Thursday, October 21, 2010

daily text 10/21

Thursday, October 21st, 2010
"Oppose the Devil, and he will flee from you"
(James 4:7)

Jesus assured his followers of the availability of God's spirit by saying: "If you, although being [imperfect and thus comparatively] wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more so will the Father in heaven give holy spirit to those asking him!" (Luke 11:13) Let us continue praying to Jehovah for his holy spirit. With this most powerful force backing us up in our determination to oppose the Devil, we will be able to come off victorious. Also, we need to put on the complete suit of spiritual armor from God. (Ephesians 6:11-18, ftn.) Something else helped Jesus to oppose the Devil, and it can help us too. The Bible states: "For the joy that was set before [Jesus] he endured a torture stake." (Hebrews 12:2) We can have similar joy by upholding Jehovah's sovereignty, honoring his holy name, and keeping the reward of everlasting life before us.
(Watchtower issue: 11/15/08, 4:16, 17)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

daily text 10/20

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010
"Speak consolingly to the depressed souls, support the weak" (1 Thessalonians 5:14)

Many brothers spend hours each month preparing meeting parts. Their insightful words motivate all in the congregation to endure. (1 Timothy 5:17) Numerous brothers and sisters are known for their warmth and compassion toward fellow believers. (Romans 12:15) Some regularly visit those who are depressed and pray with them. Others thoughtfully write some heartfelt words of enouragement to fellow Christians who are coping with a trial. Still others kindly help those with physical limitations to attend the congregation meetings. Thousands of Witnesses share in relief work, helping fellow believers rebuild homes that have been struck by disasters. The tender affection and practical assistance rendered by such caring brothers and sisters are all manifestations of "God's undeserved kindness expressed in various ways."—1 Peter 4:10, 11.
(Watchtower issue: 1/15/09, 3:9)

I haven't seen all the notes from the annual meeting yet, but from what I have read, there were a few important points, (related to today's text), that stood out to me. What some of the Governing Body members expressed is exactly how I've been feeling lately, just from watching the news and seeing whats going on in the world. This definitely isn't the time to be complacent or 'doing our own thing' because there's alot of work to be done. And there's going to be alot more work ahead...especially in view of the fact that earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters aren't going away, but increasing. Chronic health problems and depression also seems to be increasing. So if we're not keeping up with Jehovah's organization, than we're not going to be prepared, and in a position to provide assistance & support to others in a practical and efficient manner.

Points from the 2010 Annual Meeting:
-They mentioned that the brothers and sisters in Haiti are being cared for, and that other relief organizations were amazed at how organized JW's were in caring for the needs of our brothers, while they were still trying to figure out how to get things done.

-Br Splane talked about "entering into God's rest." He explained that Israel as a nation was interested in doing their own works, which prevented them from entering into God's rest. So likewise, today, we need to do God's will and works if we want to enter into his "rest."

FYI- The passages at Hebrews 4:1-10 and Isaiah 58:6-14 are really good references on this point, if you have extra time to read them. Here's some excerpts:

(Hebrews 4:10) "For the man that has entered into [God’s] rest has also himself rested from his own works, just as God did from his own."

(Isaiah 58:13, 14) “If in view of the sabbath you will turn back your foot as regards doing your own delights...rather than doing your own ways, rather than finding what delights will in that case find your exquisite delight in Jehovah, and I will make you ride upon the high places of the earth."

-Br Morris talked on the subject "What Are We Waiting For?"...He talked about not getting caught up in trying to figure out when the end will come, or speculating and reading too much into current world events. He said we need to "close ranks" and avoid all "gaps" with our brothers. We especially need to draw close to the Governing Body and carefully follow its instructions.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

daily text 10/19

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010
"The man is good who is gracious and is lending. He sustains his affairs with justice" (Psalm 112:5)

You have no doubt observed that people who give help to others are not always gracious. Some give in a patronizing or begrudging way. It is not pleasant to receive help from one who makes you feel inferior or who makes you feel that you are a nuisance or a burden. By contrast, how refreshing it is to receive help from someone who is gracious. Jehovah is the outstanding example of a gracious, happy Giver. (1 Timothy 1:11; James 1:5, 17) Jesus Christ perfectly reflected his Father's gracious example. (Mark 1:40-42) Thus, to be viewed by God as righteous, we give cheerfully and graciously, especially in field service when offering spiritual help to our neighbors. Additionally, to please God justice is required of all Christians in their dealings with one another and with unbelievers, including in business matters.—Micah 6:8, 11
(Watchtower issue: 3/15/09, 4:13, 14)

I was looking at the definitions of "graciousness" and it's interesting that the word "gracious" used to be synonymous with the word "godly"...showing how closely related that quality is associated with God. But here are some of the current definitions:

Gracious: kind, courteous, polite, merciful, compassionate, accomodating, amiable, pleasing
Graciousness: Courteous, kind, and pleasant, especially toward someone of lower social status

Monday, October 18, 2010

daily text 10/18

Monday, October 18th, 2010
"He that is covering over his transgressions will not succeed, but he that is confessing and leaving them will be shown mercy" (Proverbs 28:13)

Even as occurred when the apostles were still present, some fall into a practice of serious sin. If that happened with you, is the situation hopeless? Not necessarily. What can be done? Let us first consider what not to do. The human tendency is to conceal a wrong from the view of parents, fellow Christians, or elders. Those who seek to cover over sins make a tragic mistake, for there can be no concealing of anything from God. (Hebrews 4:13) Some even try to lead a double life, pretending to serve Jehovah while carrying on a course of sin. Such a life is devoid of integrity—it is, in fact, the very opposite of integrity. Jehovah is not pleased with acts of worship carried out by individuals who are concealing serious sins. On the contrary, such hypocrisy angers him.—Proverbs 21:27; Isaiah 1:11-16.
(Watchtower issue: 12/15/08, 2:16)

There's also an additional aspect to this...
Covering up serious sin isn't just a *personal* matter, (even though some people like to think it's no ones business but their own), because when a person refuses to repent or admit to their sin by covering it up, they're putting themselves on trial against the value of Jesus' ransom itself, and they would actually "outrage" God's holy spirit, by treating Jesus' sacrifice with contempt.

(Hebrews 10:26-31)
"For if we practice sin willfully after having received the accurate knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice for sins left,...Any man that has disregarded the law of Moses dies without compassion, upon the testimony of two or three. Of how much more severe a punishment, do YOU think, will the man be counted worthy who has trampled upon the Son of God and who has esteemed as of ordinary value the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and who has outraged the spirit of undeserved kindness with contempt? For we know him that said: “Vengeance is mine; I will recompense”; and again: “Jehovah will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of [the] living God."

(1 John 1:8-10)
"If we make the statement: “We have no sin,” we are misleading ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous so as to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we make the statement: “We have not sinned,” we are making him a liar, and his word is not in us."

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Shining As Illuminators in the City of Light

The following info and photos from (pgs 9-13 of the 8/15/01 Watchtower), are about our brothers & sisters in Paris, including some of their experiences as spiritual "light bearers," preaching to the local people.

Fluctuat nec mergitur, or “She is buffeted by the waves but she does not sink,” is the motto of the city of Paris.

Like a ship, over the past 2,000 years, Paris has braved countless foreign storms and internal mutinies to stay afloat. Now one of the world’s most beautiful cities, Paris is loved for its grandiose architecture, leafy boulevards, and world-famous museums. Some think of it as the haunt of poets, painters, and philosophers. Others savor its gastronomic delights and admire its haute couture.

Historically, Paris has been a bastion of Catholicism. Two hundred years ago, because of its crucial role in a European intellectual movement known as the Enlightenment, Paris came to be called the City of Light. Today, knowingly or not, most Parisians are more influenced by philosophy dating back to that period than by religion.
Man’s wisdom, however, has not illuminated people’s lives as expected. Many today are seeking enlightenment from a different source. For some 90 years now, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been “shining as illuminators” in Paris. (Philippians 2:15) Like deft mariners, they have had to adjust constantly to changing currents or events in order to take aboard “the desirable things of all the nations.”—Haggai 2:7.

(City Hall, Opera Garnier, and the Louvre)

A Challenging City
Back in 1850, Paris was a city of 600,000 inhabitants. The present-day population, including the suburbs, is well over nine million. Such growth has resulted in Paris becoming France’s most diversified city. It is a world center of higher education, has one of the world’s oldest universities, and is home to some 250,000 students. Some Parisian suburbs, having many high-rise housing blocks marked by delinquency and unemployment, represent Paris’ darker side. Undoubtedly, it takes skill and adaptability for Jehovah’s Witnesses to present the good news in an appealing manner to all sorts of people.—1 Timothy 4:10.

Over 20 million tourists visit Paris each year. They may excitedly go up the Eiffel Tower, stroll along the river Seine, or linger in sidewalk cafés and bistros, absorbing the ambience. Yet, the daily pace of life for Parisians can be quite hectic. “People are always rushing,” explains Christian, a full-time minister. “When they get back from work, they’re exhausted.” Talking to these busy people is not easy.

One of the biggest problems faced by Jehovah’s Witnesses in Paris, though, is contacting people in their homes. Some buildings are equipped with an intercom. With crime rising, however, apartment buildings often have coded entrances, and access is impossible. This no doubt contributes to the fact that in some areas, there is a ratio of only 1 Witness to 1,400 persons. Telephone witnessing and informal witnessing, therefore, are increasingly used. Have Jehovah’s Witnesses been able to let their “light shine” in other ways?—Matthew 5:16.

Opportunities and places for informal witnessing are abundant. Martine saw a woman who seemed distressed standing at a bus stop. The woman had just lost her only daughter. Martine gave her a brochure containing the Bible’s comforting resurrection hope. Then she had no contact with her for a few months. When Martine saw the lady again, she was able to start a Bible study with her. Despite opposition from her husband, the woman became a Witness.

Fruitful Informal Witnessing
Paris’ public transport system is one of the most efficient in the world. The celebrated Metro carries 5,000,000 passengers daily. Paris’ central underground station, Châtelet-Les-Halles, is said to be the world’s largest and busiest. Opportunities for meeting people there are numerous. Alexandra takes the Metro to work daily. One day she chatted with a young man who was terminally ill with leukemia. Alexandra gave him a tract about the Paradise hope. A Bible discussion was held at the same time and place each day for six weeks. Then one day the man stopped coming. Shortly thereafter, his wife telephoned Alexandra and told her to come to the hospital, as her husband was in a critical state. Sadly, Alexandra arrived too late. Following his death, the man’s wife moved to Bordeaux, in southwest France, where she was visited by local Witnesses. What wonderful news it was for Alexandra to hear one year later that the widow had become a baptized Christian Witness of Jehovah, with the hope of seeing her husband resurrected!—John 5:28, 29.

An elderly Christian woman spoke to Renata on a train traveling from Paris to Limoges, in the center of France. In her native Poland, Renata had studied theology, Hebrew, and Greek for five years, but she had lost faith. Three months before, she had prayed to God. Although not really interested in what the elderly sister had to say and not thinking she would hear from her again, Renata gave her her telephone number. The sister, however, was persistent and made sure that shortly afterward Renata received a visit. When a Witness couple came to see her, Renata thought, ‘What are they going to teach me?’ Despite her seminary training, Renata was humbly drawn by Bible truth. “I understood it was the truth straightaway,” she explains. Now she is happy to share the Bible’s message with others.

Michèle was taking driving lessons. Other students in her driving theory class started talking about sex before marriage. Michèle voiced her disapproval. One week later, the driving instructor, Sylvie, asked her: “Are you one of Jehovah’s Witnesses?” Sylvie was impressed by Michèle’s Bible-based viewpoint. A Bible study was started, and one year later Sylvie was baptized.

The numerous parks and gardens in Paris provide a beautiful backdrop for conversing with people. Taking advantage of a break, Josette went to the park, where an elderly lady, Aline, was taking a walk. Josette explained the marvelous promises to be found in the Bible. A Bible study was arranged, and Aline soon progressed to the point of baptism. Now, at the age of 74, Aline is a very productive regular pioneer minister, happy to share Christian truth with others.

Light for All the Nations
Witnesses in Paris do not need to sail to far-off lands to enjoy rich cultural diversity. Almost 20 percent of the population are foreign. There are Christian congregations and groups in some 25 different languages.
Flair and imagination often contribute to good results in this special evangelizing assignment. One Filipino Witness created her own special territory. While shopping, she has been able to start numerous Bible studies by striking up conversations with other Filipinos in stores.

It pays to take the initiative in preaching. In December 1996, upon learning that a world-famous circus was coming to town, Witnesses in one foreign-language congregation decided to try to contact the performers. One evening after the show, they were able to speak to the artists who were returning to their hotel. This initiative resulted in the placing of 28 Bibles, 59 Christian books, 131 brochures, and 290 magazines. At the end of the three-week stay, one of the acrobats asked: “How can I become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses?” Another declared: “I’ll preach in my country!”

Hidden Treasures to Be Found
Wherever they look, visitors to Paris discover delightful architectural treasures from bygone eras. More precious things, however, are still waiting to be found. Aniza came to France along with her uncle, who is a diplomat. She regularly read the Bible at home. One day as she was leaving the house hurriedly, a pioneer gave her the tract Why You Can Trust the Bible. An appointment was made for the following week, and a Bible study was started. Aniza received a lot of family opposition. She progressed in her study to the point of baptism. How does she view the privilege she has to share the truth with others? “At first the preaching work was hard because I’m shy. Still, when I read the Bible, it galvanizes me. I can’t rest, doing nothing.” That attitude characterizes many Witnesses in Paris, who have “plenty to do in the work of the Lord.”—1 Corinthians 15:58.

Bible truth also shines into the housing projects on Paris’ outskirts, revealing other “gems.” With a view to borrowing some recordings, Bruce went to visit his friend, who had just become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Finding his friend discussing the Bible with some of Bruce’s acquaintances, Bruce listened to the conversation. He accepted the offer of a Bible study but had some problems. “I was very well-known in the area. My oldest brother was always fighting, and I organized loud dance parties. How would others accept the fact that I was becoming a Witness?” Despite persistent requests to organize parties, Bruce stopped that activity. One month later he started preaching: “Everyone in the area wanted to know why I had become a Witness.” Soon afterward he got baptized. In time, he had the privilege of attending the Ministerial Training School.

Searching for treasures can take great effort. What joy, though, when the work pays off! Jacky, Bruno, and Damien were bakers in Paris. “It was impossible to contact us because we worked all the time and were never in,” explains Jacky. Patrick, a regular pioneer, saw that there were some small rooms at the top of a building, and he figured that at least one was occupied. His persistent efforts to reach the occupants reaped dividends when one afternoon he finally contacted Jacky, who was staying there temporarily. The result? The three friends became Witnesses and were able to find other work that allowed them to have a fuller share in theocratic activity.

Calming the Storm
Recently, some of the media in France have portrayed Jehovah’s Witnesses as a dangerous religious cult. In 1996, Witnesses wholeheartedly shared in the distribution of more than nine million copies of a special information tract entitled Jehovah’s Witnesses—What You Need to Know. Results were most positive.

A special effort was made to reach everyone. Many officials expressed their appreciation for the Witnesses. One municipal counselor wrote: “Jehovah’s Witnesses have done well to distribute this tract. It sets the record straight.” A doctor commented: “I’ve been waiting for this for a long time!” One man from the Paris area wrote: “I read Jehovah’s Witnesses—What You Need to Know by chance. I’d like to know more and take advantage of the offer of a free home Bible study.” Another wrote: “Thank you for your honesty.” One Catholic lady told the Witnesses: “Ah! You’ve finally responded to these lies!”

A special joy for many young Witnesses in the Paris area was the preaching campaign organized for the Catholic World Youth Days in 1997. Although the temperature was over 95 degrees Fahrenheit [35° C], about 2,500 Witnesses took part. In the space of just a few days, they left 18,000 copies of the brochure A Book for All People with youngsters from all parts of the globe. In addition to giving a fine witness to Jehovah’s name and sowing seeds of truth, the campaign galvanized the young Witnesses. One young sister, who cut short her vacation so as to have a full share in this special effort, wrote: “Jehovah has a happy people on earth who use their strength to praise his name. These two days, so full and rich, were truly worth all the vacations of a lifetime! (Psalm 84:10)”

February 28, 1998, marked the 65th anniversary of a decree issued by Hitler that resulted in the banning of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Germany. Witnesses in France used that date for public presentations in rented halls of the video Jehovah’s Witnesses Stand Firm Against Nazi Assault, which details the persecution Jehovah’s people suffered. Over seven million invitations were distributed. Historians and former camp inmates gave moving testimonies. In the Paris area, almost 5,000 attended, including a significant number of non-Witnesses.

Many in Paris greatly appreciate spiritual light, and they are glad that Kingdom publishers are shining brightly as illuminators. It is as Jesus declared: “The harvest is great, but the workers are few.” (Matthew 9:37) The determined spirit of Jehovah’s Witnesses in overcoming the challenges of preaching in the city has made Paris a City of Light in a special sense, to Jehovah’s praise.

daily text 10/17

Sunday, October 17th, 2010
"I shall . . . give you . . . as a light of the nations" (Isaiah 42:6)

During his earthly ministry, Jesus brought spiritual light primarily to the Jews. (Matthew 15:24; Acts 3:26) But Jesus stated: "I am the light of the world." (John 8:12) He became a light both to the Jews and to the nations not only by bringing spiritual enlightenment but also by offering his perfect human life as a ransom for all mankind. (Matthew 20:28) After his resurrection, he commissioned his disciples to be witnesses of him "to the most distant part of the earth." (Acts 1:8) During their ministry, Paul and Barnabas quoted the expression "light of the nations" and applied it to the preaching work they were accomplishing among non-Jews. (Acts 13:46-48; compare Isaiah 49:6) That work is still being pursued as Jesus' anointed brothers on earth and their companions spread spiritual light and help people to put faith in Jesus, the "light of the nations."
(Watchtower issue: 1/15/09, 4:11)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

daily text 10/16

Saturday, October 16th, 2010
"Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth" (Matthew 6:10)

In connection with this request in the model prayer, we should remember that the "kingdom" is the heavenly Messianic government in the hands of Christ and the resurrected "holy ones" associated with him. (Daniel 7:13, 14, 18; Isaiah 9:6, 7) Praying for it to "come" is a request that God's Kingdom come against all earthly opposers of divine rulership. That will soon occur, paving the way for a global paradise of righteousness, peace, and prosperity. (Psalm 72:1-15; Daniel 2:44; 2 Peter 3:13) Jehovah's will is being done in heaven, and asking that it take place on earth is a plea that God carry out his purposes toward our planet, including the removal of his opposers today as he did in ancient times.—Psalm 83:1, 2, 13-18.
(Watchtower issue: 2/15/09, 3:13)

Martin Luther King Jr. made a profound statement related to nationalism and God's Messianic Kingdom, which is very different from what most religious leaders teach, and shows he understood what a terrible folly it is for men to believe that God favors one nation above another, or approves of men *taking it upon themselves* to dictate political policy or wage warfare against other nations in His name. He said:

"Don't let anybody make you think that God chose America as His divine, Messianic force to be a sort of policeman of the whole world. God has a way of standing before the nations with judgement, and it seems that I can hear God saying to America: 'You're too arrogant. If you don't change your ways, I will rise up and break the backbone of your power'..."

Friday, October 15, 2010

daily text 10/15

Friday, October 15th, 2010
"See life with the wife whom you love all the days of your . . . life" (Ecclesiastes 9:9)

Marriage partners need to have realistic expectations. One mate might note certain idiosyncrasies in the other and think, 'I can change him (or her).' With love and patience, you may be able to help your mate to make gradual improvement. Do not forget, though, that Jesus likened one who picks at another's minor failings to someone who sees a "straw" in his brother's eye but fails to notice a "rafter" in his own eye. Jesus urged us: "Stop judging that you may not be judged." (Matthew 7:1-5) This does not mean that serious flaws should be ignored. Robert, married nearly 40 years, said: "Being open and frank with each other and then being willing to accept valid observations may require marriage partners to make changes in their life." So, rather than fretting over the attributes you would like to see in your mate, learn to appreciate and enjoy the positive qualities that he or she has now.
(Watchtower issue: 9/15/08, 3:16)

FYI - the latest study edition of the Watchtower (which was just uploaded to the website), has a good article on this topic: "Respect Marriage As a Gift From God" ...
I was pretty shocked to hear a comment on CNN awhile back, that said Facebook alone has contributed to about 1-in-5 marriages ending! (as a result of people having extra-marital affairs with someone they met online, or leaving their current marriage mate to be with someone they dated in the past). And that's just ONE social network!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

daily text 10/14

Thursday, October 14th, 2010
"God is not unrighteous so as to forget your work and the love you showed for his name, in that you have ministered to the holy ones and continue ministering" (Hebrews 6:10)

In some parts of the world, numerous couples have decided to remain childless. Some do so for economic reasons; others do it because they want to be free to pursue a lucrative career. Among Christians, there are also couples who refrain from having children. However, they often do so to be freer to serve Jehovah. That does not mean that such couples do not enjoy a normal married life. They do. Still, they are willing to place Kingdom interests above some of the privileges that go with marriage. (1 Corinthians 7:3-5) Some of those couples serve Jehovah and their brothers in the circuit and district work or at Bethel. Others serve as pioneers or as missionaries. Jehovah will not forget their work and the love they show for his name.
(Watchtower issue: 4/15/08, 4:13)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

From Catholic to Black Panther to Black Muslim: Life Story of Virgil Dugué

This experience gives a first-hand account of a man who was told to "hate" his enemies, based on race and religion, but later learned to "love" ALL men without discrimination, after learning the truth about God and applying Jesus' words mentioned in today's text.

I Tried to Change the World
Life Story of Virgil Dugué

(pgs 21-24, of the 3/22/90 Awake!)

I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in June 1954. I was the 5th child of 11. My parents were devout Catholics and as such sent us to parochial school. I was an altar boy in church, got up early many mornings to go to Mass, and from a very early age aspired to become a Catholic priest and to serve God and man. So when I graduated from the eighth grade, I entered St. Augustine’s Divine Word Seminary in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

Once there, I discovered that the priests were not as holy as I had thought. I saw lying, profanity, and drunkenness. One priest had homosexual interests. Another was visited frequently by the niece of another priest, and she later became pregnant with his baby. The solution to that was his transfer to another religious institution. Disillusionment set in, and my ambition to become a priest died, but my desire to serve God survived.

I lived in the seminary and worshiped there, but I attended a predominantly white high school. There I experienced racism. Not that I hadn’t been victimized before by discrimination in its many guises, especially those ever-present reminders of my “inferior status,” the signs by water fountains and rest rooms saying “White Only” and “Colored Only” and the racial slurs scrawled on buildings, such as “No niggers allowed.”

But in high school, it was on a more personal level. The derogatory name-calling, the endless stream of racial jokes, the favoritism shown white students, the discrimination against blacks—it left me bitter. Some of the outnumbered black students felt it necessary to carry knives or razors, just in case. I became involved in activist issues, such as leading boycotts.

‘How Can People Do This to People?’
In my 11th year in high school, I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X. I became totally absorbed in that book. At night, after lights were to be turned off, I took the book to bed and with a flashlight read it under the blankets. I also read books about the African slave trade. I had books with diagrams describing the slave ships, showing how blacks were packed in like sardines; when one of them would die, he would just be thrown overboard to be eaten by the sharks that followed those ships. Such things were burned into my memory. Asleep at night, I’d see those things happening to people and wonder, ‘How can people do this to people?’ I built up a hatred for white people.

By the time I was in college and the Black Panthers came on campus, I was ripe for them. They believed that power came from the barrel of a gun and that there had to be bloodshed in America between the races. I shared their view. They wanted me to join their ranks, but I didn’t. I sold their Black Panther newspaper, I did drugs with them, but I could not share their atheism. I still believed in God, though disillusioned with Catholicism because of the immorality and hypocrisy of the priests in the seminary. It was at this time that I seriously considered committing suicide by jumping off the Mississippi River bridge.

Shortly after that, a Black Muslim came on campus, selling the newspaper Muhammad Speaks. We talked about the plight of the black man, and I began going to Black Muslim meetings. They hated white people—they were the ones that introduced me to the idea that the white man was the Devil. No, not that he is just devilish, or diabolic, but that he is, in fact, the Devil—which explained why the whites committed such atrocities against the black people. What did they do to the American Indian and to blacks in the slave trade? Killed millions, that’s what!

Surely Not All Could Be Devils
So I became a Black Muslim. I renounced my last name, Dugué being French, and I substituted an X. I became Virgil X. As a Black Muslim, I was very zealous in selling their newspaper and in other activities. I felt that this was the right way to serve God. But after a period of time with the Black Muslims, I started to question some of their teachings, some of their practices—even the idea that the white man was the Devil.

True, I had had bad experiences with whites in my life, but were all of them categorically devils? I thought about the white basketball coach who was sympathetic toward blacks. Then there was a young white lawyer who represented me in a discrimination case against the New Orleans School Board. There were other decent whites I had known in my lifetime—surely not all could be devils.

Also, I reflected on the resurrection. The Black Muslims taught that when you die, you’re finished—that was it! But I reasoned, ‘If God could create man from dust, surely he can resurrect him from the grave.’ Then there is the financial aspect of the Black Muslims. I was selling 300 Muhammad Speaks newspapers a week, 1,200 a month, bringing the money to them. The dues we had to pay. So much of the preaching revolved around money. I was getting about four hours of sleep a night. I was devoting my entire life to the Black Muslims. And now doubts were growing in my mind about some of their teachings. All of that was going around in my head, was weighing on my mind.

One day in December 1974 at my secular job at a community center, all these thoughts began racing back and forth through my mind. It was a feeling I’d never had before. I thought I was going out of my mind. I had to get out fast before something bad happened. I had to have some breathing room, some time to reflect on where my life was taking me. I told those at the center that I had to leave for the day. I gave them no explanation.

I Begged God to Show Me the Truth
I left work and hurried home. I got down on my knees and prayed to God. I prayed for the truth. For the first time, I begged God to show me the truth, show me the organization that had it. Previously I had prayed for a way to help black people, for the right racist organization that hated whites. But now I just prayed for the truth, whatever it was, wherever it was. “If you are Allah, help me. If you are not Allah, whoever you are, please help me. Help me find the truth.”

By this time I was again using my proper name, Virgil Dugué. I was still living with my mother and father in New Orleans. When I awakened the next day after my fervently praying to God, I found a Watchtower magazine in the house. I don’t know how it got there. It was unusual because I had never seen any literature from Jehovah’s Witnesses in the house before. I asked if any in the family knew where it came from. Nobody did. It must have been slipped under the door.

It was the December 15, 1974, issue. On the cover there was a picture of Mary and Joseph and of Jesus in the manger—white people! And the question: “Is This the Way to Honor Jesus Christ?” I thought, ‘They are going to answer yes and say you should worship Jesus.’ If it had been any other issue of the magazine, I would probably have tossed it aside. But I opened it up and scanned the first article and realized that they were saying that Jesus is not God and that you should not worship Jesus. To me that was a revelation! I had thought that all the sects of Christendom worshiped Jesus and that all of them thought that Jesus was God.

But I knew from being a Black Muslim that Jesus was not God. They read many scriptures showing that Jesus was not God, including the one at John 14:28: “The Father is greater than I am.” They taught that Jesus was a prophet, and Elijah Muhammad, a leader of the Black Muslims, was supposed to be the last prophet. So I knew Jesus was not God, and when I read that in this article, it was as if I had thrown off weights. By the time I got to the end of the article, I sat there speechless. I did not know what to think. I wasn’t convinced that this was the truth. But for the first time, I realized that not all so-called Christian religions celebrated Christmas or other pagan holidays. And since I had prayed for the truth, I thought, ‘Could this be it? Is this the answer to my prayer?’

In the phone book, I looked up all the so-called Christian churches. I called them and simply asked, “Do you celebrate Christmas?” They would say yes, and I would hang up. Finally I was left with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Could this be an answer to my prayer? I had never listened to them. Perhaps it was time I did. I telephoned their Kingdom Hall. It was a white man who answered. He wanted to come to my home to study the Bible with me. But I was cautious. I said no. He was white; he could still be the devil.

I Asked Questions, I Got Answers
So we talked over the telephone. For the first time in my life, I felt satisfied. I called him daily, asked more questions, got more answers. He gave me proof. He backed up what he said with scriptures from the Bible. I was impressed. It was the first time anyone had used the Bible to answer my questions. A ray of hope began to dawn inside me. I got a New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures that had a small concordance in the back. I pored over it and learned many more truths.

A month later, I moved to Dallas, Texas. After I got settled, I called the local Kingdom Hall. The one who answered picked me up and took me to a meeting at the hall. There I was introduced to a Witness who agreed to study with me. I went to his home for the study. I felt spiritually starved, so we studied three times a week, several hours each study. His name was Curtis. I would be waiting on his doorstep when he came home from work. He was so patient with me. I did not realize that the home Bible studies were usually conducted once a week and for only one hour, and Curtis never told me. He started studying with me in January or February of 1975; we finished The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life book in May of that year.

Soon after, I returned to New Orleans, associated with the Witnesses at the Kingdom Hall, and began going from house to house, publishing the good news of the Kingdom. I felt that since I had been so zealous as a Black Muslim, spending 100 or 150 hours a month selling Muhammad Speaks newspapers and getting only four hours sleep, I had to be zealous as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. So besides my studying, I preached and conducted many Bible studies in the homes of others. In fact, I recall that on one Service Meeting program, the chairman asked me:

“How much time did you put in field service last month?”
“About a hundred hours.”
“How many Bible studies are you conducting?”
There were whispers throughout the audience at these high figures, but I wondered, ‘Did I say something wrong? Am I not doing enough?’

My Aspirations Fulfilled
I progressed to the point of dedication and got baptized on December 21, 1975. The following year Jehovah blessed me with a wonderful wife, Brenda. In fact, I first met Brenda the day I got baptized. She was a full-time publisher of the Kingdom then and continued to be one after we were married. Two years later, in 1978, I started full-time publishing with her. Two years after that, in 1980, Brenda and I were invited to become members of the Bethel Family in Brooklyn, New York, the world headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses. We are still serving Jehovah there.

When I look back on my life, I think of my young years when I aspired to be a Catholic priest and serve God and man. I reflect on my search for purpose, first with the Black Panthers and then with the Black Muslims, and I remember the days of disillusionment with these movements, just as disillusionment had come earlier with the priesthood. But through it all, my faith in God never faltered. I thank Jehovah that he rescued me from false religious and political starts and put me on the road to truth and life.

Finally, my youthful aspirations to serve God and man have been fulfilled!—As told by Virgil Dugué.

daily text 10/13

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010
"Continue to love your enemies, to do good to those hating you, to bless those cursing you, to pray for those who are insulting you" (Luke 6:27, 28)

The common Jewish greeting included the word "peace." (Judges 19:20; John 20:19) This was an implied wish for the health, welfare, and prosperity of the person greeted. It would not be an "extraordinary thing" if we were to greet only those whom we consider to be our "brothers." As Jesus pointed out, something similar was done by "people of the nations." (Matthew 5:46, 47) Inherited sin made it impossible for Christ's disciples to be flawless, perfect. (Romans 5:12) Yet, Jesus said: "You must accordingly be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48) He was thereby encouraging his listeners to imitate their "heavenly Father," Jehovah, by perfecting their love—making it complete by loving their enemies. The same thing is expected of us.
(Watchtower issue: 5/15/08, 2:4, 7, 8)

Trapped Miners in Chile Getting Rescued After 69 Days...

Here's the latest info on the Chile mine rescue efforts, which started last night, and is currently still in progress...
CNN: Chile Mine Rescue

One of the miners, Samuel Avalos, is a Witness, and thanked Jehovah for being alive in a letter written to his family at the beginning of the ordeal. Here's a blog entry with a photo of him, posted by another JW back in August.
Trapped Chilean Miner Grateful To Jehovah

On CNN they gave a collective quote in behalf of the 33 miners, who said, that there were really 34 people down in the mine, (not 33), because they felt God never left them. And now that I know more about the religious backrounds of the men trapped for 69 days together, I bet there were some very *lively* discussions that took place! One of the miners actually requested to have crucifixes and statues of Mary & other saints sent down so he could make a shrine!
(I hate to burst his spiritual bubble, but when you're praying for God to rescue you out of a life or death situation, that's definitely not the best time to be violating his clear prohibition on idolatry!) lol.

Speaking of other religions...apparently a few different religious groups or leaders, are *angling* for the media spotlight already, and claiming credit for the miraculous rescue:
Chilean Miners: Rival Churches Claim Credit for the Miracle

Did anyone else have a "deja-vu" moment while watching the rescue efforts, after reading the new Jeremiah book? (which was just released at our last district convention). I wonder if the brother trapped in the mine had gotten the opportunity to read it,...because I bet he can *really* relate to what Jeremiah went through when he was trapped in the miry cistern, and about to die, but was saved by Ebed-melech and his 'rescue team' just in the nick of time.

Look at this illustration from pg 63 of the new book...even the size of the cistern that Jeremiah is being rescued out of looks like the size of the opening in the ground that the miners are being rescued out of. They should have named the rescue capsules "Ebed-melech" or "Jeremiah" instead of "Phoenix"! =) lol

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

daily text 10/12

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010
"I pummel my body and lead it as a slave, that, after I have preached to others, I myself should not become disapproved somehow" (1 Corinthians 9:27)

In order to preserve his life, a person is likely to be willing to have a limb surgically amputated. The figurative 'throwing away' of the eye and the hand is vital for us to avoid immoral thinking and actions that can cost us our spiritual life. (Matthew 5:29, 30) Keeping mentally, morally, and spiritually clean is the only way to escape the everlasting destruction symbolized by Gehenna. Because of inherited sin and imperfection, maintaining moral cleanness requires effort. Let us therefore be determined to apply Jesus' counsel on morality, never allowing ourselves to act in ways that show a lack of gratitude for his ransom sacrifice.—Matthew 20:28; Hebrews 6:4-6.
(Watchtower issue: 2/15/09, 2:13, 14)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Joyous & Thankful Despite Heartbreaking Loss: Life Story of Nancy E. Porter

Joyous and Thankful Despite Heartbreaking Loss
Life Story of Nancy E. Porter

(pgs 23-27 of the 6/1/01 WA)

It was June 5, 1947, a warm evening in the Bahamas, islands off the southeast coast of the United States. An immigration officer paid me and my husband, George, an unexpected visit. He handed us a letter that said that our presence in the islands was no longer welcome and that we were “to leave the colony forthwith!”

George and I were the first missionaries of Jehovah’s Witnesses to come to Nassau, the largest city in the Bahamas. Upon graduating from the eighth class of Gilead, a missionary school in upstate New York, we were assigned here. What had we done to bring about such a strong reaction after only a three-month stay? And how is it that well over 50 years later, I am still here?

Training for the Ministry
My father, Harry Kilner, was a strong influence on the way my life has turned out. He set an excellent example for me, making many sacrifices to become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Though his health was not the best, he went preaching nearly every weekend, zealously putting Kingdom interests first. (Matthew 6:33) We were very limited financially, but his shoe shop was a center of spiritual activity in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, in the 1930’s. My earliest memories are of full-time ministers of Jehovah’s Witnesses, called pioneers, visiting our home and sharing experiences.

(Nancy in street work, in Victoria, B.C., 1944)

In 1943, I began my pioneer service near Fort Macleod and Claresholm, Alberta. By then our preaching work was banned in Canada as a result of misrepresentation by opposers during World War II. Our territory stretched 30 miles [50 km] in opposite directions, but being young and energetic, we thought nothing of riding bicycles or walking to reach the small communities and farms in the area. During this time, I had the opportunity to visit with some graduates of Gilead, and their experiences stirred within me the desire to become a missionary.

In 1945, I married George Porter, who was from Saskatchewan, Canada. His parents had been zealous Witnesses since 1916, and he too had chosen the full-time ministry as his career. Our first assignment was beautiful Lynn Valley in North Vancouver, Canada. Not long afterward we were invited to Gilead.

I have spoken with graduates of various theological seminaries over the years and have seen how their theological training eroded their faith in God and in his Word, the Bible. In contrast, what we learned at Gilead sharpened our ability to think and above all strengthened our faith in Jehovah God and his Word. Our classmates were assigned to China, Singapore, India, countries in Africa, South America, and elsewhere. I can still remember the excitement when we learned that our assignment was the tropical islands of the Bahamas.

How We Were Able to Stay
Compared with trips taken by fellow classmates, our journey to the Bahamas was short. Before long we were enjoying the warm weather, the blue skies, the turquoise water, the pastel buildings, and the countless bicycles. My deepest early impressions, however, are of the small band of five Witnesses who awaited us when our boat arrived. We soon learned that the culture here was vastly different from what we were used to. My husband, for example, was asked to desist from calling me sweetheart in public, since that expression is usually reserved for an extramarital relationship.

Shortly the clergy, apparently feeling threatened by our moving freely among the people, falsely accused us of being Communists. As a result, we received the order to leave the country. But the Witnesses—there were fewer than 20 in the islands in those days—immediately obtained thousands of signatures on a petition that we be permitted to stay. Thus, the expulsion order was overturned.

To a New Territory
Bible truth sprouted rapidly in hearts that loved God, so more Gilead missionaries were sent to the Bahamas. Then, in 1950, a branch office was established. Ten years later, Milton Henschel, a member of the headquarters staff in Brooklyn, New York, visited the Bahamas and asked the missionaries if anyone was willing to go and open up the preaching work on another island of the Bahamas. George and I volunteered, and thus began what turned out to be an 11-year stay on Long Island.

This island, one of the many that make up the Bahamas, is 90 miles [140 km] long and 4 miles [6 km] wide, and back then, it had no real towns. The capital, Clarence Town, had about 50 homes. Life was quite primitive—no electricity, running water, or indoor cooking or plumbing. So we had to adjust to so-called out-island life. Here people’s health was a favorite topic of conversation. We learned not to include in our greeting the question, “How are you doing today?” since the answer would often be a lengthy account of a person’s complete medical history.

Most of our witnessing was done from kitchen to kitchen because people could usually be found in their outdoor kitchen with its thatched roof and wood-burning hearth. The communities were mainly made up of poor but very kind farmers or fishermen. Most of them were not only religious but also very superstitious. Unusual occurrences were commonly interpreted as signs.

The clergy thought nothing of walking into people’s homes uninvited and tearing up the Bible literature that we had left there. They would thus frighten timid ones, but not everyone cowered before them. For example, a spunky 70-year-old woman refused to be bullied. She wanted to understand the Bible for herself, and eventually she became a Witness along with a number of others. As we found more interest among the people, George had to drive 200 miles [300 km] some Sundays, helping such ones to attend our meetings.

During the early months when there were no other Witnesses, George and I maintained our spirituality by holding all the regular Christian meetings. In addition, we followed a diligent program every Monday night of studying the lesson in the Watchtower magazine and doing our Bible reading. We also read all issues of The Watchtower and Awake! as soon as we received them.

My father died while we were on Long Island. The following summer, 1963, we arranged for Mother to come and live adjacent to us. Though she was advanced in years, she adjusted reasonably well and lived on Long Island until her death in 1971. Today, Long Island has a congregation with a brand-new Kingdom Hall.

A Heartbreaking Challenge
In 1980, George discerned that his health was beginning to deteriorate. Thus began one of the most painful experiences of my life—watching my beloved husband, coworker, and companion succumb to Alzheimer’s disease. His whole personality changed. The final and most devastating part lasted for about four years prior to his death in 1987. He accompanied me in the ministry and to the meetings as long as he could, although many days the effort left me in tears. The outpouring of love from our Christian brothers has been genuinely comforting, but I still miss him very much.

One of the most precious aspects of my marriage to George was our frequent and pleasant communication. Now that George is gone, I am more grateful than ever that Jehovah invites his servants to “pray incessantly,” to “persevere in prayer,” and to make use of “every form of prayer.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17; Romans 12:12; Ephesians 6:18) It is so comforting to know that Jehovah is concerned about our welfare. I truly feel like the psalmist who sang: “Blessed be Jehovah, who daily carries the load for us.” (Psalm 68:19) Taking one day at a time, accepting my limitations, and being thankful for the blessings each day brings, just as Jesus advised, is indeed the best way to live.—Matthew 6:34.

Joyous Rewards of the Ministry
Keeping busy in the Christian ministry has helped me not to dwell excessively on the past. Thus I am able to overcome the kind of emotions that can lead to depression. Teaching others Bible truth has been a special source of joy. It provides an orderly spiritual routine that has given structure and stability to my life.—Philippians 3:16.

Once, I received a call from a lady with whom I shared the Kingdom message some 47 years earlier. She was the daughter of one of the first Bible students we had when we arrived in the Bahamas in 1947. Her mother, father, and all of her brothers and sisters became Jehovah’s Witnesses as did most of their children and grandchildren. In fact, more than 60 members of this woman’s family are Witnesses. But she never accepted Bible truth herself. Now, though, she was finally ready to become a servant of Jehovah God. What a joy it has been to observe the handful of Witnesses who were in the Bahamas when George and I arrived increasing to over 1,400!

Sometimes people ask me if I miss not having had children of my own. Of course, having children can be a blessing. Yet, the love that is constantly shown to me by my spiritual children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren is something probably not experienced by all biological parents. Truly, those who “work at good” and are “rich in fine works” are the happiest people. (1 Timothy 6:18) That is why I keep as busy in the ministry as my health permits.

One day at the dentist’s office, a young woman approached me and said, “You don’t know me, but I know you, and I just want to let you know that I love you.” She then went on to relate how she had come to know the truth from the Bible and how grateful she was that we missionaries had come to the Bahamas.

On another occasion when I returned from vacation, I found a single rose in the door where I now live at the branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Nassau. It had a note, “It’s good to have you home.” My heart overflows with thankfulness, and it makes me love Jehovah so much when I see the kind of people his Word, organization, and spirit have produced! Truly, Jehovah’s sustaining hand is often expressed through those around us.

Overflowing With Thankfulness
My life has not always been easy, nor are aspects of it easy now. But I have so much for which to be thankful—the joys of the ministry, the love and affection of so many Christian brothers and sisters, the loving care of Jehovah’s organization, the beautiful truths from the Bible, the hope of being with loved ones when they are resurrected, and the memories of 42 years of marriage to a faithful servant of Jehovah. Before we were married, I had prayed that I might always be a help to my husband to remain in the full-time ministry, which he loved so much. Jehovah graciously answered that prayer. So I want to express my thankfulness to Jehovah by always being faithful to him.

The Bahamas are a popular destination for tourists, who spend thousands of dollars to come and enjoy the tropical delights. Having made the choice to serve Jehovah wherever his organization directs, I have had the joyful experience of traveling from one end of these islands to the other, proclaiming the good news of God’s Kingdom. But more important, I have come to know and to treasure the love of the finest of the friendly Bahamians.

I am so thankful to those who brought the truth to my parents, who in turn implanted in my young mind and heart a keen desire to seek first God’s Kingdom. Young servants of Jehovah today can likewise receive many blessings if they enter the “large door” that leads to grand opportunities of an expanded ministry. (1 Corinthians 16:9) You too will overflow with thankfulness if you use your life to honor “the God of gods,” Jehovah.—Deuteronomy 10:17; Daniel 2:47.

daily text 10/11

Monday, October 11th, 2010
"[Jehovah] is healing the brokenhearted ones, and is binding up their painful spots" (Psalm 147:3)

God's Word repeatedly assures us that Jehovah will come to our aid when we are discouraged or brokenhearted. Note, for instance, these comforting words: "Jehovah is giving support to all who are falling, and is raising up all who are bowed down." (Psalm 145:14) Moreover, our heavenly Father himself states: "I, Jehovah your God, am grasping your right hand, the One saying to you, 'Do not be afraid. I myself will help you.' " (Isaiah 41:13) How, though, does Jehovah, who dwells in the invisible heavens, 'grasp our hand'? How does he 'raise us up when we are bowed down' by heartache? Jehovah God provides such support in various ways. For example, he gives his people "power beyond what is normal" by means of his holy spirit. (2 Corinthians 4:7; John 14:16, 17) God's servants also feel the uplifting power that is exerted by the message found in God's inspired Word, the Bible.—Hebrews 4:12.
(Watchtower issue: 1/15/09, 3:1, 2)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

daily text 10/10

Sunday, October 10th, 2010
"In the morning sow your seed and until the evening do not let your hand rest; for you are not knowing where this will have success" (Ecclesiastes 11:6)

A farmer needs to be patient. (James 5:7) After sowing the seed, he needs to wait for it to sprout and grow. Gradually, when conditions are favorable, shoots begin to appear, breaking through the surface of the ground. Then they develop into plants that sprout heads of grain. Eventually, the farmer has a field ready to be harvested. How amazing it is to witness the miracle of growth! How humbling, too, to realize who is the Source of this growth. We can nurture the seed. We can assist with the watering process. But only God can make it grow. (Compare 1 Corinthians 3:6) Jesus likened the Kingdom-preaching work to a farmer's sowing of seed. In the illustration found at Mark 4:3-9, Jesus emphasized that even though the farmer sows good seed, the heart condition of an individual determines whether the seed grows to maturity or not.
(Watchtower issue: 7/15/08, 4:1, 2)

A very encouraging "real-life" example of this scenario happened to a sister in my congregation recently. She's been married to an unbelieving husband for over 30 years now, who at the beginning of their marriage was extremely opposed and did everything possible to prevent her from attending congregation meetings. He even threatened to take his shotgun to the Kingdom Hall and start shooting people if she didn't stop going to meetings. Well after about 10 years his attitude softened, and although he stopped opposing her from being a Witness, he had no interest in learning about the Bible himself.

Well just a few years ago he began coming to the Memorial, and would occasionally attend parts of the District Convention. Then, he started to attend the Sunday meeting whenever he could. Well about 2 or 3 months ago, he surprised everyone and said he was ready to start studying the Bible!
Which just goes to show why we need to be patient and remember that we have no control over the spiritual growth of someone else.

But at the same time, we can help the process along by doing a good job as "spiritual farmers" and "cultivators." Because I noticed that this sister's husband didn't seem to feel comfortable studying the Bible with just a random brother in the congregation, but said he wanted to study with the elder who had previously been taking an interest in him, and trying to reach out and get to know him. So developing a personal rapport with a potential Bible student can be an important part of aiding the spiritual growth process, since plants don't sprout or blossom when it's dark, rainy, and cold in the winter, but they wait for more favorable conditions, when it's warm and sunny in the spring.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Rescued From Prostitution & Religious Hypocrisy

I came across the following experience about a woman in India who was sold into prostitution by a relative, in one of our older magazine issues (pgs 24-27 of the 6/22/83 Awake!) and I thought it was an excellent example of today's text about Jesus feeling pity and compassion for people who are spiritually neglected and being "skinned and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd."
This woman's experience is unique because she was able to see first-hand the level of corruption and hypocrisy engaged in by a variety of religious leaders and church members who belonged to Hindu, Muslim, and Christian religions.

My Rescue From Prostitution
It was the beginning of another day. I lay in my bed, perspiring. I tried to sit up, but a spell of dizziness threw me down. I knew I was sick. But suddenly there came a loud knock at the door and a middle-aged woman, one of my employers, walked in.

“What’s the matter with you, girl? Still not up?”
“Madam, I’m very sick,” I pleaded. “Can’t I rest just for today? I assure you I’ll be all right tomorrow.”
“Listen. I well know this trick of feigning illness. Come on, now, it looks like we’re going to have good business this evening.”

You have just received a glimpse of my life in the inner chambers of a brothel. Yes, I was a prostitute—certainly not a profession to be proud of. For nine long years I flashed false and vacant smiles and conducted shameless bargains. Then in rare moments of solitude I shed many a tear of remorse, feeling helpless. Oh, I wanted desperately to escape. But it seemed as if I was bound fast and would never be free. You may wonder how I came to be a prostitute.

Well, 29 years ago I was born in a little mountainous village cradled in the mid-Himalayan range. When I was but three years old my father died. Soon after, my mother began living with another man, and I was taken in and cared for by my eldest sister and her husband.

When I was 14 years of age they arranged for me to marry a man 25 years my senior. I was taken to my husband’s home where his parents treated me with contempt because I had no dowry to offer them—except my poverty-stricken self. Although this phase of my life was short—lasting only two years—it was long enough to cast long-lasting shadows of serious doubts and questions in my mind.
My husband had begun having relations with another woman in our neighborhood. Yet, in spite of his misconduct, he would go to religious shrines every week, and at his invitation, Brahmin priests would visit our home. But never a word of rebuke!

Sold Into Prostitution
Then one evening the man with whom my mother was living came around to see me to make a proposition. He said he felt that life for me was becoming unbearably difficult and that he wanted to help me out. He could get me a very good job that involved little work yet lots of money. But, I, with a group of several other village “belles,” would have to travel with him to a distant city. At home there were no emotional ties or material attractions to hold me back, so I agreed to make the trip. Thus, within a few days, this journey to a city I’d never heard of, and to a life I’d never, never dreamed of, began.

On arriving at Bombay he took us to a home full of many young girls like us—except they were much better dressed and flaunted heavily made-up faces. Inside, we were introduced to two women who looked us up and down with gloating eyes. Then the man who brought us left, promising to return later in the day.

We had been sold! He had sold us girls for 500 rupees (about $56, U.S.) apiece! No sooner had he made his departure than we were told we would have to pay back what he had taken—no, not 500 rupees, but 5,000 rupees ($560, U.S.)!
“Why?” we asked.
“That is the rule!” they announced with finality.
Then threats were resorted to just in case we tried to escape. But I couldn’t run away. I had nowhere to go! So I accepted that initial debt of 5,000 rupees, which soon acquired interest. There was only one recourse left to become free from it, and that was to do the “work” they had for me to do—to be a prostitute!

Religious Hypocrisy
But, surprisingly, it was those nine years as a prostitute that gave me clear, closeup views of the fruitage of the religious “tree” of my birth. Immorality and hypocrisy went hand in hand! For example, one of my employers was a devout Muslim, and maintained the long fast of Ramadan every year. She piously gave alms to the beggars at the mosque. Fellow Islamic believers freely associated with her, and in spite of her utterly corrupt practices she was an accepted member of her religious community.

And it was no different with my other employers. One frequented the Hindu temple, while another attended one of Christendom’s churches. Their private lives were not unknown to their respective religious leaders and friends, and yet they also were respected members of their religious communities. In short, they all had the silent consent to practice what their religions openly condemned—prostitution. Is that not hypocrisy?

It did not take long for me to become infected with such hypocrisy. Thus, every Saturday morning I bathed, and with my friends, visited the temple of the goddess Mahalaxmi to offer sweetmeats and money and then return to our brothel with salved consciences! Upon our request, Brahmin priests would visit us to perform religious rituals, and then they would accept whatever we paid them and vanish. There was never any counsel to uplift us from our degradation, nor any fatherly rebuke that we longed to hear.

Then, in the beginning of my ninth year in the brothel, my employers quarreled among themselves. One of them slyly reported matters to the police and our brothel was raided. All of us were taken to the police station—all, that is, except our employers. They were hidden away within their large and “respectable” homes.

For the next two weeks, the cold prison floor was our bed, while our food, which really was unfit for human consumption, consisted of dry, half-cooked bread served with an occasional assortment of greens.
The only visitors we had were a group of well-meaning women who wanted to help by teaching us Hindu hymns. But they failed pathetically! What we really needed was to know the truth about life’s purpose, and the truth about God, whether or not there is a Creator. And if there is, does he care for us? If so, why had he permitted unclean practices like ours to exist? But those women, however good were their intentions, did not have the answers.

The 14 nights in prison took their toll on me and I fell seriously ill. I was taken to the hospital where I was on a sickbed for the next 17 days. I was reduced to half my size! When I left the hospital, my employers gave me some time off to recuperate. So I decided to make a journey back home, spend some time with my people, recuperate in the mountain air and finally return to where I thought I belonged—the brothel!

A Turning Point
Back home in the village nothing much had changed, except that my husband’s lover was now his wife and mother of his children. My sisters, as usual, worked in the fields from sunup to sundown. The first few days were spent making social calls and distributing the little gifts I had remembered to pack. But the novelty of those days soon wore off and I was left wondering. What did I really want out of life? Did I want the life my people were living in the village or the life back in the city? The two life-styles were different and yet both lacked meaning and true purpose.

About that time two women stopped by our door. We invited them to sit and offered them some tobacco (as is our custom). But they refused the tobacco, and we asked them why. They said they had just returned from the city after hearing something wonderful. So my sister and I asked them to tell us all about it.
They said the gods we had been worshiping were entirely different from the true God, our Maker. His name is Jehovah and he loves us all. Jehovah is soon going to eliminate all forms of wickedness, they explained, and bring in a New Order of righteousness, peace and security on this very earth. We were also told that the invitation to live in that New Order was open to all. But accepting that invitation meant making necessary adjustments in our lives now.

“How do we know what you’re saying is the truth?” we interrupted. “And what are these changes we have to make?”
“You must study the Bible, which is God’s only book of truth,” they continued. “In its pages you’ll learn all you need to know. As for the changes, this is one we’ve already made—we’ve stopped smoking cigarettes!”
“But what does smoking a cigarette have to do with God?” I questioned.
“In the Bible,” they answered immediately, “we are told, ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’ But how can we say we love ourselves when we fill our lungs with harmful tobacco smoke? It is an unclean thing to do and Jehovah God wants us to be clean.”—Matthew 22:39; 2 Corinthians 7:1.

I was taken aback! Somewhere in the depths of my unhappy mind an undefinable feeling of joy was coming to life. I threw my cigarettes outside and never touched one again. A very significant change after having smoked 20 cigarettes a day, every day!

My Questions Answered
Immediately my sisters and I began making plans to go down to the city and find out more about this God, Jehovah, and his purposes. The family we were introduced to were Jehovah’s Witnesses. I had never heard of Jehovah’s Witnesses before. I now decided to work and live in that city so that I could study the Bible with the family, who gladly took me into their home. Every morning we had a Bible discussion for at least an hour. Gradually, the questions and long-lasting shadows of doubt cast in my short-lived married life and years in brothel slavery began disappearing.

For the first time I learned that there is a purpose to life. I discovered that the Bible teaches that man was created by God to live forever on earth in permanent peace and happiness; also, that death was no part of God’s original purpose for humans. Instead, the marvelous prospect set before our first human parents and their potential offspring was to fill their days by gaining knowledge of their Grand Creator and to enjoy the work of their hands.—Genesis 1:28; 2:16, 17; Psalm 37:29.

I also learned why God has permitted wickedness and unclean practices until now. Our first human parents chose to rebel against God and instead be guided by his adversary, Satan the Devil. (Genesis, chapter 3) So Jehovah, the Great Judge, allowed the passage of time to prove beyond doubt that man-rule apart from God-rule cannot possibly succeed. My joy knew no bounds when I learned that God’s time limit for man-rule under Satan’s domination is fast running out. But what about me, a former prostitute?

I related my entire background to the family with whom I was studying, and they explained to me from the Bible about the gracious benefits of the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ. As I listened tears of sheer joy rolled down my cheeks. My past could be forgiven and erased! I was welcome to embrace the hope of living forever under righteous conditions. And until the realization of that grand hope, I could live among clean, honest people who do their best to practice what the Bible teaches, a people who tolerate no corruption in their midst.

As I studied the Bible the months raced by and I lost no time in symbolizing my dedication to Jehovah God by water baptism in 1979. Since then I have rejoiced in the privilege of Christian preaching, sharing with others the comforting truths I have learned from the Scriptures.
My gratitude to our heavenly Father, Jehovah, and to his Son, Christ Jesus, knows no bounds. For, thanks to them, I have indeed been rescued from prostitution!—Contributed.

daily text 10/9

Saturday, October 9th, 2010
"On seeing the crowds [Jesus] felt pity for them, because they were skinned and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd" (Matthew 9:36)

In certain parts of the world, people eagerly accept our literature and are keen to study the Bible with us. In one recent year, the brothers and sisters in Zambia conducted over 200,000 Bible studies—that is, on average, more than one Bible study per publisher. In other places, however, publishers may find it difficult to place literature and to conduct Bible studies regularly. Why? Often, people are not at home when a publisher knocks on their door, while those who are at home might be apathetic about religion. They may have been raised in a nonreligious household or may be repulsed by the hypocrisy evident in false religion. Many people have been spiritually injured—skinned and thrown about by false shepherds. Such ones may be wary of becoming involved in discussions about the Bible.
(Watchtower issue: 1/15/09, 2:4, 5)

While we were in Denver there was a Women of Faith 2-day convention going on over the weekend, and a bunch of women who were attending it were staying at our hotel. I'm not sure what the program was about, (the only doctrinal info I saw was that they believe in the Trinity), but other than that, it looked like more of a non-denominational Christian conference that featured entertainment, self-help advice, and inspirational life stories.
So obviously, even in America (where some territories seem more apathetic towards religion), there are still many people who have a strong spiritual yearning and are looking to satisfy it in places *other* than the traditional churches. But if a person isn't being taught the truth about God and the Bible, and being presented with a self-help "social" gospel that's tailored around *personal salvation* rather than "the good news about God's Kingdom" and the vital issue of Universal Sovereignty and what God requires of each one of us in order to gain salvation, then they're really being short-changed in the long run, because they aren't getting their *true* spiritual needs met, or learning what they need to know.

-On a side note- Although the registration for the conference wasn't terribly expensive, ($99), when I added up how much $$$ each event must make, it really made me appreciate how loving and self-sacrificing our brotherhood is by providing conventions and assemblies 3 times a year, all over the world, free of cost -both to us, and to the public in general. It really contrasts the difference between "the world's" view of Christianity, and "genuine" Christianity.

Friday, October 8, 2010

"Hail went striking at all the land..." (Exodus 9:25)

FYI - Sorry about the delay...I've gotta separate my Denver photos and Ancient Egypt post into a few entries, because it was just too big with too many photos.

We had some weird weather on Wednesday—these are photo's and news clips from the Arizona Republic...

(See! The hail really was the size of golf balls!)

(Hail damage to vehicles)

(there were also tornados in Northern AZ)

daily text 10/8

Friday, October 8th, 2010
"You would have gouged out your eyes and given them to me" (Galatians 4:15)

Some of Jehovah's servants find themselves faced with the problems of ill health and aging that are common to sinful mankind. Reasonable concern about our health under such circumstances is natural and even beneficial. Do we not want to serve Jehovah 'with our whole strength'? (Mark 12:30) While seeking to remain reasonably healthy, however, we should be realistic and recognize that there is very little that we can do to slow down the aging process or avoid all diseases. Many faithful servants of Jehovah have had to contend with health problems. Epaphroditus was one of these. (Philippians 2:25-27) The apostle Paul's loyal companion Timothy had frequent bouts of stomach trouble for which Paul recommended the use of "a little wine." (1 Timothy 5:23) Paul himself had to deal with "a thorn in the flesh," perhaps for which there was no medical cure at that time.—2 Corinthians 12:7, Galatians 6:11.
(Watchtower issue: 11/15/08, 3:4, 5)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

daily text 10/7

Thursday, October 7th, 2010
"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Hebrews 10:31)

Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, were members of the early Christian congregation in Jerusalem. They sold a field and donated part of the money to a common fund that had been set up to care for new believers who had come to Jerusalem from distant lands. However, Ananias and Sapphira pretended that they had donated the entire proceeds. No doubt, this couple wanted to gain special honor within the congregation. But their act was deceitful. In a miraculous way, Jehovah revealed the fraud to the apostle Peter, who confronted Ananias with his error. At that, Ananias fell down and expired. Shortly thereafter, Sapphira also died. (Acts 5:1-11) Ananias and Sapphira did not fall prey to a momentary weakness. They schemed and lied in an attempt to deceive the apostles. Worse still, they 'played false to the holy spirit and to God.'
(Watchtower issue: 10/15/08, 1:14, 15)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

daily text 10/6

FYI - check back later for my King Tut/Ancient Egypt post & photos. I didn't get to finish working on it yesterday because we had a huge thunderstorm that lasted pretty much the whole day and night, so I didn't spend much time online. (I don't like being on the computer during a lightning storm because I have a cheap surge protector).
But speaking of thunderstorms and Ancient Egypt...yesterday felt like the "7th Plague" around here, because it rained and hailed so hard, that it sounded like golf balls hitting the roof! lol.

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010
"If . . . you are bringing your gift to the altar and you there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar, and go away; first make your peace with your brother, and then, when you have come back, offer up your gift" (Matthew 5:23, 24)

The "gift" that Jesus mentioned was any offering presented at the temple in Jerusalem. For example, animal sacrifices were important because they were then part of the worship rendered to Jehovah by his people. However, Jesus stressed something of greater importance—making peace with an offended brother before offering a gift to God. "Make your peace" means 'to bring about a reconciliation.' From this saying of Jesus, we learn that our way of dealing with others has a direct bearing on our relationship with Jehovah. (1 John 4:20) Indeed, offerings made to God in ancient times were meaningless if the one making them did not treat fellow humans properly.—Micah 6:6-8.
(Watchtower issue: 2/15/09, 2:3-5)

I just realized how this Scripture could even be used to demonstrate how offensive and wrong "nationalism" is to God, since Christians have "brothers" all over the world. And the nations of the world are in a perpetual state of "offense" on account of people not being willing to reconcile and make peace with one another

Here's the extra Scriptural reference:

(Micah 6:6-8)
"With what shall I confront Jehovah? [With what] shall I bow myself to God on high? Shall I confront him with whole burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will Jehovah be pleased with thousands of rams, with tens of thousands of torrents of oil? Shall I give my firstborn son for my revolt, the fruitage of my belly for the sin of my soul? He has told you, O earthling man, what is good. And what is Jehovah asking back from you but to exercise justice and to love kindness and to be modest in walking with your God?"

You can see what a serious matter this is in God's eyes when you consider how difficult and problematic this might be for an Israelite coming to worship at the temple with a calf or ram. They might also be traveling with their wife and young children (as well as the "live" animal for sacrifice). So they would need to readjust their plans and make arrangements for someone to watch their sacrificial animal while they took the time to go and look for their offended brother to "make peace" with him. That could be quite an ordeal...showing why it's not a matter to be taken lightly.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

daily text 10/5

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010
"[Jehovah's] righteousness is standing forever" (Psalm 111:3)

The works of sinful mankind are seldom based on righteousness. Often they are an expression of greed, envy, and haughtiness. That is evident from the fiendish weapons men produce for the wars they foment and for economic gain. These bring untold misery and horror to millions of innocent victims. Also, many human works have been accomplished at the expense of the oppressed poor. An example is the use of slaves to build the pyramids. Those mainly served as burial places for the proud Pharaohs. Moreover, many of mankind's present-day works not only are oppresive but are "ruining the earth." (Revelation 11:18) How different it is with Jehovah's works, which are always based on what is right! His works include the merciful provision for the salvation of sinful mankind. In providing the ransom, God was 'exhibiting his own righteousness.' (Romans 3:25, 26) Indeed, "his righteousness is standing forever"!
(Watchtower issue: 3/15/09, 3:7-9)

The theme of today's text is perfect for doing a post later about the King Tut exhibit I went to with my mom while we were in Denver. (they wouldn't let us take pictures in the actual exhibit itself, but I have a few photos I wanna post from a bunch of others from the aquarium and the botanical gardens, etc).
When I was younger I remember feeling such a profound sense of awe when I learned about the Egyptians and saw their remarkable building accomplishments. But now that I'm older and know what really took place "behind the scenes" in order to achieve such extraordinary monuments, I have a completely different outlook of "the treasures of Egypt" ... they are "monumental shams", built upon a foundation of religious lies and counterfeit "rewritten" history, by "the lash" of heavy slave labor.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Life Story: Ricardo Malicsi

This experience from (pgs 21-25 of the 3/1/05 Watchtower) is a great example of putting the ministry first, instead of allowing the pursuit of materialism, a lucrative career, or personal interests, to crowd out theocratic goals.

We Used Our Changing Circumstances to Witness Far and Wide
As Told By Ricardo Malicsi

When I lost my job because of my stand on Christian neutrality, my family and I asked Jehovah to help us chart our future. In our prayer, we expressed our desire to expand our ministry. Soon thereafter, we embarked on a nomadic journey that took us to eight foreign countries on two continents. As a result, we were able to carry out our ministry in faraway places.

I was born in the Philippines in 1933 to a family affiliated with the Philippine Independent Church. All 14 members of our family belonged to that church. When I was about 12 years of age, I asked God in prayer to direct me to the true faith. One of my teachers enrolled me in a religion class, and I became a devout Catholic. I never missed Saturday confession or Sunday Mass. However, skepticism and dissatisfaction set in. Questions about what happens to people when they die and about hellfire and the Trinity bothered me. Answers given by religious leaders were hollow and unsatisfactory.

Getting Satisfying Answers
While studying in college, I joined a fraternity that got me involved in fighting, gambling, smoking, and other unsavory activities. One evening, I met the mother of one of my classmates. She was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I posed to her the same questions that I had asked my religion teachers. She answered all my questions from the Bible, and I was convinced that what she said was the truth.
I bought a Bible and started to study it with the Witnesses. Soon I was attending all the meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Following the wise Bible observation that “bad associations spoil useful habits,” I parted company with my immoral friends. (1 Corinthians 15:33) This helped me to make progress in my Bible study and eventually to dedicate myself to Jehovah. After my baptism in 1951, I served as a full-time minister (pioneer) for a while. Then in December 1953, I married Aurea Mendoza Cruz, who became my lifetime partner and faithful coworker in the ministry.

An Answer to Our Prayers
We were really wanting to serve as pioneers. However, our desire to serve Jehovah more fully did not materialize immediately. Even so, we did not stop asking Jehovah to open up opportunities in his service. Yet, our life was hard. Still, we kept our spiritual goals in mind, and at the age of 25, I was appointed congregation servant, the presiding overseer in a congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
As I progressed in Bible knowledge and got a better understanding of Jehovah’s principles, I realized that my job violated my conscientious position as a neutral Christian. (Isaiah 2:2-4) I decided to quit. This proved to be a test of our faith. How would I care for the needs of my family? Again we approached Jehovah God in prayer. (Psalm 65:2) We told him of our concerns and fears, but we also expressed to him our desire to serve where the need for Kingdom preachers was greater. (Philippians 4:6, 7) Little did we know what a variety of opportunities would open up to us!

(photo of Ricardo and his wife, Aurea)

Starting Out on Our Journey
In April 1965, I accepted a job as crash fire and rescue supervisor at Vientiane International Airport, in Laos, and we moved there. In the city of Vientiane, there were 24 Witnesses, and we enjoyed the preaching work with the missionaries and the few local brothers. Later, I was transferred to Udon Thani Airport, Thailand. There were no other Witnesses in Udon Thani. As a family, we conducted all the weekly meetings by ourselves. We preached from house to house, made return visits, and started Bible studies.

We remembered Jesus’ admonition to his disciples that they should “keep bearing much fruit.” (John 15:8) So we determined to follow their example and continued proclaiming the good news. Soon we enjoyed results. A Thai girl accepted the truth and became our spiritual sister. Two North Americans accepted the truth and in time became Christian elders. We continued preaching the good news for more than ten years in northern Thailand. How happy we are to know that there is now a congregation in Udon Thani! Some of the seeds of truth we planted are still yielding results.
Sadly, though, we had to move again, and we prayed that “the Master of the harvest” would help us to continue to have a share in the preaching work. (Matthew 9:38) We were transferred to Tehran, the capital of Iran. This was during the time of the Shah’s rule.

Preaching in Challenging Territories
Upon arrival in Tehran, we found our spiritual brothers right away. We associated with a small group of Witnesses made up of 13 different nationalities. We had to make adjustments in order to preach the good news in Iran. Although we experienced no outright opposition, we had to be careful. Because of the work schedule of interested ones, we sometimes had to conduct Bible studies at midnight or later—into the early morning. Yet, how happy we were to see the fruitage of that hard work! A number of Filipino and Korean families accepted Christian truth and dedicated themselves to Jehovah.

My next work assignment was in Dhaka, Bangladesh. We arrived there in December 1977. This was another country where our preaching activity was not easy to accomplish. However, we always had in mind that we must keep active. With the guidance of Jehovah’s spirit, we were able to find many families of professed Christians. Some of them were thirsting for the refreshing waters of truth found in the Holy Scriptures. (Isaiah 55:1) As a result, we started many Bible studies.
We kept in mind that God’s will is that “all sorts of men should be saved.” (1 Timothy 2:4) Happily, no one tried to cause problems for us. To overcome any prejudice, we made sure that we used a very friendly approach. Like the apostle Paul, we tried to “become all things to people of all sorts.” (1 Corinthians 9:22) When we were asked the reason for our visit, we would kindly explain, and we found that most were quite friendly.

In Dhaka we found a local Witness and encouraged her to join us in our Christian meetings and later in the preaching work. Then, my wife studied the Bible with a family and invited them to our meetings. By Jehovah’s loving-kindness, the whole family came into the truth. Later, their two daughters helped with translating Bible literature into Bengali, and many of their relatives also came to know Jehovah. Many other Bible students accepted the truth. Most of them are now serving as elders or pioneers.
Since Dhaka is a very populous city, we invited some of our family members to help us in the preaching work. Several responded and joined us in Bangladesh. How joyful and how thankful to Jehovah we are for the opportunity we had to share in preaching the good news in that country! From the very small beginnings of only one person, there are now two congregations in Bangladesh.

In July 1982, we had to pull up stakes and leave Bangladesh. We left the brothers with tears in our eyes. Not long thereafter, I received employment at Entebbe International Airport, in Uganda, where we would stay for four years and seven months. What would we be able to do in honoring Jehovah’s great name in this land?

(Map of locations they served in the ministry: Tanzania, Uganda, Somalia, Iran, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, the Philippines)

Serving Jehovah in East Africa
Upon our arrival at Entebbe International Airport, a driver picked up my wife and me to take us to our accommodations. As we were leaving the airport, I started preaching to the driver about God’s Kingdom. He asked me: “Are you one of Jehovah’s Witnesses?” When I answered in the affirmative, the driver said: “One of your brothers works at the control tower.” Right away, I asked him to take me there. We met the brother, who was very happy to see us, and arrangements were made for meetings and field service.

There were only 228 Kingdom publishers in Uganda at that time. Along with a couple of brothers in Entebbe, we spent our first year planting seeds of truth. Since people there are fond of reading, we were able to place much literature, including hundreds of magazines. We invited brothers from Kampala, the capital, to help us preach in Entebbe’s territory on weekends. At my first public talk, the attendance was five—including me.

Over the next three years, we experienced some of the happiest moments of our life, seeing those whom we taught respond and make rapid progress. (3 John 4) At one circuit assembly, six of our Bible students were baptized. Many of them said that they were encouraged to pursue the full-time service because they saw us serving as pioneers, even though we had full-time jobs.
We realized that our workplace could also be fruitful territory. On one occasion, I approached an airport fire officer and shared with him the Bible-based hope of life on a paradise earth. I showed him from his own Bible that obedient humankind will live in peace and unity, suffering no more from poverty, lack of housing, war, sickness, or death. (Psalm 46:9; Isaiah 33:24; 65:21, 22; Revelation 21:3, 4) Reading this in his own Bible sparked his interest. A Bible study was started right away. He attended all meetings. Soon he dedicated himself to Jehovah and was baptized. Later he joined us in the full-time ministry.

Civil unrest broke out twice in Uganda while we were there, but that did not bring our spiritual activities to a halt. The dependents of those working for international agencies were transferred to Nairobi, Kenya, for six months. Those of us left in Uganda kept on with our Christian meetings and the preaching work, although we had to be prudent and cautious.
In April 1988, my job assignment was completed and we moved again. We left the Entebbe Congregation with a feeling of deep satisfaction over the spiritual developments there. In July 1997, we had an opportunity to visit Entebbe again. By then, some of our former Bible students were serving as elders. How thrilled we were to see 106 in attendance at the Public Meeting!

Moving On to Untouched Territory
Would we be able to enter new doors of opportunity? Yes, my next work assignment was at Mogadishu International Airport, in Somalia. We were determined to make good use of this new opportunity to serve in untouched territory.
Our preaching activity was confined mostly to embassy staff, Filipino workers, and other foreigners. Often we met them in the marketplace. We also made friendly visits to their homes. By combining ingenuity, resourcefulness, prudence, and complete reliance on Jehovah, we were able to share Bible truths with others, and this bore fruit among those from different nationalities. After two years, we left Mogadishu—just before war broke out there.

The International Civil Aviation Organization next assigned me to Yangon, Myanmar. Again, fine opportunities opened up for us to help honesthearted ones learn about God’s purposes. After Myanmar, we were assigned to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Preaching the good news from house to house in Dar es Salaam was much easier because there was an English-speaking community.
In all the countries we worked in, we had very few problems in carrying out our ministry, although in many cases, there were restrictions on the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Because of the status of my work, which was usually connected with government or international agencies, people did not question our activities.
My secular employment required that my wife and I live as nomads for three decades. However, we viewed my job as only a means to an end. Our first goal was always to promote the interests of God’s Kingdom. We thank Jehovah for helping us to make good use of our changing circumstances and to enjoy the wonderful privilege of spreading the good news far and wide.

Back Where It All Started
At the age of 58, I decided to take early retirement and return to the Philippines. When we got back, we prayed to Jehovah to direct our steps. We started serving in a congregation in Trece Martires City, in the province of Cavite. When we first arrived, there were only 19 proclaimers of God’s Kingdom. Daily preaching activities were organized, and many Bible studies were started. The congregation began to grow. At one time, my wife had as many as 19 home Bible studies, and I had 14.
Soon the Kingdom Hall became too small. We prayed to Jehovah about this. A spiritual brother and his wife decided to donate a piece of land, and the branch office approved a loan for building a new Kingdom Hall. The new building has had a big impact on the preaching work, and the attendance increased week by week. At present, we travel over one hour each way to assist another congregation, of 17 publishers.
My wife and I cherish the privilege we have enjoyed serving in so many different countries. Looking back at our nomadic life, we feel deeply satisfied to know that it was used in the best way possible—to help others to learn about Jehovah!