“I, Jehovah, am your God, the One teaching you to benefit yourself, the One guiding you in the way you should walk.”
1. What obstacles to the preaching work have Christians in modern times faced?
THE Bible Students * of the late 19th and early 20th centuries faced many obstacles. Like the first-century Christians, they proclaimed a largely unpopular message. They were few in number, and the world in general did not consider them highly educated. Moreover, they would in time face the “great anger” of Satan the Devil. (Rev. 12:12) And their preaching work would take place during “the last days,” an era characterized by “critical times hard to deal with.”
2. What has Jehovah been doing to advance the preaching work in our day?
2 Yet, Jehovah purposed that his people proclaim the good news on an unprecedented scale in our day, and nothing can prevent him from accomplishing that purpose. Just as he delivered the ancient nation of Israel from Babylon, Jehovah has rescued his present-day servants from “Babylon the Great,” the world empire of false religion. (Rev. 18:1-4) He has taught us for our own good, has blessed us with peace, and has helped us to impart his teaching to others. (Read Isaiah 48:16-18.) This does not mean that Jehovah exercises his foresight so that he knows and then influences every development on earth in order to advance the Kingdom-preaching work. Some conditions have favored our witnessing activity, but only with Jehovah’s help have we been able to endure such situations as persecution and other hardships that make it difficult to carry out our commission in this world that is lying in Satan’s power.
3. How has “true knowledge” become abundant?
3 Jehovah inspired the prophet Daniel to foretell that “true knowledge” would become abundant in the time of the end. (Read Daniel 12:4.) Jehovah helped the Bible Students to understand fundamental Scriptural truths that had long been obscured by Christendom’s doctrines. He is now using his people to make the true knowledge known throughout the earth. Today, we see the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy. Nearly 8,000,000 people have embraced Bible truth and are now declaring it worldwide. What are some of the factors that have made this global proclamation possible?
HOW BIBLE TRANSLATION HAS HELPED US
4. How extensive was Bible translation in the 19th century?
4 One factor that has favored our proclamation of the good news is the widespread availability of the Bible. For centuries, the clergy of Christendom discouraged and opposed the reading of the Bible, even being responsible for the death of some who translated it. During the 19th century, however, Bible societies made the Bible available, in whole or in part, in some 400 languages. By the end of that century, many people owned a Bible but lacked accurate knowledge of Scriptural teachings.
5. What have Jehovah’s Witnesses done in the field of Bible translation?
5 The Bible Students knew that they had to preach, and they tirelessly explained what the Bible taught. In addition, Jehovah’s people have used and distributed various versions of the Bible. Since 1950, they have published the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, in whole or in part, in over 120 languages. The 2013 English edition of the New World Translation will make the rendering of it into other languages less challenging. In turn, using a clear, easy-to-read Bible helps us to carry out our preaching work.
HOW PEACE HAS HELPED US
6, 7. (a) How widespread has modern-day warfare been? (b) How has relative peace in some lands benefited our preaching work?
6 You may wonder, ‘How much peace has there been in the world?’ In the 20th century, for example, millions of people died as a result of warfare, especially during the two world wars. But as World War II was raging in 1942, Nathan Knorr, who was then taking the lead among Jehovah’s Witnesses, delivered the convention discourse “Peace
7 The conclusion of World War II did not bring total peace. According to one count, there were 331 episodes of armed conflict between 1946 and 2013. Millions died. During those years, however, many countries enjoyed relative peace, and Jehovah’s people took advantage of that situation to proclaim the good news. What has been the result? In 1944, there were fewer than 110,000 Kingdom publishers worldwide. Today, there are some 8,000,000! (Read Isaiah 60:22.) Are we not thankful when we can preach the good news under peaceful conditions?
HOW CONVENIENT TRAVEL HAS HELPED US
8, 9. What developments have there been in the field of transportation, and how have they helped us in our work?
8 Advancement in the field of transportation has facilitated the preaching work. In 1900
9 Various other forms of transportation have also been helpful in our work. Trucks, ships, and trains make it possible to transport Bible-based literature to very remote regions within weeks. Airplanes allow circuit overseers, Branch Committee members, missionaries, and others to travel swiftly to conventions or to care for theocratic assignments. Additionally, members of the Governing Body and other brothers from world headquarters fly to many countries to encourage and instruct fellow believers. Advancements in transportation thus help to promote unity among Jehovah’s people.
HOW LANGUAGE HAS HELPED US
10. Why can it be said that English is an international language?
10 During the first century, common, or Koine, Greek was widely spoken in the Roman Empire. Is there a language as widely spoken today? Many would say that English is such a language. The book English as a Global Language says: “About a quarter of the world’s population is already fluent or competent in English.” The most widely taught foreign language is English, which is used to communicate internationally for commercial, political, scientific, and technological purposes.
11. How has English had an impact on the advancement of pure worship?
11 The widespread use of English has helped to advance pure worship. For years, The Watchtower and other Bible-based publications were printed first in English. It is the official language at the world headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses. And it is generally used when teaching students at the Watchtower Educational Center in Patterson, New York, U.S.A.
12. To what extent have Jehovah’s servants translated Bible-based literature, and how has technology made this possible?
12 Because we have the privilege of preaching the good news of the Kingdom to people of all nations, we have translated our literature into some 700 languages. Advances in computer technology, including the development of MEPS (Multilanguage Electronic Publishing System), have assisted us in this vast endeavor. These efforts have helped us to spread the Kingdom message and have promoted unity among us worldwide. But we are especially unified because we speak the more important “pure language” of Scriptural truth.
HOW LAWS HAVE BEEN HELPFUL
13, 14. How have present-day Christians benefited from laws and legal decisions?
13 As noted in the preceding article, the early Christians benefited from Roman law, which was in force throughout the empire. Similarly, present-day Christians benefit from legal provisions. For example, in the United States
14 Courts of other countries have also upheld our freedom of worship and the right to preach publicly. In some lands, we have lost court battles, but we have applied to international courts. For example, as of June 2014, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled in our favor in 57 cases that are binding on all nations of the Council of Europe. Even though we are “hated by all the nations,” the courts of many countries have ruled that we have the right to practice true worship.
HOW OTHER FACTORS HAVE AFFECTED OUR TEACHING WORK
15. What advances have been made in printing, and how have these helped us?
15 Advances in the printing industry have contributed to the worldwide preaching of the good news. For centuries the flatbed platen printing press invented by Johannes Gutenberg about 1450 changed little. During the past two centuries, however, noteworthy changes have taken place in the printing industry. Presses have become larger, faster, and more sophisticated. Paper production and bookbinding have become less expensive. Offset printing has replaced the letterpress method, speeding up the production process and improving the quality of artwork. What has all of this meant for our work? Consider this: The first Watch Tower (July 1879) had a printing of 6,000 copies, without illustrations, and in only one language
16. What inventions have aided us in preaching earth wide? (See opening image.)
16 Consider some inventions of the past 200 years that God’s people have used in preaching the good news. We have mentioned trains, cars, and airplanes, but there have also been bicycles, typewriters, Braille devices, the telegraph, telephones, cameras, audio and video recorders, radio, television, motion pictures, computers, and the Internet. In various ways, such things have helped us to accomplish our commission to make disciples. In fulfillment of the prophecy that Jehovah’s people would “drink the milk of nations,” we have made wise use of resources of the nations, such as modern technology, in order to produce the Bible and Bible literature in many languages.
17. (a) The evidence points to what conclusion? (b) Why does Jehovah allow us to be his “fellow workers”?
17 Clearly, we have strong evidence of God’s blessing. Of course, Jehovah does not rely on our help to accomplish his purposes. Yet, our loving heavenly Father allows us to be his “fellow workers,” thus enabling us to show our love for him and for our neighbor. (1 Cor. 3:9; Mark 12:28-31) May we take advantage of our opportunities to proclaim the Kingdom message, the most important work on earth. By all means, let us show how thankful we are that Jehovah has guided and blessed our global teaching work!
^ par. 1 The Bible Students adopted the name Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1931.