Category Archives: BIOGRAPHIES

A Consultant Surgeon Explains His Faith


Dr. Guillermo Perez recently retired as head of surgery at a 700-bed hospital in South Africa. For many years he believed in evolution. But later he became convinced that the human body was designed by God. Awake!asked him about his faith.

Please tell us why you once believed in evolution.

Dr. Guillermo Perez

Although I was raised as a Catholic, I had doubts about God. For example, I could not believe in a God who burns people in hell. So when my university professors taught me that living things evolved and were not created by God, I accepted that view, assuming it was supported by evidence. My church, by the way, did not reject evolution but held that it was directed by God.

What aroused your interest in the Bible?

My wife, Susana, began studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses, who showed her from the Bible that God does not torture people in a fiery hell. * They also showed her God’s promise to make our planet into a paradise home. * At last we found teachings that made sense! In 1989, a Witness named Nick began visiting me. During a discussion about the human body and its origin, I was impressed with the simple logic of the words found in the Bible at Hebrews 3:4, which says that “every house is constructed by someone, but the one who constructed all things is God.”

Did your study of the human body help you to accept creation?

Yes. For example, the way our body repairs itself was carefully designed. Wound healing, for instance, involves four overlapping phases, all of which reminded me that as a surgeon, I merely worked with the body’s built-in repair system.

Tell us, what happens when our body is wounded?

Within seconds, the first phase of a series of processes designed to stop bleeding goes into action. These processes are extremely complex  and efficient. I might add that our circulatory system, which has some 60,000 miles (100,000 km) of blood vessels, must be the envy of plumbing engineers, for it has the means to plug leaks and repair itself.

What is involved in the second phase of repair?

The bleeding stops within hours and inflammation starts. Inflammation involves an amazing sequence of events. First, blood vessels that had initially constricted to reduce blood loss now do the opposite. They dilate to increase blood flow in the wounded region. Next, protein-rich fluid makes the whole injured area swell. This fluid is vital for fighting infection, diluting poisons, and removing damaged tissue. Each step requires the production of millions of specialized molecules and cells in a cascade of events. Some of these events, by the way, serve as stimulants for the following phase, after which they shut down.

How does healing continue?

Within a couple of days, our body starts generating repair materials, a process that marks the beginning of phase three and that reaches a peak in about two weeks. Cells that form fibers across the wound migrate to the injured area and multiply. Also, tiny blood vessels sprout and grow toward the injured area, where they remove waste and supply extra nutrients during demolition and repair. In another complex series of events, special cells are generated that draw the edges of the wound together.

That’s a lot of activity! How long before repair is complete?

The final stage, remodeling, can take months. Broken bones are restored to their original strength, and the fibers that were initially laid across a soft-tissue wound are replaced with stronger materials. Altogether, wound repair is an amazing example of highly programmed coordination.

Can you recall a case that especially impressed you?

When I see how the body repairs itself, I’m left in awe

Yes. I remember treating a 16-year-old victim of a terrible car accident. The girl was in critical condition with a lacerated spleen and internal bleeding. Years ago, we would have operated to repair or remove the spleen. Today, doctors rely more on the body’s power to repair itself. I merely treated her infection, fluid loss, anemia, and pain. A few weeks later, a scan showed that her spleen had healed! When I see how the body repairs itself, I’m left in awe. And I’m even more convinced that we were designed by God.

What drew you to Jehovah’s Witnesses?

I found them to be friendly, and they always answered my questions from the Bible. I also admired the courageous way they shared their beliefs and helped others to learn about God.

Did becoming one of Jehovah’s Witnesses help you in your work?

Yes. For one thing, it helped me to cope with compassion fatigue, a form of emotional burnout that often affects doctors and nurses who constantly deal with people who are diseased or injured. Also, when patients wanted to talk, I was able to explain our Creator’s promise to end sickness and suffering * and bring about a world in which no one will say, “I am sick.” 

The Lantern of the Photuris Firefly

THE lantern, or light organ, of a particular Photuris firefly is covered with jagged scales that dramatically enhance the brightness of the light that the insect produces. *

Jagged scales

Consider: Researchers have found that tiny scales on the lantern surface of some fireflies form a corrugated pattern, somewhat like overlapping shingles or tiles. The scales tilt up at one end by just 3 micrometers—less than one twentieth the thickness of a human hair. Yet this tiny tilt lets the lantern shine almost 50 percent more brightly than it would if the scales formed an even surface!

Could that concept improve the efficiency of light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which are used in electronic devices? To find out, scientists coated LEDs with a corrugated surface similar to that of the firefly’s lantern. The result? The LEDs emitted up to 55 percent more light! Physicist Annick Bay says: “The most important aspect of this work is that it shows how much we can learn by carefully observing nature.”

What do you think? Did the lantern of those Photuris fireflies come about by evolution? Or was it designed? lantern, or light organ, of a particular Photuris firefly is covered with jagged scales that dramatically enhance the brightness of the light that the insect produces. *

Jagged scales

Consider: Researchers have found that tiny scales on the lantern surface of some fireflies form a corrugated pattern, somewhat like overlapping shingles or tiles. The scales tilt up at one end by just 3 micrometers—less than one twentieth the thickness of a human hair. Yet this tiny tilt lets the lantern shine almost 50 percent more brightly than it would if the scales formed an even surface!

Could that concept improve the efficiency of light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which are used in electronic devices? To find out, scientists coated LEDs with a corrugated surface similar to that of the firefly’s lantern. The result? The LEDs emitted up to 55 percent more light! Physicist Annick Bay says: “The most important aspect of this work is that it shows how much we can learn by carefully observing nature.”

What do you think? Did the lantern of those Photuris fireflies come about by evolution? Or was it designed? THE lantern, or light organ, of a particular Photuris firefly is covered with jagged scales that dramatically enhance the brightness of the light that the insect produces. *

Jagged scales

Consider: Researchers have found that tiny scales on the lantern surface of some fireflies form a corrugated pattern, somewhat like overlapping shingles or tiles. The scales tilt up at one end by just 3 micrometers—less than one twentieth the thickness of a human hair. Yet this tiny tilt lets the lantern shine almost 50 percent more brightly than it would if the scales formed an even surface!

Could that concept improve the efficiency of light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which are used in electronic devices? To find out, scientists coated LEDs with a corrugated surface similar to that of the firefly’s lantern. The result? The LEDs emitted up to 55 percent more light! Physicist Annick Bay says: “The most important aspect of this work is that it shows how much we can learn by carefully observing nature.”

What do you think? Did the lantern of those Photuris fireflies come about by evolution? Or was it designed?

A Biotechnologist Explains His Faith




NTERVIEW | HANS KRISTIAN KOTLAR  If you prefer to  listen online click  HERE

biotechnologist 1In 1978, Dr. Hans Kristian Kotlar’s first job in scientific research was at the Norwegian Radium Hospital, where he studied cancer and the human immune system. At that time, he also became interested in the origin of life. Awake! asked him about his research and his religious faith.

What stirred your interest in the origin and meaning of life?

My father was Catholic and my mother was Protestant. That said, they did not view religion as important. As for me, during my teens, I wondered about the meaning of life, and I read books about Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. I even asked God to reveal the truth to me.

By the 1970’s, the field of molecular biology had made some amazing advances, and I wondered if it might reveal how life began. The mechanisms within living cells intrigued me, so I chose to study biotechnology. I might add that most of my professors said that life evolved by natural processes, and I believed them.

Why did you take an interest in the Bible?

Two of Jehovah’s Witnesses visited our home. Although they were pleasant, I reacted rudely and told them I was not interested. My wife overheard me. “That was not kind, Hans Kristian,” she said. “You have always been interested in the meaning of life.” She was right, and I felt ashamed. So I ran after the Witnesses. During our conversation, I told them that I wanted to know if the Bible is in harmony with science.

How did they respond to that?

They showed me what the Bible says about the Source of the energy manifest in the universe. The scripture they read states: “Lift up your eyes to heaven and see. Who has created these things? . . . Because of his vast dynamic energy and his awe-inspiring power, not one of them is missing.” * This statement intrigued me. It also seemed reasonable that only an intelligent Source of energy could account for the order in the universe.

Did your view of evolution change?

I gradually realized that the various theories of evolution lacked rigorous scientific proof. In fact, they are basically stories invented to explain how the remarkable designs found within living things, such as the immune system, could originate in a mindless manner. The more I studied the immune system, the more I realized just how complex and effective it is. Thus, my research led me to conclude that life is a product of an intelligent Creator.

My research led me to conclude that life is a product of an intelligent Creator

Can you give us some evidence of design?

The immune system is actually an astonishing array of structures and mechanisms designed to defend us from a wide variety of agents, including bacteria and viruses. The mechanisms, in turn, can be grouped into two complementary systems. The first mobilizes an attack on invading microbes within hours. The second takes several days to respond but targets the invaders like a well-aimed arrow. This second system also has a good memory, so that if a specific invader returns years later, this enemy will be met with a rapid response. The whole system works so well that often you do not even realize that you have been infected and effectively defended. Also amazing is the way the immune system distinguishes between foreign substances and the hundreds of cell types that make up our body.

Tell us, what happens when a microbe enters our body?

Microbes sneak in through our breath, our food, our urogenital tract, or breaks in our skin. When the immune system detects intruders, it sets in motion a cascade of reactions involving dozens of precisely designed proteins. Each component in this cascade activates the next to amplify the counterattack. The process is mind-boggling!

Could we say, then, that your knowledge of science has strengthened your faith in God?

Absolutely! The power and sophistication of our immune system points to a wise and loving Creator. I might add that science has also strengthened my faith in the Bible. For example, Proverbs 17:22 tells us that “a joyful heart is good medicine.” Researchers have discovered that our state of mind can influence our immune system. Stress, for instance, can weaken our immune response.

Many of your peers don’t believe in God. Why is that?

The reasons vary. Some, as was true of me, simply accept what they were taught. Perhaps they assume that evolution is backed up by good science. Others give little thought to how life began. That’s a pity. I think they should ask more questions.

Why did you become one of Jehovah Witnesses?

I was attracted by their hospitality and their faith in the Creator’s promise of a better future. * And that faith rests on research and sound reasoning, not myths or speculation. *

Jehovah Is My Refuge and Strength

Life Story


“If you marry him, you are bound to go to jail.” That is what people said to the woman I was planning to marry. Let me explain why they would say such a thing.

WHEN I was born in 1927, the Canadian province of Quebec was a stronghold of Catholicism. About four years later, Cécile Dufour, a full-time minister of Jehovah’s Witnesses, began calling at our home in the city of Montreal. For this, she was often threatened by our neighbors. In fact, she was arrested and ill-treated many times for preaching the Bible’s message. So we soon learned the truth of Jesus’ words: “You will be objects of hatred by all the nations on account of my name.”—Matthew 24:9.

At the time, many considered it unthinkable for a French-Canadian family to leave their Catholic religion. Though my parents never became baptized Witnesses, they soon concluded that the teachings of the Catholic Church were not in harmony with the Bible. So they encouraged their eight children to read literature published by the Witnesses, and they supported those of us who took a stand for Bible truth.

Taking a Stand in Difficult Times

In 1942, while I was still in school, I began to take a real interest in Bible study. The activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses were then banned in Canada because they followed the example of early Christians and did not become involved in the wars of the nations. (Isaiah 2:4; Matthew 26:52) My oldest brother, Roland, was put in a labor camp because of his refusal to take up arms during the world war then raging.

About this time, Father gave me a book in French that described the sufferings of the German Witnesses for their refusal to support the military campaigns of Adolph Hitler.* I was motivated to identify myself with such courageous examples of integrity, and I started attending the meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses held in a private home. Soon I was invited to share in the preaching work. I accepted the invitation with full realization that I might be arrested and imprisoned.

After praying for strength, I knocked on my first door. A kind lady answered, and after introducing myself, I read to her the words of 2 Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial.”

“Would you be interested in learning more about the Bible?” I asked.

“Yes,” the lady replied.

So I told her that I would bring a friend who knew the Bible better than I did, which I did the following week. After that first experience, I felt more confident, and I learned that we do not carry on the ministry in our own strength. As the apostle Paul said, we do so with Jehovah’s help. Indeed, it is vital that we recognize that “the power beyond what is normal [is] God’s and not that out of ourselves.”—2 Corinthians 4:7.

Thereafter, the preaching work became a regular part of my life and so did arrests and imprisonment. No wonder that my prospective bride was told, “If you marry him, you are bound to go to jail”! Yet, such experiences were not really that hard. After spending a night in jail, a fellow Witness usually bailed us out.

Important Decisions

In April 1943, I dedicated myself to Jehovah and symbolized it by water baptism. Then, in August 1944, I attended my first big convention, in Buffalo, New York, U.S.A., just across the Canadian border. There were 25,000 in attendance, and the program stimulated my desire to be a pioneer, as full-time ministers of Jehovah’s Witnesses are called. The ban on the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Canada was removed in May 1945, and I started pioneering the following month.

As my share in the ministry increased, however, so did my visits to prison. Once I was put in a cell with Mike Miller, a faithful, longtime servant of Jehovah. We sat on the cement floor and talked. Our upbuilding spiritual conversation strengthened me immensely. Afterward, though, the question crossed my mind, ‘What if a misunderstanding had existed between us and we were not on speaking terms?’ The time spent with this dear brother in jail taught me one of the most beautiful lessons of my life—we need our brothers and should therefore be forgiving and kind to one another. Otherwise, as the apostle Paul wrote: “If . . . you keep on biting and devouring one another, look out that you do not get annihilated by one another.”—Galatians 5:15.

In September 1945, I was invited to serve at the branch office of the Watch Tower Society in Toronto, Canada, which we call Bethel. The spiritual program there was indeed upbuilding and faith strengthening. The following year, I was assigned to work on the Bethel farm, some 25 miles [40 km] north of the branch office. As I picked strawberries with young Anne Wolynec, I noticed not only her physical beauty but also her love and zeal for Jehovah. A relationship developed, and we were married in January 1947.

For the next two and a half years, we pioneered in London, Ontario, and after that on Cape Breton Island, where we helped to form a congregation. Then, in 1949, we were invited to the 14th class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead, where we were trained to become missionaries.

Missionary Work in Quebec

Canadian graduates of previous classes of Gilead had been assigned to open up the preaching work in Quebec. In 1950, we along with 25 others from our 14th class joined them. The increased missionary activity brought on intensified persecution and mob violence, instigated by leaders of the Roman Catholic Church.

Two days after arriving in our first missionary assignment in the city of Rouyn, Anne was arrested and put in the back of a police car. This was a new experience for her, since she came from a small village in the province of Manitoba, Canada, where she seldom saw a policeman. Naturally, she felt frightened and recalled the words, “If you marry him, you are bound to go to jail.” However, before driving off, the police also found me and put me into the car with Anne. “Am I glad to see you!” she exclaimed. Yet, she was amazingly calm, noting, “Well, the same thing happened to the apostles for preaching about Jesus.” (Acts 4:1-3; 5:17, 18) Later that day we were released on bail.

About a year after that incident, while in the house-to-house ministry in our new assignment in Montreal, I heard a commotion down the street and saw an angry mob throwing stones. As I went to help Anne and her companion, the police arrived on the scene. Instead of arresting members of the mob, the police arrested Anne and her companion! While in prison, Anne reminded the new Witness that they were experiencing the reality of Jesus’ words: “You will be objects of hatred by all people on account of my name.”—Matthew 10:22.

At one time, some 1,700 cases against Jehovah’s Witnesses were pending trial in Quebec. Generally, we were charged with distributing seditious literature or with distributing literature without a license. As a result, the Watch Tower Society’s Legal Department took action against the government of Quebec. After many years of legal battle, Jehovah gave us two great victories before the Supreme Court of Canada. In December 1950, we were cleared of the charge that our literature was seditious, and in October 1953, our right to distribute Bible literature without a license was upheld. Thus we saw in a very visible way how Jehovah is indeed a place of “refuge and strength, a help that is readily to be found during distresses.”—Psalm 46:1.

Remarkably, the number of Witnesses in Quebec has increased from 356 in 1945, when I started pioneering, to over 24,000 today! It has indeed turned out just as the Bible prophecy foretold: “Any weapon whatever that will be formed against you will have no success, and any tongue at all that will rise up against you in the judgment you will condemn.”—Isaiah 54:17.

Our Work in France

In September 1959, Anne and I were invited to serve at Bethel in Paris, France, where I was assigned to take the lead in printing. Up until the time of our arrival in January 1960, printing had been done by a commercial firm. Since The Watchtower was then banned in France, we printed the magazine each month in the form of a 64-page booklet. The booklet was called The Interior Bulletin of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and it contained the articles to be studied in the congregations for the month. From 1960 to 1967, the number of those sharing in the preaching work in France increased from 15,439 to 26,250.

Eventually, most missionaries were reassigned to other places, some to French-speaking countries in Africa and others back to Quebec. Since Anne was not well and needed an operation, we returned to Quebec. After three years of medical attention, Anne’s health was restored. I was then assigned to the circuit work, visiting a different congregation each week to provide spiritual encouragement.

Missionary Work in Africa

A few years later, in 1981, we were delighted to receive a new assignment as missionaries in Zaire, now Democratic Republic of Congo. The people were poor, and they suffered many hardships. When we arrived, there were 25,753 Witnesses, but today that number has increased to over 113,000, and 446,362 attended the Memorial of Christ’s death in 1999!

In 1984 we obtained from the government some 500 acres [200 ha] of land to build a new branch office. Then, in December 1985, an international convention was held in the capital city, Kinshasa, with 32,000 delegates attending from many parts of the world. After that, clergy-inspired opposition disrupted our work in Zaire. On March 12, 1986, the responsible brothers were handed a letter that declared the association of Jehovah’s Witnesses of Zaire illegal. This ban on all our activities was signed by the then president of the country, the late Mobutu Sese Seko.

Because of those sudden developments, we had to apply the Bible counsel: “Shrewd is the one that has seen the calamity and proceeds to conceal himself.” (Proverbs 22:3) We found ways to get paper, ink, film, printing plates, and chemicals from outside the country to print our publications in Kinshasa. We also developed our own distribution network. Once we were organized, our system worked better than the government postal service!

Thousands of Witnesses were arrested, and many were brutally tortured. Yet, with few exceptions, they stood up to such treatment and maintained their faithfulness. I too was arrested and saw the terrible conditions the brothers were subjected to in the jails. Many times we were pressed in every way by the secret police and the authorities, but Jehovah always made a way out for us.—2 Corinthians 4:8.

We had hidden about 3,000 cartons of literature in the warehouse of a businessman. Eventually, however, one of his workers informed the secret police, and they arrested the businessman. On their way to the prison, they by chance crossed paths with me in my car. The businessman informed them that I was the one who had made the arrangement with him to store the literature. The police stopped and questioned me about it, accusing me of putting illegal literature in this man’s warehouse.

“Do you have one of the books?” I asked.

“Of course, yes,” they answered.

“May I see it?” I asked.

They brought me a copy, and I showed them the inside page, which states: “Printed in the United States of America by the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society.”

“What you have in your hands is American property and does not belong to Zaire,” I reminded them. “Your government has placed a ban on the legal corporation of the association of Jehovah’s Witnesses of Zaire and not on the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of the United States. So you should be very careful what you do with these publications.”

I was allowed to go because they had no court order to arrest me. That night, we took two trucks to the warehouse and emptied it of the literature. When the authorities came the following day, they were very upset to find the place empty. By then they were searching for me, since they now had a court order for my arrest. They found me, and because they had no car, I drove myself to prison! Another Witness accompanied me so that he could take my car away before they could lay claim to it.

After an eight-hour interrogation, they decided to deport me. But I showed them a photocopy of a letter from the government confirming my appointment to liquidate the assets of the now banned association of Jehovah’s Witnesses of Zaire. Thus I was allowed to continue my activity at Bethel.

After four years of serving under the pressures of the ban on the work in Zaire, I developed a bleeding stomach ulcer that was life threatening. It was decided that I should leave to get treatment in South Africa, where the branch took good care of me, and I recovered. After serving eight years in Zaire, which was truly a memorable and happy experience, we moved to the South Africa branch in 1989. In 1998 we returned to our homeland and have since then been serving again in Canada Bethel.

Grateful to Serve

When I look back on my 54 years in the full-time ministry, I am so grateful that I used my youthful vigor in Jehovah’s precious service. Though Anne has had to endure many trying circumstances, she has not complained but has been very supportive in all our activities. Together, we have had the privilege of helping many to come to know Jehovah, a number of whom are now in the full-time ministry. It is such a joy to see some of their children and even their grandchildren serving our great God, Jehovah!

I am convinced that there is nothing this world can offer that can compare with the privileges and blessings that Jehovah has given us. True, we have endured many trials, but they have all served to build our faith and confidence in Jehovah. He has indeed proved to be a tower of strength, a place of refuge, and a help that is readily to be found during distresses.

Born on the wrong Side of the Fence

Biography and Memories of an Austrian Migrant
Bruno Ehlich
Chapter 8
The Death March
(the following is the account of a survivor of the death march from Flossenburg)
    By April 1945, the western Allies were pressing in on the Berlin area from the west and the Russians were advancing from the east. The Nazi leaders studied various means of liquidating the inmates of the concentration camps. But killing off  hundreds of thousands of people and disposing of their bodies within a few days without leaving behind any trace of their heinous crimes proved to be too difficult for these fiendish men. So they decided to kill off the sick and march the rest to the nearest seaport where they would be loaded onto ships that would be taken out to sea and sunk, sending the prisoners to a watery grave.
    From Sachsenhausen, we were due to march some 250 kilometers (155 miles) to Lubeck. Departure was scheduled for the night of April 20-21, 1945. The prisoners were first to be assembled by nationality. How thankful to Jehovah we were, therefore, when all Witness prisoners were ordered to assemble in the tailor shop! There were 230 of us, from six different countries. The Witnesses who were sick in the infirmary, occupants of which were to be killed before the evacuation, were saved by brothers at the risk of their lives and were carried to the tailor shop.
    Indescribable confusion reigned among the other prisoners. Much stealing went on. As for us, we held an “assembly” and strengthened one another spiritually. Soon, however, our turn came to begin the long march, supposedly to a reassembly camp but actually to a planned watery death. The various nationalities left in groups of 600 prisoners — first the Czechs, then the Poles and so forth — some 26,000 in all. The group of Jehovah’s Witnesses was the last to leave. The SS had given us a cart to haul. I learned later that it contained some of the loot the SS had plundered from among the prisoners. They knew Jehovah’s Witnesses would take none of it.
    That cart turned out to be a blessing because sick and elderly ones were able to sit on top and rest for a while during the march. When one got his strength back, he would get down and walk and another Witness, too weak to follow, would take his place and so on, through the two weeks that the “death march” lasted. It was in every sense a “death march” because not only was our destination to be a watery grave but death lurked along the way. Anyone who could not keep up was mercilessly dispatched by an SS bullet. Some 10,700 were to lose their lives that way before the 
<!–[if !vml]–><!–[endif]–>
march ended. Yet, through Christian love and solidarity, not one Witness was left on the wayside to be killed by the SS.
    The first 50 kilometers (30 miles) were a nightmare. The Russians were so near that we could hear the guns. Our SS taskmasters were afraid of falling into the hands of the Soviets, so that first lap, from Sachsenhausen to Neuruppin, turned out to be a forced march that lasted 36 hours.
    I had started out carrying a few meager belongings but upon getting more and more tired, I threw away one thing after another until nothing was left but a blanket in which to roll up at night. Most nights we slept outdoors, with just twigs and leaves to keep us from the damp ground. One night, however, I was able to sleep in a barn. Imagine my surprise to find a Vindication book (a Watchtower publication) hidden in the straw! The following morning our hosts gave us something to eat. But that was exceptional. After that, for days on end we had nothing to eat or drink except for a few plants we were able to obtain and use to make herb tea at night, when we stopped to sleep. I remember seeing some non-Witness prisoners rush over to the carcass of a horse that had been killed near the road and devour the flesh in spite of the blows of their SS guards who hit them with their rifle butts.
    All this time, the Russians were advancing on one side and the Americans on the other. By April 25, the situation was so confused that our SS guards no longer knew where the Soviets or the U.S. troops were so they ordered the whole column of prisoners to camp in a wooded area for four days. While there, we ate nettles, roots and tree bark. This delay proved to be providential for had they kept us marching, we would have reached Lubeck before the German army collapsed and would have ended up at the bottom of Lubeck Bay.
The Last Night
    On April 29, the SS decided to move the prisoners on toward Lubeck. They hoped to get us there before the Russian and American forces joined up. The march continued for several days and by that time we were approaching Schwerin, a city located some 50 kilometers from Lubeck. Once again the SS ordered us to hide in the woods. It turned out to be our last night in captivity. But what a night!
    The Russians and the Americans were closing in on the remnants of the German forces and shells were whistling over our heads from both sides. An SS officer advised us to walk on unguarded to the American lines, about six kilometers away, but we were suspicious of this. We prayed to Jehovah for guidance and we finally decided to spend the night in the woods. We later learned that those prisoners who had accepted this officer’s proposal and had tried to get through to the American lines had been shot down by the SS. About 1,000 of them died that night. How thankful we were for Jehovah’s protection!
    However, that last night in Crivitz Wood was anything but peaceful. As the fighting grew nearer, our SS guards got panicky. Some of them slipped away into the night while others hid their weapons and uniforms, donning the striped garb taken from dead prisoners. Those who were recognized were shot by prisoners who had found the weapons left behind. The confusion was indescribable! Men were running hither and thither and bullets and shells were flying everywhere. But we Witnesses kept together and weathered the storm under Jehovah’s protecting hand, until the next morning. We expressed our gratitude to Jehovah in a Resolution adopted on May 3, 1945. We had marched some 200 kilometers in 12 days. Of the 26,000 prisoners who left the Sachsenhausen concentration camp on that “death march,” barely more than 15,000 survived. Yet every last one of the 230 Witnesses who had left the camp came through that ordeal alive. What a wonderful deliverance!
    On May 5, 1945, I made contact with the American forces and on May 21, I arrived back home in Harnes, northern France. I had survived the death march and certainly shared David’s feelings, expressed in Psalm 23:4, “Even though I walk in the valley of deep shadow, I fear nothing bad, for you are with me; your rod and your staff are the things that comfort tme.”
    The death march from Sachsenhausen proved to be just one lap in  the journey through the present system of things on toward the goal of life. Many have been my joys in sharing the “good news” since that time. Even as Jehovah has allowed me to survive that terrible march, my prayer is that, with my wife and three children, I will keep on walking on the narrow road of life, avoiding pitfalls to the right and to the left. Matt. 7:134, 14: Isa. 30:20,21.

A Microbiologist Explains Her Faith


Feng-Ling Yang is a senior research assistant at the central research academy in Taipei, Taiwan. Her work has been published in scientific journals. She used to believe in the theory of evolution. But then she changed her mind.Awake! asked her about her science and her faith.

sister 33Tell us about your background.

My parents were very poor, and my mother never learned to read. We raised pigs and grew vegetables in a flood-prone area near the city of Taipei. My parents taught me the value of hard work, and they also taught me to help other people.

Was your family religious?

My family practiced Taoism. We made sacrifices to the “Heaven God,” but we didn’t know anything about him. I used to wonder: ‘Why do people suffer? Why are people selfish?’ I read books about Taoism and Buddhism and about Eastern and Western history. I even went to a couple of churches. But I couldn’t find answers to my questions.

Why did you study science?

I liked mathematics and was fascinated by the way physical and chemical laws govern the structure of things. Everything, from the immense universe to tiny microbes, has a structure that is controlled by rules. And I wanted to understand those rules.

Why did you believe the theory of evolution to be a fact?

I was taught nothing to the contrary. From junior high school through university, evolution was the only explanation I heard. And then because of being a researcher in a life science, I was expected to accept evolution.

Because I was a researcher in a life science, I was expected to accept evolution

What made you start reading the Bible?

I went to live in Germany in 1996 to start my postgraduate studies. The following year  I met a lady named Simone. She was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and she offered to show me the Bible’s answers to my questions. When she told me that the Bible explains the purpose of life, I was intrigued. I began getting up at half past four each morning to read the Bible for an hour. Then I would go for a walk to meditate. During the next year, I read the whole Bible. I was impressed by the accuracy of its prophecies. Gradually, I became convinced that the Bible is from God.

What were your thoughts about the origin of life?

Well, when I began giving this serious thought in the late 1990’s, molecular biologists were beginning to realize that the chemistry of life is much more elaborate than anyone had previously thought. Of course, scientists had long known that the proteins in living cells are the most chemically sophisticated molecules in existence. But now, they were discovering how whole assemblies of proteins are organized to form elegant machines with moving parts. A molecular machine might be composed of over 50 proteins. And even the simplest cell needs a collection of different machines—for example, to generate power, to duplicate information, and to control access across membranes.

What did you conclude?

Well, I asked myself, ‘How did those protein machines become so well engineered?’ At the time, the unexpected complexity of cell chemistry made a number of scientists ask the same question. A professor of biochemistry in the United States published a book arguing that the molecular machines in living cells are so complex that they could not have originated randomly. I agreed. I felt that life must have been created.

I asked myself, ‘How did those protein machines become so well engineered?’

Why did you become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses?

I was impressed that although Simone had health problems, she traveled some 35 miles (56 km) each week to teach me the Bible. I learned that during Germany’s Nazi era, some Witnesses were imprisoned in concentration camps for their political neutrality. Their courage deeply impressed me. The Witnesses’ love for God made me want to be like them.

Has believing in God benefited you?

My colleagues say that I’m happier now. I used to feel inferior because of my poor background, so I never told anyone where I grew up and never mentioned my parents. But I’ve learned from the Bible that God is not interested in social status. In fact, Jesus was raised in a family that was probably as poor as mine. Now I care for my parents and enjoy introducing them to my friends.

“Jehovah Had Not Forgotten Me”

brotherhood 2


As told by Susana Plasín Udías

  • YEAR BORN: 1922

sister biographyMY PAST:

I was born into a middle-class neighborhood of Bilbao, in northern Spain. I was the second of four children. Our family were devout Catholics, and I attended Mass daily. At the age of 23, I became a teacher—a vocation that I loved and pursued for 40 years. Among other subjects, I was proud to teach the Catholic religion, and in the evenings I served as a catechist—instructing girls for their first communion.

After 12 years of happy marriage, I was widowed and left with four daughters to care for. I was only 33 years old! I tried to find consolation in my Catholic faith, but I had recurring questions. I wondered: ‘Why do humans continue to die if Christ redeemed us? Why do we pray for God’s Kingdom to come if good people go to heaven?’ And above all, I thought: ‘If God judges us when we die, why would we later need to leave heaven, purgatory, or hell for the final judgment?’

I put those questions to some priests I met. One of them answered: “I don’t know. Ask the bishop. Why does it matter? You believe in God, don’t you? Just let it be!” But I kept on searching for answers. Later, I attended lectures by Jesuits, Pentecostals, and Gnostics. Yet no one had satisfying answers to my questions.


When I was in my 60’s, a seven-year-old pupil invited me to attend a meeting of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I liked what I saw and heard, but because of my busy life, I had no further contact with the Witnesses at that time. Two years later, a Witness couple named Juan and Maite knocked at my door. For three months, we had intensive question-and-answer sessions, which finally led to a Bible study.

How I longed for each study session! I investigated everything thoroughly, using three Bible translations to ensure that Jehovah’s Witnesses were teaching the truth. Soon I realized how religiously confused I had been for  decades. I felt perturbed by the vast differences between my former beliefs and what I was learning from the Bible. I felt overwhelmed, as if my beliefs were a deeply entrenched tree being uprooted.

I knew that I had found a treasure

Then, my second husband became seriously ill and died. About the same time, I retired from my job and left Bilbao for a while. Juan and Maite also moved away. Regrettably, I discontinued my Bible study. Deep down, however, I knew that I had found a treasure. I never forgot it.

Some 20 years later, when I was 82, Juan and Maite returned to Bilbao and paid me a visit. How happy I was to see them again! I realized that Jehovah had not forgotten me, and I resumed my study. Juan and Maite were very patient with me, as I would often ask the same questions repeatedly. I needed to hear the Biblical arguments over and over again to break the emotional bonds I had with my previous beliefs. I also wanted to be well-equipped to explain Bible truth to my friends and family.

The day I finally got baptized—at the age of 87—was the happiest of my life. The baptism was held in conjunction with an assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses. A Christian elder delivered a Bible-based talk that was directed especially to those of us who were about to get baptized. The talk moved me to tears. I listened to it as though Jehovah were speaking directly to me. After I was baptized, dozens of Witnesses came up and congratulated me—even though most of them had never met me before!

Present-day photo of Susana Plasín Udías smiling


I always knew that Jesus Christ is “the way.” (John 14:6) But my Bible study enabled me to get to know Jehovah, the one to whom Jesus leads us. Now I can pray to God as my dear Father and Friend. Reading the book Draw Close to Jehovah * was a turning point in my life. I first read it through in just one night! I was touched to learn how merciful Jehovah truly is.

Looking back on my long search for religious truth, I think of Jesus’ words: “Keep on asking, and it will be given you; keep on seeking, and you will find; keep on knocking, and it will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7) Now that I have found the answers I so longed for, it brings me great joy to share them with others.

At 90 years of age, I feel young spiritually. Every meeting I attend at the Kingdom Hall is a special occasion—both for the precious knowledge I receive and for the company of my dear brothers and sisters. I yearn to be a teacher again in the promised Paradise earth. (Revelation 21:3, 4) I especially look forward to seeing my dead loved ones return to life and then to having the opportunity to teach them Bible truth. (Acts 24:15) How I long to explain to them what a precious gift Jehovah gave me in my old age!

A Classical Pianist Explains His Faith


Eldar Nebolsin of Uzbekistan is an internationally acclaimed pianist. He has played as a soloist with orchestras in London, Moscow, St. Petersburg, New York, Paris, Rome, Sydney, Tokyo, and Vienna. Eldar grew up in the Soviet Union as an atheist. But later he concluded that humans are the work of a loving Creator. Awake! asked him about his music and his faith.

How did you become a musician?

My parents are both pianists. They began teaching me when I was five years old. Later, I studied at the advanced school of music in Tashkent.

Tell us about the challenges of playing with an orchestra.

No two orchestras are alike. They are like giant musical instruments that are “played” by their conductors. Perhaps the main challenge for the soloist is to achieve balanced interaction with the conductor. It’s like a conversation between friends—rather than one always taking the lead, each should yield to the other. Usually, you have only one or two rehearsals in which to develop this rapport.

How much time do you spend practicing?

At least three hours a day—and that isn’t just to practice difficult passages. I also study the structure of the piece I’m preparing—but without actually playing it. Another thing I do is listen to the composer’s other works, which gives me more insight into the present piece.

What would you say distinguishes a fine pianist?

His ability to make a piano “sing.” Let me explain. The piano is a kind of percussion instrument. After a note is struck, the sound can only decrease in volume—unlike that of wind instruments or the human voice, which can hold a note or even increase its volume. The challenge for pianists is to overcome the tendency of a note to fade. They do this by subtle movement of their fingers and wrists, along with the complex interaction of  the right pedal, which extends the duration of a note and varies its timbre. When pianists master these difficult techniques, they can make the piano sound like a flute, a horn, or even an orchestra. They can also make it resemble the finest musical instrument of all—the human voice.

It’s obvious that you have a deep love for music.

For me, music is the language that most directly expresses and evokes feelings that are difficult, if not impossible, to communicate in words.

What aroused your interest in spiritual matters?

Our house was always full of books, which my father brought from Moscow. A book that especially interested me contained Bible stories about the dawn of history and the experiences of the Israelites. Another book I came across was You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses. * Its clear presentation of Bible teachings fascinated me. When I moved to Spain in 1991 to study music, I took that book with me and read it several times. I discovered a faith based not merely on emotion but also on sound reasoning and convincing evidence.

A teaching that really intrigued me was the Bible’s promise that humans can live forever on earth. That made so much sense! I might add that I still had not met Jehovah’s Witnesses. But I resolved that when I did meet them, I would ask for Bible lessons.

How did you meet the Witnesses?

A few days after I made that mental resolution, I saw two ladies, each with a Bible in hand. ‘They look like the people I’ve read about in my book,’ I thought. ‘They are preaching just as Christians did in Bible times.’ Soon, I was studying the Bible with a Witness. Today, my greatest joy is helping others to learn about our Creator.

What convinced you, a former atheist, to believe in a Creator?

Music itself did. Almost everybody appreciates music, and in a way that no animal can. Music can express joy, confidence, tenderness, and almost every other emotion. We naturally move to the rhythms in music. But is music necessary for our survival? Does it play a role in the “survival of the fittest,” as evolutionists teach? I think not. In my view, it’s unreasonable to conclude that the human brain, with its ability to create and appreciate music like that of Mozart and Beethoven, is the product of evolution. A far more reasonable explanation is that our brain is the product of a wise and loving Creator.

The Bible is like a symphony with an elegant structure, a masterful arrangement, and a moving message for all mankind

What led you to believe that the Bible is from God?

The Bible is a collection of 66 smaller books written over some 1,600 years by about 40 men. I asked myself, ‘Who could have orchestrated the writing of this unified masterpiece?’ The only reasonable answer is God. In my mind, the Bible is like a symphony with an elegant structure, a masterful arrangement, and a moving message for all mankind.

If you prefer to listen to audio on this subject follow this link: WWW.JW.ORG

Transforming Lives, One Prisoner at a Time

Miguel biography

In Spain, 68 prisons receive visits from Jehovah’s Witnesses, and some 600 inmates study the Bible.

One of the Witnesses making such visits is Miguel, who spent 12 years behind bars before he became a Witness. Now he returns to prison each week. His reason? So that others can be helped to transform their lives just as he was.

Over the past eight years, Miguel has studied the Bible with many prisoners. “I feel good about helping inmates in my old prison,” he says. “It really makes me happy when I see their desire to escape from the world of crime.”

When Miguel was four, a drunk driver hit and killed his father. His widowed mother then had to work long hours to provide for the family.

Miguel and his older brother began to skip school and to steal from houses and break into cars. By the age of 12, Miguel was a petty criminal. At 15, he was making big money as a drug dealer. However, his costly heroin and cocaine addiction drove him to steal more and more. From the age of 16, he was repeatedly in and out of prison, and soon he became a hardened criminal. “I was convinced that I would either die in prison or die from an overdose,” Miguel says. “I felt like a fly in a spiderweb.”

But in 1994, one of Miguel’s friends asked a Witness to write a letter to Miguel, who was in prison at the time. From that letter, Miguel learned that God’s purpose is to restore Paradise to the earth. The writer encouraged Miguel to make changes in his life so that Miguel could enjoy the fulfillment of that promise. “His words touched my heart,” says Miguel. “That day everything changed for me, and I decided to study the Bible, though I knew it would not be at all easy.”

Miguel knew this because he was hooked on drugs and tobacco. Both were readily available. His cellmate offered him drugs every day. Miguel constantly prayed for strength to overcome his addiction, and finally he succeeded.

Three months later, Miguel began to share his beliefs with other prisoners. The following year, he was released and got baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He also planned to get married, but then a problem arose. A month before the wedding, a court sentenced Miguel to a further ten years in prison as a result of several pending cases. Nevertheless, after three and a half years, he was released because of good behavior. Finally, the marriage took place. Miguel has never returned to a life of crime.


“Many People Hated Me”

If you prefer audio click on the image

biography 6


  • YEAR BORN: 1978


biography 6 aI grew up in Santiago, the capital of Chile, in a neighborhood where drugs, gangs, and crime were common. When I was five, my father was murdered. After that, my mother lived with a man who was cruel. He regularly beat us both. I still carry emotional scars from those years.

As I was growing up, I reacted to the negative influences by becoming extremely violent. I listened to heavy-metal music, drank excessively, and occasionally took drugs. I was regularly involved in street fights with drug dealers, who several times tried to do away with me. On one occasion, a rival gang hired an infamous hit man to kill me, but I managed to escape with only a stab wound. On another occasion, a group of drug dealers held a pistol to my head and tried to hang me.

In 1996, I fell in love with a woman named Carolina, and in 1998, we were married. After our first son was born, I became terrified that because of my violent temper, I would turn out like my stepfather and abuse my family. So I sought help at a local rehabilitation center. I received medical treatment and therapy, but to no avail. I continued to become infuriated over every little thing; I was out of control. In a misguided effort to stop hurting my family, I attempted suicide. Fortunately, I did not succeed.

I had been an atheist for many years, but I wanted to believe in God. So I associated with an evangelical religion for a time. Meanwhile, my wife was studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. I hated the Witnesses, and many times I screamed obscenities at them. But they always responded peacefully, which was not what I expected.

One day, Carolina asked me to look up Psalm 83:18 in my own Bible. That verse clearly states that God’s name is Jehovah. I was surprised to realize that in my religion I  had learned about a god, but not about Jehovah. Early in the year 2000, I too began to study the Bible with the Witnesses.


As I progressed, I found comfort in learning that Jehovah is a compassionate and forgiving God. For example, at Exodus 34:6, 7, the Bible describes Jehovah as “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and truth, preserving loving-kindness for thousands, pardoning error and transgression and sin.”

I found comfort in learning that Jehovah is a compassionate and forgiving God

Even so, it was not easy to apply what I was learning. I was convinced that I would never be able to control my violent temper. Each time I failed, Carolina lovingly encouraged me. She reminded me that Jehovah took note of my efforts. Her support gave me the strength to continue trying to please Jehovah, even though I often felt like a lost cause.

One day, my study conductor, Alejandro, asked me to readGalatians 5:22, 23. Those verses say that the fruitage of God’s spirit is “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control.” Alejandro explained that my developing those qualities did not depend on my own strength but, rather, on God’s holy spirit. That truth completely changed my viewpoint!

Later, I attended a large convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The order, cleanliness, and fellowship I saw there convinced me that I had found the true religion. (John 13:34, 35) I was baptized in February 2001.


Jehovah has transformed me from a violent man to a peaceable one. I feel that he has lifted me up out of the mire that had me trapped. Many people hated me, and I don’t blame them. Now, however, I enjoy peacefully serving Jehovah along with my wife and two sons.

My relatives and former friends cannot believe how much I have changed. As a result, several of them have shown interest in learning Bible truth. I have also had the privilege of helping others to come to know Jehovah. What a pleasure it has been to see Bible truth transform their lives as well!

A Love Story

Helen and Les brownA Love Story (Brother and Sister in California)

They were Jehovah’s Witnesses, a faith that strengthened their marriage, the sons said. They reaffirmed their love for one another daily.

High school sweethearts Les and Helen Brown, who were born on the same day on Dec. 31, 1918, died at age 94, within one day of each other.
“My mom often said she didn’t want to see my father die, and he didn’t want to live without her,” Daniel, the couple’s youngest son, told the Long Beach Press-Telegram.
Helen died on July 16, and Les died on July 17. The Southern California couple celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary in September.
“It was a real love match, wasn’t it?” their oldest son, Les Jr., told the newspaper. “They were together every day for 75 years.”
According to the sons, the pair met at Huntington Park High School and eloped on Sept. 19, 1937, at the age of 18 against their parents’ wishes. They thought a match between a wealthy man and a working-class woman would never work out.
The couple moved to Long Beach in 1963. He was a photographer for the Navy. She sold real estate. They had seven grandchildren.
The two, who were friends with many of their neighbors, were known to take road trips and worshipped at Kingdom Hall as Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Eventually, Helen was diagnosed with stomach cancer, and Les suffered from Parkinson’s disease.
“Like the Bible says, ‘They were as one,'” Bob Brobst told the Press-Telegram, who was a friend of the couple’s for a decade.–94–die-one-day-apart-163510421.html

Long-time Long Beach couple die a day apart – Press-Telegram

Their friends and family agree — if two people ever were “made for each other,” it was Helen and Les Brown.
Both were born on the same day, Dec. 31, 1918. Helen and Les were high school sweethearts who celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary this year. It would be their last; Helen died on July 16, and Les died the next day, July 17.
They were 94.
“It was a real love match, wasn’t it,” their oldest son, Les Jr., said. “They were together every day for 75 years.”
Daniel, the couple’s youngest son, agreed.
“My mom often said she didn’t want to see my father die, and he didn’t want to live without her,” Daniel said.
The two boys, sitting in their parents’ Belmont Heights home, said their parents met at Huntington Park High School and eloped on Sept. 19, 1937. They were married against their own parents’ wishes. Helen was from a working-class family, while Les was from a more wealthy family, and both sides of their family thought the love would never last between them.
But it did.
Helen and Les moved to Long Beach in 1963. Helen was a housewife who had a knack for buying and selling area properties, and Les owned a photography studio, serving as a photographer for the Navy. His father, too, was a photographer.
Despite being born on the same day, the Browns were two very different people, according to their sons, who said their mom was very strict and their dad was more laid back. And, like all married couples, they had some issues to work through during the years.
They were Jehovah’s Witnesses, a faith that strengthened their marriage, the sons said. They reaffirmed their love for one another daily.
Besides spending time at Kingdom Hall for worship, the longtime Long Beach residents — who had seven grandchildren — were well known for taking in-state road trips together and were frequently found at Ma N’ Pa Grocery, a corner store on Roycroft Avenue and Colorado Street. They also were close friends with many of their neighbors.
“They loved California, and they loved Belmont Shore and Belmont Heights,” Les Jr. said. “They wouldn’t leave … And, Ma N’ Pa Grocery treated them like royalty. Mom was there every day. That was her pantry.”
One family friend, Bob Brobst, who belonged to the same congregation, had known Helen and Les for nearly a decade.
“Like the Bible says, ‘They were as one,’ ” Brobst said, adding that he will always remember how compatible his friends were as a couple.
Les, who had Parkinson’s disease, and Helen, who had developed stomach cancer, will have a joint memorial service. The public service will take place at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, 5852 Belgrade Ave., Garden Grove. All are welcome.
Ashleigh Ruhl is an editor at the Grunion Gazettes.



Leaning on Jehovah Has Been Rewarding

elderly coupleLIFE STORY

Leaning on Jehovah Has Been Rewarding

As told by Malcolm Allen

Life is unpredictable at times, uncertain, and even hard to deal with. But Jehovah blesses those who lean on him, not on their own understanding. This is what my wife and I have experienced over our long and rewarding life. Here is a little of our history.

MY FATHER and mother met in 1919 at the convention of the International Bible Students in Cedar Point, Ohio, U.S.A. They got married later that same year. I was born in 1922, and my brother, Paul, was born two years later. My wife, Grace, was born in 1930. Her parents, Roy and Ruth Howell, were raised as Bible Students, and her grandparents were also Bible Students and friends of Brother Charles Taze Russell.

I met Grace in 1947, and we got married on July 16, 1949. Before we got married, we had frank discussions about our future. We made it our decision to share in the full-time ministry and not take on the responsibility of raising children. On October 1, 1950, we began our pioneer service together. Then in 1952, we were invited to do circuit work.


Both of us felt that we needed much help to carry out this new assignment. While I learned from experienced brothers, I also sought help for Grace. I approached Marvin Holien, a longtime family friend who had experience in serving as a traveling overseer, and I asked him: “Grace is young and lacks experience. Can you recommend someone she can work with for a while to get some training?” “Yes,” he answered. “Edna Winkle is a seasoned pioneer who can help her a lot.” Later, Grace said about Edna: “She made me feel at ease at the doors, knew how to handle objections well, and taught me to listen to the householder so that I could zero in on what was appropriate to say. She was just what I needed!”

From left: Nathan Knorr, Malcolm Allen, Fred Rusk, Lyle Reusch, Andrew Wagner

Grace and I served in two circuits in the state of Iowa, including portions of the states of Minnesota and South Dakota. Then we were transferred to New York Circuit 1, which included the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens. We will never forget how inexperienced we felt in that assignment. The circuit included the Brooklyn Heights Congregation, which met at the Kingdom Hall at  Bethel and had many experienced Bethel family members. After I gave my first service talk to that congregation, Brother Nathan Knorr came up to me and said words to this effect: “Malcolm, you gave us some counsel to work on, and it was appropriate. Don’t forget, if you don’t help us by giving us kindly counsel, you are of little value to the organization. Keep up the good work.” After the meeting, I told this to Grace. Later, we went upstairs to our Bethel room. Worn out from anxiety, we wept.

“If you don’t help us by giving us kindly counsel, you are of little value to the organization. Keep up the good work”

After a few months, we received a letter inviting us to attend the 24th class of Gilead School, which would graduate in February 1955. We were informed before going to school that our training was not necessarily to prepare us to become missionaries. Rather, it would serve to equip us to become more effective in the traveling work. Attending the school was a marvelous yet humbling experience.

Fern and George Couch with Grace and me at Gilead, 1954

When we finished the course, we were assigned to serve in the district work. Our district included the states of Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. Then, to our surprise, in December 1955 we received a letter from Brother Knorr that stated: “Be perfectly frank in expressing yourself, and be honest with me now. If you say you are willing to come to Bethel and remain here . . . or if you are willing to take a foreign assignment after you are at Bethel for a while, let me know. If you prefer the district and the circuit work, I would like to know that.” We replied that we would be pleased to do whatever we were assigned to do. Almost immediately, we were directed to report to Bethel!


My thrilling years of Bethel service included caring for speaking and teaching assignments all over the United States. I shared in training and helping many young men who later took on greater responsibilities in Jehovah’s organization. Eventually, I worked as a secretary for Brother Knorr in the office that organized the worldwide preaching work.

Working in the Service Department, 1956

I found the years that I spent in the Service Department especially enjoyable. There I was able to work with T. J. (Bud) Sullivan. He had for many years been overseer of that department. But there were others whom I learned much from. Fred Rusk, who was assigned to train me, was one of them. With fondness, I recall asking  him, “Fred, why do you make a number of adjustments in some of my letters?” He laughed, but added this sobering thought, “Malcolm, when you say something verbally, it can be explained with further words, but when you write something, especially when it comes from here, it has to be as sound and as accurate as possible.” Then he said kindly, “Be of good courage—you are doing well, and in time, you will be fine.”

Over the years at Bethel, Grace received a variety of work assignments, including serving as a housekeeper, caring for the upkeep of residential rooms. She enjoyed the work. Up to this day, when we at times meet some of the brothers who were young men at Bethel during those years, they tell Grace with a smile, “You really taught me how to make a bed, and I can tell you my mother liked what you did.” Grace also enjoyed working in the Magazine, Correspondence, and Tape Duplicating departments. Caring for those different assignments helped her to appreciate that whatever we do or wherever we serve in Jehovah’s organization is a privilege and a blessing. To this day, she feels that way.


In the mid-1970’s, we began to realize that our aging parents needed more attention. Eventually, we had to make a difficult decision. We did not want to leave Bethel and our fellow servants of Jehovah whom we had come to love dearly. Still, I felt that it was my responsibility to care for our parents. Therefore, in time we left Bethel, but with the hope that when our situation changed, we might return.

To support ourselves financially, I began selling insurance. I will always remember what one manager told me while I was in training: “This business is built on making evening calls. That’s when you can see the people. Nothing is more important than to be there every evening, making calls.” I replied, “I’m sure you speak from experience, and I respect that. But I also have responsibilities of a spiritual nature that I have never neglected, and I don’t intend to begin now. I’ll make some evening calls, but on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, I need to attend very important meetings.” Jehovah truly blessed me for not missing meetings to do secular work.

We were at my mother’s bedside when she died in a nursing home in July 1987. The head nurse came to Grace and said: “Mrs. Allen, go home and get some rest. Everyone knows you were here all the time for your mother-in-law. Have peace of mind and self-respect.”

In December 1987, we filled out applications to serve again at Bethel, the place we loved. But  only days later, Grace was diagnosed with colon cancer. After surgery and a successful recovery, she was pronounced cancer free. In the meantime, though, we received a letter from Bethel that recommended we continue our ministry with the local congregation. We were determined to press on in our Kingdom activity.

In time, a job opportunity opened up for me in Texas. We decided that the warmer climate there would be good for us, and it has been. Here in Texas, we have for some 25 years been surrounded by caring brothers and sisters to whom we have become closely attached.


Grace has had bouts with cancer of the colon and the thyroid, and recently breast cancer. But she has never complained about her lot in life or challenged the principles of headship and cooperation. She has often been asked, “What is the secret to your success as a couple and the happiness you both radiate?” She gives four reasons: “We are best friends. We communicate regularly every day. We love to visit with each other every day. And we never go to sleep at the end of the day while we are angry with each other.” Of course, once in a while we rub each other the wrong way, but we forgive and forget—and that approach truly works.

“Always lean on Jehovah and accept what he permits”

Through all the trials that have come our way, there are several good lessons that we have learned:

  1.  Always lean on Jehovah and accept what he permits. Never lean on your own understanding.—Prov. 3:5, 6; Jer. 17:7.

  2.  Depend on Jehovah’s Word for direction, no matter what the issue is. Obedience to Jehovah and his laws is vital. There is no middle ground—either you are obedient or you are not.—Rom. 6:16; Heb. 4:12.

  3.  There is one thing in life that matters most—gaining a good name with Jehovah. Put his interests first, not the seeking of material riches.—Prov. 28:20; Eccl. 7:1; Matt. 6:33, 34.

  4.  Pray to be as productive and as active in Jehovah’s service as you can be. Focus on what you can do, not on what you cannot do.—Matt. 22:37; 2 Tim. 4:2.

  5.  Know that there is no other organization that has Jehovah’s blessing and favor.—John 6:68.

Grace and I have each served Jehovah for more than 75 years, and as a married couple, we have served him for nearly 65 years. We truly have had a wonderful time serving Jehovah together for all these decades. We hope and pray that all our brothers and sisters may likewise experience how rewarding life is when you lean on Jehovah.