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JW Midweek Meeting August 22, 2018


Guest Nicole

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    • Guest Indiana
      By Guest Indiana
      Imagine if a Christian in the first century planned to gather with their brothers and sisters that day on Pentecost 33 C.E. but decided last minute not to go because they were a bit tired. On that day, the group that gathered was unexpectedly filled with Holy Spirit and they began to speak other languages. No doubt, if someone planned to be there but decided to miss it for something trivial, they would have regretted not being there for that momentous occasion. (Acts 2:1-6) Today’s text reminds us that our meetings are also very important. If we develop a habit of skipping meetings for minor reasons, we very well could be missing out on something important that we need. I know personally after work I am tired and sometimes want to stay home. Sometimes I’ll say, “Ok I’ll go but I’m leaving right after it is finished.” Then I end up being the last person there every time lol. It’s not always easy to go but it is always worth it. 🏥Note: This is not meant to be critical of those with serious health problems or other circumstances that may make it difficult or impossible to make it to all the meetings. Jehovah knows what each of us is able to do (and unable to do) and appreciates our efforts!



       
    • Guest Indiana
      By Guest Indiana
      Did you know: An igloo can be over 40 degrees warmer than the temperature outside. So even in negative temperatures, gathering inside of an igloo can keep those inside warm. No matter how cold this world gets, we can’t allow that to stop us from gathering together in our spiritual igloos. Not only does it keep us warm personally, but by being there we can help others stay warm as well. 




    • By James Thomas Rook Jr.
      I realize there are many reasons to go to an Assembly, or Convention, and when my children were living at home they would go to others' conventions  for a variety of reasons, as well as their own.
      I would always ask them when they returned home "What did you learn that was new?" .  This was important to me as I had to work long hours to afford to finance their explorations and socialization, which I thought was important ... but I still expected them to learn something new ... and since I was paying for their travels, to tell me what was going on.
      Generally, attendance to an out of town Convention nearby would cost about $200 a day, times three days, so that would be $600.
      Now that I am retired, and my income has been cut by about 80%, it's even MORE important to me to want to get good value for the time and money I would be spending for my wife and I to spend three days, traveling out of town, to learn something of lasting value .... something worth at least three days of our time, which is painfully obviously shorter, and the what is now considerable effort and considerable expense.
      In Engineering it's important that the "Law of diminishing returns" be observed so that you do not go physically, mentally or emotionally bankrupt.
      Perhaps I am just asking for some encouragement that the effort is worth the cost and effort, and that the benefit is worth it, so if I may ask ......
      WHAT DID YOU LEARN THAT WAS NEW AT THE 2019 "LOVE NEVER FAILS" REGIONAL CONVENTION ?
      ......
       
       
    • Guest Nicole
    • Guest Nicole
    • Guest Nicole
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
    • Guest Nicole
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      The meetings are like a dinner party where we have the opportunity to enjoy a lovingly prepared meal in the way of Bible education. We show appreciation for this gathering by bringing our own dish to pass (our well prepared comments) and by partaking of the food that is being offered (paying attention as the talks are presented). It could be viewed as rude to habitually arrive to the gathering late or to leave before it ends. Also, this is a great time to catch up with old friends or meet new ones. 
      We also want to be alert to thank the loving waiters (those who give parts on the program) for all their hard work. As well as to clean up after ourselves so the hall is ready for the next group coming in for a delicious meal. 
      Most importantly we should thank the Host (Prayer to Jehovah) for arranging such beautiful gatherings where we can be nourished and refreshed. 
      Matthew 24:45-" Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics, to give them their food at the proper time?" Heb 10:25-"not forsaking our meeting together, as some have the custom, but encouraging one another, and all the more so as you see the day drawing near."

    • By Bible Speaks
      Is it not a joy to read this weeks Watchtower and say to yourself; That was written just for me?
      Do You See the Need to Train Others?
      “I will give you good instruction.”—PROV. 4:2.
      You may ask, ‘How can I train my student to study the Bible regularly?’ A good start is by showing him how to prepare for the study you conduct with him. You might suggest that he read portions of the appendix of the What Does the Bible Really Teach? book and look up cited scriptures. Help him to prepare for the meetings with the goal of commenting. 
      Encourage him to read every issue of The Watchtower and Awake! If the Watchtower Library or Watchtower ONLINE LIBRARY is available in his language, you can show him how to use it to answer Bible questions. As a result of such help, very likely your Bible student will soon be delighting in his personal study of God’s Word.
      Training others is vitally important because of increasing needs and opportunities to serve Jehovah. The examples of training provided by Jesus and Paul remain valid. Jehovah wants his modern-day servants to be well-trained for their theocratic assignments. God gives us the privilege of helping less experienced ones develop their ability to do the work needed in the congregation. As conditions deteriorate in the world and new opportunities to preach continue to arise, such training becomes both important and urgent.
      Of course, training people takes time and effort. But Jehovah and his beloved Son will support us and give us wisdom to provide such training. We will rejoice as we see those whom we assist go on ‘working hard and exerting themselves.’ (1 Tim. 4:10) 
      And may we ourselves continue to make spiritual progress in rendering sacred service to Jehovah.
      jw.org

    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      By @tayguaramachado

    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      Raids on Jehovah's Witness premises now take place more than three times per month. These raids on doctrinally pacifist religious communities often involve many heavily armed and camouflaged officials, with the "discovery" of apparently planted banned "extremist" literature. Legal dissolution of communities can follow.
      Law enforcement raids on Jehovah's Witness premises have reached a rate of more than three per month in 2016, Forum 18 has found. These unannounced raids, often involving large numbers of heavily armed riot police as well as the FSB security service and "Anti-extremism" investigators, frequently occur during meetings for worship and use disproportionate force. The "discovery" of literature prohibited as "extremist" often occurs during searches. One of many such raids took place in the village of Nezlobnaya in the southern Stavropol Region on 20 September (see below).

      Jehovah's Witnesses have credibly insisted, with video evidence, that this literature has been planted by the authorities. As well as being distressing to congregations, such raids with the "discovery" of "extremist" literature can also set in motion a chain of legal repercussions up to and including the dissolution of communities (see below).

      The current wave of raids take place without any advance warning to the communities concerned. One difference from visits from Prosecutors Office officials is that the community concerned is notified in advance by post of these visits.

      One indicator of the unnecessary nature of the weapons (including infantry assault rifles) and force used by camouflaged state officials in the many raids is that Jehovah's Witnesses worldwide are a doctrinally pacifist community, whose young male members will not do compulsory military service or any other military-connected activity. Jehovah's Witnesses follow their pacifist principles even if the government concerned jails and tortures conscientious objectors to military service, and their families and co-believers (see eg. in Turkmenistan F18News 3 October 2016 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2220).

      Increasing raids and prosecutions targeting Jehovah's Witnesses

      Police have raided Jehovah's Witness places of worship for at least 10 years. A raid on a meeting for worship in April 2006 led to the liquidation of their Moscow community. After a long legal struggle, the community was in 2015 re-registered after an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg (see F18News 28 August 2015http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2095). However, such raids appear to have increased in frequency and heavy-handedness over the last year, Jehovah's Witness spokesman Yaroslav Sivulsky commented to Forum 18 on 20 October 2016.

      This is in line with a general intensification of law enforcement scrutiny of Jehovah's Witnesses, Forum 18 notes. This has included rising numbers of prosecutions under Administrative Code Article 20.29 ("Production or mass distribution of extremist materials") and Article 20.2 ("Violation of the established procedure for organising or conducting a gathering, meeting, demonstration, procession or picket"), as well as the dissolution of several local communities as allegedly "extremist organisations" (see Forum 18's "Extremism" Russia religious freedom survey http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2215).

      Appeal against "extremism" warning fails

      In March 2015 the Jehovah's Witnesses' Administrative Centre in St Petersburg received a formal warning from the General Prosecutor's Office of the "inadmissibility of extremist activity". The warning was explicitly predicated on the alleged "extremist" activities of the local communities (and their members) which the Centre oversees and supports (see F18News 24 May 2016 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2181).

      On 12 October 2016, Tver District Court in Moscow rejected the Administrative Centre's attempt to have the General Prosecutor's warning ruled unlawful. The Centre now plans to appeal to Moscow City Court, Sivulsky told Forum 18 on 20 October. It expects the appeal to be heard in two or three months. In the meantime, Sivulsky added, they understand that the warning is not legally enforceable until after any appeal ruling.

      If the Administrative Centre's appeal fails and prosecutors pursue liquidation, it seems likely that assorted Jehovah's Witness bodies throughout the country may also face dissolution because of their association with the Centre. Jehovah's Witnesses have more than 400 local religious organisations (legal entities) and over 2,500 congregations, according to their main website jw.org . The Centre itself would be added to the Justice Ministry's Federal List of Extremist Organisations (which is dominated by far-right and violent nationalist groups, though it already includes five liquidated Jehovah's Witness congregations) and its property would be turned over to the state.

      The warning states that the Centre will be subject to dissolution if it does not take "specific organisational and practical measures" within two months to eliminate violations of the "Extremism Law", or if new evidence of "extremism" is uncovered. It does not elaborate, however, on what such measures may be or how they will be monitored. It appears that any subsequent extremism-related conviction of an individual or local community (once the appeal process is exhausted) may provide grounds for liquidation.

      On 3 October, a ninth local Jehovah's Witness congregation, in Birobidzhan in the Jewish Autonomous Region, was ruled an "extremist" organisation and ordered to be liquidated.

      On 18 October, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation rejected the Oryol Jehovah's Witness community's appeal against its liquidation, ordered by Oryol Regional Court in June 2016.

      Increasing raids and prosecutions targeting many communities

      If an item is on the Federal List of Extremist Materials, possession of it carries the risk of a fine or imprisonment for up to 15 days, and confiscation of the banned literature. The Federal List as of September 2016 ran to over 3,69 items, often does not include full bibliographical details, and is irregularly updated, making it difficult for anyone to keep abreast of recent bans (see Forum 18's "Extremism" Russia religious freedom surveyhttp://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2215).

      Courts continue to rule texts "extremist", opening the way for more prosecutions for their possession or "mass distribution". These include the Google Translate Russian version of a collection of sayings of the Islamic prophet Mohammed, a video commenting on the attempted seizure by bailiffs of saints' relics from the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church, and Jehovah's Witness texts (see F18News 20 March 2015http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2049).

      No-notice raids on religious communities' premises are not confined to Jehovah's Witnesses. Prosecutions of Muslims under Administrative Code Article 20.29 ("Production or mass distribution of extremist materials") often arise after police, prosecutor's office officials, and/or FSB officers have searched a mosque "to check compliance with anti-extremism legislation" and discovered "extremist" literature, according to court verdicts seen by Forum 18 (see eg. F18News 25 April 2016 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2171).

      Armed raids on homes, sometimes during prayer meetings or religious celebrations, have often been part of criminal investigations of Muslims who read the works of late Turkish theologian Said Nursi (see eg. F18News 29 June 2016 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2193).

      Institutions run by Protestant churches, such as drug rehabilitation centres have sometimes been obliged to close for after fire safety or sanitation inspections found apparently minor and easily resolvable infringements (see eg. F18News 26 March 2014http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=1943).

      In October 2012, bailiffs in the Vladimir Region town of Suzdal disrupted a Russian Autonomous Orthodox Church service in an attempt to seize the relics of two saints kept in the church building (see F18News 3 December 2014 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2020).

      Since the introduction in July 2016 of the so-called "anti-missionary law", which severely restricts the public sharing of beliefs, law enforcement agencies have raided religious events they suspect of violating the new legislation's regulations. Hare Krishna devotees and Protestants have also been prosecuted for sharing beliefs in public (see F18News 26 August 2016 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2211).

      A police raid on a Tver sanatorium where Ghanaian Protestant leader Ebenezer Tuah was performing baptisms in a rented hall led to his being prosecuted for conducting "missionary activity" without the necessary documents. He was found guilty on 1 August and fined 50,000 Roubles, the maximum for a foreign citizen (see F18News 26 August 2016http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2211).

      Police in St Petersburg detained Archbishop Sergei Zhuravlyov of the Ukrainian Reformed Orthodox Church while he was giving a sermon at a Messianic Jewish community. The police had received a message suggesting that Zhuravlyov was trying to convert Jews to Orthodoxy. A court fined the Archbishop 5,000 Roubles on 5 September.

      Particular focus on Jehovah's Witnesses

      Jehovah's Witness communities appear at present to be bearing the brunt of law enforcement attention of this type, involving the disruption of meetings for worship, the use of force, and the alleged falsification of material evidence.

      Police raided 30 Kingdom Halls or other meeting places between January and August 2016, Jehovah's Witnesses' Administrative Centre noted in September. A further five were raided as of 21 October, bringing the total to 35 known raids so far this year. This is a marked increase on the Administrative Centre's figure of 10 for January-August 2015 (14 for 2015 in total). Throughout 2015, 89 known individuals and communities of all beliefs throughout Russia were prosecuted for possession of allegedly "extremist" religious literature (see F18News 25 April 2016 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2171).

      The Jehovah's Witnesses in 2013 and 2014 reported eight such raids in each year. Throughout 2014, 65 known individuals and communities of all beliefs throughout Russia were prosecuted for possession of allegedly "extremist" religious literature (see F18News 31 March 2015 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2052). 

      Armed raids, planting of banned materials

      Law enforcement officers raid Jehovah's Witness meetings at a variety of locations – purpose-built Kingdom Halls, properties rented long-term for worship purposes, temporarily rented business centres or Houses of Culture, and sometimes individuals' homes.

      Not all raids involve riot police or the halting of meetings for worship, as officers have been known to wait until the meeting is over on a few occasions. But the raids usually involve the disproportionate use of force, disproportionate numbers of officials, the needless disruption of meetings for worship, and either the expulsion of worshippers from the building or their containment in one room. Those present are expelled or confined to one room to prevent observation of searches, Jehovah's Witnesses comment. Officials have also demanded that those present lie down with their faces to the ground, to avoid what officials do being observed. 

      Forum 18 sent written questions to the FSB security service in several regions in which raids have been carried out in the last few months, asking: why these raids were launched, why heavily armed units were used, and why it was deemed necessary to disrupt meetings for worship. No reply has yet been received.

      Simultaneous raids have sometimes been carried out in the same town or region. This happened to multiple Jehovah's Witness communities in: Petrozavodsk and Kostomuksha in Karelia in July 2016; in Vladikavkaz, Mozdok, and Alagir in North Ossetiya in May 2015; and also on multiple places of worship and believers' homes in Budyonnovsk in Stavropol Region in August 2016.

      Evidence planting

      Jehovah's Witnesses state that the law enforcement practice of planting literature began as early as January 2013 and has become part of a coordinated campaign against them. According to a 30 September statement, they are aware of at least 60 cases of the planting and falsification of evidence.

      "Currently, more than 80 Jehovah's Witness publications appear on the Federal List of Extremist Materials", the Administrative Centre commented on 1 April 2016. "Jehovah's Witnesses believe this is a mistake and seek in the courts to exclude their books and pamphlets from this list. Nevertheless, they do not import, distribute, or store these publications. Believers check carefully to ensure that these materials do not appear in places of worship."

      That officials plant evidence has also been credibly claimed by Muslims who read the works of Turkish theologian Said Nursi. For example, this seems to have occurred in relation to a mosque in Mordovia whose mufti was subsequently fined (see eg. F18News 1 May 2014http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=1953).

      Typical heavily armed raid, evidence apparently planted

      A typical example of the many raids, Jehovah's Witnesses told Forum 18, took place in the village of Nezlobnaya in the southern Stavropol Region on 20 September. The raid also demonstrates the unnecessary levels of weapons and numbers of officials used in such raids.

      CCTV footage released by the Nezlobnaya Jehovah's Witness community – available at - shows about 12 fully masked male officials, wearing black and green camouflage uniforms and carrying apparent infantry assault rifles, climbing the fence surrounding the Kingdom Hall. They then begin to force their way through the door using metal-cutting equipment, without giving anyone inside a chance to open it. It is early in the morning (c. 7.30 am) and no meeting for worship has yet bagun, but people are present in the building.

      In further footage from various indoor CCTV cameras, the heavily armed, masked and camouflaged state officials can be seen spreading out through the building and starting to search it. In the worship hall itself, the video appears to shows two masked men putting books or brochures into a corner cupboard. This material is then uncovered about half an hour later (according to the CCTV timestamp) by another man in civilian clothes.

      When committee member Yevgeny Vernik arrived, officers refused to let him see any paperwork authorising the search. "When I asked [the senior officer] to show me a copy of the order, he rudely demanded that I leave the building," Vernik complained.

      Local Jehovah's Witness chair Pavel Puzyrev claims in the video released by the Administrative Centre that his community regularly performs its own searches to check for banned literature, and that there had been nothing in the cupboard the previous day. About 10 law enforcement agents also searched Puzyrev's home, where he alleges they planted banned items from the Federal List in the kitchen. He has since been charged under Administrative Code Article 20.29 ("Production or mass distribution of extremist materials").

      Telephones at Stavropol Region police information department went unanswered whenever Forum 18 called on 20 and 21 October.

      Disruption

      Other recent raids illustrate the disruption of meetings for worship caused by such raids. In St Petersburg on 11 October, at least 25 law enforcement officers, including "Anti-Extremism" Police, entered a Kingdom Hall during evening worship. Officers announced that the building was to be searched for "extremist" literature. They covered the CCTV cameras with masking tape, before emptying cupboards and taking up the floor, the Jehovah's Witness Administrative Centre noted on 12 October. Several men were taken to the police station for questioning.

      Although on this occasion prohibited literature was not found, police confiscated personal Bibles, tablets, and phones.

      Forum 18 called St Petersburg Police on 21 October to ask why the search had been carried out and why interrupting a service had been deemed necessary. A spokeswoman directed Forum 18 to the head of the information department, Vyacheslav Stepchenko, but telephones in his office went unanswered.

      In Petrozavodsk in Karelia on 28 July 2016, the FSB security service and armed OMON riot police raided an evening service, the Administrative Centre reported the following day. Officers seized worshippers' phones and other electronic devices and allegedly pushed some worshippers to the floor and kicked them. A search of the premises followed, which uncovered items of banned literature on the Federal List. There then followed a long period of questioning. The last Jehovah's Witness was released after midnight.

      As a result, the community was fined 50,000 Roubles under Administrative Code Article 20.29 ("Production or mass distribution of extremist materials") at Petrozavodsk City Court on 3 October.

      Asked by Forum 18 on 21 October why the raid had taken place, why armed officers had been used, and why it had been necessary to disrupt religious worship, a spokesperson for Karelia Police said it was "difficult to give such information". She suggested sending questions by email, which Forum 18 did in the early afternoon of the Karelia working day of 21 October.

      Court proceedings, fines, possible community dissolution

      As well as the immediate impact of an unexpected and heavy-handed raid, consequences for Jehovah's Witness communities can extend to court proceedings, financial penalties, and possible dissolution and confiscation of community assets.

      If law enforcement officers find – or claim to find - prohibited literature during a search, administrative charges under Administrative Code Article 20.29 may follow. For legal entities such as religious organisations, conviction under this Article now carries a fine of 100,000 to 1 million Roubles. For individuals, the fine is 1,000 to 3,000 Roubles or up to 15 days' imprisonment; for people acting in an official capacity, 2,000 to 5,000 Roubles (see Forum 18's "Extremism" Russia religious freedom survey http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2215).

      Prosecutors may also issue warnings that, should further "extremist activity" be detected, they will seek the liquidation of the community as an "extremist organisation" – this may then be triggered by subsequent raids or prosecutions of individual believers.

      Rented premises used by the Oryol community were searched three times in 2015 – including the disruption of a service in December 2015 by six officers of the police and FSB – and banned religious literature was found hidden inside stage steps and under a tablecloth. Jehovah's Witnesses insist that this must have been planted there earlier, as the officers allegedly did not bother checking anywhere else.

      The community was fined multiple times under Administrative Code Article 20.29 and received a warning of the "inadmissibility of extremist activity" with the threat of liquidation if violations were not eliminated. In June 2016, the regional branch of the Justice Ministry successfully sought the community's dissolution. The Supreme Court rejected the community's appeal against the ruling on 12 October 2016.

      Some 20 law enforcement officers "burst into the premises" of the Jehovah's Witness community in Saransk on the evening of 13 October, according to the Administrative Centre, and searched it for two hours, confiscating believers' phones and the building's CCTV equipment.

      "Turning their backs to the security camera, they planted Federal List material in a cupboard, which they themselves then ‘found'," Jehovah's Witnesses complained on 17 October. Jehovah's Witnesses note that, a few days previously, an FSB officer had called to check the CCTV – he "carefully examined the location of video cameras and other equipment, and assured those present that everything was fine".

      The Prosecutor's Office of the Republic of Mordovia had already issued an extremism warning to the Saransk community on 27 September. If charges are brought as a result of the latest raid, the community could face liquidation.

      Nine communities ordered liquidated – only one successful appeal

      A total of nine local Jehovah's Witness organisations have so far been ordered by courts to be dissolved: Taganrog, September 2009; Samara, May 2014; Abinsk, March 2015; Tyumen, October 2015; Belgorod, February 2016; Stary Oskol, February 2016; Elista, February 2016; Oryol, June 2016; Birobidzhan, October 2016 (see eg. F18News 22 March 2016http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2161).

      The Taganrog, Samara, Abinsk, Belgorod, and Stary Oskol communities appear on the Justice Ministry's Federal List of Extremist Organisations.

      Only one liquidation order – against the Tyumen community – has been subsequently overturned by Russia's Supreme Court. All other appeals so far have been unsuccessful.

      Two further attempts at liquidation have been unsuccessful – in Arkhangelsk, which was refused by the Regional Court in June 2016, and in Cherkessk, where proceedings were opened in May 2015, were delayed by other civil cases involving the congregation (see F18News 28 August 2015 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2095). They now appear to have been dropped.

      At least 10 other communities are known to have received formal warnings of "the inadmissibility of extremist activity" since spring 2015 (some of which have now expired). Three of these – Tikhoretsk (Krasnodar), Chapayevsk (Samara), and Shakhty (Rostov) – are in regions which have already seen the liquidation of Jehovah's Witness congregations (in Abinsk, Samara, and Taganrog respectively). The other seven are in Kaluga, Vilyuchinsk on the Far Eastern Kamchatka peninsula, Teykovo in Ivanovo Region, Stavropol, Novorossiysk, Saransk in Mordovia, and Prokhladny in the Republic of Kabardino-Balkariya. Four communities (Tikhoretsk, Teykovo, Chapayevsk, Prokhladny) are so far known to have gone to court to have the warnings recognised as unlawful, all unsuccessfully.

      Severe consequences, increasing legal restrictions

      The loss of legal status can have a severe impact. Under 2015 changes to the Religion Law, all religious communities that do not have legal status must notify the authorities of their existence and activity. This includes providing the names and addresses of all their members and addresses where any meeting takes place (see F18News 17 September 2015http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2101). Such a requirement is against Russia's international human rights obligations, as outlined in the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)/Venice Commission Guidelines on the Legal Personality of Religious or Belief Communities (see http://www.osce.org/odihr/139046). Russia is both an OSCE participating State and a Venice Commission member state.

      Communities dissolved for "extremism" also face the possibility of criminal prosecution of their former members for continuing to meet, as happened in Taganrog among other places (see Forum 18's "Extremism" Russia religious freedom surveyhttp://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2215). A further consequence, introduced in July 2016 by an amendment to the Religion Law, is a ban on former members of "extremist" religious organisations carrying out broadly defined "missionary activity" (see F18News 8 July 2016 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2197). (END)

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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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