Jehovah’s Witnesses—1994 Yearbook Report
IN HARMONY with our yeartext for the past year, our earnest prayer as Jehovah’s Witnesses has been: “Instruct me, O Jehovah . . . Unify my heart to fear your name.” (Ps. 86:11) Like the psalmist David, we want to be taught by Jehovah. And how marvelously Jehovah has answered our prayer for divine teaching!
During this past year, at our Congregation Book Studies, we benefited from an in-depth study of the greatest man who ever lived, God’s only-begotten Son, the one who perfectly reflects his Father. (John 8:23; Heb. 1:3) With the help of The Watchtower, we were also fortified by studying about Jehovah’s mercy and forgiveness, and such topics as safeguarding our family life, having a balanced view of secular education, providing loving help for the sick and the elderly, and walking in wisdom with regard to the world, as well as how to cultivate such qualities as godly subjection, faith, virtue, and self-control. By means of the Service Meeting and the Theocratic Ministry School, we were helped to become more effective in our ministry and to show greater personal interest in people. How beneficial all of this has been! And in many lands, the service year was crowned with the wonderful “Divine Teaching” District Convention.
Receiving divine teaching is not merely an intellectual exercise. Such teaching is designed to mold the person we are inside so that we do not have simply a veneer of Christianity. In answer to our prayer, Jehovah helps us to unify our heart so that we will not be halfhearted, or lukewarm, in our worship to God but will be zealous in the doing of the divine will.
From around the globe come reports that give evidence of the sort of zeal that springs from such a unified heart. As a result of Jehovah’s blessing on our united efforts, during the past service year, a peak of 4,709,889 expended themselves in Jehovah’s service, sharing personally in telling others about God’s Kingdom. In a growing number of countries, there are over 100,000 Kingdom proclaimers. This is true of two lands in North America, three in Latin America, five in Europe, one in Africa, and two in the Far East. Altogether, Jehovah’s Witnesses are preaching in 231 lands. Actually they are now busy in more than 70 lands where there were no Witnesses 40 years ago.
These Kingdom publishers everywhere truly gave of themselves, devoting a combined total of 1,057,341,972 hours to the field ministry during the 1993 service year. Even in war-ravaged areas, our brothers are endeavoring to keep Kingdom interests first. Thus a congregation in central Bosnia reports a monthly average of 34 hours per publisher, not including the pioneers. On an average, each month 623,006 Witnesses around the earth shared in some branch of the pioneer service. Japan was able to report that in April the pioneers there totaled 100,441, or 56 percent of the total publishers. Home Bible studies being conducted increased by 237,460 worldwide, to a new high of 4,515,587. Memorial attendance rose to 11,865,765, and it is heartwarming to observe that, of these, 296,004 progressed during the year to the point of dedication and baptism.
In order to provide needed supervision and literature for this global work of education, 13,828 volunteers care for assignments as Bethel family members worldwide. Of these, 4,922 serve at the world headquarters, in Brooklyn, New York, and nearby facilities. All of them are members of a religious order that is devoted exclusively to the ministry.
“Divine Teaching” Conventions
How spiritually refreshing and practical the “Divine Teaching” District Conventions have proved to be! Hundreds of them have already been held; others are yet in progress. Regarding the instruction given, an elder in the Netherlands said: “We pray so often to Jehovah for help and guidance in our work. This convention has been an answer to our prayers. It is just as if Jehovah were saying: ‘Listen and apply the counsel.’”
As a result of the generosity of Jehovah’s people, 1,667 missionaries and international servants were able to attend conventions in lands where they had lived and served in the past. And they express heartfelt thanks to all who helped to make that possible. It was truly heartwarming to visit with them and to hear from them at the various conventions. Their experiences made us think of the occasion when Paul and Barnabas reported to the congregation in Antioch “the many things God had done by means of them, and that he had opened to the nations the door to faith.”—Acts 14:27.
In Munich, Germany, a convention provided the entire program in Croatian and Serbian. Among those present were brothers from Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Macedonia, as well as delegates from Albania, Hungary, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine. A large number of Romanies (Gypsies) were present. All of these had come to benefit from divine teaching. How pleasant the peace, the love, and the unity among Jehovah’s people! It contrasted with the strife in the areas from which many of these delegates had come—some of them forced to flee as refugees.
Of special interest to Jehovah’s Witnesses everywhere were the international conventions in Moscow, Russia, and in Kiev, Ukraine. Although it was necessary to limit the size of the convention in Moscow, delegates from 30 lands viewed it as a special privilege to be among the 23,743 who gathered there. Between sessions they seized opportunities to meet those in the various language groups. What joyful, heartwarming, faith-strengthening experiences they had in doing so! The conventioners also took time to share in the field ministry. Some got up early to do it; others coupled informal witnessing with their sight-seeing. They were impressed when they saw the Russian people not only readily accept a tract in their own language but often stop what they were doing and read it from start to finish.
In spite of some opposition, the convention in Moscow was a grand success. When the final speaker on the program expressed gratitude to Jehovah for all that He had done to make this convention possible, the audience rose and burst into thunderous and sustained applause.
Two weeks later, a much larger convention was held in Kiev. Among the 64,714 in attendance were nearly 53,000 who had come from Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, and Russia, as well as from Ukraine.
When brothers were making toilets for use at the stadium, some local residents asked if they could help. Why? They replied: “We also want to do something to serve Jehovah.” Many people in Kiev, observing the Witnesses and the spirit they showed, waved greetings to them. Pointing to the stadium, a police officer exclaimed: “I have never seen a thing like this. What people! They have such open faces. I am already in the new world. One simply has to wonder about all of this . . . I can’t figure out why you people were persecuted.” During the convention, over 2,000 interested people turned in their names and addresses, requesting that Jehovah’s Witnesses visit them as soon as possible.
The climax of the convention was reached when 7,402 individuals presented themselves for water baptism in symbol of their dedication to Jehovah God. This was the largest of such baptisms in Christian history, eclipsing the one in New York in 1958, when, with an attendance four times as great, a slightly smaller number were immersed. Yes, Jehovah has raised up thousands more as his Witnesses to share in the grand work that he is having done in this part of the earth during these final days of the old system!
Instruction at Branch Seminars
During the past year, an outstanding aspect of the program of divine instruction involved week-long seminars with branch personnel. Eight of such seminars were held from January through April.
Representatives of 17 branches in Central and South America convened at the recently dedicated branch in Colombia in January. In February, a seminar held in Australia involved eight branches that receive a major portion of their literature supplies from Australia. This was followed by meetings in the Philippines for 12 branches in southeast Asia and the Pacific. During March, 24 branches—including most of the major printing branches—were represented at a seminar in the United States. A seminar during April was convened in Puerto Rico to care for the needs of lands in and near the Caribbean. The same week a meeting in Nigeria was giving attention to west and central Africa. Simultaneously, another seminar, in Austria, was attended by personnel from 16 branches in that part of the world, and later in the month, at a meeting in the new branch facilities in Zambia, the remainder of the African branches were given special attention.
The program featured material provided by the Personnel, Writing, Teaching, Service, and Publishing Committees of the Governing Body. It was designed to enhance the unity of the branches and all the congregations as they exert themselves vigorously to accomplish the preaching of the good news.
Relief Operations—An Expression of Our Love
The violent storms, severe droughts, floods, and wars that have filled the news during recent months deeply affect the lives of millions of people, including Jehovah’s Witnesses. We cannot simply wish our brothers well and then fail to share with them the necessities of life, nor do we want to do that. Love moves us to share with them whatever we have. (Jas. 2:15-17; 1 John 3:17) Jehovah’s Witnesses certainly do that, and as they are able, they endeavor to help others, too.—Gal. 6:10.
During 1991-92, one of the worst droughts in living memory scourged large parts of Africa, including Mozambique. Some people lost harvests first by drought, then by flood and theft. The branch office in Maputo formed relief committees to coordinate efforts to provide basic food and clothing for brothers and sisters in need. This involved distribution of 25 tons of maize meal, 6 tons of beans, 2.7 tons of rice, 1,800 quarts [1,700 liters] of cooking oil, and 6.5 tons of used clothing. At times, these supplies were distributed in connection with assemblies, and the help was greatly appreciated. But the missionaries observed that, as the brothers planned to attend, it was the spiritual provision that they most eagerly anticipated. A group of 10 brothers from Ile, having no money for transportation, walked 70 miles [112 km] one way so that they would not miss their special assembly day!
Much of Zambia was similarly affected by the drought. To help brothers who were unable to benefit from the government’s relief program, the Society’s branch purchased and distributed 14 tons of cereals early in the year. The brothers also shared with one another what they had. As the Society’s trucks made deliveries of literature, they also picked up cereals to drop off in areas of need along the route.
During a time of civil strife in Rwanda, people from affected areas fled to refugee camps, where conditions were extremely difficult. However, our refugee brothers—381 of them—were lovingly cared for by the congregations. So that the load would be distributed, they were divided up among a number of congregations. The Society assisted with needed funds, and qualified brothers made regular visits to give spiritual encouragement. Many of these displaced publishers, though they had lost virtually everything materially, served as auxiliary pioneers during those difficult months. Others started regular pioneer service.
About a thousand brothers in Zaire were left destitute as a result of tribal warfare. Some were eating only once every three days. When the office in South Africa received word about this, the hearts of the brothers went out to those in Zaire. The office promptly reported the situation to the Governing Body and then dispatched 24 tons of food, soap, and medical supplies to alleviate the situation. Likewise, when a group of 70, adult Witnesses and their children, from Angola were forced to flee into Namibia because of civil war, the local brothers quickly looked after them. Finding that the camp to which the Witness refugees had been taken was not ready to care for them, the brothers provided tents, food, clothing, blankets, and materials for building a temporary Kingdom Hall.
Our brothers in Austria, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland have been very generous in giving of their means to assist Witnesses in the war-torn area formerly known as Yugoslavia. One hundred and fifty-three tons of food and 23 tons of clothing, cleaning materials, and medical supplies, as well as spiritual provisions, were taken to them this past year. Brothers volunteered to do the trucking in spite of danger to themselves. Regarding one of the trips to Sarajevo, a brother reported that, after customs formalities, there were still some 15 police and military checkpoints along the route. But the brothers were equipped, and at each one they left magazines with the soldiers. Roads had been destroyed, melting snow had turned the track to mire, and at times explosions were so close that the brothers thought they had been hit. But our brothers counted it a privilege to serve in this way. As for those receiving the aid, they are deeply grateful and feel more than ever that they are truly part of an international family.
On the other side of the globe, Hurricane Iniki smashed into the northwestern Hawaiian Islands in September 1992. It proved to be the worst natural disaster in the history of Hawaii. Even before the storm hit the island of Kauai, the elders there were organizing to help their brothers. Spirituality was kept to the fore. During the following weeks, repair and rebuilding was done on 400 homes of the brothers. In each instance, before work began on a specific home, the work crew and the family involved discussed the text for the day and prayed together. For a period of six months, experienced elders, accompanied by their wives, from other islands also went to the disaster area to provide shepherding, conduct meetings, take the lead in field service, and assist in filling out complicated government and/or insurance-claim forms.
Do you know where the island of Niutao is? Not many people do. Only about 800 people live on that coral atoll in the South Pacific. Among them is one unbaptized publisher who lost his home and all his possessions as a result of a tidal wave this past January. As soon as the brothers on another island in the Tuvalu group realized what damage had been done, they provided food and other help. It took longer to get together necessary building materials and to ship these to Niutao. Then they rebuilt his home. The love thus shown by the Witnesses has been the talk of the island.
Upon observing what Jehovah’s people were doing to help one another in war-torn Liberia, a neighbor of one of our sisters said: “Your Jehovah God really loves you, to provide such a service for you people.” Yes, he truly does.
Building to Fill Needs of Rapid Growth
When 296,004 people get baptized in a year and 3,512 new congregations are formed in a single year (2,528,524 baptized and 26,835 new congregations formed in the past ten years), much needs to be done to care for all of them. Among other things, that involves construction work. And what a vast amount of it there was this past year!
In the United States, 73 Regional Building Committees assisted with Kingdom Hall construction. During the 1993 service year, with the cooperation of tens of thousands of willing volunteers, they helped to build some 200 new Kingdom Halls and remodel another 200.
In Japan, where quick-construction methods are also used, 108 Kingdom Halls were completed, but these had to be designed to withstand earthquakes and typhoons. Those who volunteered to help with the work provided not only skill and labor but also other resources.
The brothers in Argentina have made it their goal to see that each of the more than 1,500 congregations there has a suitable place to meet for worship. Last year, 57 new halls were completed. But many more are needed. There, new Kingdom Halls usually are built in about three or four weeks.
More than 800 new Kingdom Halls have been built in the Philippines during the past six years. But there are 3,332 congregations, and many of these are still in need of more suitable places in which to meet.
In Brazil, where there has been an increase of 120,687 Witnesses during the past five years, it has been impossible to keep up with the need for new Kingdom Halls. But 93 new halls were completed this past year, and construction began on 1,383 more.
More Kingdom Halls are needed, also, to care for the rapid growth in Colombia. The branch is endeavoring to develop an arrangement that would simplify construction procedures and would provide the help of special construction crews trained at the branch.
In rural areas in South Africa, some congregations make their own concrete blocks and, with the help of volunteers provided through the Regional Building Committee, are able to complete a neat, affordable hall in three to six weekends. The work of multiracial construction groups in such strife-torn areas as Soweto requires great caution, but it also demonstrates in a vivid manner the love and unity among Jehovah’s people.
In Norway, there are 21 Kingdom Halls above the Arctic Circle. One of these now is in Hammerfest, the northernmost city in Europe.
Reflecting the spirit of Isaiah 2:3, 4, the brothers in Hungary built two of their new Kingdom Halls on property that was formerly used for large Russian military bases.
The self-sacrificing spirit shown by the brothers who had traveled from abroad to help build the branch and the Assembly Hall in the Solomon Islands deeply affected the Witnesses there. This became evident when the government assigned a choice piece of land in Munda on which the brothers could build a Kingdom Hall. But the congregation was small. Who could do the work? The brothers in Honiara said: “If our brothers from overseas could use their money and time to help us build an Assembly Hall and a branch, why can’t we give up our vacation and go to Munda to build the Kingdom Hall?” That is just what they did. Brothers and sisters from 13 islands and tribes were involved, and the hall was built in just 10 days.
Resourcefulness was shown by a congregation in Slovakia in which half the publishers are pioneers. Families picked berries in order to obtain money for the construction. To hold down expenses, they also obtained sand and stone from a nearby creekbed.
Six family heads in Korea took out bank loans and then donated the funds to their congregation for its new Kingdom Hall. As their contribution to the project, the brothers personally shouldered responsibility for repaying those loans.
In Nigeria, four brothers from a small congregation approached the Onojie, the area’s traditional ruler, to ask for land to purchase for a new Kingdom Hall. But they could not pay the sum that he demanded. Some months later, one of the elders lent the Onojie the video Jehovah’s Witnesses—The Organization Behind the Name. He was deeply impressed. After watching it five times, he made the needed land available to the brothers for their new Kingdom Hall.
In many places it has also proved practical to have our own Assembly Halls. Such halls were built in Colombia and in the United States this past year. Two others were dedicated in Brazil, two in Costa Rica, and one in Jamaica. In Peru, an Assembly Hall adequate to accommodate district conventions of 10,000 was dedicated in February 1993. The open ends, as well as sides that are open for about 10 feet [3 m] from the ground, afford good ventilation. The gently sloped concrete floor makes it possible for the entire audience to have a clear view of the platform. The brothers in France built their fifth and largest Assembly Hall this year. Many workers and their families gladly used their personal vacation time to complete that project—in just four months! In Italy, a new hall was completed in the province of Catanzaro, and the brothers in Spain dedicated their fourth Assembly Hall.
Of course, growth in the number of Witnesses also requires enlargement of branch facilities in order to provide needed literature and supervision. Large new branch facilities were under construction this past year in Poland, Puerto Rico, and Zambia, also in Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Mexico, and Taiwan. In the United States, major enlargement of facilities has been continuing in Brooklyn, and excellent progress has been made on the Watchtower Educational Center at Patterson. Extensive expansion has also been under way in Britain and Canada, as well as in Australia, Brazil, Germany, Korea, New Zealand, South Africa, and Spain. New branch buildings of smaller size have been going up in Hungary, Jamaica, Mozambique, Paraguay, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Tahiti, and Western Samoa. Many thousands of brothers and sisters have made themselves available to share in this work. What a year this has been!
After the dedication of Jehovah’s temple in Jerusalem in the days of Solomon, the people returned to their homes “rejoicing and feeling merry of heart over all the goodness that Jehovah had performed” for his people. (1 Ki. 8:66) Likewise in modern times, there is great rejoicing in connection with the dedication of branch offices of the Watch Tower Society, which are also used to promote true worship. Where were branch facilities dedicated during the past service year?
Nearly 9,000 feet [2,700 m] up in the Andes Mountains of South America, at Facatativá, Colombia, La Torre del Vigía (The Watch Tower) has a new office and printery, as well as housing for the volunteer workers. These were dedicated on November 1, 1992. The setting is beautiful, 26 miles [42 km] northwest of Bogotá, on the edge of the plateau where the Colombian capital lies. Here, full-color editions of The Watchtower and Awake! are being printed in Spanish for use in Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Ecuador, and Peru.
When construction began on these new branch facilities, there were 34,261 of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Colombia. During the five-year construction period, the number of Witnesses in the country increased by 63 percent, to 55,693. Home Bible studies are now being conducted with 100,927 individuals and family groups. In 1993, at the Memorial of Christ’s death, 249,271 were in attendance. This truly is a joyful time of spiritual harvesting in Colombia.
Four hundred Witnesses from Colombia, along with a hundred international servants, made up the core of the construction team that transformed what was formerly a poultry farm into a center for theocratic education. Another 3,000 volunteers from nearby congregations helped on holidays and weekends, and some 1,500 others from abroad came—some for a few weeks, others for a few months—at their own expense. Local businessmen could hardly believe that this was the case, and one of them personally questioned both Colombian Witnesses and foreigners to make sure that it was so. Another businessman, deeply impressed by what he saw and heard, accepted a Bible study. Now he and his wife are baptized Witnesses.
There were 1,500 guests, from 14 lands, for the dedication program. Included among them were Milton Henschel and Daniel Sydlik of the Governing Body. What joyous reunions there were! And what happiness over the spiritual prosperity that Jehovah has brought to his servants in Colombia!
The same month, on November 28, another branch was dedicated, this one in Nadarzyn, near Warsaw, Poland. Theodore Jaracz, of the Governing Body, who was on hand for the occasion, declared: “This dedication is truly historic. . . . It is the first new branch constructed and now being dedicated in territory formerly known as ‘behind the Iron Curtain.’ But that so-called Iron Curtain could not prevent the onward march of Jehovah’s organization! And the evidence of it is right here!”
Some of the guests had personally waited decades for this occasion. Among them were Witnesses who had faithfully served Jehovah, despite severe trials, for 45, 50, or more years. A number of these had carried out Bethel work underground for more than 40 years. Their hearts were deeply moved as Zygfryd Adach, coordinator of the Branch Committee, said: “Beloved, you were going to great pains to share in the work of God’s organization in distributing spiritual food during hard times, even exceptionally hard. After years in prison, you often willingly offered to continue the work. Sometimes this was repeated four or five times and even more. All of us remember that time, so with absolute conviction we quote the words at Psalm 124: ‘Had it not been that Jehovah proved to be for us when men rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us up even alive . . . Blessed be Jehovah, who has not given us as a prey to their teeth. Our soul is like a bird that is escaped from the trap of baiters. The trap is broken, and we ourselves have escaped.’”—Ps. 124:2-7.
When announcement was made that a branch was to be built, the response was spontaneous. Congregations brought in coal and wood, refrigerators, food supplies, and tools. Brothers and sisters qualified in various trades and professions eagerly volunteered their services. There were older ones who had spent years in prison. Numerous young ones, too, offered themselves willingly. International servants came from ten countries. Again and again, the hearts of the workers were thrilled as they saw evidence of Jehovah’s direction and blessing. A “stop work” order from the Commune Council was reversed. Seemingly unobtainable supplies were made available. In just two years and six months after receiving the construction permit, the site of a despoiled motel was transformed into an attractive complex of buildings for the Poland branch.
During the six years since a new branch in New Zealand had been dedicated, the number of Kingdom proclaimers there had increased by over 30 percent. To care for their needs, the facilities had to be enlarged. But there was more to it. As explained at the dedication program, over half of the new offices would be used for translation work, because literature is translated here into Samoan, Maori, Rarotongan, and Niuean, to benefit people on various South Pacific islands. Thus, on February 27, 1993, extensions to the office and the services buildings, as well as additional housing, were dedicated.
On hand for the occasion was Lloyd Barry, a member of the Governing Body who grew up in New Zealand and began his service to Jehovah there. All the members of the Bethel and construction families, as well as traveling overseers and their wives, were present. There were also guests from neighboring South Pacific countries. The majority, however, were New Zealand residents who had been baptized before 1955. As one of the speakers pointed out, it was these older ones who did the work that laid the foundation for what was taking place at that dedication program. But how appreciative they are for the excellent support and hard work of the newer ones who have joined with them in praising Jehovah!
The branch facilities erected 24 years ago in Puerto Rico had long been overcrowded. The number of publishers on the island had increased from 5,400 in 1969 to over 25,000 by the time the new branch was dedicated on April 17, 1993. Four years of hard work by thousands of brothers and sisters resulted in a fine complex of buildings in paradisaic surroundings.
Those on hand for the program felt specially privileged to have as speakers for the occasion Karl Klein and Albert Schroeder, of the Governing Body, as well as other representatives from Brooklyn. During the week leading up to the dedication, the new facilities had already been put to use for a seminar attended by representatives of 14 branches. Then, following the dedication, the Spanish Translation Department, with its international team of workers, was moved from Brooklyn to these new facilities.
One week after the dedication in Puerto Rico, a new branch complex of 13 buildings was dedicated on the outskirts of Lusaka, Zambia. Why there?
Seeds of Bible truth had been sown in this country as early as 1911. By 1924, small study groups had been formed. Now there are 80,488 publishers associated with 1,993 congregations in Zambia, and Memorial attendance in 1993 was 362,204. This is a fruitful field for Kingdom expansion.
The building of the new Zambia branch was possible because of the international cooperation that is typical of Jehovah’s organization. Designing and engineering were done at the Society’s offices in the United States, Europe, and Japan. Cranes were donated by brothers in America. Radio equipment that made possible telephone installations was sent as a gift from New Zealand. The only building materials readily available locally were sand, cement, stone, and wood. But, on an average, two large truckloads of other supplies were sent in each week from South Africa—a round trip of 2,200 miles [3,500 km]. And the Zambian Witnesses were wholehearted in giving of themselves and their resources to get the job accomplished. At the time of the dedication program, both Milton Henschel and Theodore Jaracz, of the Governing Body, were present to share with the Zambian brothers in that happy event.
It was a specially happy day for our brothers in Hungary on July 31 when Lyman Swingle, of the Governing Body, dedicated their newly built facilities for additional residence and a translation office. These had been constructed in just five months, with the help of local congregations as well as Witnesses from eight other lands, and the completion had been announced by the Hungarian National News Agency.
After decades of harsh persecution, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Hungary were granted legal recognition in 1989. That year, a peak of 9,990 publishers reported some share in the field ministry. Since then Jehovah’s Witnesses have devoted upwards of 8,300,000 hours to the field ministry in Hungary, and the number of Kingdom proclaimers has risen to 14,347.
The first branch office of the Watch Tower Society was established in London in 1900. Its facilities have had to be enlarged many times. On August 7, 1993, the latest addition, a 200,000-square-foot [18,600 sq m] factory and administrative complex, was dedicated.
The factory buildings at the rear of the site were constructed in just 17 months, using the tilt-up method for concrete wall panels. Some 5,000 volunteers shared in the work. The administrative block is a brick building. Some 133,000 bricks were used. How many bricklayers were required to do that job? Just seven sisters, with two brothers to supervise. A contractor who visited the site shook his head in disbelief when told who did the work.
Albert Schroeder, of the Governing Body, was present to share in the dedication program. He delighted the audience by relating details of the growth of the Kingdom work in Britain since 1937, when he was sent to the British Isles to supervise the work and to encourage at least 1,000 to enroll as pioneers. What a joy to see that there are now 127,395 Kingdom proclaimers in Britain and that, on an average, 12,803 of them are in the pioneer service each month.
The Governing Body is keenly interested in doing whatever is necessary so that the great crowd will truly be drawn out of “all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues,” as the Bible states. (Rev. 7:9) The accomplishing of this has been a matter of prayer at the world headquarters and among Jehovah’s servants worldwide. Reaching people of all these groups is a tremendous task, one that can be successfully completed only with Jehovah’s spirit.
Translation of the Bible and Bible literature plays an important role. Can people be reached without literature in their own language? Yes; but the effectiveness of the work of preaching and disciple making is greatly enhanced when literature is available in the mother tongue of these people.
At present we have at least some current publications in 236 languages. The Watchtower is regularly printed in 116 languages. During the past year, many of the translation teams that care for languages used in the magazines were being strengthened, and those that are working on another 70 languages were being trained. Included among these are languages used in Eastern Europe, southern Asia, and Africa, as well as among Indian tribes in South America, and by peoples on the Pacific islands. Developing such teams involves locating, training, and equipping translators, checkers, and proofreaders. All of these must be dedicated Christians, volunteers who are also able to make themselves available for such work.
Of course, there are more languages that need attention, many of them spoken by more than a million people. Responsible brothers are constantly working to locate and train translators and to provide needed equipment—if necessary, to design new type fonts and computer software to handle it. As we review what Jehovah has already done, we are confident that he will provide whatever is necessary to get the work accomplished during the time that yet remains. It is a privilege to be his fellow workers.—1 Cor. 3:9.
Ministerial Training School Held on Six Continents
Gilead School has now been in operation for 50 years, and its graduates have shared in advancing Kingdom interests in upwards of 200 lands. What a grand ‘heap of witness’ has resulted from the work of these self-sacrificing servants of Jehovah!
More help to fill urgent needs has been provided as a result of the Ministerial Training School, which offers specialized training in an intensive two-month course. During the past service year, 29 classes of this school have given valuable training to more than 684 elders and ministerial servants. Classes were held in Japan, Nigeria, the United States, and in the territory of Latin-American branches where Spanish-speaking students from 16 different countries were enrolled. The school in Australia benefited brothers who came from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Solomon Islands, and Western Samoa. At five locations in Europe, brothers from 12 different countries were trained.
Many congregations lack brothers to take the lead. This is particularly true in Latin America, where, in a large congregation, there may only be one or two elders and about the same number of ministerial servants. Where graduates of the Ministerial Training School have been assigned to serve in such areas of special need in their native land, field activity has increased, pioneer service has been effectively encouraged, especially among younger ones, and more personal attention has been given to the many new ones now associating.
Quite a number of those going through the school are able to speak other languages. Accordingly, in Europe and the United States particularly, such brothers have been used in Arabic, Chinese, Croatian, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, and Vietnamese language groups and congregations. This has been a great help.
A number of graduates who were in a position to accept foreign assignments have been sent to Eastern Europe, parts of Africa, and the Far East to serve in branches and as missionaries, special pioneers, and traveling overseers. In this way, too, the school has contributed toward the advancement of the Kingdom work.
Of these single elders and ministerial servants who have offered themselves willingly, it can truly be said that their efforts are bearing fruit. They are among the “company of young men just like dewdrops” described at Psalm 110:3.
Reaching People of All Nationalities
In some lands, there is considerable territory where no regular preaching is done. Some of this territory is in countries that do not welcome missionaries. Yet, in recent years, millions of people from these lands have immigrated to countries where intensive preaching is regularly being done by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Publishers have found that foreign missionary fields are coming to them. And when people are away from the strong community pressures of their homeland, some of them are happy to study the Bible. In a number of places, the immigrant field has proved to be the most productive.
Thus the Cyprus branch reports: ‘A new territory is opening up here in Cyprus. We meet interested ones from Lebanon, Syria, Persia, Bulgaria, Romania, Russia, what was formerly Yugoslavia, Philippines, and elsewhere. These people who have come to work and start a new life are often more inclined to listen than are others.’
While attending a university in eastern Germany, a girl from Mongolia met and married a young man from Guyana. Later, in Guyana, they began to read some Watch Tower publications, requested a home Bible study, and were baptized in 1993. Their children are also publishers of the good news. As for the mother, she is eager to share the Kingdom message with her family and others in Mongolia.
In England, the brothers are learning to widen out in order to help fill the spiritual need of people from other lands. Meetings are now regularly held in London in 8 languages. Within Canada, there are congregations serving the needs of 11 language groups, and some meetings are held in 4 other languages. There is a fertile field among the Russian-speaking immigrants as well as the thousands of Orientals who have taken up residence in Canada in recent years.
Many people seeking asylum from harsh conditions in their homeland have traveled to Norway, as well as to other lands. The brothers in Norway have now begun to make special visits to all the places where such refugees are housed.
In Israel, too, immigration has opened up a new field for witnessing. Large numbers have come from the former Soviet Union, and a goodly number are showing interest in the truth.
Are there people in your territory who do not speak the local language? What are you doing to share the Kingdom message with them? Jehovah’s will is that “all sorts of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth.”—1 Tim. 2:3, 4.
[Picture on page 4]
Locomotive Stadium in Moscow, where 23,743 attended an international convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses
[Pictures on page 5]
The public readily accepted Bible tracts, and many people promptly stopped to read them
[Pictures on page 6]
As a young woman, she learned the truth from German Witnesses in 1944 in the women’s concentration camp in Ravensbrück
He first learned the truth in 1942 in Bessarabia (now Moldova); repeatedly arrested because of his faith; now a circuit overseer
Stadium in Kiev where 64,714 attended and 7,402 were baptized
[Picture on page 9]
Members of the Governing Body along with branch personnel at the seminar held at Wallkill, in the United States
[Picture on page 12]
Watch Tower relief truck, Monrovia, Liberia
[Picture on page 15]
Recently built Kingdom Hall at Igieduma, Nigeria
[Pictures on page 17]
New Assembly Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
[Picture on page 19]
New office and printery at Facatativá, Colombia
[Picture on page 20]
Expanded branch facilities in New Zealand
[Pictures on page 21]
At the top, Zambia; center above, Puerto Rico; at the right, Hungary
[Picture on page 22]
Poland branch in Nadarzyn, near Warsaw
[Picture on page 27]
Added branch facilities in London, England