Preaching With Discretion
Rafael Pared, who serves at Bethel with his wife, Francia, became a publisher in 1957 when he was 18 years old. He remembers how undercover policemen would follow him when he went out preaching, looking for an opportunity to arrest him and those with him. “At times,” says Rafael, “we had to slip away through the back streets and alleys, jumping over fences to avoid being apprehended.” Andrea Almánzar explains what she and others did to avoid being arrested: “We had to use discretion. In the ministry we would preach at one house and then skip ten houses before preaching at another.”
Relief at Last!
By 1959, Trujillo’s reign had lasted almost 30 years, but the political climate was changing. On June 14, 1959, Dominican exiles invaded the Dominican Republic in another attempt to overthrow Trujillo. Although the invasion was thwarted and the conspirators were either killed or imprisoned, a growing number of Trujillo’s enemies felt that his government was not invincible, so they intensified their opposition.
On January 25, 1960, after years of cooperation with Trujillo’s government, the Catholic Church hierarchy issued a pastoral letter protesting the abuse of human rights. Dominican historian Bernardo Vega explains: “The invasions of June of 1959 and the repression unleashed against those involved in the expedition, and later against the internal clandestine resistance movement, put pressure on the Church to adopt, for the first time, a hostile position toward Trujillo.”
Interestingly, in May 1960 the government lifted the ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses. After years of proscription, relief came from an unexpected source—Trujillo himself—after his falling-out with the Catholic Church.