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. =)