“Leave Their Brotherhood Headless”

On July 13, 1957, Inspector Colón wrote to the secretary of state: “There is a popular old maxim that says: ‘You have to strike a snake in its head.’ A big step toward eradicating the sect Jehovah’s Witnesses from the country would be to find a way to remove their missionaries. Such an action would leave their brotherhood headless, and without a head, their ideas will not have success.”

Shortly thereafter, Secretary of Security Arturo Espaillat ordered the ten remaining missionaries to leave the country. On July 21, 1957, Roy Brandt wrote to Trujillo, requesting to meet with him to explain our situation. In part the letter said, “The hate campaign that certain people in the country are waging against the name of Jehovah God is the same as the campaign that misinformed individuals waged against Jesus’ apostles.” Brother Brandt then encouraged Trujillo to read Acts chapters 2 to 6 and explained, “The sound and straightforward counsel given by Judge Gamaliel at that time is just as good today as it was back then.” Brother Brandt  then quoted Acts 5:38, 39 in capital letters: “LEAVE THESE MEN ALONE BECAUSE IF THE WORK THEY ARE DOING COMES FROM GOD, YOU MIGHT FIND OUT SOME DAY THAT YOU HAVE MADE WAR WITH GOD.” But his appeal fell on deaf ears. On August 3, 1957, the missionaries were taken to the airport and were deported.

‘Jesus Is the Head’

Donald Nowills looked after the work at the branch when he was only 20 years old

What would happen to the local brothers and sisters now that the missionaries were gone? Would they be left “headless,” as Inspector Colón had predicted? To the contrary, Jesus “is the head of the body, the congregation.” (Col. 1:18) Therefore, Jehovah’s people in the Dominican Republic were not left “headless.” Rather, they continued to be cared for by Jehovah and his organization.

 Donald Nowills, who was assigned to oversee the work at the branch after the missionaries were deported, was just 20 years old and had been baptized for only four years. Although he had served as a circuit overseer for a few months, his work at the branch was new to him. Brother Nowills had a modest little office in his house, which was made of wood and galvanized iron and had a dirt floor. It was located in Gualey, a very dangerous section of Ciudad Trujillo. With the help of Félix Marte, he made copies of The Watchtower for the entire country.

A mimeographed 1958 Watchtower

Mary Glass, whose husband, Enrique, was imprisoned at the time, assisted Brother Nowills. “I would leave my secular work at 5:00 p.m.,” she explains, “and go to Brother Nowills’ office to type The Watchtower. Then Brother Nowills would duplicate copies on a mimeograph machine. Then, a sister from Santiago, code-named ‘the angel,’ would put the mimeographed  magazines in the bottom of an empty five-gallon vegetable-oil can. She then laid a cloth over the literature and covered it with cassava, potatoes, or taros. Next, she placed on top of that a burlap (hessian) sack. Then she would take public transportation to the north of the country and leave one copy with each congregation. Families took turns borrowing that copy so that they could study it together.”

“We had to be very cautious,” adds Mary, “since the streets were crawling with government agents who were trying to discover where The Watchtower was being printed. But they never did. Jehovah always protected us.”