ON May 7 and 8, 2016, there was a buzz of anticipation in the lobby of the world headquarters at 25 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, New York. Although the lobby and tour displays were not usually open on weekends, on this occasion neighbors living in the area around Bethel had been invited to an open house to view our historical Bible display.
The invitation campaign gave a wonderful witness in the community and proved to be spiritually refreshing to those who had a share in it. It was especially encouraging to hear many positive expressions from our longtime neighbors.
“I have lived in different homes in the [area around Bethel] since the 1960’s,” said one man, “and you have been the best of neighbors. We are really going to miss you, and we wish you were not moving.”
“The neighborhood would not have developed as it did without you,” said one woman. “We are very grateful to have had you as our neighbors all these years.”
Many of the pioneers covering the territory were pleased at how cordial and receptive those in the neighborhood were. A gentleman connected with a neighborhood association expressed great appreciation for our organization and said that he sincerely regretted that he would be out of town during the open house.
The results of this initiative were most encouraging. Over the two days, 48 non-Witness visitors came to see the Bible display. During the open house, there were a number of Bethel family members on hand in the lobby to welcome and converse with visiting neighbors.
Sally, a young woman in her late 20’s, spent about half an hour in the exhibit. When she came, the pioneers who had given her the invitation happened to be in the lobby. Sally said that she had never realized that the Bibles were on display. The pioneers mentioned to her how nice it was to meet a young professional who had an appreciation for the Bible. Sally replied: “It’s so important. The Bible is the only way we can know God’s message. It’s a living document for our lives.”
Sally mentioned that her feelings about the Bible had moved her to study Latin and Greek and that she was very interested in translation. She felt that correct translation is important so that the message does not conform to some person’s agenda. When the pioneers told Sally that our jw.org website has Bible-based content translated into over 800 languages, she threw her head back in disbelief and delight. When the sisters explained to her what translators had done with the name Jehovah, she was shocked and asked, “Why is Jehovah’s name taken out of the Bible?” As she was leaving, Sally said, “This is the only neighborhood I’ve lived in, and you are the best neighbors.”
On the Monday after the open house, a cleric came up to John, a Bethelite who was doing cart witnessing near Bethel. He told John how much he enjoyed visiting the open house and how nice it is that we stick to the Bible. After conversing for a while, though, he suddenly said, “I’m mad at the Witnesses!” John was confused and asked why. “Because you people are moving out! STAY HERE! Buy bigger buildings, or build whatever you want, but stay here. You people stabilize this neighborhood. I’m so upset to see you moving up north!”
Overall, the invitation campaign and open house for the Bible display gave a fine witness to the community, and God’s name was highlighted to our neighbors as never before.