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Letter to the Brethren: March 5, 2020

Letter to the Brethren: March 5, 2020

Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings from Grover Beach, California.

Some have asked about Vince Patterson of the UK. Here is something that his wife sent elder Sasha Veljic this week:

Vince Patterson, has a brain haemorrhage and is in a care home. Vince is stable, still in need of 24hour monitoring/care as he is unable to do anything for himself. But he has the support of a good care team, family and friends who help to break up the monotony of his confinement.

Vince Patterson came to the CCOG Feast of Tabernacles site in Gouda, Netherlands in 2016, which is where we personally met. But he has been ill for most of the years since. Please remember him in your prayers.

On other matters, last week’s recommended sermon, Were Ancient Hebrews Black? What About Jesus?, had many more views than are usual sermons. YouTube reported over 1,100 views and the amount of views appears to be still growing.


The novel coronavirus, now officially called COVID-19 has been found in scores of nations around the world:

Brown: China, Red: Confirmed cases reported Blue: Suspected cases reported (Pharexia)

It also is likely to be in other nations that have not been able to diagnose and/or have not reported it.

Since many have asked me about it, here is something I posted at on Tuesday (see also ZH: How The Super Rich Are Preparing For The Coronavirus; COGwriter: What physical steps can others take?):

Last month, I was interviewed for a holistic podcast as well as a segment for a naturally-oriented television program related to COVID-19, the “novel” strain of the coronavirus.

Basically, I said to wash hands frequently and work to support a stronger immune system.

Avoiding unnecessary contact with the sick can also be helpful for many.

As far as health goes, Herbert W. Armstrong wrote the following Ten Simple Rules that Lead to Health:


1. Sleep — Be sure of good ventilation — PLENTY OF FRESH AIR in the bedroom all night, winter and summer. … Fresh air is FREE — and nothing is more vital to health, but avoid drafts striking you.

2. Arise — Get right out of bed the instant you awaken. Do not lie in bed, or turn over for a second sleep, no matter how tired or dragged down you feel. A second sleep dulls the mind.

3. Bath and rubdown — Take a regular morning shower bath if possible, making it short and snappy, ending with a vigorous rubdown. If no shower is available, take a tub bath at least two or three times a week. End with cold water, especially in cold weather. This closes the pores and prevents chilling and taking cold.

If no shower is available, take a vigorous rubdown in the bedroom daily or twice daily, using a turkish or bath towel or massage brush. Begin at wrists and feet massaging vigorously toward the heart. If the room is cold, just apply a little more energy — the vigorous rubbing will keep you warm.

4. Head rub and shampoo — Before leaving the bedroom, massage and rub the scalp vigorously with tips of fingers, suitable stiff bristle brush, or electric vibrator. This stimulates new circulation thru the scalp, makes the brain more active, and is the best guarantee there is against baldness. Shampoo the hair at least every two or three weeks. Be sure to use neutral, mild soap (imported castile is best) and rinse thoroughly.

5. Water — …. Start in with whatever you can drink, increasing it till you are able to take one or two full glasses. Soon you will crave it. … This morning glass of water is very important.

6. Breakfast — Avoid too heavy a breakfast. If you eat pancakes, eat but few. Do not eat too many eggs, and never more than two or three times a week. Eggs are good food, but too many produce a sluggish liver. Avoid soggy, heavy foods. Eat some fruit if possible — especially grapefruit, oranges, etc.

7. Food — In the main, simply eat what you find agrees with you — but be sure to get a reasonable amount of fruits, and leafy vegetables (lettuce, raw cabbage, spinach, etc.) and milk, every day. Avoid meals loaded with meat, potatoes, beans, corn, etc., unless balanced with leafy vegetables and fruits.

For health’s sake eat … none of the meats called “unclean” and forbidden under the Old Testament Mosaic law. Above all, eat slowly, and CHEW THOROUGHLY before swallowing. Avoid overeating. Most people eat twice what they should.

8. Elimination — Nothing is more vital to health than habitual regularity of elimination. Constipation is nothing but the penalty of lack of regularity. Pills will not CURE constipation. Nothing but the re-establishment of regularity of habit will cure it. For those suffering from this, I would advise resorting to divine healing — but be sure you deserve it by reestablishment of regular habits, preferably at a set time of day. Also regulate diet to aid this.

9. Breathing — At least three times during the day — preferably bed time, rising time and once during the day — go outdoors, or open all the windows and doors in the house, stand erect, chest out and shoulders back, and BREATHE DEEPLY several times. Inhale slowly through the nose, till lungs are completely full. Exhale through the mouth, till the lungs are entirely emptied of air. Repeat several times. Try to learn the habit of breathing deeply, taking in more air and more completely emptying the lungs at every breath.

10. Exercise — Few people past twenty- five get sufficient exercise, except those who are farmers, or get exercise through daily labor. Even in this case it is likely that only certain parts of the body are receiving sufficient exercise. Walking in the fresh air every day is good. For those who lead an in-door life, such sports as golf or tennis are splendid. Often bedroom exercises are advisable. Your body and muscles will not likely wear out, but can more easily rust out. Each individual must determine for himself what additional exercise, if any, he needs, as differing daily occupations naturally affect this.

It goes without saying that all forms of dissipation must be avoided if these 10 health rules are to prove successful.

So, in addition to the rules like the above, what can be done to support the immune system?

Well, regular fasting is one item I mentioned when interviewed.

Forbes reported the following:

January 6, 2020

Six years ago, a study showed that a 3-day fast can essentially reset the immune system, providing many potential benefits. These benefits include better cardiovascular health, better endurance, lower blood pressure, and reduced inflammation.

Newer data, which I’ll get to in a minute, shows that you might not have to fast nearly that long to get these benefits.

In the 2014 study, Valter Longo and colleagues at USC found that fasting lowered white blood cell counts, which in turn triggered the immune system to start producing new white blood cells. White blood cells (or lymphocytes) are a key component of your body’s immune system. Once you start eating again, according to Longo, your stem cells kick back into high gear to replenish the cells that were recycled. …

Last week, in a paper just published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Rafael de Cabo and Mark Mattson reviewed multiple strategies for fasting that have been tested in the years since Longo’s study. The news continues to be very encouraging: intermittent fasting is good for you. I don’t have time or space here to discuss all the results, but I want to focus on one fasting strategy that has surprisingly good benefits.

It turns out that you can get many of the benefits of fasting without doing a 3-day fast, which for most people is really, really difficult to accomplish.

Those who were once part of the old Worldwide Church of God should recall that WCG recommended people, whose health allowed for it, to fast one day per month. We in the CCOG recommend that as well.

And of course, biblical Christians who can fast on the Day of Atonement.

Beyond mentioning fasting in the interviews about the coronavirus, I also mentioned avoiding overly processed foods and eating more fruits and vegetables.

One theory about the coronavirus is that most animals do not get sick from it because their bodies produce vitamin C, which human bodies do not do. Whether or not vitamin C is the reason can be debated.

But consuming foods naturally high in vitamin C is good for most people.

For most people, eating more fruit is probably the best way to increase the amount of vitamin C in the body.

If you are going to be flying (or otherwise in an enclosed space with a lot of people you do not know), it might be prudent to take some citrus fruit with you to eat to increase your vitamin C.

Note: I do NOT believe that taking a lot of USP ascorbic acid is the optimal way to support the immune system. It may have some affect, but it is simply not complete vitamin C nor does it keep vitamin C levels as high as long in the body as vitamin C found in fruits (like citrus) does.

Beyond that, there are certain glandular and herbal supplements that can help build the immune system–though they are not officially intended to be preventative for the coronavirus. Although proper supplements can help support the immune system, be cautious about anyone who claims that some supplement will cure (or always cure) COVID-19 as there simply is not enough evidence of that.

In my case, I am NOT taking additional nutritional supplements at this time to boost my immune system to deal with the coronavirus (though I would if it looked like I was exposed or were about to possibly be exposed to it).

But I AM basically following a version of Herbert W. Armstrong’s Ten Simple Rules that Lead to Health (including exercising regularly and not eating any biblically unclean animals). Furthermore, yes, I regularly consume a fair amount of fruit, try to avoid a lot of processed foods, pray to God for wisdom, and do fast pretty much every month.

In my work, I cannot avoid sick people, but do often wash my hands.

All should try to avoid touching their faces with unwashed hands. Also, since the coronavirus can live on flat surfaces for a long time, avoid contact with hard surfaces in public when possible. Also, avoiding unnecessary physical contact with others can also help reduce risks of catching something. Some, like the WHO are also advocating avoiding the handling of cash–so in areas of risk that is something to consider.

Also, if you believe that you have been exposed, showering/bathing and keeping away from others to not potentially spread the infection is a good idea as well as consistent with biblical admonitions about quarantine (Leviticus 13, see also VOA: Trump: US ‘Totally Prepared’ for Coronavirus’ AP: Vexed by how to contain virus, countries take tough steps’ WT: Natural Protection).

Christians can also call for the elders of the church to anoint you (James 5:14-15) or, when that is not feasible, request an anointed cloth (Acts 19:11-12; see also the When Should You Be Anointed? article in the July-September 2018 edition of Bible News Prophecy magazine; watch also Acts 17-19: Travels, Anointed Cloths, & the Gospel of the Kingdom).

Anyway, while we do expect pestilences in the end times (Matthew 24:8), Christians should have confidence in God and His plan: “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6. But that does not mean we should not be prudent (cf. Proverbs 22:3).

Brethren, we do not have to fear as others who have no hope (Ephesians 2:11-13).

Malawi and Mozambique

Terry Nelson sent the following report and photographs:

Hi Dr Thiel, just sent rest of pictures of Malawi congregations; and Mozambique congregations; on Thursday the 27th we visited the Sunuzi congregation in Malawi. They have a very nice hall here constructed of brick, also a cement sign post stating the church name and address; very good indeed; when we pulled in, the women greeted us with singing and throwing flower petals; very excited to see us.   It was a good service, I talked about tithing and our difference from the Protestants and other topics; afterwards we fellowshipped and took pictures and handed out fruit and candy to the children; a very good visit.

On Friday the 28th, we began our journey to Mozambique, this was a long slow trip over dangerous roads, going slow and careful, covering about 40 miles in 3 hours.  We went through the boarder without problems and met the Chief of the Area and her husband,. Evans knows them well and is very well liked by them; they were excited we were bringing the Gospel to there area, and showed us great kindness; they have a very good hall here also.  It started raining heavy, hitting the tin roof, making hearing difficult; I prayed it would stop soon and it did; I said God provided us with a cooling breeze after the rain, I also talked about the blessings of obeying God and Tithing and also talked about the new books and our difference from the Protestants; it was well received,. Afterwards we fellowshipped and took pictures and ate a fine chicken dinner at the Chiefs house:

On the Sabbath of the 29th, we visited our final congregation in Malawi. The Migowi congregation.  They recently finished building a very nice large hall, they are almost done, but need to have a cement floor finished to provide structural stability in case of heavy rain and wind. It also has a added on room and office in the back, This hall is fitted all electrically; very nice. This was the last time I spoke for the African visit,.  I also spoke on the importance of tithing and obeying God and talked about the new books and went into length about our great difference from the Protestants, afterwards we fellowshipped and took pictures; we left Malawi on the 1st, and our now awaiting our flight tomorrow, the 3rd, for departure to the US,; my trip here was very good, I and my sons enjoyed it immensely,. God is definitely opening up a greater work down here and I want to be part of it, and do what I can to help, we plan on coming again for the Feast and encourage our US brethren to attend; you all will love it here also; signing out now. God bless you all.

Terry Nelson and Sons

Sunuzi, Malawi congregants

Scene in Mozambique

Mozambique congregants

Andre and Asher Nelson in Migowi, Malawi

While everyone may not love visiting Africa, overall, the Nelsons’ visits to the congregations seemed to have gone well.

Evangelist Evans Ochieng sent in the following report:

Greetings from Kenya.
Let me thank GOD for a wonderful work and safe journey He has surrendered to us throughout out trip both in Kenya and Malawi.  The visitation was well done and brethren were really happy with Terry and his two sons.  Terry’s family are good men. People really enjoyed the messages of Terry Nelson.  Mostly he was attaching more messages in the three books he carried and he was given a good explanations.  The work was excellent.  I hope Terry will share with you a lot when he come back.  We only got some little problems at the two airports but we sorted out.  Brethren tried to explain to Terry Nelson some difficulties and challenges in Kenya and Malawi and Mozambique.More you will discuss with him.
He also discussed with people about what can generate income for the brethren in order to eradicate poverty and hunger. So many people were very happy with the plans  he gave.  And I hope if it goes through then it will help a lot to the brethren.  He also provided food to Nyakach brethren who are always suffering. Terry is a fine man. I appreciate his behaviour, speeches and actions.
Since Malawi is sometimes going without rain in some seasons we discussed with them how they can be assisted to get their daily food.  We came to a conclusion that if we buy for them two generators for irrigation system can help them a lot. Terry also promised people in Malawi and Mozambique that he will give them poultry farming support to help them. Same to Kenya.  His vision is good and it will help the congregations heavily. The trip was long and it consumed a lot of money otherwise it was safe and fruitful.

Terry Nelson send the following email early Thursday morning from Minnesota:

Hi Dr Thiel, made it back to Duluth around 11pm last night; … Terry

Glad that he and his sons made it safely back. Thanks for all your prayers.

We are trying to see how to better serve people in Malawi and Mozambique. While these ‘missionary’ visits to ‘feed the flock’ were part of that, more needs to be done and Evangelist Ochieng is hoping to visit them again in the Spring. And Terry Nelson is hoping to go to Africa again in the Fall for the Feast of Tabernacles.

World News Items

Last Sunday, we received an email that led us to see that the Seventh-day Adventists have been having ecumenical controversies as some of their leaders in Italy approved an ecumenical document also signed by the Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans, Evangelicals and Methodists –with other SDA leaders opposing this (see Seventh-day Adventists’ ecumenical controversies). Yet, as the SDAs consider themselves to be Protestant, it is no surprise that many in their leadership are going along with the Vatican’s agenda to bring its Protestant “daughters” back into the fold. Officially, “Seventh-day Adventists … stress the conviction that many Roman Catholics are brothers and sisters in Christ” (How Seventh-day Adventists View Roman Catholicism. This statement was recorded on April 15, 1997, by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Administrative Committee (ADCOM) and released by the Office of the President, Robert S. Folkenberg). My prayer is for all, including the SDAs, to seek the truth, change, and hold to “the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3) and to come out of Babylon (cf. Revelation 17 & 18).

Unlike many world leaders, Russia’s President Putin took another step consistent with biblical standards as he has proposed a constitutional amendment that is opposed to ‘same-sex marriage’ (see BBC: Russia’s Putin wants traditional marriage and God in constitution). While the West continues to move away from biblical morality, it is nice to see that now all are being caught up in all aspects of that deception.

Turkey encouraged thousands of Syrian refugees to cross the border into Greece, but Greek troops opposed this (see ‘Greece blocks 10,000 migrants at Turkish border’). Turkey then threatened to send millions more. Despite all of this, ultimately Islam will be pushed out of Europe and Turkey will eventually turn and support the European Beast power (cf. Daniel 11:40-43).

In the USA, its ‘super Tuesday’ election has been closely watched. For the Democrats states went for either Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders (see ‘Biden’s Sweeping Super Tuesday Victories Re-shape Democratic Presidential Race’), with American Samoa going for Mike Bloomberg. Whoever ends up being the next President of the United States, Republican or Democrat, will be apocalyptic.

The coronavirus continues to be in the news. It has resulted in the closure of certain locations and cancellation of various events (e.g. (see ‘Saudi Arabia Cancels Pilgrimage Entries to Mecca Over Fears of Coronavirus,’ WHO says outbreak getting bigger, and Israel close to a vaccine?). It is likely that this new coronavirus will be factor that will help lead to the rise of the European Beast power as it is another factor in diminishing certain Chinese export dominance. China and its economy have been damaged by COVID-19 (see China’s economy greatly impacted by coronavirus: ‘Peak China’? A factor leading to a new world order?). Even the wealthy around the world are concerned about it (see ZH: How The Super Rich Are Preparing For The Coronavirus; COGwriter: What physical steps can others take?). The World Health Organization is now essentially urging cashlessness as it says handling cash could be a risk to spread the coronavirus (see ZH: WHO Urges People To Go ‘Cashless’ Because ‘Dirty Banknotes Can Spread The Virus’).

Let me discuss another possible prophetic ramification related to COVID-19. In Matthew 24:7-8, Jesus warned of pestilences as part of the “beginning of sorrows.” Later in that same chapter, He prophesied the start of the “great tribulation” (Matthew 24:21). Since the “great tribulation” comes AFTER the “pestilences” that start during the “beginning of sorrows,” and the control of buying and selling is in full force DURING the great tribulation (Revelation 13:16-18), the threat of paper cash spreading diseases looks to be part of the justification for the type of ‘Orwellian control’ that 666 will implement. No matter what happens with COVID-19, its existence has gotten some who want more totalitarian control another reason to push cashlessness.

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: The Original Apostle’s Creed? 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: The New Testament, Martin Luther, and the Canon. 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 radio channel.


Concluding Comments

The Apostle James was inspired to write:

10 My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. 11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord — that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful. (James 5:10-11)

Brethren, we all need to persevere and endure. And yes, if we are faithful, it will work out because “the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.”


Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer