Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

We hope that your Feast of Trumpets went well.  The few reports I have heard from others were all positive.

On other matters, the 12 part sermon series covering Matthew’s gospel has been finished (watch Matthew 25-28: Midnight Cry, False Christians, Resurrection, & Teaching what Jesus Taught). That, combined with the sermons on Mark, Luke, and John, show that, in English anyway, we have succeeded in the Continuing Church of God to fulfill Jesus’ admonition to teach all that He had taught His disciples when He spoke the following:

19  Go therefore and make disciples … 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20)

Yes, the above was slightly edited related to all the nations (while we have made the sermons available to all nations, we do not have a way to track if people from all nations have watched all of them). But what I wanted to point out is that we have, at least, taught all that is recorded that Jesus taught in the four gospel accounts. This is a milestone I have long wanted us to meet as it is one that Jesus set for His church.

Travel

By the time most of you see this email, my wife Joyce and I should be on our way to Serbia to visit many of the Serbians who are now part of the Continuing Church of God.

Serbia

We left our house early this morning and are not scheduled to arrive in Serbia until a little before sunset Friday. After taking time zones in consideration, this hopefully will not take more than 24 hours to get there. We expect to hold Sabbath services there this week.

Serbia, itself, is in the middle of the Balkan peninsula. We have to connect via Amsterdam and then fly to Munich to get there.  And after a series of other flights, we plan to arrive back in Amsterdam in time to hold Day of Atonement and then Sabbath services there on October 15th. Then the next day we plan to drive to Gouda for the first half of the Feast of Tabernacles. We plan to fly back from Amsterdam to Chicago so we can attend the second half of the Feast of Tabernacles in Aurora, Illinois.

Fall Holy Days

The Feast of Trumpets for 2016 is now past. Ours went well.

The Day of Atonement begins next week at sunset on October 11th. Here is a suggested service:

  • 2-3 hymns (our songbook, The Bible Hymnal, contains the materials from the 1974Bible Hymnal from the old WCG with new covers, plus ten additional hymns; there is also some Choral Accompaniment online).
  • Opening prayer.
  • Offertory, which for most who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one:Atonement Offerings?
  • 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 day is: Christians, the Day of Atonement, and Fasting. Other sermons are also available at the ContinuingCOG channel, especially if you wish two services today.
  • Final hymn.
  • Closing prayer.

The Feast of Tabernacles starts the following week, and begins at sunset on October 16th this year.

For information on how to keep the Holy Days, check out the article How to Keep God’s Festivals. A related sermon is also available titled: How to Keep God’s Feasts.

A booklet on the Holy Days is also available: Should You Observe God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays?

For information on the locations of the Feast of Tabernacles’ site this year, check out the link:Feast of Tabernacles’ Sites for 2016.

For information on the general locations of our congregations, check out the link:Congregations of the Continuing Church of God.

Trials and Triumph in Ghana

As regular readers of the weekly Letter to the Brethren are aware, we in the Continuing Church of God were contacted by leaders of the Church of God 7th Day in Ghana, nearly 1 1/2 years ago.

In the late Summer of 2015, we sent CCOG Pastor Evans Ochieng and former UCG Pastor John Owak to Ghana to meet with them.

The meeting went well.

We have had various communications with them since then.

While our relationship was fine, it was also a bit distant in that they were organized differently, and were still checking out our teachings.

In July and August Ghana Pastor Samuel Ofosu Gyeabour held some meetings, that I asked readers of this Letter to pray about, regarding whether or not those in Ghana wanted to truly be part of the Continuing Church of God.

Those that Pastor Samuel Ofosu Gyeabour agreed.

So, I made some announcements.

This, however, upset some.

In August, I received some difficult telephone calls and one or two threatening letters from a couple of Ghanaians.

So, I contacted Pastor Samuel Ofosu Gyeabour and Pastor Evans Ochieng (who was already planning on visiting Ghana).

Both agreed to look into this.  Also, at the request of Pastor Samuel Ofosu Gyeabour , I sent an email detailing some of what we in the Continuing Church of God would expect from any group and leader associated with us.

So, late last month we sent Pastor Evans Ochieng and host Nimrod Ondigo Ochieng from Kenya to Ghana to hold meetings.

A couple of days ago, Pastor Evans Ochieng sent me the following report related to his trip to Ghana:

Pastor Dr Bob,
Greetings from Kenya.
I thank God for the safe journey to and from Ghana. I was sick when I
was going to Ghana But through the prayers from brethren, God healed
me and I was very safe in Ghana. Thank you very much brethren for your
prayers. The journey was very safe even though it was long. We were
received by our three brethren from Ghana at the airport.  Our brother
Kwame who is working in bank, Daniel Kwesi who was our translator
throughout the meetings in Ghana. very humble, loving man with a lot
of respect and pastor peter Adei. This pastor  really dedicated
himself to God’s work. He was always with us throughout our time in
Ghana and served God’s people both physical and spiritual to make sure
that every stage went well. I thank him so much for giving us easy
time in Ghana. We traveled again by bus for 6 hours to Kumasi where
Overseer Samuel is living. We received a warm welcome from the family
of pastor Samuel. He gave us a warm welcome and took us to the hotel
where we spent night with my brother Nimrod Ondigo.
MEETING WITH
EXECUTIVE COUNCIL IN GHANA
We met with church executive council in Ghana on Tuesday. I met seven
people who are the executive council. The council included the
overseer, 1 pastor, 2 elders, 1 lady, board chairman and the
secretary.
AGENDA
1READING BOB THIEL’S LETTER
2-TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF AFFILIATION
The meeting commenced after prayer from secretary.
CONTENTS OF BOB THIEL’S LETTER
The secretary read Bob Thiel’s letter which were to be discussed
before coming into affiliation. The letter was read paragraph after
paragraph and they asked me to explain  every paragraph. They also
wanted to know more about theology and government which I also explain
to them till they become satisfy. Every member asked questions and i
was answering all the questions. I told them that we could not go
beyond your letter. Even though all members were convinced and sober,
a leading member of the board was against the affiliation. He turned the meeting
place to be like politician arena. He was confronting every person who
was in the hall and denying them chance to talk. Lastly he made a
great mistake of disrespect to overseer Samuel. It was very bad and it
forced me to confront him and stop him. He was in a group that wrote a
threatening letter to pastor Bob. He was also having falls accusations
against overseer Samuel. so it forced us to end the meeting on
Tuesday. I want to thank elder Appia in a special way for his
politeness of controlling the meeting and having good questions to
give proper directions for the growth of the church. May God bless him
highly.

MEETING ALL PASTORS OF 7TH DAY CHURCH
OF GOD IN GHANA
On Wednesday I met all 7th day church of God pastors . Because of the misconduct and rudeness of the leading board member, I talked with overseer to
call a meeting of all 7th day pastors to meet with me on Wednesday.
These are the pastors who attended the meeting:-
1-pastor Isaac Aboagye
2-Kinsley Kumi
3- Anthony mofum
4-Isaac Amponsei
5-Victor Addae
6-Ayissi Boamal
7-Peter Nkamsah
8-Peter Adei
9-Armstrong Domaa
10-Nimrod Ondigo ————-Kenya
11-Overseer Samuel Efosu
12-Evans Ochieng
We opened the meeting with a word of prayer from Samuel Efosu.
After prayer, Samuel gave chance to his secretary Daniel to read the
letter from Dr Bob paragraph after paragraph because all pastors
wanted to hear the reply that came from Dr Bob. After reading the
letter the pastors wanted me to explain every paragraph because they
wanted to understand every paragraph.  The pastors were very very
happy with the reply which Dr Bob gave. They were not happy with what
leading board member did on Tuesday at the meeting.
The pastors accepted the affiliation highly. They said that hey are
going to use the name CONTINUING CHURCH OF GOD (7TH DAY) to make
affiliation successful.
Here are the comments from pastors:-
pastor Isaac————- I accepted the affiliation fully.
Pastor Kumi————— I accepted
Ayissi———————– Unity is strength
peter Nkansah————- We must all help to gather the harvest for God .
Armstrong Domaa————- I have total support for the affiliation
as far as Mathew 28:18 is concern. The work of God need to be preached
globally and in support.
Victor Addae ——————– I am supporting the work which is
being done by continuing church of God fully. And we need the gospel
to be preached in all corners of Ghana.
The Overseer Samuel
declare that “I share same vision with my pastors and Bob Thiel.
All pastors accepted the affiliation.
I asked them if they agree to work together. They unanimously agreed.
I thanked God for leading the meeting to be successful. The pastors
said that they will allow only pastor Samuel to send and receive all
reports from Dr Bob or me. Not any church member who is trying to
bring confusion.

FEAST OF TABERNACLES 2016 GHANA
After the meeting we went to a place where they want keep the feast
this year. it is a catholic site with many buildings. The site is very
smart. The pastors said that what they have cannot help them to
complete the feast successfully. So the are requesting if the church
can support them. I told them that I will send your request to the
headquarter if they add to you something to help you.

TRANSLATION
The pastors said that they need to translate our magazines in Ghanian
language that many people in Ghana can understand. It is a national
Language in Ghana. So they chose Daniel Kwesi to translate them. I
promised them 2 lap tops that will help them in that work.

PRINTING
They agree that the printing can be done in Ghana successfully to make
the work easier.
The work will be led by Samuel .
Finally I thanked our brethren in Ghana for working together with CCOG
to preach the gospel.

KENYA CONFERENCE
We agreed that Samuel will attend the meeting in Kenya 2017 with his
secretary. They ask the church to support Samuel and his secretary to
travel to Kenya.
Evans.

Hopefully the serious opposition in Ghana is over. I had suspected that someone in the leadership was involved, and sadly this was confirmed. Perhaps in time, those who remain opposed to CCOG will reconsider.

It appears that the bulk of those in Ghana are with us.  And now, they officially are.

ghana

As mentioned earlier, Pastor Ochieng brought Nimrod Ondigo Ochieng (who is not a relative of his) with him from Kenya. I met Ondigo when I was in Kenya in 2014. This year he assisted with the translation of our song book into Kiswahili.

Here is a report from him:

Dear Pastor Bob,
We are glad to inform you that we were warmly welcomed by the Ghanian brethren!
It was such a wonderful moment when we met the brethren from the airport who drove us to the bus station to Kumasi city.Though we were tied,we felt the warmth and love of our brethren.
On Tuesday,we had a leadership convention in the church hall where Overseer Samuel Efosu was the chairman of the meeting.The topic of the discussion was about affiliation.On that day,it did not went well because of one such controversial man who had been spreading some allegations.
On the second day,Wednesday,the meeting again went well and all the pastors and some deacons from all over Ghana Church of God 7th Day came.Pastor expounded to them what seemed to be misunderstood-governance in God’s church.He also went over the CCOG statement of beliefs.It was so wonderful.I love the way our brothers are organized and they are in unity in whatever they do.They were very much willing to be part of Continuing Church of God to continue with the mission of Matthew 24:14 and 28:19-20 and to hold fast to the faith that was once and for all delivered to the saints.
Pastor Evans also showed much concern for them for they had been allowed to do the Feast of Tabernacle in the Catholic premises but funds have been a challenge to them.They were also desiring to translate the BNP and the Bible Hymnal into Ghanian language.Pastor Evans helped  a lot during these meetings.
We thank God for calling our brethren to be the co-workers in accomplishing the final phase of the work!
May God richly bless you for your love and concern for our brethren.May our almighty bless pastor Evans for the heart he has for us and the entire brethren in Africa.
Best Regards
Ondigo Ochieng

Here is a photograph of Ghana leaders along with two CCOG leaders from Kenya:

ghanaleaders
From the left, the second man is Ondigo Ochieng and the fourth man is Evans Ochieng. The other men are from Ghana.

Here is an email from Osei Bonsu, who was the first person to contact me from Ghana:

Dr Bob  we are most grateful  to you ; your family and the entire brethren of the Continuous Church Of God . Shalom. The congregation of Ghana  Salute you  once again.
Pastor Evan  was here in Ghana and everything was successful. We appreciate  your  tolerance upon this affiliation. This was  my happy desire ; that through your mission we can propagate this missing doctrine of the  Church  which  our Saviour laid  His life  for  us. My  dream has come to  reality.Is my fevish prayer that we conquer  the entire  continent of Africa for the Gospel  of God.
Thank you

Here is a letter I received from overseeing Pastor Samuel Ofosu Gyeabour:

Dear Bob,

With much sincerity, we send you our utmost greetings from Ghana to the brethren there in the faith through the righteousness of our lord and savior Jesus Christ. May grace and peace be upon you all in abundance, through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our lord, Amen.

I want to first of all thank God for giving our brethren, thus the Kenyan delegates a safe journey and for that we are most thankful and grateful unto the almighty for protection.

I also want to thank you Pastor Bod Thiel for your courage and determination towards your purpose objective and the aim of bringing Africa into the light line through the kingdom gospel, over major task in the call of our Lord.

Again, I wish to hereby commend you once more for your focus in spite of the numerous unanimous letters you received.

It tells and shows the level of your spiritual maturity and of course your growth in the grace and knowledge of our lord and savior Jesus Christ (II peter 3:17-18)

We strictly condemn such defiant attitude and as a matter of fact, before I proceed to brief you on the proceeding of our meeting, the entire pastoral board on behalf of the congregation, wishes to extend categorically here our apology for such uncalled behavior as witnessed.

In as much as we wouldn’t want to justify ourselves we are pleased you didn’t notify that as a deliberate attempt either to mud the meeting and our friendship as such character can be sometimes traced in (III John 9-12 and II timothy 4:14)

Oneness of faith in our lord is the most important thing and we are grateful you understand this already.

Notwithstanding, on the arrival of the Kenyan delegates, our brethren, we discussed a lot and prominent among the issues on board were; merging together preparation for the feast of tabernacle and the desire for developing a PERMANENT CAMP-SITE to reduce expenditure in the near future.

Globalization in the word of our Lord is all our major priority in the advancement of the kingdom gospel and so your idea to propagate and bring Africa to light has been applauded and consented.

On the issues of the preparation for the feast of tabernacle the challenges are very numerous and we sweat to pay for the facilities owned by other organization.

Most of our children lose their jobs for loyalty to God, while some cannot for financial reasons, and this indirectly affects the Pastors economically and denying us of our social responsibilities among our families the least to talk about for now.

Your support last year really helped us a lot of which we had a feast absolutely different from the past ones, because transport was made available for all branches and the camp site as well.

Ironically, Pastor Evans exclaimed Ghana is rich! Yes! Ghana is blessed to have been rich indeed but not for the ordinary Ghanaians rather politicians and powers.

The brethren visitation was an affectionate one and we are most grateful to you Pastor Bob Thiel and the Brethren here for the wonderful progress and our relationship shall grow much stronger in unity, having taking special note of the other recommendation you made. BRAVO we say PASTOR BOB THIEL, May the Lord who keeps you from falling bless and protect you. Amen.

Yours in Christ

Pastor Samuel Ofosu Gyeabour.

It is great that the Ghanians are with us. We are reaching people in Africa and it is fantastic that the trip to Ghana worked out well.

Africa Support Crisis

On Tuesday, we tried to send some money via Western Union, and then Moneygram, to support some of our poor brethren in Malawi and Mozambique during the Feast of Tabernacles.

Basically, in my view, because of pressures from the US government, Western Union will no longer send funds from the USA to anywhere in Africa (there were two other places we were looking to assist). This restriction apparently became effective October 1, 2016. Nor would Moneygram send the funds when I tried to use it–Moneygram cited ‘security’ concerns.

In the past, we sent funds for food to Malawi and Mozambique via Western Union–but Western Union will not allow that any more.

This may mean that many will not be able to come to the Feast of Tabernacles in Africa, as well as be hungry.

We were able to wire some funds to Kenya, but our contact for Malawi and Mozambique does not have the type of bank account that and will not have one in time for a wire transfer–so we ended up using a relative’s account.  We have similar issues for other places in Africa.

So, I have asked Pastor Ochieng, in Kenya, to see if he can provide support from Kenya for one or two other places in Africa. It is now too late to provide support to those outside of Kenya from the USA before this coming Feast of Tabernacles. If we cannot later resolve this, then we also will not be able to have the meeting we wish to have in Kenya with the leaders of the various other African nations (our funds are also quite low now, so we will have to see later if we will be able to put on the conference).

The Bible tells about a time one will need the ‘mark of the beast’ or the ‘number of his name’ in order to buy and sell (Revelation 13:16-18). With more and more financial restrictions, we are getting closer to this time already.

World News Items

Pope Francis visited the nation of Georgia several days ago, was called an “Arch-heretic” by some, and was somewhat shunned by the populace their (see Pope Francis shunned and called ‘Arch-heretic’ in Georgia). This, however, did not deter Pope Francis who later tried to be gracious about this. Despite objections from some of the Eastern Orthodox (like those in Greece, Russia, and Georgia), expect at least some type of temporal unity with Rome in the future.

The USA relinquished control over a critical portion of the internet since my last letter (see USA giving away control of the Internet: a step towards Amos 8:11-12 and 666?). The sermonette recommended for this Sabbath is related to that (watch Internet Control, Famine of the Word, and 666).

Over in the UK, its Prime Minister Theresa May announced that she intends to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty by the end of March 2017 (see Theresa May: UK to invoke ‘Article 50′ for Brexit by end of March 2017). This will begin the two-year countdown for the UK is to depart from the European Union.

We are seeing growing international resentment against the USA and UK. And it is not just because of the Brexit vote in the UK.

Five years ago, I wrote that I agreed that the Philippines would look more towards China in the next five-ten years ( Philippine’s Ramos Calling for Pax Asia-Pacifica to Replace Pax-Americana. COGwriter, July 14, 2011), and this has happened.  We now have the President of the Philippines and various leaders in Germany taking steps away from the USA as their confidence in the USA is diminishing (see Growing anti-Americanism will change the USA/UK world order). A Gentile dominated order is starting to rise up, as Jesus predicted (Luke 21:23-24), and resentment against the USA and UK are factors in that rise.

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 new 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 ContinuingCOGchannel AND MANY SERMONETTE MESSAGES ON THE Bible News Prophecy channel.

Concluding Comments

The Bible says:

26 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 27 “Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. 28 And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God.29 For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people. 30 And any person who does any work on that same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. 31 You shall do no manner of work; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. 32 It shall be to you a sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your sabbath.” (Leviticus 23:26-32).

7 ‘On the tenth day of this seventh month you shall have a holy convocation. You shall afflict your souls; you shall not do any work. (Numbers 29:7)

Fasting is historically mainly how the phrase “afflict your souls” has been interpreted by the Jewish and Church of God communities (this is also verified by such passages as Psalm 35:13; 69:10 and Isaiah 58:5) to mean fasting, unless one is somehow ill, and thus is already afflicted. Evening to evening means from sunset to sunset.

The New Testament itself calls the Day of Atonement, “the Fast” (Acts 27:9), which not only indicates that the Apostle Paul was keeping it (which he would be per statements in Acts 21:18-24; 28:17), but that Greek-named Theophilus (the Christian which the Book of Acts was addressed to in Acts 1:1), also must have been or another term would have been substituted.

Observant individuals affiliated with the Continuing Church of God will fast from sunset this night until sunset the next night (if they are physically able–nursing mothers, small children, pregnant women, and various afflicted others are not expected to fast–this is consistent with Jewish practices in this area as well). In this fast we go without food or drink.

Oddly, one Protestant report claims that one reason Christians do not need to keep the Day of Atonement is because there is no Jewish temple today. Yet, the biblical reality is that the children of Israel kept the Day of Atonement for centuries before there was a temple and the other reality is that the New Testament shows that Christians are now the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).

This year, the Day of Atonement runs from sunset October 11th through sunset October 12th.

Sincerely,

Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer