It was 1939. We woke up in the middle of the night and drove more than an hour to the small city of Joplin in southwestern Missouri, U.S.A. There, we started quietly putting tracts under the door of each house in the territory. As soon as we finished, we got into the car and drove to meet with the other groups. By now it was early morning. But why did we go in the ministry that day before sunrise and leave the territory so quickly? I will tell you later.
I WAS born in 1934. My parents, Fred and Edna Molohan, had already been Bible Students (Jehovah’s Witnesses) for 20 years. I am grateful that they taught me to love Jehovah. We lived in Parsons, a small town in southeastern Kansas. Almost everyone in our congregation was anointed. Our family was regular at the meetings and in the preaching work. On Saturday afternoon we usually did street work, which is what we call public witnessing today. Sometimes we got tired, but Dad always treated us to some ice cream after we finished.
Our little congregation had a large territory with several small towns and many farms. Instead of giving us money for our literature, some farmers would give us homegrown vegetables, fresh eggs (right out of the nest), or even live chickens. Dad had already contributed money for the literature, so this food helped to feed the family.
My parents got a phonograph to use in the preaching work. I was too small to use it, but I enjoyed helping Dad and Mom to play recordings of Brother Rutherford’s talks on return visits and Bible studies.
Dad attached a large speaker to the top of our car, a 1936 Ford, and he made it a sound car. It was great for service. Usually, we first played some music to get people’s attention, and then we played a Bible talk. After that, we offered literature to interested people.
In the little town of Cherryvale, Kansas, Dad drove the sound car into the town park, where many people were relaxing on Sundays. Then, the police came and told him that he could use the sound car only outside the park. Dad moved the car to a street next to the park so that people there could still clearly hear the program. It was always exciting to be with Dad and my older brother, Jerry, at times like these.
During those years, we did special campaigns in territories where people were very opposed. As I mentioned in the beginning, we would get up in the middle of the night and quietly put tracts or booklets under the doors of people’s homes. Afterward, we would all meet outside the city to see if the police had arrested anyone.
Another exciting part of our ministry was what we called an information march. We would wear large signs and march through a city. I remember that one time the brothers came to our town and marched wearing signs that said “Religion Is a Snare and a Racket.” They started at our home, walked for about one and a half kilometers (1 mile) through the town, and then came back to us. Happily, no one stopped them, but many people were curious about what was happening.
CONVENTIONS WHEN I WAS YOUNG
Our family often traveled to Texas for conventions. Dad worked for the railroad company, so we could ride the train for free to go to the conventions and visit our relatives. Mom’s older brother, Fred Wismar, and his wife, Eulalie, lived in Temple, Texas. Uncle Fred learned the truth in the early 1900’s when he was young, got baptized, and told his siblings, including my mother, about what he had learned. The brothers in central Texas knew Uncle Fred very well because he used to be a zone servant (now called a circuit overseer). He was kind, happy, and zealous and was a very good example for me.
In 1941, we traveled by train to St. Louis, Missouri, for a large convention. All the young ones were invited to sit together near the platform to hear Brother Rutherford’s talk “Children of the King.” At the end of his talk, all 15,000 young ones got a big surprise. Brother Rutherford and his assistants gave each one of us the new book Children.
In April 1943, we attended the “Call to Action” Assembly in Coffeyville, Kansas. There, we heard the announcement that all congregations would have a new school, the Theocratic Ministry School. We also received a booklet with 52 lessons that we would use in the school. Later that year, I gave my first student talk. That assembly was also special for me because, together with a few others, I got baptized in the cold water of a pond at a nearby farm.
I WANTED TO SERVE AT BETHEL
I finished high school in 1951 and had to decide what I was going to do with my life. My brother Jerry had served in Bethel. I really wanted to go to Bethel too, so I sent in my application. Soon afterward, I was invited to Bethel and started serving there on March 10, 1952. This was a very good decision that has helped me to serve God more fully.
I hoped to work in the printery to help produce our magazines and other publications. But I never got to do that. Instead, I was assigned to work as a waiter and later in the kitchen. I enjoyed this work and learned a lot. We worked in shifts, and I had some time off during the day. I often went to the Bethel library and used the many books there to do my personal study. This helped me to strengthen my faith and my friendship with Jehovah. I became even more determined to serve Jehovah at Bethel for as long as I could. Jerry had left Bethel in 1949 and married Patricia, but they lived nearby in Brooklyn and helped and encouraged me while I was still new in Bethel.
Shortly after I came to Bethel, the brothers started looking for Bethelites they could add to the list of Bethel speakers. Brothers on this list were assigned to visit congregations up to 320 kilometers (200 miles) away from Brooklyn. There, they would give a public talk and work with the congregation in field service. I was one of the brothers chosen. Nervously, I started making these visits and giving public talks. Back then public talks lasted one hour. I usually traveled to the congregations by train. I remember very well one Sunday afternoon in the winter of 1954. I got on a train going back to New York and was supposed to arrive at Bethel early in the evening. But on the way back, there was a storm with very strong winds and snow. The electric engines on the train stopped working, and I did not arrive in New York City until five o’clock Monday morning. I took the subway from the train station to Brooklyn and went immediately to work in the kitchen. I was a little late and very tired because I had not slept all night. But the joy I had serving the congregations and meeting so many new brothers and sisters was worth more than any sacrifices I made.
During my first years at Bethel, I also started to participate in a Bible study program that was broadcast every week on our radio station, WBBR. The studios were on the second floor of the 124 Columbia Heights building. Brother Alexander H. Macmillan, who had served at Bethel for many years, regularly participated in these radio programs. We used to call him Brother Mac. He was an excellent example for us younger brothers in Bethel because he had remained faithful despite many difficulties.
In 1958, my assignment changed and I started to work closely with the graduates of Gilead School. I would help these zealous men and women get their visas, and I would make travel arrangements for them. Travel by plane was very expensive back then, so most graduates who went to Africa and Asia would travel by cargo ship. Years later, when the prices for flights became cheaper, most of the missionaries traveled to their assignments by plane.
In 1960, I arranged for charter flights from the United States to Europe for the international conventions in 1961. I flew to one of those conventions in Hamburg, Germany. After the convention, three other Bethel brothers and I rented a car and drove through Germany to Italy and visited the branch office in Rome. From there, we went to France, crossed the Pyrenees Mountains, and entered Spain, where our work was under ban. We were able to give the brothers in Barcelona some publications, which we had wrapped so that they appeared to be gifts. It was exciting to meet them! From there, we drove to Amsterdam and flew back to New York.
In 1962, I was assigned to make travel arrangements for the 583 brothers and sisters who would attend a special series of international conventions around the world. This was the “Everlasting Good News” Assembly of 1963. The delegates would attend conventions in Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific and would then go on to Honolulu, Hawaii, and finally Pasadena, California. They would also visit Lebanon and Jordan for special tours of the lands of the Bible. Our department arranged for the flights and hotel reservations and got all the necessary visas.
NEW TRAVEL PARTNER
The year 1963 was also very important to me for another reason. On June 29, I married Lila Rogers from Missouri, who had come to Bethel in 1960. A week after our wedding, Lila and I joined the around-the-world tour and visited Greece, Egypt, and Lebanon. From there, we took a short flight to Jordan. However, our work there was restricted, and the authorities did not give Jehovah’s Witnesses visas. So we were not sure what would happen when we arrived. Imagine how happy and surprised we were when we saw a group of brothers and sisters standing on top of the tiny airport terminal with a big banner that said “Welcome Jehovah’s Witnesses”! It was wonderful to visit the lands of the Bible and see the places where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob lived, where Jesus and the apostles preached, and where Christianity began to spread “to the ends of the earth.”—Acts 13:47.
For 55 years, Lila has been my loyal companion in all of our assignments. We visited Spain and Portugal several times when our work there was under ban. We could encourage the brothers and sisters and bring them literature and other things they needed. We were even able to visit some of our brothers who were in prison in Cádiz, Spain. I was very happy that I could give them an encouraging talk.
In the years since 1963, I have made travel arrangements for international conventions in Africa, Australia, Central and South America, Europe, the Far East, Hawaii, New Zealand, and Puerto Rico. Lila and I have been to many unforgettable conventions, like the one in Warsaw, Poland, in 1989. Many brothers from Russia were able to come to that large convention. This was their first convention ever! We met brothers and sisters who had been in prison in the Soviet Union for many years because of their faith.
Another assignment I really enjoyed has been visiting and encouraging Bethel families and missionaries around the world. On our last such visit, we went to South Korea and were able to meet with 50 of our brothers who were in prison in Suwon. They were all very positive and were looking forward to serving Jehovah again without restrictions. Meeting them encouraged us very much!—Romans 1:11, 12.
INCREASE BRINGS JOY
I have seen how Jehovah has blessed his people over the years. When I was baptized in 1943, there were about 100,000 publishers. Now there are more than 8,000,000 serving Jehovah in 240 lands. The hard work of the Gilead graduates has greatly contributed to this increase. It has given me great joy to work closely with many of these missionaries and to help them get to their assignments.
I am grateful that while I was still young, I decided to use my life in Jehovah’s service and that I applied for Bethel. Jehovah has richly blessed me all these years. Besides all the things we enjoy in our Bethel service, Lila and I enjoyed preaching with several congregations in Brooklyn for over 50 years and have made many true friends.
I continue to serve in Bethel with the support of Lila each day. Even though I am now over 84 years old, I am happy that I can still do meaningful work and help with the branch correspondence.
It is such a joy to belong to Jehovah’s marvelous organization and to see how true the words of Malachi 3:18 are: “You will again see the distinction between a righteous person and a wicked person, between one serving God and one not serving him.” Every day we see that Satan’s world is getting worse and that people have no hope and very little joy in life. But those who love and serve Jehovah have a happy life, even in these critical times, and a sure hope for the future. It is truly a privilege to tell others about the good news! (Matthew 24:14) God’s Kingdom will soon replace this old world with a paradise. How much we want that day to come! Then, everyone on earth will be healthy and happy and will live forever.