Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:
Greetings from Grover Beach, California.
The Days of Unleavened Bread went well here.
However, during them, I decided to make a new Passover service which is intended to be used next year (and maybe even this year for those who will take “second Passover’). Because of doing that, the sermonette recommended for this Sabbath will be by deacon Richard Close.
Reports From Bomet and Gamella
Pastor Tomas Koskey sent the following report from Bomet, Kenya:
dear bob thiel greeting in you jesus name ! passover went well here atbomet kenya 15 people attended the congregation we are safe fromcorona virus we are praying God to protect is people. thank you tomaskoskey
Glad to hear they were able to conduct services for Passover.
Deacon Koang Deng sent the following from Gambella, Ethiopia:
The reports we have, thus far received, indicated that the Days of Unleavened Bread and Passover went well in many parts of the world.
Because of problems due to government restrictions related to COVID-19, there are more hunger and economic problems many in Africa are facing.
While we appreciate your love for the brethren and the fact that many of you wish to help financially, let me add here that while we will not prohibit people from sending money to whoever they wish, we ask that all funds for Africans, Haitians, etc. be sent directly to CCOG (either in the USA, Canada, or New Zealand) and that we, in turn, send the funds as that is really the best way to prioritize the needs in these regions. Not doing that, by instead sending to individuals, can cause problems of various types.
Anyway, this morning I received the following from Pastor Tiongik Sawek:
Greetings and Thanks Givings
receive greetings in the name of Jesus Christ. We have very much grateful for the support you supported us for food because this was done like in the book of (1st Corinthians 16:1, Acts 11:25-29). This was wonderful we have never received a support of this kind for many brethren were able to receive assistance, we really thank the continuing church of God. The distribution was not same due to the fact that some families have about ten children (larger) while others are smaller (have only one child) while others are single families . we were also not able to forget widows and orphans. i followed your instructions that this support should include Kabolecho, Chilani, Takitech and Motosiet. Evangelist Ochieng was also happy and advised us to reach all our members, otherwise we were experiencing a severe hunger due to unfavorable weather conditions and that led to poor harvest. you will receive a few photos.may the lord bless youpastor sawek.
Glad we have been able to provide assistance.
While we cannot solve all hunger or economic problems in Africa, we strive to follow the biblical admonitions to “not withhold good from those to whom it is due, When it is in the power of your hand to do so” (Proverbs 3:27) and “as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10).
Second Passover Correction
As mentioned last week, because of last minute government restrictions, translation issues, and communications’ barriers, many in Africa were not able to attend a Passover service. Those who were unable (as opposed to unwilling) to keep the Passover then, are authorized by scripture to keep the Passover a month later (Numbers 9:1-13).
May 7th, after sunset, is the 14th day of Iyyar on the Hebrew calendar. That would be the time for the ‘second’ Passover.
However, in the letter emailed, the date was incorrectly listed as May 13th, after sunset. We apologize for the error. But again, for 2020, the date for ‘second Passover, is May 7th, after sunset.
On related matters, we are getting some materials translated into Chichewa so support the brethren in Malawi and Mozambique for this. Even if lockdowns are ended in those nations by then, the materials could be helpful for the future.
Feast of Tabernacles in 2020
Some have wondered if we plan to hold the Feast of Tabernacles in 2020, and the answer is yes.
Because of COVID-19 concerns, there may be issues in various locations.
At this instant, we still hold the Feast of Tabernacles in all countries we have indicated.
However, there may be changes in location and how we can conduct services. But we will still intend to hold services for the Feast of Tabernacles and encourage all who can attend to attend.
For those in the US, let me add that we are working on a backup plan in the event hotels are unable or unwilling to have group conferences in October.
In 2020, Feast of Tabernacles’ services are to begin the evening of October 2nd and continue until the Last Great Day which is October 10th.
Information on the expected general locations is included in our article: Feast of Tabernacles’ Sites for 2020.
World News Items
Many countries and all US states are under some form of emergency declarations because of the novel coronavirus (see All US states under federal disaster declaration, claimed US coronavirus death count exceeds 20,000, and 16.8 million more unemployed). US actions and statements about it have upset Germany, the European Union, and many around the world (see Trump cutting off WHO funding, Germany, EU, and parts of the world upset; $10.5 trillion added to US debt?).
Parts of Europe and the US are looking to see how to reopen some aspects of the economy–yet many do not think life will easily return to pre-COVID-19 ‘normalcy.’ (see Nations and States looking to ease COIV-19 restrictions, but …).
In Europe there are concerns that COVID-19 is setting up for the possible rise of a dictatorship (see Coronavirus: Acceptance of non-democratic police state and the end of the European Union? and VOA: Hungary: The EU’s First Dictatorship? Politico: Blank checks, taboos and bazookas: Inside the global battle to prevent another depression; COGwriter: The real EU dictator will be worse than Adolf Hitler). We are already seeing more totalitarian restrictions, and they are even being enforced by drones in various parts of the world (see ‘US, European Cities Turn to “Talking Drones” From China to Enforce Social Distancing’).
Another negative aspect of the coronavirus is that instead of repentance, online viewership of pornography has increased (see NCR: ‘Demonic Deal’: Pornography Industry Targets the Isolated in Coronavirus Pandemic).
Suggested Sabbath Service
Here is a suggested Sabbath service for this week:
- 2-3 hymns (our songbook, The Bible Hymnal, contains the materials from the 1974 Bible Hymnal from the old WCG with new covers, plus ten additional hymns; there is also some Choral Accompaniment online).
- Opening prayer.
- Sermonette, which for most who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one. The one suggested for this week is: The Bible is our GPS in this life. Other sermonettes are available at the Bible News Prophecy channel.
- Announcements (if any; though for many it will be this letter) and one hymn.
- Sermon, which for most who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one. The one suggested for this week is: Fourth Horseman, COVID, and the Rise of the Beast of Revelation. Other sermons are also available at the ContinuingCOG channel.
- Final hymn.
- Closing prayer.
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 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 Bible News Prophecy channel. There are also some messages at the CCOGAfrica channel.
The Days of Unleavened Bread for 2020 are past.
But that does not mean that we should not be vigilant to remove sin from our lives.
Apostle Paul wrote:
1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. (Romans 6:1-13)
Brethren, strive to live as a true Christian who does not wish to tolerate personal sins and present yourselves as instruments of righteousness to God. Put at least some of what you hopefully learned during the Days of Unleavened Bread into practice.
Pastor and Overseer