Building to Jehovah’s Praise
“I can’t believe my eyes. I never imagined we would have a place as beautiful as this in which to meet and to praise Jehovah. There is no way you could buy the joy I feel!”—MARIA, MEXICO.
JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES love to gather together to learn about God’s Word, the Bible. (Psalm 27:4; Hebrews 10:23-25) And they especially enjoy doing so when they can meet together in dignified places of worship. In recent years they have built thousands of new places of worship—known as Kingdom Halls—in dozens of countries worldwide.
What has prompted all this construction activity? Who provides the labor? And what effect does this building work have on the people involved? To get answers to these questions, consider what has been taking place in Mexico and Belize.
Thousands of New Kingdom Halls Needed!
In the past, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Mexico gathered for worship in whatever space was available—backyards, the homes of Witnesses, warehouses, garages, or rented halls. During this time, these loyal Witnesses often thought how good it would be if they could build their own Kingdom Halls.
By 1994 there were 388,000 Witnesses in Mexico. A survey conducted that year revealed that if all of them were to have access to their own places of worship, 3,300 new Kingdom Halls would have to be built. What an overwhelming task!
Local congregations were already building their own Kingdom Halls when they could. But over the next five years, it became obvious that to keep pace with the demand, we would have to build more halls—and build them more quickly. How is this need being met?
Traveling Groups of Skilled Volunteers
In 1999 a new building program was born. Kingdom Hall Construction Groups began to be formed throughout Mexico. Jehovah’s Witnesses from all over the country—many of whom had construction skills—volunteered to take part in this exciting program. At present, Mexico has 35 such groups, and one group has been formed in Belize.
These Kingdom Hall Construction Groups usually consist of about eight volunteers, both men and women, who work full-time without charge. This happy band of volunteers moves from one area to another within the country to take the lead in the building projects. Each volunteer works eight hours a day Monday through Friday as well as every other Saturday. The day starts at 7:00 a.m. with a discussion of a Bible text, after which breakfast is served. All are eager to do whatever they are asked. Women, for instance, work alongside men at such tasks as plastering, tile setting, and painting.
The local congregation helps out by providing accommodations, washing clothes, and preparing meals for the traveling volunteers. In addition to working together on the hall construction, the volunteers and local Witnesses enjoy one another’s company at Christian meetings and while engaging in the door-to-door preaching activity.
The Rewards of Becoming a Volunteer
How do these volunteers feel about the work they do? “It is true that we labor in the heat and the cold, eat food we are not used to, move frequently, live far from family, and often are without many modern conveniences,” states Daniel, who has worked as a volunteer for more than three years. “But the difficulties are insignificant when compared with the blessings we receive,” he continues.
What are some of these blessings? Many of the volunteers learn new construction skills. But a volunteer named Carlos, who oversees one of the larger groups, identifies what he feels is a more important benefit. “We have become like a family of 20 members,” he says. “We eat together, work together, study together, pray together. We have formed very close bonds of friendship.”
The construction groups also forge strong bonds of friendship with the local congregations that they help. José, who has participated in more than 100 projects, says: “The tears of joy and smiles of appreciation when the local Witnesses see their dream of having a new Kingdom Hall come true are just wonderful.” He adds: “We have the joy of knowing that the faith of others is strengthened even by the small part we play in the successful building of another house of pure worship.”
An Astounding Accomplishment!
These places of worship are not ornate or ostentatious. Instead, the designs for the Kingdom Halls are simple, making it possible to build them quickly and inexpensively. Local building materials and methods are used whenever feasible. In this way, a new hall can be built in as little as six weeks!
As of 2007, all the congregations in Belize had new Kingdom Halls—a total of 17. In Mexico, more than 1,400 halls have been built just since 1999!
While much good work has been accomplished, there is still plenty to do. (Matthew 9:37) The number of Witnesses in Mexico has now swelled to over 600,000—all of whom meet three times a week to be instructed from God’s Word. Therefore, almost 2,000 new halls are still needed. If this volunteer construction work were dependent on purely human efforts, such a goal would be impossible to reach. But as the results show, with Jehovah God’s backing, “all things are possible.”—Matthew 19:26.
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“What They Say, They Do”
The local congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses are not the only ones whose lives can be affected by the Kingdom Hall building work. For example, during the construction of a Kingdom Hall in Belize, a man whose wife belongs to the Pentecostal religion told her that when Jehovah’s Witnesses finished building their “church,” he wanted to attend with them. What prompted this desire? “I can see that God is with them,” he said. “They do not fight when they work together. And what they say, they do.”
Kingdom Hall in Orange Walk, Belize
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A Global Effort
Kingdom Hall Construction Groups have been organized in 120 countries. Just a few of the countries where volunteers happily expend themselves in this work are listed below:
Angola, Bolivia, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Fiji, Ghana, Hong Kong, India, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Liberia, Moldova, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Tuvalu, Ukraine, Venezuela, Zambia.
Kingdom Hall in Acapulco, Mexico
Members of a Kingdom Hall Construction Group in Mexico
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Kingdom Hall in Tlaxcala, Mexico