Letter to Brethren: May 14, 2015

Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings once more from the Five Cities region of California.  I have been working on putting together messages that I plan to give in New Zealand later this month and messages to give the rest of you next week, as well as working on a variety of internet and literature matters.

Pentecost Coming Up

As a reminder, Pentecost occurs from sunset May 23rd until sunset May 24th.  This is a holy day, and thus we will have back-to-back Sabbaths.

If any of you want to host services for Pentecost weekend, please email me in the next several days so that I can possibly add that to next week’s Letter to the Brethren.

Report From Africa

Kenya-based CCOG Pastor Evans Ochieng sent in the following report:

Pastor Bob,

MONTHLY REPORT

Greetings from Kenya.

Sorry for delaying not to write. I misplaced my modem Thursday last week but one. As from  Friday of that week I had been traveling to confirm the areas where the feast of tabernacles 2015 will take place. I went to Tanzania to confirm where they will do the  feast this year. It is now confirmed that we shall have three sites in Kenya and one site in Tanzania. Kenya sites are Ndhiwa, Transmara and Bomet. Tanzania the feast site will be Utegi… This year we do not confirm Nairobi to be one of the feast site because… we want to sit with them this year so that we can learn together. So They will come to Ndhiwa plus congregation from Eastern Kenya.

LUO MAGAZINE
Luo magazine is almost complete. The translator is just doing some corrections after that I will send it to you. September magazine is also going on. This magazine is having a high demand in Luo.  This demand will force me to add more magazines in the next printing. It has added the value of the work which CCOG is doing in Luo land of proclaiming the gospel amongst this tribe.

SWAHILI TRANSLATION.
It is a great pleasure to in inform you that we have translator who is going to translate our magazines in Swahili. He has started to translate January magazine. After that he will continue with April and September. Swahili magazine is very important because it is serving many tribes in Kenya, Tanzania and Africa at large. When we are lacking it then it is a great lose to the work in Africa. If January magazine is complete, I will send it to you.

CHURCH HISTORY BEING TRANSLATED IN EKEGUSII
Ezekiel Oanda who was translated church history in Ekigusii told me that the translation is almost complete but he wants to revise it again for some corrections. This will be the first book to be translated in Ekegusii. We don’t have magazines in ekigusii. It is good that they understand Swahili better. So most of them are getting Swahili Magazines. That is the reason why Swahili magazine is very important because it is serving many tribes. When we are losing it, then it is a great loss to the church.

VIDEOS PREACHING
I have already talk with Ezekiel Oanda who will teach in Ekegusii, John who will teach in Swahili and I will teach in Luo.  The videos will be taken by Bradox Ouma and I hope  it will work better. If they are ready I will inform you.

CHURCH POPULATION IN AFRICA
The work which CCOG is doing through website, magazines, books and financial support has done a wonderful work in Africa. The number of those who are joining  CCOG is increasing day by day. According to the reports I am receiving from our congregations in Kenya,  The growth in Kenya has exceeded the number that I sent last time by 10% . We have addition of 3 congregations in Kenya. One in Migori, one in Kisii and the other one in Rift valley.

ETHIOPIA AND NIGERIA
The messages which I am receiving from Ethiopia tells that the work in Ethiopia is large. I am planning to visit Ethiopia in July to meet the brethren who have join CCOG in that country. Most of them are from seventh day Church of God. The CCOG website has done a very big work and it has put me to be much committed than my days with my former group.

Most of people who contacting me got the massages from CCOG website. The work we are doing in CCOG has tripled the work which I was doing in the previous group. This is because of a good chain of work.  I will go to Ethiopian Embassy at the end of this month. I have been getting messages from Nigeria for those who have join CCOG. This means that, CCOG has extended and has captured interest in many countries in Africa.

LAPTOPS
The 11 laptops which we got for the first shipment have done a wonderful job to help the work in the church. Translators are getting it easier to translate and to keep records clean. Our representatives are also having a good time to keep records.

We gave 2 laptops to a school. These laptops have done a wonderful work in the school and in the community to open minds to be computer literate. This shows clearly that the work that CCOG in doing is totally smart. And it is a proof that CCOG is fulfilling the work of end time gospel campaign and is preparing people for the second coming of Jesus Christ. …

CONCLUSION
The doors are open in Africa and needs laborers to do the work. The worst thing  in Kenya and Tanzania is hunger. There is a great hunger in the country. Brethren are rich in faith but poor in income. Another thing Kenya is facing many deaths from ALSHABAB (terrorists). Every day people are dying from the hands of these people. Death rate is higher in Kenya from these people and disease that brings the number of orphans to increase day by day. Tribal war is also common in North Rift valley that leads poor living.  In your daily prayers, please pray for our country.

Evans

Of course, Kenya is part of my regular daily prayers, and I am always trying to figure out how much financial support it is possibly prudent to supply.

As far as languages go, we had an excellent volunteer translator for Kiswahili before and look forward to getting more materials in Kiswahili again.  I have been waiting to have materials in Ekegussi for sometime and am glad that this is getting closer.  As far as Dholuo goes, that was the native language of the father of the current President of the USA, Barack Obama and we want more materials in it.

As far as laptop computers go, more were shipped to Kenya by an American member and we hope they will arrive by the end of the month.

Let me add that I learned yesterday that the Kenyan government ended up burning down houses in part of the country which affected several of our members.  And while we do not have a lot of financial resources to in any way resolve that, I intend to send something next Monday to try to help in the interim.

More on Ethiopia

As far as Ethiopia goes, I have remained in contact with them via email, plus mailed some items.  We are trying to see if and how we should work with them.  Now, because of a request from the Ethiopian elder who contacted me, and my own due diligence, I contacted a former CG7-Denver president several weeks ago via email to try to go over related matters.

The former CG7 president and I  also spoke this over the telephone yesterday.

He and I also discussed a request I received from an elder in the African nation of Ghana to attempt to determine whether or not the elder was legitimate or not (that elder said he was part of CG7).  I have long maintained contacts with two CG7 presidents, and also have contacts with the top leaders of several of the other Church of God groups.  Anyway, the elder from Ghana says his group has the funds to send five people to the CCOG Feast of Tabernalces’ site in Denver, Colorado and that they wish to attend.  We will later see if that is the case.

Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada Feast Site

Plans are proceeding for the Feast of Tabernacles this year.

Related to the Double Tree hotel for the Niagara Falls, Feast of Tabernacles site, we received the following hotel link for the Continuing Church of God: http://doubletree.hilton.com/en/dt/groups/personalized/I/IAGDTDT-CCG-20150927/index.jhtml

This would be a place to book rooms through.

World News Events

The US Senate voted against giving its US President the authorization to speed up trade negotiations on Tuesday.  Some in the USA believe this agreement could hurt jobs, while some in Europe seem frustrated as to if the USA will be able to agree on much (see Setbacks for TTIP and TPA: What about TFA?).  The Europeans have also stated that they will NOT compromise on various agricultural matters (mainly involving GMOs and beef).  The Bible shows that a European-based power will make the Gentile world wealthy through trading, so look for the Europeans to get trade agreements internationally and/or regionally, whether or not it gets one from the USA.

In the USA, a new poll reported that there are less Catholics and Protestants there (see PEW: Declines in USA Catholics and Protestants).  Interestingly, as the result of that poll, an article came out stating that if the USA was actually a Christian nation most would not like it (see Time: ‘If America Became a Christian Nation They probably wouldn’t like what it looks like’).  The USA never was a truly Christian nation and it will not become one as it is currently structured.  The USA needs the return of Jesus Christ and the establishment of the kingdom of God for that.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron won re-election (see David Cameron wins–vote in UK on EU to come).  David Cameron has pledged to have a vote for the people of the UK to determine if they want to remain part of the European Union,  There are concerns in Europe and elsewhere that the UK could vote to leave the European Union (see Brexit, Grexit, Scoxit? Plus, FT says UK’s Cameron needs to hold EU referendum sooner than later and UK business on Brexit and a ‘United States of Europe’).  Whether it votes itself out in an upcoming election or not, the Bible shows that the UK will be taken over by the Beast power that will arise in Europe (cf. Jeremiah 30:7; Daniel 11:39; Revelation 13:4).

The Vatican has been in the news on international matters. After meeting with Pope Francis, Cuba’s supposedly atheistic President Raúl Castro said he would consider converting back to Catholicism (see Cuba’s president says he may convert back to Catholicism). Pope Francis himself took steps to increase ecumenical ties with the Coptic Church in Egypt (see Pope Francis’ appeal to Pope Tawadros II should concern Catholics and others) and the Lutherans of Europe (see Pope’s push for unity with Lutherans for 2017: Church of Sweden interest should prove to be a warning to all calling themselves Christian!).

Yesterday, the Vatican also entered into another part of the international arena by recognizing Palestine as a state (see Vatican recognizes Palestinian state).  This goes against the wishes of the USA and Israel, and at least one Israel source considers this recognition to be anti-Semitic.  As I have written before, Bible prophecy shows that various territories currently ruled by Israel will end up in Palestinian hands, and this seems to be beyond what the Vatican has just somewhat recognized.

On other Vatican related matters, Pope Francis stated that he plans to visit Fatima on May 13, 2017 in honor of the 100th anniversary of the apparition that appeared there.  Some hope he will canonize two or three of the three children who claimed to see it (see Fatima may have important prophetic implications).

The Vatican’s agenda is moving forward.

Elsewhere in Europe, Russia and Germany have been in the news (see Russia’s Putin and Germany’s Merkel again meet on Ukraine and what else?).  Various ones in Russia are concerned about Germany and there was a new Russian article warning about Germany’s plans (see Russia celebrates victory over Germany and a Russian warning against current German ambitions).

The basic reality that both Russia and Germany want a world order where they are on top or at least one where the USA no longer has its current top level position.  And while Russia and Germany do not care much for each other, their mutual disdain for USA leadership may well get them to cooperate to eliminate the USA.

Suggested Sabbath Service

Here is our suggested format for Sabbath services 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 that we list each week.

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 Bible News Prophecy channel.

Concluding Comments

The recommended sermonette for next Sabbath brought to mind the following:

2 “Do not say, ‘A conspiracy,’
Concerning all that this people call a conspiracy,
Nor be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.
13 The Lord of hosts, Him you shall hallow;
Let Him be your fear,
And let Him be your dread.
14 He will be as a sanctuary,
But a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense
To both the houses of Israel,
As a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
15 And many among them shall stumble;
They shall fall and be broken,
Be snared and taken.”

16 Bind up the testimony,
Seal the law among my disciples.
17 And I will wait on the Lord,
Who hides His face from the house of Jacob;
And I will hope in Him.
18 Here am I and the children whom the Lord has given me!
We are for signs and wonders in Israel
From the Lord of hosts,
Who dwells in Mount Zion. (Isaiah 8:12-18)

While Jesus said to watch world events, He also said to pray always that we would be accounted worthy to escape certain of them and stand before Him (Luke 21:36).

Of itself, we who should be those spiritually dwelling “in Mount Zion” do not need to worry about ‘Jade Helm 15′ or other ‘conspiracies’  the same way many in the world do.  It is not that there is not deceit in the world or that we do not need to often exercise caution, but we need to realize that our hope is spiritual and that we need to trust God to direct our paths (cf. Proverbs 3:5-6).

That being said, there may well be physical steps that we will need to take prior to the start of the Great Tribulation, which will vary depending upon where we all live.

Sincerely,

Bob Thiel, Pastor and Overseer
Continuing Church of God