Letter to the Brethren: January 25, 2018

Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings from the Five Cities region of California.

Another full week of working to reach and teach (cf. Matthew 28:19-20).

Faith Booklet Now Available in the Serbian Language

Our English booklet, Faith for Those God has Called and Chosen, has been translated into Serbian and is now available.

This booklet was translated by a Serbian, Predrag Mijatovic, who I met twice in CCOG services in Serbia. He also found a few citation errors, which have now been corrected in the English version.

If you can read Serbian (or know someone interested in it), here is a link: Вера за оне које је Бог позвао и изабрао.

On other Serbian matters, when we (my family) were in Serbia in June, we had hoped to be able to come again in 2017, but we could not go. We do expect to attend the first portion of the Feast of Tabernacles in Belgrade, Serbia this year, and would like to try to go there another time before then as well.

Baptisms in Malawi and Mozambique

Evangelist Evans Ochieng sent in the following report related to his trip to Malawi and Mozambique:

Pastor Dr Bob,

Greetings from Malawi.

I am very happy  to inform you that I had a nice trip to Malawi. I was picked at the airport by our representative in Malawi Radson Mulozowa. We arrived in Migowi at 4pm on Thursday. Since the work was too big I held a meeting with our brethren in Malawi who were wanted to be baptized that evening. We had a discussion for 2 hours in Mulozowa’s home. Those who met me for baptism were-

1 Radson Mulozowa

2 Jones Wasi

3 Philip Misanjo

4 Justen Leto

5 Moses Chiphangwi

6 Lizzy Khutupa

7 Blessings Thomas (a primary teacher)

8 ZenzaniKotokwa

9 Piason Mapila

10 Edward Sayenda

11 Milonde Libungwa

12 Tingwilizane Ng’ong’olwa

13 Anne Jelemani

14 Estery Maida

15 Linnly Gremu

16 Estery Libungwa

17 Mary Matabwa

18 Margret Alan

I was very happy when counseling these people. Among them were some old ladies and men whom I thought have learned nothing. But this people were deep in truth and they new the reason why they are need of baptism. I appreciated the work we have been doing in Malawi and the work which our brother Grantone Otieno did during the Feast Of Tabernacles 2017. Grantone did a wonderful work to put all the teachings in place. He touched all the subjects during his days in the Feast of Tabernacles.

I want to appreciate the great work our brother Mulozowa has done in both Malawi and Mozambique with in few years that we choose him to our representative in Malawi. This man has done a wonderful work with a good plan of work. May God bless him for his work.

With the 2 hours of our meeting in Mulozowa’s home, I touched Many subjects and true repentance. One of the attendees decided the next Day not to go for her baptism. Plus another girl was still young but she wanted to be baptized. I did counseling to  her and she noticed the real meaning of baptism and its importance. Since she was still school girl, she decided to wait and not to be baptized at this moment. This girl is a wonderful girl. Her parents did not want her to keep sabbath while the whole family are keeping Sunday. So they chased her out of their home if she has decided to join Continuing Church of God. But the girl accepted our teachings and moved out of their home simply because she wanted to follow the truth. So this girl is now in Mulozowa’s home. I am still thinking how we can assist this girl and if there is a way how we can assist her to continue with her school will be great.

On Friday we took a bus to Mozambique very early in the morning. When we reached at the border I found Mulozowa had already made things good I was not disturbed to go in Mozambique. we went early because I wanted to meet the brethren in Mozambique who wanted the baptism. I took two hours counseling them.

MOZAMBIQUE

I met very many people from Mozambique who wanted to be baptized. I took almost three hours when I was counseling them. Among them was a man who divorced his wife. I took time to talk with him about marriage and the reason why God hates divorce (Malachi 2:15-16) After a long discussion the man decided himself not be baptized till he go back to his wife and talk with her. He said that he is going to take Mulozowa and Matiya to the lady’s home so that they can talk with her deeply about the word of God.

These are the members from Mozambique who were baptized.

1 Wedison Matiya (church representative in Mozambique)

2 James Chilsaya

3 Eneles Matiya (Matiya’s wife)

4 Khahangala Majalende ( chief of Mozambique)

5 Maxwel Banda

6 Estery Chisaya

7 Boston Yonna

8 Patson Mutithe

9 Wilson Alamuson

10 Alamuson Mphinji

11 Margret Chimusoni

12 Regna Khangala

13 Agnes Wisikesi

14 James Rabson

!5 Justen Mphinji

16 Charles Matiya

17 Mary Elliot

18 Gloria Mutithe

“The total number of members who were baptized were 34. 16 members from Malawi and 18 members from Mozambique. Since I became a pastor, this is the largest work of baptism that I have done in my life. Even though it was a big work and tough, it was done perfectly and I thank those who prayed for me during my trip to Malawi. The Baptism was done in a river called Chirewe in Mozambique. it is a big river with plenty of water.I appropriate the joint hands of Mulozowa and Matiya. The rest of members were not baptized because the were still learning. And I want to inform you pastor that the doors are open in Malawi and Mozambique. I did not expect the extent of the work I have seen in Malawi. Let us pray for the work in Africa.

On the Sabbath we met in Malawi. Our brethren from Mozambique came to Malawi. Even though I was but one person, I touched many subjects. The importance of Christian calling and our major work, true repentance, divorce and remarriage, tithing, and the Sabbath.

The Sabbath was wonderful.  The number was 86. Also I met our representative in Zambia, Mr Justin Gonakumoto who came all along from Zambia by bus. We discussed so many things with him concerning the work in Zambia. He told me  that they are not safe if the church is not registered in Zambia. Also he told me that our Magazines are needed to be translated into Chichewa and  Bemba languages so that the people can understand. This is also another problem in Malawi and Mozambique. They need the magazines to be translated in Chichewa so that all people can understand. I talked with both Mulozowa and Justine if they can do that work. They agree that they can do it perfectly. So Mulozowa want the current magazine so that he can start the translation. So please send it to Mulozowa. Since this work in these three countries is big and they are speaking the same language, I beg you pastor to assist so that they can print the magazines in Malawi. This will be safe and cheap. It will be so helpful to these countries.

MEETING

After services I hold a meeting with all our hosts in Mozambique to discuss about the work in Mozambique. I wanted all of them to learn all the truths, I negotiated with Mulozowa that they with meet every month for three days to get teachings from our website and books because I took laptop to Mulozowa and they can use it. Next time when I will be going back I will carry laptop to Matiya and Justin. Another Pentecostal pastor came from northern part of Mozambique 300 miles away. He has been visiting our website frequently. So when he heard  that I am in Mozambique, he came to meet me. we talked much and I told him that I will be back in Malawi in February or march And I will go to his place.

I have so many pictures for baptism and meeting. I will send them later and other in formations.

Evans

As requested, the magazine was sent to Radson Mulozowa to get to of Zambia for translation. We have already produced a small amount of literature in Chichewa, but have never printed materials in Malawi before. Last February, I was able to personally meet Radson Mulozowa, Wedison Matiya, plus Hosea Baulen of Malawi. Currently, we are registered in Malawi and have been working on Mozambique registration

We had Justin Gonakumoto look into what we need to do to be ‘legal’ in Zambia (a country we still have not claimed to have congregations in, but may be able to do so some time this year). So after reviewing that, we sent some funds to work on registering the CCOG in Zambia. We also sent a small amount of funds for food for those in Malawi affected by the armyworms–and because of drought as well, we may to send more.

Furthermore, I told Evans Ochieng that we would support the printing of our magazine and other literature in Malawi (perhaps I should mention that Malawi is the second poorest nation on Earth according to a report that came out this month). Printing literature in Malawi should also help us better teach those in Mozambique and Zambia in accordance with Jesus’ commission in Matthew 28:19-20.

Here are two photographs that were sent:


Malawi and Mozambique baptismal candidates


Mozambique children

Those in Malawi went to Mozambique for baptism.

Let me add here that Evangelist Ochieng sent a short (less than two minute) non-narrated video yesterday, which I uploaded to the CCOGAfrica channel. Here is a link for those who would like to watch it: Baptisms in Mozambique.

Radson Mulozowa sent the following report:

Dear Pastor Bob,
Greetings from Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique.

Let me thank you for sending Pastor Evans to come to Malawi and conduct baptism among other things.

We deeply thank you once again for sending funds that have assisted in roofing Mozambican congregations.

Pastor Evans arrived in Malawi on 18th January, 2018 on Air Malawi  plane. From there we collected a car up to Migowi.

On arrival at Migowi we booked him at Thamanga Lodge which is the usual lodge which we book him when he comes over here.

Thereafter we proceeded to my house where those who were expecting to be baptized met for counseling and questions as to why they need to be baptized in the Church of God.

On 19th January, 2018 we hired a minibus  that took all of us from Malawi including Pastor Evans to Mozambique. The Baptismal ceremony was done in a river in Mozambique called Chilewe. The reason why the baptismal ceremony was done in Mozambique it is because there were old people among those who were baptized who could not make it because of old age. …<

As I reported to you before that armyworms have destroyed our maize.The situation has become worse in the way that there are no rains and crops are dying due to lack of water.Pastor Evans will report much on this.

Many brethren are joining us after hearing the truth which has resulted that there is a need to translate our magazine into Chichewa and Chilomwe and Bemba for the benefit of Zambia  … During this meeting we had our representative from Zambia who comes by bus who has shown an interest to register the church in Zambia and also has shown interest to translate our magazine in Bemba langauge.

Radson Mulozowa’s report also mentioned that Wedison Matiya is having severe health problems (kidney-related if I recall correctly)–so please pray for him.

Radson Mulozowa sent in some photographs related to the baptisms, which I saw, but Photoshop was unable to open them, so they are not included in this letter.

Let me mention here that nearly all of those in Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia who have been affiliating (or starting to affiliate) with us did NOT have a prior Church of God background. So, we have had several trips to Malawi and it is taking time to explain “the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:26). This has been made more difficult because of certain improper cultural traditions there which we have had to explain are contrary to God’s word.

We must, of course, go through those doors that Jesus opens for us, and teach as the Bible instructs.

Jesus taught:

7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write,’These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”: 8 I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. (Revelation 3:7-8)
37 “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-38)
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20)

Brethren, please continue to pray that we will continue to go through the doors that Jesus opens, teaching all we should, and to have more faithful laborers for the harvest.

Jesus also said:

16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them. (Matthew 7:16-20)

Reaching others and having repentance and baptisms do demonstrate those fruits in the Continuing Church of God.

World News Items

The World Economic Forum began in Davos, Switzerland, on Tuesday–which is the same day the US government announced tariffs on certain products from China, South Korea, and other parts of Asia (see US to impose tariffs: China and South Korea unhappy trade targets). That was probably not a coincidence. Trade issues between the USA and other parts of the world are expected–that is part of why they were featured on the cover of the latest edition our BibleNewsProphecy magazine (see BibleNewsProphecy: January-March 2018: Trade Wars!). US President Donald Trump arrived in Davos today and again declared he wanted a post-Brexit trade deal with the UK (see Davos, Trump, Trade, and Brexit).

In Germany, there have been protests against certain US-implicated agricultural practices (see Germans protesting industrial agricultural practices with links to the USA). Also, one German city has temporarily banned new refugees, essentially because of increased crime (see German city says no to more refugees).

The Swedish government is reissuing a brochure on what to do in case of war–and some think that this is also related to concerns about refugees contributing to civil unrest there (see Sweden is preparing for possible external or civil war!). In Estonia, concerns about Russia have that government also sending out information to its citizenry about war (see Estonia preparing for war, while North Korea ransacks farms for WWIII?). These are times of wars and rumors of war (cf. Matthew 24:6-8).

Things are changing in Europe and will not turn out well for the USA (Daniel 11:39), its Anglo-Saxon related allies (Daniel 8:24-25), nations in the Middle East and North Africa (cf. Daniel 11:40-43), and ultimately Europe, itself, as well (Daniel 11:44-45; Revelation 17:12-14).

The Catholic Pope Francis denounced persecution and killing in the name of religion this week, but that disagrees with historical positions and actions by his church (see Pope Francis denounces war and persecution in the name of religion: A change from his church’s historical position and actions?). Despite his statements, the Church of Rome will be involved in murderous persecutions in the future (cf. Revelation 13; see also Persecutions by Church and State).

In other Vatican-connected news, Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in his 18 January sermon spoke on a painted cross which is the work of Salvadoran artist Christian Chavarría Ayala–this cross has seemingly now been adopted as an icon for the ecumenists, including the World Council of Churches and the Vatican (see Salvadorian cross being used as a symbol of ecumenical unity: Could a cross be a mark of the beast?).

A ‘super blood moon’ is expected for January 31, 2018. Yet despite statements from people like the Messianic Mark Biltz, this is not a special message from God (see ‘Super Blood Moon’ expected next week: Mark Biltz claims prophetic ramifications). Christians are not to be dismayed by signs in the heavens like others are (cf. Jeremiah 10). The prophesied time of heavenly signs begin years after the great tribulation (Matthew 24:29; Revelation 6:12-15; 8:5-12; see also Blood Moons, Eclipses, and Prophecy).

Suggested Sabbath Service

Here is a suggested Sabbath service for this week:

Note: If you have a slow internet connection, you can watch these by starting the video, then below it (and towards the right) look for an outline of a gear–if you click on that, it will allow the YouTube video to be played with lower video quality, but at least it will not stop often–you can select a quality as low as 144p. If your internet connection is still too slow (as my home one is) and/or you prefer audio messages to audio-visuals ones, go to the YouTube link for the message, click on SHOW MORE related to the description. You will then see something that says, “Download MP3.” Below that is a link to an MP3 file. Most computers (and even some cellular telephones) will allow MP3 files to be downloaded and played. This is an option we have made available (but we are also looking into ways to improve that as well)–and, of course, we have written article options. Some people have found that if their internet connections are not fast enough, that they can simply listen to the messages that are found at the new Bible News Prophecy online radio channel. IN CASE YOU DO NOT RECEIVE A ‘LETTER TO THE BRETHREN’ FOR ANY WEEK, REMEMBER THAT THERE ARE MANY SERMON MESSAGES ON THE ContinuingCOG channel AND MANY SERMONETTE MESSAGES ON THE BibleNewsProphecy channel. There are also some messages at the CCOGAfrica channel.

Concluding Comments

Brethren, we live in a world were religious tradition is considered more important by most than biblical truth. Notice that Jesus dealt with religious leaders who claimed to believe the Bible, but considered their traditions more important:

1 Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, 2 “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.”

3 He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?  4 For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’  5 But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God” —   6 then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.  7 Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:

8 “These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
And honor Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
9 And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ (Matthew 15:1-9)

Brethren, we all need to put God’s word above this world’s traditions and practices.

Sincerely,

Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer