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Letter to the Brethren: February 9, 2017

Letter to the Brethren: February 9, 2017

Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings from Kenya.

I have been here for a couple of days, meeting with leaders, videoing, and holding the Continuing Church of God (CCOG) leadership conference here.

Africa on the Internet

Before I left for Kenya, I decided to work more on issues related to Africa and the internet.

While relatively few of our members in Africa actually have computers, many sometimes do have temporary internet access.

It has been our plan for years to have a website focused on Africa. We bought a URL for that purpose a couple of years ago, but because of legal disputes involving two companies (which we are not party to), we have not been able to use it (nor have thousands of other organizations that wanted to use the same gTLD, Generic Top Level Domain for Africa).

I checked last Friday, and the resolution between the factions regarding African domain names did not appear to be close.

So last Friday afternoon, we decided to purchase a different domain name. We are now in the process of determining content and establishing a home page.

Nairobi, Kenya

Sunday, I drove nearly 200 miles to Los Angeles airport to be able to fly to Nairobi (this is not a direct flight).

Tuesday, I arrived in Nairobi, Kenya with the maximum allowable weight of two checked bags (50 pounds each, for a total of 100 pounds).

The bags contained some clothes and personal items, but mainly contained printed literature and seeds.

Bag one only contains CCOG literature

Bag two contains seeds, CCOG literature, a Feast of Tabernacles’ banner, and personal items

I brought over 173,000 heirloom, non-GMO, vegetable seeds (these are seeds which produce future seeds which are capable of producing future plants). The seeds themselves are not heavy like the literature is. I knew that taking in the seeds was a possible risk, but since they were packaged and non-GMO I felt that it was worth the risk to take them in order to try to assist some of our struggling brethren in Kenya.

Literature brought included booklets, magazines, and song books, in multiple languages.

Additionally, I brought ten flash drives that contain our English language booklets, plus the Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God, as well as a Bible Hymnal template, so those in Africa could possibly use them in order to translate materials into various local languages. I also gave a flash drive to Aleksandar ‘Sasha’ Veljic to bring to Serbia for those there to be able to translate.

In Nairobi, all of the leaders have been getting to know each other (there are leaders from all the Africa countries that I had not met before), go over doctrines, go over church differences, go over priorities, discuss/handle ordinations, and go over plans to better reach Africa (Matthew 24:14; 28:19-20). I also specifically encouraged the African leaders to make a point of covering all the words of Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20) in their local languages (we have already done this in English and have sermons that cover the entirety of Jesus’ words (those sermons can be found at the ContinuingCOG YouTube channel).

We still have a lot to do in Africa, but we are successfully making progress.

By the way, internet access in Kenya is always difficult (plus my schedule is quite full), so I apologize to those who have expected an answer to their emails that was either short or has not yet been able to happen.

Ordinations, Anointing, and Recognitions

It has been my view, as well as the view of various others in the Continuing Church of God, that since he has been doing “the work of an evangelist” (2 Timothy 4:5), that Pastor Evans Ochieng Kisiengo should receive an ordination as an evangelist. That has been my plan for some time, and since I have been in Kenya, that was possible.

Before I came to Kenya, Pastor Ochieng asked me to approve his request for several ordinations, which I tentatively did before arrival after asking Pastor Evans some questions.

Jesus said:

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)

Most of you brethren realize that I have long urged you to pray for more laborers for the harvest.

Well, we now have several more ordained laborers. We prayed that God would grant more of His Holy Spirit to the following as they were ordained in the roles listed after their names:

Tiongik Sawek, Pastor
William Kirui, Pastor
Ezekiel Oanda Ombaso, Pastor
Martin Wanga, Pastor
Aleksandar Veljic, Elder
Nimrod Ondigo Ochieng, Deacon
Kennedy Odhiambo, Deacon
Erina Anyango Obonyo Deaconess

All those mentioned were anointed with oil and had hands laid upon them.

Before going to Nairobi, Pastor Evans Ochieng asked me to consider providing recognition of certain others who had previously been ordained.

So, I looked into this more.

Many do not realize that even though David was anointed king by Samuel, this was a private anointing (1 Samuel 9:27, 10:1; 16:9) and not accepted across Judea or Israel (despite the fact that God accepted it as He initiated it).

Saul actually tried to kill David at least twice after David had been anointed (1 Samuel 19:10-11, 20:33), and David decided that he had to flee for his life (1 Samuel 20:33-42).

Saul’s anointing was public and well known, but David’s apparently was not.

David was actually anointed king three times. The first via God through Samuel (1 Samuel 16:1-9), which was a fairly private affair.

The second time, years later and after Saul died, was by the men of Judah (2 Samuel 2:4). The third time was by the elders of Israel (2 Samuel 5:3).

So, we see a precedent where some have been anointed more than once for the same basic role, as well as being anointed by those of seemingly lessor positions.

With that in mind, the following were publicly re-anointed:

Rosemary Akinyi Ochieng, Deaconess
Samuel Ofusu Gyeabour, Overseer
Bob Thiel, Worldwide Overseer

We wanted all to realize that these individuals have been anointed and publicly recognized in their roles.

All the ordained and recognized were granted certificates of ordination and/or recognition. I signed all but one–mine, which was signed by Evans Ochieng Kisiengo and Samuel Ofosu Gyeabour (they had laid hands upon me for the public anointing).

How will the work of God be done?

6 “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel:
‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’
Says the Lord of hosts.
7 ‘Who are you, O great mountain?
Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain!
And he shall bring forth the capstone
With shouts of “Grace, grace to it!”‘ (Zechariah 4:6-7)

41 ‘Behold, you despisers,
Marvel and perish!
For I work a work in your days,
A work which you will by no means believe,
Though one were to declare it to you.’ (Acts 13:41)

Please believe that God is directing His work and allow Him to direct your life (cf. Proverbs 3:5-6).

Pray that God will be able to work with all of our leaders, ordained or not, so that we can properly shepherd the flock (Acts 20:28) and keep false doctrines from affecting the brethren (Ephesians 4:11-16).

World News Items

The United States and Iran have exchanged words following a missile that Iran tested (see Iran defiant against USA and announces dropping dollar). After US President Donald Trump announced a temporary ban on issuing visas to Iranians and nationals of six other predominantly Muslim countries, Iran announced that it was going to drop its use of the US dollar (see again, Iran defiant against USA and announces dropping dollar). While Iran is not that major of an international economic player, as more nations have concerns about the USA, expect to see more of them trying to free themselves of the need to use as many US dollars. The Trump Administration has since announced new sanctions against Iran, and Iran has again conducted more missile tests (see Iran again defies USA with more military tests). Iran is likely to find Donald Trump a tougher opponent than the last president of the USA and may well regret some of its provocations.

There has been renewed violence in Eastern Ukraine, with Russia and Ukraine blaming each other for the start of the escalation (see Violence escalates in Eastern Ukraine: a test for the USA?). Russia has indicated that it hoped that economic sanctions against it will be lifted, but the US Ambassador to the United Nations said that would not happen unless Russia left Crimea (see see again, Violence escalates in Eastern Ukraine: a test for the USA?)–which Russia is in not way intending to do. The Bible tells of an end time configuration of the Kings of the Medes (Jeremiah 51:11-32) and this would seem to include Russia, Crimea, and at least parts of Ukraine.

The Europeans have been meeting, essentially to figure out how to move forward because of Brexit and the Trump Administration (see also Dismantling the EU and NATO?). Essentially, European leaders want greater unity (though that will always be an issue per Daniel 2:41-43), a stronger military (which will happen per Daniel 11:39-43 and Revelation 13:4), and more international trade (which they will get cf. Revelation 18), while at the same time expecting the USA to defend them via NATO. The Bible tells of an Israelite power that will be betrayed by friends (Lamentations 1:1-2) and that will happen to the USA and UK–but not for at least four years from now. While the end is not yet (Matthew 24:6), events are aligning.

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 many who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one. The one suggested for this week is by Herb Haddon: Fate or Predestination? 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: Exercises in Faith. 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 new Bible News Prophecy online radio channel.


Concluding Comments

Consider the following:

25 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?”

27 So he answered and said, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’”

28 And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”

29 But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.  31 Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.  32 Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.  33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion.  34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.  35 On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’  36 So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”

37 And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:25-37)

Brethren, we are trying both physically and spiritually assist our neighbors in Africa. Thank you for your physical and spiritual support.


Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer