IN SPITE of droughts, famines, hyperinflation, bans, and religious opposition, our brothers in Africa have faithfully continued to do just what Psalm 105:1 states: “Give thanks to Jehovah, call upon his name, make known among the peoples his dealings.” Their zeal has proved to be contagious.
Two brothers in Benin were happy to be assigned as special pioneers in a remote part of the country. There were no Kingdom Halls, meetings, or other Witnesses in their territory. Two weeks after arriving, they concluded: “No one can attend meetings unless there are some to invite people to.” So they started conducting all five meetings. By the end of the first month, two interested people started to attend. Two months later, the pioneers saw the need to build a Kingdom Hall. One interested person donated a lot, and another supplied building materials. Three weeks after that, 40 people came to the special talk, though the Kingdom Hall was not quite finished. Seventy-one attended the Memorial, and later that month, 113 crowded in to hear the public talk given by the circuit overseer. All of this in just five months!
Many people express amazement when they see Jehovah’s Witnesses working together on Kingdom Hall projects. A Roman Catholic priest in South Africa admitted: “I’ve been to the Vatican, but I have never seen a thing like this. People of all races working together in unity. Whites coming to build in the black area and for black people, putting their lives at risk because whites are being attacked in black townships.”
Jehovah is pleased when we ask for his blessing on our service. However, if we are to receive the blessing, he expects us to step forward in faith and demonstrate our desire to expand our service to him. A Witness in Nigeria explains how this worked out for him: “In August 1988, at the Pioneer Service School, we were told about serving where the need is greater. I began saving money for the move and planned to resign from my job in March 1989. I went to my boss and, even though I had been offered a promotion, said that I was planning to move to a rural area to share in the preaching work. He said, ‘You do not know what you are doing. You will suffer. Go and think about it.’
“When I went home, I put my two identification cards on the table—my pioneer identification and my job identification. I evaluated both of them. Psalm 90:10 came to my mind. The average length of life is just 70 years; only by special mightiness can we attain 80 years. I was 30 years old at the time, so I figured that I had only 40 years left. I multiplied my annual income by 40 and discovered that the total amount wouldn’t even be enough to buy a car! This job is getting me nowhere, I thought. So I went back to my boss and turned in my letter of resignation. He said: ‘You are crazy. You will die hungry.’ Since then I have served in three areas of the country. It has been my joy to help establish two congregations. When I met my former manager recently, the first thing he said was: ‘You fooled me. You said you would not receive a salary, but see how well you look!’”
In Zaire during the 1992 service year, the biggest witness ever was given. Political, social, and economic upheaval did not prevent the more than 67,000 humble publishers from busily preaching the good news and making disciples. Over 140,000 Bible studies and nearly 300,000 Memorial attenders attest to the future potential. Although hyperinflation and civil strife in Zaire have brought hardships on our brothers, an eloquent witness was nevertheless given in September 1991, when a revolt opened the way for looting in the major population centers. Thousands of “Christians” who had been to church on Sunday worked frantically Monday and Tuesday to amass all the pillaged goods possible, even sending their children on numerous trips to snatch and then carry back the stolen goods. A number of observers remarked that their pastors had new clothes and household items after the looting. But Jehovah’s Witnesses did not participate in the plundering or the receiving of stolen goods. At Simfo, Shaba, a schoolteacher asked his class which churches did not share in the looting. “Jehovah’s Witnesses” was the unanimous answer. “They won’t even eat stolen food.”
The book Mankind’s Search for God has been well received in Côte d’Ivoire. A sister from that country relates: “While I was conducting a Bible study, the person I was teaching asked me: ‘Why are there so many different religions when there is only one Creator?’ I offered her the book Mankind’s Search for God. She was astounded upon just glancing through the table of contents. She then exclaimed: ‘You Jehovah’s Witnesses have the answers to all questions, and I believe that you have the key to the truth. But it would be too difficult for me to practice it because there are too many laws.’ I pointed to 1 John 5:3, where we read that ‘Jehovah’s commandments are not burdensome,’ adding that Jehovah gave us laws for our physical and spiritual welfare. I assured her: ‘If you study the Bible thoroughly, you will see the value of these divine laws.’ She agreed and shows real appreciation for the truth.”
African Witnesses have a special reason to give thanks to Jehovah. Legal restrictions were removed from the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Togo, and Zambia. This has made it much easier for our brothers to carry on their Kingdom preaching. Jehovah is truly ‘breaking down the prison bars’ to permit honesthearted ones to come into his organization.—Isa. 43:14.
In one of those countries, a brother who once served in circuit and district work stopped in order to care for his aged parents. Only one of his relatives was baptized at that time, but now four others have been baptized. One of these lamented: “Had I got the truth earlier, I could have cared for Father and Mother and you could have continued in the traveling work.” The brother answered: “Although I am now back in the village, I am satisfied and happy seeing my relatives accepting the truth.”
In another, a brother’s job as a watchman prevented his full participation in theocratic activities. When he received his vacation pay, he noticed that the cashier had given him double the amount. Of course, the brother informed the cashier of this error and returned the excess funds. The cashier related this to the manager, who wrote out a certificate of honesty for the brother and also for the company’s records. Some time later the company was looking for an accountant, and about 30 employees applied for the position. The majority of the applicants had high qualifications and the backing of influential persons in the company. When going through the file of applicants, the manager noticed that our brother had a certificate as an accountant even though he had been hired as a watchman. Remembering the brother’s honesty in the vacation-pay matter, the manager rewarded the brother with the position as company accountant. Now the brother would no longer be required to work the night shift and would have more time for theocratic activities, in addition to receiving increased salary and other benefits.
“JEHOVAH is the Divine One, and he gives us light.” (Ps. 118:27) Light from Jehovah has indeed flashed forth upon his people throughout Asia.
Upon arriving by bus in unassigned territory in India, a pioneer couple stopped to have a cup of tea before beginning their day of formal preaching. While sipping their tea, they witnessed to the tea-shop owner and started a Bible study with her and her two sons. Although the woman’s husband initially opposed the study, in time he began attending the study himself. Then the eldest daughter moved back home. At first she contradicted what the Witnesses were teaching and opposed the study. Finally, she too joined in the Bible study. The local churches did not like what was happening to this family. They united their efforts to try to pressure the family into discontinuing their study. A seven-day-long church meeting was arranged right outside the family’s tea shop, during which priests of the various churches orally attacked the Witnesses from a hecklers’ platform.
The opposition of the churches backfired however. Interest in the truth soon spread throughout the neighborhood, and more families began studying with the pioneers. When a Congregation Book Study was arranged in this territory, 43 persons attended the first meeting. One family, including some disfellowshipped relatives, began associating again, and happily, the disfellowshipped ones were reinstated. This family could hardly wait to have a Kingdom Hall in their area. So they donated a small plot of land on which a Kingdom Hall was soon built. At the district convention last year, 12 persons from this territory were baptized. And to think that it all started from an informal witness given in a tea shop!
A Witness in Korea had studied the Bible with a prominent poet, but his Buddhist philosophy put Buddha above Jesus, so he stopped studying. When the book The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived was being featured in the field ministry, the Witness visited him again and cautiously introduced the book. To her surprise, he accepted the book. By the time she returned, not only had he read the book from cover to cover but he showed much enthusiasm for what he read. He said that human philosophy reaches only the brain, but the story of Jesus reaches both the brain and the heart. He was deeply moved by the life story of Jesus and his teachings. He invited her to tell him more about Jesus, so the Bible study was resumed, and he is progressing well in his lessons.
At the end of the service year, the Kingdom Hall at the branch in Tel Aviv, Israel, was still closed by municipal order, a result of political pressure exerted on the authorities by Orthodox religious elements. The branch office has appealed the closure and is hoping for a favorable decision in the near future.
In war-weary Lebanon, the good news of the Kingdom is continuing to find a response. A loyal, older Witness died at the age of 85. He had been in the truth since the 1940’s. He was from a large family in the Bekaa region. Many in his family, especially the older ones, hold to strong religious and social traditions. The man’s son, also a Witness, explained that his father’s last wish was to be buried in the family cemetery. However, this was to be without any religious ceremonies that would conflict with his father’s Christian beliefs. Because of the respectful attitude of the son, and in spite of stiff opposition initially from some relatives, the family granted permission. The funeral was held on a cold, snowy day. Roads were blocked between the village and the brother’s home. The relatives used bulldozers to open over three miles [5 km] of road. A comforting talk was delivered on this sad occasion, and 400 Bible tracts about the resurrection hope were placed. A great witness was given to many in that area by those in the family who shared the brother’s faith and conviction about the hope of the resurrection.
From Thailand comes further evidence of the power of God’s Word to make changes in people’s lives. A pioneer was conducting a Bible study in a beauty salon with the owner and one of her customers. When the subject of family life and good morals came up, the customer did not seem to like it and quit the study. Some time later, she confided to the pioneer that she felt too unclean to study the Bible because she had been a lesbian for seven years. On the basis of Isaiah 1:18, the pioneer pointed out that Jehovah forgives sins that have been committed in ignorance. The woman resumed her study, broke off her immoral relationship, and later got married. Now both she and her husband are baptized. Three other relatives noticed the changes she made and started studying. One of them also is now baptized.
In Japan the brothers have been working hard to cover the entire country with the good news of the Kingdom. In the summer of 1991, after the unassigned territory activity was over, there were 257 towns and villages that remained unassigned, with a combined population of 1,284,300. However, by the end of March 1992, all those territories were assigned to congregations. Today, there is no unassigned territory left. Now, 43 years after the first missionary group arrived in Japan in 1949 following the end of World War II, Japan’s entire territory is receiving regular coverage by Witnesses. The branch office has also been encouraging special activity in the month of April every year since 1989. However, the all-time peak in the number of auxiliary pioneers that was reached in 1989 had not been surpassed until now. This year, a new peak of 46,787 auxiliary pioneers was reached, exceeding the previous peak by over 5,000. Add to this figure the 50,395 regular pioneers in April and the number of special pioneers, and you have 98,313 who participated in some form of pioneering that month—an amazing 59 percent of all publishers! Many young ones served as auxiliary pioneers. One of them, a 15-year-old brother in Hokkaido, made return visits faithfully and started three studies with adults during April.
As the countdown to China’s takeover of Hong Kong in 1997 continues, the political and economic scene is causing anxiety and concern over the territory’s future. In such a climate, it is a joy to see the Witnesses maintain Christian calm, keeping busy in Jehovah’s service. The results of such efforts? Another fine year of theocratic activity, the most joyful and productive in the history of that branch. For example, early in the year, under the direction of the Governing Body, the Hong Kong branch hosted a meeting with representatives from four other branches in the region to coordinate better the production of Chinese-language publications. As a result, literate Chinese people can now be reached with our publications in both the Simplified and the Traditional Chinese. And in China, happily, at the time of writing, all of our brothers and sisters are out of prison, though restricted in their activity.
“JEHOVAH has become high above all the nations; his glory is above the heavens.” (Ps. 113:4) Jehovah’s people in Europe face widely differing circumstances, from vicious civil strife, hunger, and religious intolerance to relative material prosperity and apathy. Yet they faithfully keep their spiritual eyes focused on Jehovah.
A young Witness in Poland was eager to share the truth with his fellow students. He explained the origin of the cross to his class at school. As a result, the majority of the pupils decided that the cross should not be worshiped. However, the priest protested. The parents of the students were summoned to the school, where the priest tried to besmirch the good reputation of the Witnesses. In response to this verbal attack, one mother spoke up and explained that her son used to smoke cigarettes, and since studying the Bible with Witnesses, he stopped smoking. On another occasion at school, the doctrine of the Trinity arose for discussion. The priest found it difficult to explain the doctrine satisfactorily, so he promised to bring another priest to clarify it. The Witness student and a few of his interested friends prepared well for a Scriptural battle. They successfully defended the Bible teaching on the name of God and refuted the church doctrines of the Trinity, the worship of Mary, and the cross. The class came to the conclusion: “If these fundamental Catholic beliefs are false, what about the rest?”
One of the priests present, a catechist, confessed: “You have convinced me. There is no Trinity.” He agreed to have a Bible study. Studies were also started with seven students. The young Witness conducted two of the Bible studies himself. All of them, including the priest, started attending the meetings. The priest soon left the priesthood and continues his studies. Now he wants to serve, not a triune god, but the one true God, Jehovah.
In Iceland, not many Witnesses live outside the large cities. Therefore, the branch has arranged for pioneers to share the good news in outlying areas. In one remote territory, a missionary couple have witnessed extensively. Before they left for vacation, one of their Bible students, a young carpenter named Óskar, asked if he could have some extra literature. “It might be good to have something to offer if somebody asks questions,” he explained. The missionary couple supplied him with a number of books, booklets, and magazines to use while witnessing. During their absence, Óskar not only placed some of the literature but also went to a neighboring village and, for the first time in his life, preached from house to house. Up until then, only a few Bible studies had been conducted with Óskar, although he had been reading much on his own. After getting more training, he qualified as an unbaptized publisher, reporting 30 hours in field service for his first month. The missionaries look forward to their next vacation, saying: “When Jehovah’s spirit gives strength to the new ones, you never know what will happen by the time you return!”
For many years in Ireland, progress in the witnessing work was slow because of the powerful influence of the Roman Catholic Church in the south and both the Catholic and Protestant churches in the north. Good spiritual progress is now evidenced in areas where Irish (Gaelic) is the principal language of the people.
In 1978 two pioneers working in one of these areas in the west of Ireland left one of our books with Maureen. Nothing much came of it at the time. In fact, Maureen’s husband, Paddy, told her that it was rubbish. Ten years later another sister met Maureen and persisted in calling back on her during the course of a year, although it was a long distance to travel and often Maureen would not be at home. During one of these visits, Maureen mentioned that she had heard that one of Jehovah’s Witnesses had given a special public talk in Irish in her area and that she was sorry to have missed it. She was provided with a tape recording of that talk. Hearing the truth explained in her native tongue seemed to make the truth come alive for her.
Maureen and her husband, Paddy, agreed to have a Bible study. When they were invited to dinner by some friends, they decided to say nothing about what they were learning from the Bible because they feared that this might bring a pleasant evening to an abrupt close. The other couple, Tony and Breege, were intrigued when Paddy and Maureen indicated that they would have to leave early. (They wanted to get home at a reasonable hour so that they would have no problem attending the meeting at the Kingdom Hall the next morning.) Eventually, with some persuasion, Paddy and Maureen admitted they were going to the Kingdom Hall. Tony, who was somewhat disillusioned with religion, decided to go there with them. Breege eventually started attending meetings also and agreed to a Bible study. It was not long before Paddy and Maureen with three of their four children, along with Tony and Breege, were serving as unbaptized publishers. Both couples are now baptized. A Congregation Book Study is flourishing in that area. Although results are not always immediately apparent, in fertile soil the planted seed of truth will grow.
Despite financial difficulties aggravated by high inflation, the congregations in Hungary are building their own Kingdom Halls. At present eight new halls have been completed, and another eight are under construction.
Older publishers are doing their part too. “Gray-headedness is a crown of beauty when it is found in the way of righteousness.” (Prov. 16:31) An elderly brother, who had the desire to be more effective in the field, felt that his ministry was not complete if he only went from house to house or did street witnessing. Therefore, he decided to call on small industrial units and other shops, where he might speak to several persons at the same time about the truth. His first visit took him to a dressmaker’s shop, where 25 persons were working. “Try to imagine the feeling,” the brother wrote, “when all sewing machines stopped, and I was surrounded by all the workers, bombarding me with questions. After having talked for about half an hour with the workers, which time was granted by the boss, I was able to place 25 books.” Being energized by this joyful beginning, the brother moved ahead like a steam-fired locomotive, visiting kindergartens, stores, and even factories. The result for the year? He placed 1,300 magazines and 600 books. He concludes his report with the words of Isaiah 40:31: “Those who are hoping in Jehovah will regain power. They will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not tire out.”
“IN PEACE I will both lie down and sleep, for you yourself alone, O Jehovah, make me dwell in security.” (Ps. 4:8) Jehovah’s Witnesses in Latin-American countries feel that with Jehovah as their God, they can truly dwell in security. While there is still considerable turmoil in some countries, caused by political and religious conflicts, the congregations experience peace from God.
This past service year saw an end to the civil conflict that had been tearing El Salvador apart for some 12 years. Although the work of the Witnesses has never been banned, many of the brothers went through terrifying ordeals, some even losing their lives. The branch reports: “Now that the war has ended, we can work territories that had not been visited for many years.”
The high school in one town was preparing a celebration for the graduating class. The principal called on several young Witnesses to prepare a play for the program, saying: “It’s time you Jehovah’s Witnesses participate, since all year round you don’t take part in any other celebrations because of your religion.” The youths thought quickly and answered: “In that case, let us prepare a Bible drama.” The principal agreed. The young Witnesses rushed to the elders of their congregation. The youths decided to present the drama Jehovah Delivers Those Calling Upon His Name. After several days of diligent rehearsals, all 15 youths were ready. They even sewed their own costumes, seeking to present the drama just as they had seen it at the district convention in 1987.
The day for the drama arrived; 400 persons were present. At the end of the presentation, the school authorities all expressed their congratulations. The principal then praised the Witnesses, announcing: “I can only express admiration for your organization and the excellent training you have received.”
A brother in Brazil tells of witnessing to a fellow employee: “About two years ago, a man started to work in the section where I was. He had just come out of a Catholic seminary, where he used to help the priest, even substituting for him in his absence. As opportunities arose, the two questions that we discussed most were, Did Mary have children other than Jesus? and, Does the Bible teach transubstantiation? While I was away from my desk one day, he picked up the book Reasoning From the Scriptures that I had at work with me and read what it said about the Mass and Mary. When we met at lunch, he expressed amazement at the information and said he was now convinced that what he had read was the truth. I started a Bible study with him and his wife, and in two months they began to attend meetings. Soon he burned all his spiritistic books. After six months of study, this couple began to share in the ministry and soon afterward were baptized.”
Remote villages accessible only by dangerous rivers and steep mountain paths are often found in Latin America. From six intrepid special pioneers working out of river boats in southern Peru comes this report: “We have used all means of transportation—boats to navigate dangerous rivers, our feet to trudge through gummy mud in torrential rain, and the backs of huge trucks in which we bounced along under canvas, trying at least to keep our literature dry. Like real locusts we have ravaged the false teachings of Babylon the Great, placing thousands of books and magazines with spiritually hungry people in virgin territory during the 15 months since we started working along the rivers.”
They have recently covered especially difficult and often dangerous sections. In 16 days they placed 627 books and 313 brochures. Each journey presented a fresh challenge. Their report continues: “The rivers are unknown to us. They are constantly changing their course, with new channels forming and sandbanks building up. Considering that we are just learning the tricks of river travel, we are sure that Jehovah is watching over us.”
When the brothers visited a village along the Amazon River in the north, they were told: “There is one of you people here who already talks to us.” The pioneers knew of no Witnesses in the area, but they soon found one at a farm situated on the riverbank. The unbaptized “Witness” had a fleshly sister in Requena who had received some literature but whose husband had ordered her to get rid of it. So she sent it to her brother who lived in the jungle. It didn’t take long for him to read My Book of Bible Stories five times and You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth three times. He then topped that off by reading Revelation—Its Grand Climax At Hand! three times. Naturally, he had a few questions. Nevertheless, he was already preaching to others about the things he had read. The pioneers were pleased to bring him up-to-date on requirements for further witnessing.
North America and the Caribbean Islands
“MAKE me know your own ways, O Jehovah; teach me your own paths,” wrote David many years ago. (Ps. 25:4) Centuries later, people of many backgrounds are learning Jehovah’s ways and changing their lives to conform to them.
An Asian immigrant to Canada, who was raised as a Buddhist, first had contact with Jehovah’s people through informal witnessing. She arrived in Canada with her family in 1981. Disappointed because of experiencing discrimination and other problems, she comments in retrospect: “The happy life we expected seemed to be beyond reach. We wanted to be happy but did not know where to look.” In 1983, publishers called on her in the door-to-door ministry, and a Bible study was started. Initially, her reason for accepting a Bible study was “just to have company and to learn English.” Nonetheless, the seeds of truth gradually took root. Her formerly tolerant husband changed and began to oppose her bitterly, even to the point of moving the family to a city a thousand miles [1,600 km] away. Yet, she persevered and was eventually baptized. She wrote a letter of appreciation to the couple who studied with her, which states in her imperfect English: “You were very nice and kind white people when I became to know you more. I enjoyed having you as my companies. Yet, I still was yellow with a fence around my heart. When I realized you were really different from other whites, I wondered why. What made you so? I thought and thought of that reason and concluded: ‘You were God’s Witnesses. There must be something in the Bible.’ . . . When I took off the fence around my heart, you became my good friends. . . . Later when I opened my heart wide, you became my best friends. You were white outside, but in my eyes your hearts were colorless. . . . There were great crowds of whites, blacks, browns, and yellows whose hearts the same color—transparent—because they were brothers and sisters. Now I know how and who made them so. It’s your God and yourselves. I desired to be one of you for years. I was in the world, but my heart was with you. Yet, I felt like I was standing outside the gate. Finally I was allowed to enter from the gate to be with you people. You are no longer ‘you people’ but ‘my people.’”
From the small island of Guadeloupe in the Caribbean comes this encouraging report: “Because of their good behavior, the publishers are easily identified in the territory. A Witness explains: ‘One day as we were preaching, a car that had already drawn ahead of us suddenly backed up and stopped right by us. A young woman got out and told us: “You must be Jehovah’s Witnesses. I have been in Guadeloupe for a few months. I must study the Bible again, but my mother, with whom I am living, is opposed.” Recovering from this surprise, we made arrangements for the study to be conducted at my home. A short while later, she attended an assembly. This made the mother so furious that she threw her daughter and her daughter’s three young children out of her house. Then, while the daughter was living with her aunt, the mother flattened the tires of her car and even threatened her with a knife. The young woman moved once more. Now she had an opportunity to study in peace. Her daughter Cinddy, eight years old, also studied seriously. Today, the young woman is a zealous publisher of the good news.’”
Even frequently worked territory yields Kingdom fruitage, as this experience from the United States branch demonstrates. A 43-year-old man who had lived in New York City all his life had never met Jehovah’s Witnesses at his door. He is a well-read individual who had just completed his studies for a PhD and had been assistant curator of the rare book division of a large library. Recently he was stopped by a Witness in the vestibule of his apartment building. He saw the book Mankind’s Search for God in her bag and asked her for it. He read it that same night and within a week visited the Watch Tower Society’s headquarters and obtained 12 more books, all of which he read before the sister called back. When she returned, he asked what he had to do to get baptized.
The sister arranged to have a brother study with him. After completing the study of two books, when asked how he knew this was the truth, he said: “It’s like the North Star. You hear about it and read about it, and when you get out under the night sky and look up and see it, no one has to tell you that you’ve found it.”
This man had been looking for the truth all his life. He realized that Christendom could not have it. He investigated Eastern religions and communism and was disappointed. Recognizing that none of these had the truth, he continued his search for God. He said he felt as though God were in the room next door, but the door was shut. The door has now been opened, and like a runner in a race leaving the starting line, he eagerly attends meetings and shares in the Kingdom preaching work and was recently baptized.
Islands of the Pacific
“O MAGNIFY Jehovah with me, you people, and let us exalt his name together.” (Ps. 34:3) The zealous Witnesses of Jehovah in the Pacific rejoice in their sacred privilege of announcing his name and purposes among the far-flung islands.
A brother working in a remote opal mine in Australia preaches informally to tourists. On one occasion he invited three vacationing couples to his home regularly for ten days. Before they left, the brother gave each couple the books Life—How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation? and You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, stating that he would be happy if they read just the first paragraph of each book. One, who is a schoolteacher, said she would not read the books because she had opposed Jehovah’s Witnesses all her life. For the past 23 years, she had refused to associate with her Witness neighbors and had kept her daughter away from them as well. She had been cruel to Witness children at the school where she taught. However, because of the brother’s kindness and hospitality, she promised to read a few lines of the book.
After some time, the brother received a telephone call from this woman, who said: “I read the first few lines, then I made a big mistake—I kept on reading. I fell in love with the book. I have never read anything like it! Then I made a second mistake. I left it on my desk, and when I went back to get it, my 19-year-old daughter had already written her name in it.” The woman and her husband visited their neighbor to obtain another book, and they apologized for past misunderstandings. A Bible study was started with this couple and their daughter, and they are now attending meetings. Kindness can melt hearts of stone that have a love for God buried in them.
Recently, three members of the Bethel family in Fiji were invited to speak to students of an interdenominational college for the mainline Protestant religions in the South Pacific. A fine witness was given to the 13 students and the instructor. After briefly explaining their own religious background and upbringing, all three Bethelites were able to give a broad overview of Jehovah’s theocratic organization. The subject of the use of the divine name in the Bible was proposed. One student objected to the inclusion of the name in the Christian Greek Scriptures. Silence permeated the room when one Bethelite asked him why it was that after almost a hundred years of being used quite freely in most of the Bibles in Pacific-island languages, the name Jehovah is now being removed from the newer, revised translations? Finally, one student reasoned that it is because no one really knows how to pronounce God’s name, and it should therefore not be used. He explained that the Jews were the ones who stopped using God’s personal name, substituting either Adhonai or Elohim. The brothers pointed out to the class that this was because of a superstitious idea that arose among the Jews. The question was posed: Could this be the same reason that the name is being removed from those translations today? Maybe, deep in their hearts, they will ponder over this unanswered question.
A boys’ high school in Tonga sets aside one hour a week for religious instruction. Four of the 600 students are Jehovah’s Witnesses, and on their request, approval was given for them to have their own class, with a regular pioneer and one of the missionaries conducting it. The first class was attended by 12 boys, and the discussion, based on the Creation book, dealt with whether man evolved or was created. Surprised that the Bible touched on scientific subjects, they spoke to their friends about this afterward, so that 25 attended the second class. Now, following the Wednesday roll call, when the principal asks all of Jehovah’s Witnesses to stand up and go to their class, there are up to 60 boys that attend, many bringing their own Bibles. One of these has since started a personal Bible study with the regular pioneer.
On the island of Savaii, in Western Samoa, a sister and her husband lived with the husband’s family. The husband permitted her to practice her religion but showed no outward interest in the truth. Our sister also had to endure opposition from her Protestant mother-in-law, never giving up hope that her conduct might move her family members to worship Jehovah. Recently, since this couple decided to move to New Zealand, a family gathering was held before they left. Imagine the wife’s surprise when her husband announced that when he arrived in New Zealand, he would study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses and attend the meetings at the Kingdom Hall. He recommended the truth to all other members of the family. His mother took this suggestion to heart and immediately began to study and attend meetings. Now this sister’s aunt, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, and some nieces have all started to attend the meetings at the Kingdom Hall, and most of them are studying. The words of the apostle Peter came true in her case, that “husbands . . . may be won without a word through the conduct of their wives.”—1 Pet. 3:1.
“ON THE One to be praised, Jehovah, I shall call, and from my enemies I shall be saved.” (Ps. 18:3) Jehovah’s Witnesses in some 24 countries continue to declare the good news despite government bans.
Children can take a firm stand for Jehovah under such circumstances as is seen in this case in one island nation of the Pacific. All the children in one family studied the truth with a Witness neighbor. Their parents were strongly opposed and would often beat them because of their persistence in studying the Bible. The father even reported their activity to the local authorities, reminding them of the ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses, but the authorities ignored his accusations. The enraged father violently took matters into his own hands. While walking down a narrow path, he met the Witness who was teaching his children. In a furious outburst, he attacked the Witness and knocked him to the ground, threatening him with a long knife and even attempting to kill him. At a critical moment, the wife of the Witness saw the struggle and screamed with all her might, which caught the attention of the neighbors. The enraged man made a quick escape but reported the matter to the police, giving them his distorted version of the incident. As a result, the Witness, who had to be hospitalized for ten days, was afterward interrogated by the police. The local newspaper falsely reported that the Witness had struck the father first. Yet, the police treated the Witness with respect and, after questioning him, were able to discern that he was innocent.
A month later, the district attorney’s office called the Witness for further questioning. For four consecutive days, he spent a total of 14 hours responding to their queries, which gave him an opportunity to provide a very good witness. The district attorney’s office was appreciative of the Bible-based answers that were given. As a result, they now have a more favorable view of Jehovah’s Witnesses. And what about the children of the opposed father? One has progressed to dedication and baptism, and the rest are still zealously studying the truth.
The government of an African country has viciously hounded the Witnesses for years, although recently, respect for civil rights has improved. However, during all those years, the evangelizing work never stopped. For example, during a heavy rain, a Witness sought shelter in a small Seventh-Day Adventist church. Since a service was being held, he had to stand on the veranda. While there, he overheard someone inside ask the preacher: “Is it true that people will go to heaven?” The church elder conducting the service was unable to give a good answer. When the rain stopped, the Witness approached the church elder and asked if he would be allowed to answer the question. “Yes,” he was told. After he explained Bible truth on the matter, the audience grew interested, and the one who asked the question arranged to meet the Witness elsewhere on another day. A good number turned up for this meeting, and seven Bible studies were started, which were still progressing at the time of writing.