Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings to our brethren around the world.

Last week, we shared a report about the situation in Malawi and Mozambique, so we took some financial steps to assist with the bureaucracy as well as hunger situations.

Furthermore, a while back Terry Nelson, our host in northern Minnesota, expressed interest in visiting some of our congregations in Africa. So, after consulting with Evangelist Evans Ochieng, we agreed to send him. The plan is for him to visit CCOG congregations in Kenya, Malawi, and Mozambique.

He plans to depart Thursday February 13th and return on Tuesday March 3rd, along with his two sons. His oldest son, Andre, is expected to put together some video footage for us, as well as to mainly put together what I hope to be the Behind the Works video sermon for 2020.

As most of you know, I have been to Kenya twice, where we held conferences. The last time, in February 2019, we had leaders from six African countries. Anyway, as we do not have the funds to put on another conference like that, we decided that a visit would be helpful.

Serbia

Elder Sasha Velic sent the following:

Dear Bob,
Thankfully, we are well health-wise (usually that is my greatest concern during winter).  I have received the file for the June issue of the magazine and have passed it on to others to take a look and possibly translate an article or two in Serbian.  We will discuss that and other matters in the evening when we will connect in a call around 6PM.
Other matters that we will discuss are modules of the Serbian and Croatian Bibles.  Namely, Sloba has found a way to create e-sword like modules to be installed on our computers to help us search of the Bible and compare several translations that we have in Serbian and one standard translation we have in Croatian.  Sloba has got some web design skills, and he has mentioned to me on several occasions that he would gladly give you a hand in sorting out CCOG site.  He has noticed that site sections can be better arranged and in a more navigable way.  Interestingly, my blind student of English also visited our site and noticed that it is a bit messy and that topics are not arranged in a viable manner.  Anyway, Sloba has intended for a while to ask you, if you wish, to help you with the site.  He has been busy these days typing out and arranging verses in Serbian to create the above mentioned modules.  He is being helped by our prospective member who intends to be baptized in several months.
We also have another prospective member who lives in a nearby town (Pozega).  He also asked for baptism.  He has been intensively reading the Bible and the materials I have available in Serbian.  Therefore, we have two baptism candidates.  That is very unusual for Serbia, the country where people at large have a zero interest in Bible teachings. …
Sloba has been also working on the hymnal.  He has been arranging several other hymns which he didn’t translate earlier.  He has also noticed printing errors in our published hymnal book.  In case of one hymn, for example, an entire stanza is missing, while the previous stanza is repeated in the place of the missing one.  Sloba has been taking notes of all the errors and will correct them.  Eventually, we might have several hymnals without music notes published in hard bound copies to save you troubles and costs of reprinting the hymnal book in Serbian.
We have also realized that a printing machine is something we have needed for a long time.  It would allow us more privacy and more effective work as we will be able to print documents and teachings for the members and interested individuals without having to go to a photocopy shop.  A printing machine costs 100 euros, and we will obtain one as soon as finances permit.
The house where we are living sometimes surprises us with the constructions and problems we didn’t know were there.  Last night, I noticed a small stream of water on my bathroom floor.  It turned out that a huge pipe that goes to sewage is leaking.  I didn’t notice that before possibly because the apartment above me is vacant for the most part of the year.  Its owners only come there to spend the cold winter and then return to their house in Zlatibor.  We also discovered that where my kitchen is located, the pipe going down and through Sloba’s place is either broken or leaking and it is leaking straight to his electrical distribution box.  Therefore, I sealed off the water in the kitchen and I won’t be using that room as a kitchen.  There is a smaller room adjacent to bathroom and I will one day install a pipe there.  There is a hole in the wall between that room and bathroom, so the pipe will go into that hole and to the sewage outlet.  The bathroom itself is a mess.  An old bathtub needs to be removed and the walls and the ceiling need some renovation work, while the “new kitchen” requires tiles to be installed.  All that would be accomplish as finances permit and will take some time.  However, in spite of all those shortcomings, we are safe as far as landlady is concerned.  In this country, due to our religious convictions, facing eviction from one’s property is a real situation.  Since the landlady doesn’t bother us and she is happy that the bills are regularly paid, so far we are safe in this place.
Our member in Belgrade, Aleksandar Stanisavljevic, has been voted by his colleagues as the best worker in previous year.  Thus, he was rewarded with a small financial gift from the managers.  His time off the work this year is going to work well and his vacation is going to cover the Passover and the first Day of UB.  As for the last day of UB, he will switch a shift with someone else.  He works as a receptionist at the famous Belgrade hotel “Moskva”.
Speaking of work, Sloba and our prospective member in Uzice applied for teaching English to Asian students over Internet, but they were told that their cameras didn’t meet the standards.  The management there requires HD type cameras.  They are working to resolve that.  Our prospective member will most likely buy such a camera today.
Those would be the most important updates for now.  …
With my best regards,
Sasha

We are pleased that people in Serbia and elsewhere are interested in true Christianity.

As far as the song book in the Serbia language goes, currently Amazon Kindle has suspended all literature in all but ten languages. So, if we are to reprint, either Amazon Kindle needs to change or we need a different printer. However, for small print runs (which is what we would expect for Serbia) Amazon Kindle is really the most cost-effective. Thus, having some copied sheets may be the way to go for now.

World News Items

Australia has been hit by a series of what look to be unprecedented fires (see ‘Australia fires: Emergency workers say worst yet to come’). Yet, there are not serious calls for repentance. Like the other Anglo-American lands, Australia looks to have to be physically conquered before it will repent.

The tensions between Iran and the USA have remained in the news (see Iran retaliates, threatens more, and Donald Trump announces more sanctions). Now, contrary to the views of some, this is NOT related to Ezekiel 38 (see also Thousands mourn Soleimani, Iran warns, rockets fired, Trump warns, Ezekiel 38?), but this could be setting the stage for Ezekiel 32:24 (watch Is Donald Trump fulfilling Ezekiel 32 related to Iran?).

We are experiencing troubles, consist with Jesus’ warning in Mark 13:8.

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.

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.

Concluding Comments

The Apostle Paul wrote the following:

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)

Brethren, it is our “reasonable service” to be willing to sacrifice our lives, funds, and time for our Creator.

“Do not be conformed to this world.”

Sincerely,

Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer