Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Great Experience from the Congo Convention

This experience is awesome (and hilarious)... and shows how Jehovah always accomplishes things at just the right time to turn events around in his favor.

10/05/09 Morning Worship – David Splane of the Governing Body conducted.

Brother Splane commended the Bethel family and mentioned how sometimes they didn’t realize how everything they do plays a part in getting the good news preached throughout the earth. He went on to relate this experience:

In June 2009 he traveled to a District Convention in Congo Kinshasa on the continent of Africa to release the New World Translation in their language

The brothers had tried to rent the Sports Stadium for years, but the Minister of Sports had said that a sports stadium should never be used for a religious convention. Now there was a new Minister of Sports appointed. The brothers made a request and he agreed to allow it. The brothers told him that 29,000 were expected to attend.

Soon thereafter the Minister of Justice found out about the convention – he was Neo-Apostolic and said that if Jehovah’s Witnesses could have the stadium, why couldn’t his religious group? He said that the Witnesses could have it on Friday and Saturday, but his group wanted it on Sunday. After much negotiation, it was agreed that the Witnesses would use it from 7:00 a.m. – 12 noon on Sunday. They would have one hour to vacate and his group could have it beginning at 1:00 p.m. The Neo Apostolic group has a reputation for extracting money from the people in this country where money is hard to come by. The publicity surrounding the use of the stadium resulted in many in his group finding out that there was another convention Friday and Saturday – so many thought, “Why don’t we go and see what it is about?”.

Friday morning, to the surprise of everyone, the attendance was 45,000. When the New World Translation in their language was released the applause was thunderous for 5 minutes. (Thunderous is 1000 times louder than enthusiastic according to Brother Splane.) Neighbors from around the stadium heard the applause and wondered what team was playing – so many came in the afternoon to find out and stayed for the session. Those who had worked so hard on translating had the privilege of distributing the Bibles throughout the stadium to those who remained seated after the morning session. The translators and the people receiving Bibles were weeping when they were handed out. A Senator wrote a letter to the Branch office after the convention thanking them. He said, “Very little information has been translated into Congolese. Not only do you people translate, but you give everyone a free copy.”

Saturday 1,088 were baptized and amazingly 72,000 were in attendance. On Sunday the brothers didn’t mind the 7:00 a.m. start, since their congregation meeting normally started at 6:00 a.m. – they were happy to be able to sleep in an extra hour. To everyone’s shock, 87,000 attended on Sunday. Brother Splane had prayed to get an indication as to what some of the people were thinking that attended for the first time – especially those of the Neo-Apostolic faith. Were they seeing a contrast between their own faith and that of Jehovah’s Witnesses? His prayer was answered – a man put a note in the contribution box that expressed gratitude for the convention. He couldn’t believe that with this group there were no collections taken and that he received a Bible free of charge in his language. He said, “I am going to study. I have already received more from you people than from my church.”

How did all of this come about? In January Brother Splane received a call that with the production time and the shipping through England to the Congo, the Bibles would be received at their destination two weeks after the convention. One phone call to the printing department resulted in that overseer saying that they would drop everything and start printing the Bibles. Then the shipping department got involved and did some research. They found a company that could get the Bibles there sooner. As a result, the Bibles arrived in April instead of June. There is a huge difference in a promise of a Bible and receiving a Bible in your hands. Everyone pulled together and did their small part. The group effort of the Bethel family made this happen to the praise and glory of Jehovah God. They were doing their part helping others “find the very knowledge of God” (Proverbs 2:5 – Text for 10/05/2009).