Notes from 127th Gilead class
STATISTICS: 56 students - 28 couples from 8 countries going to 22 lands.
Average age: 33.6
Average years in the truth: 18.3
Average years in full time service: 13.6.
USE YOUR IMAGINATION WISELY Stephen Lett, Chairman:
What is imagination? It’s the act of forming a mental image of something not present in reality at the time. It is creativity of the mind. It is the
expression of the figurative heart. Jehovah is the examiner of hearts and sees how we use our imagination. (Proverbs 17:3.) And where did we get this ability? We got it from Jehovah. He has a vivid imagination; just look at some examples of creation: the platypus, the bumblebee, the boxfish, a leather daisy, black holes, the three rings of Saturn, the Cat's Eye Nebula.
He has a phenomenal imagination. We are made in his image and he has given us this gift of a creative imagination. Yet, as with any gift, we have the capacity to use our imagination wisely or unwisely.
First let us examine four foolish uses of our imagination.
1. Materialism. Proverbs 18:11, "The valuable things of the rich are his strong town, and they are like a protective wall in his imagination." The rich view money or material things as having a lot more power than they actually have. Don't let money occupy that big of a place in our mind. In your assignments there will be two categories of people, the very poor and the very rich. In your imagination don't covet the lifestyle of the very rich. You already have so much more; you have spiritual riches.
2. Do not engage in immoral fantasies. Matthew 5:28 warns, "Everyone that keeps on looking at a woman so as to have a passion for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." No matter where you go, immoral entertainment, including pornography, will be readily available. Don't let down your guard even momentarily. Safeguard your God-given imagination and reject immoral entertainment.
3. Excessive worry. Matthew 6:34 warns, "So, never be anxious about the next day, for the next day will have its own anxieties." Excessive worry requires a vivid imagination, because the person imagines the worst possible scenario. Here, Jesus is saying don’t do that. As someone once said, "Excessive worry is like tomorrow's mouse eating today's cheese." Jesus warns us at Luke 21:34 not to let our hearts become weighed down with the anxieties of life. Don't carry yesterday's anxieties today and borrow from tomorrows. If you pile yesterdays, today's and tomorrow's anxieties, that's a heavy load indeed. Take one day at a time. Leave them in Jehovah's capable hands.
4. Looking back. In speaking about faithful Abraham and Sarah of old, Hebrews 11:15 states, "If they had indeed kept remembering that place from which they had gone forth, they would have had opportunity to return." If they would have kept dreaming about Ur , about what people were eating, doing, and the comforts they were enjoying, they would have been unhappy with their nomadic life. The Israelites kept looking back at the fish, cucumbers, watermelons, leeks, onions and garlic (Numbers 11:5). Actually, they had leaks in their imagination, since they were forgetting the bad experiences they had in slavery and the blessings they were enjoying. Don't dwell on your life in your former home and country; it can make you miss out on the blessings you do have now. Follow Prov. 4:25, "As for your eyes, straight ahead they should look." Now we will discuss six wise ways to use our imagination:
1. Foreseeing a calamity and taking steps to protect you. Proverbs 22:3 says, "Shrewd is the one that has seen the calamity and proceeds to conceal himself." We can play scenarios out in our mind in our imagination and look ahead to see the consequences. Take precautionary steps and avoid potentially dangerous situations, physical and spiritual. The local brothers can give you practical advice.
2. When you are reading the Bible, visualize. The psalmist in Psalm 77:12 meditated, remembered, and thought back on Jehovah's ways. Remember the audio dramas at the Convention this year. The public edition of the Watchtower suggests that as you read, imagine you are part of the event; hear the voices, visualize, feel the emotions, and let the account to come to life.
3. View each person you meet as a potential witness. For example, Ananias received a vision and was told to call on Saul. He may have had misgivings, but Acts 9:17 says Ananias greeted Paul with, "Saul, brother." That was optimistic. Ananias imagined him as a brother already, although he had been a persecutor. Don't judge people by their appearance or your first impression. Some people do take a lot of imagination to imagine them as a Witness—with their hair, tattoos, speech. But September 12, 2009 Graduation of the 127th Class of Gilead Page 2 of 7 like Saul, they can change. The Watchtower contains before and after pictures of ones who were able to turn their lives around. Work your territory optimistically. The power of God's Word is tremendous.
4. Be empathetic. Think about Jehovah who said about the Israelites in Egypt , recorded at Ex. 3:7, "I know well the pains they suffer." Jehovah, by his imagination, could feel their pain. He is empathetic. Empathy has been defined as, "entering fully through imagination into another's feelings." Show "fellow feeling"; (1 Peter 3:8) "Rejoice with people who rejoice; weep with people who weep" (Rom. 12:15). Patiently listen. You will enjoy your ministry more and you will be more effective. Think, "If I were in their situation, what would appeal to me?" Do not overwhelm people by giving them too much knowledge. Remember how Jesus dealt with his disciples. He said at John 16:12, "I have many things to say, But you're not able to bear it." He was empathetic.
5. Picture yourself in the new world. 2 Corinthians 4:18, "while we keep our eyes, not on the things seen, but on the things unseen." What helped Jesus endure the torture stake? Hebrews 12:2 says it was the joy that was set before him. He did not focus on the pain he was undergoing, but on the future joy. He could have thought, "I'll soon be with my father. I'm almost home." You can endure any trial, any hardship, if you concentrate on the new world and its blessings. Song 134 in the new songbook says, "Just see yourself, just see me too; Just see us all in a world that is new. Think how you'll feel, how it will be, To live in peace, to be truly free. No evil one will then prevail; ruled by our God cannot ever fail. The time will have come for new earthly start; The song of our praises will pour out from our heart. Chorus: 'Jehovah our God, how well you have done! All things are new by the rule of your Son. The fullness of our heart overflows in our song; All glory and honor and praise to you belong.'" This song is encouraging us to use our imagination and regularly visualize ourselves in the new world. Picture your Bible students with you there too.
6. Regularly imagine how well-pleasing your service is to Jehovah. Meditate on how you will provide an answer to Satan by acting wisely—Proverbs 27:11. When you act wisely, Jehovah is made happy. You dear Gilead graduates, you are acting wisely in your assignments. Remember, meditate and imagine, how pleasing your faithful service there is to Jehovah. Can you see that with your imagination? Use your imagination wisely. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says to "bring every thought into captivity." It's worth the effort. It contributes immensely to your being a happy, successful missionary.
JEHOVAH WILL GIVE YOU COURAGE
by Alex Reinmueller
Timothy, while young, was shy and perhaps fragile when he was sent out, but turned out to be an outstanding missionary. He came from a divided household; his Jewish mother and grandmother had converted to Chris tianity in 47 C.E. and his father was Greek. Timothy enjoyed a happy relationship with these godly women. In a Greek household, the father dominated the home. Timothy’ not being circumcised indicates his father may have been opposed to his Jewish wife's custom. It appears that before at least 50 C.E. his mother was widowed. Could it be that his periodic bouts of diffidence, timidity, and even stomach problems were related in some way to his relationship with his father or even the loss of his father? In spite of the disadvantages he had, there was reason for him to take courage. The apostle Paul was like a father to Timothy, but Paul wanted him to look to Jehovah as his real father. 2 Timothy 1:7, 14 says, "For God gave us not a spirit of cowardice, but that of power and of love and of soundness of mind." When God's spirit works in us, he directs it toward these building blocks of power, love and soundness of mind, and gives us the strength and abilities we need. Imagine how Timothy must have felt walking along side the dynamic Apostle Paul.
When we feel inadequate, we may shrink back because we think we need to be perfect. We don't have to be " Indiana Jones" to be successful missionaries. Realistically, you might not look forward to sharing accommodations or be enthused about learning a new language. That's okay. But our success is not limited by our physical, mental or emotional resources. Like Timothy, Jehovah can give us the courage to do what we need to do, as long as we rely on him and not ourselves. What if we were taught the Stoic point of view, to put duty before personal pleasure? Paul reminded Timothy that this wasn't Jehovah's attitude. The primary manifestation of God's spirit is love, which includes having a proper and balanced love of ourselves. Paul told Timothy to "use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent cases of sickness", showing that we don't have to sacrifice our health to be good missionaries. (1 Timothy 5:23) Take reasonable care of yourselves to guard your health, get regular checkups, eat well, and get rest and exercise.
Problems can be avoided by living a balanced life. We are told to love our neighbors as ourselves eight times in the Bible. Be reasonable with yourself. Chris t died for us already, so Jehovah isn't looking for martyrs. Just as Timothy’s relationship with his father may have made him diffident and shy, so our background may make us insecure. When we feel insecure, we may hunger for approval, be more easily threatened, and even be critical. We need to develop soundness of mind which will calm our inner fears. Let God’s thoughts guide your thinking. We are oftentimes discouraged in our work by the creatures of our own imaginations. Paul reminded Timothy that Jehovah's spirit could help him develop soundness of mind, including a positive outlook. The Greek word that Paul used suggests a quietness of mind, a peaceable enjoyment of ourselves. Cultivate peace of mind in order to be peaceable. When we are at peace with ourselves we have no negative feelings to project onto others. We're not insecure and don’t feel easily threatened. We are more likely to be patient, kind and merciful.
A balanced self worth is a platform for building solid, lasting relationships. In the second letter to Timothy we see how Jehovah rewards us. He will give us the courage we need: to see our strengths, to see our weaknesses, to do good, to love ourselves, to be criticized, to face our fears, to give God our best, and to go after a blessing. If we rely on God's spirit in all we do, Jehovah will give us the courage we need to succeed in any assignment.
THESE THINGS COMMIT TO FAITHFUL MEN David Splane
This past June we had the privilege of attending a large convention in Africa . 29,000 publishers were assigned to it, but by Friday noon there were 45,000 in attendance, and the numbers swelled to 87,000 on Sunday. The convention was very well organized. Who organized it? Local African brothers. Where were the missionaries? They were in the stands enjoying the program. Not many even had parts on the program. The program was nevertheless first rate. What is the point? The missionaries who had laid the foundation were conscious of the need to train local brothers. Paul told Timothy that there was great value in training the local people at 2 Timothy 2:2, which says, "These things commit to faithful men, who, in turn, will be adequately qualified to teach others." Why was that important? Timothy was in Ephesus , and Paul foretold that some elders would raise themselves up and speak twisted things to draw away many. They needed faithful men who would stick to the organization. The verse also says, "The things you heard from me with the support of many witnesses." The many witnesses Paul referred to were not eye witnesses. Paul didn't teach a new philosophy but it was the same thing other witnesses were teaching. Did you notice how four generations were involved? 1) "Heard from me," i.e. from Paul; 2) Timothy; 3) commits to faithful men; 4) and they will be adequately qualified to teach others. There is a real need for qualified men to take the lead today. Training of them begins at the Bible study level, so you sisters are involved. Teach them to prepare for their Bible studies—insist upon it. When they come to meetings, encourage them to prepare.
To be adequately qualified to teach, they must know how to study. When they are given a student talk, help them, but don't do the work for them. What happens to children when indulgent parents don't let them do any chores because they want them to have a happy childhood? They are traumatized as adults because there is so much in life they do not know how to do. Properly trained Bible students become happy and useful members of the congregation. Teach your Bible students that it is a privilege to help around the Kingdom Hall. Arrive early and sweep the hall, take out the trash or clean the restrooms. Invite them to help you when it is your turn. Then they will learn to keep their homes clean too.
Show your respect for organizational instruction. Use the presentations outlined in the Kingdom Ministry. Show them how to support the congregation financially. They may think you are rich compared to them, but explain that though you have limited funds, you want to support the work. Teach them to be punctual. If they can arrive five minutes late for every meeting, they can get there ten minutes early too. Say, "What time did you start getting ready? That didn't work, did it? Perhaps you could start earlier." If they are slow to respond, don't stop training. Paul had invested so much time in training Mark, but when Mark left did Paul just give up and say 'I'll just do it all myself?' No, he found someone else to train—Timothy. What can this training lead to?
Picture this scenario: A few months into your assignment you start a Bible study with a young man, who then becomes an unbaptized publisher, then gets baptized, then becomes a pioneer, then the branch assigns him to your congregation as a substitute circuit overseer and he gives you counsel. Wouldn't you be proud? Personally, Brother Splane remembers three local brothers who were appointed to branch committees in his own assignment. This can happen to you. These things you learned at Gilead commit to faithful men so that they may be adequately qualified, and may Jehovah bless you richly as you pursue this worthy objective. We love you.
I AM WITH YOU Sam Roberson
You trained for five months to be missionaries and soon it will no longer be theory but reality. You will have great joys, challenges, pressures in learning a new language and dealing with cultural differences. Through it all count on Jehovah's beautiful promise recorded at Isaiah 41:10, "Do not be afraid, for I am with you…I will fortify you. I will really help you." You will find that to be the case. When you are under pressure, think of Psalm 34:4, 6, 17, and 19—the whole chapter is a prayer. You have heard it said, "There is no rest for the wicked," but there is no rest for the righteous either. If there is a flood we can drown, if there is fire we can burn, if a hurricane comes we can fly. We are not immune to opposition or ill health.
Oppression makes a wise one act crazy (Eccl 7:7). Even Job gave way to wild talk (Job 6:11) and disturbed thinking. He even regretted not dying in the womb (Job 3:11). How about us? Look at these verses to help dispel the same wrong thinking. Psalm 34:4, "I inquired of Jehovah, and he answered me, and out of all my frights he delivered me.” Look at what we can do that the world cannot do. They cannot inquire of Jehovah. Someone called the psychic network once and when the lady answered the phone with "What can we do for you?" the man countered, "You tell me." They have nothing to offer. Your prayer has so much power it can move Jehovah's arm to act. He is called the "Hearer of prayer" at Psalm 65:2. Think of Psalm 34:17 if afflictions get so great, "They cried out, and Jehovah himself heard, and out of all their distresses he delivered them."
If a child calls to his father he will come and rescue him. Jehovah is more loving than any human father. After all, he is the God of all comfort. Jehovah won't walk away; in fact he walks toward us, for Psalm 34:18 says that he "is near to those that are broken at heart; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves." Chris tendom has a poem called Footprints in the Sand, where a man in his dream sees two sets of footprints, but when storms come up in his life there is only one set. God explained, "Those were my footsteps. That's where I carried you." So, Chris tendom has a nice poem, but we have the God. Which is better? When we face trials, problems and duress, there will be deliverance. We can count on our God because he will never ever forget his inspired promise, "I am with you."
LET THINKING ABILITY KEEP GUARD OVER YOU William Samuelson
The thinking process begins at birth, and some may think it doesn't stop until an instructor asks you a difficult question. As knowledge grows, thinking ability grows. Thinking ability is more than following a set of detailed rules. What happens when knowledge and wisdom are put together? Proverbs 2:10, 11 explain, "thinking ability itself will keep guard over you, discernment itself will safeguard you." The term, "thinking ability" is used three times in Proverbs, the first time in Proverbs 1:4 in explaining the purpose of the book. Some versions say, "foresight", indicating a plan for the future. Look at all options when making important decisions. Once dangers are identified, thinking ability kicks in to work out ways to avoid those dangers and helps us to plot a good course. It can help us avoid immoral temptations, to recognize that fellow Chris tians are imperfect just as we are. This will help us to avoid hasty reactions when provoked, and to avoid materialistic pressures that could throw us off course. Two practical examples of thinking ability are:
1) Coping with fellow missionaries. When you live and work so closely together, things can happen. When the wind drives waves toward the stern of a ship it produces a "following sea". The waves can carry the stern sideways, leaving it vulnerable to the next wave to broadside the ship which could result in capsizing. You could be susceptible to dangers that come in an unexpected direction. If someone offends us, it may cause us to feel distress like we were broad sided. Thinking ability keeps us from being thrown off course. It is something like stubbing a toe. Until the pain subsides, you might not think clearly for a minute or so. Don't react immediately or hastily to an unkind remark. Remember there is no man that does not sin, including us. Ask: Am I angry because of a personality clash? Is it really that important? Is my physical condition causing me to overreact? Am I tired? Perhaps a good night's sleep will help. Think before you react.
2) Materialism. If the wind blows to the side of the ship it is called a "beam sea," which can push a ship off course and capsize it during a storm. Similarly, a materialistic life style could push us off course spiritually and cause us to abandon our life course as missionaries. Remember 2 Timothy 4:10, "For De´mas loved the present system of things," causing him to forsake his assignment. Thinking ability can help you gauge what you are up against. You may think, "I am a missionary in a third world country so how could I be materialistic?" But do we have the latest in electronic devices? Maybe you find that you enjoy the latest gadgets. Ask, "Do I let my laptop take so much time I am isolating myself?" We could get more pleasure from these latest gadgets than even the ministry, letting them take an inordinate amount of time? Material interests can cause us to turn inward, and make us insensitive to the needs of others, perhaps isolating ourselves in our room away from other missionaries or even our marriage mates. Use what you've used the last five months - use thinking ability. Plot and plan your course, anticipate problems. Be resolved not to be swayed from your course. And by all means, let thinking ability keep guard over you!
YES, HOW CAN I HELP? Mark Noumair
Student Program Field Ministry Experiences
Mark told a story when their departing flight from Tanzania was cancelled because of mechanical problems. After waiting 48 hours in a hotel one hour away, he texted messaged a missionary, "Stranded at hotel. Need ride to airport. Can you help?" The missionary wrote back, "Yes, I can help, but who are you?" He was willing to go the extra mile for a stranger. That is the spirit you need to have.
Rachel Parrales told how she met a woman in service who said her father had just died. She said her mother was Catholic and would be upset if she knew Jehovah's Witnesses were there. When Rachel returned the next week with a sympathy card, the woman was moved. She accepted the When Someone You Love Dies brochure on the following visit. Now she welcomes regular visits.
Ruth Stackhouse showed how it can be intimidating in some territories. At one huge house with a beautiful garden and a huge American flag, she prayed and rang the bell. The doorbell chimed the national anthem. The patriotic householder refused the magazines, explained he was a Vietnam vet, and complained that we cannot take our freedoms for granted. She explained that in lands where there's no alternative to military training, our young men go to prison. He said, "You wouldn't defend your country?" She responded, "Didn't Jesus say that those who take the sword will die by the sword?" She pointed out, "As a Canadian, what if Canada went to war with the US , and I was instructed to kill Americans? I can guarantee you that it wouldn't be me who would fight you." He complained that she had a utopian way of viewing things. He said without government control it would be anarchy. She placed the Bible Teach book with him and featured the chapter on the best government, God's Kingdom. When she returned, she learned the man had recently lost his wife, and she was able to bring him the brochure When Someone You Love Dies He was a devout Catholic. Since she was doing research on the resurrection at that time, she shared that Bible information with him.
Corey Mashburn had shared a point with a teenager named Ben, but when he returned Ben was sitting on the front porch with a friend, named Chris . Would our brother be intimidated? No, Corey began, "Perhaps it would be of interest to you too, to know why there is so much suffering. People often blame God. People don't know that the real ruler of the world is Satan." He shared 1 John 5:19 and explained that God is the rightful ruler. He told them to think of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and asked, "What were they told?" "Not to eat from the tree." "However, they felt that they could rule themselves without God. After thousands of years are people better off without God?" Corey said to Chris , "If you would like your own copy to read, I'd like to leave one with you," and he accepted the Bible Teach book.
Estrella Bonella assumed she was witnessing to a homeless man since he was pushing a cart of empty bottles. Pointing to a picture in the book, she asked him if he thought life would be enjoyable under these conditions. Then she asked him, "Do we need to get to know God better to be there?" and read John 17:3. "So, taking in knowledge of God is essential. This taking in knowledge does not take too long. My husband and I can return and show you how you can get to know God." He said, "I can give you my address and work number" (so he wasn't homeless).
Giuliano and Alex Testa decided to try the local cuisine, and went to McDonald's. He was about to place his order but talked to the cashier, Juliana, who was from Ecuador . She explained that her mom had died last month and she couldn't be there for the funeral. "I see you are upset but have to work, so let me leave you this tract What Hope for Dead Loved Ones." As time went on, with the permission of the manager who is himself studying, four Bible studies were started at McDonald's. To avoid a negative reaction from anyone, they always would order something small when they arrived. They were happy for the "dollar menu".
Richard and Amy Takada were able to witness to a Chinese sales associate named Ling at Wal Mart. She was impressed that someone would be attempting to learn Chinese, and wanted to know why and accepted magazines. They asked if there were any good Chinese restaurants nearby. She asked if they could wait a half hour until she was off, then she and her husband would take them to a local Chinese restaurant. They had a good conversation, with the husband even "treating" them. Amy gave her their 'contact information,' as the woman seemed nervous to do so.
Laury Prudent, assigned to Tanzania , a country that is 35% Muslim, was trying to talk to a Muslim woman named Dora. She mentioned that one thing God wants us to know is his name, and read from page 12, paragraph 14 of the Bible Teach book, "If you want someone to get to know you, what might you do? Would you not tell the person your name?" "God's name is Jehovah. Let's confirm this in Psalm 83:18." The woman only knew the name Allah. "The paragraph mentioned that there is a difference between titles and names. God is a title, and Jehovah is God's personal name." Dora said, "I don't know this Jehovah." Laury promised to mail her the brochure written for the
Muslims, Road to Paradise , with scriptures from the Koran.
Marcos Rozas called on a woman who was visiting her sister, and both were very interested in our magazines. The woman said, "I've been a missionary 30 years and I have seen how these magazines direct people to spiritual matters." He continued the conversation, "That is interesting. We are receiving training to be missionaries…" She also wanted him to bring magazines back for her sister she was visiting, which they did and had good discussions with her.
Shinji and Michelle Takeyama rode in a SUV vehicle on a very long, bumpy road to make a return visit on John. He was very proud to show them his present from his daughter, a new King James Bible. He explained that he had started reading the Bible and had a schedule to do so. They asked him what book he liked reading, and he said the book of Ruth. Having just written a report on that book, they were more than happy to explain many fine points to him. They placed the Bible Teach book, and he was delighted to have them call regularly.
Laury Prudent met a woman from Congo who went and got her Live Forever book and showed it to her. That was one thing she brought with her from Africa because she liked it so much. Her husband is so opposed that the woman asked Laury if she could come on Wednesdays before her husband comes home.
Leah Willis called on a Catholic woman from Jordan who had lost her son in death. They didn't know what happened to him, and she couldn't understand why God took him. Leah offered to discuss just one of her many questions then, about how God feels about her suffering. She read Psalm 37:28, God "is a lover of justice" and cares deeply about righting the wrong. She offered the Bible Teach book and showed the chapter on the resurrection. Leah asked what her son's favorite food was that she made for him. She referred to the young girl that Jesus resurrected, Jairus' daughter. After he resurrected her, he told the family to give her something to eat. Leah then asked the woman if she would enjoy preparing that special dish again for her son when he is resurrected. She has continued to call on this woman who appreciates the information.
JEHOVAH IS YOUR SHADE AND PROTECTION Psalm 121:5
James Mantz interviews ones on Branch/Country Committees
Wayne Tomchuk......Canada Bethel? Russia ? Rep of Georgia Dennis McKerlie ...... Canada ? El Salvador ? Peru ? Honduras
John Hall...… Britain ? Russia ? Estonia ? Tajikistan
What valuable lessons have you learned from missionaries, Bro. Tomchuk?
"Romans 12:21 teaches us to conquer 'the evil with the good.' One missionary couple would endure daily verbal abuse from a group of men, and would pray to Jehovah for strength. They thought of going to the police, until they saw the police drinking on the street with the leaders. One day, seeing the leader alone, our brother approached him with a kind smile and held out his hand to shake his hand. When the leader didn't take it, he asked if there was a problem. He said he felt as a Chris tian nation, our missionaries were not needed. "Are you of the Orthodox faith?" our brother asked. He replied he was. Our brother said, "You are Orthodox—no problem. I am one of Jehovah's Witnesses—no problem We are friends?" He thought about it and
said, "Okay, we are friends." The next time when his friends wanted to cause trouble, the leader said, "No—they are my friends. They are good people." Then he asked, "Do you have the latest magazines?" One day all the missionary had was Chinese magazines. The leader said, "No problem. I know where some Chinese live. Give them to me and I will pass them on." Another missionary brother, on his way to a Bible study saw a group of men drinking and they mockingly said, "Aren't you scared?" He quickly said, "Why I should be afraid? I have you here to protect me?" They laughed and there was no problem after that. I learned time will triumph over adversity. Missionary service can be very adventurous. There will be good times and there will be rough times. When Jehovah helps us triumph over adversity, those times are unforgettable. Jehovah is protecting us, and we are never alone—Isaiah 41:10."
Brother McKerlie, what Bible principles have helped you to let the shade of Jehovah be your protection and help?
"I have seen how Jehovah allows us to face trials to mold us. Isaiah 64:8 says that Jehovah is the Potter and we are the clay. We were in a circuit where physical conditions were difficult, there were false brothers, we were isolated from the branch and we heard that family back home in Canada were going through problems. It made us feel sorry for ourselves, and we started to lose our joy. Trials brought to the fore traits that didn't allow us to
trust fully in Jehovah. But we learned we had a support group in our fellow missionaries. One sister had been a missionary many years and helped us along. She was positive and had an unselfish love for Jehovah and the organization. The example of faithful missionaries like these helped form our thinking. The branch looks after new missionaries very well. From Gilead I took with me a correct perspective of myself. It's not all about you.
Learn to face problems, and deal with imperfections, and be content in putting Jehovah first in your life."
Brother Hall, how has Luke 9:62 (plow, looks at the things behind) helped you to cope with the challenges of serving in a foreign assignment?
"Someone wrote that verse on a card at my baptism, so I think about it a lot. A speaker at the convention in Sydney , Australia this year gave a talk on that verse. He had a personal experience of plowing with a horse. The plow may hit a root and jump, but you just have to hang on and keep going. I have thought of this many times. It was difficult in the beginning to put in 130 hours in a language I could not speak. Through the emotional ups and downs, you need to have a positive attitude and keep looking forward. Serving where the need was great helped us to have appreciation for the organization, but there was so much we had to do on our own–travel arrangements, visas, carting luggage. So, we appreciate even the small things that the branch does for us. They meet you at the airport; provide a missionary home, financial help, etc. We feel very well cared for." Genesis 17:1, 'I am God almighty' refers to Jehovah's irresistible power and ability to support his servants. We don't need a survival kit to stick to an assignment. If we stick to Bible principles, Jehovah will be our shade of protection so we have nothing to fear.
YOU WILL BE WITNESSES OF ME—ACTS 1:8
Jesus said, "You will be witnesses of me." Why didn't he say "of Jehovah?" Were we no longer to be witnesses of Jehovah? The nation of Israel had been witnesses of Jehovah for 1,500 years; but his favor was being transferred to a spiritual Israel (Gal. 6:16). Jesus said at Matthew 21:43, "The kingdom of God will be taken from you and be given to a nation producing its fruits." Chris t was the "foundation cornerstone" of this new arrangement (1 Peter 2:6, 7). Verse 9 is an application of Acts 1:8 that they were to "declare abroad." Brother Pierce was talking to a gentleman in service and, handing him his Bible, said, "Would you explain from my Bible why you belong to your religion?" The man took the Bible, never opened it, but said, "I have always belonged to this religion. My parents were in this religion."
But Brother Pierce insisted on him showing why from the Bible. Then the man did something predictable and said, "You explain from this why you are one of Jehovah's Witnesses." So, Brother Pierce said that if we are Chris tians, we should be the same religion Chris t was. He shared 1 Peter 2:21, how Chris t is a model for us. "If we are Chris tian, we are footstep followers of Chris t. What religion was he? At Revelation 1:5 Jesus is called "the Faithful Witness," and at Revelation 3:14 "the faithful and true witness." Whose witness was he?" At that they heard another voice from inside the house say, "He was one of Jehovah's Witnesses!" Faithful Jews had always been witnesses of Jehovah and now they had the opportunity to bear witness to Jesus too. This would not replace bearing witness to Jehovah, but would glorify Him. Romans 16:25-27 tells us the 'sacred secret' about the Chris t was to bring glory to the Father. So our being witness of Jesus, as Acts 1:8 mentions, was to intensify our being witnesses of Jehovah.
Bible prophecy points to another milestone, Revelation 10:5-7, where it states the angel 'swore there will be no delay any longer…the sacred secret… is indeed brought to a finish!' What a privilege we have to tell of the establishment of this Kingdom and that it is now ruling! Revelation 11:15 announces, "And the seventh angel blew his trumpet. And loud voices occurred in heaven, saying: "The kingdom of the world did become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Chris t, and he will rule as king forever and ever." The commission at Matthew 24:14 and Acts 1:8 are given greater meaning today. By saying this witness would be done in the most distant part of the earth suggested an antipode, the diametric opposite part of the earth. This is literal today. For example, the diametric opposite of Brooklyn is in the Indian Ocean, which Perth , Australia is the closest city near it. Today Jehovah's Witnesses have covered the globe—the very ends of the earth are covered.
As you go to your assignments, missionaries will already be there. Jehovah's Witnesses are known for being teachers; not of our own thinking, but of God's Word. We don't go to witness about our country, ourselves or anything else but Jehovah and His Kingdom. Jehovah isn't impressed with our ability or our intellect. Have the right view of people. Never look down on people who have no formal education. They might have a lack of schooling, but don't confuse that with lack of intelligence. You may face some obstacles due to some who think of Jehovah's Witnesses as being an 'American' religion. There was a book of fiction published in 1958 called The Ugly American which implied diplomats had an arrogant attitude, and this has influenced others' view of missionaries. America has no superiority in this regard, though they may feel they do because they 'won' World Wars I and II, but it was not due to any greatness on their part. They couldn't lose—Jehovah had prophesied it regarding the King of the South. How did headquarters end up in the United States ? Because Jehovah put it there.
We see the outcome of the war; Britain and America became the two-horned beast. Where else could the Watchtower be published for over 100 years without interruption? It is Jehovah's doing. The first congregation was formed in Pentecost 33 C.E. with 15 languages involved, and English was not one of them. Jehovah did not need MEPS! The First Century headquarters was in Jerusalem and the first Governing Body consisted of all former Jews. The Pharisees were high-minded and felt they were better than anyone else. However, Jehovah is not partial. (Romans 2:10, 11) The Gentiles came in and submitted to decisions made at Jerusalem . Jehovah deserves the glory.
We're living in the best of times, during the presence of our Lord, Jesus Chris t. We belong to a wonderful spiritual paradise with no differences with any racial group – what a truly international brotherhood. All are God's people. In the new world, it's not going to be just a nice house, gardens, and a measure of health because some already have that. We’re talking about a spiritual paradise. You can share this wonderful news and be witnesses of Jehovah. May Jehovah be with all of you in your assignments and you can be sure we will be behind you and wish you success.