Jehovah’s Witnesses—1993 Yearbook Report
“THE scene of this world is changing,” wrote the apostle Paul to fellow Christians living in the prestigious city of Corinth. (1 Cor. 7:31) Corinth was intellectually active, materially prosperous, and morally corrupt. Its population was a hodgepodge, largely made up of merchants and travelers who would stay a few days and leave, much like actors on a stage who enter from the wings to act their parts and then swiftly disappear until the next scene. The outward manner of life—“the scene”—in Corinth, with all of its glittering opulence, was transitory, in a state of change, constantly sliding by. Hence, Paul warned his brothers not to use the world to the full. Paul told them not to be engrossed in the world of earthly things. They will not last. The time left is too short for Christians to be clinging to the fickle schemes of humans. Therefore, Paul admonished: Live your life with “constant attendance upon the Lord without distraction.”—1 Cor. 7:35.
Although Paul’s words were penned more than 19 centuries ago, they still ring true. The present external form of the world is undergoing constant change. Like a passing scene in a stage play, material goods and hard-earned possessions can be here today and gone tomorrow. A flood, an earthquake, a hurricane, or any other natural disaster can upend a person’s life in a flash. Long-held political and economic ideologies—often expressed in spilled blood—can shift overnight. For example, some three years ago, countries in Eastern Europe appeared stable. Then, suddenly, in November 1989, the Berlin Wall fell, and like dominoes tumbling across Eastern Europe, so fell beliefs that were staunchly held for decades.
One Billion Hours!
However, Jehovah’s Witnesses, although affected by such changing scenes, have always striven to live their lives in a manner that shows constant attendance upon the Lord. During the past service year, they had a peak of 4,472,787 publishers and devoted 1,024,910,434 hours to preaching the good news of Jehovah God’s Kingdom in 229 lands and 69,558 congregations! What other religious organization did that?
But more than preach, they personally taught millions of people God’s Word free of charge. Each month, on the average, they conducted 4,278,127 home Bible studies. What resulted from such evangelism? The number of those baptized in symbol of their dedication to Jehovah reached 301,002. Also, on the evening of April 17, 1992, the sacred celebration of the Memorial of the death of Jesus Christ was held. That night, the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world counted 11,431,171 in attendance.
Country after country had packed Kingdom Halls. For example, Zambia, with a peak of 80,460 publishers of the good news, rejoiced when 365,828 attended the Memorial—over 4 percent of the country’s population! In Mexico the Memorial attendance was 1,283,203. Imagine, 9,000 congregations celebrated the Memorial there! And in Czechoslovakia, with a peak of 25,435 publishers, the Memorial was attended by a total of 54,082 persons. For the first time there, the Memorial was also held in three prisons, where 54 prisoners and their wardens were present. The officials at one prison expressed their appreciation for the pleasant and well prepared program, which included the singing of songs. In another town the brothers were very much surprised when not only a prisoner but also his warden came to the Kingdom Hall to observe the Memorial.
Brazil, with 332,050 publishers in March, had a total of 985,252 persons attend the Memorial. This was an increase of 87,513 over the attendance for the previous year. Young ones too are benefited by being at this special occasion.
In 1990, nine-year-old Paul was the only Witness in his school. His teacher noted his good conduct. But when she prayed in class, she noticed that he did not bow his head, and when she had each pupil in turn say a prayer, Paul asked to be excused. On Christendom’s Good Friday, she had the class draw a picture of Jesus on the cross. However, since Paul drew him on a stake, she asked why. He explained, leaving her Bible literature to read, and invited her to the Memorial.
Paul also got permission to conduct a regular Bible study with his class. The 40-minute study was held weekly using the Bible and My Book of Bible Stories. The director of the school, secretaries, Paul’s teacher, and others also attended. The next year, three other teachers asked to have the study held in their classes. This did not please the local priest. It irritated him to hear the children using God’s name, Jehovah. He held a meeting with the parents and said that they and their children should not use the name. The parents complained to the teachers, who in turn talked to Paul.
“If God’s name can’t be used, then I can’t continue with the studies,” Paul said, reasoning that the sanctification of God’s name was the most important part of the Lord’s Prayer. With this explanation the study continued, and now, in 1992, there are five such classes, including a group of children with learning problems. The teachers are amazed because the children all listen quietly when they are taught about God’s purposes, and they are less restless than in other classes.
Witnesses Can Now Preach Freely
In Albania, Jehovah’s Witnesses were legalized by ministerial decree on May 22, 1992. Just prior to that liberating decree, the Memorial was attended by 325 persons. The month of June 1992 saw 56 publishing the good news. What a change compared with the nine who reported in June 1991! One man told Witnesses on the street: “During the time of the Communists, all of us had forsaken God. Only Jehovah’s Witnesses remained faithful to him through all the trials and hardships.”
Angola legalized the good work of the Witnesses on April 10, 1992. After decades of persecution and war, the publishers in that country rejoiced in a special way with expressions of gratitude to Jehovah for ‘having crowned the year with his goodness.’—Ps. 65:11.
Over the years, missionaries assigned to this country were quickly deported. In the 1950’s many Witnesses were imprisoned. Some were sentenced to 15 years or more in work camps; others were executed. Without letup, the Witnesses showed that they treasured their privilege to share the good news with others. How has their faithful service been rewarded?
The very month the work was registered, a new peak of 18,911 publishers was reached, which is a 30-percent increase over last year’s average, and they reported 56,075 home Bible studies. Reports tell of interested people calling at the homes of the brothers to request a home Bible study. Congregations of 100 publishers or more have anywhere from 300 to 500 persons attend their public meetings. Favorable conditions shortly before legal recognition of the work allowed the brothers to hold their first district conventions—20 of them, with a combined peak attendance of 17,064 persons. What thrilling occasions they were!
Some congregations in Angola have little territory, thus requiring that Witnesses be alert to preach to everyone they meet. At one home the householder told a Witness that he was not interested, since he was a Catholic. The following week, while passing the same home, the brother noticed a lady standing in the doorway and seized the opportunity to speak with her. Her reply was the same as that of her husband, but she added a proverb: “A dog can’t carry two bones,” meaning that one cannot profess two religions at the same time. The next week he saw a girl standing in the doorway of the same home. Knowing that they were a religious family, he offered her the book Questions Young People Ask—Answers That Work. She listened attentively, accepted it, and agreed that the brother could return the following week. Unknown to him, the father was listening to the conversation in the next room. Several days later the father approached the brother on the street, telling him that his daughter had read the entire book and enjoyed it very much. He asked the brother to be sure to visit them as he had promised. Now the whole family is studying, as well as attending meetings.
Refugees Hear the Good News
In Switzerland too the scene of this world is changing, and the customary stability of conditions in that country is no longer what it used to be. The many business failures and growing ranks of the unemployed are something new to the Swiss. Never before have so many foreigners moved there, either as refugees or as persons looking for better economic conditions—often to their disappointment. And it is becoming increasingly difficult for the government to make decisions that are not challenged by the people. “All of this is creating a climate of insecurity,” the branch office writes, “allowing many an opportunity to engage in discussions about our Bible-based hope.”
A case in point is the experience of Felicia from Nigeria. Her marriage problems caused her to separate from her mate, Jimmy. Leaving her young child in the care of her parents, she moved to Switzerland. In Geneva she hoped to make a fresh start in life, but alas, as a foreigner seeking asylum, finding a job and a place to stay was much more difficult than she had imagined. One day at work, she talked about her problems to another refugee who was already studying the Bible with the Witnesses. She told Felicia about the wonderful things she was learning from the Bible and how doing God’s will solves many problems. Felicia agreed to a Bible study, and eight months later she became an unbaptized publisher. By then she had started to worry about her family situation and confided in a congregation elder.
In the meantime, her husband, to whom she was still legally married, had also arrived in Switzerland and was very impressed by the changes he noticed in the personality of his runaway wife. He too agreed to a Bible study with a brother in the town where he lived. Felicia was baptized in November 1991, only 11 months after she began studying. Immediately she started to serve as an auxiliary pioneer, while her husband became an unbaptized publisher and enrolled in the Theocratic Ministry School in his congregation. At that time they were still separated, but now they were both thinking in the same way and wanted to reunite and raise their son together in a Christian family. So Jimmy and Felicia presented to the elders of the congregation the proof of their legal marriage and declared that they wanted to renew their relationship as husband and wife, to avoid bringing reproach on Jehovah’s name and the Christian congregation. Jimmy was baptized at the 1992 “Light Bearers” District Convention in Geneva, and the couple are planning to return to Nigeria, resolved to raise their son according to Christian principles.
Sweden is a country that has been open to refugees. The congregations have met the challenge to preach to the refugees in their own language. The results have been wonderful. For example, out of the 11 district conventions held this past summer, only 5 were in Swedish; the others were in Arabic, English, Finnish, Greek, Serbo-Croatian, and Spanish. At the English-language district convention, 696 were present, and they were from 77 different nations. The witnessing work has also started in the Persian and Russian languages.
During the last few months, upwards of 50,000 refugees from the former Yugoslavia arrived in Sweden. The congregations that speak the Serbo-Croatian language have concentrated on witnessing to these refugees, and they are having excellent results. The meetings have anywhere from 75 to over 100 refugees attending. And after only four or five months of study, some of those attending have progressed to dedication and baptism.
Witnesses living in the Netherlands preach in 17 different languages. A brother in one of the Spanish congregations contacted a man who came to the Netherlands as a refugee. He had served in a number of lands as the ambassador of an African country; however, he fell into disfavor with his government and sought refuge in the Netherlands. A Bible study was first started with him while his wife was still in Portugal. When the family were finally united in the Netherlands, all of them took part in the study except the eldest of the five children. They made good progress and the former ambassador is now a spiritual brother. He was baptized on July 25, 1992. His wife and one daughter have become unbaptized publishers. The new brother remarked: “I have been an ambassador of the king of my country. But now I am an ambassador of the highest king and of God’s Kingdom.”
‘Relief Ministrations’ for Brothers in Need
IN THE days of Claudius, a first-century emperor of Rome, a great famine ravaged the land. Christians in the congregation of Syrian Antioch “determined, each of them according as anyone could afford it, to send a relief ministration to the brothers dwelling in Judea.” (Acts 11:28, 29) Barnabas and Saul delivered the relief funds to the elder body in Judea, who had the responsibility to administer the needed help. This is the first recorded instance when relief on such a large scale was provided by the Christian congregation. In a similar manner today, when Witnesses living in one part of the world learn that their brothers in another area are in great need, they willingly contribute what they can. With swift organized precision, a relief ministration swings into action. Consider the following examples.
At the end of 1991, the Governing Body invited seven branches of the Watch Tower Society in Western Europe to provide food and clothing for their needy brothers in Eastern Europe.* What happened when the Witnesses in Sweden first learned of the need? Truck after truck rolled in from congregations far and near. Even after the Sweden branch was filled to capacity with clothing and other goods, more and more materials kept coming, making it necessary to rent a hall outside the branch complex to hold all the donated items. Brothers and sisters from nearby congregations came to help. An average of 35 volunteers worked at sorting and packing clothing until 15 semitrailers were ready to start rumbling toward their destinations. Another three semitrailers trucked more than 51 tons of foodstuffs to Russia.
Within just days of the announcement, the food provisions, divided up into 750 boxes, each containing about 44 pounds [20 kg] of basic food products, such as flour, cooking oil, canned meat, and dried milk, were ready for the first truck shipment—destination St. Petersburg, Russia. On December 19, 1991, with all customs papers translated into Russian and in good order, the first truck passed through border checkpoints without any problems. The Witnesses in St. Petersburg were anxiously awaiting the shipment and were already prepared to reload the cargo onto smaller vehicles for delivery to different distribution centers, from which the food could be quickly given to those in need. What a reception when the truck arrived! The waiting, happy brothers heartily embraced their Swedish brothers.
For the donation of clothing, congregations searched their closets for neat and clean items. Others went out and bought new clothes. One Witness went to a men’s store to buy five suits. This aroused the merchant’s curiosity. When the reason was explained to him, he donated five more suits. Another brother went to buy several packages of socks, gloves, and similar items at an outlet and explained the reason for such a large purchase. The owner compassionately offered him a consignment of 30 new suits for the price of 2. Hardly able to contain himself, the brother quickly accepted. Another brother brought a huge pile of clothes to the dry cleaner and told him what was being done. The owner then gave him all the clothing that customers had never claimed. When the owner of a sporting goods store heard that the consignments were to go directly to the ones in need, he picked a hundred pairs of brand-new winter shoes and boots from the shelves as a donation.
The sorting organization was set into gear. A group of ten sisters with a good eye for quality sorted the clothes into men’s, women’s, and children’s collections. Ten other sisters deftly packed the sorted items into cartons. A team of hefty brothers taped the cartons shut and stacked them on pallets, ready for shipment by truck. Altogether, 1,400 cubic feet [40 cu m] of clothing and shoes were packed daily.
The Witnesses in the Netherlands and Switzerland had the privilege of participating in this relief work too. Brothers in the Netherlands contributed 52 tons of food, together with 11 truckloads of clothing, and those in Switzerland prepared 600 food parcels weighing a total of 12 tons. What about the children? When the Witnesses in Ukraine received 72 tons of clothing, they discovered that the parcels containing children’s wear included toys donated by Witness children for their unknown little friends. Also, quite a few chocolate bars had found their way between the layers of clothing.
Thus, during the winter of 1991/92, the relief ministration consisted of 400 tons of foodstuffs and large amounts of clothing for men, women, and children. These were distributed to practically all parts of the territory of the former Soviet Union, as far as Irkutsk, in Siberia, and Khabarovsk, near Japan.
Generous donations of food and clothing by the Witnesses in South Africa and Portugal made it possible to send relief ministrations and greatly needed literature supplies to Angola. Why the need?
Angola suffered a severe drought in 1990, which caused the death of thousands of people and destroyed that country’s harvest. In some places the brothers hesitated to share in the public ministry because of insufficient clothing. Fellow Witnesses in South Africa saw to it that 25 tons of relief provisions were safely shipped and evenly distributed to their brothers in Angola. Because the country has been torn by a prolonged civil war, there continued to be a need for clothing. The congregations of Greater Lisbon in Portugal were invited to donate clothes to the Witnesses in Angola, and the response was marvelous. From March 1991 to August 1992, seven 20-foot [6 m] containers packed with clothing, food, and literature were shipped out—a total of 75 tons!
Early Monday morning, August 24, 1992, Hurricane Andrew boiled in from the Atlantic and slammed through southern Florida before veering across the Gulf of Mexico to tear into Louisiana. Screaming like a siren, with sustained winds of 140 miles per hour [230 km/hr] and gusts of at least 164 miles per hour [260 km/hr], the storm leveled 165 square miles [430 sq km] of south Florida. Andrew left 250,000 people homeless, destroyed an estimated 63,000 houses, and left 38 people dead. “The damage was unprecedented in the United States,” said a veteran claims specialist for an insurance company, “the worst I’ve ever seen.”
The Witnesses were not immune to Hurricane Andrew’s fury—3,500 of them were left homeless because 1,120 of their homes were damaged, 150 beyond repair. Ten Kingdom Halls were damaged too. The Governing Body reacted at once. They appointed a relief committee to operate out of an Assembly Hall 40 miles [60 km] north of the Florida disaster zone and immediately made funds available for the purchase of emergency items. As the hurricane winds were diminishing, Witness workers from outside the disaster area started pouring in to help. By Saturday, August 29, the amount of building materials delivered to the Assembly Hall weighed in at 305 tons. By the next day, Sunday, some 70 tractor-trailer loads of supplies had arrived. “About 3,000 Witness volunteers from across the country have converged on the disaster area, first to help their own, then to help others,” reported the Miami Herald of August 31.
To illustrate the speed of the Witnesses’ relief effort, consider what happened shortly after the winds abated. Two carloads of non-Witnesses drove to city hall in one stricken area to offer their help. The police escorted them to the only people who were organized for the repair work—Jehovah’s Witnesses.
All across the United States, Witnesses, including those in full-time service at world headquarters, contributed to the relief effort. In just one week, the Bethel family at Brooklyn, Patterson, and Watchtower Farms donated $26,291.10. Among the moneys received in Florida was a small can with $6.81 in coins. Inside was a note that read: “Dear brothers, I hope you will be alright. We said a prayer for you. I am six. Love, Chance.”
Surely, the above gives evidence that Jehovah’s Witnesses are displaying the same spirit of compassion and solidarity that was manifested by the early Christian congregation. (Acts 4:32) Therefore, we have good reason to feel grateful to Jehovah God that in this time of the end, he not only supplies receptive humans earth wide with spiritual nourishment but also maintains a worldwide brotherhood that can quickly join together and in times of need supply material things. This gives us a strong feeling of security and confidence for the future, when the whole world will be inhabited by one loving brotherhood.
“Aglow With the Spirit” at World Headquarters
“DO NOT loiter at your business. Be aglow with the spirit. Slave for Jehovah.” (Rom. 12:11) The 12,068 ministers, all part of a special religious order, serving at Bethel homes around the world have taken those words of the apostle Paul to heart. They refuse to let the changing world scene distract them from their Christian ministry. Their zeal for the Lord’s business stays at the boiling point. The work accomplished by the 4,520 family members at world headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, at nearby Watchtower Farms, and at the Watchtower Educational Center at Patterson, New York, typifies the effort that all Bethelites put forth in slaving for Jehovah. The following are just some of the developments at world headquarters.
Furman Street Facility
New laundry and dry-cleaning facilities were installed on the eighth floor of the 360 Furman Street building in September and November of 1991. These premises provide a pleasant environment for the personnel who handle 25 tons of soiled items each week for the more than 3,000 members of the Brooklyn headquarters staff.
What else is happening in the Furman Street building? During this past service year, Tape Duplicating churned out six and a half million audiocassettes. Since that department’s inception in 1978, over 53 million cassettes have been produced. The Carpenter Shop rejoiced last service year at its highest output ever—11,000 cabinets and cabinet components. The shop office reports: “We anticipate a greater output for 1993, as the 90 Sands Street project will require 4,000 to 5,000 cabinets per year for two years, and the Patterson project will need 4,000 cabinets per year for at least three more years.”
Hospital Information Services (HIS), located at 25 Columbia Heights, assists the worldwide brotherhood in holding to their firm resolve not to violate God’s clearly stated law on the use of blood. (Acts 15:29) In many ways the last few years have seen dramatic changes in the attitudes and practices of a number of doctors and medical centers all over the world.
Among the changes are bloodless medicine and surgery centers. From just a handful of helpful doctors who kindly worked with the Witnesses in the past, HIS has now developed a listing of 27,420 cooperative physicians in the lands of 64 branches where 854 Hospital Liaison Committees function. This has been due in great part to the good work done by the 4,300 elders who make up these committees.
Within that growing pool of doctors, HIS found large teams at individual medical complexes who were willing to be part of a bloodless center to treat Jehovah’s Witnesses. As a result, in the United States, there are now 14 such centers. A front-page headline in The Denver Post read: “University Hospital Now Can Provide ‘Bloodless’ Surgery.” Another newspaper used the headline: “Doctors Rethink Blood Transfusions,” with the subheading, “Program designed to help Jehovah’s Witnesses has advantages for everyone.”
In other lands there are similar results. In Norway an HIS presentation was heard by 79 doctors and nurses at the country’s largest cancer treatment hospital. That center now accepts the Witnesses, not one staff member refusing to cooperate in the program. Germany reports that there are five centers offering bloodless treatment there. Spain reports two bloodless centers, one in Barcelona and one in Madrid. Australia has one. Italy shows a growing trend toward bloodless centers as well. The director of a clinic in Peru said: “We wish to advise you, and through you your Jehovah’s Witnesses brothers, that in our clinic you can count on all the medical assistance you might need [without] blood transfusions.”
Attitudes of health-care professionals are changing. In Austria a leading doctor in one of Vienna’s largest hospitals told the brothers: “Because of your religious viewpoint, you have been on the right path earlier than we.” The head clinician at a hospital in Auckland, New Zealand, said he was “amazed at the depth” of the research manifest in the information being supplied by HIS on bloodless treatment. A professor of pediatrics at this same facility reported: “Jehovah’s Witnesses have done us a service in providing the information and stimulating us to reexamine our attitude toward transfusion.” A renowned pediatric orthopedic surgeon in the United States said: “From what we now know about the dangers of blood, we can say that Jehovah’s Witnesses have been vindicated.” A director of cardiothoracic anesthesia at a university hospital in the United States said: “All patients, Jehovah’s Witnesses included, stand to benefit from your efforts to inform area physicians about alternatives to blood transfusion. We applaud your group and your efforts.”
In the 30 Columbia Heights office building, the Construction Office is coordinating branch construction projects in some 50 lands, from Antigua to Zimbabwe. And the Legal Department is pleased that “articles in our magazines on child custody and the needs of children of divorce have received favorable attention among attorneys, social workers, and psychologists.” One sister involved in a custody dispute was surprised to find that the family court mediator now regularly uses the October 22, 1988, issue of Awake! featuring the subject “Child Custody—A Painful Issue” to assist her clients in working out differences. The mediator appreciated the neutral position the article took and felt it was beneficial for all parents in that position.
Video Services reports that more than 500,000 copies of its first release, Jehovah’s Witnesses—The Organization Behind the Name, have now been produced in 5 languages, with 22 other languages soon to be available. The branch in the Netherlands participated in this project, and it writes: “It has been a stimulating experience for our Bethel family to be able to share in the recording of the 19 different languages for that video, including several Eastern European languages.”
On one Pacific island, this video had an unusual showing, as the following letter from the branch office in Fiji relates: “One of the congregations is on the remote island of Rotuma, 300 miles [500 km] from Suva. Although there is no regular electrical supply on the island, the circuit overseer took the Society’s video, hoping to arrange with someone on the island who had a generator, a VCR, and a TV monitor to show it to the congregation of 13 publishers. The chances looked slim. What a surprise to learn that not far from the Kingdom Hall lived a shopkeeper who had all three needed items! When asked, he agreed to show the video at his home. When the brothers arrived at the man’s house, they found quite a number of people who were watching a cowboy movie. Immediately this was stopped, and the Society’s video was put on. All stayed to watch it. Altogether, there were over 80 on hand to see the video. Despite their isolation, the brothers were delighted to see the magnitude of Jehovah’s organization and feel a part of it. The video prompted one woman to attend the next meeting at the Kingdom Hall. She said that it was the best video she had ever seen!”
The new video, The Bible—Accurate History, Reliable Prophecy, is now ready for distribution. It is the first in a three-volume set.
Watchtower Farms serves as the central location for the production and distribution of food to the U.S. Bethel family. This is also the temporary location of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead, where brothers and sisters from around the world receive training for missionary work. Additionally, it houses the printing operations for the Watchtower and Awake! magazines for distribution throughout the United States.
Through the Society’s worldwide multilanguage computer system, the Computer Department at Watchtower Farms is now supporting the composition, translation, and publication of Bible literature in three more languages than the 208 of the previous year. Another outstanding development was the release to the public of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures—With References on Diskette. This diskette version of the New World Translation will allow computer users to carry out research in the Bible quickly.
Construction on the Watchtower Educational Center has zoomed forward with surprising speed. Nine buildings are already completed, as well as the wastewater and water treatment utilities. Currently, nine buildings are under construction, and work on four more will begin during the course of the year. More than 800 brothers and sisters form the work force on the project each day. This center will become the eventual location of Gilead School. The Governing Body also announced that a number of Brooklyn departments associated with the worldwide educational work will be transferred to the Educational Center.
Extending Benefits of the Ministerial Training School
DURING the 1992 service year, 14 classes of the Ministerial Training School were held in ten countries. For the first time, the school was conducted in Australia, Mexico, Nigeria, and Sweden. This opened up opportunities for more brothers to receive special training. In expressing their appreciation, students from Australia and New Zealand who attended the first class in Sydney said they were deeply moved by the quality and scope of the course. Members of the first class in Mexico stated that they were drawn closer to Jehovah and his organization as a result of their studies. From Nigeria the class letter affirmed the resolve of the students to improve the quality of their ministry and service now that they appreciate more fully the many facets of Jehovah’s provisions. The school in Sweden was conducted in English, and the class consisted of single elders and ministerial servants from Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden. They recognize more than ever the need to have all aspects of their lives, including their congregation teaching and shepherding as well as their field ministry, based on God’s Word.
In all countries where the school was held, the brothers expressed their determination to shoulder properly their congregation and other responsibilities within Jehovah’s advancing organization. Graduates of this school are now serving in more than 50 lands. They have been appointed to handle responsibilities in congregations, branches, and circuits as well as in the missionary field.
Branch Dedications for Jehovah’s Happy People
“HAPPY is the people whose God is Jehovah!” (Ps. 144:15) Jehovah’s Witnesses feel that way worldwide. Where there is a new branch building, there is special cause for rejoicing. Because Jehovah’s people have refused to be deceived by the world’s changing scene, Jehovah has blessed them with growth.
June 13, 1992, started out as an unusually warm summer day in Vantaa, Finland. Branch office expansion had been going on for 15 months. Dedication time had now arrived! The 99 members of the Bethel family, over 100 temporary construction workers, and all the traveling overseers in the country were invited. A total of 559 persons gathered together in the Kingdom Hall, in the dining room, and in other areas of the new facilities to hear the dedication program.
Since the Bethel Home was first constructed, it has been enlarged seven times. Robert Tracy, who visited Scandinavia as the zone overseer, said the following in his dedication talk: “In Sweden, your next-door neighbor, they said that in Finland you are always building.” The original area has a modern printing plant, a bindery, a mailing department, offices, and residences. The new five-story wing of 77,000 square feet [7,200 sq m] consists of 39 Bethel rooms, also health-care facilities, saunas, and storage areas. This new addition is the largest that has ever been made to the branch facility. The entire complex now has 232,000 square feet [21,600 sq m] of space.
Finland is a neighbor of Russia, and for decades it was a gateway between the Western world and the former Soviet Union. So, besides producing literature in Finnish, the Finland branch also prints The Watchtower in Estonian and, in addition, publications in Lithuanian and Latvian. The 18,316 publishers in Finland are so happy that Jehovah has now rewarded his servants with such privileges in supporting his work in Eastern Europe. The new addition to the Bethel Home is a great blessing, and it will benefit all of Jehovah’s Witnesses in that area.
On February 8, 1992, Thailand had good reason for rejoicing—their new Bethel Home was dedicated. It was the culmination of over two years of hard work. Why were these new facilities necessary?
The first Bethel Home in Thailand was established in 1947, when 31 publishers of the good news served in the entire country. That leased building also housed missionaries. In 1962, when the number of publishers had increased to over 300, the staff of three Bethel workers and some missionaries moved into a newly constructed building owned by the Society. During the next 25 years, the number of publishers tripled, and the Bethel family increased to 16 members. Since expansion in that residential area of Bangkok was not possible, the Governing Body recommended that the Branch Committee look for new property. Finally, in 1987, after a long search, the brothers located a suitable piece of land in a newly developed suburb of the city.
Before construction could start, the 1.5-acre [0.6 ha] lot had to be elevated by more than three feet [1 m] to prevent flooding during the rainy season. Then there was the construction of the two-story building that was to have a total floor area of some 32,000 square feet [3,000 sq m], including a large Kingdom Hall. A 1,200-foot-long [370 m] perimeter wall also needed to be erected; it was to consist of some 1,200 precast concrete panels resting on 145 piles, each 18 feet long [6 m]. Who was going to do all that work? Would there be enough volunteers from among the some 900 publishers to form a “construction family” and to give sufficient support to the project to complete it without much outside help? The previous Bethel and missionary home had been constructed entirely by a commercial firm.
The response to invitations sent out in 1987 to the 33 congregations throughout the country was very gratifying. Volunteers with special skills were few in number, but many brothers and sisters ‘offered themselves willingly,’ freely contributing their time and energies, ready to learn new skills right on the work site. (Ps. 110:3) It was estimated that during the two years of construction, the publishers in the eight congregations in the greater Bangkok area spent, on the average, about seven hours each month on construction. Still, the time they spent in field service was hardly affected. Vital—and much appreciated—was the help received from 37 international volunteers, who came from four countries.
Dedication day was truly a joyful and memorable occasion for all the 427 invited guests. Among them were representatives from six branches in the Asia-Pacific region. In his dedication discourse, the zone overseer, Brother H. V. Mouritz, pointed out that throughout history Jehovah has always provided what was necessary for his people to carry out his work and worship. As the program came to a close, all present felt greatly encouraged to carry on the preaching work with renewed vigor.
In another mark of growth, two branches in the West Indies were dedicated by Governing Body members in 1992: the Leeward Islands branch, on February 2, by Milton G. Henschel and the Bahamas branch, on February 8, by John E. Barr.
See the March 15, 1992, issue of The Watchtower for a report from Denmark.
[Picture on page 5]
More than one billion hours were spent preaching the good news in 229 lands, including the city of Irkutsk in Siberia
[Pictures on page 12]
Witnesses in Switzerland preparing food and clothing parcels for Eastern Europe. Austria, Denmark, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, and Sweden also helped in the relief ministrations
[Pictures on page 14, 15]
Hurricane Andrew devastated southern Florida on August 24, 1992, and left 3,500 Witnesses homeless
[Pictures on page 19]
At 6:00 a.m., one of the Society’s laundry trucks starts its rounds of several of the 21 residence buildings in Brooklyn
After the truck arrives at 360 Furman Street, the entire truck is taken by elevator to the eighth floor, for unloading
[Pictures on page 20, 21]
1. Items are checked for identification numbers
2. One room rumbles with 14 washing machines ranging in capacity from 35 pounds [15 kg] to 450 pounds [200 kg], all computer-controlled. One load in the large washer would be comparable to washing more than a thousand shirts in your home washer
3. The washed and dried garments are sent to the pressing area. More than 4,500 garments are pressed each day
The dry-cleaning department handles 3,000 to 4,000 garments each week. In 1991 they processed 150,000 pounds [70,000 kg] of dry cleaning
[Pictures on page 22]
The 30-story residence tower at 90 Sands Street stands tall and is easily recognizable on the Brooklyn skyline. The first ten floors above street level are scheduled for completion by the end of 1993
90 Sands Street
[Pictures on page 26, 27]
Texcoco, Mexico, January 1992
Sydney, Australia, August 1992
Igieduma, Nigeria, March 1992
Örebro, Sweden, May 1992
[Pictures on page 28, 29]
A large addition to the Finland branch was dedicated on June 13, 1992
[Pictures on page 30]
The Bahamas branch and Assembly Hall were dedicated on February 8, 1992
February 8, 1992, was the date for the dedication of the new Bethel Home in Thailand
On February 2, 1992, the branch in the Leeward Islands (Antigua) was dedicated