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Letter to the Brethren: January 20, 2022

Letter to the Brethren: January 20, 2022

Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings from Grover Beach, California.

We have started to contact potential locations for the Feast of Tabernacles in the USA. Currently, we are looking towards the center of the country, in southern Missouri.

We had originally been thinking about a California location if my family and I went to Australia for the first 1/2 of the Feast. However, because of strict Australian restrictions still being in place, we decided that we could wait no longer for that government to more fully open up. And since California is not centrally located, there was no reason to consider a site there if we were not going to Australia.

It is imperative that we begin the process for a suitable site in the USA now. This need was also confirmed by a company who responded to us yesterday that available meeting locations are already becoming more limited and that we should attempt to finalize the USA Feast of Tabernacles’ location for 2022 soon.

Now, that does not mean that we may not have another USA-related site, such as in Puerto Rico. But for our main USA site, we do need to begin the process, and we have now done so.

On a somewhat related matter, we are also trying to think about speakers for the USA and Canadian sites–I spoke to a couple of men this week in those lands, and hope to speak to a couple more men in the next few weeks.

That being said, we are still trying to figure out how to help Australia have functional festival site in 2022–it is possible that someone else may give live or in-person sermons to the interested there.

We plan more updates in a future Letter to the Brethren.

Remembering Richard Close

Both myself and CCOG elder Sasha Veljic had been thinking about remembering the late CCOG deacon Richard Close by pointing to some of his messages.

The immediate result are the message we are recommending for this upcoming Sabbath.

The first message is one given by Richard Close at the Feast of Tabernacles in Canada in 2021.

Here is a link: My Yoke Is Easy and My Burden Light?

And the second message is one that Richard Close intended to give, that Sasha Veljic gave last Sabbath based on notes of what Richard Close wanted to say in a sermon. Here is a link: Richard Close message: Jesus the Adopted Son of God.

Furthermore, this Sabbath, I plan to do a full sermon with about 1/2 of it based on notes from a sermon that Richard Close put together, and expect it to be the recommended sermon for the following Sabbath.

Reaching Youth in Mozambique

CCOG deacon Radson Mulozowa sent the following report:

Greetings Dr BobLet me report that I made a visit to Mozambique to speak at the youth meeting of the church youthLet me report that the meeting went well and the youth were very happy to hear the messageI talked about the youth behavior and dating.They have requested that they will organise a five days meetings so that I can visit them againBest regardsRadson

We strive to reach all we can and work to “turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers” (Malachi 4:6).

As far as dating goes, CCOG evangelist Evans Ochieng mentioned that our booklet, Dating: A Key to Success in Marriage, a practical dating guide for Christians, has been popular in Africa.

How Did CCOG Spend Your Donations in 2021?

Jesus said, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).

In the Continuing Church of God we really do focus on others and reaching the world with the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.

CCOG income received in 2021 was up 9.7% from 2020.

How was that spent?

Overall, if you sent the CCOG a check for US$100.00 in 2021 here is how it was spent:

  1. Internet proclamation 6.92
  2. Printed publications 20.49
  3. Video and animation production 2.68
  4. Foreign final phase of the work 4.60
  5. Broadcast Radio 0.81
  6. US Feast of Tabernacles’ costs and travel 3.26
  7. Administration and legal expenses 0.11
  8. Salaries, health insurance, and retirement plans for US leaders 0.00
  9. Support to Europe 1.96
  10. Support to or for Africa, Haiti, and the Philippines 59.17

Yes, most of our money goes to support the physically and spiritually poor as we work to fulfill Matthew 24:14, Romans 11:25, the Ezekiel Warning, and Matthew 28:19-20.

Here are some longer explanations of each of the categories:

  1. Internet proclamation includes paying for servers, URL fees for websites, video platforms (like Vimeo), and our Google and Microsoft campaigns to reach people around the world. The Google campaign has now made over 99 million computer impressions with parts of the Philadelphian message in 2021! The Microsoft campaign, which targets 7th day Sabbath keepers, has had over 152,000 computer impressions in 2021. Between all of our websites, online platforms, and campaigns we reached computers and cell phones over 100,000,000 times in 2021.
  2. Printed publications include the production, printing, and distribution of the BibleNewsProphecy magazine in various languages as well as various books and booklets. The costs here also include formatting non-English literature in forms that it can be available on the internet as well as forms to allow it to be printed in the USA and Africa. The good news is supposed to be “published” (Mark 13:10, KJV/AFV) and we are doing that in both the Western and Eastern Hemispheres.
  3. Video and animation production covers the costs to produce the BibleNewsProphecy videos, CCOG animations, the Behind the Works video, and the creation of DVDs that are sent to some international locations for the Feast of Tabernacles. It also, sometimes, includes cost for sermon production–but those costs are negligible. These videos are one of the major ways we reach people around the world. Because we mainly use free platforms, we do not have to spend massive amounts here.
  4. Foreign Final phase of the work expenses (professional fees, government fees, and travel) are generally for non-USA matters (essentially long-term proclamation matters related to Romans 9:23-28 and 11:23-28; see also The Final Phase of the Work). We are making contacts and working with various government, NGO, and private organizations in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. US expenses related to the final phase of the work are in other categories (like printed publications and internet expenses).
  5. Radio expenses are basically fees we pay to broadcast the good news of the Kingdom of God on commercial radio stations. Our online internet radio is covered by New Zealand (so not shown here) and US radio guest appearances are essentially free (sometimes a minor telephone cost, which is included under Administrative expenses).
  6. US Feast of Tabernacles’ costs include what the hotel charges for the meeting room and some travel and other expenses. This category also includes other travel, which tends to be low. An example of US travel would include costs associated with the late deacon Richard Close making baptizing and counseling tours.
  7. Administrative expenses. This tends to include a few office supplies, mandatory government fees, and telephone costs. My business office does NOT charge the CCOG for use of space, electricity, postal machine use, etc.
  8. Salaries were not paid to leaders in the USA. People such as myself, the late Richard Close, Steve Dupuie, Louis Rubin, Bill Wedekind, Terry Nelson (who went to Africa on CCOG’s behalf in 2021), and our Spanish language translators are not paid—we all have freely donated time. Nor have we paid their spouses. Nor have we funded any retirement nor health insurance plans. That being said, we are not opposed to paying salaries for ministers, but simply have not needed to as we have had volunteers.
  9. Europe, via Serbia. Those funds provide ministerial and other support, including producing messages and materials (electronically) to reach people, not only in Eastern Europe, but also around the world.
  10. Support for Africa, Haiti, and the Philippines includes paying for ministerial expenses to reach and teach, travel to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God, printing some literature, certain translation expenses, distributing literature, meeting space assistance, supporting the poor (Galatians 2:10; Romans 12:13; cf. James 2:14-16; Hebrews 13:16; Isaiah 58:7; Proverbs 28:27), including widows and orphans (James 1:27). While most of the direct support for Haiti comes from the Canadian office, the US office helps advise on this, sometimes also directly sends funds. Philippine expenses were minor. The vast bulk of the money in this Support category goes to Africa as that is where the vast majority of our members reside and many fruits are being produced. This includes ministerial travel, literature distribution, local congregation support, and poverty support. The Bible is clear that the fulness/full number of the Gentiles must come in before Jesus returns (Romans 11:25; see also What About Romans 11:25 and the Full Number of the Gentiles? ) and our spending reflects our seriousness in working to help this get accomplished.

The vast bulk of funds are spent to preach, reach, and teach, with nearly all the rest to support the poor and widows.

The fact that we made over 100,000,000 computer impressions (which would be on computers, tablets, and cellular telephones) with our messages on computers all around the world in 2021 is a record for us.

It appears that never before in Church of God history have so few helped so many with so little for so long in order to have the impact that the Continuing Church of God is having.

We strongly believe that whatever you send is well spent to support the Philadelphian remnant as we work on Matthew 24:14 and Matthew 28:19-20 while we strive to be ready for the short work and our part in the final phase of the work.

Hear the words of Jesus:

 2 … The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. (Luke 10:2).

Pray for more laborers for the harvest as we push forward to do the work.

Thank you for your support.

We expect to send out donation receipts to USA donors next week.

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 Bible News Prophecy online radio channel.


World News Items

Last Sunday, thousands of mainly Protestant pastors protested a new Canadian law against LGBTQ “conversion therapy” (see Fox: More than 4,000 pastors protested against Canadian law that describes biblical morality as a ‘myth’). Many do not accept the biological science related to aspects of human sexuality and gender.

China announced that it has been using a computer-generated model to give the news for 70 days (see Deepfakes: China Unveils AI News Anchor That’s Almost Indistinguishable From a Real Human). The Apostle Paul warned that deceivers would get worse in the last days (2 Timothy 3:13), and as we warned before (watch also Lies and Deepfakes), it is likely that Satan’s allies will use “deep-fakes” in the future to make it appear that Church of God leaders are making statements and/or taking actions that they did not take. The technology to do so now clearly exists.

China has been stockpiling food, and Tonga now needs some food because of the recent volcanic eruptions there (see China’s food-hoarding is creating a global famine; Is it the Messianic prophecy of Amos?). The changes to Tonga in this past week are a stark reminder that no matter how calm things may seem, they can change quickly. Please put those affected in Tonga in your prayers.

On the perimeter of Europe, there are many tensions related to Russia and Ukraine. This is one other matter that is sending a message that some Europeans believe means that Europe needs to be able to defend itself from Russia without USA assistance (see ‘Even Without War, Russia Has Defeated Europe Already’).

As far as European Union goes, various ones suspect that its currency, the Euro, as challenging the US dollar as the primary global currency of the world (see ZH: Euro Challenges USDollar As Global Currency). The time will come when the USA dollar will be completely dethroned and worth no more than the scrap and/or novelty value of the cotton-paper its currency is composed of.

Concluding Comments

In Romans 11, verse 25, the Apostle Paul wrote the following:

25 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. (Romans 11:25)

Brethren, before going further, consider that according to Jesus, it is the Laodiceans that are wise in their own eyes (cf. Revelation 3:14-18)–and the bulk of the Laodicean Christians that do not properly accept the fulfillment Romans 11:25 as being necessary.

The Apostle Paul also wrote:

14 … Judeans, 15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, 16 forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16)

Many today, instead of forbidding it like the Jews, downplay and/or ridicule reaching Gentiles in places like Africa. But, they do not seem to understand that the Bible teaches that WE MUST INSTRUCT MANY (cf. Daniel 11:33) INCLUDING GENTILES!

The Apostle Paul also wrote:

26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:

“The Deliverer will come out of Zion,
And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
27 For this is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.” (Romans 11:26-27)

So, in the sequence of Romans 11, we see the full number of the Gentiles will come into the faith (Romans 11:25), prior to Jesus’ return (Romans 11:26).

The late Pastor General of the old Worldwide Church of God, Herbert W. Armstrong, taught the following about Romans 11:25:

Now I want you to study carefully one of the most wonderful, important chapters in all the Bible — the 11th of Romans. … Verse 23 says those who abide not still in unbelief shall YET receive salvation. … Now study carefully beginning verse 25: “Blindness in part is happened to Israel [HOW LONG? Forever? No — note it], UNTIL the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” — the end of this age during which God is calling a people from among the gentiles to bear His name (Acts 15:14). And so, says Romans 11:26, “all Israel SHALL BE SAVED [how?]: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” The Deliverer, Jesus Christ, is coming again!

When He comes, the gentile times will be over — the BLINDNESS will be removed from the Israelites — and their opportunity — their FIRST chance — of salvation will then come to those whom God had blinded! This is at the time when He comes to REIGN on HIS THRONE — the throne of David, with the saints made immortal reigning and ruling with Him — and the time is DURING THE THOUSAND YEARS!

Notice verse 31. These blinded Israelites have not now, in this age, received mercy, that through the mercy of the gentiles saved in this age, they MAY, THEN, obtain mercy and salvation. How? Because these saved gentiles will then be kings and priests, assisting in this wonderful Work! (Armstrong HW. Where Will The MILLENNIUM Be Spent? Tomorrow’s Word magazine, September 1971, p. 5)

25: “Blindness in part is happened until Israel”-HOW LONG? Forever? No-note it-“UNTIL the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” -the end of this age during which God is calling a people from among the Gentiles to bear His name (Acts 15: 14). … These blinded Israelites have not now, in this age, received mercy, that thru the mercy of the Gentiles saved in this age, they MAY, THEN, obtain mercy and salvation. How? Because these saved Gentiles will then be kings and priests, assisting in this wonderful work! (Armstrong HW. Where Will The MILLENNIUM Be Spent? Plain Truth, February-March 1954 , pp. 4-5)

(25) For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel [or that part of Israel, meaning the great part, the big part — all but a few, have been blinded. It’s the big part actually] until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. [Or the number of Gentiles to be converted becomes complete — as other translations have it] (Armstrong HW. Romans 11-13. Bible Study, June 27, 1980)

Clearly, we are much closer to the time when all the Gentiles are to come in to later be kings and priests than when those articles were published (see also: Christians are to Rule).

More of the Gentiles had to be called and converted– and that is happening now!

The CCOG has nearly 6,000 Gentiles, which compares to about 300 or so in early 2014. CCOG has been the fastest growing x-WCG COG in the 21st century.

Sadly, many people are affected by prejudices and other factors which stop them from acting on the truth and supporting the reaching of the Gentiles. Many also seem to dismiss that we are reaching tens of millions on non-Gentiles with our internet presence and programs.

Jesus taught that the end does NOT come until the ‘Gospel of the Kingdom of God‘ reaches enough nations (Matthew 24:14) and, based on Paul’s writings, we also see that  “the full number” (as the NIV, NLT, BSB, CEV, GNT, HCSV, ISV, and NET Bible, put Romans 11:25) of Gentiles God wants in this age come in.

Notice also the following that Paul wrote which points to Gentiles, and then those of Israel:

25 As He says also in Hosea:

“I will call them My people, who were not My people,
And her beloved, who was not beloved.”
26 “And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them,
‘ You are not My people,’
There they shall be called sons of the living God.”

27 Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel:

“Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea,
The remnant will be saved. (Romans 9:25-27)

In CCOG we are reaching Gentiles and non-Gentiles (cf. Romans 9:27, 11:23-24; see also What is the Ezekiel Warning?).

We have done this in person and over the airways, as well as reaching over 100 million computers/talbets/cellular telephones in 2021.

And that is part of why we have been the fastest growing xWCG church in the 21st century.


Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer