as i looked through my Bethel Notes...
The Importance of Drawing Closer to Jehovah
During These Disastrous Times – J Barr
There could have been no target of greater significance than that of the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York City. The events of September 11th have made a worldwide impact. People were stunned, traumatized, and thousands bereaved. A news reporter asked, "What will tomorrow bring?" God's Word tells us. Now, as never before, we need to heed James 4:8 to draw close to God. Our relationship with Jehovah must be closer than ever before, if we are to say, as Ps 46:1 puts it; "God is a refuge and a strength." God is a refuge during disasters. If we know the Truth, we are equipped to help others.
We have been able to help others both materially and spiritually. In the aftermath of Tuesday, Sept. 11th, some rendered first aid to our brothers and some outsiders, and gave hospitality to victims streaming over the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan. Food was provided, and sandwiches and beverages continued to be provided at 90 Sands for police and volunteer workers. Later, cutting equipment was provided to the Fire Department, as well as much needed items such as aspirin, bottled water, blankets, towels, and socks for ones working at the disaster site. Above all, help was given in a spiritual way.
On Friday, Sept. 14, a meeting was held with 40 traveling overseers in the NY area to provide direction for elders to offer comfort and help. Selected brothers went to various places in Manhattan such as the Jacob Javitz Center, hospitals, and even "Ground Zero," the site of the rescue efforts. The COs were to take the lead in instructing certain individuals how to approach others. They in turn informed all NYC congregations, and a letter was sent to all congregations on the need emphasize comfort—to comfort ones saddened by the tragedy and to show them where they can find help. It was pointed out to use the Bible itself to answer questions. There is no replacement for it. We now have a golden opportunity. Many are asking, "Why did this disaster occur? How can such events be reconciled with a compassionate God? Why does He permit such things to happen? What can we tell a teenager? What does it all mean? Some watched religious leaders on television try to give philosophical answers to such questions, but the Bible was never used. We are able to use it and provide such encouraging help as in Rom 15:4, "Through the comfort from the scriptures we might have hope," and 2Cor 1:3,4 where Jehovah is called a "God of comfort," as well as Jer 29:11,12 "thoughts of peace and not calamity," and James 1:13 "with evil things God does not try anyone." Through the Organization, Jehovah also provides help with the May 22nd Awake! on terrorism and the August 22nd issue on post-traumatic stress. We have what we need. The 9/15 WT has a timely article asking if everyone will ever be united.
How have the last two weeks effected us personally? It saddened us. It also brought home Paul's words at Romans 12:5 that we should "weep with people who weep." What does that mean? We should show our genuine concern and sympathy for those mourning over these events and have heartfelt concern for them. Jesus felt pity and even wept on one occasion. Many people we talk to don't understand what is occurring. One woman asked, "Why didn't God make that plane plunge into the water?" Then she stopped and added, "I shouldn't have said that. I am all mixed up." One woman near Wallkill was mourning a death in her family. The couple had promised to bring the brochure When Someone You Love Dies. When they returned, she immediately asked what else they had in their bags. They showed her the issues on terrorism, and post-traumatic stress. She took all of them and wanted more copies as she is a grief counselor for the NYC Police Dept. In all, they placed 76 magazines and brochures with her. Paul said at 1 Corinthians 7:31 "The scene of this world is changing." May the recent changes make us draw even closer to Jehovah. We need to reflect Jehovah's quality of compassion and take every opportunity to comfort those mourning.
Continued by T Jaracz
The events of the past 15 days have had an earth shattering effect. News commentators have run out of descriptive words, using catastrophe, shocking, unbelievable, etc. One reporter for the New York Times called it a "diabolical act." The root word of "diabolical" is devilish. This is true. People ask what it could all mean. Yes, as 1 Cor. 7:31 shows, the scene of this world is indeed changing, and it is changing for the worse. The moods of entire nations have changed. They are uncertain as to what lies ahead. How can they feel more secure? Where can they search for answers? We know what the Bible says. How do we feel? We in Brooklyn were very close and many witnessed the events. We live in a risk-filled world. Since we are still in the world, we know we will have tribulation. Therefore, we are effected by things that surround us. The hope that the Bible gives is reassuring. In the Bible, the running heading for Psalm 91 is, "Safe with Jehovah." Ps 91:1,2 assures us, "Anyone dwelling in the secret place of the Most High will procure himself lodging under the very shadow of the Almighty One. I will say to Jehovah: "You are my refuge and my stronghold, my God, in whom I will trust." We feel safe with Jehovah. But there are degrees of trust. Proverbs 3:5,6 says to trust with all our heart. Isaiah 61:1,2 was fulfilled by Jesus, but we can apply its message and focus on fulfilling our commission outlined here: Jehovah anointed Isaiah to "1) tell good news to the meek ones, 2) bind up the brokenhearted, and 3) to comfort all the mourning ones."
We are comforted when we read the scriptures and temper the harsh reality around us. Then we can comfort others. We are entrusted too with Bible-based publications. (Romans 15:4) It is most effective to use the Bible, as it exerts power. It affects our mental outlook. It makes us reexamine ourselves. It shows what is in our hearts. It is a wake up call as to what is most important in life.
Many people in this country were apathetic, yet after the attack people are talking to us who never have before. This was true of one man a brother met on the Saturday after the events. He was the lead tenor in his church for 30 years. He never spoke with Jehovah's Witnesses but would always politely dismiss them. Yet, after scriptures were read to him, he exclaimed, "But that is what I believe! Maybe I should become one of Jehovah's Witnesses."
Other experiences included one from Patterson. A brother approached a man to offer comfort and opened the Bible to 2 Cor 1:3-7, referring to the fact that Jehovah, the Father of tender mercies, comforts us in all our tribulation. The man put his glasses on to read along. He identified himself as the president of a local high school football team. He accepted the Awake! on post-traumatic stress and said he would share it with the team. He was impressed that we were sharing something encouraging with our neighbors and wished the brothers God's blessing in these traumatic times. The more we are out, the more people can see the contrast of genuine Christians with Christendom's clergy. They are so shallow–making no reference to the Bible. Many are taking note.
Brothers going to Manhattan were assigned to go right to "ground zero" to comfort the police and firemen engaged in rescue efforts. The local officials saw the need to comfort them in a spiritual way, as people are stunned, traumatized, and emotionally distraught.
One brother worked in a restaurant in a small wealthy community in Ridgefield, CT where many residents worked in Manhattan. On Friday after the tragedy (which had been designated as a day of prayer), the manager of the restaurant asked everyone inside to go out for a moment. Then she asked the brother if he would give a prayer. He did, and among other things mentioned in his prayer was that they mourn not as those who have no hope, but that there would be an end to the wickedness we see around us. He said that God wants us to draw close to him, but that we need accurate knowledge to do so. He prayed in behalf of those who had lost loved ones, as well as the victims. Afterward, the manager hugged him and so did each of the 65 people, many saying that was the best prayer they had ever heard! What effect will it have? That remains to be seen.
In service around the country we are finding most are listening, especially to the Bible. Some are embittered and enraged at what happened. In North Carolina, many thanked us for coming and pleaded that we come back to tell them more. One C.O. in Montana said two sisters spoke with a woman who was very upset. She was in tears when they read Psalms 72:12-14 to her, that Jehovah delivers the poor one crying for help. They then referred to the tract Life in a Peaceful New World. They showed how God has requirements to live in that world and offered the Require brochure, considered the first paragraph, and started a study. The woman had never listened to us before. Another study was started much in the same way at the next door. It shows that when people are conscious of their spiritual need they must go to some source, and Babylon's churches have nothing to offer. It is important to take advantage of all opportunities. Don't be ashamed of handling the word of the truth aright (2 Tim 2:15).
In Europe there is also a great deal of shock regarding these events. The brothers are amazed at the effect the Bible has on people in secularized Germany, where people seldom have a spiritual interest and are very skeptic. Never underestimate the power of God's Word.
To fill this need, Bethel quickly printed 3 million tracts: Comfort for the Depressed and Peaceful New World. The brochures Is There a God Who Cares? and A World Without War were also printed. , as well as 3 million extra copies of the Awake! issues on terrorism and post-traumatic stress. Jehovah's Witnesses rise to the challenge. We do all we can to help people of honest heart, if it is in our power. (Proverbs 3:27) The President of the US referred to evildoers on several occasions. Today evildoers abound. We can share Psalm 37:9-11, showing they will be cut off.
This event has had an earthshaking impact. A prominent newspaper in Russia carried the story with successive pictures on the front page showing the attacks on the WTC, until they were destroyed. Large type underneath had the headline, "ARMAGEDDON". The story that followed quoted Revelation 16:16-19, (leaving out the fact that vs 14 speaks of unclean inspired expressions coming out of the mouth of the wild beast and false prophet), but in vs 19 showing the great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. The story, written on 9/12, said in part, "As of yesterday there are no longer world powers. There is nothing firm to rely on, no signs to orient ourselves, but a dead-end. The 20th Century broke all records in man's history of shedding blood. But this is a significantly greater crisis, the likes of which we have never seen."
Jehovah's Witnesses have a good talking point and can explain what Armageddon really means. The problem does not center on just one geographical place. We must heed the warning of Titus 2:12, "instructing us to repudiate ungodliness and worldly desires and to live with soundness of mind and righteousness and godly devotion amid this present system of things." We have a glorious hope. Think about these things when we pray to Jehovah. We have spiritual security under His hand.
Tuesday, September 11, 2001 - WORLD TRADE CENTER disaster preaching points.
Just passing along some good ideas for talking points. If you have some of your own, please share! Pretty sure it's gonna be a mixed bag of reactions: some blame God, some turn to God, some have already expressed resentment towards us being out talking to them about it. In conversation we've heard some really great ideas that may help formulate your own talking points.
There's physical relief work being done right now but also a spiritual relief work is needed. We are also volunteering to help our neighbors in this community. Here's your personal copy of this magazine (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome issue) that offers comfort in dealing with the this week's tragedy. ETC
Were you or your family personally effected by this week's tragedy? It has been an emotional roller coaster ride for us all. We are also volunteering to help our neighbors in this community. We have a comforting message with practical suggestions for coping with the trauma we've all witnessed this week. ETC
Many people are asking Why? did this happen, & were do such terrible human behaviors originate. You've probably asked yourself the same thing. We are also volunteering to help our neighbors in this community. This Magazine (Terrorism) examines a comforting hope with long term results explained in the Bible.
Points of interests: there were JW's working in those areas that are missing, so as a group we also feel the sadness. There are JW firefighters that were on the scene and lost their life. We are very involved with the relief work, Watchtower has donated small hand tools & cordless tools for the rescue workers to use. (It was sent down on the shuttle to Brklyn 9/14).
At our service meeting the local needs was on not losing our focus w/ all the horrible news this week. He encouraged us to focus on our commission like Bro. Wallin said, and staying neutral. The bro. mentioned making up a list of comforting scriptures to share with others so we'd have some well in mind. We could insert them in any of the suggestions heard.
Just thought to share them, something positive to look forward to this weekend....