Highlights of the Past Year
THE events of the past year give further evidence that we are deep in “the last days,” which God’s Word describes as “critical times hard to deal with.” (2 Tim. 3:1) However, as the last days become more trying, Jehovah’s blessing on his faithful servants throughout the earth becomes more evident. Whether Jehovah’s Witnesses cope with natural disasters, crime and violence, sickness, depression, advancing age, opposition, or apathy, in Jehovah’s strength they continue to “run with endurance the race that is set before [them].”—Heb. 12:1.
“THE END OF FALSE RELIGION IS NEAR!”
October and November 2006 saw Jehovah’s Witnesses intensify their preaching activity around the earth to distribute Kingdom News No. 37, “The End of False Religion Is Near!” What was the reaction to this stirring message?
“It was a winner!” said a man in Sweden who was distressed by the hypocrisy in false religion. Like this man, many began to study the Bible as a result of the Kingdom News.
In Kathmandu, Dil gave the Kingdom News to a man who was a churchgoer but whose wife had left him two months earlier because of his drinking problem. When Dil and her husband, Buddha, returned to discuss the Kingdom News, the man stated that he did not like the conduct of some church members and that what he was hearing from Jehovah’s Witnesses was very different from what he had heard in church. The brother showed him Revelation 18:2-4 and emphasized the importance of getting out of “Babylon the Great.” On the third visit, they started a study, using lesson 13 of the Require brochure. On the fifth visit, they met the wife, who had returned home. She knew about Jehovah’s Witnesses and liked our message. On the seventh visit, the man and his wife studied the brochure together. The wife said, “My husband does not drink alcohol now.”
A motorcycle-taxi driver who received the Kingdom News gave it further publicity by pasting it on the back of his jacket for some days. Thus passengers could not help seeing the cover on the way to their destination.
Two sisters in Brazil who approached a house were startled to find a sign posted, “You can come in, but you won’t leave this place alive.” Frightened, they asked two brothers what could be done. The brothers decided to approach the house. After praying to Jehovah for guidance, the brothers clapped their hands to announce their arrival. The householder, a policeman, amicably accepted the Kingdom News. He explained that he was renovating his house and had a lot of building materials in the backyard. So he had put up the sign to scare away thieves. When the publishers returned to visit him, he accepted a Bible study.
Tsetsegmaa tried many times to witness to her older sister. Although her sister went to a few meetings and attended the Memorial for two consecutive years, she showed little enthusiasm and refused to have a Bible study. When she saw Kingdom News No. 37 in Tsetsegmaa’s house, though, it aroused her interest. In a discussion that lasted two hours, she asked many questions, which Tsetsegmaa answered using the Bible. The older sister, surprised by what she heard, expressed a desire to learn more, and she now enjoys a regular Bible study.
The Witnesses offered the Kingdom News to a woman who inquired whether it was religious. Receiving an affirmative answer, she took the Kingdom News and promised to read it. When the Witnesses returned, the woman asked whether she had been deceived by the Orthodox Church. She was concerned about world conditions and the declining moral values among the youth. She said that it was difficult to establish a common ground with her children. The Witnesses drew her attention to 2 Timothy 3:1-5, and she accepted a Bible Teach book. As the Witnesses left, she said: “I am convinced that your religion is the true one. I cannot help but commend your youth for the way they dress and for their honesty and high moral standards.” The woman now enjoys reading our magazines regularly.
19-year-old Richel distributed Kingdom News No. 37 in a territory that had not been worked before. Although it was quite a distance from where she lived, Richel felt that she should go because this was a special campaign. At her second door, she met two nominal Christian girls whose father had died just two months before. “Why did God allow this to happen to us?” they asked. Richel answered from the Bible, and the girls gladly accepted the Kingdom News, saying to Richel, “God has sent you to our house.” Recognizing the girls’ spiritual need, Richel offered to study the Bible with them, and the girls readily accepted. They are good students and have many questions. Richel has to do a lot of research, but she really enjoys the satisfaction that comes from teaching the truth to spiritually hungry ones.
A regular pioneer named Eliza received a phone call from Lilit, a former Bible student. She said, “You absolutely have to cancel whatever you have planned for tomorrow and come to see me so that we can renew our study.” What had happened? When Lilit had first begun to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses, her husband told her, “Choose either me or Jehovah.” So she stopped studying. Now two years later, she received Kingdom News No. 37 while taking her children for a walk in the park. This rekindled her interest so much that she boldly told her husband, “Living a healthy life for about 50 years and then dying may be good enough for you, but it isn’t for me!” Then she promised her husband that having a Bible study would help her overcome her negative personality traits, so he stopped his opposition. Now she enjoys her study with the approval of her husband, who cares for the children while she studies.
During the special campaign, a missionary named Hugues called on a Muslim man. Upon reading the Kingdom News, the man agreed that religions should not take part in wars. He himself was very disappointed in his own religion, which he said had made a bad name for itself because of extremists. Hugues read Psalm 46:9 to the man, showing God’s promise of a war-free world. The following week Hugues showed him the Bible Teach book. Now the man deeply appreciates the Bible and has a regular Bible study.
“I know that you have the truth,” said an Orthodox priest who accepted the Kingdom News from two sisters, “and that your God, Jehovah, will destroy all false religion and leave yours.” He then told them what he knew about the heavenly hope and a paradise on earth. The sisters asked him why he remained in his religion if he knew it would be destroyed. “Well,” he replied, “it is my job. I have three apartments and four cars. I can’t leave all of this.”
SPECIAL CAMPAIGN TO ADVERTISE THE MEMORIAL
On Monday, April 2, 2007, Jehovah’s Witnesses throughout the earth exalted God’s undeserved kindness and love by observing the Lord’s Evening Meal. In preparation for this important event, a special invitation was distributed earth wide from March 17 to April 2. Many Bible students and children used this period of increased activity to begin publishing the good news.
For about two hours on the evening of the Memorial, a brother on duty at the world headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Brooklyn, New York, answered one telephone call after another from people wanting to know where they could attend the Memorial. A number of calls were directly in response to the invitation to attend the Memorial. One woman said: “I have just come home and found an invitation to your event tonight. I want to go, but I am not sure of the time.”
Sixteen-year-old Jacquelin gave her teacher a Memorial invitation and explained the importance of the occasion. To her surprise, her teacher came. Since the program was being held at one of the Assembly Halls of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jacquelin gave her teacher a tour of the complex after the program. The teacher was impressed with how clean and organized everything was and especially how the entire facility was built and maintained by volunteers. After saying how much she enjoyed the talk, the teacher asked, “How can I get the Bible study that the speaker mentioned?” Jacquelin joyfully replied, “That’s where I come in!” Jacquelin began conducting a Bible study with her teacher every Monday after school.
A congregation of nine publishers in an isolated area was puzzled about why they had received only one Memorial invitation from the branch instead of the 500 they had ordered. They later found out that the local post office had been unable to determine the destination of the parcel mailed by the branch because the mailing label had come off. Post office personnel had opened the parcel to try to determine who the recipient or the sender was. When they saw the Memorial invitations, they concluded that the invitations needed to be distributed, so post office personnel placed one invitation in each post office box, thus distributing the entire shipment themselves. The brothers were alerted to the situation when they received, not a complete shipment of invitations, but a single invitation in the congregation’s post office box. How thrilled the nine publishers were, though, to have 42 at the Memorial, many of whom arrived with their personal copy of the invitation that had been placed in their post office box!
Patrizia gave Gabriella, her Bible student, a Memorial invitation and explained the importance of being present. Gabriella’s five-year-old son Mattia, who had been carefully listening to the conversation, asked if he could have an invitation to take to his schoolteacher. The next day, Mattia gave the invitation to his teacher, explaining how important the Memorial is and that he really hoped she could come. A few days later at a parent-teacher meeting, Mattia’s teacher explained to Gabriella that she had been so impressed by Mattia’s conviction that she had decided to attend the Memorial. She accompanied Gabriella and Mattia to the Memorial. The teacher paid close attention to the talk and was impressed by the excellent behavior of all the children. Afterward, she said that she could now understand why the Memorial was important, just as Mattia had said. Since then, Mattia has given his teacher a copy of My Book of Bible Stories for her son, and Gabriella and Patrizia have arranged to have more discussions with her.
One elder preached to a Presbyterian minister and invited him to the Memorial. The minister was glad to accept the invitation and, to the elder’s surprise, asked if he could have invitations to give to his parishioners. The brothers were delighted on the evening of the Memorial to see the minister arrive with 40 members of his church, each with an invitation to present at the door. The minister said that many more had wanted to come, but they thought that without an invitation, they would not be permitted to attend. The 11 publishers in this congregation were overjoyed to have 191 at the Memorial!
A young man studying the Bible with the Witnesses began telling others at the gym where he works about his Bible study. One of these was a woman who accepted his invitation to attend the Memorial. As a teenager, she had heard the singing at a nearby Kingdom Hall and had asked her parents if she could attend, but her parents had forbidden her to have anything to do with Jehovah’s Witnesses. She went to some meetings anyway but lost contact when she and her family moved away. While at the Memorial, she was introduced to a sister who started a Bible study with her. She began to attend congregation meetings, and her husband started to show interest as well. Meanwhile, the young man who works at the gym has qualified to become an unbaptized publisher and is working toward baptism.
An interested woman said that because she had small children, she would not be able to go to the Memorial. On the day of the Memorial, however, the woman’s five-year-old daughter dressed herself and went to the Kingdom Hall alone. When the woman realized that her daughter was missing, she quickly set out to find her. She guessed that her daughter might have gone to the Memorial and, sure enough, found her at the Kingdom Hall. Now that she herself was at the Memorial anyway, the mother decided to sit down next to her daughter and give the speaker her undivided attention.
LEGALLY ESTABLISHING THE GOOD NEWS
Since 1996 some authorities in France have asserted that the branch should pay taxes on the reimbursements provided to members of the Bethel family in Louviers. However, on March 28, 2007, the Administrative Court of Paris ruled that no tax payments were required since members of the Bethel family are not salaried employees. The court stated that “the relationship in which Jehovah’s Witnesses who are permanent members of the Bethel situated in Louviers find themselves is essentially based on a spiritual adhesion to their community.” This decision confirms the religious nature of the Bethel family’s activities and harmonizes with a similar decision handed down by a high administrative court in Brazil.
In a separate case, the city of Lyon refused to rent its municipal hall to Jehovah’s Witnesses for the Memorial. However, on March 15, 2007, a judge of the administrative court ordered the city to rent the hall to Jehovah’s Witnesses. The city appealed to the State Council, but the decision of the administrative court was upheld by the State Council, which stated that the city’s action was a “serious and manifestly illegal infringement of the freedom to meet, which is a fundamental freedom.” The State Council also ordered the city to pay the legal fees of the local association of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Despite this positive decision in Lyon, Jehovah’s Witnesses in France remain the target of opposers, the media, and even government officials. For example, in a public interview in 2005, a former representative of the French National Assembly accused Jehovah’s Witnesses of “being organized as all mafialike movements in the fashion of a pyramid.” Jehovah’s Witnesses challenged this slanderous statement in court, and in July 2007 the Court of Appeals in Rouen ruled in favor of the Witnesses, stating that the accuser’s “excessive statements [were] utterly devoid of good faith [and] had gone beyond the limits of acceptable free speech.” The French government continues to press the issue of an unjust and illegal taxation against the Association of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The matter is currently under consideration by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), and the brothers remain confident that Jehovah is supporting them.
Over a thousand incidents of arrests, detentions, or attacks against our brothers and sisters have been documented. Most of the arrests occurred during the 2005 and 2006 Memorial observances. We are pleased to report, though, that in 2007 there were no problems reported in connection with the Memorial. However, relief was short-lived. Soon afterward, a brother and a sister were arrested and convicted for the crime of teaching religion. The brother, who is married and has two children, was sentenced to two years in prison and was immediately confined. The sister was sentenced to two years of correctional labor, which involves having 20 percent of her salary taken by the government as punishment.
On May 3, 2007, the ECHR issued a unanimous judgment against the government of Georgia for its toleration of religious violence toward Jehovah’s Witnesses and ordered that the victims receive compensation. From October 1999 to November 2002, there had been 138 violent attacks against Jehovah’s Witnesses. In some cases, police were present but refused to take action to protect the victims. The court found that by failing to take action to protect our brothers from the religious extremists, the previous government of Georgia not only violated its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights but also violated the religious freedom of our brothers. This clear decision sends a strong message that religious freedom cannot be ignored and that Jehovah’s Witnesses must be protected even in the face of opposition from the majority.
Five years after the government clamped down on all independent religious groups not operating under the umbrella of the four government-sanctioned faiths, Jehovah’s Witnesses continue to face stiff opposition. Even when carrying on their worship in private homes, our brothers are subject to arrest, torture, and severe pressure to deny their faith. As of April 2007, there were 24 Witnesses of Jehovah still in prison for attending meetings, for preaching, or for conscientious objection to military service. Three imprisoned Witnesses are 60 years old or older, ten are being held in extremely poor conditions, and three have been in prison since 1994. While additional efforts to help our brothers have not yet been successful, we remain hopeful that they will soon find relief, and we continue to look to Jehovah who redeems his servants “from oppression and from violence.”—Ps. 72:14.
Legal recognition, which has been sought since 1973, was finally granted to our brothers on December 14, 2006. There are over 150 Kingdom publishers in Andorra.
For over 50 years, brothers in South Korea have been sent to prison for refusing to perform military duty. Five of them have died as a result. After exhausting all legal remedies within South Korea, Brothers Yoon and Choi appealed their convictions to the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations. On November 3, 2006, the committee ruled that South Korea was guilty of violating the brothers’ human rights and ordered that the brothers be compensated. The committee also admonished South Korea to implement measures to ensure that other conscientious objectors would not be forced to decide between violating their principles and enduring prison sentences. Typically, 70 brothers are sent to jail each month.
In the past, many brothers facing this issue decided merely to comply with court decisions requiring them to serve a year and a half in jail. More recently, however, most of our young brothers have decided to appeal their convictions with the result that hundreds of appeals are now in process. The Korean government has therefore announced its intention to implement some form of alternative service under civilian oversight. Time will tell whether this will come about and, if so, whether the arrangement will be acceptable to those whose consciences allow them to perform alternative service.
In July 2007 the minister of justice and human rights signed a ministerial resolution acknowledging that Daniel Victor Guagliardo was unjustly imprisoned for refusing to serve in the military on account of his Bible-trained conscience. This ruling may benefit others who were unjustly imprisoned because of their conscientious objection to military service.
Nineteen brothers faced criminal proceedings when they refused to do alternative service that, in fact, would have made them compromise their Christian neutrality. Then, in September 2006 a letter from the office of the prosecutor general informed the brothers that the criminal proceedings had been terminated. However, the government has yet to put into place an alternative service program that could be acceptable to a Christian. Hence, by the middle of 2007, there were 71 young brothers serving prison terms of up to three years.
Vahan Bayatyan is one of the many young Witnesses thus prosecuted and imprisoned in Armenia. After he was sentenced to a prison term of one and a half years, the prosecutor asked for a harsher sentence, claiming that Brother Bayatyan’s conscientious objection was “unfounded and dangerous.” The court of appeals acquiesced, increasing the prison term by one year, and the decision was confirmed by the supreme court. Brother Bayatyan then filed an application with the ECHR. The ECHR declared the application admissible, thus indicating its willingness to examine the matter in detail. We are hopeful that a successful outcome in this case will help Brother Bayatyan and others who face this same issue.
Though Jehovah’s Witnesses are legally registered in Azerbaijan, our brothers and sisters continue to face many challenges. For example, on December 24, 2006, over 200 brothers and sisters and interested ones were gathered together in Baku for a peaceful discussion of Bible topics when armed policemen arrived with television crews and local officials in order to bring the meeting to a halt. The police, who did not have a search warrant, broke down the door of the rented facility and detained those in attendance. At least two in attendance were beaten. The police seized a large quantity of Bible literature, the contribution box with its contents, legal documents, and several computers used for translating the Bible and Bible literature. Most of those detained were released by the end of the day. However, among them were six foreign volunteers who were deported for allegedly “engaging in religious propaganda.” Our brothers here face imprisonment for refusing to do military service. They also have difficulties importing literature into the country.
On February 5, 2007, the Haifa District Court ruled that the Haifa Congress Center (ICC) had discriminated against Jehovah’s Witnesses by not allowing them to use its hall for a convention. The court ordered that ICC pay part of the legal costs as compensation. The opinion of the attorney general stated that the ICC has “the basic managerial obligation . . . to deal with all its clients with equality, an obligation that was violated in these circumstances.” This positive ruling will make it easier for our brothers in Israel to meet in larger groups for worship.
Two shipments of our literature were confiscated by customs officials, and the ministry of culture was urged to ban our literature and our organization. In this atmosphere of animosity, two Gilead-trained missionaries were forced to leave the country. Then, on October 11, 2007, the authorities banned the activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Appeals have been filed regarding all these injustices, and we pray that Jehovah will open the way for the preaching work to continue in this productive field, which enjoyed a 14 percent increase during the 2007 service year.
The day before a special talk was to be held at L’viv Stadium on May 12, 2007, the stadium management succumbed to pressure from opposers and canceled the use of the stadium. Government officials in Ukraine and in the United States were immediately contacted to convince the stadium management that Jehovah’s Witnesses were no threat to the peace of the city. Discussions were still under way on the day of the talk as thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses from various parts of Ukraine began streaming into L’viv by car, bus, and train. Our brothers peacefully assembled outside the locked gates of the stadium, waiting patiently while enjoying warm fellowship and even singing Kingdom songs. Suddenly, just 20 minutes before the program was to begin, stadium personnel were persuaded to open the gates to allow the brothers in. Over 27,000 brothers and sisters entered the stadium to enjoy an encouraging talk by the zone overseer.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are not registered in Turkmenistan. After a period of relative peace, the authorities there have once again begun persecuting our brothers. However, the brothers and sisters courageously yet discreetly meet and share the good news with their neighbors. (Matt. 10:16) Three young brothers were arrested for conscientiously refusing military service. All were convicted; two were given suspended sentences, but one brother was sentenced to one and a half years in prison. Since prison conditions are severe, international attention has been focused on that brother’s plight. Brothers who are attorneys from outside the country have been denied visas to enter the country to help represent our brothers in court. However, no human authorities can hinder our prayers for intervention from reaching the Most High.—1 Tim. 2:1, 2.
Six officials from the prosecutor’s office disrupted a religious meeting that was being conducted in a sister’s home in a region where Jehovah’s Witnesses are not yet registered. One brother who was not even at the meeting and five sisters were heavily fined. Appeals were filed for all of them.
On July 31, 2007, the branch in Turkey was delighted to receive confirmation that the Association for the Support of Jehovah’s Witnesses had been officially registered. The registration took place after a process of over two years that included a challenge in court from the government on the constitutionality of the branch’s charter. After a lower trial court in Istanbul confirmed the legality of the charter, the government appealed to the supreme court. But the supreme court upheld the trial court’s decision, paving the way for our registration. The new association provides the branch with a religious legal entity that can purchase and own property, rent meeting places for conventions, accept donations, and defend the legal interests of Jehovah’s Witnesses in court.
Two of Jehovah’s Witnesses accused of “disturbing people” while distributing Kingdom News No. 37 were sentenced to pay a fine. However, the Istanbul Sisli Peace Court canceled the fine, saying that “introducing the publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses . . . is within the scope of the freedom of thought and belief” and that citizens of Turkey “have the freedom of spreading their beliefs.” Still, our brothers in Turkey have other challenges, such as the neutrality issue, in which our brothers of military age face the threat of imprisonment and fines.
As can be seen from some of the foregoing reports, Jehovah’s Witnesses often appeal to the European Court of Human Rights when European countries challenge our right to worship our God. By the middle of 2007, there were 22 applications pending before this court, dealing with such issues as neutrality, legal registration, and persecution. Our brothers and sisters who face these challenges, whether in Europe or elsewhere, certainly need our prayerful support.—2 Cor. 1:10, 11.
FAITHFULNESS AND INTEGRITY
In the historical section of this Yearbook, you will read about how our brothers in Russia maintained integrity during the Soviet era when Jehovah’s Witnesses were banned. The opposition was both brutal and extreme. However, even in lands where we carry out our work in freedom, Satan and his seed relentlessly try to break our integrity in more subtle ways. How it makes Jehovah’s heart rejoice, though, when his servants remain faithful! (Prov. 27:11) Here are some experiences that show how God’s people display faith and loyalty in day-to-day situations around the world.
Overcoming sexual advances from hospital personnel has been an ongoing challenge for a pioneer sister who works in a private hospital. However, she has developed an effective strategy to forestall such situations. First, she tells new employees early on that she is one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and she often mentions that she is married. She uses every opportunity she can to tell her coworkers about the common interests she shares with her husband, emphasizing their strong marriage bond. When there is a need to discuss a patient with a doctor, she makes an appointment to meet him in the dining room where there are others present. In unexpected situations when a person enters the room where she works and closes the door, she at once prays to Jehovah and maintains a friendly but professional disposition.
Marian has been employed by the same company in northern Germany for 13 years. Since he does shift work, attending midweek meetings has often been difficult. “That made me unhappy, since I really appreciate our meetings,” he explains. “I repeatedly asked Jehovah to help me find a way to attend all of the meetings.” He prayed for courage to approach his immediate superior, who agreed to allow Marian to leave work early on meeting nights as long as his work was finished. This arrangement worked well until his superior was replaced by someone who did not allow Marian to leave early. What could Marian do? “I respectfully told my new superior,” he recalls, “that I would ask to speak to the company boss.” In the conversation with the boss, Marian gave a fine witness and explained his reasons for wanting to attend meetings. The boss agreed to let Marian leave early on meeting nights, provided all other members of the shift agreed. So Marian called his colleagues together to explain matters, also giving them a fine witness. Marian can now attend all of the midweek meetings. “This was a hard struggle to be able to attend meetings,” says Marian, “but intense prayer to Jehovah gave me strength beyond what is normal.”
Sophie, aged 16, finds the pressure of continually being invited to school parties to be a test of faith. “Although some of the gatherings sound appealing,” she says, “I know that I would regret going because it would open up situations that could be harmful in the long run. One girl recently invited me to a party, stressing that it was just a ‘gathering.’ I later found out that it coincided with her birthday the same weekend. I was thankful that I didn’t go because I heard afterward that many of her school friends got drunk while her parents were away for the night. That is why I would rather get together for recreation with those in the truth of different ages who will benefit me spiritually. My brother and I invite both younger and older ones over for musical nights, barbecues, or country walks. Now if people ask me to go to parties with them, I ask myself how it will affect my relationship with Jehovah. I have come to realize that you never miss out by doing what is right.”
Girls at school had made advances toward 17-year-old Giovanni several times, but one girl in particular was more insistent than the others. When she saw that Giovanni was not paying any attention to her, she wrote him a letter saying: “I think we would go well together. I’m attracted to you. I like your personality, and that’s not all. I hope you make the right decision. With love, yours.” The letter concluded with her name and was sealed with a lipstick kiss. “I have to admit that the next few days were tough,” says Giovanni. “I asked myself if I would ever meet another girl as beautiful as her. When my schoolmates found out, they encouraged me to accept her proposition. They said, ‘It is an opportunity not to be wasted, and you would be stupid to turn her down.’ However, I felt that I was losing my Christian identity. I prayed to Jehovah and talked to my parents—who were initially taken aback because they didn’t realize that I had to face these kinds of situations. We did some intensive Bible study together, especially using the book Questions Young People Ask—Answers That Work. I also spoke to mature brothers in the congregation. In the end, I made the right decision and rejected the girl’s proposition. I have to say that now my schoolmates think more of me because of my firmness.”
“When I was just 19,” recounts 59-year-old Antonio, who has been baptized for 37 years, “I was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. It has been very frustrating to have a disease that has kept me totally disabled and confined to a wheelchair for 35 years. At times, I get discouraged. But staying busy in Christian activities to the extent that my health permits strengthens me.” Seven years ago, Antonio’s situation was further complicated by the death of his mother, who was taking care of him. How would Antonio cope? “Since then,” he relates, “I have seen how Jehovah does not abandon his servants but provides the necessary help. The congregation arranged for a brother to care for me, and some brothers contribute toward my basic needs.” Antonio yearns for the time when all Kingdom promises will be fulfilled.
“MAKE THE PLACE OF YOUR TENT MORE SPACIOUS”
“Make the place of your tent more spacious. And let them stretch out the tent cloths of your grand tabernacle.” (Isa. 54:2) The spectacular fulfillment of these prophetic words can be seen in the ever-increasing need for more places of worship and larger branch complexes. In addition to all the other construction done earth wide this past year, the following six branch dedications, in particular, were a source of great joy to Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Just 13 years after the last branch facility was completed, an expansion was needed because a number of departments had grown. The dedication talk was given by Governing Body member David Splane on Saturday, September 16, 2006.
Brothers and sisters from 30 countries gathered at the Colombia branch on November 11, 2006, to enjoy the dedication of the expanded facilities at Facatativá, 26 miles [42 kilometers] northwest of Bogotá. There were 3,605 in attendance. Many who had not seen one another for 30 or 40 years embraced affectionately, and all enjoyed the dedication talk presented by Gerrit Lösch, a member of the Governing Body.
Just five minutes’ walk from the center of Fiji’s capital, Suva, overlooking the harbor, is a beautiful branch office. On Saturday, November 11, 2006, Geoffrey Jackson, a member of the Governing Body, delivered the dedication discourse to an audience of 410.
November 25, 2006, was an unforgettable day for Jehovah’s Witnesses in this beautiful central African country. The 1,141 in attendance from 11 countries were delighted to share with Guy Pierce, a member of the Governing Body, in the dedication of the attractive new branch facilities. Jehovah’s blessing is evident, and there is good potential for many more to join us in worshipping Jehovah.
After 30 years of turbulent history, including bans and civil war, our brothers and sisters in Rwanda were thrilled to host Guy Pierce for the dedication of their beautiful new branch office tastefully set in attractive gardens.
Despite the tragic events of the genocide, in which a number of brothers were killed, Jehovah’s work has continued to flourish in this country known as The Land of a Thousand Hills. The 553 who enjoyed the dedication program on Saturday, December 2, 2006, included 112 delegates from 15 countries.
The new branch on the southern outskirts of the capital, Kampala, was dedicated on Saturday, January 20, 2007. The 665 present included 170 delegates from some 20 branches as well as Anthony Morris, a member of the Governing Body, who delivered the dedication discourse.
“JEHOVAH HAS DONE A GREAT THING”
Without a doubt, we have reason to rejoice when we consider Jehovah’s marvelous activities over the past year. With one accord, we echo the grateful words of the psalmist: “Jehovah has done a great thing in what he has done with us. We have become joyful.”—Ps. 126:3.
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A Truly Worldwide Campaign
A number of people in different places wondered whether the Kingdom News was truly being distributed worldwide. A skeptical householder in Brazil, for example, told the publisher to wait while he phoned a friend in the United States to find out if he had received it. “Yes,” replied the friend, “ten minutes ago I received a copy.” Impressed, the householder accepted the Kingdom News and promised to read it carefully.
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There was only one invitation in the congregation’s post office box
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Antonio ready to go out in the ministry
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