Cancer. Valerie Angelo recalls the exact moment her doctor said the word.
“I felt the blood drain from my face,” said the 65-year-old from Honokaa, Hawaii.
Since her diagnosis, Angelo has clung tighter than ever to the hope from the Scriptures that she’s cherished since becoming one of Jehovah’s Witnesses some 45 years ago.
“I do my best to not dwell on what’s happening to me here and now,” said Angelo, of the multiple surgeries and aggressive chemotherapy and radiation treatments she’s endured. “I remember that I’m looking forward to a paradise earth where tears and pain will no longer exist.”
This spring, after two years of holding religious services in a virtual format, Angelo joined millions of Witnesses worldwide, including the hundreds in the Naples area congregations, inviting all to hear about that hope in a Bible-based lecture held at a local Kingdom Hall during the week of April 4, 2022. This special presentation entitled, “Where Can You Find Real Hope?” came at a very special time for Jehovah’s Witnesses locally, who headed back to their meeting places April 1st for the first time in two years.
“We’re overjoyed to be able to come together again in person at this very special time,” said Robert Hendriks, U.S. spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses. “This event takes on a new dimension as we return to our Kingdom Halls and invite our neighbors to join us. It’s very exciting!” Congregations will also offer a videoconferencing option for all congregants and visitors.
Exploring the theme of “real hope” resonates with many who feel hopeless in the face of relentless bad news and mounting problems. For Las Vegas teen Hailey-Ann Seavey, negative thoughts became a vicious cycle before she found some relief. By her sophomore year of high school, painful memories of past trauma left Seavey unable to envision a future worth living for. “I kept cycling through the same negative feelings over and over,” she said. “I thought, ‘If this is how my life is going to be, what’s the point?’”
Seavey confided in a classmate, who comforted her with the Bible’s promise of a future time when pains of the past will plague no one.
Hope began to rise in Seavey’s heart. She started an in-depth study of the Bible and accepted her schoolmate’s invitation to attend congregation meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses; soon, she was sharing her newfound hope with others.
“Learning what the Bible teaches gave me something to look forward to,” said Seavey, now 18. “I feel refreshed and uplifted, and I want others to have that too.”
Mike O’Connell, 70, of Marietta, Georgia, finds comfort in the same Bible promises.
His wife, Dee, contracted COVID-19 last year while hospitalized with a stroke and died just days before their 39th wedding anniversary. “I miss everything about her,” said O’Connell.
Picturing how he will welcome her back in the global resurrection to life on earth as described in Scripture helps O’Connell endure the pain of Dee’s absence.
“I have no doubt I’ll see her again,” he said. “Staying focused on that time keeps my hope alive.”
The 30-minute program “Where Can You Find Real Hope?” was hosted worldwide by congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses in person at local Kingdom Halls. The public was also invited the following week to the annual Memorial observance of Jesus Christ’s death on the evening of Friday, April 15, 2022. Admission to the Memorial is free, and no registration is required. The program can also be followed virtually in videoconference. To find the closest location to you and time please go to jw.org under ABOUT US > MEMORIAL > FIND A MEMORIAL.
“In times like these, we need hope more than ever,” said Hendriks. “Hope helps a person look ahead with courage and confidence to the fulfillment of God’s beautiful promises. That’s why attending one of these special programs can be life-changing.”