A report in the 2013 Yearbook implies that a Witness family who survived a plane crash that killed more than 150 people experienced “Jehovah’s hand”

Usually when tragedy strikes, it brings out the very best in people. We remember our common bond of humanity and how easily the precious gift of life can be snatched away from us, and we show sympathy for those who have suffered loss – remembering that we could just as easily have experienced similar calamity.

However, if you are a high-control religious group that wants its followers to believe they have God’s backing, you might not always show the greatest humanity or sensitivity when disaster strikes. In particular, the Watch Tower Society seems to excel in caring only about the welfare of Jehovah’s Witnesses, repeatedly insinuating that such ones enjoy special protection from Jehovah – especially if they put kingdom interests first. A classic example of such self-interest and lack of empathy can be found in the latest 2013 Yearbook, now available for download from JW.org.

Pages 29 and 30 relate an experience from one Witness family whose home was destroyed when a plane crashed into their building in Lagos, Nigeria – killing all 153 passengers and an unknown number on the ground. The following CNN news report reveals the chaos following the accident, and the difficulty in retrieving the bodies from the wreckage…

A newspaper report of the incident can be found here.

It is clear that the timing and location of this tragic crash were entirely coincidental, caused by either mechanical failure or human error. Local residents interviewed in the above report could count themselves extremely fortunate not to have been in the plane’s trajectory when it slammed into the packed Lagos suburb. Most people who heard of the accident all over the world will have felt overwhelming sympathy for those unfortunate to have lost their lives in this unforeseen catastrophe – not to mention their families and loved ones.

While individual survivors living nearby who are religious may feel inclined to thank God that they survived the incident, it is wholly inappropriate for an organization like the Watch Tower Society to attempt to capitalize on the tragedy by implying that one Witness family’s survival was due to divine protection because they had loyally attended their Sunday meeting. While this is not spelled out in the 2013 Yearbook article, it is unmistakably implied.

The final two paragraphs in the article read as follows…

“‘If we had been at home,’ said Chinyere, ‘we would surely have died. After the disaster, we were left with only our meeting clothes, but we have our lives. The circuit overseer immediately set up a relief committee, and the brothers took good care of us. We are very grateful.’
Collins said: ‘My relatives who had been opposed to my being a Witness have changed their minds. One of them told me: ‘Your Jehovah answers prayers. Hold on to your God because he helps you.’ Another person said: ‘Whatever you have been doing to serve God, continue to do it whole-souled.’ We have truly seen Jehovah’s hand in our case. I am very happy.'” – 2013 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses, page 30.

Witnesses reading the above will no doubt point to the article’s title, “The Brothers Took Good Care of Us,” and claim that any sentiments expressed in the experience allude to the gratitude of the family for the way their brothers supported them in the aftermath of the incident. However, when you read the above paragraphs at the end of the article, you notice that the “relief committee” set up for the family by the local Circuit Overseer is just a sidenote in the real purpose of the article, which is to drill home the importance of doing “whatever you have been doing to serve God” – meetings included.

Facebook reaction reveals the true intent

If proof were needed of the true message behind this article, namely that attending meetings will protect you from catastrophic events, this is abundantly supplied by the reaction of ordinary Witnesses in comments made online. When one Facebook group called “Theocratic Ministry School” posted a copy of the experience, the post received over 500 likes. Here are some of the responses from Witnesses…

  • Potebele Solomon We should not forsake our christian;s meeting for any reasons.
  • Ibeh Ndubuisi Godson Our meeting are surely protective
  • Jennifer Chuka This show dat Jehovah deliver his people in a different ways.
  • Fayese Olaitan Abayo Jehovah will keep delivering his ppl
  • Justina Bisade Phillips Jehovah’s name is realy ‘a strong tower’ protecting his people.
  • Keisha Dj-Bubblelic Ious-Stith This is truly a lesson in obedience. This family clearly understood Jehovah’s instructions about not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together. This clearly served as a protection in more ways than just one!
  • Huldah Efenudu Jehovah really saves,cares….
  • Russell Ogbonna Stan firm (in the truth) and see the salvation of Jehovah
  • Makinde Taiwo Jehovah’s hand is never 2 short 2 help and rescue HIS PPLE.
  • Glory Festus It is very gud 2 obey Jehovah and nt 2 mis metings 4 any reasons
  • Eunice Olanrewaju Jehovah really cares about us and he loves us. may we never miss christian meetings cos nothing can be compare to it.
  • Cheryl Lebo Chidoba jehovah provides escape for the loyal….his servants will see what a mighty crag is he#singin# song 131
  • Adaeze Cessa Omoba Jehovah has always been our refuge and he will keep delivering his people

The above comments, which show complete ignorance and lack of empathy for the 150+ non-Witnesses who lost their lives in this tragedy, demonstrate that the true purpose behind the article was achieved. The Society wanted to convey the message that “Jehovah’s hand” protects those who obediently attend meetings, and this is precisely how it was understood by most Witnesses reading it.

In fact, if you are able to view the Facebook page, I would recommend that you take a moment to do so. A few conscientious and sensitive Witnesses actually tried in vain to quell the ignorance of their fellow worshippers by reminding them that “time and unforeseen occurrence befall us all.” (Eccl. 9:11) One poster called Janai Hall was accused of being an apostate simply for trying to be one such voice of reason. Overall, the brainwashed victims of Watchtower propaganda seemingly prevailed against the few who dared to contemplate the incident in context.

Where was Jehovah’s hand in Miami?

Another conscientious poster, Zach Broxton, reminded the Facebook group of a recent tragic accident in Miami on December 1st 2012, in which a bus carrying 32 Jehovah’s Witnesses to an assembly crashed into an overpass, killing two Witnesses and leaving four others severely injured. The JW.org report on the incident is available on this link. An NBC news report of the crash can be viewed below…

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The obvious question would be, “where was Jehovah’s hand when this tragedy happened?” Again, you have Witnesses obediently following the Slave’s instructions to “not forsake” gathering together, but through a freak event they end up paying for their loyalty with their lives.

Both the Miami bus crash and the Nigeria plane crash were tragic accidents that could not have been foreseen. Both resulted in the loss of precious human life – one on a much larger scale than the other. In one of those incidents a Witness family survived by attending a meeting – in the other two Witnesses died and four were injured for showing the same loyalty. It is therefore beyond any reasonable doubt that Jehovah does not grant special protection to Jehovah’s Witnesses who obey the Watch Tower Society by congregating at meetings and assemblies, and yet this is what is unmistakably implied in the 2013 Yearbook article, as evidenced by the reaction of Witnesses on Facebook.

A terrible witness

How would relatives of those who died in the Nigeria plane crash react if they read the 2013 Yearbook?

I shudder to think what relatives of the plane’s 153 crew members and passengers (or indeed those on the ground who died when it collided) would make of the Yearbook article after reading it. Imagine yourself reading the article through their eyes, and seeing one Witness family claim to have experienced “Jehovah’s hand” in the incident because they were spared a horrible death. Likely, you would be distraught by the insinuation that, for some reason, your loved one wasn’t counted worthy enough of Jehovah’s protective “hand,” thus compounding your pain and anguish.

Yes, the Yearbook article is a shocking example of propaganda on the part of the Society. It is a shameless attempt to promote the benefits of being a Witness by exploiting a deadly catastrophe that claimed the lives of many dozens of innocent people. I am only grateful that at least a small number of Witnesses were able to fight the indoctrination, and had the courage and soundness of mind to try to reason with their deluded fellow worshippers who appear to be well and truly under the grip of the Watchtower’s propaganda machine.


70 thoughts on ““We have truly seen Jehovah’s hand” – the shocking side of Watchtower propaganda

  • January 19, 2013 at 8:41 am

    Hi Peter, yes, you make an interesting comment. Such viewpoints are widespread.

    But in the CONTEXT of this DISCUSSION, we must ask: is it acceptable to use tragic occurrences for purposes of propaganda? This is what the WT Society is trying to do.

    Jesus had very different response. When people reported to him about “breaking news” events, he pointed out that it is NOT proper to make deductions about “rightness” or “wrongness” of the victims. You might like to read the account, at Luke 13: 1 – 9. Here is the first part.

    “At that very season there were certain ones present that reported to him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. So in reply he said to them: “Do you imagine that these Galileans were proved worse sinners than all other Galileans because they have suffered these things? No, indeed, I tell you; but, unless you repent, you will all likewise be destroyed.
    Or those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, thereby killing them, do you imagine that they were proved greater sinners than all other men inhabiting Jerusalem? No, indeed, I tell you; but, unless you repent, you will all be destroyed in the same way.”

    In application, Jesus could be saying: WT Society – why don’t YOU look at your need for repentance.

  • January 21, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    I have always thought that God has his day for punishment, Bad things happen to Good people, the other day a sister around here was killed while she was preaching, and brothers and entire families have been killed coming home from assembly’s.

    The text that is cited is the one about unforeseen circumstances and as long as we are in this system things like that are bound to happen.

    The whole premise about being a Christian is that you will not have it easy and that you might have to give up your life to maintain the faith.

  • January 23, 2013 at 1:10 am

    When Abel’s offering to God was more favorable than Cains.
    Cain killed his brother. This happened when very few people lived on the earth.

    Jehovah God could have had an Angel hold back the hand of Cain against his brother. As it happened Cain killed his brother Abel.

    The Watchtower has to be very careful what spin they put on any event, they are not God. Allowing others to comment in an official magazine, giving a perceived slant without qualification, to balanced reporting of other unfavorable outcomes, only encourages gossip and division within the ranks of the Watchtower.

  • January 23, 2013 at 2:25 am

    hello Cedars and All,
    The example mentioned in the yearbook is simple and easy to understand. Had Chinyere not been in the K/H at the time the plane crashed, she would have died. The point is: Being at a place of worship when it is time for it can protect us. What we expect from God today is total spiritual protection and physical protection whenever he chooses to. Even Jesus Christ stated that true Christians will be persecuted. So if someone is physically protected after an accident, it is nothing wrong to give the credit to God.

  • January 24, 2013 at 11:10 am

    Jesus taught us to pray: “deliver us from the wicked one.” So even if we die, if we die faithful, Jehovah has answered our prayer.

    Beyond that, where and when does Jehovah intervene? How could one ever know for a certainty? A person in the Western world prays for help to pay a bill and suddenly money shows up and the bill is paid. Meanwhile a family in an undeveloped country shares a cup of rice and gives thanks to Jehovah for the provision. Where is Jehovah in this situation?

    Of course, our Worship of Jehovah may cause us as fellow Christians to help because that is part of what it means to be a Christian. But did Jehovah directly intervene to pay the bill for the one family, and then not provide sufficient food for the other Christian family who is in extreme poverty?

    When our faith is sustained by these personal evidences of God’s direct intervention, I maintain we have a very weak faith. Of course, a 1000 years from now neither family will be concerned in the least about things that are BIG concerns today because we WILL have direct evidence of God’s intervention in Man’s affairs and every need will be fulfilled. In the meantime, let’s be careful of how we gauge when and if Jehovah intervened in a particular case.

  • January 26, 2013 at 1:59 am

    Hey Cedars,

    I’ve always all written work critically, probably because I was raised to prize knowledge and learning (not raised JW; am JW; no family are JW) and studied literary criticism at uni.

    I’m always quipping alternative readings of what they say at meetings to my husband, who shushes me sometimes, but I see now I’m not the only one who sees the one-sidedness and holes in these texts…

    One thing that strikes me though, is how the FDS always uses the example of Korah’s rebellion against Moses as an analogy for why we dare not question them. Any thoughts? From my independent study of the scriptures, I see that the 1st century Christians had an open climate of healthy discussion of doctrine, and yet they mostly stayed united. Thoughts?


    • January 26, 2013 at 2:07 am

      Hello Julia, yes the over-use of the account of Korah is interesting. In fact, they produced an entire drama dealing with Korah that was released on video (shortly before they switched to DVDs).

      I think they enjoy using the Korah story to reinforce their “no questioning” policy because, like you say, there was a healthy spirit of discussion and transparency in early Christian times. Moses was essentially the undisputed leader of Israel, appointed to office by God, and that is exactly the sort of power the Governing Body aspires to. Also, Moses was imperfect but the Israelites were to follow him without question anyway.

      The only thing is, if the biblical narrative is to be believed, there was a pillar of smoke and fire indicating God’s presence every day of the Israelite’s long trek through the Wilderness, so nobody could rightfully question God’s blessing of Moses’ leadership. The same can certainly not be said of the Governing Body, since there are no obvious or unquestionable signs or miracles indicating divine favour over their leadership, despite their claims to the contrary.

  • January 26, 2013 at 6:25 am

    Hi there Julia, also appreciate your comments, and welcome to the forum. You touched on a key thought when you mentioned openness, and freedom of discussion. Jesus introduced a new way of thinking – global – far different from the narrow-minded, rigid perspective characteristic of the Jewish religious leaders. And, looking at passages in Acts, Galatians etc it took quite some time for the idea to sink in – even among the apostles. Maybe this was a reason behind the choice of Paul – Jesus could see that the converted Paul would throw off all the theological shackles of Judaism.

    The other key was Holy Spirit. There was no disputing that Paul, Peter etc had the power of the Holy Spirit backing them up. And, with Holy Spirit, there was no need for a “Code of Laws” that attempted to legislate even on the minute details of life.

    Looking at the Korah account – it is recorded as a battle over leadership. Korah was a Levite, already enjoying status and privilege, but craved an even more elevated position. We’ll come back to this in a moment.

    Cedars made some excellent points about evidences of appointment. Let’s take this one step further: Moses was receiving instructions directly from Jehovah, who spoke with him “face to face”. So refusal to obey Moses WAS literally rebellion against God, who was represented by the Pillar Of Cloud (Fire by night) and who literally provided miraculous deliverance, food, water etc. We have been told that “Jehovah is the Editor of the Watchtower” but . . . is there any proof that He is the leader of the WT Society? If so – why are the men in Brooklyn making the decisions, and sending letters out “in their own name”?

    Finally – Hebrews reminds us that Moses “was an attendant in God’s House, but Jesus is Son over the house”, and that the house represents the “chosen ones”.

    So – considering the current situation – in what way is there any challenge being made against Jesus? Who is challenging Jesus over leadership?

    In this context, I view the recent pronouncements of the “Governing Body” re their “elevated” position as very revealing.

  • January 31, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    The hand of molestation for sure. Let it nowhere near you if you value your own rights and freedom to think for yourself and get to grips with doing the right thing for its own good. I abandon all references to “The Truth” as anything other than “THE SPEWth” I came to know it as. Like I said elsewhere it is not so easy to rid yourself of its poison as it would a bad meal. Icky stuff that Yaweh slurry!

    “Morality is doing the right thing regardless of what you are told. Religion is doing what you are told regardless of what is right.”(zazzle)

  • January 31, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    Ray, Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater…God and Jesus are still true! Obviously you’ve been burned by the WTS’ teachings but Jesus won’t let it go on forever.

  • February 19, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    I am ex JW and would love to get in contact with someone to exchange experience by telephone on 61 7 3200 4389 or post 19/50 Castile Crescent, Edens Landing, QLD 4207, Australia. Sorry I am not on internet yet. If you have a little love for me please contact me. Your brother in Jesus Christ. Henry

  • April 19, 2013 at 11:17 am

    Many of you are sick in yours heads. You have a guy who is over this site have several issues. One issue is now questioned; and that is why would Cedar POST on another site full of racists and Devil worshipers?

  • April 19, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    Fred Hall April 19, 2013 at 11:17 am
    “Many of you are sick in yours heads. You have a guy who is over this site have several issues. One issue is now questioned; and that is why would Cedar POST on another site full of racists and Devil worshipers?”

    As opposed to belonging to a criminal and murderous, lying, child raping organization who is presently under criminal investigation and indictment as well as constant litigation?

    I’m sure you have evidence to substantiate your claims?

  • June 26, 2013 at 6:29 am

    one can really understand your feelings, but remember that you are not God who sees in secret and have the power to save in any way he chose,being critic and offensive over the matter will make you not to foresee why the Watchtower write what thy wrote. instead try to find out what Jehovah is doing right now in his plan to eradicate completely this type of trouble facing mankind at this time of the end by diligently studying trough your bible and that will help you than disturbing yourself about what is written by the Watchtower for God is not Going to Judge them for doing that

  • July 18, 2013 at 11:53 pm

    I *do* see this as if through the eyes of one of the relatives of the deceased… My husband was killed in an accident at only 33 years of age. I can’t even tell you how terribly it hurts every time someone comments at a meeting about how Jehovah protected them, for whatever reason. To compound matters, my first husband, an elder, died of cancer nine years earlier (I’d been married to my second husband less than 5 years). To compound matters further, an elder familiar with the circumstances of the accident had the audacity to actually write me a letter explaining to me, in detail, how Jehovah would have protected us if we’d been following Bible principles more closely. To compound matters even further than that, I was raised as a JW and yet was molested as a child by a (non-JW) neighbor, despite my childhood prayers to God for help and deliverance. When I brought this up to an elder recently, he basically suggested that I must not have been acting in harmony with my prayers. REALLY? Did he really just pull the “blame the victim” card on a 6 year old child? That conversation took place 2 years after my beloved second husband’s death, when I was trying to explain how the weight of *everything* that had happened to me had simply become too much. I stared at him, open mouthed. It was the beginning of the end, yet even then it was another 5 months before my moment of gestalt, when it literally felt like the scales fell from my eyes and I felt a flooding sense of relief and freedom. Truly, the truth shall set you free.

    And as for the commenter “Peter”, who, on another thread, said, “Don’t blame others for what has happened to you,” I can only say, I absolutely, unequivocally, refuse to continue accepting blame as the victim of these events. Even if only peripherally, by listening to the comments of others, praising God for his loving protection of them.

  • November 22, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    It’s so typical of the WTS to take advantage of a situation to instill fear and judgment. If you stay you will be safe and protected, if you go you will be destroyed either now or later. After you have left, if you suffer for any random reason, it’s Jehovah God punishing you. If you proper, Satan is helping you. And so on and so on. Typical cult mentality, power for the sake of power itself.

  • November 23, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    Cedars, After 26yrs. of this type of thinking (I
    disassociated this year) that I was safe from harm by Jehovah’s hand, and anyone who wasn’t a Witness just got what was coming to them for not being a Witness. But ask yourself, If Jesus himself heard you praising one persons actions over another that met with a tragic advents would HE approve of how you thought? Jesus is the one everyone should be following. Can you imagine OUR LORD and SAVIOR not having compassion for the orphans that were left? The heart break over losing sons, daughters,mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandparents? Would Jesus not feel pity for the injured broken spirits in the community? This is who we AS TRUE CHRISTIANS are! Not just helping our own in a time of need, that’s the easy part. the hard part is extending ourselves to others we don’t know!!
    When was the last time you heard of Jehovah’s Witnesses as an ORGANIZATION feeding the poor. Doing a food drive, helping in a soup kitchen, giving money to the needy. The list goes on but the point is. WHERE is the Christ like qualities In the Organization? Think about it. If you take the preaching work away from Witnesses what do they have left? Christ came to this world to teach and preach and then die for all of man’s sins once and for ALL!
    Jesus did this for everyone weather we except him or not!

  • November 23, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    LOL!! Wow…you just dont get it…YOU are folowing men. Again…just like a witness.. when people dont agree with you, you scream Die Die Die! And… God will get you!

  • November 26, 2013 at 4:06 am

    Is anybody reaching back to this guy?

  • June 24, 2016 at 11:00 pm

    Ironic how JWs preaching backfires due to their Ideological judgementality.

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