Just got this e mail describing special meeting from pro-JW stance...Song 155, Opening Prayer Brother Sam Hurd (Governing Body)
Brother Hurd commented on the privilege of being at this special meeting, and that the governing body wished that the provision could have been made for all publishers, but it was simply not possible.
Summary of the Watchtower Brother Gary Cross
Brother Cross commented that this lesson helped him appreciate how Abraham worked hard at turning others to worship of Jehovah. Abraham never gave up in doing what is fine (read theme scripture Gal.6:9). Although he didn’t have the Bible as we do today, he no doubt was familiar with the first prophecy in the Bible (Gen.3:15) which mentioned the seed that would appear, and the opposition that would come along with it.
Jehovah’s Witnesses today should expect tribulation, in our ministry and personal lives, because Satan hates us and wants to destroy us. Satan has used and continues to use frontal attacks, including outright persecution. For example, our Yearbook mentioned the violence in Angola, yet the brothers there do not give up. Another form of persecution is ridicule or verbal attacks. A past example of this mentioned was Ishmael mocking Isaac. Today we may be ridiculed and it can be discouraging, but we must press on.
Abraham put peace ahead of pride, and put first the interests of others. Paragraph 7 shows how a Christian cannot allow hurt feelings to allow him to give up. The subheading "Self Imposed Trials": many people have "stabbed themselves all over with many pains" by putting material things first (Heb.11:9,10). Paragraphs 9 and 10 explain how we could discourage ourselves with wrong thinking, by feeling that we are denied of privileges that we feel we deserve. Rather, we need to be humble and not think more of ourselves than necessary (Gal.6:3, Phil.2:3). Abraham could have considered himself superior and put on airs, but rather he acknowledged Melchizadek’s position. Our greatest privilege today is helping others to know Jehovah.
Discussion of 2Pet3:13 "new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell." We have all been waiting, and some of us for many decades, for the new heavens and earth. But notice the attitude of Abraham who was told that his descendants would inherit a land, but it would not occur in his lifetime. Still, he built his entire life around this promise. He refused to settle down and enjoy mundane comforts. "Jehovah is not slow respecting his promises…" (2Pet.3:9), and this is because some of us still need time to make changes or adjustments in our lives.
We have learned from Abraham faith, patience love and even shrewdness. And even greater example is Jesus Christ, "the Chief Agent and Perfecter of our faith" (Heb.12:2,3). Since Jesus life and times are recorded for us in the Bible, we will benefit from a regular reading of the Bible on a daily basis, and regular Bible study.
Paragraph 3: Satan constantly attacks, both frontal and otherwise, both in our ministry and personal lives
Par. 4,5: We can expect violent persecution, verbal attacks.
Put peace ahead of pride and do not harbor resentment
Paragraphs 8-10: do nothing out of egotism, rather be humble and not easily discouraged
Abraham built his whole life around God’s promises, though they would not be fulfilled in his lifetime.
Highlights of the Annual Meeting - Brother Sam Hurd (Governing Body)
"As cold water upon a tired soul, so is a good report from a distant land" (Prov.25:25). Yesterday, the 117th annual meeting of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society was held. In the 17 years since the 100th meeting in 1984, publishers have more than doubled. 13,757 were in attendance: 5,319 at the Jersey assembly hall, and others tied in. Reports from:
Ireland: despite unrest, the brothers are active in their ministry and are well respected because of their neutral stand.
Venezuela: there are now over 88,000 witnesses, and over 296,000 attended their Memorial observance. The year 1999 brought the worst recorded disaster for Venezuela, which were the floods that claimed many lives. The Witnesses were among the forefront of humanitarian aid in the country. Next was the Philippines, and the outstanding thing of note was the release of the New World Translation in 3 languages. There were over 424,360 at the Memorial, which is 3 times the number of publishers (138,000).
Puerto Rico has had a constant number of publishers for many years, yet this is not discouraging, because there is significant growth. It seems the Witnesses export over 1000 brothers each year for the mainland of the United States for work, which keeps the number fairly constant. An experience was related of a young brother upon whom the local court was trying to force a blood transfusion. He asked the court "Why is it that I can be tried as an adult for a crime, yet the court brings me here as a child to give me a blood transfusion?" The court ruled in the brother’s favor.
Guyana: Bible Brown was one of the first to witness there years ago. The country was under ban until 1991, and now there are 68,152 publishers, a 98% increase.
Ecuador: an experience of Brother and Sister Bono, who were advanced in age and were one day looking to visit a brother and his unbelieving wife in bush country. Sister Bono fell into a pit of mud, and some local children helped pull her out. A woman was standing in her doorway watching all this and invited the Bonos in to clean up. She asked what they were doing and when they told her, they found out she was the wife of the brother they were looking for. As time progressed, the whole family came into the truth and became special pioneers.
Finally, Brother Carey Barber was mentioned, who is now 96 years of age and has been faithful in full time service for 78 years of his life. When asked how he accomplished this, he said "I never let anything bother me. Next thing you know, 78 years passed by."
Year Text for 2002 - Brother William Vanderwall (Brooklyn Bethel)
First was mentioned the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center, and how we live in a stress filled world. Because of this, many sincere people are looking for relief (Rom.8:22). Things such as our secular jobs, family matters or other responsibilities can be overwhelming at times. This was true also in Jesus’ time, when a laborer toiled many hours a day for 1 denarius. To compare this with today’s wages, 1 denarius was about an hour’ s pay. So, in their time, refreshment and relief were needed as we do. We also have pressure to work many hours and extra days of the week. Even being a child can be difficult, some facing the challenge of emotional or physical problems. The elderly suffer today despite advances in modern medicine.
Jesus had great love and compassion for people; he helped the weak and consoled the depressed. Also, he helped people to grow spiritually and his teachings highlighted God’s Kingdom. He also provided basic principles for living which help relieve excess stress. Isa.61:1,2 says: "Jehovah has anointed me to tell the good news to the meek ones. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to those taken captive and the wide opening [of the eyes] even to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of goodwill on the part of Jehovah and the day of vengeance on the part of our God; to comfort all the mourning ones." This is something Jesus did.
Our year’s text for 2002 will be Matthew 11:28 "Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh you." In Jesus time, people were burdened with endless rules and traditions. In contrast, Jesus spoke kindly and with truth. He said "He that has seen me has seen the Father [also]." In Matthew 11:29 Jesus said: "take my yoke". A yoke pictured servitude or slavery. A well made yoke could be "kindly", but a yoke could also bind or chafe. Jesus, as a carpenter, may have made yokes in his time. Regardless, he was aware that some yokes did not put undue strain on a worker, and this was what he was talking about. "Take my yoke" also has the meaning of getting under the yoke with Jesus. Jesus knew that adjustments in a person’s lifestyle and having a clear hope would relieve stress.
Not that all stress will disappear simply by following Jesus, because it would still be there. For example, Rome and it’s taxes did not disappear for Jesus’ disciples. But, their main activity was teaching others, so he was talking about joining him in this. Jesus told James and John to "become fishers of men" (Matt.4:19). Luke 5:1-11 tells of Jesus performing the miracle of a multitude of fish to be caught. After Jesus told them "From now on you will be catching men alive", the account says that "they abandoned everything and followed him."
In our day, over 6 millions persons have accepted Jesus’ invitation to take up the yoke with Jesus. Some at Bethel were traumatized and found comfort by immediately going to see if they could help. They ended up comforting others and tried to convince them that they can live a less stressful life. What does it mean to become a disciple of Jesus? Jesus said at Matthew 11:28 to "learn from me", so a disciple of Jesus is one who learns.
If we have learned from Jesus, others should feel refreshed by being with us, and we will come to treat others as Jesus did. In the spring of 31 CE, Jesus gave his Sermon on the Mount (Matt.5:1-9, Luke 6) and encouraged all to carefully study and allow the power of wisdom to influence them.
This is a written list of key teachings of Jesus, and we should ponder over these and put them to work in our lives, as will be discussed in a future issue of the Watchtower. A young ruler once asked Jesus what he needed to do to inherit everlasting life (Luke 18:18). Jesus realized that although the man was doing good already, he needed to do more. But, he was not ready to do so. So, there is a difference between agreeing with the Bible and living by it’s principles. Matthew 5:3-9 encourages us to ask ourselves questions such as "what are we to conclude about our attitude towards spiritual things?" We should let spiritual thoughts occupy us constantly. We can discuss with a marriage mate or close friend these verses, which will benefit both parties. Focussing on Jesus teaching will result in our feeling more relaxed, and either have less stress or gaining the ability to handle it better (Phil.3:16). It is obvious that Jesus’ yoke is kindly and his load is light. 1John 5:3 tells us to "observe his commandments". So, the more we observe Jesus teachings, the less stress will affect us. So, during the difficult days ahead keep Matthew 11:28 in mind.
Impressions of the Special Conventions in France - Br Richard Adams,& Brother Nicholas Gus (Circuit Overseer)
Brother Adams: According to the Book "The Columbia History of the World", there is not a single new idea that has come along that offers us the bringing about of a unified earth. In truth, unity of thought and purpose does not require a new idea, rather it comes from walking in the truth of Jehovah (Ps.86:11). This unity was a clear feature of the France assembly. Reports from other lands were encouraging, and from these it was learned that people all over are dealing with the same problems as we have here. Some comments from the assembly:
It stood out that Jehovah is not partial, and it was apparent that the brothers there were humble and persistent in their work and had a real zeal about it. The only barrier was language, but not much of one. It was encouraging to see the same literature used, only in a different language.
With regard to orderliness, it was noted that during intermission, thousands of delegates were served bag lunches in less than 30 minutes. In addition to the existing restrooms, more portable restrooms were set up outside and were cleaned every hour by volunteers desiring to serve their friends. Some 98,200 delegates were organized into language groups, and despite talks being given in various languages, the sound and lighting were perfect. Over 1900 coach buses were used to transport the brothers around, with tour guides on board. The buses had color coded signs on them to help the parking attendants direct them to where they should park. The delegates leaving the bus were handed tickets to help them find the bus after the sessions.
Encouraging was the many gifts and cards given by the local friends to visiting delegates. And the love did not stop there. One Witness received a letter after arriving home and was told "we arrived home and our family has not stopped talking about the assembly." Talks given by members of the Governing Body were also very inspiring, even those who spoke French would keep one ear on these talks when they occurred.
Hospitality: when some delegates arrived in France at 5:00AM there were friends at the airport waiting for them with smiling faces. At the Hotel some from the local English-speaking congregation were there waiting with items they would need, including literature. The local brothers fed them lunch each day while explaining what was going on in France. The lapel badge cards caused a great witness. For example, a tour guide was so interested she took literature and attended the sessions for one of the days. On the street, a French brother and sister saw some foreign delegates. They introduced themselves and were of course very warm and friendly. This impressed onlookers. When in a café or subway, people were not bashful about inspecting badges. They would look at them, then converse among themselves, and then look some more. At tourist attractions, onlookers noticed people from different countries and languages embracing one another when they saw each other’s badges. When the delegates left the stadium in their buses, the local friends lined up for what seemed like an endless line, waving and smiling.
The effects on the brothers in France: they found it a real comfort to have delegates visiting, and felt greatly reassured that they had a worldwide organization at their side.
Next, a string of brothers who attended came forth and gave their impressions of the convention:
A brother: was reminded of Isa.2:2,3, and felt part of the fulfillment of this scripture.
Another brother said he had a very good time, and that it was well worth the time and expense.
Another: said it was very worthwhile, and that he could see that the foreign delegates left a marked impression. For example, bus drivers remarked on the fine conduct of the brothers, and commented to the effect that they had previously had been led to believe that Witnesses would behave badly. The brother himself was helped to see that the Devil is active all over the world. Yet, all of us can find the same solution: stay close to Jehovah’s organization.
In conclusion, Psalm 70:4 was read. Truly, we have a sense of brotherhood, love and joy that is difficult to describe. Soon the whole earth will be filled with the worship of Jehovah and a unified people.
Brother Gus (spelling?), began by reading Psalms 133:1 and talked about us dwelling in unity. 8 weeks ago (Aug.10-12), there were special conventions in Italy. A number of brothers were interviewed with their comments:
From a brother’s interview: the hospitality was outstanding. For example, a young single brother came to the hotel early each day and stayed with the group all day until evening. He acted as an interpreter and the group became good friends with him. Also, the local congregation served refreshments including antipastos, pastries and Italian bread. At the convention itself, the brothers worked hard to make everyone welcome. For example, two sisters shared their lunch with this brother.
Another brother regarding transportation: buses picked them up at the airport, and these were assigned to the delegates for the duration of their stay. There were 5 buses at their hotel. At the convention site, their were at times lines and lines of buses on either side of the street, with an orderly line of Witnesses streaming from them to the convention site. The number of buses alone was a witness in itself.
Regarding the level of organization: they were welcomed with huge signs and applause as they arrived. They received envelopes with information, such as a diagram of the convention site and their seating arrangement, then were helped to their seats. Delegates sat in front of a translation area to hear the sessions in their own languages. Lunch was served quickly, and there were no lines for the restrooms due to additional outdoor facilities that were provided.
In Rome, all gathered in the stadium, with the 4 major language groups at the north end of the building. The sessions could be heard in a language each delegate could understand, and most of the program could be heard in English. Reports were given from other lands (for example from countries belonging to the former Soviet Union) of the tremendous increases. Some countries were experiencing double or triple the number of publishers at the Memorial. It was reported that some Witnesses had learned other languages in order to branch out in their ministry.
Another brother at the Rome convention: felt an overwhelming spirit of love and camaraderie. Banners held up for the arriving delegates elicited large rounds of applause. Of note was the well arranged dress of the sisters, especially when compared with non-Witnesses. It could be seen that the friends were truly devoted to developing Kingdom interests.
Another brother: 75 countries were represented and 84,954 attended his convention at an Olympic soccer stadium. It was mentioned that the Spanish delegates would not stop clapping and singing when these were called upon to do so. It was cramped and hot, and clear that only in Jehovah’s organization could such a group assemble in joy and peace. The Governing Body talks were slow due to the translation that occurred, but all were hanging on every word. There was lots of energy, zealous applause and keen concentration.
Another Brother: The convention badges were noticed by many non-Witnesses, including waiters and hotel workers. Also, a couple in the street noticed a single Italian sister approaching American visitors with badges. This impressed a bus driver that an instant connection was made. Similarly, many people were impressed that our faith binds us together. The brother commented on the beauty and wholesomeness of the international brotherhood. The brother described the scene as not being able to see the other brothers, but there was a time when all foreign delegates were invited to stream into the stadium where the main Italian sessions were held, to thunderous applause. They then walked into the stands and were received with hugging, smiling and tears of joy. The brother said he experienced the love and unity that will prevail earthwide when Satan’s world is done away with.
In conclusion, we were encouraged to recount to others what we hear today to brothers and sisters elsewhere.
Song 208 and Announcements
Courageously Trusting in Jehovah During these Critical Times -Br Steve Lett (Governing Body)
Imagine a husband and wife as trapeze artists, performing with no safety net. The wife does a somersault in the air and her husband catches her by the feet. In this situation, the quality that is needed is courageous trust. Trust is defined as "assured reliance or explicit confidence". Adding the word "courageous" to the expression means trust even in the face of danger. This quality is needed by all of Jehovah’s people in our current stream of time, these critical last days.
This is because there is opposition by Satan that needs to be withstood (2Tim.3:12). God’s word encourages such trust in Jehovah (Prov.3:5,6), rather than leaning on ourselves. As an illustration, leaning on our own understanding is like leaning on a rotten wood banister. In contrast, Jehovah is a "Rock" and it is to him we should listen and obey (Deut.13:4). There are 4 examples from ancient times that we should copy:
Noah: he built an ark as a preacher of righteousness in a territory of materialized angels and their bullies for offspring, the Nephilim, or fellers of human beings. Noah was courageous under these circumstances due to his implicit trust in Jehovah.
Moses: he lived for 40 years calmly tending sheep in Midian. At the age of 80, Jehovah told it was time for a major career change. He was instructed to go to Egypt and lead God’s people out of that land. It must have been a shock to Moses to find himself in Pharoah’s majestic palace, filled with guards, servants, magic-practicing priests and other entourage. Pharoah’s head covering had the Egyptian cobra on it, which was supposed to have the power of shooting fire out for the purpose of killing people. Here was a showdown between the meekest man on earth, and perhaps the haughtiest man on earth. It must have been intimidating, and it was something Moses did repeatedly.
David: According to 1Samuel 17:32, Goliath was 9 ½ feet tall, perhaps 10 feet tall with his helmet on. His coat of mail weighed 126 pounds and the blade of his spear weighed 15 pounds. But, David was far from intimidated, and even though Saul tried to talk him out of it, in 1Sam.17:45 David predicted that Jehovah would deliver Goliath up to him.
Jesus Christ: allowed his Father to put him in the womb of Mary. He trusted that while in Mary’s womb he would be protected from Satan, and would continue to be protected as a defenseless newborn baby. Another example is when he willingly poured out his soul on the torture stake, and trusted that Jehovah would remember and resurrect him.
We are in the final part of the last days. So, how do we know that we can place trust in Jehovah? This is because we can see his tremendous love. We will now examine 3 of his works that demonstrate Jehovah’s love:
Creation: for example food that is so enjoyable. Eating is not a chore required to fuel our bodies, such as is putting fuel in a car. For example, there are 7,500 varieties of apples grown on earth. If we were to sample 1 variety each day, it would take us 20 years to taste them all. Also, our vision is in color, even though black and white vision would suffice. Flowers are not needed to survive, and very few can be eaten. Yet, their beauty adds quality to our lives.
The ransom and resurrection of Jesus shows that our trust is not misplaced (Rom.5:8) and is the greatest expression of God’s love. Jesus died an excruciating death. We can imagine him being nailed to the stake, and the pain he would suffer when it was raised and then dropped into a hole. Every breath would have been painful, as he would have to hoist his body up with each breath.
Spiritual food (Isa.65:13,14). Others are starving spiritually, yet we are well fed. Imagine a banquet of filet mignon, barbecued chicken, vegetables, dessert and more. Compare that with a baby pacifier dipped in sugar water, and we can see how well we are provided for.
Courageous trust is vital and imperative for us to cope with the enmity in Satan’s world (Gen.3:15). Enmity between the seed (God’s heavenly organization: primarily Jesus, and the 144,000) and Satan the Devil and his seed. This enmity would become intense upon Satan’s being cast from heaven. Rev.12:17 shows Satan’s attitude: he is angry from being discarded from heaven. What about the great crowd? They are targets too, because they help the anointed ones. So, how can we endure? Only by continuing to have courageous trust in Jehovah. This will keep us from panicking (Heb.13:5,6). We will then not be afraid and remember that any one person plus Jehovah is always a majority. We will enjoy the confidence that Paul had (2Cor.1:8-10), even if we face death. There are 2 routes to our reward. The preferred route is over land, where we survive the great tribulation. But, we must trust in Jehovah, even if we have to take the underground tunnel. Both routes are leading to the same place.
Jehovah’s people all around the earth maintain integrity despite brutal persecution. Here are 5 reports from various parts of the earth:
Armenia: the brothers there face discrimination through mandatory government registration. So, the Witnesses are forced to meet in apartments. Brothers are thrown into prison and are severely beaten and some contract tuberculosis while in prison, all for refusing to join the army. They go on undaunted.
Georgia (part of former USSR): Over the past 2 years, there have been groups determined to damage our reputation. Mobs have been beating up innocent men, women and children with nail-studded clubs and iron bars. They dealt out a severe beating to 120 men, women and children attending a meeting. Led by an Orthodox priest, 200 of his followers struck hard with wooden clubs and crosses. During this mob action, one man had his head forced down and they shaved his head. 16 required hospital treatment. The mob shouted at the Witnesses, and a sister named Patty said they hit her in the face as hard as they could until blood poured from her face and she lost the sight in one eye. Two years have passed, and no convictions have resulted. The mob participators have learned that they can deal with impunity in a lawless way towards Jehovah’s Witnesses.
So, a petition has been gathered up, and has been signed by some 133,000 adult citizens. There are only 15,000 Witnesses in the area, so clearly a great number of these supporters are of the Orthodox faith. On February 13th, the petition was presented to the President. Since then, a mob of 15 men burst into an apartment, seized literature, beat some Witnesses with clubs and metal pipes. Then they vandalized the contents of the apartment, followed by taking the literature outside and burning it. When reported to the police, they categorically refused to get involved. No one was arrested or prosecuted, although the identities of those involved are known to the police.
Brother Lett asked us to pray for Georgia, and this request was met with thunderous applause. Our brothers in Georgia are experiencing the situation described in Ps.109:3 "And with words of hatred they have surrounded me, and they keep fighting against me without cause." When we are surrounded by hatred, the root cause is Satan. He hates us because of our love for Jehovah, but they continue to pray to and worship Jehovah.
Turkmenistan: Some have been sentenced to labor camps for not joining the army, others have been thrown into prison on trumped up charges. The authorities attempted to deport one brother to Russia, but he was refused; neither country wanted him. Our brothers are regularly subjected to beatings, fines and deportation.
Russia: Our legal battles continue, and the latest case is on appeal. The law does not require a permit, but Witnesses are required to notify authorities of planned conventions.
One convention was planned legally, then on August 14th, the brothers received a letter telling them that the convention was to be banned. On August 17th, it was held anyways. The Cossacks came and tried to stop the proceedings. Then the Russian National Unity organization arrived, armed. They blocked the entrances with their vehicles and demanded that the convention come to a halt. The Chief of the Cossacks then came and said that the Witnesses had the right to convene, yet the Nationalists, along with the help of special police forces continued the next day to raid the convention. When our brothers went to the authorities, the police then began protecting our brothers from the terrorism.
Afterwards, the brothers received a letter from the police who had protected them. The police expressed their surprise due to the orderliness, friendliness and hospitality. They had been under the impression that the Witnesses were a cult and had nothing to due with Christianity. They were amazed by the complete "absence of evil and trouble making" among us. They thanked the brothers for the privilege of providing security for them.
France: Misrepresentation and media attacks (such as television programs) continue to portray Jehovah’s Witnesses as a dangerous cult. The Government has formed a department/commission to help accomplish this. However, honest hearted ones in the French territory have been recognizing that these are false charges. This is probably due in part to the 12 million tracts distributed recently, which has been a great witness. This indicates the truth found in Isaiah 54:17, that "Any weapon whatever that will be formed against you will have no success."
Special conventions have also been helping our brothers to maintain their confidence in Jehovah. The conventions in 5 major cities were a huge undertaking. In Paris the sessions were held in 10 languages, and 160,000 in total were in attendance.
Convention experiences in France: One member of a convention security team remarked: "Now I have seen Jehovah’s Witnesses with my own eyes, and I can refute the false claims I have heard about them." Hotels and restaurant personnel have been impressed. One tour guide admitted prior prejudice, but after the conventions has completely changed. This tour guide noticed the patience of Jehovah’s Witnesses, even when stuck for an hour in a traffic jam. After this, some of the tour guides convened and commented among them that "it was like paradise" to accommodate the Witnesses. The Director of tour guides expressed hope that they would "come back soon." The newspaper La Figaro said about the Witnesses: "there they were, seated, silent and attentive such is their fervor assembled for their summer convention no one smokes not a pair of jeans or open collar to be found all have Bibles and attentive ears there is a sense that God is omnipresent. The Word of God is received loud and clear."
The conventions result in letters from our brothers in France, indicating they are now more confident from the support they have received.
We want to imitate the faith of both those in modern times, as well as those in the past such as Noah, Moses, David and Jesus and their courageous trust in Jehovah. Now is the time to put trust fully in Jehovah and not fear man (Prov.29:25). Jehovah is marching towards the final conflict of Armageddon. We, along with Jehovah will be victorious. Looking ahead, we know that Jehovah and Jesus will be there on the other side of Armageddon. But, will we be there? Our answer is "yes" if we put our courageous trust in Jehovah right down to the end.
Moving Ahead Unitedly with Jehovah’s Organization- Brother Sam Hurd (Governing Body)
If we are faced with the kind of persecution our brothers have endured in Georgia, Angola and Nazi Germany, will we maintain our integrity? The answer is yes, because we are made of the same things as these other Witnesses. We have God’s Word, and have solid truth in our heart, and are united in a body of others who have God’s word and the truth in their hearts, and we are zealously preaching the good news of the Kingdom.
The admonition today is to keep doing what we are doing, and hang on tightly in the days ahead. There are rough times ahead, and Satan is bent on doing as much damage to us and our reputation as possible. But, we will prove him a liar. The world is filled with nationalism, prejudice, and so on. Yet, we are active, healthy and moving forward because we are not alone. Jehovah and his heavenly organization are not only outnumbering Satan and his demons (2Ki.6:16), but they also are backing up our global preaching work. We may feel alone and that the Devil has singled us out, but this is not the case.
Furthermore, Jehovah will see to it that we have the strength to endure. We may recall the account of Samson, who was outnumbered by a mob of 1,000 men. Samson gave credit to Jehovah for his strength and ability. Jehovah will do the same for us, who will move forward in the work we are assigned (Matt.24:14). We can now smell in the air the end of this system of things. Action on a global scale is about to happen, and billions of people will be gone in a swift fashion, yet those on Jehovah’s side will escape.
We have lost some valiant preachers of the good news, even some in the recent World Trade Center attacks. But, Jehovah remembers his people, and knows we are the sort who have pity in our hearts for others, and He sees us reaching out to them. For example, when the World Trade Center buildings collapsed, some Bethelites could not refrain from going over to the damaged area to try and help dig for survivors. The firemen on the scene have been very happy to see our brothers and sisters, who come with comfort from the Bible. They see how in comparison, other religious people can only offer bottles of water for comfort.
Soon Jehovah will step in and undo what has been done. There are reports around the world acknowledging that there is no one like us. We are so peaceable, policeman at our conventions don’t know what to do with themselves, because we are sheeplike, meek and humble. Vengeance belongs to Jehovah, so we know we can wait patiently but move ahead with the work we have to do. The difference between Jehovah’s people and the world is evident (Mal.3:18) and the gulf is widening. Jesus told his disciples "Every plant that my heavenly Father did not plant will be uprooted" (Matt.15:13). Therefore, there is no lasting future for a world alienated from God.
In 29 CE, Jesus was anointed with holy spirit with a view " to gather all things together again in the Christ" (Eph.1:8-10). People will soon be resurrected as part of this being fulfilled, since these also constitute "things on the earth." In John 15:1-6, Jesus is identified as the vine, and branches as his disciples. If his disciples were to break apart from holding fast to Jesus, they could not move ahead and they would fail to bear fruit (John 15:8), and eventually dry up and perish. What about those who are not actually branches, those that Jesus referred to as being brought into unity with him? John 17:20-22 helps us to see that faith in Jehovah and Jesus results in blessings from Jehovah and unity among millions of other servants, including the "other sheep". The anointed are rapidly leaving the world scene, including members of the Governing Body. Almost every year we lose brothers, who are well along in years. Although they have "special mightiness", how long can they last?
Our conventions shows a vast unity (Ps.133:1) among different cultures and nationalities. We are united around the globe and are all preaching the same message. The message is being preached in the "holy lands", in Egypt, Jordan, Greece and Israel to name just a few. Some places there are only a few publishers in a city of thousands. Yet, these ones use their time wisely and are blessed. Brother Hurd said he went to France, and found auditoriums filled to capacity with people hungering for truth and righteousness, and a theocratic government.
There have been articles in newspapers, on television and on the radio acknowledging the uniqueness of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Yet, they don’t want to join us. At the conventions overseas a resolution was adopted. They discussed how thinking people today acknowledge that millions who are taught by worldly systems of education have resulted in a failure to learn right and wrong. Technology fails to help us see the purpose in life and find a solid hope for the future. Libraries exist and are covering every field of endeavor, yet diseases once thought gone continue to recur. We have major problems with pollution and weapons of mass destruction. Yet, there is a teaching that leads to a bright future. We are resolved to go forth and make disciples (Matt.28:19,10). 6 points to the resolution:
we are determined to keep integrity to the last
we will regularly feed at the table of Jehovah
parents will instruct our children in the way of Jehovah
(sorry, I couldn’t get this one)
we will fully accomplish our ministry
though many forms of opposition and persecution will arise (Rom.8:31) we will move ahead (Isa.54:17)
Our work will be complete, just as Jesus said: "I have glorified you on the earth, having finished the work you have given me to do." The work will be done, not to our satisfaction, but to Jehovah’s.
Like a triumphal procession under Jesus we are part of a theocratic arrangement. The remaining members of the remnant do not constitute an organization of human origin. So, we should do our utmost to be setting a fine example and to be found teaching about God. We should cherish our spiritual heritage and be determined to keep moving ahead with Jehovah’s organization.
Announcements after the final talk:
It is highly important that all God’s people are "not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together" (Heb.10:24,25). District conventions are hoped to be held in all parts of the earth in 2002. And in 2003, if it is Jehovah’s will, we would like to have special or international conventions with more definite information to follow later. In the meantime, keep moving ahead with Jehovah’s organization. It is imperative that we "go on perceiving what the will of Jehovah is" (Eph.5:15-17), and take to heart this and other provisions from Jehovah.
Loving concern is expressed from the Governing Body towards us. May Jehovah bless and enrich you for serving him whole souled (thunderous applause).
The attendance in Pontiac, Michigan was 61,716 (prior Silverdome peak attendance for a Witness convention: 58,310 in 1978). Attendance in Long Island was 20,160 + 6,456 at Bethel for a total of 26,616.
Concluding Song 209 and Prayer