January 14, 2011
Dear Brethren and Co-Workers with Christ,
Warm greetings from Charlotte, North Carolina! Dr. Meredith asked me to write this month’s co-worker letter while he continues to work on various projects. And I must begin with some sobering news.
You may recall that in his December 2010 letter to brethren and co-workers, Dr. Meredith announced that the Tomorrow’s World telecast would start airing on “God TV” in January 2011, potentially reaching 500 million viewers in 175 million TV households. On January 2, God TV aired Dr. Meredith’s powerful program, “How To Overcome Satan,” offering his booklet Satan’s Counterfeit Christianity. Viewers from around the globe contacted our call-center in Kansas City—from as far away as Bangalore, India; Bavaria, Germany; and Vraa, Denmark, for example.
Understandably, not all the response was positive. God TV executives, once they realized that our teachings are at odds with “mainstream Christianity,” pulled us off the air after just one week! So, that “open door” closed very quickly. But we should not be disappointed. We remember that, even though the telecast aired for just three weeks on the “Love World” station in South Africa, that brief airing brought more than 20 new attendees—and three people being baptized into God’s Church! Even though the telecast aired for just one week on God TV, we cannot yet know what impact that airing will have. Of course, Dr. Meredith will now be looking for other open doors to preach the true Gospel—to a world that will not always receive it favorably.
Despite the God TV cancellation, we have much to be thankful for. Responses to the Tomorrow’s World telecast increased 10.8 percent in 2010 over 2009! We thank God for the open doors (Revelation 3:7-8) to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:7).
Thank you, brethren and co-workers, for your prayers and your support in fulfilling the Great Commission that Jesus gave His true servants: “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 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.’ Amen” (Matthew 28:18-20).
Jesus was very plain in his instruction to the Church: “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature’” (Mark 16:15). We appreciate all the co-workers and brethren who are joining us in supporting that mission with their whole heart and being! Certainly, we have a long way to go in reaching all nations and peoples with the Gospel. But Christ has encouraged us with open doors to preach the Gospel through various media in addition to global television. The Tomorrow’s World magazine print-run for January-February 2011 was 338,000, and issues were mailed to subscribers in 161 countries and dependencies. More than a million visitors from 226 countries and territories visited our Tomorrow’s World Web site in 2010—a 17 percent increase over last year. Currently our Web-based Tomorrow’s World Bible Study Course serves students from 133 countries, who are learning in their own homes or offices through the Internet. The latest online student just joined us from Uruguay. Since its inception in 1999, more than 246,000 students from 181 countries have registered for the print version of the Bible Study Course. The latest print-version student joined us from Singapore! We urge you all to subscribe to this outstanding free course, if you are not already a student.
We were encouraged last year when more than 100 Tomorrow’s World Bible Study Course students who had completed the 24-lesson course accepted Dr. Meredith’s invitation to enroll tuition-free in his semester-long Living University course, THL 135 Life, Ministry, and Teachings of Jesus. An online student from South Australia commented, “I have found this class extremely beneficial as it has increased my understanding of the Gospels and also the person of Jesus Christ,” and another from Oregon said, “An understanding of the gospels is invaluable, and getting the flow of the story has been enjoyable and educational.” A South African student wrote, “Analysing the Gospels in the context of the political, social, and religious aspects in the life, times, ministry, and teachings of Jesus was not only informative, but now in my opinion, essential in understanding the significance of Jesus Christ. Thank you for bringing the Bible to life for me.” Although registration for the Spring Semester has closed, Living University will be offering this course and others in the Fall Semester, for those who want to study God’s word in-depth in a stimulating academic environment. To find out more, visit the Living University Web site, www.livinguniv.com, for more information
Another way to deepen your knowledge of God’s word and His ways is to keep up with the articles in the Living Church News. Many co-workers responded to my April 2010 offer of a free subscription to this informative bi-monthly magazine. For those of you co-workers who are not familiar with it, the Living Church News features more in-depth biblical articles than you will find in the Tomorrow’s World magazine, as well as congregational news from around the world. I invite you to request your free subscription. Just contact the Regional Office nearest you (listed on page 30 of your Tomorrow’s World magazine), and let them know that you are a co-worker who would like to subscribe to the Living Church News.
In 2010, Living Church of God ministers conducted 102 Tomorrow’s World special presentations (TWSPs) in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and parts of Europe and Africa. Along with thousands of you brethren and co-workers, more than 3,400 new visitors came to these presentations, where they heard the Gospel preached with power. Later this month, on January 22 and 23, I am scheduled to give TWSPs in Tampa and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and I hope to give several more TWSPs throughout the upcoming year. I look forward to meeting many of you personally at these presentations. Be sure to check our www.TomorrowsWorld.org Web site for the locations and dates of future presentations in your area! Jesus said, “When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes” (Matthew 10:23). We are following our Lord’s guidance, striving to witness powerfully to as many cities as we can, despite the obstacles that we encounter.
Late last year, we were saddened to lose one shining witness of the power of God’s truth. Long-time evangelist Dibar Apartian—a faithful servant of Christ, and a dear friend—died December 8 at age 94. Not only through his preaching and writing, but especially through the very example of his life, Mr. Apartian demonstrated the blessings of living God’s way. Almost to the very end, even at his age, he continued to work diligently, arriving here at our office every morning at 8:30 a.m. But while we will miss his warmth, his positive attitude and the fruits of his inspired and faithful service of more than 55 years, we are happy that he has “finished the race” (2 Timothy 4:7), and we look forward to being reunited with him in the Resurrection when Christ returns in the not-too-distant future!
As we look forward to the Second Coming, what prophetic trends can we expect in 2011? A quick review of the news can give us a hint. The top news story last year, according to several agencies, was the disastrous 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti. Be sure to read “Is There Hope for Haiti?” in the January-February 2011 Tomorrow’s World magazine. Mr. Rod McNair wrote, “On January 12, 2010, the island nation of Haiti was jolted by the worst earthquake in the region in two centuries. The catastrophe caused horrific suffering that defied description. More than 300,000 people perished, with hundreds of thousands injured, and more than a million homeless.… Even a year later, in the midst of a cholera epidemic that had killed almost 2,000 Haitians by early December, it is still hard to grasp fully just how overwhelming this catastrophe was, and the depth of the damage it has done to an already troubled nation.… But why did such a disaster strike a nation already crippled by poverty, unemployment, and corruption?” (p. 16).
Already in 2011, catastrophic flooding in Queensland, Australia, has inundated vast land areas equivalent to the size of Germany and France combined. The State Treasurer Andrew Fraser described it as a disaster of “biblical proportions” costing the nation’s economy billions of dollars. Remember Jesus’ warning in Luke 21:25-26, “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” In the future, these powerful events will cause people all over the earth to die from heart attacks and fearfulness! But we must face the future with faith! Christ Himself gives us this encouragement: “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:27-28).
He then exhorts us, “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (v. 36). Are you alert to prophetic trends? Are you reading each issue of Tomorrow’s World magazine? If you have a computer, have you subscribed to our special TomorrowsWorld.org feature, the News and Prophecy E-Zine? Also, just last month, we began our new “Heads Up” podcast (www.headsupshow.org), featuring interviews and timely commentaries on today’s news in the light of Bible prophecy. My friends, be sure to keep up with these vital articles and reports on biblical Christianity and end-time prophecy.
Again, let’s consider recent prophetic trends. A year ago, Time magazine reported that the top news story of 2009 was: “America’s Economic Crisis: Now for the Non-Recovery.” Certainly, 2010 certainly lived up to the label of “non-recovery.” As the Wall Street Journal recently reported, “Personal bankruptcies in the U.S. topped 1.5 million last year, rising 9 percent from 2009 as more households buckled under debt loads” (January 4, 2011, p. 1).
Will 2011 see a global economic recovery? The Kiplinger Letter (December 30, 2010) predicts, “The economy will finally start to show more-robust job growth” in 2011. But this general outlook has its downside predictions as well: “Housing prices have further to slide…. About 100 banks will fail next year…. No end in sight to the Afghanistan war, grinding into its second decade.”
God will give the world a few more years to face the realities of its sinful ways. But Judgment Day is coming! The world needs to be warned and witnessed to! Jesus prophesied that “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). You who are reading this letter all have an integral part in that mission, and in advancing the preaching of the Gospel through your prayer, your generosity and your faithful service! And you have been generous and faithful! Even while the income of many non-profit organizations and churches declined in 2010, God blessed this Work with a 7.2 percent increase over 2009! Thank you very much, brethren and co-workers, for your loyal, dedicated and generous support.
In 2011, the world’s population will pass the seven billion mark for the first time in history since the great deluge described in the seventh chapter of Genesis. As the population grows and standards of living decline, witnessing to the whole world will take much more effort, sacrifice and determination. We have the faith that God will work through His servants—brethren, co-workers, Church members, ministers and others—to each play their vital part in accomplishing that awesome mission.
We all need to watch prophetic trends and pray for God’s Work! Look for exciting prophetic events in 2011 that will bring us another year closer to the return of Christ. Let us all pray fervently for the Kingdom to come, and let us look forward to a growing family of brethren, co-workers, and laborers. As Jesus said, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few” (Matthew 9:37-38). As we work together to fulfill the Great Commission, may God bless us all as we pray for more laborers to enter the great spiritual harvest, and as we fervently prepare for God’s awesome soon-coming Kingdom!
Your servant in Christ,
Richard F. Ames
P.S. A compact 2011 calendar, listing the dates of God’s Holy Days, was sent with the printed version of this letter. If you would like a copy, please e-mail your request to firstname.lastname@example.org.