Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings from Michigan.

I arrived here several hours ago.

I plan to visit the small group we have in Almont, Michigan for services at 2:30 pm, July 21, 2018 and fly home early Sunday.

Terry LaFrance said Sabbath services in Michigan will be at the following location:

844 Van Dyke
Almont, Michigan

If you have any questions, please feel free to email Terry LaFrance at: terrylafrance22@gmail.com

I look forward to seeing people who normally attend there as well as any visitors who may come.

‘Historic Sabbath’ in Serbia

Elder Aleksander ‘Sasha’ Veljic sent in the following report:

Dear Bob,

The Serbian congregation sends warm greetings both to you and those you will meet this coming Sabbath (July 21, 2018).  We understand the value of such gatherings because we ourselves are scattered and rarely have means and opportunities to get together in any larger number.  We managed to meet this past Sabbath (July 14, 2018) in a larger number and that was a historical Sabbath gathering and services in Serbia.  Namely, 5 of us gathered in a Serbian countryside on the property of a member who lives there.  We gathered with the purpose to show solidarity to him and to have a Sabbath fellowship far away from any distractions of the „civilization“.

On Friday, July 13, I took a train from Uzice to the town of Kraljevo.  Train is the cheapest means of transportation in Serbia.  The trip lasted for a couple of hours.  In Kraljevo, I met one of our prospective members, Djordje (George), who owns a car.  George is a technical support on a cruiser and was on a vaccation.  In the afternoon, we picked up another prospective member, Bogdan, who lives in a village nearby Kraljevo, after he finished his work.  (Bogdan is an electrician).  Then we headed toward our destination which took us a couple of hours to reach.  We purchased some food and water on the way for Slobodan and arrived to the beautiful countryside where he lives around sunset.  In the past, Slobodan Balovic and I used to be part of a Church of God group before we were eventually removed, even though we were never officially disfellowshiped.  We have no reason to regret that because that group eventually changed Bible teachings about the Church eras and the identity of the modern House of Israel.

Slobodan lives in the countryside, 5 kilometers away from „civilization“ and his humble home has no water and no electricity.  One solar panel provides him some power when the days are sunny.  His small cottage needs adaptation.  He purchased a piece of land and that cottage when he had a job as an Italian translator at a glass factory in the nearby town of Paracin.  The factory has since gone into bankruptcy.  Many Serbian companies have gone into bankruptcy and it is a sad illustration of the overal devastated national economy which makes Serbia one of the poorest countries in the world.  Slobodan still has to pay off the credit he took to purchase that property he hoped to turn into a home during happier economic times.  However, we the visitors didn’t care about any discomforts and gladly gathered there to hold services under a tree in Slobodan’s yard.

On Friday evening, I also anointed George upon his request for his stomack problems.

During the Sabbath morning, another Church member arrived, Filip (Philip) from the town of Nis.  The town of Nis is about one hour drive from where Slobodan lives.  Filip came by bus because none of our members in Serbia has a car.  The bus arrived to the nearby town of Paracin, so George went there with his car to pick up Filip.  Thus, on the Sabbath there were 3 baptized and 2 prospective members in that location.  We connected over the mobile phone with the remaining baptized member of the congregation, Luka (Lucas), who lives in the southern tip of Serbia close to border with Montenegro.  A month ago Lucas himself visited Slobodan and stayed in that countryside for a while.

The Sabbath services of July 14 were historic and memorable because for the first time we used the newly published Hymnal in Serbian to sing praises to the Eternal.  We sang „Blest and happy is the man“, „When Israel Out of Egypt Went“ and „Not Many Wise Men Now Are Called“ at the beginning of services.  Since we were together in a larger number than usual, then two men prayed at the beginning and later the other two at the end of services.  The message I delivered was about the church of brotherly love, Philadelphia, and its characteristics.  I underlined the necessity for us to cherish the traits of Philadelphia and be the Philadelphian remnant in Serbia and on the European continent.  We concluded services with by (symbolically) blowing the horn to Zion – the hymn entitled „Blow the Horn, Let Zion Hear“!

Later in the afternoon, our friends had to leave for their town of Kraljevo, while Slobodan, Filip and I remained in the beautiful countryside.  We went out into a field (remememering that the fields are ripe and that we need to pray for laborers) to watch the sun going down.  At sunset we began a fast during which we prayer for opened doors and resolutions of our various individual plights.  We thus joined the fasting of many Church members that weekend.  We are blessed that for some times other Church members rejoice at our initiative that we occasionally fast in large(r) numbers to lift our voices to God asking for His intervention in our lives.

Best regards,

Sasha

We are glad that more attended and that they could use our new Serbian Bible Hymnals.

Tanzania

Evangelist Evans Ochieng sent in the following report:

Pastor Dr Bob:

Greetings from Kenya.

I’m back to Kenya. I had a wonderful trip in Tanzania. I met with Martin Wanga the first day. We discussed more about the registration of the church in Tanzania. The registration of the church in Tanzania is a little bit different from Kenya. Those people were saying that for the church to be registered in the country, you must have at least a congregation in every district which  we don’t have there in Tanzania. So Martin told me that he is going to work on it and give me the feedback how they are going to do it.

We also talked about the kitchen that will help them during the Feast of Tabernacles 2018. I gave him some funds to help him in that work.

After that I was called by some three families who wanted to learn more about the truth. These are families of John …, Julius … and Nick …

I have many years in preaching the gospel but I never got people who have interested in God’s truth like these people. These are the people who decided to stop every work work which they were doing for two days in order to learn the truth. They were writing every verse and wanted to learn every subject carefully. I was very happy with these families because of their commitment.  They will come to visit me next month.

FEAST OF TABERNACLES 2018.

We shall have one feast camp in Tanzania at Utegi. Five  feast sites in Kenya. These are Ndhiwa, Bomet, Chilani, Mao and Njoro.

One site in Malawi and Mozambique.  One site in Ethiopia.

I was waiting for this report and it contains fantastic news (though the registration issue may be complicated. God has further opened the door of faith to the Gentiles (cf. Acts 14:27).

Giribe, Kenya

Evangelist Ochieng sent in the following report:

I sent Nimrod Ondigo and Granton OTIENO to Giribe to meet them and see how they want to build the hall. I have forwarded their report to you.

Also I received a message from the three families I met in Tanzania. They want me back to discuss with them again. They still have many good questions to be answered.

Another thing I am sorry to inform you that we lost one of our brethren in Nyakach Mr Abok. So I am still having a lot of work in Kenya. Pray for the family of, Abok. The burrial will be on this coming Sunday.

Since the Feast of Tabernacles 2018 is coming near. I’m planning to go back to Malawi to arrange for the Feast and to see if they can print books and magazines in Malawi.
So I need to travel in August.  I don’t whether I will get time to go to Ethiopia to see the building and to organize the Feast of Tabernacles 2018.

I received new books that you sent to me.

Evans

We also received the following report:

Dear Pastor Evans,

Grantone and I were able to visit our beloved brethren at Giribe.

We received a warm welcome and we delivered both sermon and sermonette.

We were then able to go to the site proposed for building the meeting hall and we prayed on the site.Below is a photo taken on the site.

From left is Jacob Otieno, Grantone Otieno, Ondigo Ochieng and the other brethren.

Best regards

Ondigo Ochieng

It is good that that they were able to visit. As far as buildings for meeting go, we have no real funds for that, so we will see what they will be able to do there themselves (typically, if we are able to help out, we pay for some of the building materials and those who need the meeting place provide the labor).

BTW 2018

We have been working on the Behind the Work (BTW) video sermon for the 2018 Feast of Tabernacles. We hope it will be done relatively soon as we will need to physically mail it (in DVD form) to places that do not always have quick mailing deliveries. Last year, we had problems with the length of time it took for mail delivery to the Philippines and at least one African nation.

Managed Server

We had to abandon our essentially free server (someone else allowed us to use their unmanaged server) that hosted our websites (CCOG.org, CCOGAfrica.org, CDLIDD.es, etc.) for a paid managed server as we were still having issues with our websites being knocked offline. This change will increase our operating costs, and reduce the amount of funds we will have available for places like Africa. We had resisted doing this for nearly six years, but felt we had no better choice now.

We hope this move will solve the issues we have been encountering.

World News Items

Beyond domestic matters, US President Donald Trump has continued to make statements that have outraged the Europeans.

Consider something from an interview of him:

July 15, 2018

Jeff Glor asked him in an interview: “Who is your biggest competitor? Your biggest foe globally right now?”

“Well I think we have a lot of foes,” Trump responded. “I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade. Now you wouldn’t think of the European Union but they’re a foe.”

“Russia is a foe in certain respects,” he added. “China is a foe economically, certainly they are a foe. But that doesn’t mean they are bad. It doesn’t mean anything. It means that they are competitive. They want to do well and we want to do well.” https://www.aol.com/article/news/2018/07/15/president-trump-says-european-union-is-a-foe-of-the-united-states/23482400/

Notice that Donald Trump listed the EU first as a competitor and a foe.

The Europeans do not like that or many other statements from Donald Trump.

As it turns out, a new study found more Germans fear Donald Trump than Russian President Vladimir Putin (see Donald Trump considers European Union, Russia, and China to be foes; Germans fear Donald Trump more than Vladimir Putin).

Leaders in Europe also have major issues with Donald Trump. European Council President Donald Tusk accused the US President of criticizing Europe “almost daily” (see Trump calls out Germany over Russia and predicts more European military spending).

Notice something from Monday:

(CNN) Germany’s foreign minister said Monday that the European Union could “no longer completely rely on the White House,” echoing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s veiled criticism of US President Donald Trump a year ago and amplifying a war of words between the two allies. …

The EU’s relationship with the US must change if it is to continue, Maas said, insisting that this could be achieved only with a “self-confident and sovereign Europe.”

He urged Europe to close ranks and avoid divisions, even when faced with what he described as “absurd” tweets from Trump.

“We can no longer completely rely on the White House,” Maas said. …

“He who offends his partners risks losing in the end,” he said. https://edition.cnn.com/2018/07/16/europe/heiko-maas-trump-comments-intl/index.html

So, we see “fallout” (unintended consequences) of Donald Trump’s policies on Europe.

On Tuesday, the EU and Japan just signed a massive trade deal (see EU, Japan Sign Massive Free Trade Deal).

The world order is changing and the Europeans do not care for Donald Trump. “Friends” will turn against it (Lamentations 1:1-2) and this will not end well for the USA (cf. Daniel 11:39; Habakkuk 2:6-8) nor the UK, etc. (Daniel 8:24-25; Isaiah 17:3; Jeremiah 30:7).

In the religious news this past week was an article about a Roman Catholic cathedral for the ‘Lady of Arabia” that is to be built in the Islamic nation of Bahrain (see Our Lady of Arabia cathedral being built in Bahrain: Will this be part of the interfaith agenda? ). Since the Bible teaches that the whole world will worship the Beast (Revelation 13:8, but that the King of the South will turn against the Beast (Daniel 11:40-43), this shows that Muslims will, temporarily, support the Beast (cf. Psalm 83:4-8).

Since Islam does acknowledge Jesus’ mother Mary and Catholics have tried to use ‘Mary’ as an ecumenical and interfaith tool, a false version of ‘Mary’ will likely be part of the reason for this temporary worship of the Beast. It is my opinion that building a cathedral for ‘Mary’ in an Islamic land is consistent with this.

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: Jerusalem Temple Destruction and the Messiah. 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: Acts 6-9: Widows, Stephen, Saul, and Simon Magus. 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 radiochannel.

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 was inspired to write 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, we do not offer animal sacrifices like the children of Israel did. We are to offer our lives as living sacrifices to God. This “is your reasonable service.” It is not religious fanaticism.

Do not be conned to be what the deceived world wants you to be. Study God’s word so that you can prove that which is good and acceptable to Him and to truly know His will for you.

Sincerely,

Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer