Famine Relief on the Way!
‘WHAT kind of famine?’ you might ask. A famine as regards spiritual food! An ancient Hebrew prophet foretold this famine: “‘Look! There are days coming,’ is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, ‘and I will send a famine into the land, a famine, not for bread, and a thirst, not for water, but for hearing the words of Jehovah.’” (Amos 8:11) To help relieve the spiritual famine, the 48 members of the 112th class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead, located in Patterson, New York, are going to 19 different lands on 5 continents and islands of the sea.
They go equipped, not with literal meat and grain, but with knowledge, experience, and training. For five months they engaged in intensive Bible study designed to strengthen their faith for missionary service in foreign fields. On March 9, 2002, the 5,554 in attendance for the graduation program listened with delight.
Stephen Lett, who serves as a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, enthusiastically opened the program. He had a special welcome for the many guests visiting from different parts of the world. Then he proceeded to apply Jesus’ words, “You are the light of the world” to the work of the future missionaries. (Matthew 5:14) He explained: ‘In your assignments you will “light up” various aspects of Jehovah’s marvelous works, enabling honesthearted ones to see the beauty of Jehovah and his purposes.’ Brother Lett encouraged the missionaries to use the light of God’s Word to expose the darkness of false doctrines and provide guidance for truth-seekers.
Proper Attitude Vital for Success
After the chairman’s opening remarks, Baltasar Perla, a member of the United States Branch Committee, gave the first of a series of talks designed to assist the graduates to be successful missionaries. He developed the theme “Be Courageous and Strong and Act.” (1 Chronicles 28:20) King Solomon of ancient Israel received a challenging assignment to do something that he had never done before—build a temple in Jerusalem. Solomon did act, and with Jehovah’s backing the temple was completed. Applying the lesson to the class, Brother Perla said: ‘You have received a new assignment, that of becoming a missionary, and you need to be courageous and strong.’ The students certainly found comfort in the assurance that Jehovah will not desert or leave them as long as they remain close to him. Brother Perla moved the audience by concluding with the personal observation: ‘You can accomplish much good as missionaries. Missionaries brought the truth to my family and me!’
“Look to Jehovah for Success” was the theme of the talk given by Samuel Herd, another member of the Governing Body. The students are embarking on a career in the missionary work, and their success depends much on their relationship with Jehovah. Brother Herd admonished them: ‘You have accumulated much knowledge of the Bible through your studies at Gilead. You have been receiving joyfully. But now, for real success, you’re going to have to start giving away what you have learned.’ (Acts 20:35) The missionaries will have many opportunities to do this as they ‘pour themselves out’ in behalf of others.—Philippians 2:17.
What parting counsel would the instructors have for the students? Mark Noumair based his theme on Ruth 3:18, “Sit Still Until You See How the Matter Turns Out.” Drawing on the example of Naomi and Ruth, the speaker encouraged the graduates to have full confidence in the arrangements that God’s earthly organization has put in place and to respect theocratic authority. Touching the students’ hearts, Brother Noumair said: ‘There might be times when you don’t understand why a decision that affects you was made or when you might have strong feelings that something should be done a different way. What will you do? Will you rise up and take matters into your own hands or will you “sit still,” trusting in God’s direction, confident that, in time, he will cause only good to result?’ (Romans 8:28) The advice to ‘concentrate on advancing Kingdom interests, keeping an eye on what Jehovah’s organization is doing rather than on personalities,’ will no doubt prove valuable to the future missionaries in their foreign assignments.
Wallace Liverance, who himself was a missionary and who now serves as a Gilead instructor, delivered the final discourse in the opening series. The theme of his talk was “Stay Focused, Stay in God’s Service.” He showed that the prophet Daniel discerned from seeing Babylon fall and from what Jeremiah had foretold that the liberation of the Israelites from captivity was near. (Jeremiah 25:11; Daniel 9:2) Daniel had an awareness of Jehovah’s timetable, and that helped him stay focused on the unfolding of God’s purpose. In contrast, the Israelites in the prophet Haggai’s day said: “The time has not come.” (Haggai 1:2) They lost sight of the times they were living in, became focused on their own comforts and self-fulfillment, and left the work for which they had been liberated from Babylon, the rebuilding of the temple. Brother Liverance concluded: “So stay focused by keeping Jehovah’s purpose in mind at all times.”
Gilead instructor Lawrence Bowen served as moderator of a part having the theme “Jehovah Blesses Those Who Use the Living Word.” (Hebrews 4:12) This part dealt with field experiences of the class, highlighting how Jehovah blesses those who use the Bible when preaching and teaching. The moderator pointed out that Jesus Christ set a fine example for all ministers of God: ‘Jesus could truthfully say that what he taught was not of his own originality, but he spoke God’s Word.’ Honesthearted ones recognized the truth and responded positively to it. (John 7:16, 17) The same is true today.
Gilead Training Equips One for Every Good Work
Next, longtime Bethel family members Richard Abrahamson and Patrick LaFranca interviewed six Gilead graduates who are now serving in different forms of special full-time service. The graduates of the 112th class were encouraged upon hearing that years later those six, regardless of their current assignment, continue to use the training they received at Gilead in connection with Bible study, research projects, and in getting along with people.
Theodore Jaracz, a member of the Governing Body, gave the principal discourse of the program. It was entitled “What Is Accomplished by Enduring Satanic Hatred.” During the past five months, the students were dwelling in a loving and theocratic environment. As pointed out in their classroom studies, however, we are living in an enemy world. Jehovah’s people are under attack the world over. (Matthew 24:9) Using several Bible accounts, Brother Jaracz pointed out that ‘we are a special target of the Devil. We must strengthen our relationship with Jehovah and be fortified to meet the tests.’ (Job 1:8; Daniel 6:4; John 15:20; Revelation 12:12, 17) Brother Jaracz concluded that despite hatred continuing against God’s people, ‘there is no weapon formed against us, as Isaiah 54:17 says, that will have any success. Jehovah will see to it that we are delivered in his own time and way.’
“Completely equipped,” the graduates of the 112th class of Gilead will no doubt do much toward relieving the famine of spiritual food in the lands where they will serve. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17) We eagerly look forward to reports about how they deliver the nourishing message to people in these lands.
[Box on page 23]
Number of countries represented: 6
Number of countries assigned to: 19
Number of students: 48
Average age: 33.2
Average years in truth: 15.7
Average years in full-time ministry: 12.2
[Picture on page 24]
112th Graduating Class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead
In the list below, rows are numbered from front to back, and names are listed from left to right in each row.
(1) Parotte, M.; Hooker, E.; Anaya, R.; Reynolds, J.; Gesualdi, K.; Gonzalez, J. (2) Robinson, C.; Phillips, B.; Maidment, K.; Moore, I.; Noakes, J.; Barnett, S. (3) Stires, T.; Palmer, B.; Yang, C.; Groothuis, S.; Groppe, T.; Bach, C. (4) Anaya, R.; Soukoreff, E.; Stewart, K.; Simozrag, N.; Simottel, C.; Bach, E. (5) Stewart, R.; Yang, H.; Gilfeather, A.; Harris, R.; Barnett, D.; Parotte, S. (6) Maidment, A.; Moore, J.; Groothuis, C.; Gilfeather, C.; Noakes, S.; Stires, T. (7) Gesualdi, D.; Groppe, T.; Soukoreff, B.; Palmer, G.; Phillips, N.; Simottel, J. (8) Harris, S.; Hooker, P.; Gonzalez, J.; Simozrag, D.; Reynolds, D.; Robinson, M.