An Open Invitation!

AN OPEN invitation to what? To visit one of the branch offices of Jehovah’s Witnesses, generally referred to as Bethel. There are 118 of these centers located in various lands. Visitors often express their heartfelt appreciation for what they observe taking place at Bethel.

After seeing many hard workers happily serving Jehovah at the branch office in Mexico, one young Bible student was so impressed that he asked: “What do I have to do to stay here?” He was told: “First, you have to be baptized. Then, it is good to serve as a pioneer​—a full-time Kingdom proclaimer.” The young man followed the recommendations, and two years later he was invited to serve at Bethel in Mexico, where he has served for the past 20 years.

What Is Bethel?

In the Hebrew language, “Bethel” means “House of God.” (Gen. 28:19, ftn.) The facilities at various branch offices are used to print and distribute Bibles and Bible literature and to provide spiritual assistance to over 100,000 congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide. Close to 20,000 Bethel workers​—men and women of many different social and cultural backgrounds—​selflessly serve Jehovah and their spiritual brothers and sisters full-time. Those who have spent many years in this Christian work serve alongside energetic youths. On evenings and weekends, members of Bethel families enjoy associating with nearby congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses at meetings and in the Christian ministry. They also use their free time for Bible study, recreation, and caring for personal matters.

Members of the Bethel family receive a small monthly monetary reimbursement. They enjoy tasty and nutritious meals and live in clean, comfortable quarters. Bethel homes are not designed to be luxurious. However, they are practical. Visitors are impressed not only by the well-kept buildings and grounds and the smooth-running organization but also by the spirit of kindness and cooperation that prevails at Bethel. Everyone works diligently, yet no one is too busy to be friendly. In Bethel there are neither social distinctions nor feelings of superiority because of one’s assignment. Every assignment is important, whether it is  cleaning, gardening, cooking, or working in a printery or an office. Bethelites, as those in Bethel service are known, work together as a team to support the ministry of Jehovah’s Witnesses.​—Col. 3:23.

Meet Some of the Bethelites

Let us take a closer look at those who make up this international family. What moved them to want to serve at Bethel? Consider the case of Mario. At the time he became one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mario had a lucrative job with a prestigious German automotive company and had opportunity for advancement. Not long after his baptism, he volunteered to spend one week at Bethel in his country. He was put to work helping in the printery. Mario could see the marked contrast between his Bethel workmates and those at his secular job. So he applied for full-time Bethel service. Although many of his relatives and colleagues found his decision hard to understand, Mario is now happily serving at Bethel in Germany.

Many enter Bethel service without any special education or skills. That was true of Abel, who has served at Bethel in Mexico for 15 years. “Bethel has been a real school for me,” he remarks. “I have learned to operate very sophisticated printing presses. I know that with this knowledge, I could make a lot of money outside of Bethel, but I would not have what I enjoy here​—a tranquil, satisfying life without the worries and competitiveness of many commercial workplaces. I feel that I have received the finest possible education, one that has helped me to develop both spiritually and intellectually. I could not have received such spiritual benefits even in the best university.”

A Visit Can Be Upbuilding

Just visiting Bethel can have a positive effect on a person’s spirituality. This was the case with Omar, in Mexico. His mother taught him the truths of the Bible. But at the age of 17, Omar stopped attending Christian meetings and sharing in the public ministry.  He eventually got caught up in vices and a materialistic way of life. Later, when working for a communications company, Omar was part of a delegation that visited Bethel in Mexico to demonstrate some equipment. Omar comments: “After our demonstration, our hosts gave us a tour of the facilities. What I saw and the kind treatment I received made me reflect on the life I was leading, alienated from Jehovah. I immediately began to attend meetings again and to study the Bible. Six months after my visit to Bethel, I was baptized. I thank Jehovah for the motivation I received through that visit to Bethel.”

Masahiko, in Japan, was also reared in a Witness family. However, he began to think of the Christian way of life as too restrictive. He became very involved in school activities and stopped attending meetings and participating in the preaching work. Masahiko recalls: “One day our family and a few Christian friends decided to tour Bethel. At my family’s insistence, I went along. Touring Bethel, I felt refreshed as never before. The enjoyment I got from association with other Christians during the trip was something I never experienced with my non-Witness friends. The desire to live the Christian way of life grew in me, and I decided to ask for a Bible study.” Masahiko now serves as a full-time minister in his congregation.

A Witness from France moved to Moscow to work. There she lost contact with Jehovah’s people and became spiritually weak. She became involved in wrongdoing and eventually married a non-Witness. Then a spiritual sister from France came to see her, and together they traveled to St. Petersburg, Russia, to visit the Bethel home there. She writes: “At Bethel we were warmly welcomed, and this touched me. There was such peace. I felt Jehovah’s spirit. How could I have made the mistake of drifting away from Jehovah’s organization? After my visit to Bethel, I prayed for Jehovah’s help and began teaching my children the Bible with renewed determination.” In addition to other spiritual assistance this then spiritually weak Witness may have received, she was greatly fortified by her visit to Bethel and thereafter made good progress.

What about the impression a visit to Bethel may make on those who are not familiar with Jehovah’s Witnesses? In 1988, Alberto, who was deeply involved in politics, visited Bethel in Brazil. The cleanliness, orderliness, and particularly the openness with which the work was carried out greatly impressed him. Not long before touring Bethel, Alberto had visited the seminary where his brother-in-law served as a priest. Alberto noticed the contrast. “Everything in the seminary was done in secret,” says Alberto. Shortly after his visit to Bethel, he accepted a Bible study, abandoned politics, and now serves as a congregation elder.

Come Visit Bethel!

Many have put forth extraordinary efforts to visit the branch office in their country. In Brazil, for example, Paulo and Eugenia saved for four years in order to make the two-day, 2,000-mile [3,000 km] bus trip to see the Bethel facilities in that country. They say: “It was worth all the effort. We now have a much broader view of Jehovah’s organization. When we explain the work done at Bethel to our Bible students, they sometimes ask, ‘Have you ever been there?’ Now we can say yes.”

Is there a branch office and Bethel home in your country or in a nearby land? We invite you to visit the facilities. You will surely receive a warm welcome and derive great spiritual benefit from visiting Bethel.

[Picture on page 18]

Mario

[Picture on page 18]

Abel

[Picture on page 18]

Germany

[Picture on page 18]

Japan

[Picture on page 18]

Brazil