February 1, 2016 is upon us. This is the deadline for the worldwide downsizing of Bethel families. Reports are that the family is being reduced by 25%, which means thousands of Bethelites are frantically looking for work. Many of these are in their 50s and 60s. Many have been in Bethel most or all of their adult lives. A downsizing of this size is unprecedented and on the whole a completely unanticipated development to many who felt their future was secure and that they would be taken care of by “Mother” until their dying day or Armageddon, whichever came first.
In an apparent attempt at damage control, the Bethel family got an “encouraging” talk delivered by Edward Algian which has been posted on tv.jw.org for your viewing pleasure. (See Edward Aljian: An Important Reminder)
It opens with the question: “Why does God permit suffering?”
The reason according to the speaker is that Jehovah needs to vindicate his sovereignty. We are reminded that based on one of our Kingdom songs, “Soldiers of Jah do not seek a life of ease.” (Forward, You Witnesses – Song 29)
Brother Aljian then goes on to relate three Bible examples of faithful individuals who suffered.
- Sarai suffered when Hagar, her maidservant, began to despise her, because she was barren, while Hagar was pregnant with Abram’s child. Jehovah didn’t warn Abram of the impending disaster and so did not help Abram to avoid the suffering.
- Jacob suffered when Joseph was reported as dead. Even though he had communicated with Jacob in the past, Jehovah didn’t tell him that his son was not dead, and thus end his suffering.
- Upon his resurrection, Uriah might resent that David murdered him, took his wife, and yet was redeemed and considered the king by which all others were measured. He might blame God.
With these illustrations in hand, Brother Aljian asks, at about the 29-minute mark, “How can we each uphold Jehovah’s sovereignty?”
Answer: “By maintaining joy in Bethel service, or we could say, by maintaining joy in sacred service over all.”
At the 35-minute mark, he gets down the meat of his talk when he discusses what he calls a “job change”.
Reportedly, there is much dismay and growing resentment as the hopes and dreams of individuals who have grown to feel entitled by their status as Bethelites are dashed. What they need is an attitude adjustment so that they can feel joy in their role to uphold Jehovah’s sovereignty despite the hardships of this…what was it again? Oh yeah…this “job change.”
Misapplying Bible Accounts
The Organization is very adept at taking a Bible account and misapplying it to support some new teaching or policy. This is no exception.
Consider all three accounts just reviewed. Ask yourself, “In each case, what was the cause of the suffering?” Was is some decision that Jehovah made? Not at all. He was not responsible in any way.
Sarai was the architect of her own misery. Instead of faithfully waiting on Jehovah, she came up with the plan to provide Abram with an heir through her maid servant.
Jacob’s misery and suffering was due to the wickedness of this ten sons. Was he to some degree responsible for how these men turned out? Perhaps. But one thing is for sure, Jehovah had nothing to do with it.
Uriah suffered because David stole his wife, then conspired to have him killed. Though he later repented and was forgiven, there can be no doubt that Uriah’s suffering was due to a wicked act of King David.
Now thousands of Bethelites are suffering. If we are to extend the three object lessons from the talk, we must conclude that this is also not Jehovah’s doing, but the act of men. Is it wicked? I’ll leave that for Jehovah to judge, but it clearly is heartless.
Consider, when a worldly company permanently lays off longtime employees, they offer them a severance package, and they hire placement firms to assist them in finding new employment, and they hire counsellors to assist them with the emotion trauma of suddenly being “out on the street”. The best the Governing Body could do was to give three-month’s notice and a pat on the back, with the assurance that God will take care of them.
Is this not a variant on what James counsels us to avoid doing?
“. . .If a brother or a sister is in a naked state and lacking the food sufficient for the day, 16 yet a certain one of YOU says to them: “Go in peace, keep warm and well fed,” but YOU do not give them the necessities for [their] body, of what benefit is it? 17 Thus, too, faith, if it does not have works, is dead in itself.” (Jas 2:15-17)
Another way the Organization tries to distance itself from responsibility before God and men is by the use of euphemisms. They love to put a kinder face on the things they do.
What we have here are massive, permanent layoffs with little or no financial provision nor job placement. The brothers are being sent on their way to fend for themselves. Yet with a smile on his lips, Edward Aljian calls this a “Job Change.”
He then goes back to his examples to explain that ‘Jehovah did not tell those servants how to avoid their suffering and He does not tell us everything either. He does not tell us how we will be serving him next year.’ The implication is that none of this is the doing of men. Jehovah had given these brothers a job in Bethel and now he’s taken it away and given them another job, to preach—presumably as regular pioneers.
So any hardship and suffering that these brothers endure, any sleepless night, or days without a square meal, any difficulty in securing a place to live is all laid at Jehovah’s feet. He is the one kicking them out of Bethel.
Again, James has something to say about this attitude:
“. . .When under trial, let no one say: “I am being tried by God.” For with evil things God cannot be tried nor does he himself try anyone. . .” (Jas 1:13)
Finally, Brother Aljian tries to be encouraging with these words: “Let’s not forget that Jehovah’s permission of human suffering is temporary and that he will abundantly reward those who uphold his sovereignty.”
This sounds good. This sounds scriptural. What a shame that it is not found anywhere in Scripture. Oh, we have to be prepared to suffer for the name of Jesus to be sure—a name not mentioned anywhere in the talk—but to say we are to suffer to uphold God’s sovereignty?…Where does the Bible say that? Where does it even use the word “sovereignty”?
We shall have to see whether the rank and file swallow down Edward Aljian’s message that this is all God’s doing and we should take it joyously, or whether they will finally start to realize that these are merely the acts of men trying to conserve a dwindling reserve of funds.
[…] the ongoing four-thousand-dollar-a-day court fine for contempt, growing media coverage of cultism, staff reductions and printing cutbacks not to mention the sale of Kingdom halls to cover costs—the writing is on […]
Just an addition to these comments because I served in Bethel for many years. First, in the “Dwelling” manual given to Bethelites, the GB encourages all to make Bethel service their “lifelong career.” This is repeated in Bethel Entrants School. They ecourage you to see spending the rest of your life in Bethel. That logically would involve not planning anything else. If anyone from Bethel were to deny that, then I would call him a liar to his face with a clean conscience. I went through Bethel Entrants School in 3 languages, 3 countries and studied the Dwelling Manual just… Read more »
Dear Brother Yehorakam: I am an unbaptized publisher and I came upon this website by accident or perhaps not. I read your comment, and I love your humble spirit, especially distancing ourselves from developing resentment in our hearts!!! Having internal peace is, indeed, precious! Thank you SO much for sharing this and putting the time to write down your experiences and pass down your wisdom!
You are right about the man made bit. But logically Jehovah is also a product of man’s imagination and invention. Rely on yourself for your means of living, because thinking that others have a responsibility to do so is infantilisation. Sorry to be harsh but honestly do your research….
It seems unfair to ask someone to do their research when you haven’t shared any facts, but only opinions.
Does anyone know what is happening to those thrown out of bethel? Are they being taken in by members of he congregations?
I don’t know of any getting assistance from the local congregations.
The watchtower was surely right about one thing ,when they said the light would get brighter and brighter, but little did they know that the light would be shining on them Revealing their lawlessness .
The watchtowers deception is becoming more and more obvious As they try to cover their tracks .
It’s only a matter of time before their madness is completely revealed . 2 Thessalonians 2:8.
JW is the true religion the same as Judaism was the true religion. Jehovah’s people always apostasize. It’s imperfect human nature. JW is still the only true religion it’s just fulfilling prophecy. This scripture 2Thessalonians 2:8, completed a picture for me. Don’t marvel at this. Jehovah foretold it would happen. Jesus’ letter to the congregation s in Revelation 2:16 where he says he will war with apostates with the sword of his mouth. 1:16 shows him with a sword at his mouth and 7 stars or all the elders in his right hand. He will war with them or as… Read more »
Wake up and be objective… your only getting information from one side of the line… Don’t be Afraid to look over the line…. you will be relieved…. to find out who you REALLY are… not a non thinking person that your God wants you to be
These properties were something dedicated / “devoted” to Jehovah unconditionally by his faithful servants through financial donations. And now the bible quite clearly states ” [ That ] no devoted thing that a man devotes unconditionally to Jehovah from his belongings may be “sold or bought back”, whether from mankind or animals or the field he possesses. Every “devoted” thing is something most holy to Jehovah. Leviticus 27:28. Yet the watchtower is clearly violating Jehovah’s Decree by selling off the many properties that were dedicated / devoted to Jehovah. Why? The answer becomes obvious when we read about the chieftains… Read more »
However, there also came to be false prophets among the people, as there will also be false teachers among you. These will quietly bring in destructive sects, and they will even disown the owner who bought them, bringing speedy destruction upon themselves. Furthermore, many will follow their brazen conduct, and because of them the way of the truth will be spoken of abusively. Also, they will greedily exploit you with counterfeit words. But their judgment, decided long ago, is not moving slowly, and their destruction is not sleeping. 2 Peter 2:1-3
Meleti, Thank you for bringing to surface a sad reality. I personally feel what we’re seeing now is and has been Plan B all along (from the 1975 debacle). That is to say, the “what if” scenario if Armageddon should delay. Most important is a solid retirement strategy for the elite to be taken care of the rest of their lives. The elite are the management team of yes men who have worked their way up the ladder and are now officers and directors of the many corporations and shell companies under the control of WTBTS. These men are obedient… Read more »
Sopater, This is a great overview of the “business” of the WTBTS that is never discussed among the R&F and for that matter to my knowledge even those who have left the org. I wonder if anyone has put together a detailed “forensic accounting” of the last 20 yrs of the org. That contains documented proof of how money is acquired and spent as some have rumored that donated funds are used in money markets,currency exchanges,stock investments in questionable companies,hedge funds etc. I of course have no problem believing this goes on especially after learning about UN/NGO issue that is… Read more »
Interesting book entitled what Pastor Russell says, it’s a question and answer of a collection of articles put in book form, kind of handbook for I B S A , Although this answer doesn’t exactly answer this point of Bethel Downsizing, well this the question and answer by brother Russell regarding funds! The year was 1913 that this question was asked. Note his response especially the last paragraph. If he still felt this way today, we don’t know obviously, but it’s an interesting insight into his thoughts on this subject. COLLECTIONS–Spending Much, Asking Little. Q128:1:: QUESTION (1913)–1–How is it possible… Read more »
Thank you for sharing that, AR. I will take it as a guide.
Pastor Russell was an amazing man. He said ” Beware of “organization.” It is wholly un-necessary. The Bible will be the only rules you need. Do not seek to bind other consciences, and do not permit others to bind yours. Believe and obey so far as you can understand God’s word today, and so continue to growing in grace and knowledge day by day.” (Zion’s Watch Tower, 1895, p. 216.) .” And “it is plain that the forming of a visible organization of such gathered out ones would be out of harmony with the spirit of the divine plan”.
Thanks Chris. I wrote an article on that back in 2013. Check out Russell Hits Too Close to Home.
My brother was included in the layoffs. They offered him the opportunity to be a part time commuter. He accepted. So they will no longer pay for his food or housing, but they still want him to work for them for free while he works another job to pay his expenses. Ridiculous
It sems almost like slavery all over again . Only even the slaves of the americas however badly treated they were still were given food and clothing and a roof over thier head . Where as here many slave as a volunteer for many hours and recieve nothing at all . The chains exist not on arms and feet but in minds . They need to ” unchain the brain ” . The witnesses need to ask themselves a question ; does god expect us to work for nothing : ? Or does the worker deserve his wages . While… Read more »
I know a young couple who sold their home, all furnishings, automobiles etc… to accept an assignment in construction at Bethel. They donated what they got for selling all their things (including the house!) to Watchtower. The idea was they’d work on the headquarters project and then others in the States. Afterward they’d migrate to Branch construction projects in other countries. This was about three years ago. They just got the word they’re going to have to leave Bethel service. Crushed is insufficient to express what this couple is feeling right now. There were folks back home encouraging them to… Read more »
Let’s not forget what is happening to this couple and all the others that are being booted out, is typically what happens when you put your trust in men. The bible does caution all to be as cautious as serpents. This couple while their intentions and motives were of the highest, were nonetheless naive. They can take comfort from the fact that they are not alone in having been taken for a ride by men. Nor are they likely to be the last. While people blindly surrender to the whims of the GB this kind of story will be repeated… Read more »
It is so easy for us to sit in judgment of others, isn’t it? But is it profitable? Does it build up. It’s one thing to criticize an organization that is misleading people, because people need to be warned. But to find fault in hindsight with the decision someone made based on their beliefs is disadvantageous to everyone. This is particularly true on a public forum.
this isnt sitting on judgement ,this is an appraisal of a situation/event/miscarriage in peoples lives and the forum provides a means whereby such ones can vent their frustration,share a common experience ;all of which provides them with a voice enabling them to process the hurt etc they have experienced..to me its therapy and though the experiences are sad and tragic, the fact there is someone who shares your feelings and understands is encouraging
Those being ousted have been betrayed by the “Organization”. Some of them left secular employment and spent all their adult lives in Bethel. Now they have no funds. Some of them are getting old and with no prospect of getting a job. All they will have is relying on their charity of the members of their future congregations. This “Organization” sucks the person and uses him up but when it doesn’t need him (or her) any longer, it throws him (or her) up. What an unloving organization!
i agree and its ironic that the organisation said that very thing about the world and how it would use you and when it no longer needed you,it would discard you..at best pot calling kettle black comes to mind and at worst sheer hypocrisy
We can only pray and sympathise for those who will be directly affected by such a move. It reminds me of the memories that one of our local newspapers received when soldiers finished serving in the army – that many of them had not been de-mobbed, they found it difficult to do things which we take for granted such as shopping, learning how to pay bills let alone affording them. In my heart, I wish I had a spiritually positive place for such ones to come and earn a living which could support them during their new days but in… Read more »
While I feel for those that have been discarded, I can’t help feeling it is a little presumptuous to expect that even though you have been in Bethel for decades you have a right to expect that you can stay there until they carry you out in pine box. It’s the sense of entitlement that may betray an unchristian attitude. Nobody is indispensable. Some of these brothers presume that they are owed something for their years of service. If they are owed anything, it is God who will repay. But please don’t assume and presume the brotherhood owes you anything.… Read more »
ANTONINVS, I do agree that I have at times seen an air of entitlement emanating from those in what is called “Special Full Time Service”. In general terms, it is wrong for anyone to think the brotherhood owes them a living. But we are not dealing in generalities but in specifics. The Organization brought many of these ones in while they were fresh out of high school. They filled their heads with the idea that we would grow and grow right up till the end, which was always just over the horizon, just a scant 5 to 7 years away… Read more »
What I meant by nobody is indispensable, is that, if this is God’s “organisation” (I hate using that word) and he is running things it will continue to run smoothly with or without any given individual/s. He doesn’t need us, we need him. Nobody is so important that the organisation could not function just as well without them. That is the context I was referring to.
I understood that. But not everyone would. I was concerned that the overall tone of the comment might be discouraging to some.
Don’t get me wrong, I feel very deeply for the brothers and sisters that have be ousted from Bethels all over the world. But let’s remember there are two sides to any coin. While I feel for those that have lost their place, and while the way they have been dealt with may leave much to be desired, I can’t help feeling that it is wrong on the part of Bethelites to expect to be supported for the entirety of their lives, at the expense of others. It is wrong to expect that once you enter bethel the only way… Read more »
I agree christian giving is not the sort of giving where we would expect something back in return . Jesus made that clear when he said give to those who have nothing to repay you . Perhaps jf many had had a more realistic approach they could have avoided these type of pitfalls . I dont want to judge peoples motives here because we just dont know . But the bible does say whatever a man sows this he shall also reap . While we can blame others for our own suffering could it not also be down to the… Read more »
Well done good and faithful slave giving the domestics thier food at the proper time .
They just had this as the public talk in this cong where I am at. We phoned in and half-way through I realise this is to Bethelites and the penny dropped as to its aim….. hmmmm followed by wt abt 100 years of kingdom rule…..
The FDS throwing out “domestics” from the House of God? Noooooooooooooo! 😉
Great article, Meleti.
Of course, the TRUE Faithful and Discreet Slave would give his life for the domestics before turning them out in the cold. The TRUE Faithful and Discreet Slave would openly, honestly, and humbly, admit his mistakes to the worldwide brotherhood. The TRUE Faithful and Discreet would count the cost before venturing into foolishly expensive overbuilding. The TRUE Faithful and Discreet Slave would both LOVE and FEAR his God, so much so, that his every step would be in mirror step with his Lord, Jesus Christ. I have grown so tired of the Governing Body and the brothers who support them.… Read more »
Brother Joshua, lets us pray for all those brothers and sisters made redundant, that they and us may keep our faith and love for our loving God and his Christ. Those effected need our prayer.
Your sister in Christ
Thanks Meleti, for alerting us to this, very difficult and confusing discussion to listen to. I don’t know what to make of it. Yes exactly what you wrote above, and again Why put it on Jehovah to be the bad guy!! I know most of the brothers & sisters are humble and would walk away get on with their worship once they leave bethel. But what a way to go. Did they get a pat on the shoulder, an email or text, explaining to them (in a loving way) they are no longer needed. Well, I feel for the older… Read more »
Thanks for the great article. Isn’t it a strange drift – more and more cherry picking use of the Hebrew bible and less and less use of the Greek bible (new testament). A joyful and clear message has become hazy and adopted to wishful thinking. Things should be different – John 8:12. Jesus as light (fos – φως in Greek) in our life, removes our every fear, He sets us free and brave. Jesus is interested in having balance in our lives and be honest – not hidden behind sophistry… Please continue the excellent work. The Holy spirit can act… Read more »
Welcome Socretes. Not to worry about your English. You use it well. Not many native English speakers would know or use “sophistry”. I concur with your observation that more and more do they drop their bucket into the well of the Hebrew Scriptures and less and less into the Greek. This talk is one good example of that. Three “life lessons” from pre-Christian times, but nothing from the era of Christ. I think it is because there are too many verses in the Christian Scriptures what might get us thinking about our teachings. When everything in the Greek Scriptures speaks… Read more »
Meleti, before my awakening, I underlined this gorgeous Bibleverse 2 Cor. 6:18. Where Jehovah is talking about sons and DAUGHTERS. Whilst a lot in the Bible reference is male, or brother or brotherhood this verse stands out and I love this verse beeing A female ? And my heart and prayers go out to all the brothers and sisters effected by those cruel rules by making hard working men and women redundant. the congregations have to step up and pick up the tap, and show we are CHRISTIANS.
Maybe they can use some of the billion that’s coming their way by selling the New York realastate.
Good point, Willy. Imagine if they had made an honest appeal to the worldwide brotherhood (and sisterhood–let’s remember that generally speaking the women is more generous in these things) to explain candidly the need for the cutbacks. Then they could have asked for a special fund to help these ones–which would include the special pioneers–to get on the feet in their new life.
Of course, that would have required they admit that Jehovah’s blessing is not measured in numerical growth nor building projects.
Thanks for your kind words. I agree with you for the use of Greek scriptures. By the way, I used “sophistry” as it is a Greek word and easy for me to convey the thought. A lot of public speakers in ancient Athens did exactly this. They mislead their audience through meaningless “sophistry”. But they did not last long.
The last time we covered the Greek Scriptures in the weekly Bible reading we did 8 chapters of Hebrews in one week. It seems evident they don’t really want us thinking too much on what we read in the NT.
Thats what you get when you put your faith in earthling man . Psalm 146 . I could see this coming about 6 years ago i said it to one of my sons . Hardships and suffering are not caused by god either they mainly caused by human choice wether our own or others .
The speaker did mention Jesus in the talk when he was listing some bible texts on serving Jehovah with joy…by saying I quote : peter, James, Paul even Jesus himself counseled Christians to rejoice even in difficult circumstances, end of qoute. I thought i would throw that in there, I don’t want you to say something that is not true.
Thank you, Peter. So there was a single mention. I appreciate you bringing that up, as accuracy is something I value. Nowadays, I find that even when mention of Jesus is made, it tends to be in the role of object lesson or exemplar. He is often used to show us how we should be obedient to God, then the Organization is slipped in as the mediator–appointed channel–between God and men.
“I don’t want you to say something that is not true”. Of course you are right but the point is that the very essence of salvation was not mentioned as such. Jesus is our saviour and he not Jehovah will be ruling over the first 1000 years of the new earth. John 14:6, Acts 4;12.
Meleti in your opening sentence, you use the phrase ‘Bethel families’, and rightly such, Bethelites are known to be part of the Bethel family and are called such by the Organization. At the Annual meeting held on 3 October 2015, the Governing Body made an announcement about the reductions of the Bethel family. The reason given was “that the Kingdom work is expanding at an accelerated pace and we can only do so much with the funds at our disposal. Every family head realizes that where the household income is limited, he must carefully budget available funds so that his… Read more »
Well said ‘Out Of Africa’ and very true …. I am now finding it difficult to even LISTEN to a talk given by these men…. They sound as if they are trying to sell us something, and of course they are…..Redundancy without a protection package or any form of support. If we once felt safe and loved being apart of this ‘brotherhood’ ….. What thoughts now?? More disappointment, hurt and confusion …..
It has become a business, and because they have put the org over even protection of children they are now desperately trying to save it, its clear Jehovah is not backing this org, it was just a matter of time before things were revealed.
Why don’t the GB scrapped the mansion they are building in Warwick. $30 million for their headquarters. I just cannot imagined Jesus and his disciples building such a lavish headquarters. No wonder they don’t have any money. They tell the rank and file to lead a simple life, but they are big spenders.
But this only highlights the fact that, even if Warwick were to cost twice that, there would still be a nearly billion-dollar profit from the sale of the Brooklyn properties. Where did (or will) all that money go?
Well, if the victims of pedophiles wind up bankrupting the org, that may not be perfect justice but it will certainly be poetic.