WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY'S YEARLY REPORT.
--DECEMBER 1, 1899, TO DECEMBER 1, 1900.--
MANY OF the Lord's dear people, deeply interested in present truth, are quite isolated, and have comparatively little opportunity for learning of the general progress of the cause, except as they may infer it from occasional remarks in these columns. These, and we trust all of the WATCH TOWER readers, will be looking with expectancy for this report, that they may thus have accurate information respecting the work which interests us more than all else in the world besides--the work in which each, according to his love, zeal and ability, has contributed either financially or through the circulation of literature, or otherwise.
We are glad to think of you as looking for and interested in this report, and give thanks to our Lord that by his grace so favorable a showing can be made; indeed, the grand totals for the year astonish us, for altho we have been aware that greater efforts than ever were put forth, we were not aware, until the calculations were footed up, to what extent the year past had transcended every previous year of this harvest-time in our mutual service of the truth and in the evidences of good results attained. We are sure that our friends will be astonished as they read the reports we have to offer: astonished, first of all, that a company of the Lord's people so poor in this world's goods, as those who embrace present truth generally are, should contribute to the extent our Report shows; and that without being "dunned," urged, or even requested to give;--merely upon the information that an opportunity for thus engaging in the Lord's service is open to such as are able and willing to serve in this manner. The astonishment will be doubled when it is seen how great a work, under the Lord's blessing, has been accomplished with this comparatively small sum of money, which, amongst the nominal churches, would be considered only sufficient to pay the salaries of a few officers, and practically accomplish nothing in the way of propaganda.
And our astonishment still increases as we reflect that the circulation of this amount of literature, accompanied by this amount of "Pilgrim" preaching, etc., supporting the most glorious message that could possibly be heralded to mankind, shows so meagre results; that so few have ears to hear and eyes to see these things which enrapture our hearts. Let us, however, reflect that our Lord informs us that his "elect" will be but a "little flock"--and in it not many great, mighty or wise; but chiefly the poor of this world, rich in faith. The comparatively small results of our efforts to reach the ripe "wheat" in Babylon convince us, all the more, that the "wheat" is very scarce in comparison with the "tares;" that we are living in the time of which the Apostle declares that the church nominal will have itching ears, and be turned away from the truth, turned to fables, and respecting which our Lord said, "When the Son of Man cometh shall he find the faith on the earth?" implying that it would be difficult to find.--2 Tim. 4:3; Luke 18:8.
True, the results may be more than we can at present discern; for we can estimate the widening influences of the truth chiefly by the growth of the WATCH TOWER subscription lists. These show considerable growth for the year,--but not nearly so much as we had hoped for: and our offer of credit, and of special terms to the poor, should bring to our lists the names of all who have "tasted that the Lord is gracious" and are hungering and thirsting for his righteousness. We can only hope that an under-current of influence is moving, of which we have little outward [R2740 : page 372] manifestation; and that in the Lord's own time and way during this "harvest" all of the true "wheat" will be reached and ripened and garnered.
THE COLPORTEUR BRANCH OF THE SERVICE.
We give this department of the work the first place in the Report, considering that those who are engaged in it are doing the work of evangelists, and remembering that the Lord has specially blessed this service to the reaching of many who are now rejoicing in the light now shining upon the Word. We can think of no branch of the work in this harvest that more nearly corresponds to the style of service instituted by our Lord in the Jewish harvest, than does the Colporteur work. The Colporteurs usually go in couples, as the twelve apostles, and afterward the seventy, went forth,--from town to town and city to city. Like them, also, they go from house to house, and likewise their message is, "The Kingdom of heaven is at hand! The time is fulfilled; repent, and believe the good tidings!" Going in this manner into all the homes of the civilized world, these Colporteur brethren and sisters have opportunities for finding the truth-hungry as well, perhaps better, than if the pulpits of the land were open to them, and they all competent to give able discourses upon the divine plan. Because in such a case they would be able either to preach but few discourses, or else to reach comparatively few hearers: whereas each Colporteur can reach more than an average church audience every week; and with those whom he can interest he leaves reading matter representing many discourses, upon which the reader may feed for months. Where enough interest may not be awakened to lead to a purchase of the books, a tract is left, which sometimes bears good fruitage; and even tho some who purchase may neglect and fail to read at the time, experience shows us that the books thus scattered are often blessed of the Lord to the reaching of others, and sometimes years after, under more favorable conditions, the purchaser may also be blessed through them.
You will be pleased to learn that the sale of the DAWNS and booklets during the year (chiefly through the Colporteurs) was as follows:--
In the English language........................... 84,251
" German " ........................... 9,137
" Scandinavian tongues....................... 6,712
" French language (estimated)................ 543
Foreign languages................................. 1,323
It should be remembered that altho we endeavor to keep this branch of the work on a self-supporting basis, it nevertheless comes short of this, by reason of the fact that our wholesale prices are very low: in the case of the foreign translations considerably less than cost.
We feel sure that this showing will greatly encourage the dear brethren and sisters who are giving their lives in this department of the Harvest work; and we trust that it will act as an incentive to others [R2741 : page 372] who have been contemplating engaging in this work-- to lead such of them as are of good address, and without family and financial encumbrances, to give themselves freely to this evangelistic work. It is a department which the Lord has greatly owned and blessed; it is a preaching of the Word in a most practical manner, likely to leave a lasting impress; one which will undoubtedly, we believe, bring forth much fruitage during the great time of trouble, as well as serving to find and to perfect those of the Lord's saints who shall be accounted worthy to escape those things coming upon the world. We will be glad to hear from, and to cooperate with, all who desire to enter this branch of the service. Write to us freely of your wishes, hopes, difficulties, etc., in respect to this, and we will do what we can to open the way before you. There is still plenty of room for the work in this land as well as in Great Britain. The fields are white for the harvest, and the laborers are few; and if we are praying for laborers let us see that we are doing what we can to fulfil our own petitions.
Some who cannot give their entire time to colporteuring are doing valiantly in their spare moments and hours; for instance, one dear brother, an architect, not slothful in his business, is nevertheless so fervent in spirit and in serving the Lord that during the past six months he has disposed of 650 copies of the DAWN to mechanics and tradesmen with whom his business brings him in contact. Others have less opportunities, but the same zeal, and are doing what they can; --some by giving, some by loaning, some by selling the literature. We rejoice that in any and all of these ways there is an opportunity for all of the Lord's dear flock to show their love for the truth, and their zeal in laying down their lives for the brethren still in Babylon and darkness.
THE "VOLUNTEER" WORK.
All who labor for the truth do so of their free will and without compensation, and hence might properly be termed Volunteers: under this head we might include in a general way all the efforts that have been put forth during the year in the way of free circulation of WATCH TOWER literature, bearing on the Harvest themes--but the special use of the word with us has been confined to a particular feature of this free distribution; [R2741 : page 373] viz., that done systematically at or near churches at the time of their dismission on Sundays.
This Sunday church-distribution by those who volunteered for the service was begun in 1899, and reached good proportions and accomplished good results that year, and was continued during the past year with excellent effect. When we speak of results we have chiefly in mind that which is within our power, and not the ultimate results, of which no man can now know, and which time alone will show. The results, so far as the distribution of the Volunteer WATCH TOWER was concerned, were a success, large numbers being circulated in all parts of this country and in Great Britain. In handing literature to church attendants we had no thought whatever that they were all going into the hands of saints; but we do hope that some of them reached the hands of the Lord's consecrated people; and we still believe that it would be difficult to find a more effective way of reaching this class than by reaching the church-goers. In proportion to the circulation we cannot say that we have had large returns; on the contrary, they have been small, so far as letters, WATCH TOWER subscriptions, etc., are concerned. But in various ways we learn that they are making an impression upon the minds and hearts of many of those who have received them and who, while not ready to accept and endorse, nevertheless have been influenced by what they have read, and to some extent brought nearer to the truth and are better prepared for further instruction in the right way, when the Lord in due time may again send it to them.
We incline to think that the greatest blessing of all in connection with this part of the work has come to those who engaged in it as "Volunteers," and who, all over the country, numbered hundreds. These have repeatedly testified that no part of their Christian experience had ever been more helpful to them in the development of true character, in committing them fully to the Lord and to his truth and to his service; making them strong in him,--"not ashamed to own his name, nor to defend his cause." Those who have had the opportunity to engage in this work, and who have allowed the "fear of man which bringeth a snare" to hinder from engaging in it, and thus being ministers of the true Gospel, and co-workers with the great Chief Reaper in this harvest-time, have missed a great deal--how much they may never know in the present life, unless some further opportunity for the Volunteer work should occur and they should then engage in it and ascertain how great the blessing and character-development they have already missed.
The friends in various quarters who have engaged in this work during the past two years, are writing us hoping that the Lord may open the opportunity for further Volunteer service during the coming year, beginning early in the spring. The evidence is that where the entire company of the Lord's people at any point have entered into the work a great spiritual blessing has resulted. We will bear their requests in mind, and see what can be done as respects a future service for the soldiers of the Cross.
The total number of Volunteer issue of the WATCH TOWER circulated during the year was 948,459.
ORAL PREACHING--"PILGRIM" DEPARTMENT.
It is not long since this department was inaugurated, and yet, as this Report shows, it has already reached considerable proportions. While we are in direct contact with the Lord's people through correspondence by mail, it became evident to us about four years ago that if competent brethren could visit amongst the little groups of those who have come into present truth through the ministry of the printed page, they could be of great service and encouragement to them; and at the same time might through public meetings be able to reach and further interest many who were already partially interested through the printed page and through private conversation, etc. These traveling oral preachers we designate "pilgrims," because they are nearly always on the go, their stops with the various little groups or churches being very brief (two or three days, as may seem to be warranted by conditions). We make out the routes for these, and send notification ahead of them, so that no time need be lost. An evening meeting is always in order for the day of their arrival, and afternoon and evening meetings for the succeeding days.
We endeavor, as far as possible, to select for this service brethren who give evidence, first, of character, and of faith in the Lord, in his Word and in his plan; second, such as seem to give evidence of ability in presenting the truth to the minds of others--as the Apostle expresses it, "apt to teach"--and, so far as possible, those who are "mighty in the Scriptures" (1 Tim. 3:2; Acts 18:24); and of ability in "rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Tim. 2:15.) These, so far as worldly judgment would be concerned, would all be classed as plain men; and we trust also would be classed as true Christian men, humble-minded and modest, both in language and deportment--men who do not have the false idea that they are great ones, or lords of God's heritage, of superior caste or order above the household of faith, but who simply and humbly acknowledge that they are "brethren," "servants" of the Lord and of the household of faith,-- men who are very thankful for the privilege granted them of being engaged in such a service, and who look for their reward, not in luxuries of the present life, [R2741 : page 374] but in the Father's house, beyond the veil--in the Kingdom. These "pilgrims" are not paid salaries; and tho ample provision is made for their comfortable maintenance, everything connected with this is expected to be done on the reasonable and economical lines which we believe the Lord and apostles followed, and respecting which we regard them as "ensamples." No collections are taken up by these "Pilgrims," nor do they in any manner, directly or indirectly, request aid privately. Nor need we request their entertainment, knowing full well that any we thus send to you in the Master's name will be welcomed by you and granted a share of such things as you have;--according to the Scriptural injunction.--Heb. 13:2.
In following the plan here indicated we have been enabled to reach some of the Lord's scattered ones in various parts of this broad land, who never expected to hear preaching along these lines; for it will be readily seen that the expense connected with this traveling ministry is proportionately much less than it would be by any other method which would reach the same number of the Lord's people. Besides, this method assists, rather than discourages, the development of talent amongst the brethren of the various little groups. It is our thought that, generally speaking, the Lord is pleased to use some in each little company for the instruction and assistance of the others in the same; indeed, we encourage the thought advised by the Apostle, that each member of the Lord's consecrated Church should strive to "build one another up in the most holy faith."
We believe that an immense amount of good has been done through this Pilgrim service during this past year, and that quite a number of the Lord's dear people, as they read this part of the Report, will offer prayer on behalf of this feature of the Lord's service, asking for us wisdom and grace in respect to the matter for the coming year. The figures in this line also, [R2742 : page 374] we believe, will astound many of our readers. They are as follows:
Number of persons who gave more or less of their
time to the Pilgrim work during the year 14
Number of miles traveled in connection with
the service...................................... 48,845
Visits to churches................................ 649
Public meetings held.............................. 1,287
Private or parlor meetings held................... 875
Cost of this branch of the work................... $3,357.59
One point alone in this Report seems unsatisfactory to us, and that is the number of private or parlor meetings. These, we think, should have been much more numerous in proportion to the public meetings. It is our thought that the chief good in these Pilgrim visits is for the household of faith: while, therefore, we urge the holding of some public services to which all classes of Christian and earnest people may be invited by advertisement and otherwise, we urge that during the year beginning the parlor meetings be given the chief attention. At these, subjects can be discussed which would not be so fully appreciated by the public, nor by any except those who had been studying along the lines of the WATCH TOWER literature. We take this opportunity, then, to offer this suggestion to the dear friends,--that when notified that a Pilgrim will be with them they may make proportionately larger arrangements for their parlor meetings and proportionately less arrangements for public discourses in halls, churches, etc.
CONVENTIONS OF THE YEAR.
The Conventions are a part of the "Pilgrim" work, but deserve a word of special notice. Three general conventions were held during the year--at Philadelphia, Chicago and Dallas; these were interesting and profitable, but were reported on at the time. Besides these the President of the Society (the Editor) attended several local, one-day conventions, at different points--Toronto, Canada; Saratoga, N.Y.; Houston, Tex.; San Antonio, Tex.; Columbus, O.; Cleveland, O.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Washington, D.C.; New York City; Wilmington, N.C.; Roseboro, N.C.; Hayne, N.C.; and the Florida Chautauqua Assembly.
We have good reasons for believing that these gatherings were all profitable to the Lord's flock, seasons of refreshing and joyous fellowship in spiritual things; nevertheless we feel that in the coming year we must be more economical of our time. May the Lord direct; we will be glad to follow his leadings in the matter.
THE GENERAL TRACT DISTRIBUTION.
The circulation of tracts during the year has been highly satisfactory to us. They have not been sown in a broadcast manner, but rather handed out with a measure of discretion, so far as we are able to judge; and this is the plan which we commend. Of course, in a majority of instances we merely know that tracts have been ordered and have been sent; but many give us an intimation of how they use what they receive: some visit hotels, where they hand them to the patrons; others seek opportunity for handing tracts to intelligent looking people at railway stations; others mail the tracts with their letters, perhaps with a little comment, and a request that some report be given after the reading; others keep a variety on hand, and make a selection for those with whom they come in contact. Thus there are various methods in vogue in this department, the colporteurs using a considerable number, leaving one at every house where they [R2742 : page 375] fail to take an order,--the tract sometimes having an influence where the words of the colporteur failed.
The total number of tracts sent out during the year was 1,468,990.
Of these a large number went direct from the WATCH TOWER office through the mails, to lists of addresses which we procured in various ways--many of them those of persons known to be religiously inclined, holy people, lovers of righteousness; and some of the best of these lists are sent to us, written upon proper-sized wrappers by WATCH TOWER readers. You are all welcome to avail yourselves of this opportunity for service. Besides the tracts, we sent out as tracts large numbers of WATCH TOWERS to good addresses. We request that no addressed wrappers be sent us for either tracts or WATCH TOWERS except such as are known to you in some way to represent intelligent and religiously inclined people. It is only a waste of money and labor to cast the pearls of truth before those who are swinish; whose god is their belly or their apparel or their pocket book.
THE CORRESPONDENCE DEPARTMENT.
What blessed opportunities God has provided for his people at the present time! What an opportunity it affords for all of his dear children to have fellowship and communion! In this manner, as well as through the printed page, those afar as well as those near-by may have the privilege of complying with the Apostle's words, to forget not the "assembling" of ourselves together, and so much the more as we see the day drawing on. (Heb. 10:25.) Many letters assure us of the blessings which the wonderful mail service of our day has brought to them; and on our part we can testify that great blessings and encouragement have come to us through this same channel. While some of the letters received are cold and business-like, and others bitterly antagonistic, others, and the majority, are laden with rich perfume of Christian love, sympathy and deep appreciation of present truth. Through these we are kept in touch with the spirit of the Lord's dear flock in all parts of the world; and we can assure you that the touch is profitable to us, as we trust that our responses are profitable to you, and comforting and helpful.
As the work in general has grown, so this feature of it has expanded, so that the figures below are far in advance of those in any previous year in our history:
Letters and postal cards received during the
Letters and postal cards sent out................. 38,609
Copies of MILLENNIAL DAWN circulated
at cost.......................................... 100,643
Copies of booklets circulated at cost............. 40,370
CIRCULATED AT EXPENSE TO TRACT FUND.
Copies of ZION'S WATCH TOWER...................... 1,247,960
Copies of Old Theology Tracts................... 1,468,990
These amounts expressed in the usual
form represent in tract pages................. 131,891,340
Whenever figures get into the millions they are quite beyond the average mind to comprehend. We have therefore estimated the matter in pounds,-- 206,710 pounds, or over one hundred and three and a half tons, weight.
THE FINANCIAL SIDE--TREASURER'S REPORT.
TRACT FUND EXPENDITURE:
Cost of the above 103-1/2 tons matter, including
freight, postage, gas, help, etc.................$18,350.21
Pilgrim Expenses, etc............................. 3,357.59
TRACT FUND RECEIPTS:
Balance on hand Dec. 1, 1899 $ 871.54
From "Good Hopes" Donations 13,337.72
From Other Sources............... 4,472.63 $18,681.89
THE BLESSED PRIVILEGE OF THIS SERVICE.
The Editor (who is President of the Society), in closing this last report of the century, congratulates all the dear friends of the cause upon the above showing, and trusts that it will more than meet the expectations of all who contributed to the funds thus scattered as leaves of spiritual healing all over the civilized world. Especially do we trust that the God of all grace, the Father of mercies, may accept and approve our stewardship--the merit of our Redeemer making good whatever unintentional errors the all-seeing eye may discern.
Do we urge the dear co-laborers to make still greater sacrifices for the work in the year just beginning? Not at all. We have never solicited in the past, and we do not expect to do so in the future. Even of the Lord we make no requests for money. His will, not ours, be done in this and in all matters. If he through his people or otherwise sees fit to entrust to us financial means, we will endeavor to use the same to his praise, and seek for this the wisdom which cometh from above. We esteem it a privilege to have any share in any department of this "harvest" work, and its accompanying blowing of the Jubilee Trumpets proclaiming restitution times at hand. And this joy in the Lord's service is fully appreciated also by the twelve dear "brethren" who, as office assistants, have so ably and so patiently lent their best endeavors to make the work a success; and their efforts under God have contributed largely to the securing of the above results. The Lord will reward them as we can not. "Brethren, pray for us," as your representatives and the Lord's, in this "defence of the truth." [R2742 : page 376]
Below we give some interesting figures from two of the Society's foreign branches (the reports from the other two are not yet at hand). Both of these reports are included in the totals given above.
REPORT OF MANAGER OF BRITISH BRANCH.
FROM MAY 7 TO NOV. 15, 1900.
LONDON, NOV. 16, 1900.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I have the honor to
submit the following report of the Tract Fund receipts
and expenditures for the British Branch of the Society,
May 7-November 15, 1900:--
[R2743 : page 376]
EXPENDITURES: L. s d
Paper and printing.......................... 340 14 10
Carriage.................................... 55 2 3
Share of expenses for labor, etc............ 24 10 4
Expenses in Pilgrim work.................... 45 5 9
Total....................................... 465 13 2
Receipts from Great Britain................. 40 11 10
Deficit supplied from Home Office 425 1 4
REPORT OF LITERATURE CIRCULATED.
Copies of MILLENNIAL DAWN circulated.............. 3,224
" booklets................................ 667
Tracts sent out free.............................. 77,835
Sample WATCH TOWERS sent out free................. 171,850
Total sent free................................... 249,685
These represent in tract pages....................19,189,684
Letters and cards received........................ 1,184
" " " sent out........................ 9,294
The Volunteer work has been quite zealously pursued here this year; how much so you may judge by comparison of the amounts distributed in America and here, and reckoning that there are about twenty times as many TOWER readers in America as we have in Great Britain. Volunteer work has been done in 39 cities and towns in Great Britain, and with some encouraging results. More than 50,000 copies were distributed in London.
Tract distribution has also had considerable attention from the friends here, and with such results as to warrant its continuance. To be sure, we must often put tracts in many houses before reaching one which contains persons ready for the truth; but sometimes the one tract in the right place has a very far-reaching influence, as has been indicated in this city, where one tract under a door has thus far reached four persons, on the principle of John 1:41,45, and is still working.
The Colporteur work has not fared so well, not having had so many workers as have been able to participate in the work in other ways; but the few who have had this privilege have been industrious, and have also been permitted to see some fruit of their labors which has caused their and our hearts to rejoice. We are praying and hoping for more laborers in every branch of service, but particularly in the Colporteur department, which experience has demonstrated to be by far the most efficient means of reaching "hearing ears" with the truth, as it is also the most practical, being self-sustaining. The experience of those who have engaged in the service of the truth by the Colporteur method in Great Britain in the last six months shows that the worker can sustain himself in this service. It is a most attractive opportunity for those who have time to spend in the harvest work, and we shall be glad to hear from many on the subject.
The financial aspect of the work here is presented in the figures foregoing, which plainly tell their own story. It would have been impossible for the British Branch to do as it has done, except for the financial cooperation of the head office to the large amount of $2,000.
We pray daily for ourselves, and for all of God's saints, that we may be plentifully supplied with heavenly wisdom, with strength and grace, for the discharge of each day's duties in such a manner as will redound to the glory of God and the upbuilding of his people. "Brethren, pray for us." Respectfully submitted, Yours faithfully in Christ,
E. C. HENNINGES.
REPORT OF OUR GERMAN WORK.
Sister Giesecke reports 448 letters received and 494 letters sent out; 2,899 copies of the German WATCH TOWER circulated as samples, and 10,108 tracts distributed, representing 232,460 pages.