Friday, December 11, 2009

Reaching Out To All Nations & Languages

*The following experiences show the international effort being made to reach everyone with 'the good news' (taken from pgs 110, 113, & 120-126 of the 2000 Yearbook) and are great examples of what it means to "widen out" to others, as mentioned in today's text.
*also, I added another audio discourse which touches on this topic and discusses advice on keeping our life simple and avoiding distractions in order to fully accomplish our ministry.

(photo on pg 123, of pioneers from the Shetlands working offshore territory)

Learning a New Language (pg110)
In order to share life-giving Bible truths with immigrants who speak other languages, some British Witnesses have shown personal initiative in learning another language...Because of the special need in England, encouragement was given to pioneers who wanted to broaden out their ministry in this way. (cont. on pg 113)...
Printed Bible literature has played an important part in spreading the Kingdom good news. In the early 1970’s, the branch in London fulfilled a strategic role in supplying such life-giving spiritual food to many other lands. Much of it went to countries in Africa; some, as far as Australia. Gradually, other printing branches took over some of the magazine production, while the pressroom in London concentrated on English, Dutch, and Swahili. Nevertheless, the two MAN letterpresses in England still had a very full schedule.

Help on an International Scale (pgs 120 -126)
The Society’s branch in Germany stepped in to help print English magazines during the transfer of our printing operations from Wembley to the new location at IBSA House. Soon, however, the printing operations were resumed in London, and tens of millions of magazines setting out life-giving truths were streaming from the presses in our new factory.
Although far from East Africa, the London printery has long produced a regular supply of magazines for that part of the world. Both English and Swahili editions of the magazines are regularly shipped there. The islands of the Caribbean likewise receive their supplies from Britain. For many years ships carrying bananas have taken cargo from the West Indies to the west coast of Britain. They return with freight for the islands, and this regularly includes magazine shipments transported free of charge because of the Society’s charitable status.

When outgoing containers are being prepared for export by the Shipping Department, empty space is utilized to send a variety of needed supplies to brothers in areas where economic circumstances are difficult. Tens of thousands of surplus chairs from Kingdom Halls throughout the country have thus been transported to such countries as Liberia, Mozambique, Senegal, Tanzania, and Zambia. There they are put to use by congregations that are now bursting at the seams with interested persons eager to learn the good news of God’s Kingdom.

When war conditions in Bosnia in 1994 necessitated relief operations for our brothers there, the branch in Austria gladly provided food, clothing, and other supplies. But when authorities in Bosnia decreed that future shipments must be sent to a legally registered organization, the branch in Britain was asked to help. Legal papers were prepared in English and Croatian, notarized, and dispatched by courier. The relief convoy had already left Vienna when the papers arrived. Traveling by automobile, brothers caught up with the convoy at the border and handed over the legal papers, just in time for the relief shipment to go through!

In August 1998 when arrangements were being made to move printing operations from France to England, 50 members of the Bethel family in Louviers were transferred to the London Bethel to help with the added work load. After extensive negotiations, it also became possible in 1999 to move the large web-offset press and other printing equipment from Louviers to London. While the French Bethelites endeavored to learn English and the British Bethelites tried out some French expressions, all were united in speaking the “pure language” of Bible truth and thus were able to work shoulder to shoulder to accomplish tasks that honor Jehovah.—Zephaniah 3:9.

Reaching Out to the Islands
Over the years, the Britain branch has looked after the preaching work in a number of islands in various locations. Some of these are included in the British Isles. The Isle of Wight, off the south coast, has seven thriving congregations. The Isle of Man, in the Irish Sea, has a prosperous congregation of 190 publishers. The Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland, are home to over 60 publishers, who regularly witness in the remote hamlets. The Orkney and the Shetland islands, off Scotland’s northeastern tip, both have growing congregations that give a thorough witness to those isolated from the mainland. Indeed, the pioneers in the Shetland Islands extend their territory out into the North Sea as they visit the fishing boats and preach to the sailors on board. (shown in the photo above)

The two congregations on Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands, care for witnessing on the smaller islands of Alderney and Sark. This has required considerable effort. As an example, a regular witness has been given to the inhabitants of Sark—now 575 in number—since the early 1980’s. A pioneer from Guernsey who preached on Sark met a young man whose mother was a Witness elsewhere in the British Isles. At first the young man did not show interest, but after further discussions, a Witness couple started a study with him and his girlfriend—a study that was conducted largely through the mail.
Congregations from both Guernsey and Jersey shared the expense of sending a pioneer to Sark and Alderney once a month. With such personal help and studies by mail, both the young man and his girlfriend gradually made spiritual progress. To provide further help, an elder conducted a study by telephone, using the book United in Worship of the Only True God. In April 1994, both the young man and the young woman, now his wife, were ready for baptism. At present they benefit from and share in congregation meetings by a telephone hookup when weather conditions do not permit them to make the sea crossing to Guernsey. Truly, an earnest effort is made to help everyone to benefit from the good news.
Three congregations are thriving on the nearby island of Jersey. These congregations take turns with the ones on Guernsey in hosting an annual district convention attended by some 500 local Witnesses and about 1,000 visitors from other parts of Britain. Additionally, since many Portuguese-speaking seasonal workers come to this island, some local publishers have studied Portuguese in order to be able to share the Kingdom message with them more effectively.

Much farther away are the Falkland Islands. Many of the islands’ 2,200 inhabitants have their roots in the Shetland Islands and other parts of Scotland. Arthur Nutter and his wife, along with their children, moved to the Falkland Islands from England in 1980 to share in giving a witness. Two years later, because of developments in world affairs, it seemed wise for the Britain branch to give general supervision to the preaching work there. Although the Falkland Islands are some 8,000 miles [13,000 km] from London, visits were made to serve the small congregation. That arrangement of supervision from Britain continued for 15 years.

As it has for most of the past 50 years, the Britain branch also supervises the activity of Jehovah’s people in Malta, in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea. There on Malta the apostle Paul was shipwrecked on his way to Rome in about 58 C.E. (Acts 28:1) Nearby is Gozo, a smaller and dependent sister island. Today, both are home to thriving congregations of Jehovah’s people. Although some witnessing had been reported from Malta since 1936, it was not until the 1970’s that the Kingdom work became well established among the Maltese population. Repeated efforts were made to share the good news with people there, but the Roman Catholic Church held a firm grip on both government and private life.

Gesualda Lima was a girl of 13 when she first heard her mother explain to the family what she had been told by a neighbor who was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. That was in 1970. “When I heard the name Jehovah, to me it was something special,” Gesualda recalls. (Psalm 83:18) Later her parents opposed her interest in the Bible’s message. Undeterred, she continued to study the Bible, began attending meetings, dedicated her life to Jehovah, and was baptized. In 1981 she married Ignazio, a lively Italian with irrepressible zeal. Together they have been privileged to serve as full-time ministers in Malta, and they have helped about 100 others to learn the truth. The majority of these are Maltese.

Joe Axiak, a watchmaker by trade, is a largehearted, kindly Maltese man who first heard about the truth from his uncle’s family. But being then of an independent nature, Joe left home and traveled to Australia. When he began to associate with Jehovah’s Witnesses there, one of his brothers warned him: “If our mother hears that you are going to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, she will die, and I’ll burn this hall if you go there again.” However, Joe persisted, and it paid off. Now he and seven of his brothers and sisters, including the brother who threatened him, are serving Jehovah.

After Joe returned to Malta, he got married, and he and his wife, Jane, decided to give special attention to the territory on the island of Gozo. Every weekend, they traveled there by ferry. But after their son, David, was born, the traveling was too much, so they decided to settle in Gozo. What a joy it was to them when in 1984 a congregation was established! Now there are 27 publishers on Gozo. They meet in their own Kingdom Hall and regularly preach the good news to others.

If Only It Was in Maltese
Expressing Bible truths in their own language, Maltese, has helped more of these island folk to make progress in gaining an accurate knowledge of Jehovah and his ways.—Colossians 1:9, 10.

Helen Massa, one of Gesualda Lima’s Bible students, remembers when all the meetings were held in English. Although it was sometimes a struggle to understand what was being said, Helen treasures memories of the fine instruction given. She often speaks of the patient teaching by an English brother, Norman Rutherford, who served in Malta in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s. Norman and his wife, Isabel, graduates of Gilead’s 11th class, always acted cautiously because they were foreigners. Their desire was to stay and support the local brothers and sisters, who took a courageous stand in the face of religious and family opposition.

In the early 1970’s, Joe Micallef, a journalist who was fluent in English, was delighted when Norman Rutherford agreed to study the Bible with him. He remembers: “I would ask a question, and I would have been happy with yes or no.” But Norman realized that there was more to teaching than simply answering questions. “He would go into detail, explaining why it is yes or why it is no.” This strengthened Joe’s faith.

Although the first meetings Joe attended were in English, after a while some in attendance were assigned to summarize in Maltese the main points of paragraphs from The Watchtower. That was not always an easy thing to do. Joe’s brother, Ray, decided he would write down his summary but found it easier to translate the whole paragraph. “When Peter Ellis, who visited Malta as a traveling overseer, saw what was happening,” Joe continues, “he suggested that we purchase a duplicating machine.”

Thus, in 1977 the first typewritten copy of the Maltese Watchtower appeared. When the brothers needed help with making or correcting the stencils they typed, who better to ask than someone involved in the printing business—journalist Joe! “Look,” exclaimed Joe, “somebody has to take on the responsibility for getting this job done!” The brothers replied: “Well, whom do you suggest?” to which Joe answered: “I don’t know, but I’m willing to try.” Thus began Joe’s involvement with the translating of Maltese publications. Of course, today arrangements to translate publications are made through the Writing Committee and are not undertaken independently. In 1979 the first printed issue of the Maltese Watchtower appeared. A team of translators gradually took over the work, and presently The Watchtower appears semimonthly and Awake! is published monthly in Maltese.