Shining a Bright Light on God’s Kingdom
by Lea Michelle Cash
Shining through the darkness
Our is a message so bright
It offers hope and light
Sparking like the daylight
Bringing tomorrow in sight
(Watchtower Bible & Tract Society)
Over the past few weeks, visitors have flocked to the Norman F. Feldheym Central Library in downtown San Bernardino. They have come to see the educational exhibit commemorating the centennial anniversary of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Inland Empire.
In April 1956, the San Bernardino County Sun published an article titled, “Witnesses Hold First Meeting Back in 1917” written by Lew Barrett. Barrett wrote that 257 Bible students had settled into a new building located at 1541 West Baseline, built by the West San Bernardino Congregation of Jehovah Witnesses.
Barrett featured a large picture of the new building given the name West Kingdom Hall. He mentioned the congregation’s observance of the death of Jesus Christ, biblically dated Nisan 14, and that the meetings were designed to educate and train Witnesses to be upright servants of Jehovah and ministers of spreading the good news of God’s kingdom.
The 1956 article caught the eye of Tim Lee. More than a year ago, doing research for another project, he stumbled across the article and became fascinated with it. He was born and raised in San Bernardino and has been a Jehovah’s Witness for thirty-three years. “I could not let it go. I remember that building when I was a kid. I think our history as Jehovah’s Witnesses in San Bernardino is inspiring,” says Lee, 60, a congregation elder in the Orangewood Park Congregation in San Bernardino.
Lee says he stayed in prayer about the historical San Bernardino research discovery. “It became a dream towards sharing the inspiring knowledge with the public,” says Lee about the exhibit. “It is like shining a bright light in a darkened world.” In full cooperation with the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, the International Brotherhood of Jehovah Witnesses, it took a complete year to plan and organize. The local members of the sixty-three year old Orangewood Park Congregation and Feldheym’s library staff worked vigorously on the historical exhibit. The dream came true when the astounding exhibit opened on September 11.
The event theme is “The History of Jehovah’s Witnesses from the Garden of Eden to the Present.” The two floor gallery theme is based on the Bible book of Hebrews chapter 11 and 12, as well as other Biblical accounts, all of which tell the story of how, “by faith” the witnessing efforts of Jehovah Witnesses has been blessed by God.
The exhibit provides a visual look into the astonishing history of Jehovah’s Witnesses and their spiritual heritage as a people for Jehovah’s name (Acts 15:14). The exhibit displays rare Bibles and Bible-related artifacts.
“This special exhibit has been a huge success bringing thousands to the library to see it, states Lee. “On the weekends is when we see the largest crowds and I am filled with joy as we praise God’s name and commemorate a piece of history in San Bernardino.”
Many years ago, a small group of Bible students who lived near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, began a systematic analysis of the Bible. They began publishing what they learned in books, newspapers, and the journal that is now called The Watchtower—Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. Today, the Watchtower magazine is published in 303 languages. Worldwide there are 8,340,982 Jehovah Witnesses worshiping in 240 lands, conducting 10,115,264 home bible studies, reported annually. “We are shining a bright light as illuminators sharing a message of hope and the good news of God’s kingdom,” says Lee.
The special exhibit is free and open to the public until October 21.