Dear Brethren and co-workers in Christ:
Over here, in the Five Cities region of California, we have been busily updating articles, adding to websites, and trying to prioritize which projects in which order will best fulfill Matthew 28:19-20 as well as Matthew 24:14.
Feeding the Flock and Going through Doors Around the World
We printed the English-language version of the next edition of the Bible News Prophecy magazine. We also placed that edition in the mail to our subscribers.
We have something exciting to announce about it.
There is something different about this edition of the Bible News Prophecy magazine. It contains the first lesson in our Study the Bible Course. This course is highly based upon the original 58 lesson Bible Correspondence Course that began in the 1950s and was put out by the old Radio Church of God.
We need to be able to provide people with helpful information. As Jesus commanded:
19 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, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; (Matthew 28:19-20)
The original 58 lesson Bible Correspondence Course is dated and uses language that many in the 21st century have difficulty with. It is our hope and prayer that our Study the Bible Course will not only be familiar to people who knew about the old course from the Radio Church of God, but will be of immense assistance to those who do not have a Church of God background.
We plan to have the Study the Bible Course available in multiple languages, and we already have received translations of it into three additional languages (Spanish, French, and Kiswahili) as I write this. We expect to also get it in Mandarin Chinese, Tagalog, Telugu, and French as there are translators for those languages that have already received the English version to translate from. We also hope to get other languages, and hope our translators into Dutch, German, and Jingpho will be able to translate this as well.
The French translation came from the group in France that contacted us in June 2013. This is a significant step towards cooperation and hopefully over time more collaboration will occur.
Now, getting back to the Bible News Prophecy magazine itself, we also arranged for an electronic file of the English edition of the Bible News Prophecy magazine to be sent to Africa, for possible printing in Kenya.
George Lemi of Tanzania finished translating the next issue of the Bible News Prophecy magazine into Kiswahili. This will be the first time that the Continuing Church of God will have a magazine in that language. We hope to print some copies in the USA as well as possibly some copies in Kenya. However, because the file needs to be placed into a magazine format, this is likely several weeks away–but we are closer now than we have ever been before. While most in Kenya with us are comfortable with English, many in Kenya, Tanzania, and certain other parts of Africa prefer Kiswahili. So, this is a door that I have been long interested in going through.
We also provided additional support to those in Africa, including sending literature and ordering more songbooks this week. We are also attempting to try to figure out how to best assist with sermons and sermonettes because of technical limits that are currently present, as well as certain financial limitations.
Death of Sila Ogada
Over in Kenya there is tragic news to report. I am saddened to report that Sila Ogada, son of Lukas Ogada, died in some type of a vehicle accident.
Sila and I spoke on the telephone a couple of months back when he expressed interest in representing the Continuing Church of God in Kenya. Although we did not appoint him to that role, we cooperated with him and sent him literature (including something that went out the day of his accident). I even received an email from him the day before his tragic accident.
After hearing about his death, I sent his father an email of condolences and received the following unedited response:
Dear Pastor Bob,
Thank you so much for your message of condolence. It was a fatal
accident which occured to Sila on Kisii highway. It was Dec. 24 at
4pm. He died at the Hospital there. I got atragit shock. I couldn’t
write anyword I asked Mr. Kisiengo to report to you and Rich Traver.
I hope he passed that information to you. We removed the body from
that Hospital and is currently preserved the body at Ndhiwa-Mortual.
My son John me and the church are preparing for nex monday to bury
Silas body-we need your prayers there.
Sila will be missed by his family and others, and those who knew him are in my prayers.
Income Tax-related Administrative Matters
As mentioned last week, we are getting close to the end of the Roman calendar for 2013. Those who live in the United States of America will receive credit on their donation statements for all monies postmarked no later than December 31, 2013 (that we receive within a short period of that), for the tax year that ends on that date.
Donations to the Continuing Church of God 100% deductible in all the US states.
Contributions can be sent to Continuing Church of God, 1248 E. Grand #A, Arroyo Grande, CA 93420.
(A request for tax exempt status in New Zealand was also approved this year, and hence donations made in New Zealand are also fully tax deductible. More on making contributions is in the link Donations.)
World News Events
There are many news events of prophetic interest and this week’s sermonette relates to 15 that we reported on in 2013 (15 News Events That Will Affect You).
This particular week we saw the types of events that tend to mark the unbiblical December 25th holiday (Whose birthday is it really supposed to be today?), as Pope Francis made a call for human peace and called for atheists to unite with him (Pope Francis’ Christmas speech: Words of a lamb or a dragon?).
In the USA, another budget that does not solve the USA’s debt problems was signed, and another state (Utah) seems to have now allowed (based upon a decision of a couple of judges) homosexual marriage (Obama signs debt-increasing budget deal).
Over in Egypt, its interim government continued to take steps against protestors whether secular (Egypt’s military government jails three famed 2011 ‘Hosni Mubarak protestors’) or Islamic (Egypt declares Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization and arrests more of its supporters). The situation in Egypt will change and the final King of the South of biblical prophecy will rise up for a time (Daniel 11:40-43).
In South Sudan violence has been escalating (Violence continues in South Sudan; USA readies sending in Marines). The world needs the return of Jesus Christ and the establishment of the kingdom of God.
Suggested Sabbath Service
Here is our suggested format for Sabbath services 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 also is some Choral Accompaniment online).
- Opening prayer.
- Sermonette which for most will be a recorded one titled: 15 News Events That Will Affect You. There is a related news post titled: Fifteen 2013 News Items of Prophetic Interest. Other sermonettes are also 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 will be a recorded one titled: Universal Offer of Salvation V: All Israel Will be Saved? This sermon is the fifth and final part of a five-part series on God’s plan to offer salvation to all either in this age or the age to come. There is also a related written article titled: Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis. 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. So, this is an option we have made available (but we are also looking into ways to improve that as well).
Please pray for the brethren in Africa and Asia and that we will properly be able to go through the doors that God is opening around the world (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:9).
Bob Thiel, Pastor and Overseer
Continuing Church of God