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@Melinda Mills, @Gone Away, @tromboneck, @Srecko Sostar, @James Thomas Rook Jr., @ComfortMyPeople@Space Merchant, and anyone else who was interested: I have moved the portion of this conversation that moved from the topic of UN to the topic of earthly hope, heavenly hope, and 144,000 to a new topic called:

It wasn't tromboneck who asked for this, but his is the earliest post from which the new topic material was begun, so it looks like he started it. I actually went to a lot of trouble to avoid this, so it wouldn't look like I did this on purpose and I'll try to fix it again.

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Discuss the question from the title of the topic? Now that's a novel idea. ? It is a reasonable solution to see the 10-horns and the wild beast as either representing, or some part of the dominant world power at the time of the great tribulation, the fall of Babylon the Great, Armageddon, etc. And it is a reasonable assumption to see the prostitute as false religion. And it seems that God puts a thought into the heart of the ten horns and the heart of the wild beast to give their kingdom

After having spent twenty five and more years discussing things like this with people who have strong ideas about such things ... but like myself, NOT HAVING THE SLIGHTEST CLUE, I have given up even caring about such things. Things ARE WHAT THEY ARE .... and, THEY ARE NOT WHAT THEY ARE NOT ... and a million word exposition  by the clueless ... myself included ... will not change that. Do the best you can ... chill out ... have a beer ...  relax ... take more naps.  Pay more a

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@NicholasMarks Yeah, and the Romans were against and willing to "have their way" with those who don't believe what they believe, even though the Romans technically remixed Christianity into something it is not, mainly when you have people like Theodosius II who will be the one to draw the sword on you before you can even react -  during those times.

Eventually a time will come in our day and age where things will be cranked up to max regarding persecution and those siding with the nation's religion and are against those not for them. Out side of religion (technically), the UK pulled something that can and will cause problems, imagine that when it is in regards to Christianity, but at a grander scale around the globe - that will eventually come.

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      Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content.  is Senior Researcher at Institute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences, head of the Center for Religious Studies in the Institute of Europe (Russian Academy of Sciences), a member of Russian team of Keston Institute (Oxford, UK) project “Encyclopedia of religious life in Russia Today”, editor-in-chief of the web-portal “Religion and Law” (Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. ), a public policy scholar in the Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content.  and the Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content.  (2011) and The Galina Starovoitova Fellowship scholar of the Kennan Institute (2017).
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      Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content.  by the three experts to the Russian authorities on 28 July 2016.   The Suspension Order imposed on 15 March is the latest in a series of judicial cases and orders, including a warning sent to the organization last year referring to the ‘inadmissibility of extremist activity’. This has already led to the dissolution of several local Jehovah’s Witness organizations, raids against their premises and literature being confiscated.  
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      Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content.    Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content.
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      On the campaign website, people can commit to certain actions to combat their personal plastic pollution, such as not using disposable grocery bags, bringing their own coffee cup, avoiding cosmetics with microbeads, and pressuring firms to reduce excess packaging. The campaign’s press release says it will make announcements throughout the year, highlighting advances made by countries and companies to reduce disposable plastics.

      Some countries have taken noteworthy steps, with ten already signing onto the #CleanSeas campaign. Indonesia, for example, has pledged to reduce marine litter by 70 percent by 2025, and Costa Rica says it will “take measures to dramatically reduce single-use plastic through better waste management and education.” Other nations are turning to taxes on plastic bags.
      The UN Clean Seas campaign is a good place to start, as it will spread the awareness of a little-known problem much further afield. Awareness, however, is just the first small step. It must translate into real lifestyle changes in order to make any sort of difference. It requires people to think ahead – request no straw with a drink, pack containers and bags when going to the store, trade in the diaper wipes for a washcloth, kick the bottled water habit – and it requires municipal governments to take a strong, often unpopular, stance.

      Just as microbeads are being eliminated in many places, plastic shopping bags should be, too; or at least the tax should be high enough to deter anyone, say $5 a bag, instead of 5 cents. Every town should have a bulk food store where the use of reusable containers is incentivized. Styrofoam and plastic takeout containers should be made illegal. Places to return packaging directly to manufacturers should be built alongside recycling facilities, based on the successful model of returning wine and beer bottles for refund in the province of Ontario. Schools need to start teaching children to care proactively for the Earth and to live with a reduced footprint, much like the strong anti-littering messages taught in Japan.
      Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard quotes Wang Yang Ming in his book, Let My People Go Surfing: “To know and not to do is not to know.” Hopefully the Clean Seas campaign will be that crucial first step toward informing greater swaths of the world’s population and inspiring them to further action.
      http://www.treehugger.com/environmental-policy/un-says-its-time-tackle-plastic-pollution-aggressively.html
    • By The Librarian
      United Nations Building, New York City
      Photo Credit: Flash 90
       
      For years, critics of the United Nations have been calling on the U.S. to defund and even quit the world body. Some have urged that a rival or successor organization be established. Now, the empty sheet of bitter discontent with the UN has been filled in with a new name and a new movement calling to “defund and replace” the troubled organization with the Covenant of Democratic Nations. This writer has been a participating witness to the birth of this movement.
      Just days after the passage of UN Resolution 2334, which declared, among other things, that Israel’s Jewish connection to the Western Wall was effectively illegal, concrete replacement action began. It has started with a conversation of ideas proposing an official international conference that would carefully propound a multilaterally-signed diplomatic convention to be ratified by countries as a binding treaty that would juridically forge the covenant into operational reality.
      The entire process would be limited to nations governed by democratic principles. Each member would or could defund the United Nations while it labored to construct a successor entity dedicated to world peace along democratic principles with equal respect for all people regardless of religion, gender, race, identity, or national origin, as well as formulating a mechanism to resolve disputes.
      A prime mission of the new world body would be to re-ratify, amend, or nullify all acts and resolutions of the United Nations and its agencies such as UNESCO. Thus, the Covenant would create a new body of long-overdue, reformed, clarified, and updated international law. Sensibly, most CDN nations would remain as vestigial members of the UN overseeing its collapse from economic and bureaucratic processes as was done when the League of Nations was dissolved after World War II and replaced with the present UN.
      Clearly, the history of world bodies, fluttering high-minded banners of peace on earth following wars that scorched the world and scarred all humankind, is not a good one. The League of Nations was born after World War I out of a quest for revenge by the victors, laced with a visionary desire to end colonialism and empower self-determination among nationally awakened peoples, so long as the whole business conquered the oil fields of the Mideast, lubricating the machinery of the post-Second Industrial Revolution West—and the multinational corporate palms that controlled it.
      Countries were invented that had never existed, carved and chipped off the toppled Turkish and German empires, with handpicked kings and sovereigns put into place who could legally sign lucrative petroleum contracts. Backstage, oil companies got the oil. But the flaccid League of Nations – which never included the United States –proved its utter uselessness during the Hitler regime.
      After World War II, the League was replaced by the United Nations. Although enshrined as a democratic enterprise, profoundly undemocratic and scheming governments penetrated the organization from its inception. Civil war-torn China and a tyrannical and hegemonic Soviet Union joined France, Great Britain, and the United States to create the Security Council. Expansion, inclusion, and extension eventually enrolled 193 nations, including such egalitarian democracies as North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Saudi Arabia. The world body began as a sick organ and deteriorated from there.
      The Covenant conversation launched in earnest on January 23 when a panel of like-minded voices assembled in a crowded Gold Room of the Rayburn House Office Building. Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ,) who currently supports a bill to defund the UN, opened the Covenant Launch proceedings by declaring, “This is a critically important issue. The United Nations started out with a noble charter…but the United Nations has not only failed their charter, they have distinctly moved in the opposite direction and done actual harm…. They have become an anti-American, anti-Semitic, anti-democratic, anti-freedom mob…. We need some type of alternative – a Covenant of Democratic Nations…. We need to repeal and replace.”
      Sarah Stern, founder of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), pinpointed America’s 22 percent share of the overall UN budget. Stern said America was not getting what it pays for when “despotic, ruthless, tyrannical regimes” such as Syria “could pass judgment on the one democracy in the Middle East.” The UN has, she said, proven to be “abysmal” and added, “It is now time to begin having this conversation about dissolving the United Nations and replacing with a Covenant of Democratic Nations that share our common values…of tolerance, human rights, and the rule of law.”
      Famed constitutional attorney Nathan Lewin, who has worked on 28 Supreme Court cases, proclaimed to the room, “The United Nations deserves an obituary…because the United Nations committed suicide when it adopted Resolution 2334. It wrote its own death warrant…. Today I am happy to join a group that would spell the end of the United Nations, the end of its funding, it presence and significance in the world order.”
      The Covenant launch in Washington was only the beginning. Additional panels and town hall meetings will convene in several locales in the coming weeks. The conversation has begun.
      Edwin Black
      About the Author: Edwin Black is the author of several books including “ IBM and the Holocaust” and the initiator of the Covenant of the Democratic Nations effort. For his prior efforts, he has been awarded the Moral Courage Award, the Moral Compass Award, and the Justice for All Award.
      http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/replacing-the-un-with-the-covenant-of-democratic-nations/2017/02/02/
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      UNESCO has intervened in the long-running Israeli-Arab conflict over Jerusalem's holy sites of the Temple Mount and the Western Wall. It passed a resolution for the sites to be referred to only by their Arabic names - Haram al-Sharif and the Buraq Wall - thereby ignoring any Jewish connection.
       
    • By The Librarian
      Over the past year we have been celebrating 70 years of the United Nations and indeed, there is much to be proud of and grateful for. Over the past year alone, Member States adopted an ambitious development agenda – Agenda 2030 – as well as the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change, a process in which I was honoured to play a role. These agreements demonstrate, once again, the power and the value of the UN when its Member States are united in purpose.
      At the same time, the world is facing complex challenges that the UN’s founders could have scarcely imagined 70 years ago. As our societies have grown more interconnected, so have our problems. The global migration and refugee crisis has demonstrated that armed conflict, environmental degradation and human rights violations in one part of the world can have repercussions across the world. We are already witnessing the effects of climate change, the impacts of which are being felt most acutely by the poorest societies that are least able to cope. We have also been made painfully aware that terrorism knows no borders and that violent extremists are increasingly adept at exploiting power vacuums, instability and discontent to spread hatred and destruction.
      Image: United Nations Working together to tackle the biggest challenges
      It is evident that we can no longer afford to deal with such challenges in an isolated manner or ignore the full range of their impacts – social, political, environmental and economic. Doing so risks inflaming vicious cycles of conflict. The only way to take on these challenges is by working collectively; either we figure out ways of winning together, or we will all lose together.
      In these complicated times, and in a fraught and shifting geopolitical environment, the United Nations remains the indispensable organization that can bring the world around the table to formulate collective responses to shared challenges. Even as these challenges grow increasingly complex, Member States continue to turn to the UN as the universal forum to build consensus and unity in the face of daunting obstacles. But in order to deliver on its crucial responsibilities in a fast-moving world, the UN as an institution has to evolve. This requires visionary leadership and creativity to adapt the way we think, the way we engage, and the way we work.
      Four priorities for peace and security
      For the UN to take on the global challenges of the 21st century, I believe the next secretary-general should focus on four broad priorities in the field of peace and security.
      First, conflict prevention and strengthened political engagement must be brought to the forefront of the UN’s agenda. This is not a new idea –three major reviews of the UN’s peace and security architecture over the past year have reiterated this point. The UN secretariat needs to be more creative in presenting to the Security Council the full spectrum of instruments we have at our disposal to prevent and de-escalate conflicts, from special envoys, regional political offices and political missions, to peacebuilding support efforts and specialized, interdisciplinary teams that can provide host governments with focused support. The UN should also use its greatest assets – its convening power and legitimacy – to be more active at bringing together stakeholders to negotiate political settlements and resolve conflicts before violence erupts.
      Additionally, we must remember that conflict prevention requires sowing the seeds of long-term peace through development and prosperity. Agenda 2030 highlights the old truth that there is no peace without sustainable development – and no sustainable development without peace.
      A second priority should be promoting full integration of UN system-wide efforts. Too often the UN’s political, developmental and human rights efforts are functioning at cross-purposes. This must stop. The multi-dimensional challenges we face require multi-dimensional thinking and action. We must overcome institutional inertia and instil a culture of systemic collaboration and inter-disciplinary thinking appropriate for the interconnected world we live in. The new secretary-general and their team should find innovative ways of harnessing the full capacities of the UN system, including the agencies, funds and programmes to be able to tackle issues on all fronts. This also requires undertaking renewed efforts to promote better internal governance, transparency and accountability. And we must heed the call from both Member States and UN staff to adapt our bureaucratic processes to be more agile and effective, and better respond to evolving realities in the field.
      Third, the UN must become a better partner. Regional and sub-regional organizations such as the African Union, European Union, Arab League, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and others play a critical role in conflict resolution and prevention. We must recognize that other actors are sometimes better placed to react more rapidly and effectively. In such cases, we should work together with these organizations to identify the ways the UN can best support and enable regional efforts. And our approach should be grounded in a spirit of mutual respect and recognition of comparative advantages.
      Finally, the next secretary-general should redouble diplomatic engagement with Member States, particularly the Security Council, through closer and more regular interaction aimed at finding and expanding points of consensus. While the Council has been criticized for its handling of the Syrian crisis, we must recognize that it found common ground on the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons and on authorizing cross-border humanitarian access. Even in the most seemingly intractable conflicts, there is room for agreement on issues of common interest, and the secretary-general should use their diplomatic arsenal and creativity to facilitate consensus among Member States, even when consensus seems impossible.
      Making the impossible a reality
      Indeed, a universal agreement to combat climate change seemed impossible only a few years ago. But through persistent, hopeful leadership and old-fashioned multilateral diplomacy –the UN’s raison d’être and greatest strength – we were able to make the impossible possible. I am confident that together we can do the same for the multitude of challenges we face today. Billions of people around the world affected by conflict, poverty and hardship are counting on us. We cannot fail them.
      https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/08/these-are-the-big-challenges-awaiting-the-new-un-secretary-general
    • By g@gmail.com
      But academia only held the fervent Catholic's interest for a couple of years. . .......
      http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-37565570
    • By g@gmail.com
      https://www.sipri.org/news/2016/sipri-presents-latest-military-expenditure-data-un-headquarters
       
       

    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      By Felix Corley, Forum 18 News Service
      Jehovah's Witness prisoner of conscience Bahram Hemdemov was not freed in the February amnesty and an appeal on his behalf is now being prepared to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, Jehovah's Witnesses told Forum 18 News Service. Despite rulings from the UN Committee in 2015 that the rights of four imprisoned Jehovah's Witness conscientious objectors had been violated (both by their imprisonment and torture during their imprisonment), the Turkmenistan government has failed to expunge their criminal records, offered recompense or taken measures to prevent similar violations in future. No alternative to compulsory military service has been introduced. Pirnazar Hudainazarov, Chair of Parliament's Legislative Committee, refused absolutely to discuss this with Forum 18. At the labour camp at Seydi where Hemdemov is being held, Muslim prisoners are too afraid to attend the prison mosque for fear of being branded "Wahhabis" and sent for harsher punishment, a former prisoner told Forum 18.
      Jehovah's Witnesses have expressed disappointment that 52-year-old prisoner of conscience Bahram Hemdemov was not included in the prisoner amnesty declared in February, when 1,485 prisoners were reportedly freed. All Hemdemov's attempts to overturn his sentence on appeal have failed. "Since his imprisonment, officers have pressured him to confess to fabricated violations, subjected him to hard physical labour, and severely beaten him in retaliation for judicial complaints filed by his wife on his behalf," Jehovah's Witnesses lamented to Forum 18 News Service. No civilian alternative to compulsory military service has been introduced. 

      An appeal on Hemdemov's behalf is being prepared to the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee, Jehovah's Witnesses told Forum 18.

      Hemdemov is being held in the general regime section of the Seydi Labour Camp, in the desert in the eastern Lebap Region. Many prisoners of conscience have been held there in recent years, including Jehovah's Witness and Protestants. Many of these have been tortured in the camp in recent years (see Forum 18's Turkmenistan religious freedom survey http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=1676).

      Muslims in the Seydi Labour Camp are too frightened to attend the prison mosque (see below).

      No conscientious objectors to military service are known currently to be imprisoned. The last known imprisoned conscientious objector, Ruslan Narkuliyev, was freed in February 2015 (see F18News 18 February 2015 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2039).

      UN: rights violated

      In March and October 2015 the UN Human Rights Committee found that Turkmenistan had violated the rights of four young men by imprisoning them for refusing compulsory religious service on grounds of religious conscience. The Committee also ruled that beatings and other maltreatment (such as a head being repeatedly bashed against a wall) of Zafar Abdullayev, Mahmud Hudaybergenov, Ahmet Hudaybergenov and Sunnet Japparov is torture and the government needs to provide reparations (see below).

      The government is also under an obligation to arrest those guilty of the torture.

      No one at the Foreign Ministry in the capital Ashgabad was available on 5 April to discuss with Forum 18 what measures – if any – have been put in place to compensate the four young men for the violation of their rights or to prevent others similarly having their rights violated.

      The official who answered the telephone at Turkmenistan's Mission to the United Nations in Geneva on 5 April told Forum 18 that Ambassador Atageldi Haljanov was unavailable and asked for questions to be sent in writing. The same day Forum 18 wrote to ask what steps the government has taken to recompense these four young men for the violations of their rights and what steps it has taken to prevent the violations (imposition of compulsory military service, torture) happening again. Forum 18 had received no response by the end of the working day in Switzerland.

      New Religion Law, but no alternative service law

      On 26 March, Turkmenistan's parliament, the Mejlis, adopted a new Religion Law. The text had not been made public by 5 April (see forthcoming F18News article).

      However, despite the UN Human Rights Committee's reminder to Turkmenistan that guaranteeing those with conscientious objections to serving in the armed forces requires the provision of a genuine civilian alternative, the country has not adopted an alternative service law or any other civilian alternative to compulsory military service.

      Turkmenistan offers no alternative to its compulsory military service. Article 41 of the Constitution describes defence as a "sacred duty" of everyone and states that military service is compulsory for men. Military service for men between the ages of 18 and 27 is generally two years. A proposed Alternative Service Law was reportedly drafted in 2013, but officials have been unable to tell Forum 18 if and when it might be adopted (see F18News 29 September 2014 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2002).

      Pirnazar Hudainazarov, Chair of the Mejlis Legislative Committee, refused absolutely to discuss why no civilian alternative service has been introduced. "You shouldn't call me – you need to speak via the Foreign Ministry," he insisted to Forum 18 on 5 April. He then put the phone down without explaining why the Foreign Ministry needed to be involved. The telephone of Atamurad Tayliev, Chair of the Mejlis Committee on the Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms, went unanswered the same day each time Forum 18 called.

      Raid, arrest, torture, prison term

      Police arrested Hemdemov on 14 March 2015 during a raid on a meeting for worship in his home in Turkmenabad [Turkmenabat] (formerly Charjew), following which they tortured him. On 19 May 2015 a Judge at Lebap Regional Court sentenced him to the maximum four year prison term on charges of inciting religious hatred under Criminal Code Article 177, Part 2. The Judge also ruled that Hemdemov's property should be confiscated (see F18News 21 May 2015 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2063).

      "The prison warden refused to allow anyone to visit Bahram Hemdemov in prison - including close relatives - until the time limit for appealing against the verdict had passed," Jehovah's Witnesses complained to Forum 18. "The warden thus prevented Bahram or a representative from appealing against the conviction."

      On 10 June 2015 the authorities transferred Hemdemov from his home town of Turkmenabad to the labour camp in Seydi.

      Hemdemov's wife, Gulzira Hemdemova, appealed to the Supreme Court in Ashgabad. However, the deputy chair of the Supreme Court found no basis to grant the appeal. In early August 2015, Hemdemov's lawyer filed a supervisory appeal. On 25 August 2015, the Supreme Court denied the appeal because Hemdemov "propagates the religious beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses", fellow Jehovah's Witnesses told Forum 18.

      Hemdemov's address in prison is:

      Turkmenistan

      746222 Lebap vilayet

      Seydi

      uchr. LB-K/12

      Afraid to attend prison mosque

      Although the general regime Seydi labour camp has its own prison mosque, prisoners are afraid to attend, according to a former prisoner in the camp. "The mosque is open to any prisoner, but Muslim prisoners won't go for fear of being branded a ‘Wahhabi'," the former prisoner told Forum 18. "So at Friday prayers there are usually only about four or five people." The former prisoner added that the prison library – which prisoners make good use of - has no religious literature.

      The term "Wahhabi" is widely used in Central Asia for any devout Muslim, regardless of whether they do or do not commit or espouse violence.

      Prisoners branded as "Wahhabis" are given harsh treatment and are often confined in special sections of prisons. In February 2015 in the strict regime Seydi Labour Camp, Muslim prisoners convicted of alleged "Wahhabism" were subjected to brutal beatings. One man suffered a broken hand, while another suffered a broken rib and damage to his lung.

      Many imprisoned "Wahhabis" are also held in a closed section of the isolated top-security prison at Ovadan-Depe in the Karakum desert 70 kms (45 miles) north of Ashgabad (see F18News 18 February 2015 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2039). 

      Forum 18 has been unable to find out if these "Wahhabis" were imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief or for committing crimes.

      Authorities frequently use torture

      The authorities frequently use torture and violence, including violence apparently ordered by the government. In 2011 the UN Committee against Torture found that, in Turkmenistan "persons deprived of their liberty are tortured, ill-treated and threatened by public officers, especially at the moment of apprehension and during pretrial detention, to extract confessions and as an additional punishment after the confession" (see UN reference CAT/C/TKM/CO/1 http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/4ef0540f2.html).

      This includes against the relatives and friends of 15 then-current and former conscientious objector prisoners who appealed to the UN Human Rights Committee between September 2012 and August 2013 against their imprisonment and maltreatment. The prisoners of conscience were in Seydi Labour Camp regularly subjected to spells in the punishment cell and some were brutally beaten (see F18News 21 March 2014 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=1940).

      After the UN sought information from the government about the complaints, the home of a prisoner was raided in January 2013 and individuals were beaten, threatened with rape and fined (see F18News 14 February 2013 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=1801).

      UN says rights violated

      The four Jehovah's Witness conscientious objectors - Abdullayev, Mahmud Hudaybergenov, Ahmet Hudaybergenov and Japparov - all lodged cases against Turkmenistan to the UN Human Rights Committee in September 2012. They complained both about their conviction and punishments for wishing to perform a civilian alternative service in place of the compulsory military service, as well as beatings and other torture they endured while imprisoned. Abdullayev also complained that he had been convicted and punished twice for the same "crime".

      In a 17 March 2014 response to the UN Human Rights Committee, the Turkmen authorities insisted all four were not eligible for exemption from compulsory military service and that each man's criminal offence was "determined accurately according to the Criminal Code of Turkmenistan" and had been "considered carefully" by the courts. The response failed to address the issue of why the men had not been offered a civilian alternative to military service or why they had been tortured while imprisoned.

      The UN Human Rights Committee issued its decisions in 2015 (Zafar Abdullayev v. Turkmenistan, 25 March 2015 (CCPR/C/113/D/2218/2012); Mahmud Hudaybergenov v. Turkmenistan, 29 October 2015 (CCPR/C/115/D/2221/2012); Ahmet Hudaybergenov v. Turkmenistan, 29 October 2015 (CCPR/C/115/D/2222/2012); Sunnet Japparow v. Turkmenistan, 29 October 2015 (CCPR/C/115/D/2223/2012)). The UN made public Abdullayev's decision in May 2015, the other three in December 2015.

      The Committee found in all four cases that the men's right to freedom of religion or belief under Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights had been violated.

      "The right to conscientious objection to military service inheres in the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion," the Committee noted. "It entitles any individual to an exemption from compulsory military service if such service cannot be reconciled with that individual's religion or beliefs. The right must not be impaired by coercion. A State may, if it wishes, compel the objector to undertake a civilian alternative to military service, outside the military sphere and not under military command. The alternative service must not be of a punitive nature. It must be a real service to the community and compatible with respect for human rights."

      The Committee found in all four cases that the men's right to be free from torture under Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights had been violated.

      "The Committee takes note of the author's claim that, when he was arrested on 4 September 2010, the police slammed his head against a wall and that, after his conviction, during the first 18 days of his detention he was beaten on four occasions," the UN ruling in the case of Ahmet Hudaybergenov notes. "The author also claims that upon arrival at the LBK-12 prison on 8 October 2010, he was again beaten and that beatings continued regularly throughout his imprisonment. The State party has not refuted these allegations, nor provided any information in this respect. In the circumstances, due weight must be given to the author's allegations."

      In Abdullayev's case, the Committee found that his right not to be punished twice for the same offence under Article 14, Part 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights had been violated.

      "Under an obligation" to make reparation

      All four judgments point out that under Article 2, Part 3a of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Turkmenistan's government is "under an obligation" to provide the victims with an effective remedy. "This requires it to make full reparation to individuals whose Covenant rights have been violated. Accordingly, the State party is also obligated, inter alia, to expunge the author's criminal record and to provide him with adequate compensation. The State party is under an obligation to avoid similar violations of the Covenant in the future, which includes the adoption of legislative measures guaranteeing the right to conscientious objection."

      The government has not expunged the criminal convictions of Abdullayev, Mahmud Hudaybergenov, Ahmet Hudaybergenov or Japparow, Jehovah's Witnesses told Forum 18. Nor has it offered compensation. Nor has it adopted a civilian alternative to compulsory military service.

      The UN Human Rights Committee said it "wishes to receive" from Turkmenistan its response on measures it had taken within 180 days. It also requested Turkmenistan to publish the Committee's rulings in the cases.

      Forum 18 is not aware that the Turkmen government has responded to the UN Human Rights Committee on Abdullayev's case. However, it provided "brief" responses on the other three cases and "dialogue" is continuing, Jehovah's Witnesses told Forum 18. (END)

      Source: 
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    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      ST. PETERSBURG, Russia—The year 2016 marks 125 years since czarist authorities banished Semyon Kozlitskiy, one of the first Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia, for preaching the Bible’s message. In 1891, without a trial, Mr. Kozlitskiy was shackled in chains and exiled to Siberia, where he lived until his death in 1935.
      Over the past century, Russia’s feelings toward Jehovah’s Witnesses have remained largely the same. As noted in the latest reporting cycle of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, numerous sources indicate that Russia continues “to curtail freedom of expression, . . . and freedom of religion, targeting, inter alia, Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
      Mr. Heiner Bielefeldt, United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.
      The Human Rights Committee has been mandated to monitor compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Russia is a state party. “The drafters of the ICCPR,” says Heiner Bielefeldt, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, “recognized the essential character of freedom of religion or belief by making it, in its internal sphere, non-derogable [cannot be taken away or compromised] even in times of emergency (Article 4.2). Being non-derogable is a status that few other categories of human rights enjoy.” Following its 113th session (see top image), the Committee issued its latest periodic report of the Russian Federation, concluding that while Russia ostensibly protects freedom of religion by being party to the Covenant, courts throughout the federation have been arbitrarily wielding anti-extremist legislation against the Witnesses.
      Russia’s Federal Law “On Combating Extremist Activity” (No. 114-FZ), was adopted in 2002, partly to address concerns about terrorism. However, Russia amended the law in 2006, 2007, and 2008 so that it extends “far beyond any fears of extremism linked to terrorism,” according to the article “Russia’s Extremism Law Violates Human Rights,” published in The Moscow Times. Now the law “simply seizes upon the ‘terrorist’ vocabulary that has become commonplace internationally since the 9/11 assault on the Twin Towers in [New York City], and uses it to describe unwelcome religious groups across Russia,” explains Derek H. Davis, formerly the director of the J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies at Baylor University. Hence, “the ‘extreme’ label,” says Mr. Davis, “has been unfairly and disproportionately used against Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
      The Human Rights Committee detects that the heart of the problem lies in the law’s vague definition of extremist activity. Geraldine Fagan, author of Believing in Russia—Religious Policy After Communism,explained to The Washington Post that the law’s open-ended language makes it very easy for local courts “to rustle up a few so-called experts who may not particularly like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and get them to write a report that their literature is extremist.”
      Such was the case at the start of this year, when negative testimony by an expert linguist resulted in a Vyborg City Court judge declaring two of the Witnesses’ magazines extremist. The same prosecutor also filed a claim to declare as extremist the New World Translation, the Bible produced by the Witnesses. Hearings began on March 15, 2016.
      Bible literature intended for import to Russia stored at the Central Europe branch of Jehovah’s Witnesses located in Selters, Germany. In March 2015 Russian customs officials began blocking imports of the Witnesses’ publications.
      The Witnesses’ legal difficulty in 2016 was presaged by alarming developments in 2015. As Roman Lunkin, head of the Center for Religion and Society Studies at the Institute of Europe Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, points out, “not only did persecution become more severe in 2015 but it also significantly increased.” In March, Russian authorities blocked all imports of the Witnesses’ religious literature, even literature that Russian courts had previously examined and declared free of any signs of extremism. In July, Russian customs officials began blocking the importation of Russian-language Bibles published by the Witnesses. Also in July, the Russian Federation became the only country in the world to ban the Witnesses’ official website, jw.org. In November, Jehovah’s Witnesses were denied import of a shipment of Russian Synodal Bibles commonly used by other Christian communities in Russia—including the Russian Orthodox Church. The year ended with what The Washington Postdescribed as “one of Russia’s largest anti-extremism trials in recent memory,” when a judge in the port city of Taganrog convicted 16 of Jehovah’s Witnesses on criminal charges for organizing and attending peaceful religious meetings.
      In the Taganrog case, as well as others like it, there is great irony. “The older generation of Jehovah’s Witnesses who are being prosecuted already hold certificates as victims of repression,” recalls Mr. Lunkin. During the Soviet era, thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses were imprisoned. In 1990, Russia released the last of the Witnesses. These former prisoners had their reputation officially cleared, each receiving Certificates of Rehabilitation, which stated they were not “enemies of the nation,” but innocent victims. Thus, reasons Mr. Lunkin, “Russian authorities are now, by means of the anti-extremist legislation, in effect, revoking that rehabilitation.”
      Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia did, however, win a rare legal victory on May 27, 2015, when the Russian Federation Ministry of Justice restored the registration of Jehovah’s Witnesses as a Local Religious Organization (LRO) in Moscow, a status the Witnesses lost when their legal entity in Moscow was liquidated on March 26, 2004. The Witnesses appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), and on June 10, 2010, the ECHR ordered Russia to reinstate the Witnesses’ registration in Moscow as well as pay moral damages.
      Lyubov and Alexey Koptev, Jehovah’s Witnesses, embrace in their garden in Taganrog, Russia, on November 11, 2015. On November 30, 2015, Mr. Koptev, along with 15 other Witnesses, was convicted at the Taganrog City Court for extremist activity—organizing and attending peaceful religious meetings. Mr. Koptev, a retiree with grandchildren, holds merits from the state for 38 years of faithful work at the legendary Factory ‘Red boilermaker’ (‘Krasnyy Kotelshik’).
      “I agree with the ECHR’s finding,” states the UN Special Rapporteur. “Banning Jehovah’s Witnesses’ right to organize themselves according to their religion was ‘drastic’ and ‘disproportionate,’ and violated freedom of religion.” Per the ECHR ruling, the Russian government paid the fine; but they waited to restore the Witnesses’ legal entity until last May—nearly five years after the ECHR order.
      Certificates of Rehabilitation. Thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses who were imprisoned for their faith during the Soviet era received these documents upon their release, officially clearing their reputation and confirming that they were not “enemies of the nation.”
      A spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia, Yaroslav Sivulskiy, states: “Moscow is home to over 9,600 Jehovah’s Witnesses, with an estimated 175,000 Witnesses living throughout the federation. All Witnesses in Russia, as well as our global brotherhood of over 8 million worshippers, remain hopeful that the registration issued from Russia’s capital proves to be a harbinger of genuine religious freedom throughout the federation.” However, experts such as Mr. Davis suggest Russia’s move to restore Jehovah’s Witnesses as an LRO, “while integral to its facial obligations to practice religious freedom, should be viewed principally as a political move to appease the world community.”
      In 2015 the Human Rights Committee reiterated its recommendations from 2003 and 2009, that Russia should “revise without undue delay the Federal Law on Combating Extremist Activity,” clarifying the definition of “extremist activity,” ensuring that it requires an element of violence or hatred and clearly outlines how materials may be classified as extremist. Additionally, the Committee has implored Russia to “take all measures necessary to prevent the arbitrary use of the law and revise the Federal List of Extremist Materials.”
      Nikolay Trotsyuk (second from right) was imprisoned for three years for conscientiously objecting to military service during the Soviet era. On November 30, 2015, he was again criminally charged, this time along with his son-in-law Andrey Goncharov (far left), daughter Oksana Goncharova (third from left), son Sergey Trotsyuk (far right), and 12 other Witnesses in Taganrog.
      “The discrimination against communities of Jehovah’s Witnesses constitutes religious persecution in the truest sense,” states Mr. Lunkin, “while other recognized religions can engage in the same religious activity as Jehovah’s Witnesses and remain unpunished.” Yet, after all of the legal accusations, often accompanied by aggressive media campaigns against them, Mr. Lunkin concludes, “Jehovah’s Witnesses remain a nationwide organization, and the number of their followers has steadily grown.”
      Source: 
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    • By Γιαννης Διαμαντιδης
      According to Robert King and his book "Jehovah Himself Has Become King" from page 142 till page 160 we have a detailed list of watchtower publications that promote UN. I will give you an example: Awake! July 22 1999 the Governing Body tells us that 1999 is the international year of older Persons. 1994 also just so happened to be the UN’s “International Year of 
      the Family” (Watchtower Magazine 9-15-95). 1995 was to be the UN “Year of Tolerance”. (Watchtower Magazine 10-1-95). The year 1998 was the UN-declared “International Year of the Ocean,” (June 8, 1998, Awake!). The year 2001 was designated by the United Nations as the “International Year of Volunteers.”(January 1, 2001, Watchtower). My question is: who should the organization be advertising, the UN or the Kingdom of God? If they were advertising the UN isn't that spiritual fornication? and what is the punishment for that!

       



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    • Eric Ouellet

      Qu’est-ce que le Jour du Jugement ?

      La Bible dit que Dieu “ a fixé un jour où il va juger la terre habitée ”. (Actes 17:31.) Pour beaucoup, l’idée d’être soumis à un jugement, quel qu’il soit, est désagréable. Voyez-vous les choses ainsi ?
      SI C’EST le cas, rassurez-vous : le Jour du Jugement est une disposition pleine d’amour qui apportera de grands bienfaits à la famille humaine, y compris aux morts (Matthieu 20:28 ; Jean 3:16). Mais pourquoi est-il nécessaire ? Et que se passera-t-il réellement pendant ce “ jour ” ?
      Pourquoi le Jour du Jugement est nécessaire
      Lorsque Dieu a placé les humains sur la terre, il ne la destinait pas à n’être qu’un lieu d’épreuve en vue d’une existence dans un autre monde. Il a créé les humains pour qu’ils y vivent éternellement. Bien que parfaits physiquement et mentalement, Adam et Ève, le premier couple, se sont rebellés contre Dieu. Ils ont alors perdu la perspective de la vie éternelle pour eux-mêmes, et ont transmis le péché et la mort à tous leurs descendants. — Genèse 2:15-17 ; Romains 5:12.
      Le Jour du Jugement sera une période de mille ans durant laquelle les hommes auront la possibilité de retrouver ce qu’Adam et Ève ont perdu*. Remarquez que, selon Actes 17:31, cité plus haut, ce “ jour ” concerne les personnes qui vivent sur “ la terre habitée ”. Celles qui recevront un jugement favorable vivront sur la terre, éternellement et dans des conditions parfaites (Révélation 21:3, 4). Le Jour du Jugement contribue donc à l’accomplissement du dessein originel de Dieu pour l’homme et pour la planète.
      Le Juge que Dieu a établi est Christ Jésus. La Bible révèle qu’il va “ juger les vivants et les morts ”. (2 Timothée 4:1.) Qui sont “ les vivants ” qui seront jugés ? Comment les morts vont-ils revenir à la vie sur “ la terre habitée ” ?
      Jésus juge “ les vivants ”
      Nous sommes maintenant proches de la fin annoncée du présent système de choses, où Dieu va détruire tous les éléments de la société humaine corrompue et supprimer les méchants. Les personnes qui réchapperont seront “ les vivants ” qui seront jugés. — Révélation 7:9-14 ; 19:11-16.
      Durant la période de jugement qui durera mille ans, Christ Jésus ainsi que 144 000 hommes et femmes ressuscités pour vivre dans les cieux dirigeront la terre. Exerçant les fonctions de rois et de prêtres, ils dispenseront les bienfaits du sacrifice rédempteur de Jésus et amèneront progressivement les humains fidèles à la perfection physique et mentale. — Révélation 5:10 ; 14:1-4 ; 20:4-6.
      Pendant le Jour du Jugement, Satan et ses démons ne seront plus libres d’influencer l’activité humaine (Révélation 20:1-3). Toutefois, à la fin de ce “ jour ”, Satan sera autorisé à éprouver la fidélité de tous les humains alors en vie. Ceux qui resteront fidèles à Dieu passeront avec succès l’épreuve à laquelle Adam et Ève ont échoué. Ils seront jugés dignes de recevoir la vie éternelle sur la terre redevenue un paradis. Ceux qui décideront de se rebeller contre Dieu seront détruits pour toujours, de même que Satan et ses démons. — Révélation 20:7-9.
      Le jugement des “ morts ”
      On lit dans la Bible qu’au Jour du Jugement les morts “ se lèveront ”. (Matthieu 12:41.) Jésus a dit : “ L’heure vient où tous ceux qui sont dans les tombes de souvenir entendront sa voix et sortiront, ceux qui ont fait des choses bonnes, pour une résurrection de vie, ceux qui ont pratiqué des choses viles, pour une résurrection de jugement. ” (Jean 5:28, 29). Il n’est pas question ici des âmes désincarnées des défunts. Ces derniers sont totalement inconscients et n’ont pas d’âme qui survive à la mort (Ecclésiaste 9:5 ; Jean 11:11-14, 23, 24). Jésus relèvera sur la terre tous ceux qui se sont endormis dans la mort.
      Seront-ils jugés sur la base de ce qu’ils ont fait avant leur mort ? Non. Les Écritures enseignent que “ celui qui est mort a été acquitté de son péché ”. (Romains 6:7.) Ainsi, tout comme les survivants de la fin du système actuel, les ressuscités pour la vie sur la terre seront jugés “ selon leurs actions ” au cours du Jour du Jugement (Révélation 20:12, 13). En fonction de l’issue de leurs actions, leur résurrection se révélera aboutir soit à l’éternité, soit à la destruction. Nombre de ces ressuscités découvriront Jéhovah Dieu et ses exigences pour obtenir la vie. Ils auront la possibilité de se conformer à la volonté de Dieu et de recevoir la vie éternelle sur la terre.
      Aucune raison d’avoir peur
      Le Jour du Jugement ne sera pas seulement un temps d’instruction divine, mais aussi un temps où tous les vivants appliqueront ce qu’ils apprendront et en verront les bienfaits. Imaginez la joie que vous ressentirez quand vous retrouverez vos chers disparus et progresserez à leurs côtés vers la perfection !
      Imaginez la joie que vous ressentirez quand vous retrouverez vos chers disparus.
      Au terme du Jour du Jugement, Dieu permettra à Satan d’éprouver la fidélité des êtres humains. Il n’y a cependant pas lieu d’être inquiet ou d’avoir peur. Tous seront alors solidement armés pour faire face à cette dernière épreuve. Ainsi, le Jour du Jugement est une étape dans l’accomplissement du dessein divin qui effacera toutes les conséquences de la rébellion originelle contre Dieu dans le jardin d’Éden.

      · 0 replies
    • Eric Ouellet

      Chantons avec coeur et allégresse 
      Psaumes
      146 Louez Jah!
      Que tout mon être loue Jéhovah !
       2 Je veux louer Jéhovah toute ma vie.
      Je veux chanter des louanges à mon Dieu aussi longtemps que je vivrai.
       3 Ne mettez pas votre confiance dans les princes,
      ni dans un fils d’homme, qui est incapable de sauver.
       4 L’esprit de l’homme sort, l’homme retourne au sol ;
      ce jour-là, ses pensées périssent.
       5 Heureux celui qui a pour secours le Dieu de Jacob
      et dont l’espoir est en Jéhovah son Dieu,
       6 Celui qui a fait le ciel et la terre,
      la mer, et tout ce qui s’y trouve,
      celui qui reste fidèle pour toujours,
       7 celui qui garantit la justice aux spoliés,
      celui qui donne du pain aux affamés.
      Jéhovah libère les prisonniers ;
       8 Jéhovah ouvre les yeux des aveugles ;
      Jéhovah relève ceux qui sont courbés ;
      Jéhovah aime les justes.
       9 Jéhovah protège les résidents étrangers ;
      il soutient l’orphelin de père et la veuve,
      mais il contrecarre les projets des méchants
      10 Jéhovah sera Roi pour toujours,
      ton Dieu, ô Sion, de génération en génération.
      Louez Jah !

      · 0 replies
    • REDROCHA  »  T.B. (Twyla)

      Thank you Sister !!!!
      · 0 replies
    • Eric Ouellet

      LES QUALITÉS D'UN BERGER ET LES ASSISTANTS DE L'ASSEMBLÉE 

      PREMIÈRE LETTRE DE TIMOTHÉE

      3 La parole suivante est digne de foi : Si un homme aspire à être un responsable, il désire une belle œuvre. 2 Il faut donc qu’un responsable soit irréprochable, mari d’une seule femme, modéré dans ses habitudes, réfléchi, ordonné, hospitalier, capable d’enseigner, 3 que ce ne soit pas un ivrogne ni un homme violent, mais un homme raisonnable, non querelleur, non ami de l’argent, 4 un homme qui dirige d’une belle façon sa propre famille, qui tienne ses enfants dans la soumission en toute dignité 5 (car si un homme ne sait pas diriger sa propre famille, comment prendra-t-il soin de l’assemblée de Dieu ?), 6 que ce ne soit pas un homme récemment converti, de peur qu’il se gonfle d’orgueil et tombe sous le coup de la condamnation portée contre le Diable. 7 D’autre part, il faut aussi qu’il reçoive un beau témoignage des gens extérieurs à l’assemblée, afin de ne pas tomber dans le déshonneur et dans un piège du Diable.
      8 De même, il faut que les assistants soient des hommes dignes, qu’ils n’aient pas un langage double, qu’ils soient modérés dans la consommation de vin, non avides d’un gain malhonnête, 9 attachés au saint secret de la foi avec une conscience pure.
      10 De plus, qu’ils soient d’abord mis à l’épreuve quant à leurs aptitudes ; puis, s’ils sont exempts d’accusation, qu’ils servent comme ministres.
      11 De même, il faut que les femmes soient dignes, non calomniatrices, modérées dans leurs habitudes, fidèles en toutes choses.
      12 Les assistants doivent être maris d’une seule femme et diriger d’une belle façon leurs enfants et leur propre famille. 13 Car les hommes qui servent d’une belle façon acquièrent une belle réputation et une grande confiancepour parler de la foi en Christ Jésus.
      14 Je t’écris ces choses, bien que j’espère venir bientôt chez toi, 15 pour que, au cas où je serais retardé, tu saches comment tu dois te conduire dans la maison de Dieu, qui est l’assemblée du Dieu vivant, colonne et soutien de la vérité. 16 Oui, il faut avouer qu’il est grand, le saint secret de l’attachement à Dieu : « Il a été manifesté dans la chair, a été déclaré juste dans l’esprit, est apparu aux anges, a été prêché parmi les nations, a été cru dans le monde, a été enlevé dans la gloire. »





      · 0 replies
    • Eric Ouellet

      Bergers, imitez les Grands Bergers
       
      Christ [...] a souffert pour vous, vous laissant un modèle pour que vous suiviez fidèlement ses traces » (1 PIERRE 2:21)

      QUAND un berger s’intéresse de près au bien-être de son troupeau, les moutons se portent bien. Selon un manuel sur l’élevage ovin, « l’homme qui se contente de mener le troupeau au pré puis n’y prête plus attention risque fort, en quelques années, d’avoir de nombreuses bêtes malades qui ne rapportent rien ». Par contre, quand les moutons reçoivent l’attention voulue, le troupeau prospère.
      La qualité des soins et de l’attention que les bergers du troupeau de Dieu prodiguent à chaque brebis dont ils sont responsables influera sur la santé spirituelle de toute la congrégation. Tu te souviens peut-être que Jésus a eu pitié des foules parce qu’« elles étaient dépouillées et éparpillées comme des brebis sans berger » (Mat. 9:36). Pourquoi se trouvaient-elles en si piteuse condition ? Parce que les hommes chargés d’enseigner la Loi de Dieu au peuple étaient durs, exigeants et hypocrites. Au lieu de soutenir et de nourrir les membres de leur troupeau, les guides spirituels d’Israël posaient sur leurs épaules de « lourdes charges » (Mat. 23:4).
      Les bergers chrétiens d’aujourd’hui, les anciens, ont donc une lourde responsabilité. Les brebis du troupeau sous leur garde appartiennent à Jéhovah ainsi qu’à Jésus, qui s’est présenté comme « l’excellent berger » (Jean 10:11). Les brebis ont été « acheté[e]s à un prix », que Jésus a payé avec son propre « sang précieux » (1 Cor. 6:20 ; 1 Pierre 1:18, 19). Jésus aime tellement les brebis qu’il a bien voulu sacrifier sa vie pour elles. Les anciens ne devraient jamais oublier qu’ils sont des sous-bergers sous la surveillance du Fils bienveillant de Dieu, Jésus Christ, « le grand berger des brebis » (Héb. 13:20).
      Comment les bergers chrétiens devraient-ils traiter les brebis ? Les membres de la congrégation sont exhortés à « obéi[r] à ceux qui [les] dirigent ». De leur côté, les anciens ne doivent pas « commande[r] en maîtres ceux qui sont l’héritage de Dieu » (Héb. 13:17 ; lire 1 Pierre 5:2, 3). Alors comment peuvent-ils diriger le troupeau sans le commander en maîtres ? Autrement dit, comment peuvent-ils répondre aux besoins des brebis sans abuser de l’autorité dont Dieu les a investis ?
      « IL LES PORTERA SUR SON SEIN »
      Parlant de Jéhovah, le prophète Isaïe a déclaré : « Comme un berger il fera paître son troupeau. De son bras il rassemblera les agneaux ; et sur son sein il les portera. Il conduira doucement celles qui allaitent » (Is. 40:11). Cette comparaison montre que Jéhovah se soucie des besoins des membres de la congrégation faibles et vulnérables. De même qu’un berger connaît les besoins particuliers de chaque brebis de son troupeau et se tient prêt à les combler, Jéhovah connaît les besoins des membres de la congrégation et est heureux de leur apporter le soutien voulu. À l’image d’un berger qui, si nécessaire, porte un agneau nouveau-né dans le pli de son vêtement, « le Père des tendres miséricordes » nous portera, ou nous consolera, quand nous serons durement éprouvés ou rencontrerons un besoin particulier (2 Cor. 1:3, 4).

      Quel exemple admirable pour un berger chrétien ! Comme son Père céleste, il lui faut être attentif aux besoins des brebis. S’il est au courant des difficultés qu’elles rencontrent et des besoins qui méritent une attention immédiate, il sera en mesure d’offrir l’encouragement et le soutien nécessaires (Prov. 27:23). Il doit donc bien communiquer avec ses compagnons chrétiens. Tout en respectant la vie privée de chacun, il s’intéresse à ce qu’il voit et entend dans la congrégation, avec amour, il se rend disponible pour « venir en aide aux faibles » (Actes 20:35 ; 1 Thess. 4:11).
      Parlons de la mentalité de bergers que Jéhovah a désapprouvés. Aux jours d’Ézékiel et de Jérémie, Jéhovah a dénoncé ceux qui auraient dû s’occuper de ses brebis, mais ne le faisaient pas. Quand personne ne surveillait les brebis, le troupeau devenait la proie de bêtes sauvages et se dispersait. Ces bergers exploitaient les brebis et, plutôt que de les faire paître, « ils se paissaient eux-mêmes » (Ézék. 34:7-10 ; Jér. 23:1). Le reproche que Dieu leur a fait est tout aussi valable pour les chefs de la chrétienté. Mais il souligne également combien il est important qu’un ancien s’occupe avec sérieux et amour du troupeau de Jéhovah.
      « JE VOUS AI DONNÉ L’EXEMPLE »
      En raison de l’imperfection humaine, certaines brebis peuvent être lentes à comprendre ce que le Berger suprême attend d’elles. Elles ne se conforment pas toujours à un conseil biblique ou ont un comportement trahissant un manque de maturité spirituelle. Comment les anciens doivent-ils réagir ? Ils devraient imiter la patience qu’a eue Jésus envers ses disciples quand ils cherchaient à savoir qui parmi eux serait le plus grand dans le Royaume. Au lieu de perdre patience, Jésus a continué à les enseigner et à leur donner des conseils bienveillants sur la pratique de l’humilité (Luc 9:46-48 ; 22:24-27). En leur lavant les pieds, il leur a fait une démonstration d’humilité, qualité que les surveillants chrétiens sont tenus de manifester (lire Jean 13:12-15 ; 1 Pierre 2:21).
      Le point de vue de Jésus sur le rôle du berger n’était pas le même que celui que Jacques et Jean ont un jour manifesté. Ces deux apôtres cherchaient à s’assurer une place en vue dans le Royaume. Mais Jésus a rectifié cet état d’esprit ainsi : « Vous savez que les chefs des nations dominent sur elles, et que les grands usent d’autorité sur elles. Il n’en sera pas ainsi parmi vous ; mais quiconque voudra devenir grand parmi vous sera votre serviteur » (Mat. 20:25, 26, Bible de Darby). Les apôtres devaient résister à l’envie de « commander en maîtres » leurs compagnons ou de « dominer sur » eux.
      Jésus tient à ce que les bergers chrétiens traitent le troupeau comme lui le traitait. Ils doivent être disposés à servir leurs compagnons, pas les dominer. Paul a manifesté une telle humilité. Il a dit en effet aux anciens de la congrégation d’Éphèse : « Vous savez bien comment, depuis le premier jour où j’ai mis le pied dans le district d’Asie, j’ai été avec vous tout le temps, travaillant comme un esclave pour le Seigneur, avec la plus grande humilité. » L’apôtre souhaitait que ces anciens soutiennent les brebis avec dévouement et humilité. Il a ajouté : « Je vous ai montré en toutes choses que c’est en peinant ainsi que vous devez venir en aide aux faibles » (Actes 20:18, 19, 35). Il a par ailleurs dit aux Corinthiens qu’il ne dominait pas sur leur foi. Il était plutôt leur humble compagnon de travail, pour leur joie (2 Cor. 1:24). C’est un bel exemple d’humilité et de courage pour les anciens de notre époque.
      « FERMEMENT ATTACHÉ À LA PAROLE FIDÈLE »
      Un ancien doit être « fermement attaché à la parole fidèle pour ce qui est de son art d’enseigner » (Tite 1:9). Mais il le sera « dans un esprit de douceur » (Gal. 6:1). Un bon berger chrétien ne force pas une brebis à agir de telle ou telle façon. Non, il réfléchit à la manière dont il stimulera son cœur. Il attirera peut-être son attention sur les principes bibliques à considérer avant de prendre une décision importante. Il reverra avec elle ce que les publications ont dit sur la question. Il l’exhortera à réfléchir aux conséquences de tel ou tel choix sur ses relations avec Jéhovah. Il pourra aussi insister sur l’importance de demander à Dieu sa direction avant de prendre une décision (Prov. 3:5, 6). Ensuite, il la laissera prendre elle-même sa décision (Rom. 14:1-4).
      La seule autorité que les surveillants chrétiens détiennent leur vient des Écritures. Alors ils doivent absolument se servir de la Bible avec habileté et adhérer à son contenu. Ils se garderont ainsi d’un éventuel abus de pouvoir. Car ils ne sont que sous-bergers ; chaque membre de la congrégation est responsable devant Jéhovah et Jésus de ses propres décisions (Gal. 6:5, 7, 8).
      « DES EXEMPLES POUR LE TROUPEAU »
      Après avoir déconseillé aux anciens ( prêtres )« commander en maîtres ceux qui [leur] sont échus en partage », l’apôtre Pierre les exhorte à « devenir des exemples pour le troupeau » (1 Pierre 5:3, note). De quelle façon sont-ils des exemples pour le troupeau ? Prenons deux des choses requises d’un frère qui « aspire à une fonction de surveillant ». Il lui faut être « sain d’esprit » et « présider de belle façon, sa propre maisonnée ». S’il a une famille, il doit la présider de manière exemplaire, car « si quelqu’un [...] ne sait pas présider sa propre maisonnée, comment prendra-t-il soin de la congrégation ( assemblée) de Dieu ? » (1 Tim. 3:1, 2, 4, 5). Il doit également être sain d’esprit, c’est-à-dire comprendre clairement les principes divins et savoir comment les appliquer dans sa propre vie. Il est calme et équilibré et se garde de porter des jugements hâtifs. Autant de qualités qui inspirent confiance aux membres de la congrégation.
      Les surveillants donnent également l’exemple en prenant la tête dans l’œuvre de prédication. Jésus lui-même leur a donné l’exemple à cet égard. La prédication de la bonne nouvelle du Royaume a occupé une grande partie de son activité terrestre. Il a montré à ses disciples comment il fallait l’accomplir (Marc 1:38 ; Luc 8:1). Qu’il est encourageant, de nos jours, de prêcher aux côtés des anciens, de constater leur zèle pour cette œuvre salvatrice et d’apprendre de leurs méthodes d’enseignement ! Leur détermination à consacrer du temps et de l’énergie à la prédication malgré un emploi du temps chargé insuffle du zèle à toute la congrégation. Enfin, les anciens donnent l’exemple en préparant les réunions de la congrégation et en y participant, mais aussi en prenant part à des activités comme le nettoyage et la maintenance de la Salle du Royaume (Éph. 5:15, 16 ; lire (Hébreux 13:7) 
      « SOUTENEZ LES FAIBLES »
      Quand une brebis se blesse ou tombe malade, un bon berger vole à son secours. Pareillement, quand un membre de la congrégation souffre ou a besoin d’une aide spirituelle, les anciens doivent réagir rapidement. Un chrétien âgé ou malade a sans doute besoin d’une aide pratique, mais il a surtout besoin d’un soutien spirituel et d’encouragements (1 Thess. 5:14). Les jeunes rencontrent peut-être des difficultés. Résister aux « désirs de la jeunesse » en est une (2 Tim. 2:22). Le berger doit donc rendre régulièrement visite aux membres de la congrégation dans le but de comprendre les épreuves qu’ils traversent et de les encourager par des conseils bibliques bien choisis. Quand ces visites pastorales sont faites au bon moment, beaucoup de problèmes peuvent être résolus avant qu’ils ne s’aggravent.
      Et si les difficultés d’un chrétien s’aggravent au point de menacer sa santé spirituelle ? « Quelqu’un parmi vous est-il malade ?, a demandé le rédacteur biblique Jacques. Qu’il appelle à lui les anciens de la congrégation, et qu’ils prient sur lui, l’enduisant d’huile au nom de Jéhovah. Et la prière de la foi rétablira celui qui est souffrant, et Jéhovah le relèvera. De plus, s’il a commis des péchés, il lui sera pardonné » (Jacq. 5:14, 15). Même quand un chrétien « souffrant » « appelle à lui les anciens », ces derniers doivent lui venir en aide dès qu’ils sont au courant de son état. Les anciens qui prient avec sont là pour le fortifier et aussi tout frères en difficulté, et ils les soutiennent, se révèlent une source de réconfort et d’encouragement (lire Isaïe 32:1, 2).
      Dans tout ce qu’ils font au sein de l’organisation de Jéhovah, les bergers s’efforcent d’imiter « le grand berger », Jésus Christ. Grâce à l’aide de ces hommes dignes de confiance, le troupeau se fortifie et prospère. Tout cela nous réjouit profondément et nous pousse à louer le plus Grand Berger sans pareil,  notre Dieu Jéhovah



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