Between 1999 and 2015, Jehovah’s Witnesses built over 5,000 Kingdom Halls in Central America * and Mexico. And to accommodate the one million Witnesses and others who attend our meetings in this region, over 700 additional Kingdom Halls are needed.
In the past, congregations in this part of the world found it difficult to build places of worship. In Mexico, for example, most Witnesses held their meetings in private homes. Why? One reason was that for many years the law dictated that religious organizations could not own property. In the 1990’s, however, the law changed and Jehovah’s Witnesses began building many Kingdom Halls. Still, construction of each hall often took months.
That process sped up in 1999, when Kingdom Hall Construction Groups started to function under a new program for building Kingdom Halls in lands with limited resources, including Mexico and the seven countries of Central America. Since 2010, the branch office located in Mexico has supervised construction work in the entire region.
Construction servants face special challenges when they build Kingdom Halls in isolated areas. In Panama, for instance, construction servants had to travel by boat for about three hours along the seacoast to get to one project. And in the Mexican state of Chiapas, the construction group had to use a small plane to bring building materials to a remote site.
Benefits of New Kingdom Halls
Even non-Witnesses are often eager to see a new Kingdom Hall in their community. For example, a man from Honduras said that before the Witnesses built a Kingdom Hall in his area, others had expressed an interest in using the land for a nightclub. But he didn’t want that. When Jehovah’s Witnesses told him that they planned to build a Kingdom Hall on the site, he exclaimed: “What a blessing!”
In many places, people are impressed by the diligence of the workers. A man from Guatemala stated: “Often in our culture, women work only in the kitchen. But women here are doing the same work as the men. I am amazed to see women assembling iron frameworks and plastering walls. This is impressive!” Some neighbors have even been motivated to buy food and refreshments for the construction workers.
Many people also appreciate the design of our Kingdom Halls. In Nicaragua, an engineer told the mayor of one city that the local Kingdom Hall was a beautiful building made of premium materials. In fact, he said that it was of higher quality than any other building in the city!
Of course, Jehovah’s Witnesses themselves are delighted to have suitable places for worship. They have noted that Bible students are more likely to attend congregation meetings after a new Kingdom Hall is built. Members of a congregation in Mexico who assisted construction servants in building a Kingdom Hall summed up their gratitude this way: “We thank Jehovah for the privilege we had to build a Kingdom Hall that gives glory and honor to his name.”
^ par. 2 Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition, defines Central America as the republics of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, and Belize.