“Let’s us move to were the need is greater”
I remember a “kingdom Ministry” heading saying “Only X number of months left.” Left to what? If you added the months to the date it worked out to October 1975. I wish I could find that KM. The society says they never pushed that date but that is simply not the case.
In the summer of 1967 my mother, sister and I took a trip to Salina Kansas. My mother’s old stomping grounds before the war. It’s funny my mother first break away from the farm was moving to Salina and it would turn out to me mine too. We were there for a month. I didn’t know it at the time but my mother’s plan was to have me move there and serve where the “need is greater.” She felt it was time for me to leave the nest.
This was a term that was used a lot back in the nineteen sixties and seventies. It meant that people who were bored, tired or just super zealous would connect the society, to find out where there was a need for more “brothers” and their families. These were places where the ratio of witnesses to normal people were well below the national average. These places were usually in the Midwest or Deep South. The society would send you a list of congregations. If you answered the call, you would quit your job sell your house and move to the other end of the country to help out a “weak” congregation.
This was used a status symbol too many times. “Brothers and sisters” would be quick to point out that they sold off everything and moved to an area that “needed help.” As if say look at me, we are so “spiritual” that we are willing to give up our comfortable lives and move to Timbuctoo to serve the Lord. A person couldn’t help but notice that many times these families were not necessary stronger and didn’t become pillars in their new congregations. Instead like most people they brought their problems with them. I love the line in the movie Doctor Zhivago. “Happy men don’t usually volunteer.”
Some made a life in their new locals, while others headed back home after a few years. Many never did fit in and felt out of place. Plus many of the locals didn’t like these strange new comers with their uppity attitudes and their “we are here to help you hicks out” attitude. Many of the locals didn’t like the idea that they “needed to be helped out” in the first place. In Kansas most of the pioneers there were from the Pacific Northwest or California.
Some of these “brothers’ had a little money saved up after they sold everything off. Others like myself, had to find employment immediately. They soon found out there was a reason many of these remote and rural areas didn’t have a lot of Jehovah’s Witnesses in them. There was little or no work. The attitude was. “No worries Armageddon was coming soon and we’ll make do, besides Jehovah will provide for us since we are putting him first in our lives.” So we were willing to sacrifice our time and comforts for happier times in “the new system.”
Around nineteen ninety five when I was still a Jehovah’s Witnesses, something strange happened. I was a real estate agent in Portland Oregon. I met a real estate investor from California. He had made a fortune in the real estate market in the San Francisco bay area in the nineteen sixties and seventies. One day we were both in my car looking for his next investment property. I was very intrigued about his career in real estate. So I had to ask. “So Steve, what was your most interesting deal in real estate ever?” He got a slight smile on his face. “Do you mean strange or where I made the most money?” “I don’t know… Ok how about strangest I guess.” I said. “Well, in 1973 I bought this guy’s house in San Jose. What was strange was he wanted to sell his house to me but he didn’t want to move. He and his wife wanted to rent back his own house from me.” “Really…. why would he do that.” I asked. “Well” he said. “It turned out he was in some strange religion that believed the world was going to end in 1975! Can you believe that shit?” “A….yes…. I guess I can. Was he a Jehovah’s Witness?” I asked. “I think he was…..why?” I just had to say it. “Because I’m a Jehovah’s Witness too?” He got silent. “So how did it turn out with you and this guy?” I asked. “Not good.” He said. “When the end of the world didn’t come in 1975, real estate in the bay area started to go through the roof. I had to keep raising the rent on him. Finally he had to move out five years later because he couldn’t afford to live in his own house anymore. I sold the house four years after that and made over 500K on the deal. He was a real jerk.” He couldn’t help but rub it in about how stupid this guy was. I wondered to myself how many other witnesses did something like that. True story.
This was just one guy out of thousands who like myself bought into the 1975 program. It’s true to people outside the Jehovah’s Witnesses we must have looked like total nut jobs.
After the bubble burst in 1975 and god failed to make his presence known, the mass moving around the country pretty much ended. Somehow moving to Ruston Louisiana, Salina Kansas or Narragansett Rhode Island didn’t seem like such a great idea anymore, since no buddy really knew when Armageddon was going to happen now.