Greetings from Charlotte,
This week the Mail Processing Department sent out nearly 12,000 copies of Mr. Ames’ July co-worker letter. It was also encouraging to learn that more than 61,000 people have requested the DVD of Dr. Meredith’s online Tomorrow’s World Presentation, “What’s Ahead for America and the World?” that was offered in the recent semi-annual letter. In addition to the 9,500 individuals who watched Dr. Meredith’s online presentation live, more than 34,000 have watched it since on YouTube. We are also seeing very strong growth for all Living Church of God Social Media and Internet sites. Mr. Gary Ownby reports that responses to Tomorrow’s World television programs remain strong. Mr. Wyatt Ciesielka reports that the Tomorrow’s World television program will begin airing on July 24 all over Russia on four powerful satellites. The Adventure Trip in the California National Parks went smoothly and was enjoyed by everyone. This coming weekend, Mr. Gerald Weston will make Tomorrow’s World Presentations in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada. Also this weekend we have a number of visitors coming through the office including Mr. Damian Weekes, who is an elder serving in Trinidad and other parts of the Caribbean. Please remember your brothers and sisters who need God’s intervention in their lives and continue to thank God and ask for His continued blessing on all these activities to fulfill the commission He has given to His Church to warn this world of what lies ahead and spread the good news of His coming Kingdom!—DSW
There have been members of God’s Church in Vanuatu since the mid-1980s, when the Church ran ads in Readers’ Digest. Presently, the Living Church of God has about 80 people gathering for worship and fellowship each Sabbath. They are pastored by Mr. Jerry Sam, who was one of those earliest members. It is an arduous task for him to pastor this country of many islands and poor roads. He has a Yamaha farm-bike to serve those on Malekula. To visit those on other islands he must fly on small aircraft. The largest congregation is at Orap on the island of Malekula. Between 40 and 60 people meet here in a “tabernacle” they built themselves. They have also constructed a dining hall and regularly meet for shared meals based on the local dish of laplap. Other members are to be found on Tanna Island in the south and on Efate, where the nation’s capital, Port Vila, is located. New disciples of God’s Truth usually come by way of the Tomorrow’s World program, which is broadcast on short- and medium-wave radio to all islands of the country on Sunday afternoons.
Your brothers and sisters in Vanuatu are mostly subsistence farmers who depend on the sale of copra (dried coconut) for cash income. When the price of copra falls, the members try to wait to sell when the market improves, so their income (and the Church tithe income) can fluctuate drastically. Our Vanuatu brethren face difficult lives with few of the facilities that most of us consider necessities and take for granted. Please pray for them—that their food and cash crops will be protected, that those few who do have jobs will retain them and that their children will be able to win some of the limited places in good schools.
I arrived in Vanuatu on June 17 and Mr. Sam and I worked on the final arrangements for the Feast of Tabernacles to be held on the northern island of Espiritu Santo (Holy Spirit).—Kinnear Penman
New Zealand Update
In order to better serve our New Zealand brethren, Living Leadership classes have been conducted throughout the country as the ministry travels. Moreover, Mr. Kinnear Penman has implemented many initiatives in Auckland, our largest congregation, to develop the membership as they strive to grow in grace and knowledge. These initiatives include regular monthly in-home Bible studies where enthusiastic brethren appreciate the opportunity to hear Messrs. Penman and Kearns expound upon the word of God. Spokesman Club has also been started up again and 12 brave men have taken this exciting opportunity to develop their speaking abilities at monthly meetings. Finally, regular Teens’ and Children’s Bible studies in Auckland have also been producing fruit. The general consensus is that the youth are thoroughly enjoying the Bible studies and “can’t wait” for the next one. Church youth as far south as Invercargill have been sent the Bible study material so that they can be kept in touch with what is being taught in Auckland to their peers. Experiencing their own kind of success, the “LCG Allstars,” a basketball team, was started as a way to draw the Church youth together and build bonds.—Paul Kearns
Visit to Benin by Dr. Oladele Akin-Ogundeji, Elder in Nigeria
In 2010, a few young men from Benin contacted Mr. Rees Ellis and, since then, they have corresponded with him and with me with various Bible questions. In March 2011, two of them and ten other men from their previous church affiliation came to Lagos, Nigeria, for a one-day meeting with me, asking more questions about the truths of Scripture. They concluded that God had led them to His Church, but when they returned to their home country, older people in their previous church began to discourage them from forsaking their past ways and beliefs and embracing the Truth they were learning. When the young men realized that it was futile to persuade the others, four of them left their former church and began devoting more attention to seeking God’s Truth, including studying material produced by the Living Church of God, and keeping in close touch with Mr. Ellis and myself.
In December 2012, four of them came to Lagos for a Tomorrow’s World Presentation given by Mr. Rod King and counseled with him and Mr. Ellis. One of them was baptized at that time. Over the past five months, other young men in their former affiliation have contacted them to learn more about the way of salvation. They contacted me and expressed a desire for a meeting in Benin.
On June 28, 2013, I left Nigeria for Cotonou, Benin’s capital, where I held a question-and-answer session with 12 men and four ladies. They ranged in age from 19 years to 31 years and there were seven children, ages five years and under. The question-and-answer session lasted about 90 minutes, and after we all had refreshments, I gave a Bible Study on “Overcoming Sin,” emphasizing the need to have the Holy Spirit to be able to please God and overcome sin. I highlighted the importance of believing the Truth, bearing fruit of repentance and being baptized as requirements for receiving the Holy Spirit. The group were receptive and enthusiastic. Many of them are students and largely dependent on their parents. I encouraged them to move towards repentance and to pass the tests they will face in trying to do things God’s way. I returned to Lagos on June 29.—Oladele Akin-Ogundeji
Arizona-New Mexico Campout
The Arizona-New Mexico congregations’ Fourth of July weekend campout was a wonderful get-away! The weather was perfect—from 58°F at night to a high of 81°F in the day—an ideal escape from the summer heat in most parts of these desert states. God’s protection was also evident in that there had been a terrible wildfire in the mountains, but two days before the campout, He sent hail and heavy rain so that by the time we arrived, the fire was under control and mostly extinguished. On July 4, the campers kicked off the day with a parade, festive music and the pledge of allegiance performed by all the children. Then all joined in games that included American-history-themed treasure hunts. There were ribbons and prizes for all the children. A wonderful BBQ followed. Some enjoyed fishing in a nearby lake and one of the little girls caught a trout, which was quickly cooked and eaten. The day finished after watching the Cottonwood fireworks from high atop Mingus Mountain and singing patriotic hymns.
On Friday there was more fishing, more games and lots of good food for all. Some enjoyed a driving tour of the old copper-mining town of Jerome. The evening meal on Friday was largely cooked by the men and was followed by a Bible Challenge for all ages and a sing-along of inspirational music.
Sabbath morning started with a great breakfast and then the short drive to our Prescott meeting hall for Sabbath services. After services, more brethren joined the campers for a BBQ and fellowship. On Sunday we dismantled the camp and returned to 114-plus-degree temperatures. God richly blessed and protected one and all in a most beautiful part of the Arizona high country.—Rodger Bardo
Omaha, Nebraska, Zoo Trip
Brethren from five states joined those in Omaha, Nebraska on Sabbath, July 13, for fellowship and solid spiritual food. Mr. Len Carper cautioned the 75 in attendance to be aware of Satan’s goal and devices. After a ladies vocal quintet presented special music, Associate Pastor Brian Pomicter reminded brethren of the sacrifices made by America’s founding fathers and by the first century servants of God and encouraged them to remain dedicated in unity and loyalty to God’s calling and purposes.
After services, the brethren enjoyed a covered-dish meal and warm fellowship before forming four teams to participate in a “Bible Bowl” activity led by Mr. Adam Binns.
On Sunday morning, 31 local brethren and 29 visitors enjoyed touring Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo, renowned for its conservation work and its spectacular cutting-edge exhibits, including the largest indoor rainforest in America and the largest indoor desert in the world. A fully catered sumptuous lunch at the Infield at the Zoo Park was provided free of charge through the generosity of a local restaurant, The Black Oak, arranged by Miss Laura Graham. The day’s activity was a huge success. Be sure to make plans to join us for next year’s visit to Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo.—Brian Pomicter
Living Youth Program
Another great year at LYC Missouri Pre-Teen Camp!
Last week, 66 campers, mini-campers, and siblings joined an enthusiastic staff of 54 adults and teens at Cuivre River State Park near St. Louis, Missouri for another year of pre-teen camp excitement! Powered by delicious food from our phenomenal kitchen crew (which presented a different international theme every evening), campers enjoyed many old and new favorite activities this year, such as archery with compound bows, riflery, a nature walk, ultimate frisbee (enjoyed by campers and staff alike), sign language, and music classes. Girls’ crafts involved making beautiful headbands, barrettes and pins, while the boys’ woodworking class crafted wooden boxes with sliding lids. Other camp activities included Missouri-style musical chairs, our annual hot dog and s’mores cookout, a camp “sing along,” making paracord bracelets, and the ever-popular Camp Quiz. Many have commented on the helpfulness of the Christian Living classes for both the staff and campers. The fun show at camp’s end was followed by the traditional “graduation walk” by our 12-year-olds and by slideshows and videos produced by our media staff to cap off a truly amazing week. Many thanks to all who participated and to our Great God for the blessings that were so apparent in Missouri this year!—Wallace Smith
Adventure Trip Recap
Thirty-seven tired, but exhilarated, hikers returned Monday afternoon from their five-day backpacking adventure in the High Sierras. After returning to civilization, the group ended their trip on an incredibly high note by spending one day whitewater rafting on the challenging Tuolumne River and another day exploring the giant trees in Sequoia National Park. The campers and staff began their journey home on Thursday, weary but excited to have participated in such an epic adventure. Although this summer’s experience is over, plans are already underway for next year’s equally exciting expedition.—Jim Meredith
Around the World Video
Be sure to check out the latest Living Church of God “Around the World” video, which includes updates from our Headquarters and Regional Directors on exciting developments happening in God’s Church all around the world! We aim to produce these monthly, but because of our Regional Directors’ demanding schedules, we may not receive a video from every office every month. We hope you enjoy this brief video update and we hope that you will join us in prayer, both thanking God for the big blessings that He continues to give to His Church, and also beseeching Him for His help, protection and guidance as we go about doing His Work proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and serving those whom He calls. Please click the following link to view the video: Around the World.—Wyatt Ciesielka
German Web Site and Literature Report
There were 29,988 unique visitors to www.weltvonmorgen.org in the first six months of 2013, which is a 14.6 percent increase over the first six months of 2012. These visitors downloaded 993 booklets (1.2 percent increase over same time period last year), 2,566 articles (54.6 percent increase) and 497 Bible Study Course lessons (6 percent increase).
While mobile devices (mobile phones and tablets) accounted for 14 percent of all Internet traffic on our site in 2012, during the first half of 2013 they account for 22.5 percent of our traffic.
Facebook referrals increased year-to-date by 22 percent.
A German online platform, gutefrage.net (GoodQuestion.net), has brought over three times more referrals so far this year than in all of last year (11 referrals last year, 37 so far this year). While the numbers are not large, it is interesting: people talk about us there.
The first half of this year also saw 85 booklets, 361 articles and 40 Bible Study Course lessons mailed. These numbers are down, as more and more people download the literature they are interested in directly from our Web site. Our total increase in literature distributed year-to-date is 3.7 percent.—Adrian Kaefer
Feast of Tabernacles
Lake of the Ozarks Festival Choir and Special Music
The Festival Choir in Missouri needs you! Anyone interested who has not yet signed up for the Feast Choir in Missouri this year, please e-mail Mr. Vince Fratto at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sheet music and practice recordings have been e-mailed and we’d like to include everyone interested as soon as possible. Also, if you would like to volunteer for Special Music at the Lake of the Ozarks, please contact Mr. Fratto.—Wallace Smith
Tithe of the Second Tithe—Repeat Announcement
For those who are able to contribute a tithe of their second tithe to help defray the expenses involved in conducting the annual Holy Days, including the Feast of Tabernacles, it would be greatly appreciated if this contribution could be sent at this time (if it has not already been sent). The tithe of the second tithe is used to help brethren with limited funds attend the Feast of Tabernacles, as well as to pay for hall rentals and other administrative costs associated with the annual Holy Days.—Jerry Ruddlesden
Feast of Tabernacles Sermon CDs—Repeat Announcement
Attention Pastors: Please send Mrs. Dorothy McNair, at email@example.com, the names of those in your congregation(s) who will be unable to attend the Feast and who will need to receive the Feast of Tabernacles sermons on CD. The deadline to submit these requests is August 15 for international recipients, and August 30 for recipients in the U.S. Note: Feast sermons will also be uploaded (one per day) during the Feast at www.lcg.org, for those who have Internet access.
Activity Registration Now Open!
Feast of Tabernacles Activity Registration began on Sunday, July 14! Brethren are encouraged to sign up for their Feast site’s activities. Check the Festival Web site (www.fot2013.lcg.org) or with your site coordinator for more information about payment options that may be available.
E-mail Notifications—Repeat Announcement
Attention all members: Please add the e-mail addresses firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com to your e-mail address book or “safe senders” list. The Festival Office and your Festival Coordinator may occasionally send you messages or notifications concerning the Feast of Tabernacles from these two addresses. Adding them to your address book or “safe senders list” might prevent them from being blocked by your Internet Service Provider’s anti-spam filters.
Employment Opportunity: TV Production Assistant—Repeat Announcement
The Headquarters Office is looking for a TV Production Assistant with experience in video editing and TV studio equipment. The successful candidate will enjoy video production and will have some experience in video editing software (such as Avid or Final Cut). The right candidate for this position will be a “team player” able to produce results quickly in a fast-paced and deadline-driven environment. This job is in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Church will pay for reasonable moving expenses. Applicant must meet the legal requirements to work in the United States, and must be a Living Church of God adherent, in good standing, who is truly dedicated to the Work. If you are interested in this position, please send your résumé, along with a cover letter and a letter of reference from your Area Pastor, to: Human Resources Department, Living Church of God, 2301 Crown Centre Drive, Charlotte, NC 28227. E-mail: HR@lcg.org; FAX: 704-844-1973.—Wyatt Ciesielka
Living University—Registration for 1st (Fall) Semester
Registration for Fall semester classes is now underway. Classes will begin August 14 and students may register anytime between now and then. For those who have never taken a Living University course, you will need to enroll in the University first, and then register for your selected course. The following are brief descriptions of three courses being offered next semester. A complete listing of “2013 Fall Semester Courses” (Spring in the Southern hemisphere), can be viewed on the Living University Web site. To make application to Living University, to register for courses, and to find out more, please visit the www.livinguniv.com Web site. For additional information, please contact Mrs. Michelle Broussard at 704-708-2294 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
CIS 110 – Introduction to Computers. This course is extremely beneficial to those wishing to better understand how to use one of the most important innovations of the modern era. It introduces computer concepts, including fundamental functions and operations of the computer. Topics include identification of hardware components, basic computer operations, security issues, and use of software applications. Students will conclude the semester far more comfortable and confident in using the computer. This course is required for our degree programs.
ENGL 111 – Written Expression. This course is extremely helpful for those with limited writing experience and who need to improve their written communication skills. It will also make future courses, where writing is a major component, easier. ENGL 111 is the required first course in a series of two designed to develop the ability to produce clear expository writing. Emphasis is on the writing process, including audience analysis, topic selection, thesis support and development, editing, and revision. This course is required for our degree and diploma programs.
HPRO 114 – Health and Wellness. This course covers topics that are important for improving your personal health and wellbeing. It aims to filter the vast array of health-related knowledge available in the world today through sound biblical principles. Dr. Scott Winnail will emphasize lifestyle-related wellness, health promotion, and disease prevention within the context of a range of health topics. Focus will be placed on healthy decision-making, becoming a wise health consumer, healthy weight management, and other skills which will enable students to make health-enhancing choices and engage in actions to improve their own health and quality of life.
Are You Teachable? The Scriptures reveal that one of the important qualities of character that God is looking for in Christians and in future leaders in the Kingdom of God is teachability—the desire and willingness to listen and learn. Abraham was teachable and responsive to God’s instructions (Genesis 12:1-4). Moses was a very capable leader, yet also humble and teachable (Numbers 12:3). David’s attitude comes through in Psalm 119:33 when he writes, “Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes.” Solomon recognized his human inadequacies when he asked God for wisdom and an “understanding heart” so he could rule the people of Israel wisely (1 Kings 3:9). When Jesus said the meek and the poor of spirit are blessed, He was emphasizing their teachability and their willingness to learn and grow (Matthew 5:3-5). The Scriptures make it plain that when we harden our hearts to God’s instructions, we will reap serious consequences (Proverbs 28:14). We have been called to reign with Christ in the Kingdom of God, and being teachable is one of the keys to attaining that reward!
Have a profitable Sabbath,
Douglas S. Winnail
News and Prophecy—July 18, 2013
Arab Nations Unite to Support Egypt: Recent chaos in Egypt has left Western leaders at a loss. But, Egypt’s neighbors are using it to gain influence in the region. “Saudi Arabia was one of the first countries to congratulate Egypt after its army ousted President Mohammed Mursi and dissolved the Islamist-made constitution. The [Saudi] kingdom also offered Egypt $5 billion in aid, which was followed by the United Arab Emirates’ $3 billion and Kuwait’s $4 billion” (Al Arabiya, July 14, 2013). This aid significantly impacts the region and dwarfs the “$1.55 billion a year” in aid to Egypt provided by the U.S. (Reuters, July 16, 2013). The Saudis became “unhappy with Mursi’s government” and used their relationship with the current Egyptian leaders to “engineer this change of government” (Al Arabiya, July 14, 2013). Egyptian General Sisi “used to be a military attaché in Saudi Arabia” and interim President Mansour “was an advisor to the Saudi Ministry of Commerce for seven years” (ibid.). Bible prophecy has long foretold a Middle-Eastern “confederacy” of nations that will be of “one consent” or under single leadership for a time (Psalm 83:1-8). This coming “king of the South” (a reference to a location south of Jerusalem) will make a false peace with the European “king of the North” (Daniel 11:27), but treachery will lead to a brutal war which “Egypt will not escape” (Daniel 11:40-43). For more information on this important topic, read our booklet The Middle East in Prophecy.
Mexican Political Violence: Just a Symptom: Mexico’s recent local and state elections have been called “the most violent in recent history” (Huffington Post, July 15, 2013). The campaigns were marked by violence that claimed the lives of “Twelve electoral candidates, family members and campaign workers,” and kidnapping (Brookings, July 17, 2013). Experts inside and outside Mexico place the blame on the powerful drug cartels (ibid.). One analyst observed, “A state that cannot protect its candidates is a state that cannot protect democracy.” The “construction of the post-authoritarian state in Mexico [since the 1990s] has never had social security as its top priority. Capturing profit and power has been, and continues to be, the main motivation” (Huffington Post, July 15, 2013). Sadly, failing societies have clear symptoms: “arms and drug trafficking become more common. Ordinary police forces become paralyzed… For protection, citizens naturally turn to warlords and other strong figures who express ethnic or clan solidarity, thus projecting strength at a time when all else, including the state itself, is crumbling” (ibid.). Mexico’s struggles are not unique in Satan’s world (2 Corinthians 4:4). Selfish leaders everywhere care more about self than about the people they serve (Ezekiel 34:1-6). However, the “good news” is that Jesus Christ will return and judge the people of the world in righteousness, according to God’s laws (Psalm 96:10). May God speed that day!
A Sign of the Times: Bestiality is becoming an emerging issue. In Sweden hundreds of animals are injured each year from sexual attacks (Expressen.se, January 19, 2004). In Germany this practice is increasing, partly due to a loophole in animal protection laws (DailyMail, July 1, 2013). According to an animal rights officer, “There are now animal brothels in Germany” and “people were playing down the issue by describing it as a ‘lifestyle choice’” (ibid.). Many German leaders want to ban bestiality again, but the German ‘zoophile’ group ZETA announced it will “mount a legal challenge should a ban on bestiality become law” and that “Mere concepts of morality have no business being law” (ibid.). This kind of thinking is reflected in a Yale University workshop where students were taught sensitivity for bestiality and other perversions (CampusReform, March 5, 2013). On a related matter, “Designer Karl Lagerfeld has declared that he wants to marry his pet cat,” which has three different maids attending its every need (Telegraph, June 5, 2013). While the Bible clearly condemns any type of sexuality with animals (Leviticus 18:23), Bible prophecies indicate that as we approach the end of the age “lawlessness will abound” (Matthew 24:12) and all kinds of evils will become commonplace (2 Timothy 3:1-4) in what the prophet Isaiah called a “sick” society (Isaiah 1:5). The acceptance of bestiality is one more reason why Jesus Christ will return and set up the Kingdom of God. For more about the coming Kingdom of God, review our free booklet, The World Ahead: What Will It Be Like?—Scott Winnail, Justin Ridgeway and Gary Stein