“Come to Me, . . . and I Will Refresh You”

Meetings That Incite to Love and Fine Works

FROM Toronto to Tokyo, from Moscow to Montevideo​—several times each week, millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses and their friends stream to their places of worship. These individuals include hardworking family men, exhausted after a long day on the job; industrious wives and mothers accompanied by small children; energetic youths who have spent a day in school; frail older ones whose steps are shortened by aches and pains; courageous widows and orphans; and depressed souls in need of comfort.

These Witnesses of Jehovah use many means of transport​—from high-speed bullet trains to donkeys, from cramped subway cars to trucks. Some have to cross crocodile-infested rivers, while others have to put up with the nerve-racking traffic of large cities. Why do all these people put forth so much effort?

Primarily because attending and participating in Christian meetings is an important way to render worship to Jehovah God. (Hebrews 13:15) The apostle Paul referred to an additional reason when he wrote: “Let us consider one another to incite to love and fine works, not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together, . . . but encouraging one another, and all the more so as you behold the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24, 25) Paul here echoed the feelings of the psalmist David, who sang: “I rejoiced when they were saying to me: ‘To the house of Jehovah let us go.’”​—Psalm 122:1.

Why do Christians rejoice over being present at their meetings? Because those in attendance are not mere observers. Rather, the meetings afford them opportunities to get to know one another. Especially do these gatherings provide occasions to give, not just receive, and to incite one another to show love and engage in fine works. This helps to make meetings uplifting occasions. Moreover, Christian meetings are one of the ways in which Jesus fulfills his promise: “Come to me, . . . and I will refresh you.”​—Matthew 11:28.

 An Oasis of Comfort and Concern

Jehovah’s Witnesses have good reasons to view their meetings as refreshing. For one thing, at meetings spiritual food is served at the proper time by “the faithful and discreet slave.” (Matthew 24:45) Meetings also play an important role in making Jehovah’s servants skillful and zealous teachers of God’s Word. Additionally, at the Kingdom Hall, one can find a group of loving, concerned, and caring friends who are ready and willing to help and comfort others in times of distress.​—2 Corinthians 7:5-7.

This was the experience of Phillis, a widow who lost her husband when her children were five and eight years old. Describing the refreshing effect that Christian meetings had on her and her young ones, she said: “It was a comfort to go to the Kingdom Hall because fellow believers always showed their love and concern with a hug, a Scriptural thought, or a squeeze of the hand. It was a place I always wanted to be.”​—1 Thessalonians 5:14.

After Marie had undergone major surgery, her doctor said that it would take at least six weeks for her to heal. During the initial weeks of her recuperation, Marie could not attend meetings. Her doctor noticed that she was not as jovial as before. When he realized that she was not attending meetings, he encouraged her to do so. Marie replied that her husband, who did not share her faith, would not be willing to let her go to the meetings out of concern for her health. The doctor therefore wrote an official prescription “ordering” Marie to go to the Kingdom Hall for encouragement and upbuilding association. Marie concludes: “After attending one meeting, I felt so much better. I began to eat, I slept the whole night, I didn’t have to take pain medication so often, and I was smiling again!”​—Proverbs 16:24.

The loving setting of Christian meetings does not go unnoticed by outsiders. A certain college student chose to observe Jehovah’s Witnesses in order to write a paper for her ethnology class. Regarding the atmosphere at the meetings, she wrote in her paper: “The warm welcome I received . . . [was] very impressive. . . . The amiability of Jehovah’s Witnesses was a very prominent quality and what I feel is the most significant part of the setting.”​—1 Corinthians 14:25.

In this troubled world, the Christian congregation is a spiritual oasis. It is a haven of peace and love. By being present at the meetings, you can experience for yourself the truth of the psalmist’s words: “Look! How good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!”​—Psalm 133:1.

[Box/Picture on page 25]

FILLING A SPECIAL NEED

How can those unable to hear benefit from Christian meetings? Around the world, Jehovah’s Witnesses are forming sign-language congregations. During the last 13 years, 27 sign-language congregations and 43 sign-language groups have been formed in the United States. In at least 40 other countries, there are now about 140 sign-language congregations. Christian publications have been prepared on video in 13 sign languages.

The Christian congregation offers the deaf the opportunity to praise Jehovah. Odile, a former Catholic in France who suffered from bouts of severe depression and had suicidal thoughts, is deeply grateful for the Bible education she has received at Christian meetings. “I regained my health and joy of life,” she says. “But above all, I found the truth. Life now has a purpose for me.”