“May the God of peace . . . equip you with every good thing to do his will.”
SONGS: 136, 14
1. How important was the preaching work to Jesus? Explain.
JESUS loved to talk about God’s Kingdom. While Jesus was on earth, he spoke about the Kingdom more than any other subject. He mentioned the Kingdom more than 100 times during his ministry. The Kingdom was truly important to Jesus.
2. How many were there to hear the command recorded at Matthew 28:19, 20, and why do we say that?
2 Soon after his resurrection, Jesus met with a group of more than 500 potential disciples. (1 Corinthians 15:6) Perhaps this was when Jesus gave the command to preach to “people of all the nations.” This work would not be easy. * (See footnote.) He told them that the preaching work would continue for a long time, right up until “the conclusion of the system of things.” When you preach the good news today, you are helping to fulfill that prophecy.
3. What three things have helped us to preach the good news?
3 After Jesus gave the command to preach, he said: “I am with you.” (Matthew 28:20) So Jesus promised his followers that he would direct the preaching work and that he would help them preach to the entire world. Jehovah is also with us. He has given us “every good thing” to help us preach. (Hebrews 13:20, 21) In this article, we will consider three of these good things: (1) the tools we have been given, (2) the methods we have used, and (3) the training we have been given. First, let us consider some of the tools we have used during the past 100 years.
TOOLS THAT HELP GOD’S SERVANTS TO PREACH
4. How have many different tools helped us in our preaching work?
4 Jesus compared the Kingdom message to seed that is planted in different types of soil. (Matthew 13:18, 19) To prepare the soil, a gardener uses many different tools. In a similar way, our King has given us tools we can use to help people accept our message. Some tools were useful for a short time, while others are still being used today. But all the tools have helped us to increase our preaching skills.
The testimony card helped many to start preaching
5. What was a testimony card, and how was it used?
5 In 1933, publishers began using the testimony card, a tool that helped many to start preaching. It was a small card with a short and simple Bible message. Sometimes a new card was published with a new message. Brother Erlenmeyer was about ten years old when he used a testimony card for the first time. He explained: “The standard introduction was, ‘Would you please read this card?’ After the householder read the card, we would present the literature and be on our way.”
6. How was the testimony card helpful?
6 The testimony card helped publishers in different ways. For example, some publishers were shy, and even though they really wanted to preach, they did not know what to say. Other publishers were very bold. They would tell the householder everything they knew in just a few minutes, but what they said was not always tactful. The testimony card helped all publishers to give a clear and simple message.
7. What were some challenges of using the card?
7 There were also challenges. Sister Grace Estep said: “At times, we would be asked, ‘Well, what does it say? Can’t you just tell me about it?’” Also, some householders could not read what was on the card. Others simply kept the card and closed the door. Some people did not like our message, so they tore the card into pieces. Despite the challenges, though, the testimony card helped publishers to preach to their neighbors and to be identified as preachers of the Kingdom.
8. How was the portable phonograph used? (See opening picture.)
8 Another tool that was used after 1930 was the portable phonograph. Some Witnesses called it Aaron because the machine spoke instead of them. (Read Exodus 4:14-16.) If the householder agreed to listen, the publisher would play a short Bible talk and then offer some literature. At times, entire families would gather to listen to a talk! In 1934, the Watch Tower Society began to build portable phonographs designed for the ministry. Eventually, the brothers recorded 92 different talks.
9. How effective was the portable phonograph?
9 When Hillary Goslin heard one of those talks, he borrowed the phonograph for a week to share the Bible’s message with his neighbors. As a result, several people became interested in the truth and got baptized. Brother Goslin’s two daughters eventually attended Gilead School and became missionaries. Like the testimony card, the portable phonograph helped many publishers to start preaching. Later, by means of the Theocratic Ministry School, the King would train his people to become effective teachers.
USING EVERY POSSIBLE METHOD TO REACH PEOPLE
10, 11. How were newspapers and the radio used to preach the good news, and why were those methods effective?
10 Under the direction of our King, God’s people have used different methods to reach as many people as possible in the preaching work. Those methods were especially important when we had only a few workers. (Read Matthew 9:37.) For example, many years ago newspapers were used to preach the good news. Each week Brother Russell sent a Bible talk to a news agency. Then, they sent his talk to newspapers in Canada, Europe, and the United States. By 1913, Brother Russell’s talks were published in 2,000 newspapers and were read by about 15,000,000 people!
Newspapers and the radio were helpful in reaching many people in areas where there were only a few publishers
11 The radio was also used effectively to preach the good news. On April 16, 1922, Brother Rutherford gave one of his first talks on the radio, and about 50,000 people listened. Soon, we started using our own radio station called WBBR, and the first program was heard on February 24, 1924. The December 1, 1924, Watch Tower said: “We believe that the radio is the most economical and effective way of spreading the message of the truth that has yet been used.” Like newspapers, the radio helped us to reach many people in areas where there were only a few publishers.
12. (a) What types of public witnessing do you enjoy most? (b) What can help us to overcome any fears we might have about public witnessing?
12 Public witnessing is an effective method being used to reach people today. More efforts are being made to preach to people at bus stops, train stations, and parking lots, as well as in public squares and markets. Does public witnessing make you nervous? If so, pray for help and consider what Brother Manera, a traveling overseer, said: “We looked at each new feature of service as another way to serve Jehovah, as another way to prove our loyalty to him, as another test of our integrity, and we were eager to prove ourselves willing to serve him in any way he asked.” When we overcome our fears and use new methods to preach, we strengthen our trust in Jehovah and become better preachers.
13. Why is using our website in the ministry an effective preaching method, and what experiences have you had using it?
13 Many publishers enjoy telling people about our website, jw.org, where they can read and download Bible literature in over 700 languages. Each day, over 1.6 million people visit our website. In the past, the radio reached people with the good news in isolated areas. Today, our website does the same.
TRAINING MINISTERS OF THE GOOD NEWS
14. What training did the publishers need, and what school has helped them to become effective teachers?
14 The tools and methods we have discussed have been very effective. However, publishers in those early years needed to be trained how to be ministers. For example, sometimes a householder did not agree with what he heard on the phonograph. Other times a householder was interested and wanted to learn more. Publishers needed to know how to overcome objections tactfully and how to become better teachers. No doubt helped by God’s holy spirit, Brother Knorr saw that it was important for the publishers to learn how to speak in the ministry. So beginning in 1943, congregations started organizing the Theocratic Ministry School. This school helped all to become effective teachers.
15. (a) What did some experience when they gave a talk in the Theocratic Ministry School? (b) How has Jehovah’s promise recorded at Psalm 32:8 proved true in your case?
15 Many brothers were not used to speaking before an audience. Brother Ramu remembers his first talk back in 1944. The talk was about the Bible character Doeg. He said: “My knees were knocking together, my hands were shaking, and my teeth were chattering.” He added: “That was my first experience in platform speaking, but I did not quit.” Even though it was not easy, children too gave talks on the school. Brother Manera remembers what happened when one young boy gave his first talk: “He was so nervous that when he started his talk, he began to sob. But determined to give it, he sobbed his way through the entire talk.” Perhaps you do not comment at the meetings or participate in them because you are shy or you feel you cannot do it. If so, ask Jehovah to help you overcome your fears. He will help you as he helped those early Theocratic Ministry School students.
More than 8,500 Gilead-trained missionaries have been sent to 170 countries since 1943
16. What has been the goal of Gilead School (a) in the past and (b) since 2011?
16 God’s organization has also provided training through Gilead School. One goal of the school is to help students to strengthen their desire to preach the good news. Gilead School began in 1943, and since then, 8,500 students have been trained and sent to 170 countries. Since 2011, those invited to this school have been special pioneers, traveling overseers, Bethelites, or field missionaries who have not yet attended Gilead.
17. How effective is Gilead training?
17 Has Gilead School been effective? Yes. Consider what happened in Japan. In August 1949, there were fewer than ten publishers in that country. But by the end of that year, 13 missionaries were preaching with local publishers. Today, there are about 216,000 publishers in Japan, and almost half of them are pioneers!
18. What other schools do we have?
18 We have many other schools, such as the Kingdom Ministry School, the Pioneer Service School, the School for Kingdom Evangelizers, the School for Circuit Overseers and Their Wives, and the School for Branch Committee Members and Their Wives. These schools have successfully trained brothers and sisters and have strengthened their faith. It is clear that Jesus continues to train many people.
19. What did Brother Russell say about the preaching work, and how has this come true?
19 God’s Kingdom has been ruling for more than 100 years. During that time, our King, Jesus Christ, has been directing the preaching work. Back in 1916, Brother Russell believed that the preaching of the good news would expand all over the world. He said: “The work is increasing rapidly, and it will continue to increase, for there is a world-wide work to be done in preaching the ‘gospel of the kingdom.’” (Faith on the March, by A. H. Macmillan, page 69) That work is being done today! We thank Jehovah, the God of peace, that he gives us everything we need to do his will!
^ par. 2 It is likely that most of that group became Christians. Why do we say that? Because the apostle Paul calls them “500 brothers.” He also says: “Most of [them] are still with us, though some have fallen asleep in death.” So it seems that Paul and other Christians knew many of those who had personally heard Jesus give the command to preach.