Jehovah’s Witnesses—1991 Yearbook Report
THE city was not populated by farmers. Yet what he wrote to certain citizens of this citadel of commerce and politics had to do with the fundamental principles of agriculture. ‘First, plant the seed,’ he said. ‘Then water and cultivate the crop.’ Next, he revealed a third element, the most crucial to plant growth. He said: ‘God keeps making it grow.’—1 Cor. 3:6.
The city was Corinth, located on the Isthmus of Corinth; the time, the first century. The writer was the Christian apostle Paul, and the crux of his subject was the spiritual growth of the followers of Christ. Listen as Paul presents three terse statements about reaching Christian maturity: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God kept making it grow.” Then, to be sure we get the point, he says: “So that neither is he that plants anything nor is he that waters, but God who makes it grow.” (1 Cor. 3:7) Planting and watering are complementary, but what Jehovah God does is on an entirely different level. God does what no man can do: He makes it grow.
‘God Keeps Making It Grow’
Well could the apostle Paul say about his efforts in the ministry that “God kept making it grow.” How Jehovah blessed Paul’s 18-month ministry in Corinth! (Acts 18:9-11) And God also made things grow in other areas where Paul carried on his ministry, such as at Ephesus, Philippi, and Thessalonica.—Acts 20:17-38; Phil. 1:3-7; 1 Thess. 1:3-10.
When we examine the planting and watering work done by the international brotherhood of Jehovah’s Witnesses during the past 12 months, we too can thankfully say: “God kept making it grow.” Thus, during the past service year, we had an average of 3,846,311 Kingdom publishers, with a peak of 4,017,213 publishers. We reached the highest number ever baptized—301,518! What about future growth? With 3,624,091 Bible studies being held each month and with 9,950,058 attending the Memorial of Jesus’ death last April 10, the potential is very good.
From Peak to Peak
From around the world, reports show that our brothers have been busy in their spiritual farming work. They obtained 2,968,309 new subscriptions for The Watchtower and Awake!, a 23-percent increase. And not only did nearly all branches report peaks in publishers but a number had peaks repeatedly. Thus, Sweden reported five peaks during the 1990 service year; Austria, France, and Switzerland reported six peaks each. Czechoslovakia and Côte d’Ivoire reported 11 peaks during the year, Poland 12, and Yugoslavia 7. Brazil had nine peaks, the most recent being a total of 293,466 publishers.
Particularly outstanding is Ireland. Our brothers there had 12 peaks this year, making 29 peaks in a row, and they rejoice with a 10-percent increase in publishers over the previous year. Guatemala had 41 peaks in the past 42 months. And what about Mexico? It had 78 peaks in the past 80 months and now has upwards of 304,000 publishers.
The harder we work and the more Kingdom seed we plant, the more God will keep making it grow. For example, look at Venezuela. There the congregation publishers average 14 hours and one Bible study a month. At their Memorial, they had 197,211 present, almost four times the number of their publishers and 33,000 more than last year. In six years they doubled their number of publishers from 25,305 to 51,933, a 105-percent increase! And in the past year, they had eight publisher peaks. A similar report comes from Ecuador. “This has been the best year for Kingdom expansion in the history of the work,” said the branch. They had almost twice as many home Bible studies as publishers. In August they reported a peak of 18,069 publishers. And they reached seven peaks during the past service year.
Japan is a country where Jehovah has indeed made things grow, for in August 1990 they had their 140th consecutive peak of publishers in the field—147,622. And that is happening in a land where the missionaries of Babylon the Great gave up, saying: “There is no way that Christianity will ever really take root in Japan.”
“Out of the Mouth of Babes”
Not only do men and women serve as God’s fellow workers but also those of tender years can bring praise to Jehovah God. Thus, on one occasion in Jesus’ ministry, young children sang his praise. This greatly disturbed his religious opponents, but he answered their objections by saying: “Did you never read this,‘Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings you have furnished praise’?”—Matt. 21:16.
In our day do we also have children furnishing praise to God? We most certainly do! For example, there was little four-year-old Mi Mi living in Myanmar, who refused to join with her class in prayer. Her teacher asked: “You are a Christian, why don’t you join in prayers?” Mi Mi replied: “Yes, I am a Christian, but you pray to the Trinity, I pray to Jehovah.”
When a certain schoolteacher took a young New Zealand Witness girl to the principal because she refused to sing the national anthem, the principal burst out laughing. She then said to the Witness child that she was sorry for the embarrassment the teacher had caused her and added: “Continue in your deeds of courage because I admire your religion and the courage it has displayed both outside and here in school.”
And then there is little Juancito, a four-year-old child in Uruguay. Neither of his parents is one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, but his grandmother is. She looks after him while his parents are working. He has taught his parents to bow their heads when he prays at meals. And using an issue of the Awake! magazine on the subject of tobacco, he kept after his parents until they both gave up smoking. As a result of his efforts, both of his parents as well as other relatives are now reading the literature of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
When six-year-old Rodolfo in Argentina took his copy of My Book of Bible Stories to school, one of his classmates became curious and asked him to visit him at his home. The result? Rodolfo started a Bible study with his classmate. Before long the parents became interested, and today the whole family are baptized Witnesses.
Louise, a seven-year-old lassie in Britain, was asked to bring something Egyptian to school as part of a project on the land of Egypt. She took along her copy of My Book of Bible Stories, as it had several chapters dealing with Egypt. She also took along the drama cassette Jehovah’s Name to Be Declared in All the Earth, dealing with the Ten Plagues. The teacher listened to the tape privately and was so impressed that she arranged for all the children to come together every Tuesday to hear part of the tape and discuss the plagues. A total of 70 schoolchildren and three teachers were present. All are now very familiar with Jehovah’s name, thanks to the initiative of Louise in taking this tape to school.
In Italy the branch office stressed placing magazines during a certain month. One little girl of eight devoted 60 hours that month to field service and placed 51 magazines, and another little girl of ten devoted 61 hours and placed 110 magazines during the same month. No question about it, today as in times past Jehovah is perfecting praise by means of small children.
Relief Campaign for Romania
During the early part of 1990, a noteworthy relief campaign was organized to assist our fellow workers in need in Romania. This greatly benefited them in both spiritual and material ways. Over 70 tons of foodstuffs were sent from Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Yugoslavia during January, February, and March. In addition, tons of cleaning supplies and other items were shipped, and a large consignment of clothing and shoes was distributed. The response of our brothers in Europe was truly impressive. Even little children who heard of the plight of our brothers in Romania contributed money to help.
Our Romanian brothers expressed great appreciation for the gifts received and are determined to do all they can to share the truth with others. The brothers write: “Many worldly people were surprised when we received huge amounts of relief goods from our brothers all over the world. Part of the goods were distributed among worldly people, and this helped many to change their mind about Jehovah’s Witnesses. Many people got help from us, while they did not get help from their clergy. Each time assistance was rendered, the brothers took advantage of the opportunity to give a thorough witness.”
Growth at Bethel Homes
More workers in the field mean more workers at the 93 Bethel Homes. The full-time ministers who serve at Bethel help keep the publishers in their country organized for Kingdom-preaching and well supplied with literature. In 1980 the worldwide Bethel family numbered 5,039; ten years later the figure is 11,092.
Bethel volunteers also keep busy in field service. Because of their full work schedule, very few can auxiliary pioneer. However, a sister serving in the Guatemala Bethel Home auxiliary pioneered during the month of April. As a result of her street witnessing before breakfast and after working hours, she placed 556 magazines.
With full-color printing expanding around the world, it was necessary this past year for the Watch Tower Society’s headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, to purchase, inspect, crate, and export five of the four-color high-speed web offset presses. These were sent to the following branches: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, France, and Spain. Also, an order was placed for another press for South Africa.
These facts remind us of what Jehovah foretold at Isaiah 65:13, 14: “Look! My own servants will eat, but you yourselves will go hungry. Look! My own servants will drink, but you yourselves will go thirsty. Look! My own servants will rejoice, but you yourselves will suffer shame. Look! My own servants will cry out joyfully because of the good condition of the heart.”
Certainly we rejoice in the way Jehovah is blessing our efforts. However, there are two things we want to bear in mind: First, we must zealously plant and water. And second, it is God who makes things grow. This second point should keep all of God’s servants humble. We are like the farmer, who plants and cultivates but must depend upon the sunshine and rain that God provides in order to reap a good crop.—Matt. 5:45.
Growth at World Headquarters
“Your people will offer themselves willingly . . . You have your company of young men just like dewdrops.” So sang King David about the volunteer spirit of Jehovah’s people. (Ps. 110:3) Today, throughout Jehovah’s visible organization, there are numerous young men and women who, just like dewdrops, give refreshing service to God and to fellow worshipers. More than four thousand of them serve as Bethelites at the Watch Tower Society’s world headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, and at nearby farms. Because of the rapid increase in the number of Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide, growth is taking place also at the world headquarters.
More volunteer workers are needed in Brooklyn, and so is more space to house these. Thus, the Governing Body determined that a nine-story factory building at 160 Jay Street, purchased in 1986 and not yet remodeled, be demolished to make room for the construction of a 30-story Bethel residence building that will be known by a new address, 90 Sands Street. This building will accommodate an additional thousand persons. Final governmental approval for the project was given on August 30, 1990. The overall project will take about three years to complete.
This past year the Society was able to complete the purchase of a property known as 85 Jay Street, which contains several buildings of various sizes. It is two blocks from the factory complex and has a ground area of 97,800 square feet [9,100 sq m], larger than that of the present five factory buildings. The property will be held for any future needs.
In the spring of 1989, the Society bought a newly constructed building, with unfinished interior, located at 67 Livingston Street, about a 15-minute walk from the Watch Tower central offices. It is a narrow building (nicknamed the Sliver) 29 stories in height that will accommodate about 150 Bethelites. Occupancy took place in late 1990.
Early in 1989 it was announced that work was under way on the largest single construction project ever undertaken by the Society’s engineering and construction staff—the Watchtower Educational Center. The center is located on 658 acres [266 ha] in a scenic valley at Patterson, New York, 70 miles [110 km] north of Brooklyn and 45 miles [72 km] east of Watchtower Farms. A school and office complex is planned, with residence buildings and support services for up to 1,200 students and Bethel workers. Final Site Plan approval came on August 30, 1990, the same date the 90 Sands Street building was approved in Brooklyn.
A report by Patterson Farm on obtaining building permits for this vast project states: “Jehovah’s direction has been evident in these dealings. An example of this is a recent announcement from the State that no additional wastewater treatment plants would be approved in the watershed area. The last plant approved was ours.”
As of September 1, 1990, a visitors’ center was opened and will function seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. It has an observation deck that gives a fine vantage point for viewing nearly all the construction activity at the educational center.
Next, let us turn our attention to the literature production of the Brooklyn factories. They printed 44 percent more Bibles than last year—a total of 3,155,811, which includes 1,161,189 deluxe Bibles. Export Shipping saw to it that more than 19 million pounds [8.5 million kg] of material got to the right locations in all parts of the world, while Domestic Shipping handled over 10.5 million pounds [4.8 million kg] for the United States.
Any pollutants that may result from our printing must be removed. To accomplish this, a large pollution-control unit was placed on the roof of one of the five factory buildings. This new Katec unit replaces five existing pollution-control devices. The new unit incinerates ink solvents with temperatures of up to 1,400° F [760° C.]. This is one of the first installations of its kind in the New York City area. The Department of Environmental Protection stated that they believed that the Society’s installation would be used as a benchmark, or standard, for future installations in the New York area. The reason they gave? They had confidence that the Society would strictly adhere to governmental regulations in the fabrication involved and that the installation of the unit would be a model worthy of imitation.
Watchtower Farms reported that the subscription campaign in October and November 1989 resulted in 596,087 subscriptions processed—a 36-percent increase for the United States! That figure includes a 57-percent increase in new subscriptions obtained. Also, the Society’s own computer system, MEPS, is in use in over 90 lands and is able to accommodate more than 190 languages.
Memorable Events in Germany
Startling events in the GDR (German Democratic Republic) in 1989 led to the fall of a seemingly unconquerable regime. Legal status was granted to Jehovah’s Witnesses on March 14, 1990, ending a 40-year ban on their activities. What a thrill for the brothers! Why, even non-Witnesses reacted positively to the legal recognition. “Good news!” wrote one reader to a Berlin newspaper. “Though religiously nonaligned, I feel deeply moved.”
Legal status brought freedom to import literature of the Watchtower Society into the GDR. Imagine the excitement at the Germany branch at Selters in the western part of the Federal Republic of Germany! March 30, 1990, saw a truck being loaded with 25 tons of our literature, all destined for the GDR. Milton G. Henschel and Theodore Jaracz of the Governing Body were present to witness the historic event.
Further deliveries followed. Supplying an additional 250 tons, including 115,000 Bibles, to the GDR over the next two months almost exhausted literature stocks at Selters. And beginning with The Watchtower of May 1, and the Awake! of May 8, 1990, Witnesses in the GDR have been receiving all the copies they need. But what would our brothers in eastern Germany do with all that literature?
Freedom to Do What?
“Are you going to get involved in politics?” a journalist asked Brother Helmut Martin, coordinator of the work in the GDR. A natural question, since many clergymen have been in the forefront of political restructuring. “No,” he replied, “that is not the intent of our religion. Jesus gave his disciples a Scriptural assignment, and we see that as our main job.” Yes, books and magazines were eagerly awaited in the GDR for use in the “main job” of preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom.—Matt. 24:14.
The initial delivery was to Bautzen, near Dresden. There, a dispatch team was organized to unpack the literature and prepare it for transport to the congregations. Brothers and sisters worked in shifts, even after their secular jobs, so as to get the books and magazines into the hands of the brothers without delay. For some this was an overwhelming experience. In what way?
During the ban, individuals had volunteered to carry literature over the border into the GDR. Each took great risks to serve others spiritually. One such brother was now on the dispatch team at Bautzen, serving his brothers under very different circumstances. Tears came to his eyes as he stood dwarfed by tons of the very same kind of literature that he had carried in piecemeal. Others recalled the bitter persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The prison at Bautzen, where many had been incarcerated, is within view of the building where the brothers were now freely distributing Christian literature.
First Public Talks
April 1990 witnessed yet another milestone in the history of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the GDR—the first public talk since restrictions were imposed 40 years ago. In Bautzen a hall was rented and then decorated to be worthy of the occasion. Tears of joy were evident as brothers flocked in. Some met for the first time in years, others for the first time ever, even though they lived in the same city. Yes, freedom brought many changes. Until then, meetings had been held in groups of from 10 to 12 persons, who were limited to three copies of a condensed Watchtower magazine. Now, each of the 238 Witnesses in attendance had his own personal copy, and that in full color!
Our brothers in all parts of Germany are grateful to Jehovah that the preaching work can be carried out more freely. The extra work load in Bautzen and elsewhere is seen as a joyful expansion of Kingdom activity. In Selters, working extra time is necessary to meet the demands of Eastern European countries. One member of the Bethel family commented: “We get a thrill every time the production figures go up. It’s great to have a part in the action.”
Conventions Make History
When border controls between East Germany (GDR) and West Germany were lifted on July 1, 1990, one German newspaper headline read: “What Happened on the Border on Sunday Is Incomprehensible for the Mere Eye and Mind.” About 30,000 of Jehovah’s Witnesses from East Germany felt similarly as they attended the special “Pure Language” international convention in the Olympia Stadium in West Berlin from July 24 to 27. Some 45,000 delegates from 64 countries, including seven members of the Governing Body, saw theocratic history in the making.
An East German Witness noted: “After the lifting of the ban, there was a sumptuous feast of unity, love, and harmony. That proves that it was worth keeping illegally active those 40 years.”
The convention was organized especially for the benefit of the brothers from East Germany, and they accepted the invitation with relish and anticipation. Witnesses in Dresden had planted 16,000 flowers, which blossomed right on time and adorned the two convention platforms, the program being conducted in German and in English.
East German officials ran 13 special trains carrying 9,500 Witnesses to the convention in Berlin, and at each railway station in East Berlin, they welcomed the delegates over the public-address system. Additionally, the congregations chartered 200 buses. All visitors could be accommodated thanks to the hospitality of the brothers, their diligence in finding private accommodations, and the kindness of officials in East and West in making schools available.
A delegate from West Germany remarked: “We experienced a shower of warmth and hospitality from the East German brothers. Our host found room for 22 adults and 6 children, turning his home into a miniature mass-accommodation. And he found place for others in the neighborhood.” A couple in East Berlin, with a two-room apartment and four tents in the yard, took in 26 visitors before and during the convention.
What made the convention special for East German Witnesses? For many it was the first chance to attend a convention with their own congregation. Others were impressed by the communal singing of Kingdom songs or viewed the reunion with old friends as a highlight. The spiritual food offered and the new literature released were accepted with great thankfulness.
There was also much appreciation for talks given by the East German elders, who had served their brothers courageously for many years. One Witness related: “When the first brother from the East stood on the platform to discuss the daily text with us—that gave me a feeling I cannot put into words because I knew what he had taken upon himself during the years under ban.”
Following the baptism talk, the 1,018 candidates set the scene for what one person described as “a climax of joy.” For 19 minutes there was nonstop applause in the stadium while the baptism candidates, waving their hands, were led out. Many of those in attendance could not hold back tears of joy and emotion. “We have until now seen events like this only in literature or in slide talks,” remarked one Witness. Other East German brothers recalled their own baptism under ban, in a bathtub.
The love and fine spirit reached beyond the stadium and was noticed by outsiders. A director of West Berlin Transport said: “I have been involved in public events for 20 years, but I have never seen such politeness, consideration, and self-restraint.” A public transport coordinator added: “I wish we always had such pleasant passengers. Come back soon!”
In the concluding talk, Brother M. G. Henschel thanked not only the West Berlin police but also the police in East Berlin for directing traffic. For many who recalled the situation under ban, it was an unbelievable gesture. A brother from Dresden summarized how the delegates from East Germany felt: “The event was so lovely that I caught myself asking whether it was real or just a dream. It was a little foretaste of the new world.”
More Special Conventions in Eastern Europe
From August 2 to 5, about 22,000 assembled in Budapest and three other cities in Hungary. A week later, August 9-12, a national convention was held in Prague, Czechoslovakia, with 23,876 present. During the same period, a convention program presented in Russian and Polish at Warsaw’s largest stadium was attended by more than 35,000, including over 17,000 delegates from the Soviet Union. This was history in the making for the Witnesses from the Soviet Union—the entire program was in the Russian language. Never before had this happened. They were pleasantly surprised too, when the convention program booklet contained 73 Kingdom songs in their own tongue, including all the ones to be sung at the convention. What a time it was to sing praises to Jehovah! In addition, there were ten other conventions in Poland during the months of July and August, with a total attendance reaching 152,460.
For the first time in more than 40 years, Witnesses in Romania met for district conventions. The cities of Brasov and Cluj-Napoca were used, with an estimated 36,000 in attendance. At the conventions in Berlin and in Eastern European cities, the number baptized came to 10,481.
And for the first time ever, Witnesses from Bulgaria enjoyed an entire district convention program in their own language. They were among the 6,537 assembled in Salonika, Greece, August 23-26, 1990. They listened to four talks delivered by brothers from Bulgaria. The rest of the program was translated from Greek into Bulgarian. And one more first: Yugoslavia had district conventions in each one of the six states. Reports of the conventions were published in newspapers, heard on the radio, and seen on television.
In many parts of the world, ethnic problems divide people even within the same country. By their peaceful international gatherings, Jehovah’s Witnesses give evidence that they live and work together in unity regardless of their varied national backgrounds. Thus, ‘God keeps making them grow.’—1 Cor. 3:6.
Branch Dedications: ‘God Made Them Grow’
A healthy child all too soon outgrows his clothes, sending parents on a quest to obtain larger-size apparel. In a similar way, as the number of publishers increases in a country, those charged with oversight seek larger headquarters to meet the demands of a growing force of Kingdom preachers.
A Branch Committee looks upon this as a happy challenge. It is evidence that God is blessing their branch with growth. (1 Cor. 3:6) Last service year, four branches dedicated new facilities exclusively to Jehovah’s service.
November 25, 1989, was the date for the dedication program. The original branch complex was erected in 1982 and dedicated early in 1983. In 1987 the office was enlarged. But now a five-story residence building and a three-story factory addition were dedicated.
Forty years ago, there were just over 4,000 publishers in the country, but now there are more than 51,000, an increase of over 1,100 percent! Nearly 22,000 of these have come into the truth in the past ten years. Printing has expanded to care for the needs of not only Australia but also New Zealand and the many islands of the Pacific region. Publications are now being produced in 37 languages.
Happy hearts and smiling faces were the order of the day in Guatemala City on November 26, 1989. That is when 13,882 of Jehovah’s Witnesses met together to celebrate the dedication of their new branch facilities. The day was the crowning point of seven years of activity leading to a branch complex that has proved to be more than eight times as large in floor area as the previous building. The present site has an area of 2.8 acres [1.1 ha] and abounds with eucalyptus, cypress, and pine trees. Set in such pleasant surroundings, with the picturesque silhouette of volcanoes in the background, the new Guatemala branch facility, with its white walls and red tile roof, truly stands out.
The need for a new branch facility had been evident for quite a number of years. The old branch building near the center of the city had been in use since 1949, when there were only 218 publishers. By 1985, when the property for the new branch complex was bought, the number of publishers had risen to 8,135. By the time the building was completed four years later, the publisher figure had risen to a new peak of 11,147, representing an increase of 37 percent.
Construction actually lasted two and a half years. During that time, the local congregations provided 269 regular workers, as well as more than 2,000 weekend volunteers. Added to this were the 215 who came from foreign countries as near as Costa Rica and as far afield as Canada, Finland, and the United States. These volunteer workers trained the local brothers in different trades, such as concrete work, tile setting, and furniture making.
Visitors were treated to a special day on Saturday, November 25, beginning with tours through the complex. The day ended with a supper in the back garden; the music of the marimba mingled with the sounds of animated conversation and the laughter of friends enjoying sweet Christian fellowship.
Cool weather but warm hearts was the experience of the 5,085 attenders in Tegucigalpa on October 22, 1989, the second day of a special two-day gathering. The dedication program on the 21st recounted the history of the preaching work in Honduras since 1945 when the branch office was opened.
Right next to the original branch building, which was erected in 1961 and enlarged in 1978, sits the new branch addition. The new facility, with its basement, ground floor, and first floor, almost triples the available floor space. There is a covered walkway that connects the new building with the former one, which was completely remodeled. The branch complex now has a total of 13 rooms for accommodations, 10 rooms in the new building and 3 in the remodeled one. There is now ample space for the present 13 members of the Bethel family and for expansion, since the branch complex can now house up to 26 persons. Construction kept some 125 International Volunteer Construction Workers and more than 1,500 local brothers and sisters busy for two years.
On January 20, 1990, when the new branch facilities for Nigeria were dedicated before a crowd of 4,209, representatives from 29 countries were present. The following day over 60,000 attended special meetings in three Nigerian cities.
The new Bethel Home and branch office is located in the countryside near the village of Igieduma, about 225 miles [360 km] from Lagos. It was back in 1983 that the 140-acre [57 ha] site was obtained. Trees and bush had to be cleared from the property, but enough vegetation was left to shelter the remaining antelope. Hundreds of fruit trees and seven thousand pineapples were planted. One day at the early stages of construction, a forestry official came to the site and questioned the project overseer as to why trees were being cut down. However, upon being shown the grounds, the proposed development, and the method of building with voluntary help and donated materials, he was so impressed that on leaving he asked: “Where is the contribution box?” He then put in his contribution and said nothing further about cutting trees and permits.
Ministerial Training School Equips Graduates for Future Growth
In the United States during the past service year, two classes, the fifth and sixth, of the Ministerial Training School were held in Los Angeles, California, and in St. Louis, Missouri. Experienced instructors were also sent from the United States to conduct the first class in Britain, which graduated on June 17, 1990. Additional instructors were also trained for further classes of the school to be held in that country.
The average age for each class of elders and ministerial servants ranged from 29 to 32. These brothers had already gained experience in handling congregation responsibility. Most had been serving in some form of full-time service before enrolling in the school. Graduates of these three classes were invited to take up assignments in places where there is a current need, such as Britain, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Honduras, Leeward Islands, Senegal, Taiwan, United States, and Zambia.
The school course is an intensive one covering a wide range of Bible teachings, organizational procedures, and counsel for shepherding responsibilities and for handling problems in Christian living. Those who came to school with limited speaking, shepherding, and teaching experience were trained to develop such experience so that they would be better equipped to take on greater responsibility in the future. Students attending the school deeply appreciated the kindness and hospitality of the brothers who housed them during the school term. Breakfast and noon meals were provided for the students at the Assembly Hall where classes were held. Each morning just before breakfast, their routine called for a consideration of the daily text, similar to that conducted at all of the Society’s branches.
All the graduates express great appreciation for what the organization is doing in their behalf. Members of the sixth class, for example, viewed the school course as being exceptional and said that the program provided an excellent foundation on which to base their lives. The class in Britain commented: “We experience the joy of being taught by Jehovah and wholeheartedly recommend that single brothers reach out for this goal.”
Arrangements have already been made for classes to be conducted during this service year in a number of other languages, including French, German, Italian, and Spanish. In many countries this year, district overseers will meet with single elders and ministerial servants who are interested in attending the school and discuss with them the requirements they must meet in order to be eligible for such training.
Hospital Information Services—A Helper for a Time of Need
In January 1988 the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses established the Hospital Information Services (HIS) at the world headquarters in Brooklyn, New York. For what purposes? To research the medical literature for nonblood medical management treatments, to develop and maintain records on cooperative surgeons, and to train and supervise selected elders to assist Jehovah’s Witnesses in a time of medical need.—Compare Matthew 25:36.
Why such a service now? From Acts 15:28, 29, it is clear that true Christians must ‘abstain from blood,’ just as they abstain from idolatry and from fornication. Conscientious obedience to this law of God has brought the Witnesses into conflict with a powerful element of this world that wants them to compromise, often trying to frighten them to acquiesce by threatening to force upon Witnesses a defiling violation of their dedicated bodies. (Rom. 12:1) Yet, the Witnesses are “firmly resolved” to obey God and not ingest blood.—Deut. 12:23-25.
This position is often misunderstood by others as a rejection of all medical treatment or as exercising a so-called right to die. Witnesses do not wish to die; rather, they seek alternative medical treatment without the use of homologous blood. At times the Witnesses either have to educate the medical community on the availability of effective nonblood management or have to face the problem of trying to find a cooperative physician who respects the patient’s right to make an informed choice of such treatment.
Thus, since 1988 in the United States, a total of 18 HIS seminars have trained more than 600 elders to serve on a network of 100 Hospital Liaison Committees located in major U.S. cities. These committees have since made hundreds of informative presentations to the medical staff at various hospitals to help them appreciate the Witnesses’ reasonable position on the medical use of blood. How is this done?
The committee alerts the hospital staff to the many alternative procedures now available, explaining to them how the Witnesses’ health problems can be and are being managed without the use of homologous blood. The committee then offers to poll the medical staff to see who are willing to cooperate with the Witnesses. Some of these health-care centers have since adjusted hospital policies to accommodate the Witness patient. Others are at the point of becoming centers for alternative nonblood management. Thanks to Jehovah, these changes have greatly reduced the number of confrontations the Witnesses once endured.
The Hospital Liaison Committees are also schooled to train Witnesses to talk to hospital administrators, the surgical team, and others about nonblood management of the patient’s medical needs. Additionally, the committees are able to assist in setting up consultations with favorable doctors so that less-experienced surgeons can learn how to treat Witnesses without homologous blood. In emergency situations, the committees have even been able to defuse literally hundreds of confrontations and have averted threats of forced blood transfusions.—Compare Isaiah 32:1, 2.
For example, a Witness was seriously injured in a head-on automobile accident. He suffered a broken left hip, a cracked pelvis, several fractured ribs, a two-inch [5 cm] opening in his left temple, and a severely mangled left arm that was hemorrhaging badly, with the elbow now missing. Some doctors insisted that blood was required to do the surgery needed to stop the bleeding.
The relatives of the injured brother got in touch with the nearest Hospital Liaison Committee for help in finding another physician or another facility that would cooperate with their Scriptural stand. But because of valuable time lost while doctors were unsuccessfully trying to persuade the family to accept blood, the patient’s hemoglobin count had dropped perilously low (4.5 grams). This made it unwise to transfer him elsewhere. However, consultation by the primary-care physician with a favorable surgeon was arranged. The result? Because of having a better understanding of what could be done, the surgical team agreed to operate without blood. The operation was successfully performed, and the patient was home again less than a month after the accident.
In another case a 16-month-old baby with meningitis was becoming more anemic. As is often the case, the anemia was due to many blood samples being routinely taken for testing purposes. Pediatricians wanted to transfuse blood to combat the anemia that they were causing. Working with the Hospital Liaison Committee, HIS sent to the hospital an article from a medical journal that explained how to avoid drawing so much blood. The pediatrician in charge accepted the information and altered his procedure, and the baby was successfully treated without blood.
In another case, a newborn infant developed a quite common jaundice condition called hyperbilirubinemia. Medical articles that explain the benefits of double-light phototherapy for this condition were sent by HIS to the local committees, who then spoke with the doctors involved. When this procedure was followed, the “standard” treatment of blood transfusions was not needed.
During February and March of this year, members of HIS conducted four seminars for eight branch offices in the Pacific area, and ten more seminars are scheduled for Europe and Latin America. Our prayer is that Jehovah will continue to bless this loving provision to assist our brothers in a time of need.
“O Jehovah, who is there like you, delivering the afflicted one from one stronger than he is?” asks Psalm 35:10. Restrictions on the activity of Jehovah’s people have been lifted in some African countries. What a reason to thank Jehovah for deliverance!
After nearly 14 years, the ban on the work in Benin was lifted by the authorities on January 23, 1990. The government decreed that the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania is legally recognized and is free to carry on its religious activities. Then, in early April, another decree was published, authorizing the missionary work of Jehovah’s Witnesses and annulling the former decree that expelled the missionaries in April 1976. The decree even listed the names of the missionaries who had been expelled at that time, saying that they, as well as any other missionaries of Jehovah’s Witnesses, are free to exercise their missionary activities in Benin.
Since then the Benin brothers have been working with great zeal and enthusiasm to get the work reorganized and to build new Kingdom Halls, as well as to repossess the branch property and Kingdom Halls that had previously been seized by the revolutionary government. The new government has promised that all confiscated properties will be returned to their rightful owners. At the time of writing, the branch property in Cotonou, the missionary home in Porto-Novo, and several Kingdom Halls have been returned to the brothers. Although all need repair and renovation, the Kingdom Halls are being used again for congregation meetings.
As soon as the Society’s branch property was returned in mid-July of 1990, the brothers planned two special assemblies for August 11 and 12, to be held on the land surrounding the Bethel Home. Thus, the local people would come to know that Jehovah’s Witnesses had repossessed their rightful property. The Nigeria branch, which oversees the work in Benin, agreed.
The brothers wondered if preparations could be made in time because they had only one month to clean and level the land, cut bamboo poles to construct the booths and seats for three thousand persons, build the cafeteria and other departments, prepare toilet facilities, and cover all the roofs with woven straw mats. To their happy surprise, when the guest speaker arrived, not only was that work complete but the entire concrete wall surrounding the property was whitewashed as well. The main entrance to Bethel and the Kingdom Hall were repainted too, and the badly soiled property was renovated. The brothers had removed the huge sign that identified the previous occupants, replacing it with a beautifully painted watchtower, along with the words “WATCH TOWER SOCIETY.” At the main gate, they had erected another sign, saying “Welcome to the Bethel of Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
Since the property borders a lagoon and has a gate opening onto the lagoon, the brothers built steps down into the water where 22 persons were baptized during the two special assembly days. Everyone rejoiced that Bethel was being used once again to praise Jehovah.
A presidential speech and news conference in Zaire on April 24, 1990, indicated a marked change in the attitude toward the activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Zaire.
In his news conference before both national and foreign journalists, the president gave assurance that in Zaire all the basic freedoms exist, including freedom of the press and freedom of religion. Thus, it is no surprise to the general population to see Jehovah’s Witnesses preaching and meeting more openly and carrying on their religious activities. Brothers who had been held in prison for preaching or for attending religious meetings were released. Since interest in the truth is great and has manifested itself in several new peaks in publishers and Bible studies in 1990, the brothers are grateful for this favorable development.
The work had been under ban in Togo since May 1978. However, on October 21, 1987, the government of Togo inaugurated a commission, known as the National Commission on Human Rights, to investigate reports of human rights violations and to recommend solutions. Later, after a petition appealing for freedom of worship was made, five elders representing Jehovah’s Witnesses in Togo were invited to appear before a Working Committee of the Human Rights Commission to explain the Witnesses’ stand on many of the issues on which they had been misrepresented.
Following that, on October 12, 1989, the National Commission on Human Rights organized a public forum on the theme “Freedom of Worship and Public Order” and again invited five elders to attend. Since the forum was telecast and given wide newspaper coverage, an effective, countrywide witness for the truth resulted. The harassment of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the tension caused by the ban in Togo were thus eased.
The congregations have taken full advantage of the relative calm to intensify Kingdom activity on a scale unprecedented in Togo’s history. During the service year, there were nine publisher peaks and an increase of 20 percent. Each month, congregation publishers averaged 15 hours in the service and conducted nearly two Bible studies.
The brothers write: “We are certainly grateful to Jehovah for the freedom we now enjoy. We pray that there will be a complete lifting of the ban.”
One of the most outstanding happenings in Mozambique during the 1990 service year occurred on May 27, when the legal organization Association of Jehovah’s Witnesses of Mozambique was formed in Maputo. This was a significant step toward legal recognition of the work by the government. On the following day, the constitution of the Association was presented to the government representative in Maputo. The brothers are now awaiting further word.
Four months earlier, on January 27 and 28, 1990, Witnesses held their first circuit assembly openly at Manga Stadium in Beira, where 753 persons were in attendance, and 42 of them were baptized. This assembly has led to a great increase in home Bible studies and congregation meeting attendance in that city. This circuit assembly was a spiritual eye-opener even for some of our brothers, many of whom had never attended a ‘big gathering’ in their years in the truth.
“Praise Jah, you people, for it is good to make melody to our God; for it is pleasant—praise is fitting,” sang the psalmist. (Ps. 147:1) Despite tests of faith, the publishers in Asia have found that giving praise to Jehovah is very pleasant.
The Philippines branch office reports that a sister in Lapu-Lapu, who is also a schoolteacher, took a strong, uncompromising stand for the truth. Listen to her story: “One day I was called into the office of our district supervisor and told that I must contribute a certain amount to buy a birthday gift for a fellow teacher. Three things came to my mind. First, the amount desired was inconsequential. Second, my contribution would please my superior and could gain me favors. Third, if I contributed, no one in the congregation, not even my husband, would know.
“But I recognized the snare laid out by Satan and so quietly told my supervisor: ‘Please count me out in this affair. God’s instruction is for me to keep away from celebrations of the world, including birthdays, and my conscience does not allow me to disobey him.’ At this he shouted abuse at me and told me to leave the school system if I could not conform to group policies. He was not able to force me to contribute, but he pressured me in my work, giving me extra teaching loads, perhaps to find fault and dismiss me. But I executed his requests dutifully, promptly, and efficiently. As a result, the supervisor whom I refused to obey by not giving a birthday gift later promoted me. However, it is not my promotion that gave me the greatest happiness but the spiritual progress of my family. In the same year as my promotion, two of our children were baptized.”
A congregation on distant Andaman Islands, in the Bay of Bengal, desired to increase its praise of Jehovah through the placing of The Watchtower. So during the magazine campaign, the congregation’s enthusiasm for the subscription offer was built up by encouraging each publisher to set a goal of obtaining one subscription per week and if that goal was met, to set a goal of two. At congregation meetings the total number of subscriptions obtained by the brothers was announced each week, and publishers were interviewed during the Service Meeting to give their experiences in obtaining subscriptions. The result? In one month this small congregation obtained 150 subscriptions. This was equivalent to what the congregation had placed over the previous two and one half years!
In Korea a famous TV actress found that her fame had brought her only unhappiness, including a failed marriage. She was most impressed with the fine moral standard of one of her colleagues, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, who started a Bible study with her. Finally, she was baptized in June 1989. She enjoyed a month as an auxiliary pioneer, and everywhere she witnessed in the door-to-door ministry, she was recognized. Now, she says, she wants to be known as a minister of Jehovah rather than as a TV actress.
“May the sighing of the prisoner come in even before you. According to the greatness of your arm preserve those appointed to death.” Those words of Psalm 79:11 have comforted many of the oppressed. But now Europe has been swept by the winds of change, allowing greater religious freedom for Jehovah’s Witnesses.
From Romania comes this account: “After 42 long years, we are glad to send a joyful report about the activity in Romania. We are grateful to our loving Father, Jehovah God, who listened to the fervent prayers of millions of brothers and put an end to the merciless persecution.—Dan. 2:21.
“Since March we have been organizing the house-to-house service in far distant villages. Usually, we preach in the whole village, inviting all the people to come and listen to a free Bible talk in the community hall we have rented. In one village with 1,200 inhabitants, more than 500 people were present for the lecture. After the program, a professor gave thanks to the brothers in behalf of all present for the fine explanations of the Bible. More then 200 persons left their addresses with our brothers and asked to be visited.”
Jehovah has opened a large door that leads to activity in Hungary, and many of the Hungarian brothers have entered through it. Since the beginning of the calendar year, they have had full-color magazines and have used them well in preaching the good news. About 100,000 magazines were placed monthly, indicating the awakened interest of the population. They made 13,000 more return visits and conducted 1,100 more Bible studies than they did each month the previous service year. The result was that at their four “Pure Language” District Conventions, 901 persons symbolized their dedication by water baptism.
During this past year, great changes took place in Bulgaria as well. The construction of their first Kingdom Hall was started, and it should soon be filled because there are many interested persons. Owing to the changed situation in Bulgaria, some Witnesses from other countries have moved there. Thus, there are already some regular and auxiliary pioneers. Additionally, brothers from Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Greece have made visits to render help in connection with the distribution of spiritual food and the organizing of meetings and field service.
Exciting things happened during the past service year in Yugoslavia. Seven publisher peaks were reached. The number of home Bible studies continually increased, as did the number being baptized. Regular pioneer service was also on the rise. As the number of publishers grew, new Kingdom Halls had to be built. This year seven new Kingdom Halls were dedicated. The brothers rejoice that they receive the magazines in full color and that Awake! is now published monthly.
A publisher in Norway was calling back at a house where previously no one was home. He had tried several times at different hours. As he was leaving the house, the householder with his family arrived. They had left but came back to take care of something they had forgotten. The publisher was invited in and then was told by the wife that she had been disfellowshipped several years earlier because of smoking. Now she wanted to come back to the congregation, but she believed it would be difficult because she had been away for so long. The brother, who is an elder, advised her on what steps she had to take. Her husband, whom she had married after being disfellowshipped, listened to this intently and accepted a Bible study on the spot. She had already witnessed frequently to him.
Soon she was reinstated and has since then become an active and zealous publisher. Her husband was opposed by a grown son from a former marriage. Because of the father’s calm and kind explanations, the son agreed to have a Bible study. The truth has produced great changes in his life. In February 1990 he and his father were baptized.
The small band of publishers on the Faeroe Islands in the North Atlantic are driven by great energy to find deserving ones, even if the search takes them to small isolated islands. The number of Bible studies is 39 percent above that for last service year.
One of the Faeroese persons baptized during the year is Elisabeth. She lives on an island where there is no Kingdom Hall. In order to attend meetings, she must, together with others, travel by car and by boat. Shortly after her baptism, a relative challenged her to preach to the people in her own native village. Resolutely, she picked up 20 magazines and started visiting all her neighbors. When she returned, she was all smiles. She had placed all the magazines except two. In the meantime, her in-laws arrived; they got the last two magazines.
“May the afflicted one and the poor one praise your name,” reads Psalm 74:21. When a healthy economy turns sour, providing for the everyday needs of life becomes a real challenge. Nevertheless, the Witnesses in Latin America still voice praise to Almighty God, Jehovah.
March 15, 1990, will long be remembered in Brazil as the date of the economic shock. The government put into effect its plan to stop runaway inflation that passed 80 percent a month. One measure was to freeze bank accounts above a certain amount for a period of 18 months. This meant that the only money available to individuals and to firms was the minimum available in these accounts and any cash on hand.
Literature placements in the field were affected. The congregations and publishers were all hard put to meet rent and other monthly payments. The branch office also had the problem of paying for the monthly shipments of paper and supplies and of keeping the 1,230 special pioneers, 228 traveling overseers and their wives, and the 800 members of the Bethel family in their respective services. At stake, too, was the construction of the new factory annex, which was half completed. How did the brothers cope with this crisis?
All purchases apart from those absolutely essential were postponed. Construction was cut back. The Bethel family agreed to do without their monthly reimbursements for a time. Then telephone calls began to come in to the branch from the brothers making available donations and loans. As the weeks passed, so did the crisis. Finally the government allowed nonprofit organizations to withdraw some funds, allowing the Society gradually to resume normal functioning.
In spite of the economic shock, March showed a new peak of publishers, the fifth for the service year. With four more peaks to come, Brazil ended the service year with 293,466 Kingdom proclaimers reporting. This increase made it necessary to form 13 new circuits during the year.
In recent years El Salvador has become known as a country of economic upheavals and uncontrollable lawlessness. Even under these trying circumstances, Jehovah’s people kept spiritually strong and active and looked forward to the district conventions planned for December and January.
As Saturday, November 11, 1989, was drawing to a close, warfare broke out and explosions occurred throughout the country. Over the next few weeks, extensive losses of life and property were suffered. Thousands, including many of our brothers, abandoned their homes as they fled areas of violence, and droves of people looked for ways to flee the country. Many people were forced to remain in their homes for over a week with little food and water, huddled together in the safest places they could find. What a fine display of Christian love was shown as so many of the brothers in less dangerous areas opened up their homes to their brothers in need. The branch office took immediate steps to provide necessities for the brothers who had fled with nothing but the clothes they wore. As the fighting came to a halt, many brothers were left homeless, and others had to repair their damaged houses. It was necessary to change the schedules for the evening meetings so that everyone could return home before the curfew hour. Sadly, two of our sisters lost their lives during this period of violence.
How did all of this affect the plans for the four district conventions? The branch report explains: “Large meetings like our conventions would be considered out of the question at this time. We trusted in Jehovah to open the way . . . and went ahead with all the planning as if nothing had happened. The convention committees met with the military authorities in charge of giving permission to hold public meetings. In San Miguel, where there was much violence even up to the end of December, permission was not granted. Then members of the Branch Committee talked to the military leader and explained what we had planned and how our convention would give assurance to the people that everything was returning to normal. Thus permission was granted. We also had the permission needed to hold our assemblies in San Salvador and Santa Ana. To many, this was indeed a miracle.”
The district conventions were just what they needed. The peak attendance for the four conventions reached 32,137, with 758 baptized. The Memorial attendance gave them further proof that the work was on the increase, when 60,783 attended, an increase of 4 percent over 1989. Though many people keep fleeing the country, mostly seeking material benefits elsewhere, the branch office says: “We are happy to be in El Salvador and see Jehovah’s hand at work and the number of sheeplike ones who keep associating with Jehovah’s organization as they search for the truth.”
North America and Caribbean Islands
“I shall laud Jehovah very much with my mouth, and in among many people I shall praise him,” proclaimed David. (Ps. 109:30) Today, Jehovah’s Witnesses laud Jehovah before many people, even before a court of law.
In the United States, three major court cases involving the right of patients to refuse blood transfusions were decided in favor of Jehovah’s Witnesses by the highest courts in three states. In April 1986 a sister in Florida sought medical care for uterine bleeding. She informed the hospital that she would not accept blood under any circumstances. A hearing was conducted, and the judge authorized blood transfusions because the sister was the mother of two teenage sons who needed her as a nurturing parent. Although blood was administered, the case was appealed. On March 16, 1989, the Florida Supreme Court ruled six to one in favor of the Witness patient. This decision affirmed the right of adult Jehovah’s Witnesses to refuse blood transfusions even if they are the parents of minor children. In a special concurring opinion, two of the Florida Supreme Court justices went so far as to take excerpts from the Society’s brief verbatim and adopt them as their opinion.
In early 1987, a 17-year-old sister living in Illinois was diagnosed as suffering from leukemia. Upon being hospitalized, she refused to consent to the use of blood products. Her mother supported her choice of nonblood treatment. The hospital sought and obtained a court order authorizing the use of blood. On November 13, 1989, a five-justice majority of the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the Witness, even though a minor, had the right to refuse medical treatment that was objectionable to her. The court based its decision on the sister’s common-law right of bodily self-determination. The court said that the common law had long recognized the right of mature minors to make their own medical decisions. This is the first ever favorable state supreme court decision involving a Witness who is a minor.
New York State was the scene of another case, one in which a Witness who is a mother received a court-ordered blood transfusion. Posed before the court was the question: Can a patient be forced to submit to treatment against her will for the sake of her minor children? No, answered the New York Court of Appeals on January 18, 1990. The court stated: “In sum, the patient, as a competent adult, had a right to determine the course of her own treatment, which included the right to decline blood transfusions.”
These three victories with regard to the blood issue represent the most significant work done in decades in protecting the rights of Jehovah’s Witnesses to prevent forced blood transfusions. In addition, the Society’s Legal Department made several hundred copies of its child custody information packet available to Witnesses facing legal confrontations that challenge their right as Witness parents to raise their children.
Winter in parts of Alaska can be brutal. For several weeks this past winter, exceptionally low temperatures of from 30 to 60 degrees below zero Fahrenheit [-35° C. to -50° C.] at Fairbanks and the nearby town of North Pole did not stop publishers from preaching. In Valdez, record snowfall of more than 600 inches [15 m] piled snow higher than the homes. Despite this, the brothers continued in the field ministry as they walked on trails above the rooftops, stepping down to the doorways to find the residents.
How valuable may a visit to Bethel prove to be? The Bethel in the Dominican Republic helped a sailor change course. The wife of a sailor began to study the Bible with a Witness and then sent him Bible literature while he was aboard ship. The aircraft carrier he was on stopped at Santo Domingo as a port of call. His shipmates were anxious to go ashore for more mundane reasons, but he let it be known that he was going to “visit Bethel.” His shipmates asked: ‘What in the world is Bethel?’ Not knowing for sure, he replied: “I guess it is like the Vatican!”
Though apprehensive, he visited Bethel and was warmly received and given a tour of the facilities. As it was Saturday, he went along with one of the Bethelites to care for some errands and in this way got to meet a number of Witnesses. When it was time to go back on board, he just did not want to leave. A few months later, the branch family received word that he had been granted a release from his military commitment, in spite of his holding a high security assignment. He and his wife were soon baptized, and he writes: “The day I spent with you did more for me than I can ever truly express in words. July 10, I got out of the Navy. In September, I became an unbaptized publisher. In March, I symbolized my dedication to Jehovah by baptism. This month I am auxiliary pioneering. I would never have expected this 18 months ago, but Jehovah knows our heart and guides us along if we just will follow him.”
Islands of the Pacific
“Like your name, O God, so your praise is to the borders of the earth.” (Ps. 48:10) Magazine witnessing, in the words of the psalmist, has brought Bible truth ‘to the island borders of the earth.’
The population of the archipelago of Vanuatu is scattered. It is difficult to reach people. So magazines, brochures, and books are effective tools in spreading the good news. It is not surprising to find some issues of The Watchtower or other publications in small villages on remote islands. Thus, Awake! has been translated into the Bislama language, and the first issue, dealing with tobacco under the title: “Death for Sale,” has been eagerly received. The minister of health read it and found it extremely well documented and asked for more copies for distribution. Also, the wife of the prime minister, who is a journalist, would quote excerpts from the Awake! in her articles. Although authorities are opposed to our work, the publications are popular and are powerful tools in helping honesthearted people to find the truth.
Magazines are well received in the rest of the territory assigned to the branch in New Caledonia. For example, a brother received a phone call from the chairman of the local association for the safeguarding of nature, asking if he could get 200 copies of the March 22, 1990, issue of Awake! with its cover series of articles on the subject “Rain Forests Under Siege.” He wanted to distribute them in the schools and hand them out to active members of his association. The man said: “The articles are thoroughly documented and written by people well aware of the problem. The reasons and the arguments given are very simple and clear, the drawings are helpful. Anyone can understand the impact of the destruction of tropical forests. I am convinced that such articles will help many to be more conscious of this danger and become more respectful of nature.”
The work of preaching the Kingdom in Papua New Guinea is picking up speed. For the first time in a number of years, there was a sizable increase in the distribution of books, about 20 percent over last year. The magazines also are doing a mighty work in this country, as in the rest of the world. For example, the branch received a letter from an interested person in the North Solomons and translated her comments from the New Guinea Pidgin language.
She wrote: “My 12-year-old daughter is in Grade 6 at the Toniva International Primary School and is regularly using the Awake! magazine to prepare and research school projects. At the school the teachers issue gold stars for exceptional work. I am pleased to say that my daughter has many times received a gold star and high marks for her homework projects. I am also pleased to tell you that my daughter has been distributing the magazines to her fellow students. One day she gave out 13 magazines.” In conclusion this interested woman says: “So I thought I would like to write and say thank you for the good magazines you provide.”
Countries Under Ban
“In God, whose word I praise, in God I put my trust, fearing nothing; what can men do to me?” David’s words well echo the sentiments of Jehovah’s Witnesses who are faithfully serving under difficult circumstances.—Ps. 56:4, The Jerusalem Bible.
One country in Asia is marking its 14th year under legal restrictions. On December 31, 1989, while a circuit assembly was under way, local authorities invaded the meeting place and stopped the program. Out of the 200 attending, 47 brothers were taken by army truck to the local military post. Twelve of them were detained there to be interrogated. It turned out that this was a plot by the local clergy. They wrote a collective note of protest to the authorities, demanding that the Witness program be raided and stopped.
The church leader who instigated the raid made many false accusations and spread nasty lies about the Witnesses. He even painted his hatred on the outer wall of a house owned by one of the Witnesses. It tauntingly read: “Prove yourself, Jehovah!” Just one night after the raid, neighbors heard screams coming from the church leader’s house. His heart had stopped. He died before he saw the light of the next day!
Although the Assembly Hall, which was also a Kingdom Hall, was sealed by the authorities and cannot be used at the present time, this experience was too obvious to go unnoticed by the local people and authorities. As a result, the brothers were not imprisoned and are able to continue their worship discreetly. When the special assembly was held in April 1990, there were five baptized. The harvest continues!
In a country in Africa where more than 11,000 publishers are active, severe drought this past year took the lives of 10,000 people in a three-month period alone. People collapsed on the streets. Cattle herds died. Farmers suspended the cultivation of crops, as anything that did grow was stolen. To survive, the Witnesses for a while ate the roots of plants as well as cooked avocado pits. In some places the brothers hesitated to share in the public ministry because they lacked sufficient clothing.
Their plight was dramatically altered when Jehovah maneuvered matters to send in 25 tons of relief provisions, which included food, soap, and clothing. (Ps. 37:25) Official government permission was granted for this shipment to enter the country and be distributed to Jehovah’s Witnesses. A military escort guaranteed safe delivery. The brothers are overwhelmed with what has happened. Many are the expressions of thanks to Jehovah and the organization he uses to care for his people.
“Do not be afraid because of their faces, for ‘I am with you to deliver you,’ is the utterance of Jehovah.” (Jer. 1:8) True Christians have drawn comfort from Jehovah’s reassuring words to Jeremiah. They have pressed on fearlessly, and Jehovah has kept his word.
[Chart on page 6]
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‘God Makes It Grow’ Worldwide
[Chart on page 38-45]
1990 SERVICE YEAR REPORT OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES WORLDWIDE
[Pictures on page 11]
The building at 67 Livingston Street, Brooklyn, is narrow and 29 stories in height. Most floors have three Bethel rooms, allowing the building to accommodate a total of 150 Bethelites
The 90 Sands Street building will be 30 stories and have 506 rooms for residents, plus offices, a kitchen, and dining facilities that will seat 1,050 persons. The building will provide accommodations for 1,000 members of the Bethel family
[Pictures on page 12]
The Watchtower Educational Center at Patterson, N.Y., will be home to 1,200 persons
Guests will stay at the 144-unit Patterson Inn
Main courtyard of Educational Center
[Pictures on page 13]
On September 1, 1990, the visitors’ center with its observation deck was opened.
Work on the six-module hotel, the Patterson Inn, will be completed in early 1991
[Picture on page 14]
Brazil is just one of 21 branch facilities currently undergoing expansion, with another 25 proposed or in the design stage. At branches in Australia, Germany, and Japan, Regional Engineering Offices have been established
[Pictures on page 19]
March 30, 1990, the first literature shipment to the GDR
After a 40-year ban, Witnesses at Bautzen have their own copies of “The Watchtower”
[Pictures on page 20]
Olympia Stadium, Berlin
East German Witnesses planted 16,000 flowers to adorn the convention
Brothers once imprisoned in the GDR meet at convention
[Pictures on page 21]
The “Pure Language” Convention in Berlin, July 24-27, 1990, was the first time in 40 years that Witnesses from East Germany could assemble freely. Total attendance was 44,532
East German speakers were kept busy on convention program
[Pictures on page 22]
All delegates from East Germany received gift copies of the convention releases, “How Can Blood Save Your Life?” and “Mankind’s Search for God”
[Pictures on page 27]
In Australia, a five-story residence building with 51 rooms and a three-story factory addition were dedicated on November 25, 1989
[Pictures on page 28]
Guatemala branch facilities were dedicated on November 26, 1989. The present branch family of 28 now has room for expansion
[Pictures on page 29]
The new branch building in Honduras was constructed next to the former one and was dedicated on October 21, 1989
[Pictures on page 30]
The Nigeria branch complex was dedicated on January 20, 1990. With four residence buildings, it can house more than 400 people
[Picture on page 33]
The first class of the Ministerial Training School in Britain graduated on June 17, 1990, at Sheffield, England
[Pictures on page 34]
The fifth class of the Ministerial Training School in the United States graduated on January 14, 1990, and the sixth class on June 10, 1990