MW-NM-110514-Fitzgerald-&-reporter

Solving Human Problems

These days, everyone is trying to improve their exterior with ab workouts, wrinkle creams and ED drugs. But what about the inside of a person? How does one better the person within the skin?

That opportunity is available for the next two weekends at Hawaii Convention Center, as Jehovah Witnesses (JW) brings perhaps the state’s biggest convention of the year to town, with more than 24,000 delegates from 10 countries.

mw-nm-110514-fitzgerald-reporter

mw-nm-110514-fitzgerald-reporter
Picture 1 of 2

David Fitzgerald speaks with a reporter

“The program is a workshop for families — all kinds of information. There is no religious ceremony or revival or call out begging for money,” explains David Fitzgerald, an elder in the organization and convention spokesman. “It is talks, re-enactments and demonstrations to make it lively and interesting, because these are rough times, and families need to know how to cope and how to deal with life’s pressures in the best way, and give guidance to their family.”

Programs during the day are free and open to the public, and cover a variety of issues, from how to balance your career while raising a family and how to find the right mate, to basic lessons on morality and good health.

In addition to the life lessons, there will be two theatrical productions that will bring a Bible story to life and provide guidance on how to treat others in the workplace.

This is the last of 190 conventions held this year by JW, according to Fitzgerald, and the first one held in Hawaii since 2009. This year is special to JW because they believe this is the 100th anniversary of Jesus Christ beginning his rule of Earth.

For those unfamiliar with JW, besides seeing their smiling faces walking around neighborhoods handing out tracts or their magazine The Watchtower, they originated in the 1870s in Pittsburgh. They formed out of the Bible Student movement with their own interpretation of the Bible, and have been growing ever since.

Currently there are about 8 million believers worldwide, and its international appeal can be seen in the delegates, who will begin arriving here this week. Australia, Japan, Korea, the Philippines and five nations from South America will be represented at the convention, with each group using a translator for the day’s programs.

“People of many faiths pray for God’s Kingdom,” says Fitzgerald, who has been a JW his whole life. “This convention will explain what that kingdom is and how it can be a positive influence in our lives. A highlight of the program will be the keynote address on Friday morning, which will discuss how that kingdom is benefiting people today.

“A core belief of JW, based on Biblical and historical information, is that Jesus Christ began to rule as the King of God’s Kingdom in 1914. This convention marks this year as the centennial of that event.”

Locally, there are 90 JW congregations, with approximately 9,700 members, and they will be helping to welcome the delegates in true Hawaiian style: lei at the airport, serenades by ukulele and keiki hula demonstrations. They even plan to have a Lua Patrol, whose job will be to prepare the public restrooms ahead of the delegates’ arrivals on the bus tours to our local sites, ensuring they are extra clean, equipped with gift baskets and occasionally accompanied by local music performed live by local believers.

While the impact they hope to have is of a more eternal variety, one cannot ignore the immediate financial one this convention will have on the Islands.

They already have chartered 240 buses from Roberts Hawaii to take the delegates on four different tours of Oahu, and while that will spread a lot of dollars around the state, Fitzgerald believes the bigger feeling will be that of the aloha JW bring with them everywhere they go.

“During the weeks of this convention, if you are to walk around Waikiki or especially if you come to the convention, it is the best atmosphere,” says Fitzgerald. “Everyone is happy, smiling, joking and some are almost giddy because it is such a cool, cool feeling to be in that kind of environment with those kind of people. No cuss words, no people losing their temper, just a really cool atmosphere.”

They like to live their lives as examples, rather than preach how you should live yours. So if you are seeking a new, better you, Fitzgerald encourages anyone to join them.

“There’s something for everyone,” says Fitzgerald. “Who isn’t looking for answers to life’s big questions? That’s what this convention is all about: finding satisfying answers.”

To download a complete program schedule, go to honoluluconvention2014.com. The program will be the same both weekends. For more information locally, call David Fitzgerald at 554-0545 or email david@JWHawaii2014.org.