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Jehovah Witnesses’ Bethel: A place of order
Situated in an expansive land at Igieduma in Edo State is Nigeria’s headquaters of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Samuel Ayodele who was taken on a facility tour of the premises, reports.
Travelling on the Benin/Auchi expressway just before Ekpoma is located a small community called Igieduma in Uhunmwode Local Government Area of Edo State. Situated within Igieduma is an expansive land that houses the Nigerian branch office of the Jehovah Witnesses, otherwise referred to as Bethel (House of God).
For many who have visited Bethel, it is not just a place. Many have desribed the place as a model for how the human society should be used and managed while many have described the place as ‘paradise on heart.’
Indeed, Bethel is an uncommon arena. Working at Bethel are Jehovah Witnesses who have dedicated themselves to the service of God (Jehovah) and Bethel. According to a member of Bethel House who simply introduced himself as Jaymes, workers at Bethel are furnished with room and a small monthly reimbursement to assist with their personal expenses. He added that similar facilities in some 110 countries worldwide are financed entirely by voluntary donations from Jehovah's Witnesses throughout the world and coordinated by the world headquarters in Brooklyn, USA.
Jaymes said that members of the Bethel House are part of the over 7 million Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide that are involved in the preaching activities and that each working morning, the Bethel family in Igieduma comes together to consider a scripture text using the booklet, Examining the Scriptures Daily. He added that a chairman presides over this fifteen minutes discussion and members of the family are assigned to comment on the text. Following the discussion, the family is led in prayer, after which breakfast is served.
Apart from this, members of the Igieduma Bethel work together like one family and study the Scripture together. In addition, they share in the Kingdom-preaching and disciple making as they are assigned to congregations of Jehovah Witnesses in and around Igieduma for preaching activities.
Within Bethel, a number of necessary services are performed to keep the entire premises running and there are various departments that perform different tasks. For example, some members of the family work in the kitchen, some ensure that the entire premises of Bethel is kept clean, while there others are in charge of housekeeping, laundry and construction works.
Since the Igieduma House produces all the publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Nigeria, the publishing department is one important division of the house. The department has three subdivision—graphics, press room and shipping. The graphics sub-division ensures that text, artwork and photographs are merged into page format and that film negatives of the pages are then used to make plates for the printing presses.
The press room is equipped with a printer that can print, fold and glue up to 38,000 magazines per hour while the quality of the print is monitored and controlled at the press console. The last but not the least of the departments is the shipping department that ensures that literature requests from congregations are processed and delivered to over 400 distribution centres across Nigeria.
Other departments at the Bethel House are the kingdom hall construction desk that coordinates the kingdom hall construction; the service department that supervises the preaching activity of over 280 00 Jehovah Witnesses in Nigeria; the hospital information desk that provides hospital liaison committees throughout the country with the latest information on bloodless medical procedure and the translation department that translates various publications from English into Nigerian languages such as Efik, Hausa, Igbo, Isoko, Tiv and Yoruba.
For a first visitor to the Bethel House, what readily attracts the eyes is the friendly ambience that permeates the large premises. From the gate house to the lawn, dining hall, press and the hall of residence, everything seems perfect and the visitors sre usually full of conmendations.
One of such people who was moved by the organisation of Bethel was the former governor of Edo State, Chief Lucky Igbinedion when he visited Bethel in 2001. Moved by the orderliness and organisation of the place after he had been taken on a facility tour of Bethel along with his entourage, the governor was full of commendation for the Jehovah’s Witnesses organisation.
"Very distinguished family of Bethel, on behalf of the state government and the good people of Edo State, we thank you most graciously for giving us the opportunity to tour your facility and know the work of God that is being carried out here. I must say, I am highly impressed and so are members of my entourage who have been so opportune to go round and see, first and foremost, how neat and how well kept the place is. It's highly commendable.
"I'll also like to commend the maintenance culture of the family of Bethel. I'll also like to thank you very much for the meal you have provided for us. It's a meal that has been blessed and nourished and we shall continue to appreciate it. It's most satisfying that you have people here that are volunteers, doing the work of God and I've been able to see these people and I'm highly impressed that they are being gainfully engaged in carrying out the work of God. These are young people and it is purely a voluntary will for them to come here. They are not forced; they are not in any way encumbered to remain after they so desire to leave. So I believe all I've heard and the little I've seen. I know there are more that we are not able to cover due to time constraints, but we will try as much as possible to have continued dialogue with the Bethel family."