all her life, being taught by her parents and her church. ‘What am I to believe?’ she asked. I assured her that to please God she must listen to his Word above all. We spent our next study discussing prayer, but she was still upset.
“When I came for our next study, she again brought up the matter of prayer and she said, ‘I went into my bedroom the other night and I got down on my knees and said, “Jehovah God, I am just a poor, dumb, old woman and I do not know how to talk to you, but maybe if you will listen . . . and I thanked him at the end for hearing me.”’ With tears in her eyes, she then asked me, ‘Do you think he listened?’ Evidently he did, for, drawn closer to Him and His people, she attended our circuit assembly.”
Another Witness told this experience at a circuit assembly in New York: “One day I saw a woman pushing a shopping cart full of groceries. Since she was having difficulty with it, I approached her and offered to help her with it to her home. She accepted my offer gladly, for she lived seven blocks away.
“As we walked along, I used this opportunity to discuss the Bible with her. She responded to my kindness by accepting my offer to call on her later and continue our discussion.
“When I called, we began studying the Bible together and she progressed rapidly. Now she attends most of the meetings at the Kingdom Hall and participates in the Watchtower study. This lady is eighty-seven years old and it is a most happifying thing to help her to know Jehovah.”
In Peru a missionary has been helping a bedridden eighty-nine-year-old woman to learn the Bible. In time this woman came to appreciate God’s truth and his organization. She knew that preaching was one requirement that she had to meet to please Jehovah. However, she did not know how to do this, for she had very few visitors, no telephone and could not write with a steady hand. Prospects were indeed dim. The missionary encouraged her to pray to Jehovah, continually asking him to open the way so that she could do something to be a real Witness.
Soon the way was opened up. For no apparent reason her family, who assigned a housekeeper to care for her, changed housekeepers. The new one noticed the Bible and the literature at her bedside and began asking questions. How elated she was when the missionary came to study with her! Here, right in her own room, she found a person with a meek heart. How could she help her? The missionary helped her to care for this interested one by typing out questions in all-capital letters on a paper for her to read to her housekeeper. During their study, the missionary seldom needed to make any additional remarks. In time this new praiser of Jehovah was able to care for this interested person. Now, even though bedridden, she too joyfully shares in giving a witness.
Questions From Readers
● A newspaper that I saw carried a picture showing shepherds and flocks in a field outside Bethlehem at Christmastime. I thought that it was too cold there for shepherds to be in the fields with their sheep around December 25, the traditional date for the birth of Christ. Is this so?—J. B., U.S.A.
A number of newspapers in the United States carried this picture. Typical of the comments appearing below the photograph were those in the Marion, Indiana, Chronicle-Tribune, for December 26, 1968: “Israeli soldiers probe for possible terrorist mines in a field outside Bethlehem Christmas Eve as shepherds tend to their flocks in the background. (AP Wirephoto by radio from Tel Aviv)”
Though the caption says the photograph represents “Christmas Eve,” it is obvious that the picture was taken when the sun was high in the sky that day, for distant figures are well lit and visible, and the shadows are very short.
What does the Bible say about the shepherds near Bethlehem at the time of Jesus’ birth? At Luke 2:8 we read: “There were also in that same country shepherds living out of doors and keeping watches in the night over their flocks.” Notice, the shepherds were actually living out of doors, not just strolling outside during the day. Furthermore, they had their flocks in the field at night. Would that fit the traditional date in December, or early in January as believed by the Orthodox and Coptic churches? No, it would not! The cold, rainy season near the end of December would not fit the Bible’s comment about the time of Jesus’ birth.
During January 1969 the overseer of the congregation of Jehovah’s witnesses in the Bethlehem area visited and interviewed the shepherds who graze their flocks in the traditional “Shepherds’ Field.” We will quote from the report of that interview:
“Close to the field is a large cave that is used as a winter shelter for the sheep, goats and shepherds. Up until the latter part of November the flocks of sheep sleep in the fields. During these months the shepherds’ families join them, pitching their black goat-hair tents nearby. During October and November the goats graze with the sheep during the day, but they need protection at night and so are herded into the cave.
“With the further drop in temperature that comes at the end of November, the sheep too are taken in at sunset. The shepherds themselves move in with the sheep and goats to care for them day and night. Food becomes sparse in the fields, hence the flocks are fed from stored hay and straw. During severe days all stay under shelter around the clock, but on sunny days the sheep are led to nearby fields to crop whatever green shoots begin to sprout with the onset of the winter rains.
“So there are sheep and shepherds who stay in the Bethlehem area all through the year, and there are winter days when they are to be seen in the field during the hours of daylight, weather permitting. But conditions do not permit nighttime out-of-doors activity at all.”
Consequently, the picture in question in no way upsets the conclusion that the weather conditions around Bethlehem during late December or early January do not match the description in Luke 2:8. More reasonable, and in harmony with other evidence, is the position that Jesus was born about October 1.
Would you be willing to sacrifice something that is precious to you in behalf of a friend? Likely you would. But what about those who are strangers? One of the most precious assets, time, is being sacrificed by over one million of Jehovah’s witnesses largely in behalf of those they have not previously known. They delight to do this, for it enables them to offer public declaration to God and his name, bringing praise to Him and blessings to those who listen to the Bible’s comforting message. During November not only will they spend time offering the Bible-study-aid book, The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life, on a contribution of 25c, but they will also conduct a free home Bible study with anyone who desires to learn about God and his provisions for salvation.
INVITATION TO A NEW PERSPECTIVE
“In almost all countries throughout the world the doctrine of evolution is taught. School textbooks on biology and history present evolution as established fact. Evolutionary teaching saturates science, philosophy, history and even religion today. Whenever the subject of the origin of life and man is discussed, it is almost always presented in evolutionary terms. But what do you personally know of the evidence for or against the belief in evolution? Does it really harmonize with the facts of science? We invite your careful examination of this matter, as it has a direct bearing on your life and your future.” This foreword by the publishers of the book Did Man Get Here by Evolution or by Creation? is a challenge to thinking persons. Are you willing to accept this invitation? Send today. The book is sent postpaid for 25c.
“WATCHTOWER” STUDIES FOR THE WEEKS
November 30: “The Writing of Correct Words of Truth.” Page 681. Songs to Be Used: 100, 97.
December 7: “Between-the-Lines” Translations of the Bible. Page 688. Songs to Be Used: 93, 85