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“I Am Now Ready to Leave Babylon the Great”

Thomson, a young man who lives in Uganda, had become dissatisfied with religion. Appalled by the clergy’s emphasis on money, he stopped attending all religious services. Yet, he continued to read his Bible daily. He was particularly intrigued by the book of Revelation and tried to interpret it, making notes in a small book. When a brother met  Thomson at his place of work, a small construction site, he found him reading his Bible. An animated discussion ensued, and Thomson accepted the book What Does the Bible Really Teach? He read it from cover to cover in one night. The next day, the brother received a text message that said: “Thank the Lord for the information you gave me. I am now ready to leave Babylon the Great.” Thomson asked for all the publications referred to in the footnotes and appendixes of the book. He immersed himself in his Bible study, made rapid progress, and was baptized at the 2012 “Safeguard Your Heart!” District Convention. In March 2013, Thomson began serving as a regular pioneer, helping others see the need to leave Babylon the Great.

Eight Brothers Studied With Him

Jimmy grew up in Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius. He started drinking at the age of sixteen and soon began getting drunk every day. Under the influence of alcohol, he often lost all self-control and was sent to prison several times. Sometimes he drank up to three bottles of rum and smoked sixty cigarettes in one day. If he ran out of money, he would drink alcohol used for cleaning windows. He even drank his mother’s eau de cologne. When someone told him that he looked like a living corpse, he checked himself into a detoxification center. He stayed there for a year and a half, but it really did not help him.

Rodrigues: Jimmy was determined to change his lifestyle

Eventually, Jimmy met Jehovah’s Witnesses and accepted a Bible study. Occasionally, he would leave the study to get a drink. Over time, eight brothers studied with him. Jimmy eventually realized that he had to  change his way of life. He said: “I felt as though the spiritual sword of Hebrews 4:12 were piercing my heart. One day while reading my Bible, I saw Proverbs 24:16, which says: ‘The righteous one may fall seven times, and he will get up again.’ That was the turning point in my life.” After “falling” with seven brothers who studied with him, Jimmy was determined to change and to “get up” with the help of the eighth brother. Jimmy implored Jehovah for strength, attended congregation meetings, and got rid of his bad habits. He was baptized in 2003 and became a regular pioneer in 2012. He now serves as a ministerial servant in a congregation on the island of Rodrigues.

“Jehovah and the Angels Will Be My Friends”

Seventy-year-old Mary in Kenya had been a member of the Presbyterian Church all her life. She was a prolific fund-raiser and had helped build one of the local churches. When one of her sons became a Witness, she was not happy. He would invite her to the congregation meetings, but Mary refused to attend, saying that she wanted to hear the Bible’s message in her own language, Kikuyu, and not in Swahili. Finally, Mary accepted an invitation to attend a district convention that was going to be held in the Kikuyu language. At the convention she sat in the section for the elderly. She was greatly impressed by the kind and loving way in which she was treated. Mary said that she had never experienced such love in her church. She listened attentively to all the talks and was happy with what she heard. When  she was offered a Bible study using the Listen to God brochure, she immediately accepted.

After studying for a few months, Mary decided that she wanted to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, so she resigned from her church. The church leaders were furious. They called a pastor from the capital, Nairobi, to come and talk to her. The pastor tried to persuade Mary not to leave the church, but she stood firm. “Who will be your friends if you leave the church?” he asked. “You have many friends and neighbors who are members of the church.”

“Jehovah and the angels will be my friends,” answered Mary. “And the Witnesses will be my friends too.”

Having failed to dissuade Mary, the pastor left. Mary continues to make good progress in her Bible study and is attending all Christian meetings, even though she lives far from where they are held. Recently, when she was not able to take public transportation to the meeting, she walked for two hours in the rain to attend. In  spite of opposition from neighbors, Mary is determined to reach her goal of baptism.

Liberia: Preparing seating for the Memorial. In 2013, the 6,148 publishers enjoyed an attendance of 81,762

The Pastor Tripped Her!

A 14-year-old girl named Ashton lives in Cameroon. When she started to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses, she met stiff opposition from her aunt and uncle with whom she lives. They insisted that she attend religious services with them at the Pentecostal church. During one of the services, the pastor laid her hands on the heads of those in attendance, transmitting the “spirit,” causing them to fall down. Ashton did not fall. The pastor prayed and prayed, but Ashton remained standing. So the pastor tripped her to make her fall! Upon returning home, Ashton told her aunt and uncle that she had been tripped, but they did not believe her. She decided right then and there that she would never again go to church. Today, despite the opposition and the insults from her family and neighbors, Ashton continues to attend meetings at the Kingdom Hall.

An Invitation From a Toddler

Although Anilpa was only 17 months old, she had a zealous share in the campaign to invite others to attend last year’s district convention in Angola. Anilpa’s “assignment” was to knock on the doors and wait to hand invitations to the householders while her mother briefly explained the reason for their visit. Full of enthusiasm, Anilpa was not always willing to wait for her  mother to finish before starting to knock on the next door. She made a very good impression on the householders. For example, on the last day of the convention, a woman approached little Anilpa and said: “I was looking for you. I am so happy I found you, since you were the one who invited me to attend the convention.”

Tired of Being Oppressed

In August 2012, publishers from the Antaviranambo Congregation in Madagascar met a group of people who said that they wanted to become Jehovah’s Witnesses. The people felt oppressed by their church leaders, who taught one thing and practiced another. The church members said that their churches had no programs to teach them about the Bible and no publications to explain their beliefs. Church fees were high, there was no real brotherhood, and there was no evidence of true Christian love. They also said that they knew that Jehovah’s Witnesses were not experiencing those problems.

 Later, the group wrote to the branch office. The letter said: “We are writing to let you know about our desire to serve Jehovah. However, we live far away. For some of us, it is a 9- to 15-hour walk to get to the meetings. So, we beg you, please send somebody to help us study the Bible. We cannot fulfill our desire to serve Jehovah with our whole heart unless you give us some help to strengthen our love for him. There are 215 of us from at least three different villages. We belonged to different religions, but now we all yearn to serve and obey Jehovah with our whole heart. We trust that you will help us.”

The brothers went to meet this group of people, walking nine hours to the first village. There the brothers held a meeting, and 65 interested ones attended. Word quickly spread, and people from other villages expressed their desire to be visited and to be taught the Bible. So the brothers walked another four hours to a second village and held a meeting that more than 80 people attended. There they met others who begged them to come to their village, which was a two-hour walk away. The brothers willingly complied and held a meeting there too. Over 50 people attended.

On two different occasions, over 30 of these villagers came to the assembly in Mahanoro, walking for a day and a half each way. Twenty five of them—couples, entire families, and elderly ones—came for the visit of the circuit overseer. They all stayed in one house, sharing their thoughts and asking questions late into the night. The villagers said that many more wanted to join the Witnesses in their worship because people were tired of being oppressed by their religious leaders.