via .ORGWorld News
via .ORGWorld News
By Jack Ryan
This weeks Watchtower - Paragraph 7 says, “In recent years, many countries have experienced an influx of refugees. What can you do to help such ones come to know Jehovah and his purpose.Â”
They may as well have just said, Â“In recent years, many countries have experienced an influx of refugees. These refugees are usually frightened, have lost loved ones, had to leave them behind or have fled for their lives. They are emotionally vulnerable and will be easily susceptible to any messages of hope and promises of friends, community and support, take advantage of this to reel them inÂ”.
Today Presidents Trump and Putin meet for summit, and the New York Times tells of an exiled Jehovah's Witness who proposes Trump ask Putin a simple question: "Why are Russians who pay their taxes, follow the law and embrace the Christian values promoted by the Kremlin being forced to flee their country?"
A simple [and single] question. To propose that Trump do this is exactly the non-confrontational style of Jehovah's Witnesses, and is proof in itself that they are not extremist. Moreover, because the goal is so modest, it is not impossible that it could happen. Persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia is not everywhere, but where it is, it is draconian, with police dressed in riot gear breaking down doors to arrest them.
Meanwhile (and irrelevant), I did a google search of "New York Times Jehovah's Witnesses." The second hit is an article from 1958, telling of (I think) the largest Christian assembly in history.
Remember, Google is personalized. Your results may vary.
Refugees find a welcoming home in Minnesota: State, federal actions would limit numbers allowed to settle hereBy Guest Nicole
At home in Minnesota
To refugee Sivasundaram, his home in Burnsville feels like paradise.
"I am so happy here," said Sivasundaram, wearing the reflective vest from his job as a forklift operator. On a recent evening, he rested for a few minutes before going to his night job stocking shelves at a Target store.
His wife, Manchuladevy Ravindran, soon walked in, home from her job as a housekeeper in a nearby motel, and started cooking dinner for her three boys.
Some people would call it a stressful life — but not this family. They compare it with the life they had before.
Until 2006, they lived in Sri Lanka, an island south of India. They were part of an ethnic group called Tamils, which the government often treats like terrorists.
Soldiers rampaged through their village in a raid, slaughtered Sivasundaram's mother, and burned her house down. When he complained to the government, his life was threatened.
The family fled to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where they remained for eight years. "I did house cleaning, plumbing, cutting grass, driving a taxi," recalled Sivasundaram.
The family remembers, above all, the crime.
"You couldn't use a phone in the street. Someone would take it," said Sivasundaram. "Someone would cut off the ears of old ladies for the earrings."
The boys faced a unique danger. "They would have kidnapped me for the military, or sold me to another country," said Kapilas, his 17-year-old son.
The family made a Minnesota contact through their Jehovah's Witnesses church. As soon as they arrived, neighbors knocked on their front door to welcome them.
The boys had been raised as English-speakers and have assimilated rapidly.
They laugh about the quirks of their new homeland. "I like Chick-Fil-A. The food in Malaysia is healthier, but this is tastier," said Simraj, 16.
Apilas, 13, is fascinated by boneless fish, which he never encountered in Malaysia. "I always ask: Is that fish, or is that steak?" he said.
Kapilas marveled at his new, low-stress life. "We have security and peace. Here, all I have to worry about is studying," he said.
They gathered for a meal at a time necessitated by their hectic schedules — 11 p.m.
In three years, they have saved enough to buy a car, then a house. "There is a great future here for all of us," said the father. Their success is shared by others. Simraj named 10 relatives and friends who have since followed them to America.
At the end of the interview, the father was asked whether he had anything else to say.
He is not fluent in English, so when asked a question, he looks pleadingly at his sons for help.
"No," he said. "Just thank you."
By Guest Nicole
The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., is now home to some of Ethiopia’s most important religious manuscripts after they were recently donated to the university by Chicago-based collectors Gerald and Barbara Weiner. The couple gave out the handmade leather manuscripts with the hope of allowing Ethiopians in the U.S. to use them for prayers and study, according to Catholic News Agency.
Dr. Aaron M. Butts, a professor of Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literature at the university, put up a statement saying the collection “provides unparalleled primary sources for the study of Eastern Christianity.”
What’s In the Collection?
In total, the collection is comprised of 125 Christian manuscripts, including liturgical books, hagiographies, psalters, and 215 Islamic manuscripts, including the Quran and commentaries on Quran.
According to the Catholic News Agency, it’s the largest collection of Ethiopian Islamic manuscripts outside of Ethiopia.
More than 600 manuscripts were handmade using hides from calves, sheep, and goats, and are estimated to date back to the 18th and 19th century.
In the collection, there are over 350 “magic” scrolls, which are traditional Christian prayer talismans, and each was handwritten by a “debtera,” or a cleric in the Ethiopian church, and includes the name of the person it was written for.
Pieces of the manuscripts were worn around the neck for purposes of helping people with different kinds of ailments, including headaches, painful menstruation, and complicated childbirth.
Butts suggests that some of these scrolls, which were predominantly worn by women, may have been passed down through many generations, mainly from mother to daughter.
He added that the prayer jewels haven’t been studied much due to the personal nature of their use.
Washington, D.C., hosts one of the largest Ethiopian communities outside Ethiopia, and has several Ethiopian Orthodox and Catholic churches and cultural centers, making it the best location to donate the manuscripts.
Ethiopia is predominantly a Christian country, with the majority of Christians belonging to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.
However, there are other small religious communities in the country, including Muslims, Judaists, and Pagans. There is also a minority section of Christians who are Roman Catholics or Protestants.
Many Ethiopians still use the prayer scrolls for protection and healing. They are often inscribed with prayers, spells, and charms to offer protection to their specific owner.
The text on these “magic” scrolls is often derived from the bible, which is why the majority of churches in the country tolerate despite their connection to magic.
FULL-TIME devotees of the Jehovah's Witnesses Christian congregation in Namibia are entitled to the same social security protection as other employees in the country, a Windhoek Labour Court judgement confirmed last week.
The judgement was delivered in a case in which the legal employment status of members of the Worldwide Order of Special Full-Time Servants of Jehovah's Witnesses was in dispute.
In the judgement, acting judge Petrus Unengu ruled that members of that religious order fall within the definition of an “employee” in the Labour Act and the Social Security Act, and as a result the Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses of Namibia should be regarded as an employer in terms of the Social Security Act.
The congregation lodged an appeal to the Labour Court after the Social Security Commission decided in March last year that the congregation, which wanted to be de-registered as an employer, was an employer in terms of the Social Security Act.
De-registration would mean that members of the Worldwide Order of Special Full-Time Servants of Jehovah's Witnesses working for the Namibian congregation would not have to be registered with the Social Security Commission and would then also not be entitled to social security benefits like maternity and sick leave payments.
The congregation's argument was that members of the order, who perform religious work in furtherance of their faith, had chosen a lifestyle rather than assumed work or a job when they joined the order.
Acting judge Unengu noted in his judgement that although the congregation and members of the order did not sign written employment contracts with each other, members of the order completed application forms to become a member in order to serve the church in a full-time capacity.
Once accepted as a member, they are also required to take a vow of obedience and poverty, which is taken to be an indication that they are prepared to live a modest lifestyle and to perform any tasks assigned to them by the order. Members of the order are also required to abstain from outside employment.
Acting judge Unengu further noted that members of the order had fixed hours of service from Mondays to Fridays and received a monthly allowance of about N$940.
The congregation previously registered itself with the SSC as an employer and failed to show to the court why it now no longer considered itself an employer as per the Social Security Act, acting judge Unengu said.
He added that he agreed with the SSC's argument that the congregation was trying to evade its obligations under the law. The court could not allow the congregation's employees to be unprotected in the event that they, for instance, fell ill or became pregnant, he stated.
The congregation “cannot pick and choose which laws should apply to them and which not”, he remarked.
Senior counsel Theo Frank, assisted by Adolf Denk, represented the congregation when the matter was argued in February. The SSC was represented by Norman Tjombe.
Johannesburg, South Africa: Special preaching campaign by the brothers of the Hospital Information ServicesBy Queen Esther
Johannesburg, South-Africa - special preaching in the underground....
Brothers from committee, a link to the hospitals, by a Congress and for Anästhesiologie. CLINICAL STRATEGIES !
Paynesville — The Jehovah Witnesses Congregation in Liberia has denied reports in the public that they have condemned the voters registration exercise.
In an interview with FrontPage Africa on Wednesday, March 1, 2017, Thomas Nyain, communications officer, of the Jehovah Witnesses Congregation in Liberia said at no time did the organization condemn the exercise since it began.
"We teach the Bible and we encourage people to apply Bible principles to better their lives," he said.
"We don't get involved in political activities so anybody that who say that witnesses in Liberia condemned the voters registration exercise, then I don't know where do they get their information from, because I speak for Jehovah witnesses in Liberia and since I don't utter these words, it means that I am not aware of such information. The witnesses in Liberia have a central media outlet, and I am the one that speak for them.
According to Thomas Nyain the information is misleading and far from the truth, something he described as fabrication to mark the image of his noble institution.
He said one of the major challenges being faced by the organization is reaching the gospel out to Liberians in the remotest part of the country.
"One of our major challenges is to get to the deeper part of Liberia, where people haven't heard anything about the Bible, not sitting and worrying about fabrication from people who are not aware of activities. We will be happy if everyone in Liberia accepts the truth about the Bible through our teaching.
He called on every Liberian to take interest in reading their biblical materials that have been translated in the various dialects.
By Guest Nicole
How do you explain proselytizers to a friendly newcomer?
Our hands were covered in cookie dough and crushed dates when the knock on the door startled us. Safa was not expecting anyone but she seemed happy to see two women in the doorway. The pretty blonde extended a hand and told Safa how happy she was to meet face-to-face after their phone conversation. The perky brunette behind her nodded enthusiastically. I assumed they were parents from the nearby school, dropping in to say hello.
It was smiles all around as I introduced myself, but there was no context given as the blonde handed Safa an iPad and pressed play. And that is when it hit me: these nice women who were heading over to the couch to chat had come with a mission in mind. They were Jehovah’s Witnesses, replete with Arabic literature and videos, who were hoping to “educate” Syrian refugees about the afterlife perks of conversion.
Safa arrived in Canada from Syria by way of Jordan nine months ago. She came with her husband, two sons, and a baby on the way. I am part of a sponsorship group that pooled financial and emotional resources to bring her family to Toronto and support them for a year.
In Syria, Safa was married in her teens, quickly had her two boys, and lived with her parents-in-law. Now she lives in downtown Toronto with her husband, Ziad, and their two boys, now four and two. She piles her kids into a stroller that needs an engineering degree to understand, and traipses around a city with temperatures she doesn’t even have a word for—all in a language she barely knows. On a weekly basis, she is bombarded with texts and visits from a group of Canadian do-gooders who breeze in and out of her life bearing gifts, paperwork, and kindly suggestions.
Safa and I were spending the morning making ma’amoul cookies, a traditional date-filled butter variety. My suggestion of using a measuring cup was met with disdain that I didn’t need help translating. Her system of using an empty labnah (yogurt) container worked just fine. We sat on the floor—a bit awkward for this middle-aged Canadian—rolling out cookies while chatting and gossiping with Google Translate as our invisible third. Her toddler ran around causing trouble, while the baby slept in a swing. The experience of baking together was so natural and familiar to Safa; it was the most relaxed I had seen her in months. That is, until the knock on the door.
The two women who sat on the couch didn’t seem to care about Safa’s lack of English, or that she was wearing a hijab and is an observant Muslim. They prattled on about Jesus, never pausing to see if she understood. But with pamphlets and video in Arabic, it was clear this wasn’t their first stop on their conversion crusade—likely a coordinated effort targeting the Syrian newcomers. They then began telling me about the connections between Christianity and Islam, as if all I needed was a little enlightenment and I too would join forces.
I can only imagine what Safa was thinking as I chastised the women for going after a vulnerable population that has an ample sense of hospitality. I kept smiling, as did they, but you wouldn’t need one word of English to understand that we were having a disagreement. When I told them they couldn’t come back, they dropped the facade of generic pleasantness. The blonde practically snarled at me saying that since Safa invited them, they could return as often as they like.
Safa stood there with teacups in hand looking bewildered. Google Translate and I tried to explain about Jehovah’s Witnesses, but a round of charades couldn’t quite get the message across that those nice white women wanted her to abandon her religion—one of the last remaining constants from her life in Syria. I told her that they were selling Christian Bibles.
She nodded at me, smiling, but I recognized the perplexed shrug she gave me. It is the look of resignation when confronted with another ridiculous Canadian habit, such as tobogganing in sub-zero snowstorms, strapping screaming children into car seats, or using measuring cups while baking. She has been in Toronto for nine months and a couple of pretty, white women in her apartment telling her what to do no longer surprises her. Sometimes, I am amazed that she lets any of us past her doorstep.
We went back to our dough, and Safa schooled me for my clumsy rolling technique.
Emma Waverman (@emmawaverman) writes for Reader’s Digest, Today’s Parent, Canadian Living.
By Guest Nicole
LOWELL — The Congolese refugees huddled rapt around a stove in the early morning darkness. They had never used one before, and they watched in their new home Friday as a resettlement worker flipped the burners off and on.
They had never used a refrigerator, either. Or seen water pass through a faucet. Or been told how to lock a door. Or adjust a thermostat. Or even how to squeeze shampoo from a tube.
Twenty years in a refugee camp in Uganda will insulate a family from everyday conveniences that Americans take for granted. But here they were, bewildered and grateful — a mother, father, and five children who received a waiver from President Trump’s ban on new arrivals.
“We heard no more refugees could come to America. So, for us to come to America, we are very happy,” the 43-year-old matriarch, Vanisi Uzamukunda, said through an interpreter as she held a sleepy 7-year-old.
After Trump’s executive order last week barred new refugees for 120 days, the family worried whether this day would ever happen. But they were allowed entry because government officials determined that a delay in their scheduled journey would have caused significant hardship, resettlement officials said.
Hardship has been a constant. Their lives were shattered two decades ago when the parents fled unending violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. But here was a fresh start only a 28-hour, continent-hopping odyssey away from their home in Uganda.
The family landed late Thursday night in Manchester, N.H., and then were ferried by resettlement workers to a two-floor apartment in Lowell. But even that simple drive showed the chasm between their former life and the one unfolding before them.
They did not know how to open the car doors, or how to fasten a seat belt. And when they finally stepped out of the cars into 20-degree temperatures, they saw snow for the first time.
“Now that we are in Lowell, this is our destination. We are finished,” said the oldest child, 20-year-old Nyirakabanza Muhawenimana, who took the lead in questioning workers from the International Institute of New England, the resettlement agency.
She asked whether the family could wash clothes in the tub. No, take them to a laundromat, replied case manager Sabyne Denaud, who emigrated from Haiti.
And so it went: Here is where the trash goes, make sure you lock the doors at night, do not let the children out alone, and call 911 on the apartment phone if there is an emergency.
“This is the first time they have lived in a house,” said Suad Mansour, a Lowell High School teacher who was one of four people to greet the family at the airport.
Suad Mansour explained shampoo to Nyirakabanza, 20, and her family at their new home in Lowell.
Mansour, who immigrated to the United States from Jordan, led the family on an initial tour of the apartment about 1 a.m. Friday. After they slept for a few hours, Denaud arrived later in the morning and refreshed their memories.
“You don’t have to worry about the new president,” Denaud said. “You don’t have to worry about anything. You are safe here.”
The family will receive a one-time $925 stipend per person from the federal government to help pay for rent and other basic necessities, but they are expected to become self-sufficient within six months.
“You have to keep your house nice and clean,” Denaud said. “You never know who’s going to come to the apartment.”
The International Institute, which last fiscal year resettled 623 refugees who had fled war and persecution in several countries, will help the family find work, enroll in school, register for Social Security, and learn English.
The challenges are daunting — the family does not speak English, for one. But regular follow-up will ease the transition to a strange country, said Tea Psorn, a program manager from the institute who came to the United States as a Bosnian refugee in the 1990s.
“These people only want safety,” Psorn said.
Their vetting process took nearly three years, the family said. A total of 684 Congolese refugees arrived in Massachusetts from 2011 to 2015, according to the state Department of Public Health.
In Lowell on Friday, after hours of explanation and advice from Mansour and Denaud, 16-year-old Maria Uwimana floated a final question: Where can we find a church?
The family members are Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Maria’s query was answered a short time later when a small group of well-wishers suddenly entered the living room and welcomed the new arrivals with hugs and conversation in Swahili.
They, too, are Jehovah’s Witnesses and had been at a gas station only a block away when the day’s interpreter, former Congolese refugee Kafila Bulimwengu, called to tell them about the newcomers.
Approximately a dozen Congolese have already joined Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in nearby Chelmsford, said Markus Lewis, who is part of a church group that has learned Swahili to communicate with African worshipers.
Lewis shook hands with Sendegeya Bayavuge, the family’s 52-year-old father, who gradually began to relax as the day wore on. At the airport, sitting with his children after the grueling trip, he appeared exhausted and apprehensive.
But in the apartment, as each new wonder was demonstrated, the creases in Sendegeya’s face began to soften.
“There will be safety here. There will be a difference,” said Sendegeya, who had been a farmer in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Some worries remain, however: One daughter still lives in a Ugandan camp.
“Life was very bad in the camp; there were many problems,” including food shortages, Sendegeya said. “We pray to God to help those who are still in the camps to come here.”
Still, Friday was a glorious day for this close-knit family, which seemed humbled into silence by its introduction to the United States.
Nyirakabanza, the oldest child, was the outgoing exception: asking questions and trying each new knob and handle for herself.
She even practiced putting a trash bag in place.
“It’s a new life,” she said, breaking into a broad, beaming smile. “I feel happy to be in America.”
"Most of the field service presentations she learned growing up will not work in their new territory, Brittany told me. They are considered rude. You can’t just launch into what you’ve come to talk about. First you must inquire about their family, and tell about yours. You have to tell about your children, for family is very important. When she tells them she doesn’t have children, they are concerned. Of course, part of hospitality is to find out why. They smile. ‘You married late in life;’ that is the reason. When they find that it is not, they realize you are on your second marriage. When that conclusion, too, proves false, they are very saddened: you lost your children in some tragic accident. Then they grow very still when you tell them you did not. They have finally discerned the true reason, but it is almost too delicate to bring up, though they do anyway - something is wrong with your equipment. Brittany’s student has drawn her a chart to help her understand how many children she should have at her age."
From chapter 18 of Tom Irregardless and Me. 30% Free Preview
By The Librarian
Jehovah’s Witnesses in Nairobi, Kenya at a recent convention
I’m pretty sure the white guys use these clothes in daily life as well. It’s not just to play dress up at a convention.
At our next convention in New England I plan to go dressed up as a Pilgrim who literally just walked off the Mayflower. ;-)
Why is it we only play dress up in other countries? Shouldn’t someone in New York show up dressed like George Washington?
It’s only fair to all of us in the USA.
just sayin’ ;-)
Update: I just found some photos of other actual Kenyans attending the assembly in their normal suits.
I think that the 1958 Yankee stadium convention was different because people came to NY dressed in their normal public attire from around the world.
Now New Yorkers go around the world dressing up in folkloric attire.
So… the morale of the story is…..
Wear whatever clothing you want nowadays. ;-)
By Guest Nicole
Dorking residents inspired to life-changing response to migration crisis
Kristin and Peter Nevins came to Dorking from the US and piled their four children into two bedrooms so they could begin hosting refugees © Anna Gordon
“If they ask, say you’re my nephew,” Constance Nash advised the young Syrian man staying with her, in case he encountered an unfriendly neighbour.
Ms Nash has a lot of foreign guests this year at her home in Dorking, a leafy town in the Surrey hills about an hour’s train ride south of London.
First came the Eritrean woman who was 28 weeks pregnant and then the wounded Syrian soldier and his Congolese friend, who had been sleeping rough.
Then there were the Syrian and Sudanese teenagers. “They said they came on the train,” Ms Nash said. “Not in the train, on the train.”
There was George from Ghana and Jean from the Congo and the Zimbabwean and Sudanese, and Ahmad, a soft-spoken pharmacist from Aleppo who stayed for five months.
Ms Nash refers to them not as refugees but “guests”. She and a motley group of nearby residents have been hosting them during the past year to make their modest response to the global migration crisis and fill the sizeable gaps left by the British government.
Constance Nash: 'It’s not charity. At all. It’s human solidarity.' © Anna Gordon
“It’s not charity. At all. It’s human solidarity,” said Ms Nash, who — like her guests — is a foreigner who never expected to land in Dorking. A frenetic Parisian, she moved to the town 17 years ago after marrying an Englishman and then ended up staying after the marriage ended.
She hates the idea of spinning her experience into a feel-good story, insisting: “We don’t do cute in Dorking.”
“Actually, we do,” corrected her friend Carmel O’Shea, who was seated in Ms Nash’s kitchen-cum-salon on a recent afternoon. Also passing through were Syrian and Congolese refugees, a gaggle of schoolchildren and neighbours, a tattooed Anglican curate and his wife, a pair of cats and an unusually active turtle.
Britain has pledged to accept 20,000 Syrian refugees. The government selects families from UN camps and meticulously screens them before offering asylum, housing, English lessons and a living allowance.
But that ignores many others — from Syria and elsewhere — who arrive in the UK on their own. Some come with fake passports, or hidden in the back of trucks using the Channel tunnel.
In theory, these people can claim asylum and, if necessary, receive government lodging. But in practice, many become trapped in a suspicious, slow-moving bureaucracy. In the interim, they may end up sleeping on church floors, in hospital emergency rooms or even on London’s night buses, as Jean sometimes did.
The Nevins talk to Constance Nash in her kitchen. All three are part of the Dorking Group of local hosts © Anna Gordon
“If it’s not deliberate then it’s the least competent government ever,” said Peter Nevins, a curate at the local Anglican church.
He and his wife, Kristin — both from the US Midwest — moved to Dorking in August and piled their four children into two bedrooms so they could begin hosting. First came a Nigerian man, who stayed for a few days, and then a Syrian jeweller and baker, who had become friends in Calais’ infamous “jungle” migrant camp, and stayed for a few weeks.
“The rooms should be filled, as far as I’m concerned,” Kristin shrugged.
The Dorking Group, as the 10 local hosts informally call themselves, take referrals from an Epsom-based charity known as Refugees At Home, which has its own web page and Facebook group. The guests are first screened by the Red Cross and Refugee Council. Refugees At Home visits the hosts to check them, too.
“Everyone just acts as if it’s going to be a friend’s friend [staying],”said Ms Nash, who first contacted Refugees At Home in August last year after reading about Icelanders pledging to house 11,000 refugees. “I got all agitated and said: ‘Let’s do it in England.’”
Still, she recalled fretting after being briefed on her first arrival. “What if we don’t like her? She has nightmares. What if she sleepwalks?” Her son, Raph, 15, also confessed he was “a bit worried” about sharing the house with a stranger.
But those fears melted. “When it clicks, it feels like the most normal thing you’ve ever done,” Ms Nash said. So much so that Raph’s school friend went home one day and asked his mother, Ms O’Shea, why they were not hosting any refugees.
“I was hugely apprehensive. I wouldn’t even do French exchange with my kids,” Ms O’Shea said.
Ahmad, a Syrian pharmacist, spent 10 months in the Calais 'jungle' before making it to the UK © Anna Gordon
But she ended up opening her home to Mohammad, a 22-year-old Iranian builder — and sobbing when he left five months later. “I think we thought we were offering someone a room. It’s much more than that,” she said.
Besides the humanity of it, hosting has wider benefits, the Dorking Group argues. Chief among them is that it speeds refugees’ integration, immersing them in the culture and language and making it easier for them to build their own lives if they win asylum.
“It’s things like: why are the English always talking about the weather?” said David Preedy, a retired project manager. “It’s the kind of thing you don’t get going through the faceless, official scheme.”
For Ahmad, the Syrian pharmacist, Ms Nash’s home was a refuge after a harrowing journey. He fled Aleppo in 2013 as the war intensified, paying a smuggler €1,050 to take him from Turkey to Greece. His nose was broken by bandits in Macedonia, where he was jailed. He also spent 10 months in the Calais “jungle” before making it to Britain.
David Preedy, a retired project manager, has just had his first refugee to stay
“When I stay in Dorking, I feel I am among my family,” he said in halting English.
His asylum request was finally approved last week. But he appeared more focused on the news back home, repeatedly returning to a smartphone with images of bloodied corpses and rubble.
Dorking has not been universally welcoming. When Ms Nash posted leaflets promoting her work around town they were torn down.
Even the best-intentioned hosts admit they can become worn out. The Iranian family of Jehovah’s Witnesses that Mr Preedy and his wife took in ended up staying for nearly nine months.
In addition to expenses for bus and train fares and food, Mr Preedy became drawn into the bureaucratic tangle of jobcentres, immigration law and the challenges of opening a bank account. “We saw them through the whole asylum process, which is mind-blowingly depressing,” he said. Still, he came away uplifted. “It’s given me a completely different perspective on people,” he said.
Ms Nash also sounded transformed. “You really do connect and then it rips you apart when they leave,” she said. “But you know? It’s good sorrow, good sadness.”
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By Guest Nicole
Robert Fleming comes from a long line of Sault Jehovah's Witnesses
Robert Fleming travels the deserts, jungles, savannahs, and waters of West Africa hoping people will see what he sees in the Bible.
Fleming is a Sault born-and-raised fourth generation Jehovah’s Witness who left the area when he was 24 and came back for the first time in 20 years last week to visit family and attend a regional annual conference of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
In an interview with SooToday Fleming talked a bit about his family’s history and about his life preaching in West Africa.
Fleming’s great grandfather John Fleming came from Scotland to the Sault in the early 1900s and when the Spanish flu hit the area he got a job at the cemetery on Fourth Line.
One day he was literally standing body-deep in a grave he’d just dug out when a Jehovah’s Witness approached him and commented, “you know, that’s hell you’re standing in."
John Fleming was puzzled and, after through conversation learned about how Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t believe in an afterlife in the same way other Christians might imagine it and other interpretations the group has of the Bible.
This meeting led to a full-blown conversion and three generations later John Fleming’s descendants are still practicing Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“My earliest memories are me going door to door as a kingdom preacher,” said Robert Fleming who after his father, grandfather, and great grandfather is continuing the tradition.
“Third Line, Carpin Beach Road, Leighs Bay Road. I don’t know if the old-timers are still there or if I’d even remember them. I was very young,” said Robert Fleming.
Fleming left the Sault in 1985 to preach in Quebec and in 1995 he went to the Jehovah’s Witnesses Missionary School in Paterson, NY.
After five months of training there Fleming flew to West Africa where for the last 20 years he’s been preaching for Jehovah out of Douala, Cameroon, which at 3 million people is the country’s largest city.
“I was nervous to go, boy oh boy. I was there one week and I was checking out the price of airplane tickets to go back. Is that too honest?”
Fleming said that Cameroon is not only immensely diverse geographically — it's often called “Africa in miniature” — but also culturally as the country has roughly 200 tribes and dialects and a range of religions that include indigenous beliefs and assorted versions of Christianity and Islam.
“There’s a hundred times more religions than Canada. Every neighbourhood has its own church because they want to worship God how they think God should be worshipped,” he said.
Fleming said Cameroonians are incredibly religious people and that the Christians among them will often carry a Bible around on their phones and regularly consult it.
Fleming said the more traditional African religions that he’s encountered don’t talk about “God” or “gods” so much as they talk about “forces of nature” but that these forces seem to be roughly equivalent to the idea of “gods”.
Most Africans, regardless of their professed religion he said, continue to follow a tradition of ancestry worship, where they believe that their dead relatives are still influencing the world and helping or harming their living descendants based on how pleased they feel.
“They’ll put out salt or palm oil, things like that, to appease, say, their dead grandfather and if something bad happens in the family they might say it’s their grandfather that has done it to them. The Bamelike Tribe in the west of Cameroon, after the grandfather has been dead for a year, will actually dig up the skull and they’ll have a small alter in the home and when they have to make big decisions they’ll consulate with him.”
In his time there, Fleming has travelled by canoe and bush-bike to get to remote tribes in the jungle, like a tribe of pygmies living in grass huts, or to secluded islands off the coast of the continent, but he never goes more than a days journey.
Fleming said Jehovah’s Witnesses have been in Cameroon since the late 1930s and even though they were banned from 1970 until 1993, largely for not participating in local government because it is against their faith, even tribes like the pygmies are quite familiar with his group when they arrive.
As a preacher, Fleming said he follows the standard Jehovah’s witness preaching technique of basically asking people what they think about a topic, then introducing what the Bible teaches about that topic, and then hopefully getting a person out to a bible study group where they can learn more and potentially feel compelled to join the faith.
But unlike other Christian religions, he said, to be a Jehovah’s Witness a person cannot partially follow their old faith, and in the case of Cameroon, that means locals have to leave their ancestry worship behind — something which can be difficult for many when, like Christmas here, it's not just a religious practice but also a social one.
“When we do preach to them and they read the Bible and realize ‘Hey my grandfather is just sleeping’ that means they have to leave these traditions that obviously contradict what the scriptures say, to serve Jehovah.”
Fleming said that when he arrived in 1996 there were about 20,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses in the country and that now there are about 40,000.
He said many people in Cameroon see the positives of the faith, the health benefits it tends to lead to like stopping smoking or reducing AIDS, and actually approach his group to set up Jehovah’s Witnesses centres, or ‘kingdom halls’, in their community.
“Many people in Cameroon make the change. I wouldn’t have stayed there for 20 years if we weren’t having wonderful success,” he said.
By Bible Speaks
REGIONAL CONVENTION IN CAMEROON, AFRICA ASAMBLEA REGIONAL EN CAMERUN, AFRICA
By Bible Speaks
The set of Likasi is regional French-speaking, Democratic Republic of the Congo in Katanga province.. We welcomed 41 new baptized to an audience of about 2,000 people. Es el conjunto de Likasi expresión francesa regional, República Democrática del Congo, en la provincia de Katanga. Dimos la bienvenida a 41 nuevos bautizados a una audiencia de cerca de 2.000 personas. Merci beaucoup M!
By Bible Speaks
The set of Likasi is regional French-speaking, Democratic Republic of the Congo in Katanga province..
We welcomed 41 new baptized to an audience of about 2,000 people.
Es el conjunto de Likasi expresión francesa regional, República Democrática del Congo, en la provincia
de Katanga. Dimos la bienvenida a 41 nuevos bautizados a una audiencia de cerca de 2.000 personas.
Merci beaucoup M!
By Guest Nicole
Jehovah’s Witnesses are holding a series of four annual conventions at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell, on Memorial Day weekend and during the summer.
More than 16,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses and their guests from throughout central New England will be attending the conventions, which are free and open to the public. The theme of this year’s program is “Remain Loyal to Jehovah.” The first of four conventions will be held May 27-29.
• The three-day program will feature 49 presentations, each exploring the theme of loyalty.
• The program will include 35 video segments specifically for the program plus two short films that will be shown on Saturday and Sunday.
• Convention video trailers can be found at: https://www.jw.org/en/jehovahs-witnesses/conventions/drama-movie-trailers-2016/
• Each day, the morning and afternoon sessions will be introduced by music videos recorded for the convention.
“We strongly believe that loyalty is an essential part of any healthy relationship,” states Don Smalley, convention organizer.
“Our convention this year features content that will help people develop stronger bonds with friends, family members and, above all, with God. We are confident that all who attend will enjoy this program.”
Other conventions are planned for June 17-19, July 8-10 and July 22-24. The Tsongas Center is at300 Arcand Drive, Lowell.
Jehovah’s Witnesses strive to adhere to the form of Christianity that Jesus taught and that his apostles practiced. For more information about Jehovah's Witnesses and the conventions, visithttps://www.jw.org/en/
By Guest Nicole
Conozca a los intrépidos Testigos que realizan un viaje extraordinario para transportar publicaciones bíblicas.
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