, the brothers were not deterred. They were just delighted to come together for this spiritual festivity.
As to the delegations from Western Europe, Japan, and North America, the Orbis Congress Bureau, the official Polish travel agency, acknowledged that this was the largest single movement of international visitors ever to tour Poland and attend conventions. These officials were greatly impressed by the fine conduct of the brothers as well as the efficient organization.
The cooperation of the authorities was greatly appreciated. At air, bus, and train terminals, Polish convention workers received kind assistance from officials and their staff.
While some 12,000 were accommodated at hotels in the various convention cities, there were upwards of 60,000 delegates that our local brothers housed in private homes and apartments, Kingdom Halls, school dormitories, and tents. One congregation of 86 publishers accommodated over 500 visitors. Another congregation of 146 publishers in the western suburb of Warsaw hosted 1,276 delegates.
On Friday morning at each convention, traffic flow on all the main thoroughfares leading to the stadium was clogged with delegates. Streetcars arrived loaded with chattering, happy Witnesses. Chartered buses filled with our brothers from surrounding cities and towns parked in preassigned places. Other Witnesses came on special trains. Convention lapel cards were everywhere.
At the three conventions, specially designated sections were set aside for foreign delegates. Large groups came from various countries, especially Czechoslovakia. Many from the Soviet Union who were visiting friends and relatives were also present.
Special Features of Program
Since the conventions were international in scope, reports were heard from some 25 different countries. Portions of the program were translated simultaneously into as many as 16 different languages, and each language group could hear the program clearly without interference from other language sections in the stadium. A man in the audio profession who was consulted on how to carry out this arrangement said: “It is impossible to amplify the sound of the stadium in such a way that the participants can simultaneously listen to the program in 16 languages.” Nevertheless, our brothers did just that, and all were able to listen attentively to members of the Country Committee of Poland and to Governing Body members.
The release of two tracts in the Polish language on Saturday afternoon came as a big surprise. It was the first time that the brothers in Poland had a convention release. The release on Sunday morning of the brochure Should You Believe in the Trinity? was an even greater surprise. For Poland, this publication will be a most effective instrument in exposing this false doctrine and helping honesthearted people to know the truth about the one true and living God and his Son, Christ Jesus.
The baptism on Saturday was a moving sight. At each convention city when the candidates rose to answer the two questions put to them by the speaker, tremendous applause rocked the stadium. Never before had so many been baptized at conventions in Poland. Tears of joy welled up in the eyes of all!
The atmosphere at these three conventions was unforgettably impressive for several reasons. First, it was such a joy and privilege to be in these large stadiums sharing fine spiritual food from Jehovah’s table as arranged by “the faithful and discreet slave.” (Matt. 24:45-47) And how heart-stirring it was to sit next to brothers from Czechoslovakia, Hungary, East Germany, the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and other places, who in the past had not had opportunity to meet with large groups of fellow believers!
One Soviet visitor said: “For many years we have been waiting for this day, and now we are here at this international convention. We find it difficult to grasp all of this and take it all in. It is like a dream. It is impossible to express in words everything we have seen and heard. When we saw the gigantic, bowl-shaped stadium full of people and heard the music, our eyes filled with tears. And the prayer—while all of us were motionlessly united—it sent cold shivers down our backs. It was so solemn and unanimous. This convention in Warsaw is such a splendid and grand event that only the new world will be better. We will always remember these wonderful days. It is something one cannot forget. Special thanks and glory be to our Creator, Jehovah God!”
The August 16, 1989, edition of the Polish newspaper Życie Warszawy said concerning the convention held in the Dziesieciolecia Stadium in Warsaw: “Those who worship Jehovah God—as they themselves say—greatly value their gatherings, which are certainly a manifestation of unity among them. . . . And something else—as regards orderliness, peacefulness, and cleanliness, convention participants are examples to imitate.”
Truly the sense of brotherhood, love, and joy in being together is difficult to describe. It is understandable, then, why at each convention city the brothers lingered after the concluding talk—not wanting to leave, not wanting to forget the moment. Their confidence and faith is that in the not-too-distant future, the whole earth will be filled with those who love and serve our Grand Creator Jehovah unitedly.
For those who had the privilege of being in attendance at the Poland conventions in the summer of 1989, the words of Psalm 70:4 are truly appropriate: “May those exult and rejoice in you, all of whom are seeking you, and may they say constantly: ‘God be magnified!’—those loving your salvation.”
Ministerial Training School Bears Fruit
During the 1989 service year, two additional classes of this school were held in the United States. Assembly Halls in St. Louis, Missouri, and Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, were used for the third and fourth classes respectively. A fifth class was taught in Vienna, Austria, during the spring of 1989.
Of the 25 students in the third class, 6 were given foreign assignments. The rest were assigned to serve in the United States and Canada, with some of them going into circuit work. In the fourth class, 16 of the 24 students were assigned to foreign fields. For the present, the others continue in their full-time service in the United States and Canada.
In the latter part of April 1989, the Ministerial Training School took on more of an international aspect. Two experienced instructors who serve as traveling overseers in the United States were sent to Vienna. The 23 students making up the first European class came from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Yugoslavia. Also, eight prospective instructors for future classes in Germany, France, Italy, and Spain attended the course. A fine classroom was available as well as library facilities and a school office. Accommodations were provided in the Bethel Home.
The instructors were highly pleased with the fine progress of the students. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for them, something they will never forget or regret. Four graduates have been assigned to lands outside of Europe, while at present the others are caring for assignments right there on the European continent.
Following the conclusion of their schooling, a letter from the Vienna class said in part: “Before we came, most of us were already serving in a shepherding capacity. But now we understand much better what the standard for shepherds for God’s people really is. We are confident that we have been well trained and equipped to serve Jehovah, our brothers, and our fellowman much better than we ever could have done without this fine education.”
Thus far, graduates of the Ministerial Training School have been assigned to serve in 25 lands outside of their countries of origin. During the 1990 service year, it is hoped that the benefits of this school will be extended even further.
Branch Dedications That Glorify God
The highlight of a person’s life is the day he dedicates himself to the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. Similarly, a highlight of the theocratic life of a country’s branch office is the dedication of its facilities to that same Sovereign Lord, who is “the One who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all the things in them.” (Acts 4:24) During this past service year, five branches were dedicated, including the one in Mexico.
November 6, 1988, dawned with a chilly, gray overcast. But soon, as if encouraged by the happy faces moving toward a special place in Monterrico Chico, Lima, the sky broke out in radiant sunlight. Jehovah’s people were looking forward to a special event—a joyful conclusion to the project “Expansion—Bethel Peru.” With hearts full of appreciation, 694 persons gathered in the new Kingdom Hall at the branch, and united by telephone, an audience of 48,150 at an assembly site in Campoy, on the outskirts of Lima, paid careful attention to the dedication program. A surprising attendance, since only 31,000 Witnesses reside in the entire country! Theodore Jaracz of the Governing Body gave the dedication talk.
When plans were made in 1980 for the construction of the original part of the branch, the extent of the increase in publishers was hardly anticipated. Hence, by the time that project was completed in December 1984, it was clear that the branch would soon need to expand again.
The project “Expansion—Bethel Peru” was a plan to duplicate the existing complex with an antiseismic design and type of construction. The tilt-up system aroused much curiosity. Spectators abounded on the days when a 60-ton crane lifted the heavy panels of prefabricated concrete, weighing several tons each, into place. In all, 120 panels were used. These panels were made complete with embedded tubes for the electrical system, as well as window and door frames set in place. While this fabrication was going on, the brothers in the carpenter shop also worked like busy bees converting beautiful mahogany from the Peruvian jungle into all the needed woodwork.
Lovingly contributing their time and travel expenses, 55 IVCWs (International Volunteer Construction Workers) came from other countries to assist. Being vulnerable to certain health problems, as visitors from other countries usually are, they expressed their gratitude to the two doctors, both Witnesses, who untiringly attended their medical needs. Other essential services were rendered during the entire construction period. For example, two barbers, our brothers, who took turns weekly “opening shop” on site, cheerfully gave haircuts to everyone.
The 60 Bethel family members can attest that the project “Expansion—Bethel Peru” was born of an urgent need and has been completed with praise for Jehovah.
“Hail the Theocracy, ever increasing! Wondrous expansion is now taking place.” On Saturday, November 12, 1988, 22,091 voices joined together to sing those stirring words in celebration of the dedication of the new branch office and Bethel Home in the Central American country of El Salvador.
The office and residence complex, from its hilly, suburban vantage point, overlooks the capital city, San Salvador, and has a view of several of the volcanoes for which the country is famous.
Brother John Barr, a member of the Governing Body, spoke warmly on the theme: “The Song of Theocracy’s Increase.” The program also featured colorful folk dances presented by a hundred local brothers and sisters.
Over 300 visiting brothers, representing nine different countries in North and Central America as well as Europe, were able to share in the joy of the dedication program. This included several of the 326 IVCWs who had had a large share in the construction.
The first strains of the song of theocratic increase were heard in 1945, when the first two missionaries, Roscoe and Hilda Stone, faced the monumental task of bringing the truth to the one-and-a-half million inhabitants living there at that time. Since then, this song has been sung with ever-increasing volume. This year saw a peak of 17,647 publishers, representing a ratio of 1 publisher to every 322 inhabitants. During the period when the branch was under construction—from the purchase of the first lots in April 1983 through the two-and-a-half years of construction until the branch was completed in July 1988—the country experienced a phenomenal 50-percent increase, even though many regular and special pioneers were absent from their field assignments while assisting on the construction. The potential for even greater increase can be seen from the vast number of newly interested ones who came to the 1989 Memorial, which had an attendance of 58,503.
The antiseismic feature of the new construction was also put to an early test on October 10, 1986, when the city of San Salvador was rocked by a severe earthquake. Although the majority of buildings in the city center were destroyed—with hundreds of people losing their lives and thousands being left homeless—none of the brothers working on the new branch were injured, and the buildings remained undamaged. With the completion of these modern facilities, Jehovah’s spirit continues to be upon the brothers in El Salvador as they join with their brothers around the world in singing the unceasing song of theocracy’s increase.
Like a jewel surrounded by turquoise-blue sea, coral reefs, and white beaches, this tropical island-nation in the Indian Ocean is the home of over a million descendants of the immigrants of yesteryear. Sugarcane farming brought most of them to Mauritius, where they found an emerald-green landscape speckled with toothlike volcanic peaks. Today, the majority of the population are Hindu Indians, who share the island with Catholic Creoles, Muslim Indians, Europeans, and Chinese. Although English is the official language, most inhabitants speak Creole, a French dialect.
In 1933 the branch in South Africa sent two pioneers, Bert McLuckie and Robert Nisbet, to the island. They planted the first Kingdom seeds. However, it was not until 18 years later, when Robert Nisbet was joined by his brother George that the seeds took root and began sprouting.
In the meantime, the Kingdom news reached the neighboring islands of Réunion and Rodrigues. Today, the Kingdom preaching activity on the islands of Réunion, Rodrigues, and Mayotte as well as the Comoros is also organized under the direction of the Mauritius branch. Actually, there are more of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Réunion than in Mauritius.
After decades of using rented accommodations, a new branch office with Bethel Home and Kingdom Hall was constructed in the inland town of Vacoas. On December 10, 1988, the dedication of this complex took place. How delighted were the 701 persons who heard the dedication discourse delivered by Carey Barber, a member of the Governing Body!
The project aroused the interest of many friendly neighbors. They often remarked on the fine conduct of the young brothers who lived and worked there. One of the neighbors, Amrita, lives with her mother and grandmother in a small corrugated-iron home bordering one side of the property. When she was contacted in the door-to-door ministry in the early stages of the project, she accepted a Bible study. So moved by what she learned, Amrita volunteered her labors every day and helped to cook for the hungry workers. As a result of such wholesome association, she made fine spiritual progress and today is a dedicated, baptized Witness in the full-time preaching work.
What joy the growth of Jehovah’s people in this part of the world has brought to old-timers! In 1951 the first congregation was established, with eight Kingdom publishers. Now there are 2,564 publishers who associate in the 30 congregations on these Indian Ocean islands. The feelings of four foreign full-time workers, who have served here in total for 132 years, were well summed up by Sister Eunice Price when she said: “We planted, we sowed seed, and Jehovah has given growth. What a privilege we’ve had to observe it with our own eyes!”
Following five years of work by more than 500 brothers, the dedication program for the Japan branch at Ebina was held on May 13, 1989, with Carey Barber, John Barr, and Lloyd Barry from the Governing Body as featured speakers.* The crowd of 3,213 who attended this very happy, special occasion included all the missionaries and traveling overseers in Japan, publishers who had participated in the construction work along with their families, and many faithful long-time publishers. Also included were about 60 guests from overseas, representing 13 branches.
On the day following the dedication, Sunday, May 14, a special meeting was arranged, with 46 places connected by telephone tie line. Thus, 233,780 were able to listen to talks by the delegates from various countries and from the Governing Body. Certainly the events that took place on these two days have become a milestone in the theocratic history of Japan.
Currently, approximately 38 branches are involved in planning or are actually engaged in new construction or expansion of their existing facilities. And the IVCW program has sent out workers to 30 branch locations to assist the local building crews. Truly, in various ways, Jehovah has granted his people great power to ‘give forth a witness’ to his glory and that of his Son.—Acts 4:33.
God’s will is that “all sorts of men should be saved.” And the 1989 service year has been one of steady progress toward that end on the African continent.—1 Tim. 2:4.
In Senegal a high school professor has been a regular subscriber to our magazines for years. He often uses articles from Awake! to teach pupils in his classes. To help his students follow their lessons better, he would lend them his personal copies. However, since he has had some difficulty in getting the students to return the magazines, he now gets the bound volumes at the end of the year and uses these in the classroom!
Although Jehovah’s Witnesses are few in number in the Republic of Guinea, the preaching and disciple-making work is carried on with great zeal. The brothers have been busy constructing a small Assembly Hall, which is located some distance off the road and up a hill. The brothers were wondering how they were going to transport several loads of sand to the site. They went to a road-building company to rent a truck for hauling sand. The manager of the company arranged for a truck and a front-end loader to be put at the disposal of the brothers. Six trips had to be made to get the sand moved. When the brothers went to pay for the truck and loader, the manager told them the job was done free of charge. He said: “The only thing you can do is pray for us to Jehovah so that we too may develop interest in his worship.”
A circuit overseer assigned to Côte d’Ivoire was seeking a hall large enough for the special slide presentation in the city of Bondoukou. He contacted the director of the local cultural center. At first the director was opposed to the Witnesses’ using it, since, in the past, other religious groups had caused too much of a disturbance. However, he suggested to the circuit overseer that a letter be written explaining the reason for the request. On that same day, the circuit overseer met a policeman, a man he had previously studied the Bible with when in Abidjan. It just so happened that the policeman was a personal friend of the director. He approached the director and explained that the Witnesses could be trusted. The director then agreed to the use of the hall, giving the key to the policeman. The small congregation of 21 publishers was pleased to have an attendance of 124, including both the director and his policeman friend. The director was so impressed with the cleanness of the hall and the wholesome spiritual program that he offered the use of the hall at any future time. In addition he has since agreed to a Bible study.
Mary, an 11-year-old girl who lives in Sierra Leone, suffers from a painful disease called sickle-cell anemia. Because of the disease, she has spent the past two years of her life in and out of the hospital in connection with operations to remove infected bone from her leg. Mary has remained determined not to break God’s law clearly stated at Acts 15:29, namely, ‘keep abstaining from blood,’ even though it has resulted in a constant battle with the doctors regarding blood transfusions. Although her mother backs up her decision, Mary speaks for herself when it comes to refusing blood. Two years ago, when Mary was nine, she spent three months in the hospital while doctors, nurses, and other patients pressured her to agree to an operation with blood. Surgeons told her that the operation could not be done without blood transfusions, warning that unless she had the operation, she would never walk again. Possibly she would die. Yet Mary would answer: “I would prefer to die than to take blood. Blood transfusions are not things that Jehovah approves. . . . If I take blood, I will feel dirty before Jehovah.”
The doctors pressured Mary’s mother, charging that she wanted Mary to die and that she would be responsible for her daughter’s death. They claimed that she brainwashed Mary.
Mary and her mother stood fast in their decision to obey God’s law. Eventually two surgeons agreed to perform the operation by working in tandem. In that way it could be done quickly and without blood. However, they did not give much hope for success. When Mary regained consciousness after the surgery, her first words were: “O Jehovah, save your servant!” Mary recovered faster than two other patients who had undergone the same operation that day but with blood.
Sad to say, sickle-cell anemia is incurable, and for Mary there will continue to be pain and more surgery. She cannot get to many meetings anymore, since she has difficulty walking. The brothers do not have cars, and no public transportation is available. With great effort she managed to attend the Memorial this past year but fell several times going home.
While Mary is small and looks frail and walks with a wooden crutch, there is nothing weak about her faith. One indication of this is the name she gave to the dog her mother gave her as a pet when she was about to have her first operation. She named it Holdfast. When her uncle visited her, he asked her: “Did you give him that name because you have to hold him fast so he doesn’t bite anybody?”
“No, Uncle,” replied Mary, “I called him that because the Bible tells us we have to hold fast to our integrity. If we hold fast to our integrity, we’ll be all right.”
In Burkina Faso a missionary conducted a Bible study with a woman whose husband had been very opposed. Since his job requires him to travel often, the missionary encouraged the woman to put some of the magazines in her husband’s suitcase when he traveled. Little by little the man began to read the magazines. Soon his opposition ceased. He was invited to the Memorial in 1988, and to the surprise of many, he came. Since then a Bible study has been started, and the man has made so many changes in his life that his family and friends say that Jehovah’s Witnesses must have the true religion because they were able to make this man a better person.
In another African country, our brothers were attending a meeting when suddenly the police burst in. A special pioneer was arrested, hauled away to prison, searched, and interrogated. The police seized a paper upon which the pioneer had been noting Bible texts during the meeting. The police saw written the names John, Peter, and Jeremiah, followed by figures and concluded it was a list of men who owed the pioneer quite a large sum of money. The police asked the pioneer: “How will these people reimburse you when you are in prison?” Even in a difficult circumstance such as that, the pioneer had to smile.
Our brothers in Asia are enthusiastically offering subscriptions for The Watchtower and Awake! By diligently seeking out interest in the Bible’s message, they are helping people to “listen” to God’s Word so that their souls “will keep alive.”—Isa. 55:3.
In India a regular pioneer, following the suggestions given in Our Kingdom Ministry, carefully prepared a list of his acquaintances, relatives, and Bible students with a view to offering them subscriptions to our magazines during the subscription campaign. His sincere efforts brought excellent results. He obtained 30 subscriptions during that month.
Another brother working in a large bus transport corporation entered his ten suggestions for safe driving in a competition open to its 36,000 employees. He based his entry on the January 8, 1988, Awake! His were the best ten suggestions. He was given a certificate, and the leading dailies in the state also gave publicity to this. However, the brother humbly acknowledges: “I know that I am not the person to receive the credit for this. It belongs to Jehovah and to his organization, which provided this valuable information.”
A circuit overseer in Japan encouraged each congregation he visited during the subscription campaign to make special efforts to obtain subscriptions. He reports that as a result, the first congregation was able to obtain 181 subscriptions during the week, the second 153, and the third 145. Although there was only one day left of the campaign for the congregation he visited beginning May 30, he encouraged the brothers to try hard the next day. In one day, they obtained 84 subscriptions, 56 of which were obtained going from house to house.
A sister there set a goal of obtaining 30 subscriptions in each month of the subscription campaign, April and May. She says that she followed the suggestions given in the 1983 Our Kingdom Ministry insert and Jehovah blessed her efforts. When someone came to her house, such as money collectors, salesmen, and deliverymen, she recommended the magazines to them. She also offered subscriptions to acquaintances by either visiting or telephoning them, and when shopping, she offered subscriptions to shop assistants who seemed to be idle at the time. She obtained 40 subscriptions in April and 32 in May. Forty-six of these were obtained through informal witnessing.
A brother in Pusan, Republic of Korea, observed that the business buildings were not worked very often in the ministry. As a lawyer, he could easily get into offices and speak with presidents or managers of the companies. His method? Give a brief, simple witness. Only when an encouraging response was forthcoming would he continue further. In this way he was able to obtain 26 subscriptions during the month of the subscription campaign. He was determined to reach his goal and would not be deterred, even though he had to climb more stairs than usual in this type of territory. This was difficult for him, as he is the victim of a stroke that paralyzed one side of his body.
Taiwan is one of the most densely populated regions of the world, with a population now of more than 20,000,000. Ninety-five percent of the inhabitants are Chinese, with the majority believing in Buddhism and Taoism. Would these people respond to the Kingdom message? Yes. Now Buddhists and Taoists alike, along with many nominal Christians, are responding to the good news and are learning of their Creator. What really attracts people with traditional Chinese thinking to take up a study of the Bible?
A former Buddhist, now our brother, tells us what attracted him: “I was raised in an active Buddhist home next door to a Buddhist temple. This meant my early life was greatly influenced by Buddhism. During my school years, our family moved to a larger city, and it was there that I was introduced to the Bible and the Presbyterian Church. Actually, I never understood the Bible but became a member of the church, as their pursuits were similar to my goal in life at that time. I desired to become wealthy and independent. The church stressed finances and material support from their parishioners, or a materialistic attitude. So the church was acceptable.
“In time I became materially secure and was married with a family, but still in my heart I did not feel satisfied. One day one of Jehovah’s Witnesses called on my wife and asked her if she knew God’s name. She didn’t and so was shown that God’s name is Jehovah. (Ps. 83:18) When I came home from work, my wife asked me the same question, and I really felt disillusioned to think that up to that time I had been a member of the Presbyterian Church and never even knew that God’s name is Jehovah! A Bible study was started with us by the pioneer sister.
“After about three months of studying, I could see what was required and therefore started to make adjustments in our family life and attitude. I came to realize that Jehovah is real and that the Bible is truly his inspired written Word. Over the past six years, our family has moved ahead spiritually. I am privileged now to serve as an elder in the local congregation. My wife and I set aside time each year to engage in the auxiliary pioneer ministry. Our two boys are publishers, and our goal is for our family to become regular pioneers. We thank Jehovah that through the instruction of his organization, we now have a united family with a real goal, something that was impossible through Buddhism or so-called Christian religions.”
When new missionaries arrive in Taiwan, for the first three months they concentrate on learning the Chinese language. This consists of several hours of classroom study a day. Then they spend four hours in the house-to-house work, applying what they have learned, followed by more hours doing homework. How much do they understand when they start out in the house-to-house ministry? Well, not too much initially. One new missionary was able to explain briefly to the householder why he was calling but forgot how to conclude and offer The Watchtower and Awake! subscriptions. The householder very kindly contacted the branch office by telephone to find out what the conclusion of the presentation was and then subscribed for The Watchtower and Awake!
“You young men and also you virgins, you old men together with boys. Let them praise the name of Jehovah,” states Psalm 148:12, 13. Our brothers in Europe are doing just that.
Nine-year-old Frankie lives in Luxembourg. When he was hospitalized for some time, he brought his cassette player and his Listening to the Great Teacher cassettes along. A Roman Catholic priest visits the hospital rooms every evening to say good night. When he entered Frankie’s room, he saw the cassettes but did not say a word. The next day at noon, he came again, but Frankie was sleeping. He took a cassette, put it into the cassette player, sat down on Frankie’s bed, and listened to both sides. When Frankie woke up, the priest started to ask him some questions. He told Frankie that it was fine that he believed in God.
“Then,” says Frankie, “he asked me if he could get the book that went with the cassettes. So I placed a Great Teacher book with him and also the book You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth.”
In the Paris region of France, two teenagers from Laos learned the Bible truth from Jehovah’s Witnesses but became victims of their father’s violence because they no longer would take part in ancestor worship. After learning that they were continuing to study the Bible in secret, in a fit of rage the father tried to cut one son’s throat. He did not hesitate to write in large letters on his car and on the walls of his apartment building: “Death to Jehovah’s Witnesses”!
It was in these dramatic circumstances that the two boys made their decision to begin field service. In spite of their father’s adverse publicity, they were surprised at the fine welcome received from the people in the territory. Today both are baptized, and one has been in full-time service for several years. As for their father, he has now accepted the fact that his sons are Witnesses.
The deaf are also learning to praise the name of Jehovah. A deaf person in Italy lived a life dedicated to sports, target shooting in particular. He attended deaf associations where sporting activities were organized. His ambition was to participate in the deaf Olympics.
In his spare time, he would read the Gospels, and he was struck by the idea that the end of the world was coming. One day Jehovah’s Witnesses called at his house and spoke with his wife, who, at that time, did not show much interest. However, she took the book You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth for her husband and made an appointment for the Witnesses to return. How would the husband react to the book?
“I read the book in one night, and I enjoyed it,” he says. “I now understood that the religion I belonged to was not the one Jesus had taught.” He thus accepted their offer of a Bible study. “After a month,” he continues, “I quit my sporting activities, handed in my target-shooting arms, and gave up my hope of participating in the deaf Olympics. I began attending all the meetings. But I had a problem. Because of being deaf, I could not understand anything! Several brothers lovingly wrote down the material considered, and this impressed me. But after a month, I was feeling discouraged—it was as if I had to depend completely on them, and I thought: ‘What’s the use?’ But a Bible talk given during that period made me reflect.
“The speaker said that accurate knowledge is necessary to change one’s personality. But where was I to find such knowledge if I stopped coming to meetings? The solution to my problem was for someone in the congregation to learn sign language. I decided to put Jehovah to the test according to his own invitation in Malachi 3:10. Jehovah granted my request. His organization invited some members in my congregation to attend a school to learn sign language. Such expressions of love on the part of Jehovah and the brothers were decisive for me, and I dedicated myself to him and was baptized. Twice I have served as an auxiliary pioneer. I managed to do so thanks to the help of the brothers and sisters who translated my gestures to the householders. I also have the joy of conducting a study with my son, who is not deaf but with whom I can communicate perfectly.”
The blessings in Italy are even more evident when one considers that the Catholic hierarchy has shown considerable hostility toward the Witnesses by attempting to hamper their activity. For example, the parish priest of a town in the central region of Abruzzi organized a series of 12 mornings of prayer. Why? So that the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses would no longer gain a hold on the Catholic flock. But his prayers backfired, as did Balaam’s curses in King Balak’s time, when God changed curses into blessings. (Num., chap. 23) The successive peaks of publishers in Italy, reaching 172,382 in August, are proof of this.
In Spain one Saturday, Charo had just finished witnessing. As she and her husband were on their way to do some shopping, she was moved to approach one additional person, a teenager named Susana. When Susana saw the tract What Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe? she expressed immediate interest, for the same tract had come into her possession a month previous, and since then she had been trying to contact the Witnesses. She gave Charo her address, and arrangements were made to start a Bible study. How surprised Charo was when the address turned out to be a convent! Susana was raised by nuns after the divorce of her parents. The first study was conducted in the convent’s courtyard, but the Bible and book had to be hidden each time some suspicious nuns passed by. The following day Susana attended a circuit assembly, and regular meeting attendance came next. After having studied just three chapters of the Live Forever book, Susana was expelled from the convent, and now she continues to make unimpaired progress in the truth.
Also in Spain, more than 1,500 books and 1,500 magazines have been placed in a year’s time in Brother Félix’s taxi! How does he do it? He tries to be especially courteous to all his passengers and is honest in only charging the exact fare corresponding to the distance traveled. Thus, his customers are more inclined to listen when he witnesses to them about God’s Word.
From the Netherlands, a 13-year-old girl writes: “It was suggested that we engage in field service during the hour before the book study. At the first door, I met a young girl of 13. She listened intently and took literature. The next day at school I saw this same girl in my class. From the start we became friends. Within two weeks I offered her the Live Forever book and offered to study it with her. She said yes, and the study is progressing very well.”
Concerning the early days of Christianity, the disciple Luke recorded: “Believers in the Lord kept on being added, multitudes both of men and of women.” Today, Latin America has also seen a steady stream of honesthearted ones flowing into God’s modern-day organization.—Acts 5:14.
In Guatemala the slide presentation “Multitudes Being Taught by Jehovah,” presented by the circuit overseers, has helped many to appreciate Jehovah’s organization. This includes those living in the mountainous part of the country where the effects of guerrilla activity have been strongly felt and where our brothers’ Christian neutrality has been tested many times. In one area where small groups of brothers live—65 publishers in all—1,426 attended the slide presentations.
One circuit overseer relates: “While working close by a military encampment, we asked to be allowed to show the slides to the soldiers. Permission was granted by the commanding officer. That evening we arrived in a pickup truck with the equipment. After we set up the projector and cassette player in the mess hall, the commanding officer ordered all the soldiers in. About 90 of them rushed in carrying their rifles and proceeded to stand quietly at attention as they watched and listened to the presentation from start to finish. After expressing our appreciation for their attention and offering some concluding comments, we converted the back of the pickup into a magazine and literature department where a sister distributed magazines, booklets, and books to a good many of the soldiers, who were eager to learn more.”
On February 21, 1989, 35 families of Jehovah’s Witnesses returned from a refugee camp in Mexico where they had lived for more than six years. They had been forced to flee from Guatemala in 1983 because of the many massacres occurring at that time. Quite a few people who were studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses, and other interested ones who had attended meetings in the camp, returned with the brothers. A total of six buses from the United Nations brought the repatriates back to Guatemala. A Witness welcoming committee greeted the refugee families when they arrived at Huehuetenango in Guatemala. CEAR, an organization established by the government to facilitate the repatriation of refugees, had prepared fried chicken, rice, and tortillas. Since they had not had anything to eat on the nine-hour bus ride from Mexico, the brothers had a good appetite and appreciated the meal.
The brothers returned in good spiritual health. The Branch Committee saw the need to form an emergency committee, which arranged to construct houses for 17 families and helped 9 other families finish their homes. Foodstuffs, also, have been sent to our brothers. The Governing Body has lovingly provided the needed funds.
Most of Venezuela’s population live in the north of the country close to the Caribbean. In the southern regions, vast areas of rain forest are inhabited by a number of Indian tribes. A special pioneer couple have been living in the town of Santa Elena de Uairén, close to the Brazilian border, since 1987. They had interesting new experiences in this Indian territory. Already the different tribes know about the Revelation Climax book, and the Maricures (chiefs) are asking for them for their communities. Three boxes of this book were shipped, but the supply was far from sufficient. Two days after a carton of the Revelation Climax book arrives, it is empty. One Indian schoolteacher of the Sampai community, which is a two-hour drive from Santa Elena, has been asking the special pioneer couple for a carton of Youth books to distribute among the schoolchildren. She wants to use this book in her classes to replace the normal religious instruction.
While working from door to door in Argentina, Susana, a special pioneer, met a woman who had recently moved into the area. The woman’s husband is a bank manager and, before he was transferred, had received a gift subscription to the Awake! magazine from a fellow employee. The woman stated that one of the magazines had saved a life. How was that?
She explained that without knowing she was pregnant, she had had a series of X rays taken. Because X rays may cause deformities, 20 different doctors advised her to have an abortion. Her baby had a 95-percent chance of being deformed, they said. The doctors and family pressured her to abort the fetus. But before making a final decision, she wanted to consult the family priest. She spoke to two priests, both of whom told her that God would not punish her for aborting the baby. Extremely upset by that answer, she prayed to God for guidance. Just then Awake! came in the mail with the cover title: “A Birth? Or an Abortion?” She exclaimed, “This is God’s answer to my prayer!” She did not have an abortion. What was the result? “Thanks to Awake! today I have a beautiful, healthy girl,” she said. “The Awake! saved my little girl’s life.”
North America and Caribbean Islands
The psalmist wrote: “You have crowned the year with your goodness.” (Ps. 65:11) Indeed, we have had a happy and blessed year of activity, as the following experiences show.
From Canada comes an experience that demonstrates the importance of parents’ educating their children in Bible principles, not just rules, as well as in the intelligent application of such principles. When Terra was only 11 years of age and not yet baptized, she was unexpectedly put to the test by a teacher. At the time, Terra was the only Witness student in the entire school.
One morning during class, Terra noticed that the teacher took a fellow student out of the classroom for a few moments. Shortly thereafter the teacher quietly asked Terra to accompany him to the principal’s office. No reason was given at the time. However, upon arriving in the principal’s office, Terra noticed that the Canadian flag was draped across the principal’s desk. There were just the three of them in the office: Terra, her teacher, and her principal.
The teacher then instructed Terra to spit on the Canadian flag. He suggested that since Terra did not sing the national anthem or salute the flag, there was no reason why she should not spit on the flag when ordered to do so. While greatly surprised by this order, Terra refused to desecrate this symbol of the country. She explained that Jehovah’s Witnesses respect the flag, although they do not worship it. When the teacher saw that Terra was firm in her position, the two of them returned to the classroom.
Back in the classroom, the teacher announced that he had just conducted an experiment. He had taken two students one at a time to the principal’s office, instructing them to spit on the flag. Although the first student did participate in patriotic ceremonies, she spit on the flag when ordered to do so. In contrast, as the teacher explained, Terra had very high principles. Even though she does not sing the anthem or salute the flag, she refused to dishonor the flag in this way. The teacher said that Terra was the one who showed proper respect. What honor Terra’s respectful conduct brought to Jehovah and his organization!
In the Dominican Republic the wife of one traveling overseer placed a magazine subscription with a young woman who also accepted the offer of a Bible study. The study was started during the week of the visit, and the study was left to the care of a reliable sister in the local congregation. At the next circuit assembly, the publisher brought the Bible student to greet the circuit overseer’s wife. By this time, the student was already a publisher of the good news. When they met again six months later, the young woman had already made her dedication and had been baptized for several months. She invited the circuit overseer and his wife to her home for a meal and to meet her husband, a surgeon, who had begun studying. Not long after that, when they all met again at a district convention, the circuit overseer and his wife were happy to learn that the husband too was baptized. All of this took place in just a year and a half because of the effort of the circuit overseer’s wife, the follow-through of the congregation publisher who took seriously the need to continue nurturing regularly the spiritual interest of this sheeplike one, and the blessing of Jehovah.
In the United States this has been an outstanding year of theocratic accomplishments among the hearing-impaired and the non-English-speaking population, where the good news is being proclaimed in 20 languages, including sign language. The Spanish-speaking field has experienced good expansion. During this past service year, 90 new Spanish-speaking congregations were formed. Over 101,000 publishers in this country are associated with more than 1,150 Spanish congregations.
Another outstanding feature was the production of books and Bibles, which reached the figure of 35,811,861. This doubled the production of Bibles and books of the previous year and is the first time production has been double that of a preceding year since 1938! The cassettes have been under heavy demand. During 1989, 3,500,000 cassettes were produced, which is a 71-percent increase over the previous year. That brings the overall total to 36,715,613 cassettes that have been made since production began in April 1978. Among those produced was The Watchtower on cassette. The service year began with 29,559 subscriptions for the cassette edition, but the year ended with 38,896—a 31-percent increase.
To support the simultaneous printing of our magazines in many languages, the verbal, graphic, and art information is put on computer diskettes and film. Thus, it is necessary for the branch to ship some 50 diskettes and between 3,000 and 3,500 pieces of film each week for the magazines only. In this way it is possible for the presses to be printing The Watchtower simultaneously in 45 languages in branches around the world.
Islands of the Pacific
A special pioneer in Fiji studies the Bible with a high-ranking chief, whose father is the minister of information for the island and whose brother is the governor of the Reserve Bank of Fiji. This chief was a delegate at a recent provincial council, a meeting of high chiefs chaired by the president of Fiji. On the agenda was the issue of a Sabbath decree that, among other things, restricts public movement on Sunday and has become a serious issue for the Methodists.
In the course of the meeting, one delegate wished to discuss a proposal to ban Jehovah’s Witnesses. The chief who is studying intervened, saying that a Witness regularly comes to his house to teach him the Bible. “Now I am beginning to know who Jehovah’s Witnesses are and why their teaching moves them to visit our homes,” the chief said. “I have also noticed that the Witnesses carry their Bibles from Monday to Sunday, which is very much in contrast with us Methodists, who carry ours on Sundays only. Jehovah’s Witnesses are clear and specific in explaining Bible prophecies.” Then he asked the delegate who made the motion to ban the Witnesses: “Have you ever opened your door to listen to the Witnesses?”
“No,” answered the delegate. “Then it is foolish thinking to ban a religion you have never listened to,” replied the chief. Next, he proposed a counter motion: “Those of you who have heard the teaching of Jehovah’s Witnesses and wish them to continue preaching in this province, raise your hands.” Twenty of the 30 delegates raised their hands.
Papua New Guinea is a land of extremes in both living standards and customs. Though witnessing in the main towns is similar to witnessing in most Western countries, it is quite different in villages where old customs still reign. While working unassigned territory in a predominantly Roman Catholic area, the brothers were advised to obtain permission to go from door to door from the village chieftain, since he has total authority in the village. What happened when the Witnesses approached one village chief?
The brother in charge of the group relates: “We parked our cars outside the village perimeter, and then three of us entered the village looking for the chief’s house. Villagers led us to a house near the center of the village, where we were introduced to the chief and his family. He was an impressive man, with a great mass of white hair and a strong bearing, becoming a chief. He was well educated and spoke fluent English. He told us to bring all the brothers and sisters of our group into the village. He then had all of us sit down while he sent young men to all the houses to tell the villagers to listen to us. So by twos our group spent the next two-and-a-half hours visiting each house. Most of the villagers invited us in, and many accepted literature. When we finished visiting the houses, the chief again invited us to sit before him. He explained that he no longer believed in the Catholic teachings, feeling that the churches of Christendom had ‘brainwashed’ the village people. He graciously invited us to visit the village again, saying that he would probably get told off by the local Catholic priest, but that this would not concern him at all.”
Mastermind is a television quiz program broadcast nationally in New Zealand. On the program four contestants are each questioned on a specialized subject of their choice and then on matters of general knowledge. Because one contestant, a solicitor, selected “The History and Doctrines of Jehovah’s Witnesses” to be his special topic, the television station requested that the branch office prepare and submit 30 questions for the program.
The program was advertised for a week prior to the broadcast, and of course, every time the program was advertised, the name Jehovah would appear on the TV screen, visible to tens of thousands of viewers. When the program was aired, viewers heard answers to questions such as:
Give the color and description of the mark used to identify Jehovah’s Witnesses in Nazi concentration camps.
In August 1985, 94,000 Witnesses attended conventions in which communist country?
Other questions related to the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead, the Society’s presidents, the stake versus the cross, Armageddon, and the Scriptural grounds for divorce.
The branch writes: “We are glad to report that a witness has been given not only to the television audience but also to the television personnel called on to research the questions and to the production people involved.”
Countries Under Ban
“If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you also,” said the Lord Jesus. In our day, this persecution includes the banning of his disciples in 36 countries.—John 15:20.
A number of moves against theocratic activity were made this past year in several countries in Africa. The branch in one of these countries writes: “A group of soldiers, armed with machine guns, scaled the fence at our construction site, overpowered the watchman, opened the gates, and moved in. They have been there ever since, the property now being used as training quarters for new recruits. Despite multiple letters to authorities and intervention through diplomatic channels, all effort to recover the property and the publications stocked there has so far been in vain. Then four months after the takeover, the President of the Judicial Council and Minister of Justice encouraged the closing down of any centers of activity as well as the prosecution of any persons caught preaching this illegal religion. Five months later, the same President of the Judicial Council convoked a meeting of representatives of all the religious denominations. At that meeting he particularly condemned Jehovah’s Witnesses, saying we are veritable demons.”
Yet the brothers there continue to give a courageous witness. For example, an official communiqué was sent to all the authorities in the territory of one circuit overseer, complaining of the increased activity of the Witnesses and reminding officials of the ban. In spite of this, the circuit overseer decided that, accompanied by a local brother, he would visit the mayor of one zone. Before going, they prayed fervently to Jehovah. Not finding the mayor at his house, they went to his office, where they explained who they were. To their surprise, he closed his office and invited them to his house. Knowing that his wife had died recently, the brothers gave him comfort from the Scriptures. The mayor then asked them why they were continuing their preaching when they knew they were banned. They reasoned with him from the Scriptures, and he accepted a book and five booklets.
One country in Asia has been under ban for 13 years. During the past service year, the brothers have been experiencing increased opposition. Yet, they have had a 10-percent increase in publishers and a new peak of home Bible studies.
In this country a Bible study was started with the wife of a military officer. She and her five children soon started attending meetings. Strong opposition from her husband began; he even beat her with his army belt. As the harsh opposition continued, the woman endeavored to practice the Christian principles she had learned. Eventually, the consistency of her good Christian conduct made a deep impression on her husband. He has since retired and is now studying the Bible with one of our brothers.
Despite bans in a number of countries and the restrictions they entail, Jehovah has richly blessed the efforts of his people. Through all of this, Jehovah has proved that his hand is not short. The sheep are being fed, and many new ones are coming to recognize the source of true hope.—Ps. 18:2.
For additional information see The Watchtower, November 1, 1989.
[Chart on page 18]
Poland District Conventions of 1989
CITY DATE ATTENDANCE BAPTISM
Poznan August 4-6 40,442 1,525
Katowice August 4-6 65,710 2,663
Warsaw August 11-13 60,366 1,905
TOTALS 166,518 6,093
[Chart on page 34-41]
1989 SERVICE YEAR REPORT OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES WORLDWIDE
[Map on page 18]
(For fully formatted text, see publication)
[Picture on page 6]
Last service year, 263,855 new disciples were baptized
[Pictures on page 13]
In Italy at the “Godly Devotion” conventions, the new book “Questions Young People Ask—Answers That Work” is released, and youths proudly display their new books
At a convention in the United States, the book “The Bible—God’s Word or Man’s?” is released
[Pictures on page 19]
Slaski Stadium in Chorzów, near Katowice, was jammed with conventioners; and multitudes were baptized
[Pictures on page 20]
Delegates from Eastern Europe were thrilled to be among the vast throngs who attended the Poznan convention, where the new brochure “Should You Believe in the Trinity?” was released in the Polish language
[Pictures on page 21]
The stadium in Warsaw was packed with delegates from 28 countries. Here portions of the program were translated simultaneously into 16 languages. Standing is the French translator along with the Polish speakers
[Picture on page 22]
The first European class of the Ministerial Training School graduated on June 18, 1989, Vienna, Austria
[Pictures on page 23]
In the United States the third class of the Ministerial Training School graduated on November 13, 1988, and the fourth class on June 11, 1989
[Picture on page 27]
The Mauritius branch contains offices and residential quarters. There is a Kingdom Hall on one side of the property
[Pictures on page 28]
Four separate buildings surrounded by lush tropical gardens make up the 96,000-square-foot [8,900 sq m] Bethel complex in El Salvador. The complex has a new lobby and a dining room seating 200, as well as rooming for 72 Bethel volunteers
[Pictures on page 29]
The branch complex in Peru has a new warehouse and Kingdom Hall, as well as 36 additional rooms, making a total of 58 rooms. The lobby is seen at right
[Pictures on page 30]
In Japan the new eight-story branch residence building has 96,700 square feet [8,980 sq m] of floor space and includes 128 rooms for Bethel volunteers. The lobby is seen at right. The new factory has floor space of 243,000 square feet [22,600 sq m]