“I, Jehovah, am your God, the One teaching you to benefit yourself, the One guiding you in the way you should walk.”—ISAIAH 48:17.
1. What has made the preaching work difficult to do?
WHEN Jehovah’s people began preaching the good news over 130 years ago, they faced many difficulties.* (See footnote.) Like the Christians in the first century, they were a small group and they preached a message that many people did not like. Some people thought that they were not well-educated. Later, when Satan was thrown down to earth, they were persecuted. (Revelation 12:12) And since that time, they have been preaching during these “last days” that are “hard to deal with.”—2 Timothy 3:1.
2. What has Jehovah been doing to help us to preach?
2 But Jehovah has been helping his people. He wants them to preach the good news in all the earth, and he will not allow anything to stop that work. He has helped his people to worship him in a way that he approves by separating them from false religion. He did the same in the past when he freed the Israelites from Babylon. (Revelation 18:1-4) And what Jehovah teaches us benefits us personally. He helps us to live in peace with one another, and he trains us to teach others about him. (Read Isaiah 48:16-18.) Although Jehovah guides our work, it does not mean that he always changes world events to help us preach. It is true, some things that have happened in the world have made our preaching work easier. But we still are persecuted and face other problems that come from Satan’s world. It is only with Jehovah’s help that we are able to preach.—Isaiah 41:13; 1 John 5:19.
3. How has Daniel’s prophecy come true?
3 Daniel prophesied that in the time of the end, many people would understand Bible truth. (Read Daniel 12:4.) Shortly before “the time of the end” began, Jehovah helped his people to understand important Bible teachings and to reject Christendom’s false teachings. Today, his people are teaching Bible truth all around the world. Clearly, the prophecy in Daniel has come true. Nearly eight million people have learned the truth and are teaching it to others. So, what are some things that have helped Jehovah’s people to preach worldwide?
4. By the year 1900, how many languages was the Bible translated into?
4 Today, many people have a Bible, and this helps us to teach them the good news. But it was not always like that. For hundreds of years, the clergy of Christendom did not want people to read the Bible. They even persecuted those who read it and killed some who translated it. But then, during the 1800’s, some organizations translated or printed the Bible or parts of it in about 400 languages. By the year 1900, many people owned a Bible. Even so, they did not understand what it teaches.
5. What work have Jehovah’s Witnesses done to translate the Bible?
5 Jehovah’s people knew they had to tell others what the Bible teaches, and that is what they did. At first, they used versions of the Bible that were available, and they offered copies to people. Since 1950, they have published the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures or parts of it in over 120 languages. In 2013, they published a revised English edition of the New World Translation. This edition is easier to understand and also to translate. And when we use a Bible that people can understand, it is easier to teach them the truth.
TIMES OF PEACE
6, 7. (a) What wars have there been during the past 100 years? (b) How have peaceful times in some countries helped us to preach?
6 During the past 100 years, there have been many wars, including two world wars. Millions of people have died. So in what way has there been peace, and how has it helped Jehovah’s people to preach? During the second world war, Nathan Knorr was taking the lead among Jehovah’s Witnesses. At a convention in 1942, he gave an exciting talk entitled “Peace—Can It Last?” Brother Knorr explained the prophecy of Revelation chapter 17 and proved from it that Armageddon was not coming just yet. After the war, there would be a time of peace.—Revelation 17:3, 11.
7 Of course, this did not mean that after the war there was peace everywhere. Since the second world war, millions have died in other wars. But in many countries, there have been peaceful times that have made it easier for Jehovah’s people to preach. What has been the result? During the second world war, there were fewer than 110,000 Witnesses of Jehovah. But today there are nearly eight million! (Read Isaiah 60:22.) Yes, in times of peace, we can preach the good news to even more people.
IMPROVEMENTS IN THE WAY WE TRAVEL
8, 9. How has it become easier to travel, and why does this help us in our work?
8 When Jehovah’s people began preaching in the United States, it was not easy for them to travel. In 1900, about 21 years after they began printing The Watch Tower, there were only about 8,000 cars and just a few good roads in that country. But today, there are over one and a half billion cars worldwide and many good roads in most places. So we can use cars and roads to go and preach to people in places that are far from cities and are difficult to get to. But even if we live in a place where travel is not easy and we have to walk long distances, we do all we can to go and preach to people wherever they are.—Matthew 28:19, 20.
We do all we can to go and preach to people wherever they are
9 We also use other kinds of transportation. We send Bibles and other literature on trucks, ships, and trains. This means that in just a few weeks, we can send literature to brothers and sisters in isolated areas. Circuit overseers, Branch Committee members, missionaries, and others travel by airplane to give talks at conventions and to help the congregations. Members of the Governing Body and other brothers from world headquarters also fly to many countries to encourage and train their brothers and sisters. All of this helps Jehovah’s people to be united.—Psalm 133:1-3.
LANGUAGE AND TRANSLATION
10. How is English used worldwide?
10 In the first century, many people in the Roman Empire spoke Greek. Today, English is spoken by many people around the world. In fact, the book English as a Global Language says that about one quarter of the population of the world speaks or understands English. Many people learn English because it is used worldwide in business, politics, science, and technology.
11. How has English affected the work of Jehovah’s people?
11 The wide use of English has helped to spread the truth. In the past, our publications were available first in English. Many people could read them because English was spoken worldwide. English is also used at our world headquarters. And brothers and sisters who come from various countries and understand English are trained at our schools in Patterson, New York.
Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world understand the “pure language” of Bible truth and are united
12. Into how many languages have we translated our literature, and how have computer programs made this possible?
12 But we have the responsibility to preach the good news to people all over the world. That is why we translate our literature into over 700 languages. How has this been possible? Computers and computer programs, such as MEPS, have helped us to do the translation work. As a result, Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world can understand the “pure language” of Bible truth and be united.—Read Zephaniah 3:9.
LAWS AND COURT DECISIONS
13, 14. How have laws and court decisions helped us?
13 In many ways, Roman laws helped Christians in the first century to preach. Today, too, the laws in many countries help us as we do the preaching work. For example, the laws in the United States give people the right to choose their religion, to talk about what they believe, and to meet together. This means that we have the freedom to have our meetings and to preach in that country. We also have freedom to organize the worldwide preaching work from our world headquarters in the United States. Of course, there have been times when we needed to go to court to defend our right to preach the good news. (Philippians 1:7) And when judges and juries in those courts tried to take away our right to preach, we went to higher courts where we often won.
14 In other countries too, we have been to court to defend our freedom to worship Jehovah and to preach. When we have lost, we have gone to international courts. For example, we have often gone to the European Court of Human Rights. By June 2014, we had already won 57 cases in that Court, and the decisions of that Court must be obeyed in most countries in Europe. Even though we are “hated by all the nations,” the laws in many countries have allowed us to worship Jehovah in freedom.—Matthew 24:9.
INVENTIONS THAT HAVE HELPED US
15. In what ways have printing methods improved, and how have these helped us?
15 New methods of printing have helped us preach the good news to more and more people. For hundreds of years, people used a printing method that was invented by Johannes Gutenberg in about 1450. But in the last 200 years, printing presses have improved in many ways. Offset printing was invented; thereafter, printing became faster and the quality improved. Also, it became cheaper to make paper and to bind books. How have these changes affected our publications? In 1879, the first Watch Tower was printed in English only. It had no pictures, and 6,000 copies were printed. Today, The Watchtower is printed in over 200 languages. It has beautiful and colorful pictures, and more than 50,000,000 copies of each issue are printed.
16. What inventions have helped us to preach worldwide? (See opening picture.)
16 Many inventions during the past 200 years have helped Jehovah’s people to preach the good news. We already mentioned trains, cars, and airplanes. But there have also been bicycles, typewriters, Braille devices, the telegraph, telephones, cameras, audio recorders, video recorders, radio, television, movies, computers, and the Internet. Although Jehovah’s people have not invented these things, they use them to produce the Bible and other literature in many languages and to preach worldwide. In this way, they “drink the milk of nations,” just as was prophesied in the Bible.—Read Isaiah 60:16.
Jehovah loves us and wants us to work with him
17. (a) What is clear about the preaching work? (b) Why does Jehovah want us to work with him?
17 It is clear that Jehovah is guiding our preaching work. Jehovah has given us this work, not because he cannot do it without our help, but because he loves us and wants us to work with him. By our preaching, we show him that we love him and that we love other people. (Mark 12:28-31; 1 Corinthians 3:9) We are very grateful to Jehovah for helping us to preach in all the earth. So may we use every opportunity we have to preach about Jehovah and his Kingdom!
From about 1870, Jehovah’s people were known as Bible Students. In 1931, they began using the name Jehovah’s Witnesses.—Isaiah 43:10.