Jehovah’s Witnesses—1992 Yearbook Report
SOUTH of the Cogamis River sat the Lydian city of Philadelphia. Perched on a hilly plateau in the region’s fertile heartland, it presided over a broad valley leading west through Sardis to Smyrna on the coast of the Mediterranean. Philadelphia, now named Alasehir, in western Turkey, was once a prosperous center for wine production. Little wonder that its chief deity was Dionysus, the god of wine! But in stark contrast to the mirth that stems from wine sipping, the city was also the location of what Jesus called “the synagogue of Satan.” (Rev. 3:9) It was in this unseemly environment, where holy acts of conduct would seem out of place, that a congregation of true Christian workers flourished. It was one of the seven that Jesus Christ personally addressed in the book of Revelation. A door to theocratic activity had swung open before those loyal worshipers of Jehovah.
“I know your deeds—look!” stated Jesus, the holder of the key of David and the Ruler of the kings of the earth. “I have set before you an opened door, which no one can shut—that you have a little power, and you kept my word and did not prove false to my name.”—Rev. 1:5; 3:7, 8.
Imagine, Christ’s fearless followers, a small, close-knit band who struggled against persecutors, were the ones blessed with a widely opened door of sacred service! No such privilege went to the religious leaders or the rulers of the city. They had earned no favor with Jesus as they wielded their power in Philadelphia—a choice spot because it lay on the frontier of culture and acted as the gateway to central Asia Minor. On the other hand, Jesus encouraged the Philadelphia congregation to take full advantage of their opportunity to preach the Kingdom of God. They had endured and shown that they had enough power, with help from God’s spirit, to continue with further deeds in Jehovah’s service. Neither Gentile nor Jewish opposition had stopped, nor will it ever stop, the Kingdom proclamation work.
Today’s Opened Door
Today, as a result of the preaching spearheaded by the anointed brothers of Christ, large numbers of people have entered through the opened door into Kingdom service. As you consider the worldwide service report, no doubt you will agree that during this past service year, Jehovah’s Witnesses have truly marched through a gateway of activity.
Peak publishers: 4,278,820, a 6.5-percent increase over the 1990 service year. A new high in the average number of pioneer publishers: 558,514. Total hours spent preaching the good news: 951,870,021.
What good results have come from all this theocratic activity during the 1991 service year? For one, 300,945 newly dedicated servants of Jehovah have been baptized. For another, there were 3,191 more congregations than in 1990—an average increase of 8.7 per day—resulting in a total of 66,207 congregations in 211 lands. Also, the total number of branch offices has increased from 93 to 97, including 2 branches in countries that were formerly behind the old Iron Curtain. And lands that have come legally to recognize Jehovah’s Witnesses are Mozambique in Africa, Cape Verde in the Atlantic Ocean west of Africa, Nicaragua in Central America, Paraguay in South America, Bulgaria in Europe, and Russia and the Ukraine in the Soviet Union.
How thrilling it is to see the prospects for future growth as evidenced by the number of those at the Memorial of Christ’s death. On Saturday, March 30, the night of the sacred celebration, the attendance was 10,650,158!
In Mexico, the Memorial attendance was 1,230,099, an 8-percent increase over the year before. This means that 1 out of every 67 inhabitants of Mexico was present for that celebration. And Brazil, with 302,367 publishers, had 897,739 persons in attendance, 106,813 more than the previous year. No wonder that, on the average, one new congregation had to be formed each day during the service year in Brazil, and 21 new circuits and two new districts began to function on September 1, 1991. The Memorial celebration in the Philippines brought joy to the brothers as they welcomed 332,830 to their places of meeting. This is three times their peak number of publishers. Eastern Europe also experienced a good increase in Memorial attenders. The Soviet Union reports 108,633 in attendance, 43 percent more than last year! Poland had 200,422 persons fill the Kingdom Halls and other facilities on that sacred night.
Violence marked the night of the Memorial in many townships in South Africa, causing many interested persons to stay home because of fear of being molested while traveling to or from the site of the Memorial. To give an example of the difficulties that some individuals faced, consider the situation of the Montebello Congregation in the rurals of Natal. This is a small congregation of ten publishers who have just built and dedicated their own Kingdom Hall. On Saturday morning, factional fighting broke out in that area. An elder in a neighboring congregation was assigned to give the talk. As he and his wife approached the village of Montebello, a local man who knew this brother asked him: “Where are you going?” He explained that they were going to the Kingdom Hall, where he would give the Memorial talk. The man then warned: “No, you must not go there because that is where people are killing one another.”
Sure enough, as the brother got near the hall, he counted ten dead bodies, victims of factional fighting. In spite of these dangers, 16 attended the Memorial. The hall was the only place in the area that had lighting. All the homes were in darkness out of fear of attracting troublemakers. After the Memorial the brothers and interested persons all slept at the home of a brother near the hall. The next morning, after they returned home, the factional fighting broke out again.
“Generous in Your Contribution”
The amazing growth of Jehovah’s people worldwide has meant an increase in the number of full-time ministers serving in missionary homes, as well as the number of special pioneers and traveling overseers. Although they are all volunteers who receive only a small monetary reimbursement for necessary personal items, nevertheless, the housing, feeding, and general care of these dedicated workers in their field service assignments required $40,219,589.01 last year. You are to be commended for your generosity, just as the apostle Paul commended the congregation in Corinth for their readiness to share. He wrote concerning the glory that goes to God “because you are submissive to the good news about the Christ . . . and because you are generous in your contribution.”—2 Cor. 9:13.
When honesthearted people see the earnest effort that Jehovah’s Witnesses put forth to advance the good news, even in the way they work together to build a new branch facility, many desire to do what they can to help further the Kingdom work. Ruth, a schoolgirl in Nigeria, is an example. After she visited the Bethel and factory complex at Igieduma, which was officially completed in April 1990, she wrote:
“I felt so happy to see the beautiful buildings and amenities provided at Igieduma Bethel. All of these were made possible by the voluntary contributions of brothers and sisters. While I was thanking Jehovah for this great work at Igieduma, a question came to mind. What had been my contribution toward the erection of these structures? Being a schoolgirl of 16 years of age, I had nothing to contribute financially. However, at the time of my visit, I had a hen that was laying eggs. Later it hatched them. On the day the hen came out with her chicks, I selected one of them and named it Igieduma Fowl. Unfortunately, some weeks later the chickens were plagued with a disease. One by one they died, including the mother. But Igieduma Fowl refused to die! Recently I sold the fowl and am now sending the money as my ‘widow’s mite contribution’ to the spreading of the good news.”
Another example comes from Ecuador, where a pioneer is studying the Bible with a blind couple who have begun attending meetings. Soon they wanted to know how they could prepare for the meetings. So the pioneer began recording the Watchtower lesson and book study material on tape. Do they appreciate this help? One day as the husband tended his stall at the market, a customer told him that she was giving him a bill equal to about five dollars for the goods she bought. In reality, she gave him a bill worth less than 50 cents. The loss was equal to a month’s rent for the blind couple. Nevertheless, this disappointment did not keep them from being present that night for the meeting. And, before leaving, he asked for the contribution box so that he could put in something for the Kingdom work. Noting this, the pioneer said: “Their appreciation really amazes me.”
Surmounting a Wall of Prejudice
Jehovah’s Witnesses highly value life, and they seek good medical care. But they do not take blood transfusions; this is a nonnegotiable religious stand. (Acts 15:29) How is it possible to overcome the wall of prejudice and rejection that the Witnesses often meet on the blood issue? HIS (Hospital Information Services) at Brooklyn trains and supervises elders to assist fellow Witnesses in a time of medical need. One instructor from this department said: “Jehovah’s Witnesses do not bang their heads against this ‘wall’ but rather try to surmount it. We are reminded of Psalm 18:29: ‘By my God I can climb a wall.’”
Since 1988, by means of 32 seminars, HIS has trained and set up 811 Hospital Liaison Committees in 62 major branches in North and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, and the Pacific area. These committees, made up of 3,846 elders, serve certain special needs of the 3.4 million Witnesses who may be hospitalized in those lands. Have the seminars equipped the elders to do this effectively?
One elder said: “We were equipped to make our viewpoint clear, with firmness and due respect but without being shackled by fear.” Another delegate said: “We learned how we can point to real alternative nonblood treatments, refer to medical sources, or offer to arrange contacts in order to uphold the principle of abstaining from blood.” A chairman of the department of surgery at one major hospital said: “You men, as I perceive it, are on the cutting edge of medical and legal information on blood use.”
Of course, expert medical knowledge was not the main point. A delegate observed: “Human knowledge was not the focus of attention, as it was constantly pointed out that Jehovah and his holy spirit are behind the arrangement.” A brother who came from what was formerly East Germany said: “The seminar also worked as an incentive to show even greater interest in sick brothers.” Yes, true Christians are under obligation to visit and be helpful to ailing fellow believers. (Compare Matthew 25:36.) Offering help and encouragement to brothers in emergency situations, including those who face a confrontation on the blood issue, is an expression of Christian love.—Eccl. 4:12.
‘Stretching out the Tent Cloths’
“Make the place of your tent more spacious. And let them stretch out the tent cloths of your grand tabernacle.” (Isa. 54:2) What Isaiah wrote about the birth of a new nation may, in principle, be applied to the growth of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Presently, more than 20 branches around the world are involved in major construction projects, to say nothing of the number of Assembly Halls and Kingdom Halls being built.
In the United States, there has been much progress during the last year on the construction of the Watchtower Educational Center at Patterson, N.Y. The 670-acre [270 ha] site is strategically located in a scenic rural area approximately 70 miles [110 km] north of Brooklyn and 45 miles [70 km] east of Watchtower Farms, Wallkill, N.Y. Construction is continuing on a number of buildings. Two of these are five-story residential buildings, while another is a three-story building for a kitchen and a dining room that will seat over 1,600 people. There are more than 650 brothers and sisters working on the project each day. More than 80,000 persons have visited the construction site since the visitors’ center opened in September 1990.
In Japan, when construction of the Tokai Assembly Hall started, a neighbor strongly opposed the project and tried to organize a campaign to stop construction. He came every day to check what was being done on the property, always grumbling. But one day when he came to the site, saw in hand, the brother in charge of construction stopped him. To the brother’s surprise, the man said: “I’ve been watching what you’ve been doing until now. And it looks like the bamboo grove is blocking your way. Let me share in volunteer service today.”
Not only do halls and branch buildings need to be built or enlarged but the number of languages in which we print literature also needs to be ‘stretched out.’ For example, the Computer Department at Watchtower Farms supports the Society’s worldwide computer system identified as MEPS. This system now assists with the composition, translation, and publication of written material in 205 languages.
Ministerial Training School—An International Door Opens
During the 1991 service year, the Ministerial Training School was conducted for the first time in languages besides English. These were French, German, Italian, and Spanish. The United States had its seventh class convene in Belleville, Michigan, and the eighth class in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania. The second and third classes in Britain were conducted in Surrey and Manchester. Foreign-language classes were held in Creil, France; Möllbergen, Germany; Roseto degli Abruzzi, Italy; and Barcelona, Spain.
Each morning the students assemble in a dining room at the school location, usually an Assembly Hall or a Kingdom Hall with auxiliary rooms, to consider the daily text as it is done in all the Society’s branches. As part of their training, students are assigned to comment on the daily text or to offer prayer at mealtimes. After breakfast, school begins at 8:30 a.m. There is a one-hour break for the noon meal, and then from one to two in the afternoon, the students engage in their work assignments, which may involve cleaning, washing the dishes from the noon meal, taking care of maintenance and repair jobs at the facility, or caring for the grounds outside. At 2:00 p.m. they resume their classroom activities. After classes they enjoy the evening meal at their accommodations, and they finish the evening with three hours of homework.
In harmony with the school’s purpose, these graduates are encouraged to be found faithful in doing the will of God whole-souled as they dutifully care for their various congregation responsibilities and other assignments.—1 Cor. 4:2; Eph. 6:6.
Legal Cases Open Doors for Preaching
“I well know that Jehovah will execute the legal claim of the afflicted one, the judgment of the poor ones,” stated David when subjected to persecution. (Ps. 140:12) Jehovah will come to the defense of his faithful worshipers in his due time and in his own way. He is on the side of the oppressed, the afflicted, and the wronged. In certain lands he may even use the legal system to open, or keep open, the door for the preaching work.
To assist in keeping the door open, the Legal Department in Brooklyn, with its staff of some 40 brothers and sisters, works under the direction of the Governing Body to care for necessary legal matters. Although legal systems vary from country to country, the great majority derive from nearly uniform principles of “natural justice” and “common,” or constitutional law. Recent world events like the impending economic unification of much of Western Europe and the dramatic political changes in Eastern Europe also highlight the increased interdependence of legal systems. As a result, the Legal Department is increasingly involved in assisting the Society’s branches when these are confronted with legal matters, such as our rights relative to the refusal of medical use of blood and the public ministry.
Restoring Property in Africa
When the 14-year ban in Benin was lifted last year, the government returned a number of previously confiscated Kingdom Halls, as well as the former missionary home in Porto-Novo and the former branch office building in the financial capital, Cotonou. These buildings are being renovated, and the government has permitted eight missionaries to enter the country.
When the ban came suddenly in 1976, our missionaries had less than a day to pack their bags and leave Benin. What happened to the branch literature and equipment at the branch office that the government seized? The answer became known finally in November 1990, when a man telephoned to say that some things belonging to the Witnesses had been stored at a house in the capital. Could the brothers come and collect them? To their astonishment, the brothers found over 5,000 books and booklets, including the personal libraries of the missionaries. Other items belonging to the Society included two washing machines, a gas cooker, gas bottles (some still filled with gas), a water heater, a bathtub, and a lawn mower. Though some of the books had yellowed, most of the material recovered was in good shape despite 14 years of storage. The books were made available to the brothers, who snapped them up to complete their personal libraries.
Publishing in Europe
A report from France states that after numerous efforts for more than a year, on May 16, 1991, the France branch finally received governmental permission to use their new four-color press. The first full-color issues of our magazines that were sent out to the congregations were The Watchtower of July 15 and Awake! of July 22.
Although Yugoslavia has been shaken by unrest, the Kingdom work continues, and in contrast with previous years, there were no fines imposed by the authorities because of the house-to-house preaching work. The full-color literature and magazines, which are printed in Germany, have greatly boosted the preaching activity in Croatian, Macedonian, Serbian, and Slovenian, as well as in Albanian. Thus, despite legal roadblocks, Kingdom preaching advances. Jehovah’s work prevails!—Jer. 15:20.
Translation Services—A Tool to Spread the Good News
The confusion of man’s language during the building of the Tower of Babel caused the human family to become multilingual instantly. This created the need for a new profession—that of interpreter, or translator. In contrast, at Pentecost 33 C.E., holy spirit miraculously enabled men and women to speak in the languages of people from 16 different districts of the Roman Empire, without losing their own language. Although no superhuman translation occurs today, nevertheless, spiritual food is regularly supplied in more than 175 languages, much of it simultaneously.
All Watch Tower publications are first prepared in English, a language spoken by almost 9 percent of earth’s population. To dispense this material in the languages of the world, the Society has more than 900 skilled translators in 65 branches globally. The Writing Committee of the Governing Body orchestrates the worldwide translation effort from headquarters in Brooklyn. This includes establishing new translation departments, arranging for the training of translators, answering questions from branches, and providing appropriate tools for research. To assist this translation endeavor, in April 1989 a new department called Translation Services was formed.
Since words often have multiple meanings, translation is not a mechanical process of making a word-for-word replacement from a dictionary. Idioms present unique problems to translators because they cannot be translated literally. For example, the English expression “bite your tongue” in the June 8, 1991, Awake! does not mean to ‘inflict personal injury’; it means to ‘keep quiet.’ Also, the full sense of the original must be accurately conveyed in the translated language. Moreover, the spoken and written word is alive because it grows, expands, and changes as usage alters over time. A few years ago, who had heard of “glasnost,” “perestroika,” “right to life,” “pro-choice,” and “computer hacker”? Such expressions present a never-ending challenge for the translators.
Working closely with the writing staff of the Society, translators try to capture the exact strength and flavor of the English text. To ensure consistency, translators are provided with comments bracketed in the text that explain idioms and other grammar-related aspects of the English. How have the branches responded to this service?
Germany writes: “Our translators welcomed this long-awaited feature with great enthusiasm.” Ghana says: “The system of inserting the meaning of certain expressions has in a large way relieved us of much time-consuming research and pondering over the English material to be translated.” And Italy states: “We find it useful also when the Latin names for plants and animals are given. This saves a lot of time that the translator can now devote to the actual translation.”
Translation of the Bible is another major undertaking of the Society. The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures is currently available in whole or in part in 13 languages, and translation into 20 more languages has been approved. Until now, translators have labored an average of 15 years to translate it. In order to reduce the time needed for Bible translation, the Writing Committee directed an investigation to evaluate the effectiveness of computers. Human minds are infinitely superior to computers because they can get the sense of expressions and are able to select the “correct words of truth.” (Eccl. 12:10) However, it was found that computers can be very useful tools. So Bible translators take advantage of a flexible computer system to store and retrieve vital information on Bible words and expressions. It has exhaustive research capability to locate the Society’s explanations of Scripture texts. It is hoped that this will speed up Bible translation while maintaining the highest quality.
The Society is committed to giving the good news the widest possible publicity. The Watchtower, as of the January 1, 1992, issue, is translated into 113 languages, with 66 of these appearing simultaneously with the English. In other words, 95 percent of Jehovah’s Witnesses receive the same spiritual food at the same time. New publications are appearing in additional languages, including Albanian, Cambodian, Estonian, Georgian, Macedonian, Ndonga, and Nepali. The Governing Body will continue to direct efforts to strengthen the translation teams for the enormous task ahead. With Jehovah’s smile of approval, this should result in even more Bibles and Bible study aids being made available for all peoples, nations, and tongues.
Conventions That Open Doors to Godly Freedom
“I will laud you in the big congregation; among a numerous people I shall praise you.” (Ps. 35:18) Jehovah’s Witnesses take hold of opportunities to praise the Universal Sovereign, and they do so unanimously at their annual district conventions. During the past service year, when the “Pure Language” conventions remaining from 1990 were wrapping up in one part of the globe, the 1991 conventions with their theme “Lovers of Freedom” began in another section of the earth.
The highlight for Jehovah’s Witnesses in Brazil took place during the months of August, September, and October 1990. It was the series of four-day “Pure Language” conventions. Some of the 110 conventions that were held in 68 cities scattered throughout the vastness of Brazil were international and served also delegates from many other countries. There was a total of 548,517 persons in attendance, and the 13,448 baptized delighted all.
These international conventions received good coverage by the local press and television. Jornal da Tarde, in a full-page report, said: “Contrary to other religious events, the convention gives no evidence of fanaticism—no one shouts, the religious hymns are soft, there are no showy cures nor persons with sacks after the money of the faithful. There is, on the other hand, an atmosphere of complete attention.”
This past year the “Lovers of Freedom” District Conventions held in Brazil in July and August 1991 were also a great success, and the discourses helped our brothers to cherish more deeply their God-given freedom. A festive atmosphere prevailed at these three-day spiritual feasts. The total attendance for all 98 conventions combined was 482,034, with 8,991 persons baptized.
In Italy a Catholic priest was one of the 245,161 people who attended the “Lovers of Freedom” District Conventions. He mingled with the crowd at the convention held in Brescia on July 19 to 21. He was so moved that he put a note in a contribution box. He wrote: “I am a Catholic priest, naturally in plain clothes, who wanted to see personally what these people, whom the church has always considered as just a handful, really do and say. Well, the 15 minutes that I spent in this stadium was enough for me to realize just how much time I had wasted until now. You are really an example to follow. You have made me think, and you have used that which I should use more often—the Bible. Who knows, one day I may also be with you, dressed in tie and jacket.”
Eastern Europe was the stage for three international conventions this past service year. Budapest, Hungary, hosted 40,601 delegates; Prague, Czechoslovakia, saw 74,587 attend; and Zagreb, Yugoslavia, greeted 14,684 conventioners. Delegates from the four corners of the earth made the crowded streets around the convention sites beautiful by their cheerful presence. Joy abounded among the delegates as they received good Bible instruction and renewed old acquaintances and made new friends.
The international convention held at Nepstadion in Budapest, July 26 to 28, had delegates visiting from 35 countries. It had been only two years, since June 1989, that Jehovah’s Witnesses were recognized legally. By contrast, several years ago, at the time when the stadium was being constructed, some of the brothers were in prison for their religious beliefs. The jailers bragged to them: “You’ll never see this stadium.” One of our brothers replied: “Who knows? Maybe someday Jehovah’s Witnesses will be there.” Because of that statement, he was beaten. But how happy that brother was to be present at this convention and to see the stadium filled with over 40 thousand in attendance!
Conventions were held openly for the first time in the Soviet Union. Tallinn, a coastal city in the now independent nation of Estonia, provided an ironic setting for some convention attenders. From the site where 447 persons were baptized, the brothers and sisters could see an old fortification that in 1950 and 1951 was used as a holding prison for some of them while they were awaiting their time to be carted off to prison camps in distant Siberia. Thus, sobering memories were momentarily awakened at this time of great rejoicing.
Branch Dedications: Another Opened Door of Opportunity
“Happy are those dwelling in your house! They still keep on praising you,” sang the faithful sons of Korah. (Ps. 84:4) Today, branch facilities open doors of opportunity to advance the worship of Jehovah. And when a new facility is dedicated, it is a special opportunity to sing praise to Jehovah.
Tuesday, December 25, 1990, was a beautiful, warm, tropical day in Suva, the capital of Fiji. Thousands gathered for the dedication program of the newly completed branch office and residence extension. Fiji is made up of over 800 islands, of which about a hundred are inhabited. Fiji is home to more than 736,000 people, known for their contagious smiles and kind hospitality. It was not until 1913 that the first Witness of Jehovah arrived in Fiji. By the 1930’s, there was only a small band of three families holding meetings in Suva. In 1940 the work was officially banned. Following World War II, the ban was lifted. Hence, the way was opened for the first Gilead missionaries to enter Fiji on April 5, 1947, to work along with the 12 publishers then active in the service.
In 1957, Len Helberg, now living in Australia, and Len Heatley, a local pioneer, were sent to Gilead School. Upon their return to Fiji a year later, a branch office was opened in Suva. “We did not think it was a branch in those days,” recalls Brother Heatley. “We called it a ‘twig.’” Brother Helberg added: “But Jehovah knew what he was doing.” There was one congregation in Suva in the late 1940’s, but the good news has now spread throughout the whole South Pacific, so that today there are branch offices also in New Caledonia, Tahiti, and Western Samoa.
Lyman Swingle of the Governing Body delivered the dedication talk to 434 persons in attendance at the actual branch location and to an additional 3,489 at a nearby stadium hooked in by telephone landline to hear the day’s program. Considering that there are fewer than 1,600 publishers in Fiji, that was an excellent attendance. That evening, the Fijian brothers treated many of the delegates to a festive two-hour performance of singing and dancing.
April 13, 1991, was a historic day for the 334 congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Greece, the date set for the dedication of the new branch facilities situated at Eleona, a rural area some 40 miles [70 km] north of the capital, Athens.
The day for the dedication dawned with overcast skies. Rain seemed imminent. But the lowering clouds could not detract from the serene beauty of the green carpet of barley fields around the 54-acre [22 ha] site dappled with blood-red poppies and yellow daisies. As representatives from all the congregations began to arrive, so did the rain, but this did not dampen the joyful spirit of the 3,815 persons present. The dedication program was also relayed by telephone to assembly grounds near Athens and Thessalonica and to the island of Crete. This link tied in a total of 13,484 persons.
The first convention in Greece was held 66 years ago, in 1925. Yet, the Greek Orthodox Church still actively opposes the Witnesses, as if they were a new religion. The clergy even organized a demonstration outside the premises at Eleona during construction of the branch. Riot police were on hand to maintain order and protect the property. The opposition backfired—the project was finished six months ahead of schedule.
Two members of the Governing Body, Milton Henschel and Albert Schroeder, were present for the dedication program. The day ended with a meal shared by the Bethel and construction families, as well as the delegates that had come to Greece for the occasion. The visitors enjoyed some traditional Greek dancing performed by brothers and sisters.
On January 1, 1980, the branch office moved from a tiny facility to a more spacious and quieter one at 4 Kent Road in the suburb of Kowloon Tong. These premises were to serve the needs of the branch very well for eight years. Time then came for further expansion. Right on time a beautiful building suitable for a small branch office and Bethel Home became available at 12 Kent Road, and this was purchased. However, after only three years, it became obvious that another property would soon be needed. Again Jehovah provided.
One afternoon, a Catholic priest living at 16 Kent Road told the Branch Committee coordinator, “Our friends have gone.” He was referring to a Chinese family who owned 14 Kent Road. This family had moved out that weekend, and their house was for sale. It was ideal. The property at 14 Kent Road is an excellent addition to our other properties at numbers 4 and 12. This is a two-story, white reinforced-concrete building. The Bethel family now numbers 19, and there are accommodations for 30.
January 15, 1991, was the evening set aside for the dedication of this additional property. Lloyd Barry, a member of the Governing Body, gave the dedication talk, “Jehovah Keeps Making It Grow.” He is familiar with Hong Kong, having first visited there in 1956 with Nathan H. Knorr, then president of the Watch Tower Society. Since that time Brother Barry has often visited the branch, serving as zone overseer. His talk traced the history of the work from early beginnings down till today, when there are 2,320 publishers in 23 congregations in Hong Kong.
Tucked away in the southwestern part of the Pacific Ocean is New Caledonia—the “Island of Light.” It is an island with natural sites of extraordinary beauty that have always been a favored haven for artists and a source of inspiration to them. In recent years, an increasing number of people have looked for a light that brings eternal life.—1 John 1:5.
Since 1977 the branch office has been located in a missionary home. Two existing bedrooms were converted into offices for use during the day. Translation, composition, and printing, as well as the handling and shipping of publications, were all done in an area measuring only about a thousand square feet [100 sq m]! This explains why the Governing Body approved the construction of a new Bethel building with a total area of more than 12,900 square feet [1,200 sq m]. It has six bedrooms and is located in Nouméa, the capital of New Caledonia. The main excavation started in January 1989.
The small group of 9 publishers back in 1956 has grown to 1,265. Including the Witnesses in New Caledonia, Vanuatu, and Wallis and Futuna Islands, the branch office is now caring for the needs of more than 1,400 publishers. On December 15, 1990, the audience of about 2,700 were happy to hear David Mercante from the Society’s world headquarters, who was serving as zone overseer, deliver the dedication discourse. After the program, brothers from different islands put on a musical program with Kingdom songs and local dances.
In 1972, when the branch was last expanded, there were 54,212 publishers in the Philippines. By the time new branch construction got under way in May 1988, the number of publishers had increased to more than 97,000.
The spiritual harvest began when the message of the good news was first heard on January 14, 1912, at the Manila Grand Opera House. Charles T. Russell, the Society’s first president, delivered the talk “Where Are the Dead?” to an audience of about a thousand. These early seeds of truth gradually bore fruit, and by 1930 a regular weekly Bible class was being conducted, with about ten in attendance. The first Philippines Bethel was a rented apartment, which began to be used in June 1934. The first parcel of land at the present location of the branch office in Quezon City was purchased in December 1947, and the building on it began to be used as a branch office in February 1948. Additional buildings were erected on the original two-acre [1 ha] property in 1953, 1962, and 1972.
With the growth of publishers during the 1970’s, there was a real need to “stretch out the tent cloths” of the branch. (Isa. 54:2) Initially, the neighbors were contacted to see if any would be willing to sell. No one was interested at that time. In fact, one neighbor said: “Chinese do not sell property. They only buy.” Amazingly, one by one, the neighbors who originally showed no interest in the Society’s inquiries to buy their property began to offer their lots and houses for sale. Over a period of six years, ten plots of land were purchased, thus tripling the property owned by the Society.
Construction of the 2-story factory and 11-story Bethel Home began in May 1988. International servants and local volunteers cheerfully joined forces to erect the new branch. The Japan branch helped with drawings from their engineering department and with monetary contributions to augment the Filipino brothers’ contributions.
Jehovah’s direction was repeatedly seen. For example, when procuring the roof sheeting and floor decking, the brothers learned that only one company in the Philippines handled the design that was needed. However, the branch project was number 301 on that company’s waiting list. An appointment was made to speak directly with the vice president of the company, and the volunteer nature of our work was explained. The board of directors of that company approved our request, and the branch order was moved to number 1 on the production list. This was very providential, as just after the delivery of the materials, workers in that company went on strike.
April 13, 1991, dawned bright and clear. The audience of 1,718 were delighted to welcome John E. Barr of the Governing Body for the dedication address. His subject? “Song of Theocracy’s Increase.” What an appropriate theme not only for this branch dedication but for all others.
[Chart on page 22]
Conventions Held in the Soviet Union and in Estonia
Date City Attendance Baptized
July 13, 14 Tallinn, Estonia 4,808 447
July 19, 20 Usolye-Sibirskoye, Siberia 4,205 543
Aug. 2, 3 Kiev, Ukraine 14,654 1,843
Aug. 3, 4 Lvov, Ukraine 17,531 1,316
Aug. 24, 25 Odessa, Ukraine 12,115 1,943
Aug. 31 Chernovtsy, Ukraine 14,137 1,126
Sept. 7, 8 Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan 6,802 602
Grand Total: 74,252 7,820
(Baptism total is an amazing 10.5 percent of peak attendance total.)
[Graph on page 18]
(For fully formatted text, see publication.)
Progression of Simultaneous Publishing
Year Languages Published Simultaneous Languages Published
1980 106 0
1985 103 24
1991 110 65
Number of Languages
140 120 100 80 60 40 20 0
Year Languages Published Simultaneous Languages Published
1980 34 0
1985 54 14
1991 64 30
Number of Languages
70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0
Simultaneous Publishing Benefits 95% of Jehovah’s Witnesses
[Picture on page 5]
Last year, 10,650,158 people earth wide attended the annual celebration of the Lord’s Evening Meal
[Pictures on page 12]
Most of the graduates of the eight classes held this year are now serving in the six countries where the school has been held, but others have taken up assignments in the following countries: Austria, Benin, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Honduras, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Caledonia, Portugal, and Romania. Shown above is the first class in France and in Germany
[Picture on page 13]
All the ministerial servants and elders who graduated from the school this year have been assigned different service privileges. Depending on their previous experience and present qualifications, these include special pioneer assignments, missionary service, circuit work, and branch work. Shown above is the first class in Italy and the first one in Spain
[Pictures on page 20]
This little Polish delegate was one of 74,587 who attended the convention at Prague, Czechoslovakia
[Pictures on page 21]
Conventioners of Prague were moved to tears when the New World Translation Bible was released by A. D. Schroeder in the Czech and Slovak languages
Budapest, Prague, and Zagreb held international conventions. Delegates at Zagreb, Yugoslavia, rejoiced to sing Kingdom songs during the noon break
[Pictures on page 22]
Tallinn, Estonia, now independent, was the site for the first convention ever held in the Soviet Union
The book “The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived” was released in the Russian language and in other Eastern European languages
[Pictures on page 27]
The Fiji branch in Suva, the capital, was dedicated on December 25, 1990. The reception area is tastefully decorated
[Picture on page 27]
On April 13, 1991, the new Greece branch facilities at Eleona were dedicated
[Picture on page 28]
Entrance courtyard to the new Greece branch
[Picture on page 28]
The reception area at the Greece branch is ready to welcome visitors
[Picture on page 28]
The new addition to the branch facility in Hong Kong was dedicated on January 15, 1991
[Picture on page 29]
The New Caledonia branch building in Nouméa, the capital of New Caledonia, was dedicated on December 15, 1990
[Picture on page 29]
April 13, 1991, was the date for the dedication of the new Philippines branch complex in Manila, with office building and 11-story residence building. Printery is at far right
[Picture on page 30]
The 500-seat Kingdom Hall at Philippines branch office
[Picture on page 30]
Dining room with capacity for 400 at Philippines Bethel Home