Sunday, May 31, 2009

additional references for today's text

I forgot to add this part, but its interesting that both Sir Isaac Newton and John Milton (who wrote "Paradise Lost") both were avid Bible students, and they both came to the same conclusion about paradise being restored on earth from a thorough investigation of the scriptures, but neither of them could publish their views until after their death, because the Church held such strong opposing views on the subject that it would have been considered heresy.

Here's a couple short articles on the site that mention it...


daily text 05/31

Sunday, May 31st, 2009
"I have other sheep, which are not of this fold." (John 10:16)

Members of the great crowd are among those referred to by Jesus as his "other sheep." Their hope is to live forever on a paradise earth. They are confident that Jesus "will guide them to fountains of waters of life" and that "God will wipe out every tear from their eyes." With that in mind, they have "washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." (Revelation 7: 14, 17) They exercise faith in Jesus' sacrifice, and thus in God's eyes they have "white robes." They are declared righteous as friends of God, like Abraham. Moreover, since the growing great crowd of other sheep are viewed by God as righteous, they can hope to survive the destruction of this system of things at the great tribulation. (James 2:23-26) They can draw close to Jehovah, and as a group, they have the wonderful prospect of surviving Armageddon. -James 4:8; Revelation 7:15
(Watchtower issue: 01/15/08, 5:3, 4)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Meeting Together Despite Opposition

(pgs 233-235 -2008 Yearbook)
"In several cities, it was not easy to get approval to use the stadiums for conventions. For example, in Novosibirsk, clergy-supported opposers organized a picket line right in front of the entrance to the stadium where the convention was being held. One sign made by such opposers read: "Beware of Jehovah's Witnesses." The picketers, however, did not notice that the last two letters of the first word of the sign were smeared, so that the sign actually read: "Take Care of Jehovah's Witnesses." (lol)
A Convention "Under The Stars"
"From August 22 to 24, 2003, one of several sign-language district conventions was to be held in the city of Stavropol' in Caucasia. (Its kinda hard to see on the map, but if you look at the bottom left corner near the Caucasus Mtn range, the city of Stavropol' is near there) Delegates arrived from 70 cities in Russia. However, the convention was in danger of being canceled because of fierce opposition from the city administration. The day before the convention, the director of the hall canceled the rental agreement. But on Friday, August 22, the brothers made an agreement with the administration of a circus to use their arena for the convention. The program began at 3:00 p.m., but soon after the intermission, the electricity to the building was unexpectedly cut off. The delegates patiently sat in their seats, and the program continued an hour later when the electricity was restored, finishing up at 9:30 p.m.
The second day of the convention began with a power outage at 9:30 a.m. Soon the water was cut off. How could the brothers keep the convention going without any water or lights? At 10:50 a.m., the Convention Committee decided to open all the doors of the arena, since it was a bright sunny day outside. Using ingenuity, the brothers took large mirrors out to the street to reflect the sunlight into the hall and onto the speaker. Although the audience could now see the speaker, it soon became evident that the bright light made it hard for the speaker to see his notes! So using other mirrors, the brothers directed sunlight onto a large ball of mirrors hanging from the circus dome. The circus arena was filled with many flickering lights, and now the speaker and all in attendance could concentrate on the program. It turned into a unique convention "under the stars." That is how the delegates described the many points of light flickering across the dark circus arena.
Soon the mayor and several officials drove up to the arena. They were amazed that the Witnesses were continuing to hold their convention. Most of all, they were impressed with the conduct of the convention delegates. None of them protested or complained, and all their attention was directed toward the stage. The chief of police, who had earlier been aggressive toward the Witnesses, was so touched by what he saw that he said, "In my heart and soul, I am with you people, but we live in a world that does not like you."
The officials left, and the power was soon restored to the arena. Despite the fact that the first two days of the convention ended late, the delegates remained in their seats until the final prayer. Regardless of opposition, the number of delegates increased daily, from 494 on Friday, to 535 on Saturday and 611 on Sunday! In the concluding prayer, special gratitude for allowing them to hold this amazing convention was expressed to Jehovah. The delegates dispersed joyfully, more firmly resolved to serve their heavenly Father, praising his name."
I don't know about you all, but I feel a whole lot of affection for our brothers & sisters in Russia when I hear about their strong faith and perserverance in the face of daunting obstacles like this, even though I've never met them. =)

Its Convention Time!

Yay! I'm getting stoked for the upcoming District Convention next weekend. Especially since the circuit overseer is visiting our congregation this week, and Br. Tomiasu (who's gonna be chairman of this years convention in Tucson again) got me all excited about the material thats gonna be presented. I think he said that the Sunday morning session is gonna be about specific prophetic accounts and their modern-day fulfillment. And everyone knows how Bible prophecy is one of my favorite topics! =)

So my posts the next few days are gonna be more focused on convention-related experiences featured in the 2008 Yearbook, and the growth and expansion which has occured in Russia in recent years. Some are really funny too. =) I'm gonna post one a little later today about an interesting run-in with the local authorities that happened during a 2003 sign language convention. It utterly amazes me that the government & public officials there will stoop so low to harass and pick on our deaf brothers & sisters. Have they no shame? No moral conscience at all ? that they even violate the human rights of disabled members of society?
But Jehovah always ends up turning things around in their favor despite the hardships, persecution, or unexpected circumstances that arise against his people. I love it!

By-the-way, in case anyone didn't know that the JW-media section of the website has the full list of convention city locations & dates, here ya go...
(it gives a partial list of cites but if you click on one, it will bring you to the page with the full list)

daily text 05/30

Saturday, May 30th, 2009
"The law of his God is in his heart, his steps will not wobble." (Psalms 37:41)

"A Christian's spiritual development should be ongoing, as should his progress in hearing and responding to his conscience. Let us imagine Mark, recently baptized. His conscience tells him to shun unscriptural practices that he formerly engaged in. In fact, he now scrupulously avoids things even vaguely similar to what God forbids. On the other hand, he is puzzled about why some reject certain things that he finds acceptable, such as certain television programs. Over time, Mark grows in knowledge and draws closer to God. (Colossians 1:9, 10) With what effect? The voice within him receives considerable training. In fact, he realizes that some of the things "vaguely similar" that he shunned are actually not contrary to God's thinking. Furthermore, Mark is now moved by his conscience to avoid programs that he earlier felt were acceptable. Yes, his conscience has been refined.
(Watchtower issue: 10/15/07, 2:16, 17)

*I remember back when we studied this Watchtower lesson at the meeting, because a sister made a comment that stood out to me in regards to how our spirituality is continually refined. That progress and refinement of our conscience happens little by little over time, as our knowledge and understanding of the Bible grows. She said that when she first got baptized she hadn't found that 'balance' or 'equilibrium' yet when it came to her spirituality in smaller matters, so she tended to go a little 'overboard' when it came to avoiding things that really weren't wrong. But as the years went by and she acquired a deeper understanding of the scriptures, she became more and more balanced in her outlook of right and wrong when it came to those 'grey areas' or 'matters of conscience', and no longer felt judgemental or stumbled by the personal preferences and choices of other people in the congregation.
-I know for me personally -I can look back and see the gradual refinement going on... I can see a difference in my preferences from just a few years ago in comparison with now, because certain "questionable" entertainment that I used to love, I no longer feel drawn to anymore (especially tv shows and music that have dark or spiritistic overtones)

*by the way, Romans 14 is a great chapter if you wanna do any additional reading & study in regards to the discussion of today's Bible text.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Copyright Laws

Since I'm new to all this blogging stuff - I'm kind of unsure whats allowed and what isn't when it comes to copyright laws & blogs. I hope I'm not doing anything wrong by posting excerpts from the yearbook. I just figured that since this is my own personal blog and all of our literature is free and available to the public anyway, that its ok... but maybe I'm wrong about that, I don't know? Somebody email me if I need to modify anything on my blog because I'll feel really bad if I'm inadvertently violating any copyright laws. In the meantime, I guess I'll just carry on unless I find out otherwise.

Yearbook Experience - Vladimir Nikolaevsky

experience of Vladimir Nikolaevsky
pgs 140 & 141 of the 2008 Yearbook
"I graduated from the Moscow Institute of Engineering Communication in 1932. Until 1941, I worked as an engineer and a chief architect in a Moscow institute. I personally designed special devices for warships. I was taken into custody during the war and was eventually sent to a camp in central Kazakhstan, in the village of Kengir.
A group of Jehovah's Witnesses there caught my attention. They were different from the other prisoners. There were about 80 of them among some 14,000 prisoners in three camp wards. The contrast between the Witnesses and the rest was especially evident during the Kengir uprising of 1954. Jehovah's Witnesses did not participate in the rebellion and even refused to prepare for it. They showed amazing calmness and tried to explain their stand to the other prisoners. I was so taken with their behavior that I asked them about their beliefs. Some time later, I dedicated my life to Jehovah. In the camp, the faith of the Witnesses was tested, especially when the uprising was crushed by armed forces with tanks.
One time I was told that two generals had arrived from Moscow especially for the purpose of meeting with me. One of them said to me: "Vladimir, enough of this. You are a military engineer and architect. Your country needs you. We want you to return to the work you were doing. How could you possibly enjoy being around uneducated people?"
"There is nothing for me to brag about," I answered. "All of man's talents are from God. Those who are obedient to him will enjoy the Thousand Year Reign of Christ's Kingdom, where mankind will become perfect and educated in the real sense of the word."
I was very happy that I had a chance to talk with those generals about the truth. Several times they implored me to take up my former work. However, I asked them not to trouble me anymore but to leave me in the camp with my spiritual brothers, whom I loved very much.
In 1955 my sentence was annulled. I began to work in an architectural agency not connected with the military. Through my efforts to sow seeds of truth abundantly, I began a Bible study with the family of one engineer. Soon he and all his family became Jehovah's Witnesses and zealous preachers. But the KGB was watching, and during a search they found Bible literature in my apartment. The court sentenced me to 25 years of imprisonment, and I was sent to a Siberian labor camp in the city of Krasnoyarsk. I was transferred many times, to various camps and prisons. Once, I calculated that I had made 256 of such transfers over the course of my life."

daily text 05/29

Friday, May 29th, 2009
"I set the pattern for you, that, just as I did to you, you should do also."
(John 13:15)

Jesus set the example for parents in that he practiced what he preached. In order to motivate their children to love Jehovah, the parents’ words and actions must work together. (1 John 3:18) Why is parental example so important? Just as adults can learn to love God by looking at Jesus’ example, children can learn to love Jehovah by following their parents’ good example. A child’s associates can either strengthen the child or “spoil useful habits.” (1 Corinthians 15:33) For much of a child’s life, and certainly during the important formative years, the closest, most influential associates a child has are his parents. Therefore, parents do well to ask themselves: ‘What sort of associate am I? Does my example encourage my child to develop useful habits? What example am I setting in the vital areas of prayer and Bible study?’
(Watchtower issue: 09/01/07, 2:3, 4)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pyotr Krivokulsky - part 2

Pyotr and his wife Regina in 1997

2008 Yearbook experience continued -pgs 89 -91
"Regina Krivokulskaya states: "It seemed to me that the entire country was surrounded by barbed wire, and we were prisoners, even though we were not in prison. Our husbands, who were zealously serving God, were spending most of their lives in prisons and camps. We women had to endure much: Every one of us was experiencing sleepless nights, surveillance and psychological pressure from the Soviet State Security Committee (KGB), loss of employment, and other trials. The authorities tried various means to make us deviate from the way of the truth. (Isaiah 30:21) We had no doubt that Satan was using the situation to try to stop the Kingdom-preaching work. But Jehovah did not abandon his people-his help was clearly evident.
Bible literature, smuggled into the country with great difficulty, gave us 'power beyond what is normal' and wisdom to deal with the situation. (2 Corinthians 4:7) Jehovah led his people, and even while under powerful opposition from the State, new ones continued to join themselves to his organization. It was amazing that from the beginning, they were ready to endure hardships right along with Jehovah's people. Only Jehovah's spirit could have accomplished this."

Letters Thrown Over The Fence...

"In 1944, Pyotr, Regina's future husband, was imprisoned in a camp in Gorki Oblast for maintaining his Christian neutrality. This in no way checked his zeal for preaching. Pyotr wrote letters, each one containing a brief explanation of a Bible teaching. He then put each letter into an envelope, secured it with string to a stone, and threw it over the high barbed-wire fence. Pyotr hoped that someone would read the letters, and one day someone did -a girl named Lidia Bulatova. Pyotr saw her and quietly called her over. He asked her if she would like to learn more about the Bible. Lidia liked the idea, and they arranged to meet again. After that, she regularly came to pick up more of those precious letters.
Lidia became a zealous sister and preacher of the good news and soon began to conduct Bible studies with Maria Smirnova and Olga Sevryugina. They too began to serve Jehovah. To support these sisters spiritually, the brothers began to supply this small group with spiritual food right from the camp. For this, Pyotr constructed a small suitcase with a double bottom, which he could stuff with magazines. He arranged for the suitcase to be taken in and out of the camp by non-Witnesses who were not prisoners. They took it to the address of one of the sisters. Soon the sisters organized the preaching work in their area."

(the photo above is of Olga Sevryugina with Pyotr's "rock letters" on pg 95)

daily text 05/28

Thursday, May 28th, 2009
"[Christ] learned obedience from the things he suffered." (Hebrews 5:8)

Christ Jesus is well-suited for his role as King of God's heavenly Kingdom. He had spent untold ages of time alongside Jehovah doing his Father's will, being His "master worker." (Proverbs 8:22-31) When Jehovah arranged for him to come to earth, Jesus willingly complied. There he focused on telling others about Jehovah's sovereignty and Kingdom. Jesus set an excellent example for all of us by being totally submissive to that sovereignty. (Matthew 4:17; 6:9) Jesus suffered persecution, and finally he was put to death. During his ministry, he was able to note the pitiful condition of humankind. Jesus' experience while on the earth made him more understanding and compassionate. He experienced firsthand the human family's condition. He could sympathize with those who suffer and could better appreciate his role in coming to their rescue.-Matthew 9:36; 11:28-30; Hebrews 2:17, 18; 4:14-16.
(Watchtower issue: 08/15/07, 2:9, 10)

*even though Jesus and Jehovah have a different concept of 'time' than we do as humans, -still, just imagine how long they've been waiting when it comes to their plans for the Kingdom arrangement. -Anytime you start to feel impatient about things not working out or getting done fast enough in your own life, it helps to stop & think about that. Because not only have they been patiently waiting during the centuries that followed Jesus' earthly life ... but they were already waiting all the years prior to his birth too! Just imagine how disappointing it would have been to observe so many humans at the start, showing such a lack of obedience & willingness to comply with Jehovah's laws and just doing whatever they felt like doing without caring how it affected or hurt other people around them.
I remember reading a pretty sobering point awhile back on this topic, how if you look at the beginning chapters of human history in Genesis, there are only 3 humans mentioned as being "righteous" & obedient to God during a 1500 year time-span! (Abel, Enoch, & Noah)
only 3 righteous people in 1500 years! that makes me sad =(
... but I'm happy there are so many more now. =)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Pyotr Krivokulsky - part 1

experience of Pyotr Krivokulsky on pgs
96 & 97 of the 2008 Yearbook

"In 1940, Polish Witnesses began to preach where I lived in Ukraine. I was visited by Korney, an anointed brother. We talked all night, and I became convinced that what he told me was the truth about God.
In 1942 the German army advanced, and the Soviet forces withdrew from the area where I lived. It was a time of anarchy. Ukrainian nationalists insisted that I join their fight against both the Germans and the Soviets. When I refused, they beat me until I lost consciousness, and then they threw me into the street. That same night, they came for me and took me to place of mass execution. There they again asked me whether I would serve the Ukrainian people. I told them firmly and loudly, "I will serve only Jehovah God!" Then they sentenced me to death. When one of the soldiers gave the order to shoot me, another grabbed the gun and shouted: "Don't shoot! He can still be useful." Enraged, another man started to beat me. He promised that he would personally shoot me in a week, but in a few days, he himself was killed.

In March 1944, the Soviet army returned to our area, and the soldiers took all the men away, including me. This time it was the Soviet army that needed fighters. At their assembly place, I met Korney, the brother who had introduced the truth to me. There were 70 other Witnesses there. We stood apart from the rest and encouraged one another. An officer came up to us and asked why we were standing apart from everyone else. Korney explained that we were Christians and could not take up weapons. Immediately, they took him away and told us that he would be shot. We never saw him again. They began to threaten us, saying that like him, we would all be shot, and one by one we were asked if we would join their army. When I refused, three soldiers and an officer took me to the forest. The commander read the sentence from the military tribunal: "For refusing to wear a uniform and take up weapons, execution by firing squad." I earnestly prayed to Jehovah and then wondered whether he would accept my service to him, since I had not had the opportunity to get baptized. Suddenly, I heard the command, "Fire at the enemy!" But the soldiers fired into the air. Then the officer began to beat me. I was sentenced to ten years in prison and ended up in one of the labor camps in Gorki Oblast, the heartland of Russia.

I was freed in 1956 and later married Regina, a faithful Witness. We had been together for six months when I was unexpectedly arrested and sentenced to ten years of imprisonment.
After I was finally released, one official said to me, "There is no place for you on Soviet land." He was wrong. How wonderful it is to know that the land belongs to Jehovah and that he is the one who determines who will live forever upon it! -(Psalms 37:18)"

part 2 tomorrow =)

daily text 05/27

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009
"From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of the heavens is the goal toward which men press, and those pressing forward are seizing it." (Matthew 11:12)

Jesus spent three and a half years preaching the good news of the Kingdom to the Jewish nation. After the arrest of John the Baptist, Jesus showed that others could hope to share in that Kingdom when he said the words of today’s text. Interestingly, immediately before speaking of those who would ‘seize’ the Kingdom of the heavens, Jesus said: “Truly I say to you people, Among those born of women there has not been raised up a greater than John the Baptist; but a person that is a lesser one in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than he is.” (Matt. 11:11) Why was that? Because the hope of being part of the Kingdom arrangement was not fully opened up to faithful ones until holy spirit was poured out at Pentecost 33 C.E. By that time, John the Baptist had died.—Acts 2:1-4.
(Watchtower issue: 01/15/08, 4:4, 5)

*in regards to John having the hope of an 'earthly' resurrection, the latest WA study edition online brought out a totally obvious point that didn't even hit me until just now ... How the Israelites (prior to Jesus' ministry) always believed their resurrection to be an earthly one. Which is why the apostles didn't understand what Jesus was talking about when he first explained they would be with him in Heaven, because it was like a foreign concept to them... since they were so used to thinking of the resurrection hope being on earth vs heaven up till that time.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Leopold Engleitner - part 2

This was the political & religious climate in Austria during that time: (taken from the 1989 Yearbook)

"The differences between the various political parties escalated dramatically. The Social Democratic Schutzbund (armed forces of the Socialist Party) went into resistance. The opposition by the working class was brutally smashed in February 1934. The Social Democratic Party was prohibited. Further restrictions of personal freedom followed.
As if affirming that a new era had begun, Austria got a new constitution in May 1934. The introductory words of it sounded like a religious creed: “In the name of God, the Almighty, from whom all the law goes forth, the Austrian people herewith receives this constitution for their permanent Christian German Federal State.” But in neighboring Germany, Hitler, another Catholic but one who espoused a different political ideology, was already firmly in power. And in July a supporter of Hitler’s National Socialist Party assassinated Dr. Dollfuss, Austria’s chancellor.
The months that followed, under the government headed by Chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg, brought no relief for those who truly sought to serve “God, the Almighty.” Bible literature was still seized from them, and they continued to be haled before the courts. In many cases public Bible meetings were also forbidden."

So now back to Leopold's story after entering the ministry work...

"My parents were horrified when I quit the church, and the priest was quick to spread the news from the pulpit. Neighbors would spit on the ground in front of me to show their contempt. Nevertheless, I was determined to join the ranks of full-time ministers, and I started pioneering in January 1934.
The political situation became increasingly tense because of the strong influence the Nazi party was gaining in our province. During my pioneer days in the Styrian Valley of Enns, the police were hot on my heels, and I had to be ‘cautious as a serpent.’ (Matthew 10:16) From 1934 to 1938, persecution was an inseparable part of my daily life. Though I was unemployed, I was denied unemployment compensation, and I was sentenced to several short and four longer prison terms because of my preaching activity."
(In January 1934 he moved to the territory assigned to him in Upper Styria, where hardly any witnessing had been done up to that time.)
"National socialism was already exercising a powerful influence there. As a result, in some places martial law had been declared. This was true at Schladming, which had been occupied by a civic militia as a result of Nazi disturbances. In view of the seriousness of the situation, Brother Engleitner kept only a small amount of literature in the pockets of his jacket so as not to attract attention. Working the very outskirts of a town first, he offered literature only to those whom he felt that he could trust.
One day he was arrested and because of the prevailing political situation was asked at the constabulary office whether he carried any weapons on him. Our brother replied that he did, reached into his pocket and pulled out a Bible and put it on the table in front of them. (Eph. 6:17) When the officers had recovered from their laughter, they dismissed him.
Whenever he started his preaching work in one of the larger villages, the clergy saw to it that all the inhabitants were informed, including the constabulary. There was one arrest after another for Brother Engleitner. Jail sentences soon followed. At first it was for only 48 hours at a time, but the sentences became longer and longer. Finally, he had to transfer his activities to another place.

In March 1938, Hitler’s troops marched into Austria. Within a few days, over 90,000 people—about 2 percent of the adult population—were arrested and sent to prisons and concentration camps, accused of opposing the Nazi regime. Jehovah’s Witnesses were somewhat prepared for what was in store. In the summer of 1937, several members of my home congregation made the 220-mile [350 km] trip to Prague by bicycle to attend an international convention. There they heard of the atrocities perpetrated against our fellow believers in Germany. Clearly, now it was our turn."

I'll stop there, so I don't spoil the story for anyone reading the book...
(except I wanna give the brief version of his 'happy ending')

"...Jehovah’s spirit had strengthened me to endure an unbelievable ordeal. I had experienced the truth of the words recorded at Psalm 55:22, which had comforted me so much at the outset of my trials. I had ‘thrown my burden upon Jehovah,’ and though I was physically weak, he had sustained me as I walked through “the valley of deep shadow.”—Psalm 23:4.
At the end of the war, Christian brothers in Bad Ischl and the surrounding district started holding meetings regularly. They began preaching with renewed vigor. I was offered employment as a night watchman in a factory and was thus able to continue pioneering. Eventually, I settled down in the St. Wolfgang area, and in 1949, I married Theresia Kurz, who had a daughter by a former marriage. We were together for 32 years until my dear wife died in 1981. I had cared for her for over seven years.
After Theresia’s death, I resumed the pioneer service, which helped me get over the great sense of loss. I am presently serving as a pioneer and an elder in my congregation in Bad Ischl. Since I am confined to a wheelchair, I offer Bible literature and talk to people about the Kingdom hope in the Bad Ischl park or in front of my own home. The fine Bible discussions I have are a source of great joy to me." (WA 05/01/05)

daily text 05/26

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009
"You must not desire . . . anything that belongs to your fellowman." (Exodus 20:17)

The Bible is replete with examples of individuals who have fallen into grievous sin on account of covetousness of one kind or another. Satan was the first to covet something that belonged to someone else - the glory, honor, and authority that are Jehovah's alone. (Revelation 4:11) Eve coveted the right of self-determination, and her being deceived in this regard started the human race down the road to sin and death. (Genesis 3:4-7) The demons were angels who became discontented with "their original position but forsook their own proper dwelling place" for something to which they were not entitled to. (Jude 6; Genesis 6:2) Think, too, of Balaam, Achan, Gehazi, and Judas. Instead of being content with their lot in life, they allowed an inordinate desire for material possessions to cause them to misuse their trust, plunging them into ruin and destruction.
(Watchtower issue: 08/01/07, 1:9)

*the more I learn about the circumstances of individuals in the Bible, the more I realize that no one is ever 'above' failing. Even some of the most faithful & loyal ones who started out good -didn't always remain that way or made serious mistakes along the way. It just goes to show that none of us should ever think we are above scriptural reminders and correction, since that's what it takes to stay on track for the long haul ...
if we wanna "endure to the end" (Matthew 24:13)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Leopold Engleitner part 1

Since I didn't get to go see Leopold Engleitner speak at the Holocaust Museum last night =(
-I'm posting a recent clip with a little bit more info in regards to what he went through.
Like it said he was starved down to 54 pounds! and kicked so hard by a Nazi in the groin that he could never have children after that.
The clip also mentioned something else I didn't know...How during the Spanish Influenza, he actually caught the flu virus and lived through that too! Pretty amazing man.



here's an excerpt from his lifestory
"Though Weak I Am Powerful"
which appeared in the 05/01/05 Watchtower:
(he was quite a trooper even prior to his concentration camp time!)

"I was born on July 23, 1905, in the town of Aigen-Voglhub, nestled in the Austrian Alps. I was the eldest son of a sawmill worker and a local farmer’s daughter. My parents were poor but hardworking people. My early years were spent in Bad Ischl, near Salzburg, amid scenic lakes and breathtaking summits.
As a child, I would often muse about life’s injustices, not only because my family was poor but also because I suffered from congenital curvature of the spine. The backache caused by this disorder made it almost impossible for me to stand erect. At school, I was barred from gymnastics and thus became a target of ridicule among my classmates.
At the end of World War I, just shy of the age of 14, I decided that it was time to look for a job in order to escape poverty. Gnawing hunger was my constant companion, and I was weakened by bouts of high fever caused by the Spanish flu, which had sent millions to the grave. “What use could we possibly have for a weakling like you?” is how most farmers reacted to my request for work. However, one kind farmer did hire me.

Even though Mother was a devout Catholic, I rarely went to church, mainly because my father had liberal views on the matter. As for me, I was disturbed by the worship of images, so widely practiced in the Roman Catholic Church.
One day in October 1931, a friend asked me to accompany him to a religious meeting sponsored by the Bible Students, as Jehovah’s Witnesses were then known. There, I was given Bible answers to important questions, such as: Is image worship pleasing to God? (Exodus 20:4, 5) Is there a fiery hell? (Ecclesiastes 9:5) Will the dead be resurrected? (John 5:28, 29)
What most impressed me was the fact that God does not condone man’s bloodthirsty wars, even if they are said to be fought in His name. I learned that “God is love” and that he has an exalted name, Jehovah. (1 John 4:8; Psalm 83:18) I was thrilled to find out that by means of Jehovah’s Kingdom, humans will be able to live forever in happiness in an earth-wide paradise. I also learned of the marvelous prospect open to some imperfect humans who have been called by God to share with Jesus in God’s heavenly Kingdom. I was prepared to give my all for that Kingdom. So in May 1932, I was baptized and became one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. That step required courage, considering the religious intolerance prevailing in the strictly Catholic Austria of the time."

*I'll finish up the 2nd half tomorrow -about his ministry experiences leading up to when Hitler's troops invaded Austria

daily text 05/25

Monday, May 25th, 2009
"I shall make the sheiks of Judah like a firepot among trees." (Zechariah 12:6)

*Since today's text is one of those prophetic scriptures that really requires extra research in order to fully grasp, I'm just gonna post 'the main' part, so that I can finish up the summary with some additional info that I researched which gave me a deeper understanding of this particular verse.

"The sheiks of Judah" refer to those having oversight among God's people. Jehovah fills these with a fiery zeal in behalf of the earthly interests of his Kingdom. On one occasion, Jesus told his disciples: "I came to start a fire on the earth." (Luke 12:49) Jesus made God's Kingdom the paramount issue before the people. This sparked heated controversy throughout that Jewish nation. (Matthew 4:17, 25; 10:5-7, 17-20) Similarly, "like a firepot among trees and like a fiery torch in a row of newly cut grain," footstep followers of Christ in our day set things aflame in a spiritual way... moving many people to take their stand either for or against God's Kingdom."
(Watchtower issue: 12/15/07, 3:12)

"The Hebrew word ’al·luph′, when translated “sheikh,” means “leader of a thousand” (or, “chiliarch”). It was a very high position. The early nation of Edom apparently had only 13 sheikhs. (Genesis 36:15-19) The word “sheikh” is not often used when speaking of Israel, but the expression “head (or, chief) of a thousand” appears frequently. When Moses summoned representatives of the nation of Israel, he called on “the heads of the thousands of Israel.” There were 12 of these, evidently subordinate only to Moses. (Numbers 1:4-16) Similarly, in the organization of the army, chiefs of thousands were second only to the general or the king.
—2 Samuel 18:1, 2; 2 Chronicles 25:5." (WA 07/01/95)

Which makes you wonder then what could be meant at Zechariah 9:6,7? Because it says that 'the Philistine' would be like a sheikh in Judah, and everyone knows that the Philistines were sworn enemies of the Israelites. Ok, so here's the interesting part which ties in with today's text... According to Zechariah, some Philistines had a change of heart, which foreshadowed that some persecutors or haters of God's people today would also. Just like the Jebusites (who are mentioned in the same acct) gave up their former bad practices and began worshipping right along with the Israelites, some people in our day would have a similar change of heart and cease any former bad practices or false worship with idolatry, and be cleansed in Jehovah’s eyes.
You can actually see evidence of this when you read stories of the former prison guards or soldiers who initially persecuted Christians (like in some of the Yearbook experiences), and then later reformed and became Christians themselves.

Further - This shows how God is giving everyone the opportunity to expose their true motives and heart condition ... by the way they treat his followers. Its similar to the division spoken about in the illustration of the sheep and the goats at Matthew 25:31-33:
"When the Son of man arrives in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will put the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left."

-Because the "criteria" for judging who Jesus will consider to be "a goat" is mentioned a few verses down in 42-46: "For I became hungry, but you gave me nothing to eat, and I got thirsty, but you gave me nothing to drink. I was a stranger, but you did not receive me hospitably; naked, but you did not clothe me; sick and in prison, but you did not look after me.’ Then they also will answer with the words, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and did not minister to you?’
and here's the key...
"Then he will answer them with the words, ‘Truly I say to you, To the extent that you did not do it to one of these least ones (of these my brothers), you did not do it to me.’ And these will depart into everlasting cutting-off, but the righteous ones into everlasting life."

So anyway, thats what I personally gleaned from today's daily text -especially when considering all the persecution and terrible treatment that our brothers & sisters in Europe endured, who've joined the ranks of all the other Christians over the centuries who were imprisoned, tortured, & martyred for their faith & uncompromising loyalty also.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Is nothing sacred?

I just found out today that our Kingdom Hall got broken into and robbed ... which is why the phone lines were down the other day -because (whoever they were) cut the phonelines when they went to cut the alarm. Honestly, of all the places to rob, who picks a Kingdom Hall?
Its not like there's many material items of value except a few computers and some other basic electronic & sound equipment. They even stole a vacuum cleaner!
-Seriously! how low can you get?

Yearbook Experience - Valentina Garnovskaya

experience of Valentina Garnovskaya
pgs 191 & 192 of the 2008 Yearbook
*this one really impressed me, because not only was this woman not even baptized yet, but she had only seen a Bible 3 times before they arrested and imprisoned her! Yet her faith was so strong that she held out under these harsh conditions for so long and stayed true to her beliefs.
"My mother and I lived in western Belarus. I met Jehovah's Witnesses in February 1945. A brother came to our house just three times and showed us things from the Bible. Though I never saw him again, I began to preach to neighbors and acquaintances. The authorities arrested me, and I was sentenced to eight years in the camps. They sent me to Ulyanovsk Oblast.
In the camp, I observed other prisoners and listened to their conversations, hoping that I would meet one of Jehovah's Witnesses there. In 1948, I overheard one female prisoner talking about God's Kingdom. Her name was Asya. I was so happy to talk to her about spiritual topics. Soon three more sisters were brought to the camp. We had little literature, so we tried to associate together as much as we could.
In 1953, I was freed, but three and a half years later, I was convicted for preaching and given a ten-year sentence. I was transferred in 1957 to the camp in Kemerovo, where there were about 180 sisters. We were never without Bible literature. In the winter, we hid literature in the snow, and in the summer, in the grass and in the ground. During searches, I hid manuscripts in both hands, covered my shoulders with a big shawl, and held on to the ends of the shawl with my hands. When I moved from camp to camp, I wore a cap that I sewed myself, putting several issues of The Watchtower in it.
Eventually, I was sent to a camp in Mordvinia. There was a Bible there, hidden away in a secure place. We could look at it only in the presence of the sister who was in charge of keeping it safe. The only other time I had seen a Bible was in the hands of the brother who first acquainted me with the truth back in 1945.
When I was freed in 1967, I moved to Angren, Uzbekistan. Here I was able to symbolize my dedication to Jehovah by water baptism. I met brothers for the first time since that initial call. After all, I had only spent time in women's labor camps. All the brothers and sisters in the congregation were zealous in the ministry, and I quickly came to love them. In January 1969, eight brothers and five sisters from our congregation were arrested for preaching, and I was among them. I was sentenced to three years as an "especially dangerous offender." I was sent to solitary confinement many times for preaching.
I conducted Bible studies with interested ones under the cover of a blanket. We were forbidden to talk to one another during walks. If we got caught speaking, we were punished with solitary confinement. We used only hand-copied literature, which we constantly recopied.
I never had my own place to live. All my possessions were in a single suitcase, but I was happy and content in serving Jehovah."

daily text 05/24

Sunday, May 24th, 2009
"If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied." (1 Corinthians 15:19)

How sad if one entertains no hope beyond life in this present world! "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we are to die" is the attitude of those who believe that this is all there is.
(1 Corinthians 15:32) But there is a future, a "new heavens and new earth that we are awaiting according to [God's] promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell." (2 Peter 3:13) At that time Christians can enjoy "the real life," that is, "everlasting life" in perfection, either in heaven or under the loving rulership of God's Kingdom government! (1 Timothy 6:12) Only God's Kingdom will have complete success in solving mankind's problems. Working to advance interests of God's Kingdom is thus the most purposeful endeavor anyone can pursue. (John 4:34) While we engage in that work, we enjoy a blessed relationship with our heavenly Father.
(Watchtower issue: 10/01/07, 1:10, 11)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Yearbook Experience - The Herkendells

The Herkendells - story & photo on pgs 71, 74, & 75
of the 2008 Yearbook

In light of today's text, I wanted to backtrack from the other experiences and just throw in a little story about one German pioneer couple who helped to spearhead the ministry work in Russia. -I don't know of many people who'd spend their honeymoon on a preaching tour!
Talk about dedication! =)

"In 1911 the work received a boost in an unusual way - from a honeymoon trip. After getting married, the Herkendells, a young couple from Germany, made a preaching trip to Russia to help German-speaking people. To the Herkendells' delight, they found isolated groups of Kingdom publishers and aided them spiritually. Earlier, a reader in Russia wrote: "The literature from Germany is as valuable to me as the heavenly manna to the children of Israel . . . How sorry we are that the literature is not in Russian! I use every opportunity to translate various items into Russian." Translation had thus begun; much more was to follow."

An additional point that was brought out in the Proclaimers book about this couple (which I think is pretty cool), was that instead of requesting the 'customary bridal dowry' money for herself & her husband to use towards their wedding or new household items & furniture etc, the soon-to-be Mrs Herkendell requested of her father that the money be used to fund this unique honeymoon trip which actually extended many months and was fairly strenuous. What a lady. =)

daily text 05/23

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009
"Preach the word." (2 Timothy 4:2)

Jesus was primarily known, not as a healer or miracle worker, but as a teacher. (Mark 12:19; 13:1) Declaring the good news of God's Kingdom was Jesus' priority, and so it is for his followers today. Christians have a commision to continue the work of disciple-making by teaching people to observe all the things that Jesus commanded. (Matthew 28:19, 20) In order to fulfill our commision to make disciples, we constantly seek to improve our ability to teach. The apostle Paul underlined the importance of this skill when writing to his preaching companion Timothy. He said: "Pay constant attention to yourself and to your teaching. Stay by these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and those who listen to you." (1 Timothy 4:16) The kind of teaching that Paul had in mind is not the mere imparting of knowledge. Effective Christian ministers reach the hearts of people and motivate them to make changes in their lives.
(Watchtower issue: 01/15/08, 2:1, 2)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Yearbook Experience - Konstantin Skripchuk

experience of Konstantin Skripchuk -
pgs 162, 163 of the 2008 Yearbook

"I met a brother named Vasily early in 1953 in a prison cell. He said that he had ended up there for his faith in God. I could not understand how someone could be put in prison for his beliefs. This disturbed me so much that I couldn't sleep. The next day he explained the matter. Gradually, I became convinced that the Bible is a book from God.
In 1956, I was baptized. At the end of that year, the foreman made a search and found that we had a large amount of Bible literature. The investigations went on for almost a year, and in 1958 the court sentenced me to 23 years for religious activity. By that time, I had already spent five and a half years in the camps. The entire time, 28 years and 6 months, I served without once tasting freedom.
In April 1962 the court pronounced me "an especially dangerous offender," and I was transferred to a maximum-security camp, where I spent 11 years. There were many things that made this kind of camp "special." For example, the food allowance per person was 11 kopecks a day, less than the amount needed to buy a loaf of bread at that time. At a height of 6 feet 3 inches, I weighed only 130 pounds. My skin shriveled and fell off in scales.

Since I was a good construction worker, I was often sent to do repairs at the officials' apartments. No one feared me, and the residents didn't bother to hide their belongings in the apartments. When the wife of one official learned that I would work on their apartment, she didn't take her six-year-old son to kindergarten. It was an interesting scene: an "especially dangerous offender" spending the entire day alone in an apartment with a six-year-old child! It was clear that no one believed I was a criminal, let alone an "especially dangerous" one.

Gradually, all the brothers in our camp were freed. In 1974, I was the only Witness left in the camp. I stayed there for seven more years until I was freed in August 1981. Jehovah continued to support me spiritually. How? For those seven years, I received The Watchtower in letters. One brother regularly sent me these letters, containing neatly handwritten articles from a new issue. Each time, the camp censor handed me the letter already opened. We both knew the exact contents of the letter. To this day, I am not sure what motivated him to take such a risk, but I am glad that he worked there for the entire seven years. Most of all, I am grateful to Jehovah. During all those years, I learned to trust in Jehovah and received strength from him. -1 Peter 5:7."

Exiled to Siberia - Yevgenia Rybak

experience & photos on pgs 101, 104 & 105
of the 2008 Yearbook
"One Sunday through my window, I heard melodious singing. The singing was by Jehovah's Witnesses. Soon I was attending their meetings. I could not understand why Germans were persecuting other Germans for their faith. My Ukrainian friends with whom I had been taken to Germany began to hate me for associating with Germans. Once one of them yelled at me and then hit me across the face. My former girlfriends began to laugh.
After being freed in 1945, I returned to Ukraine. My grandfather said: "Your mama has lost her mind. She has thrown away her icons, and now she serves some other God." When we were left to ourselves, Mama took out a Bible and read from it that God hates idolatry. She then told me that she was attending meetings of Jehovah's Witnesses. I threw my arms around her neck and with tears in my eyes, quietly said, "Dear Mama, I am one of Jehovah's Witnesses too!" We both cried for joy. Mama was very zealous in the ministry. Since almost all the brothers were imprisoned in camps, she was appointed as the group servant. Her zeal infected me as well.
In 1950, I was arrested for religious activities, and the court sentenced me to ten years of camp imprisonment. Five of us sisters were taken to the town of Usol'ye-Sibirskoye, in Siberia. From April 1951, we worked in railroad construction. We carried heavy railroad ties on our shoulders, two of us to a tie. With our own hands, we also moved and laid 11-yard-long metal tracks that weighed 700 pounds each. We would get very tired. Once when we were going home exhausted from work, a train full of prisoners pulled up and stopped next to us. A man looking through the window asked, "Girls, are there any Jehovah's Witnesses among you?" Our fatigue vanished. "Here are 5 sisters!" we yelled. The prisoners were our dear brothers and sisters who had been exiled from Ukraine. While the train stood still, they excitedly told us what had happened and how they had been exiled. Then the children recited to us poems that the brothers themselves had written. Not even the soldiers disturbed us, and we were able to associate with and encourage one another.
From Usol'ye-Sibirskoye, we were transferred to a large camp near Angarsk. There were 22 sisters there. They had organized everything, including territories for preaching. This helped us to survive spiritually."

Exiled to Siberia - Magdalina Beloshitskaya

experience & photos from pgs 101-103, 106 and 167 of the 2008 Yearbook

"Despite cruel opposition from the authorities, the Witnesses zealously continued to preach the good news of Jehovah's Kingdom. This irritated the central government in Moscow. It especially irritated the KGB. A memo dated February 19, 1951, from KGB to Stalin read: "To suppress any further anti-Soviet activities of the underground Jehovists, the MGB [Ministry of State Security, later the KGB] of the USSR considers it neccessary to exile known Jehovists and their families to Irkutsk and Tomsk oblasts." The KGB knew those who were Witnesses, and they asked Stalin permission to exile 8,576 people from six republics of the Soviet Union to Siberia. This permission was granted.

Magdalina Beloshitskaya recalls: "At two in the morning on Sunday, April 8, 1951, we were awakened by a loud banging on the door. Mama sprang up and ran to the door. An officer stood before us, 'You are being exiled to Siberia for believing in God,' he declared formally. 'You have two hours to pack your things...bring your bedding, clothes, and bags, and come out.'
None of us wailed or sobbed. The officer was suprised and said, 'Not one little tear has fallen from your eyes.' We told him we had been expecting this since 1948...
My eight-month old daughter was lying in a wooden cradle. We asked if we could take the cradle with us, but the officer ordered that it be taken apart. Then he gave us only the part that could hold the baby.
Soon our neighbors learned that we were being exiled. Someone brought a small bag of bread crisps, and when we were being driven away in a cart, he threw the bag into the cart. The soldier guarding us noticed and threw the bag back out. There were six of us - me, Mama, my two brothers, my husband, and our eight-month-old daughter. Beyond the village, we were bundled into a car and driven to the regional center, where our documents were filled out. Then we were taken by truck to the railway station.

It was a Sunday, a fine sunny day. The station was full of people - those being exiled and those who came to watch. Our truck pulled right up to a railway car where our brothers already were. When the train was full, the soldiers checked all by their last names. There were 52 people in our railway car. Before the departure, those seeing us off began to cry and even sob. It was amazing to watch, since we didn't even know who some of those people were. But they knew that we were Jehovah's Witnesses and that we were being exiled to Siberia. The steam engine gave a mighty whistle. Then our brothers began to sing a song in Ukrainian: 'Let the love of Christ be with you. Giving glory to Jesus Christ, we will meet again in his Kingdom.' Most of us were full of hope and faith that Jehovah would not abandon us. We sang several verses. It was so touching that some of the soldiers began to weep. Then the train went on its way."

daily text 05/22

Friday, May 22nd, 2009
"The one holding back his rod is hating his son, but the one loving him is he that does look for him with discipline." (Proverbs 13:24)

*side note* -In Israelite times, a shepherd would use his rod to gently nudge & guide his sheep in the right direction...not hit or beat them with his rod in an abusive or harsh manner.

Children raised without consistent discipline are likely to be self-centered and unhappy. In contrast, the children of parents who are sympathetic but maintain firm limits were found to perform better at school, to have better social skills, and to be generally happy. Certainly, then, parents who discipline their children are being kind to them. What is involved in disciplining children in a kind and loving manner? Parents need to discuss with their children exactly what is required of them. For example, from infancy, children of Christian parents are taught fundamental Bible principles as well as the need to participate in the various aspects of true worship. (Exodus 20:12-17; Matthew 22:37-40; 28:19; Hebrews 10:24, 25) Children need to know that these requirements are nonnegotiable.
(Watchtower issue: 09/01/07, 1:8, 9)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Yearbook Experiences - Aleksey Nepochatov

Aleksey Nepochatov - pages 168 - 169 of the 2008 Yearbook

"At the age of 20, Aleksey was sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Nazi Germany. Later, he was transferred to the Buchenwald camp, where he learned the truth. Shortly before his release, two anointed Witnesses said to him: "Aleksey, it would be good if after the war, you return to Russia. It is an enormous country where reapers are especially needed. The situation there is difficult, so be prepared to meet every kind of trial. We will be praying for you and for those who will listen."

The British freed Aleksey in 1945. He returned to Russia, where he was promptly sentenced to ten years of imprisonment for refusing to vote. He writes: "At first, I was the only Witness in the prison. I asked Jehovah for direction in seeking out sheep, and soon there were 13 of us! During all this time we had no Bible literature. We would copy scriptures from novels that we checked out from the prison library."

Aleksey served out his ten-year sentence. Upon being released, he went to an area where he knew that many people believed in Jesus. He says: "The people were spiritually hungry. They came to me day and night; they came with children. Everything they heard, they checked in the Bible." Over the next few years, Aleksey helped more than 70 people to baptism. One of them was Maria, who became his wife. He recalls: "The KGB came after me. I was arrested and sentenced to 25 years of imprisonment. Then they arrested Maria. Before the trial, Maria spent seven months in solitary confinement. The investigator said that he would free her immediately if she would renounce Jehovah. Maria refused. The court sentenced her to seven years of imprisonment in labor camps. A spiritual sister took in our baby daughter and cared for her."

Aleksey and Maria were freed before finishing their terms. They moved to Tver' Oblast. There the authorities and local people were strongly opposed to them, and one neighbor set fire to their house. In the years that followed, they were forced to move many times; yet in each new place, they made new disciples.

Aleksey says: "During our years of imprisonment, we could not read God's Word. Since then, we have set for ourselves the goal of reading the Bible every day. Maria and I have now read the Bible through more than 40 times. It is God's Word that has given us strength and zeal in the ministry." In all, Aleksey spent 4 years in Nazi concentration camps and 19 years in Russian prisons and camps. During his 30 years in the pioneer service, he and his wife helped dozens to come to know and love Jehovah."

daily text 05/21

Thursday, May 21st, 2009
"Whether you are eating or drinking or doing anything else, do all things for God's glory."
(1 Corinthians 10:31)

As Christians, we enjoy life, and we wish to glorify God in everything we do. When we faithfully apply ourselves to preaching the Kingdom good news and teaching others to observe all the things that Jesus commanded, we will find many rewarding avenues of service open to us. (Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20) Besides working with the local congregation, we may have opportunities to serve where there is greater need, whether in another territory, language, or country. Which avenue of service should you pursue? As a dedicated servant of Jehovah, always look to him and to his organization for direction. His "good spirit" will help you make the right decision. (Nehemiah 9:20) One assignment often leads to another, and the experience and skills acquired in one form of service may be useful in another assignment later.
(Watchtower issue: 10/01/07, 2:11, 12)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Observing The Memorial

This is an actual sketch drawn in one of the Mordvinian camps while observing the annual Memorial of Jesus' death. The story & picture are on pages 184-186 of the 2008 Yearbook

"Each year, the brothers tried to observe the Memorial in the camps. In all the years that they spent in one camp in Mordvinia, none of the brothers missed this event. The camp administration, of course, tried to prevent the observance. They knew the date of the Memorial, and usually on that day, they would mobilize all the camp units to be on high alert. Toward evening, however, most guards got tired of watching the brothers closely, since no one knew the place or the exact time when the Memorial was going to be held.

The brothers always made efforts to obtain wine and unleavened bread. One time a surveillance guard unit discovered the emblems in a drawer on the day of the Memorial and confiscated them. Later, that unit was replaced by another guard unit, and a brother who cleaned the unit commander's office was able to retrieve the emblems and pass them to the brothers without being seen. That evening the brothers observed the Memorial with the emblems during the third surveillance shift..."

Yearbook Experiences - Pyotr Partsey

In view of Leopold Engleitner's speaking tour about the Holocaust, I've decided to feature some of the personal experiences from our recent yearbooks, about men & women who were imprisoned in concentration/labor camps (both in Nazi Germany and post WWII in Russia by the KGB)

The following story is about Pyotr Partsey from pages 112 - 113 of the 2008 Yearbook:

"After learning the Bible's basic teachings in Nazi Germany, I immediately began to share them with my aquaintances, and many joined me in pure worship. In 1943 a priest denounced me to the Gestapo, who arrested me and accused me of seditious activities among the youth. Soon I ended up in the Maidanek extermination camp in Poland. Association among the brothers and sisters was especially precious. In the camp, our resolve to preach became even firmer. Many there showed an interest in the truth, and we looked for ways to give a witness about Jehovah's Kingdom. Once I was given 25 strokes with a double-lashed whip. I stood up and said loudly in German, "Danke schön!" ("Thank you!") One German exclaimed: "See how tough the lad is! We beat him, and he thanks us!" My back was black and blue from the lashes.

The work was hard, and we were completely spent. Those who died were burned in the crematorium, which operated night and day. I thought that I would soon be the one burning on the metal grid. It seemed that I would never leave the camp alive. I was saved when I was injured. All the relatively healthy ones were forced to work, and the rest were sent to other camps. Two weeks later, I was sent to the concentration camp at Ravensbrück.

Toward the end of the war, I heard rumors that the Germans would soon shoot us all. Then we learned that the guards had run away. When the prisoners understood that they were now free, everyone scattered. I ended up in Austria, where I was asked to enlist in the army. I immediately refused, declaring that I had spent time in concentration camps for my religious beliefs. I was allowed to return home to Ukraine, which was then part of the Soviet Union. In 1949, I married Yekaterina, who became my faithful life companion. In 1958, I was arrested and sent to a Mordvinian work camp.

After my release, I shared in printing Bible literature. Once, in 1986, we had worked all night to print 1,200 pages. We stacked them on the floor, the beds, wherever we could. Unexpectedly, a KGB agent appeared, "just to talk," as he put it. Yekaterina asked where he would like to talk, without thinking that he might want to come into the house. But happily, he wanted to talk to us in our outdoor kitchen. If he had entered the house, we would have been arrested.

To this day, we try to live up to our dedication and do everything for the sake of the good news. Our 6 children, 23 grandchildren, and 2 great-grandchildren are faithfully serving Jehovah, and we are grateful to Jehovah that our children go on walking in the truth."

daily text 05/20

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009
"Not so much as one among them was let remain." (Exodus 14:28)

Jehovah's assurance of protecting his people was implicit in his promise that he would deliver them from Egypt and let them enter the Promised Land. Recall that the enraged Pharaoh pursued Israel with his powerful army, equipped with hundreds of chariots. How confident that arrogant man must have been, especially when the Israelites appeared to be trapped between the mountains and the sea! Now God stepped in to protect his people by stationing a cloud between the two camps. On the Egyptian side was darkness; on the Israelite side was light. While the cloud stalled the Egyptian advance, Moses lifted his rod and the waters of the Red Sea parted, providing both an escape path for the Israelites and a trap for the Egyptians. Jehovah utterly destroyed Pharaoh's mighty military machine, protecting His people from certain defeat. -Exodus 14:19-28
(Watchtower issue: 11/01/07, 1:7)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

daily text 05/19

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009
"So it goes with the man that lays up treasure for himself but is not rich toward God." (Luke 12:21)

The expression "rich toward God" is also rendered "rich in God's sight" (Today's English Version) or "rich in the eyes of God." (The New Testament in Modern English by J. B. Phillips) Those who are rich materially are generally concerned with how they might appear in the eyes of others. This is often reflected in their way of life. They want to impress people with what the Bible calls "the showy display of one's means of life." (1 John 2:16) In contrast, those who are rich toward God enjoy God's approval, favor, and undeserved kindness in abundance and have a warm personal relationship with him. Being in such a precious state surely gives them a sense of well-being and security, more than any material riches can provide. They do all they can to have a full share in the activities that are truly valuable and worthwhile in God's eyes. - Isaiah 40:11
(Watchtower issue: 08/01/07, 2:14, 15)

Monday, May 18, 2009

daily text 05/18

Monday, May 18th, 2009
"Get up, get out from the midst of my people, . . . and go, serve Jehovah." (Exodus 12:31)

The year is 1513 B.C.E. Jehovah has already brought nine blows against the Egyptians. Jehovah now reveals to Moses that there will be one more blow against Pharaoh and all the Egyptians, a final one. On the 14th of Abib (Nisan), the firstborn of every Egyptian man and of every animal is going to die. But Israelite households can be spared by carefully following God's instructions given to Moses. They are to splash some of the blood of a male lamb upon the two doorposts and the upper part of the doorway of their houses and to stay indoors. What happens that night? Let Moses himself tell us: "It came about that at midnight Jehovah struck every firstborn in the land of Egypt." Pharaoh's reaction is immediate. Calling Moses and Aaron to him, he tells them the words of today's text. -Exodus 12:1-7, 29, 37, 38.
(Watchtower issue: 12/15/07, 2:7, 8)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

daily text 05/17

Sunday, May 17th, 2009
"Keep watching the ministry which you accepted in the Lord, that you fulfill it." (Colossians 4:17)

We have a serious responsibility toward the people who live around us. The decisions they make now will mean life or death during "the great tribulation" (Revelation 7:14) Proverbs 24:11 says: "Deliver those who are being taken away to death; and those staggering to the slaughter, O may you hold them back." Failure to assume the responsibility of warning people of the choice that lies before them could result in our incurring bloodguilt. In fact, the same passage continues: "In case you should say: 'Look! We did not know of this,' will not he himself that is making an estimation of hearts discern it, and he himself that is observing your soul know and certainly pay back to earthling man according to his activity?" Clearly, Jehovah's servants cannot say that they 'do not know of' the danger that people are facing. -Proverbs 24:12
(Watchtower issue: 01/15/08, 1:1)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

daily text 05/16

Saturday, May 16th, 2009
"Happy is the man that keeps on enduring trial, because on becoming approved he will receive the crown of life." (James 1:12)

Can present suffering produce anything good in those who hope to live forever on a paradise earth free from sickness, sorrow, and death? The pain and anguish that suffering brings are not in themselves things to be desired. But when we endure such suffering, good personal qualities can be enhanced and happiness produced. Consider what God's inspired Word says about this: "Even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are happy." "If you are being reproached for the name of Christ, you are happy." (1 Peter 3:14; 4:14) "Happy are you when people reproach you and persecute you and lyingly say every sort of wicked thing against you for my sake. Rejoice and leap for joy, since your reward is great in the heavens." (Matthew 5:11, 12) The happiness comes from knowing that we are suffering because we are doing Jehovah's will.
(Watchtower issue: 08/15/07, 2:12-14)

Friday, May 15, 2009

daily text 05/15

Friday, May 15th, 2009
"Like arrows in the hand of a mighty man, so are the sons of youth." (Psalms 127:4)

Although an archer may be skilled, he is unlikely to hit the target if the arrow he shoots has become bent or warped. Of course, parents will try hard to straighten the bent arrow, so to speak, by striving to adjust a child's wrong thinking. But children must eventually decide for themselves whether to let this world bend them to its will or to allow Jehovah to make their "paths straight." (Proverbs 3:5, 6; Romans 12:2) While parents have a weighty responsibility to raise their children in "the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah," the final decision as to what a child will grow up to become rests with the child himself. (Ephesians 6:4) Therefore, children, ask yourselves, 'Will I accept the loving training my parents provide?' If you do, you will be choosing the best possible way of life. Most important, you will make Jehovah's heart rejoice. -Proverbs 27:11
(Watchtower issue: 09/01/07, 2:2, 17, 18)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

daily text 05/14

Thursday, May 14th, 2009
"Become imitators of God, as beloved children." (Ephesians 5:1)

Jehovah is "ready to forgive," and he grants "true forgiveness." (Psalms 86:5; 130:4) We show that we are beloved children of Jehovah when we imitate him. We are all sinners and desperately in need of Jehovah's forgiveness. Thus, we must be careful if we feel inclined not to forgive someone. We could become like the slave in Jesus' parable who refused to forgive his fellow slave a debt that was but a fraction of the debt that his master had already forgiven him. When the master was informed, he had the unforgiving slave thrown into prison. Jesus concluded the parable by saying: "In like manner my heavenly Father will also deal with you if you do not forgive each one his brother from your hearts." (Matthew 18:21-35) Meditating on that illustration and reflecting on how many times Jehovah has freely forgiven us will surely help us when we are trying to settle personal differences with our brothers! -Psalms 19:14
(Watchtower issue: 10/01/07, 3:18)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

daily text 05/13

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009
"My conscience bears witness with me in holy spirit." (Romans 9:1)

The Bible shows that the conscience is an inner capacity to look at and evaluate your actions. It is as if a voice within you comments on whether a course is right or not. For example, this voice may speak beforehand as you consider to do something that has moral implications. Your conscience may help you to assess a future act and suggest how you would feel if you performed it. More commonly, your conscience comes into play after you do something. When he was a fugitive from King Saul, David was in a position to do something disrespectful toward God's anointed king, and he did. Afterward, "David's heart kept striking him." (1 Samuel 24:1-5; Psalms 32:3, 5) The word "conscience" is not used in that account; yet that is what David felt -the reaction of his conscience. All of us have similarly felt pangs of conscience. When one acts in accord with the conscience, a sense of satisfaction and peace can result.
(Watchtower issue: 10/15/07, 1:9, 10)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

daily text 05/12

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009
"You have hidden these things from the wise and intellectual ones and have revealed them to babes." (Matthew 11:25)

Even if you did not excel at school, you should not imagine that "the deep things of God" are beyond your grasp. (1 Corinthians 2:19) During Jesus' earthly ministry, Jehovah revealed an understanding of His purpose, not to wise and intellectual ones, but to unlettered and ordinary men who were humble enough to be taught by God's servant. They seemed like babes in comparison with those educated in the schools. (Acts 4:13) Today, too, Jehovah uses his spirit to direct his organization, which provides God's unified people with an understanding of the Bible. (Acts 20:28; Ephesians 4:3-6) Worldwide, all congregations enjoy a similar program of Bible study. Over a period of years, they cover the entire range of Bible teachings. Holy spirit acts through the congregation to help people adopt the attitude needed to understand "the deep things of God." -Acts 5:32
(Watchtower issue: 11/01/07, 2:5, 6)

Monday, May 11, 2009

daily text 05/11

Monday, May 11th, 2009
"The joy of Jehovah is [our] stronghold." (Nehemiah 8:10)

Jesus delighted to do Jehovah's will. (Psalms 40:8) If we have the same attitude, we will find joy in rendering sacred service to God. Like Jesus, we will be unselfish givers, and this will make us truly happy. (Acts 20:35) Fervent prayer to God helped to prepare Jesus for tests of faith. He was praying when John baptized him. Jesus prayed for an entire night when he chose his apostles. (Luke 6:12-16) And what Bible reader is not impressed with Jesus' heartfelt prayers on the last night of his earthly life? (Mark 14:32-42; John 17:1-26) Are you a person of prayer, as Jesus was? Approach Jehovah often, linger in prayer, seek the direction of holy spirit, and be quick to accept that direction when it becomes evident. A strong relationship with our heavenly Father is vital at this critical time when God's great day is approaching rapidly. By all means, then, draw ever closer to Jehovah in prayer. -James 4:8
(Watchtower issue: 12/15/07, 1:7, 8)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

daily text 05/10

Sunday, May 10th, 2009
"All those who were rightly disposed for everlasting life became believers." (Acts 13:48)

The Bible book of Acts preserves the exciting account of how the early Christians responded to Jesus' prophecy that the good news of the Kingdom would be preached throughout the inhabited earth. (Matthew 24:14) Zealous preachers blazed the trail, so to speak, for all those who would follow them. As a result of the fervent witnessing of Jesus' disciples in Jerusalem, thousands of people including "a great crowd of priests," flocked to the first-century congregation. (Acts 2:41; 4:4; 6:7) Today, as in the first century, "all those who [are] rightly disposed for everlasting life" are responding to the message of truth. Jehovah is drawing such people into his organization. (Haggai 2:7) Does it not warm you heart to know that Kingdom proclaimers conducted more than six million Bible studies during the 2007 service year?
(Watchtower issue 01/15/08, 3:1, 3, 4)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

daily text 05/09

Saturday, May 9th, 2009
"Man must live, not on bread alone, but on every utterance coming forth through Jehovah's mouth." (Matthew 4:4)

Part of God's purpose for us is that we take good care of ourselves and of our families. This includes caring for both physical and spiritual needs. Balance is needed in doing this, however, so that secular interests and concerns do not eclipse the more important spiritual ones. (Matthew 6:33) Regrettably, many people focus their life almost exclusively on the acquiring of material things. Yet, trying to satisfy all our needs solely with material things is unrealistic. A recent survey of millionaires in Asia reveals that many of them "feel insecure and troubled, even as they enjoy the social status and the sense of accomplishment their wealth brings." (Ecclesiastes 5:11) Jesus spoke of "the deceptive power of riches." (Mark 4:19) How are riches deceptive? They appear to make one happy, but they do not.
(Watchtower issue: 10/01/07, 1:5, 6)

Friday, May 8, 2009

daily text 05/08

Friday, May 8th, 2009
"The Lamb . . . will shepherd them, and will guide them to fountains of waters of life." (Revelation 7:17)

God's Word identifies anointed Christians who are caring for Christ's interests on earth as "the faithful and discreet slave." When Christ inspected the "slave" in 1918, he found those anointed ones on earth to be faithful in providing spiritual "food at the proper time." Hence, Jesus, the Master, was pleased thereafter to appoint them "over all his belongings." (Matthew 24:45-47) The belongings of Jesus Christ, Jehovah's enthroned King, embrace all Kingdom interests on earth. That includes "a great crowd" seen by the apostle John in vision. John describes the great crowd as follows: "Look! a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes; and there were palm branches in their hands." -Revelation 7:9
(Watchtower issue: 01/15/08, 5:1, 2)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

daily text 05/07

Thursday, May, 7th 2009
"If you continue showing favortism, you are working a sin." (James 2:9)

Showing undue favor to the materially rich or to those having prominence can make us less sensitive to "the complaining cry of the lowly one." (Proverbs 21:13) Favoritism stifles a merciful spirit. We practice mercy by treating others impartially. Does being impartial mean that we should never show special consideration to anyone? Hardly. Concerning his fellow worker Epaphroditus, the apostle Paul wrote to Christians in Philippi: "Keep holding men of that sort dear." Why? "Because on account of the Lord's work he came quite near to death, exposing his soul to danger, that he might fully make up for your not being here to render private service to me." (Philippians 2:25, 29, 30) The faithful service rendered by Epaphroditus deserved recognition. Good spiritual qualities also merit acknowledgment. (1 Timothy 5:17) Showing such consideration is not favoritism.
(Watchtower issue: 09/15/07, 2:8, 9)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

daily text 05/06

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009
"Your eyes are bound to be opened and you are bound to be like God, knowing good and bad" (Genesis 3:5)

Satan succeeded in influencing Adam and Eve to rebel against Jehovah's rulership. That rebellion constituted a challenge to God's sovereignty. In what way? By telling Eve that she 'positively would not die' if she ate the forbidden fruit, Satan insinuated that Jehovah was untrustworthy. Satan also suggested that Adam and Eve could do better by ignoring God's command and going their independent way. (Genesis 3:1-6) That was a direct challenge to the rightfulness of God's rule. What would Jehovah do? Jehovah showed that he was in full control of the situation when he took immediate action and pronounced judgement upon the rebels. He pronounced Adam and Eve unworthy of the gift of everlasting life, and He drove them out of the garden of Eden - Genesis 3:16-19, 22-24.
(Watchtower issue: 12/01/07, 1:7, 8)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

daily text 05/05

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009
"Whom Jehovah loves he disciplines; in fact, he scourges everyone whom he receives as a son." (Hebrews 12:6)

Paul wrote that "love is . . . kind" (1 Corinthians 13:4) Parents who are truly kind will discipline their children in a consistent manner. By doing so, they imitate Jehovah. Please note that the type of discipline referred to in the Bible does not simply mean punishment. It carries the idea of training and education. What is the purpose of such discipline? "To those who have been trained by it," Paul states, "it yields peaceable fruit, namely, righteousness." (Hebrews 12:11) When parents kindly educate their children according to God's will, they give them the opportunity to become peaceable, upright adults. If children accept "the discipline of Jehovah," they gain wisdom, knowledge, and discernment-assets more valuable than silver or gold. (Proverbs 3:11-18) On the other hand, it is not a kindness when parents fail to discipline their children.
(Watchtower issue: 09/01/07, 1:7, 8)

Monday, May 4, 2009

daily text 05/04

Monday, May 4th, 2009
"In that day," is the utterance of Jehovah, "I shall strike every horse with bewilderment and its rider with madness; and upon the house of Judah I shall open my eyes" (Zechariah 12:4)

Jehovah makes the promise that he will figuratively blind and throw into "bewilderment" those who fight against his courageous Kingdom messengers. He has kept his word. For example, in one land where true worship was under ban, opposers were unable to keep spiritual food out of the hands of God's people. A newspaper even claimed that Jehovah's Witnesses were using balloons to get Bible literature into the country! God's promise to his loyal servants proved true: "I shall open my eyes, and every horse of the peoples I shall strike with loss of sight." Blind with fury, enemies of the Kingdom do not know which direction to take. Yet, we are convinced that Jehovah will preserve his people as a group and look out for their welfare. -2Kings 6:15-19
(Watchtower issue: 12/15/07, 3:11)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

daily text 05/03

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009
"Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as it is in heaven, also upon earth. (Matthew 6:10)

Under God's heavenly Kingdom, we will enjoy the rulership that all righthearted individuals now long for. Psalms 145:16 will then find fulfillment in its completest sense: "You [Jehovah God] are opening your hand and satisfying the desire of every living thing." Moreover, Isaiah 32:1 says: "Look! A king [Christ Jesus in heaven] will reign for righteousness itself; and as respects princes [Christ's earthly representatives], they will rule as princes for justice itself." Regarding the King Jesus Christ, Isaiah 9:7 foretells: "To the abundance of the princely rule and to peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom in order to establish it firmly and to sustain it by means of righteousness, from now on and to time indefinite." Can you see yourself living under that just rulership?
(Watchtower issue: 08/15/07, 1:13, 14)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

daily text 05/02

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009
"The things I was fond of were with the sons of men." (Proverbs 8:31)

Motivated by love for God, new ones who have just learned Bible truth sometimes speak about Jehovah and the Kingdom with such conviction that they are quite effective in convincing others to examine the Scriptures. (John 1:41) Love for God is the key factor that motivates us to engage in the disciple-making work. Let us therefore keep that love alive by regularly reading and meditating on his Word. (1 Timothy 4:6, 15; Revelation 2:4) Love for Jehovah unquestionably helped to make Jesus Christ a zealous teacher. But that was not the only reason for his effectiveness as a Kingdom proclaimer. Jesus was concerned about people and showed keen interest in them. He reflected Jehovah's own love and compassion, and this attracted people to the worship of the only true God. Individuals of all kinds listened to Jesus because he showed loving concern for them and their circumstances. -Luke 7:36-50; 18:15-17; 19:1-10
(Watchtower issue: 11/15/07, 1:5-7)

Friday, May 1, 2009

daily text 05/01

Friday, May 1st, 2009
"The sea...and Hades gave up those dead in them, and they were judged individually according to their deeds" (Revelation 20:13)

At some point during Judgement Day, scrolls will be opened. Along with the Bible, they will form the basis for judging all alive as to their worthiness to gain everlasting life. (Revelation 20:12)
By the end of Judgement Day, each individual will have had ample opportunity to show where he stands on the issue of universal sovereignty. Will he uphold the Kingdom arrangement and allow the Lamb to guide him to "fountains of waters of life?" Or will he resist, refusing to subject himself to God's Kingdom? (Revelation 7:17; Isaiah 65:20) By then, all on earth will have had an opportunity to make a personal decision, unhampered by inherited sin or a wicked environment. No one will be able to question the rightfulness of Jehovah's final judgement. Only the wicked will be everlastingly destroyed." -Revelation 20:14, 15
(Watchtower issue: 01/15/07, 5:16)