Unity Through Diversity Celebrated at Georgia Dome

JW International Convention
Talent show Participants International Convention

In recent news, Russia and the Ukraine have been in conflict over the pass year. However, the recent International Convention of Jehovah Witnesses, have enlighten the American public to the unity among Christians in the region.  The 2014 International Convention hosted at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta welcomed over 33, 000 guests daily, this past July 4-6.  The city of Atlanta was the host of the 1996 Summer Olympics, and is currently the home of Coca Cola, UPS, Newell Rubbermaid, and other Fortune 500 corporations. In a well-organized and professionally executed partnerships with the Visitor’s Bureau, city officials, MARTA, and hotels in the area, the 2014 International Convention was attended by a global community.

Myths,Truths and Global Message

A myth is defined as an unproved or false collective belief that is used to justify a social institution. A major myth about Jehovah Witnesses, is that they don’t recognize Jesus, and only worship “Jehovah” God, his father.  This myth was clearly proven to be false during every prayer at the international convention, which ended in ” through your son Jesus Christ”, which is said by Christians around the globe.  

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“Make the Truth Your Own.” –Sanai

The global unity at this special convention was shared by all ages. Sanai (13) and Ashan (12) , who were two well-mannered teenagers,  was not only spectators, but were participants in the water baptism ceremony. They were joined by over 200 people from around the globe.  The process of  dedication by water baptism is not an easy road, nor taken lightly by Jehovah Witnesses. It takes a year of preparation, bible study, interviews, and counseling by elders in each local congregation. Sanai and Asahn shared their reasons for making this major step in their spiritual life at such a young age, and looked forward to unique opportunities and privileges that will be forwarded them at new Witnesses.

“Being in Atlanta the last 5 days is like being in paradise for 5 days.” –Vika: Russia  

Viktoria had Russian Orthodox priests in her family going back generations and her  grandmother took her to church. She had crosses but because of the attitude of the Soviet Union toward religious expression, she kept them hidden due to religious intolerance.

She and her mother moved to another area of the city, where she made friends with a classmate who set a good example.

She saw the classmate studying the Bible. She asked the classmate to come to visit her at home, but she said she was unable because she was going to a Bible study. Viktoria was intrigued, which sparked her interest in the religion. She became a Jehovah’s Witness after 1991, when Jehovah Witnesses became registered religious group  in Russia.

Viktoria said she has been excited, seen the strong Christian love, not just at the convention, but in all of her travels. She described “Swimming in the love.. diving in the love of our brothers.”

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Global Reach

Among the thousands of the attendees, some were special pioneers living in the United States and the Caribbean.  A pioneer couple stationed on island nation of St. Kitts, shared their blessings of getting their car into the country without import taxes.  Many attendees were of Caribbean descent, each with a unique story about their path to becoming Witnesses.

Naomie, who migrated from the island nation of Haiti, started pioneering in Miami, Florida, were she grew up as a Jehovah Witness. She and her husband Ben, currently lives in Atlanta area, where she has been pioneering for past 12 years, and Ben serves as a local elder. Naomie’s parent’s were loyal Witnesses in regular full-time service, who encouraged her to  “Think”, and do not accept what she hears from the bible, but research it as well. As a pioneer she encourages everyone in her ministry to research information for answers in the Bible. She shared an important scripture of Matthew 6:33, to “But God’s Kingdom First”.

A fellow member Krishauna,who’s heritage is from Jamaica and Honduras, serves as a special pioneer for 13 years, grew up as a Witness, draws her happiness on making the truth her own. She attended Bethel School at age 19. Krishauna enjoys studying and understanding the truth in Bulgarian. Her multilingual skills have allowed her to preach to the diverse communities in Atlanta, Georgia. As a door to door preacher, she is always aware of unfriendly dogs.

The diversity at this International  convention reflects the diversity  of this religious organization. Many fellow religious sisters and brothers from Russia and Ukraine, enjoyed camaraderie, gifts, and sat next to each other in peace, throughout the weekend. This special convention will take place on July 18-20 and August 1-3 (Spanish), as it celebrates Atlanta’s growing  multi-cultural community.

-Michael Thomas