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Left: A group of pioneers and Gilead graduates in the 1940’s. Top right: Members of the first congregation in the village of Xylophagou. Bottom right: Brothers advertise a public talk in 1952

MARCH 29, 2022

1922-2022: Maintaining a Christian Legacy for 100 Years in Cyprus

1922-2022: Maintaining a Christian Legacy for 100 Years in Cyprus

The year 2022 marks 100 years since Jehovah’s Witnesses began preaching on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. The apostle Paul visited the island with a native Cypriot, Barnabas, during his first missionary tour. In modern times, the first seed of Bible truth was planted in 1922 when a clergyman received the booklet Does the Soul Die?

Two years later, Cyrus Charalambous, a Bible Student living in the United States, returned to Cyprus. He began his ministry in earnest and mailed the tract Where Are the Dead? to every town and village in Cyprus.

Antonis Spetsiotes

The tract reached Antonis Spetsiotes. Struck by what he read, Antonis discussed it with his neighbor Andreas Christou. In turn, the two men began sharing what they learned with others.

The Greek Orthodox Church opposed their preaching efforts, and both Antonis and Andreas were excommunicated. Their preaching never waned. In the 1930’s, their efforts led to the formation of the first congregation on the island in the village of Xylophagou.

The work received greater impetus when the first Gilead-trained missionary, Antonios Karandinos, arrived in 1947. By 1948, 50 publishers were active on the island, and the first branch office was established. The brothers formed a legal entity in 1960. Just two years later, the first Kingdom Hall was constructed in Nicosia. The number of Witnesses continued to increase, and a new, larger Bethel facility was dedicated in 1969.

Along with the growth came increased persecution. In the mid-1960’s, young brothers who refused to serve in the military faced imprisonment. Some of them were tortured by the army in an effort to make them compromise.

Relief supplies arrive in Limassol

Further challenges arose in 1974 when war broke out on the island. Some 300 of our brothers became refugees. The Bethel family had to evacuate the branch facility. The brotherhood came to the aid of our brothers in Cyprus by sending relief supplies. Brothers whose circumstances allowed gave shelter to their displaced fellow believers.

In the years that followed, the ministry continued to thrive. Moreover, in 2006, the brothers reached a milestone at the “Deliverance at Hand” District Convention in Limassol. All of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Cyprus were able to gather together at one event for the first time in many years.

The 2006 “Deliverance at Hand” District Convention in Limassol

There are now 2,866 publishers serving in 41 congregations and 17 groups, representing 14 language fields on the island. In 2021, 5,588 attended the Memorial of Christ’s death.

We rejoice with our brothers and sisters in Cyprus. We know that with Jehovah’s help they will continue in the same fine course.—Philippians 3:16.