“Cautious as Serpents and Yet Innocent as Doves”
It was vital that Jehovah’s loyal servants continue receiving spiritual food during the ban, but it was a dangerous time in the country for true worshippers. During those years, many brothers were arrested and sentenced to several prison terms.
“When I learned the truth in 1953,” explains Juanita Borges, “I knew very well that, as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I ran the risk of being arrested. And that is exactly what happened. In November 1958, while I was visiting Sister Eneida Suárez, the secret police came and accused us of having a meeting. We were sentenced to three months in prison, and we each had to pay a fine of 100 pesos
The government did all it could to stop the Witnesses from meeting together, but the brothers were not deterred. However, they had to be “cautious as serpents and yet innocent as doves.” (Matt. 10:16) Andrea Almánzar recalls: “When attending the meetings, we had to arrive at different times. Then, we often left very late in the evening because we had to stagger our departures to avoid creating suspicion.”
Jeremías Glass, born while his father, León, was in prison, became a publisher in 1957 when he was seven years old. He remembers the secret meetings that were held in his home and the precautions that they took to avoid detection. “All in attendance were given a small piece of cardboard with a number on it indicating the order in which they should leave,” explains Jeremías. “When a meeting ended, my father would put me in the doorway to check the numbers on the pieces of cardboard and to direct those departing to do so in twos and to leave in alternating directions.”
Another precaution was to schedule meetings at times when the risk of getting caught was lower. For example, Mercedes García learned the truth from her uncle, Pablo González. When she was only seven years old, her mother died while her father was imprisoned, leaving her and her nine brothers and sisters on their own. Mercedes was baptized in 1959 when she was nine years old. To avoid detection, the brothers had the baptism talk at 3:30 a.m. The talk was held at a brother’s house, and then the immersion took place in the Ozama River, which runs through the capital. Mercedes says, “We were on our way home by 5:30 a.m. while the rest of the neighborhood was just waking up.”