Letter to the Brethren: February 16, 2017

Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings from California.

I am back in the USA from having gone to Kenya for the Continuing Church of God (CCOG) African leadership conference there. Thank you all for your prayers for the conference as well as for me personally.

Nairobi Kenya Conference

Because of internet connection, as well as schedule issues, I was not able to include a lot of information on the conference that we held last week in last week’s Letter.

First, let me state that the brethren in Africa wanted to convey their greetings to their brethren around the world.

While we had meetings from February 7th-11th, the conference officially ran from February 8th through the 9th.

We conducted lectures on a variety of topics, such as why the true Church of God is all about love, truth, the gospel of the kingdom of God, history, prophecy, and reaching people in various languages.

I also provided doctrinal training and went over how the Continuing Church of God differed from various Sabbath-keeping groups such as the Seventh-day Adventists and the Church of God (Seventh Day), and various groups whose leaders were once part of the old Worldwide Church of God. We also explained some differences with Protestants, Mormons, the Eastern Orthodox, and the Catholics of Rome and answered various questions.

We also went over plans for Africa and how we expect to reach more in Africa through literature, personal contact, and the internet.


Conference in Nairobi

We had about 58 attend. While the bulk of attendees were from various parts of Kenya (which is also the nation we have the most members in), we also had leaders from Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania. Plus one from Serbia, as well as me from the USA. Hence we had leaders from eight different countries attend.

Nairobi Conference Attendees 2017

Grantone Mangiana Otieno, Host, Migori in Kenya
Kennedy Odhiambo, Deacon, Oyugis and Nyaliacla in Kenya
George Ochieng Otieno, Host, Opasi, Ikoma in Kenya
Hoseya Bauleni, Host, Migowi in Malawi
Radson Enock Mulozowa, Host, Migowi in Malawi
Charles Otieno Aton, Host, Ndhiwa in Kenya
Jared Odhiambo Ounleor, Assistant Host, Migori in Kenya
Silas Kinyua Muriuki, Host, Kitengala/Nairobi in Kenya
Martin Ongenga Wanga, Pastor, Tarime in Tanzania
Rosemary Akinyi Ochieng, Deaconess, Ndhiwa in Kenya
George Onyango Kisiengo, Host, Ndhiwa
Charles Odure Awour, Ndhiwa in Kenya
Bartholomayo Otieno, Deacon, Ndhiwa in Kenya
Ezekiel Ombasao Oanda, Pastor, Rofiego, Bethsaida, Leperi in Kenya
Samuel Marube Omambia, Elder, Rosiaga/Eberge in Kenya
Henry Paul Oirere, Elder, Mau in Kenya
Wedison Matiya, Pastor, Chindola in Mozambique
Oared Odhiambo, Kenya
Andrew Olinande, Assistant Host, Ndhiwa in Kenya
Bradox Ouma Ochieng, Deacon, Ndhiwa in Kenya
Samuel Ofosu Gyeabour, Overseer, Kumasi in Ghana
Koang Deng Gatluak, Deacon, Gambella in Ethiopia, plus South Sudan
Ondigo Nimrod Ochieng, Deacon, Isibania in Kenya
Joshua Ogodo Ogodo, Assistant Host, Sondu in Kenya
Irine Anyango Obonyo, Deaconess, Sondu in Kenya
Benta Atieno Othomno, Ndhiwa in Kenya
Dorothy Akinyi Oyoo, Ndhiwa in Kenya
Jacob Okoth Kungu, Host, Mbani in Kenya
Pilista Odira Gor, Oriang in Kenya
Charles Okeyo Osutwa, Ndhiwa in Kenya
Simion Okeyo Yotto, Deacon, Rusinga Island in Kenya
Samwel Kipngetich Koech, Pastor, Transmara in Kenya
Armstrong Dorman Bakko, Pastor, Achina/Kumasi in Ghana
Andrew Otwande Gondi, Church Secretary, Ndhiwa in Kenya
Thomas Kingetich Koskei, Pastor, Bomet in Kenya
David Kipkorir Langat, Church Secretary, Rift Valley in Kenya
Stanley Vibet Fiongik, Pastor, Narok/Mau in Kenya
Joel K. Chirchir, Elder, Ololulunga in Kenya
Isaya Ouma Owak, Pastor, Giribe in Kenya
Mary Cherotich Begen, Narok/Mau in Kenya
Richard Kipromo Bet, Deacon, Narok/Mau in Kenya
David Cheuyot, Elder, Hakuru in Kenya
Juliana Sawek, Narok/Mau in Kenya
Christopher Ogonya Oduogo, Church Secretary, Kiseke in Kenya
Jacob Ochieng Oduogo, Host, Kiseke in Kenya
Tiongik Sawek, Pastor, Chiliani in Kenya
William Kirui, Pastor, Motosiet/Transmara in Kenya
Nelson Kirui, Pastor, Transmara in Kenya
John Cheruiyot Towet, Elder, Nakoben Village/Mau in Kenya
Erick Kipkorir Koech, Host, Bomet/Kelonget Village in Kenya
David Kipkorir Rono, Youth leader, Chilani Village Transmara/Rift Valley in Kenya
Nelson Kipylgon, Pastor, Narok/Mau in Kenya
Andrea Raura Kabebe, Shipati in Tanzania
John Otieno Owak, Pastor, Migorwi in Kenya
Frederick Ochieng, Ndhiwa in Kenya
Evans Ochieng Kisiengo, Evangelis, Ndhiwa in Kenya
Aleksandar Veljic, Elder, Uzice in Serbia
Bob Thiel, General Overseer, California in USA

Most were very eager to learn more of the truth as well as support the work as we strive to fulfill Jesus’s commissions in Matthew 24:14 and Matthew 28:19-20.

Various ones who did not have a Worldwide Church of God-related background (like Protestants as well as those with a Church of God, Seventh-day background) had doctrinal questions that were different than those I have tended to encounter much. Enough so, I decided to add some additional information in one or more of our booklets in future editions.

So, we are trying to assist them and all, for that matter, “grow in grace and knowledge” (2 Peter 3:8.)

Jesus once said:

34 … “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.  35 Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!  36 And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.  37 For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’  38 I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.” (John 4:34-38)

This really came to my mind while I was there meeting with our African leaders.

The literature I brought has proven to be highly popular (I even brought some literature in French that may assist us in Ghana). We also need to print more literature in Africa and have plans to do that.

We also discussed the use of the internet in Africa and many were excited.

After I discussed languages and what we have been doing, several volunteered to translate materials into some languages that I am not even sure I had heard of prior to the conference.

After the official end of the conference, we had many meetings with various leaders to discuss their issues and concerns. These informal sessions were helpful and lasted until I left late Saturday night.

It appears that we are poised from more growth as well as providing a greater witness across Africa.

This week’s recommended sermon shows the first hour or so of the conference. We expect to use one or more other parts for the Behind the Work video for 2017.

Comments from Elder Veljic and Deacon Ochieng

Serbian CCOG Elder Aleksandar Sasha Veljic sent in the following report about the conference:

THE LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE IN NAIROBI

Due to a huge potential to grow, as well as very receptive audience to what CCOG has to announce to the world, the all-African conference was held in Nairobi, February 8-9, 2017.  Not only was there a need to get all those interested leaders in one place, but there was a great need to clarify some doctrinal confusion that is being perpetuated by some Sabbath-keeping groups which traditionally exist in Africa.  On the other hand, many African members, even though they are keen about the Truth, need to be well instructed in all the biblical doctrines.  The Conference in Nairobi attempted to respond to such needs.

The topic of prophecy causes much interest in Africa.  Thus, the first day of the conference was dedicated to a large extent to what will be happening in the coming years as far as the appearance of the “first beast“, the man of sin and the subsequent fall of the Anglo-Saxon nations.  The source of confusion being perpetuated by the Sabbath keeping groups, whose presence is very heavy in Africa, is that America is supposedly “the second beast“.  Such claims and various others, for example the ideas about the “mark of the beast“ have baffled many of our members.  Therefore, such a confusion was cleared and the prophetic events laid out and explained.

The Church history, albeit not very much popular subject to many people, was also explained during the Conference as one of the crucial issues.  Namely, if we don’t know our history, we have no idea what are we continuation of.  On the other hand, when are clear about the origin and development of the Catholic and Orthodox churches, as well as the Protestants who sprung up from them, then we understand why those churches are not the true Church as they all claim to be.  The doctrines and beliefs that we hold are found in the history of the true Church, but the doctrines of those other churches are not.  The Protestants in particular hate the subject of Church history because it absolutely debunks their claims.  In one case – Calvinism – there a sheer racism in Protestantism because of belief that only 2% of mankind will be saved, and all of them white people.  We as God’s people are to be aware of our history throughout the ages also because it is prophesied that in the last days there will be present four churches of Revelation 2 and 3.

The topic of various offices in the Church of God was also covered.  In accordance with the Scripture, several individuals were ordained.

Elder Veljic told me and Evangelist Evans Ochieng that he would like to come back to Africa and assist again in the future.

Deacon Ondigo Ochieng (who is not related to Evangelist Ochieng) sent the following:

Dear Dr.Bob,

Many thanks to our almighty and praise Him more for making the conference a success!

Your prayers and ours were answered and God made even the state of Kenyan politics to favor us.Hope you heard that there was a planned industrial action for opposition leaders on February.God almighty turned it down.We thank God dearly for answering Aleksandar’s prayer about rain.We had started struggling to get water but God intervened and it rained.

The teachings that God gave you throughout the conference opened my eyes in a mighty way! You expounded much about the man of sin,Two horned beast of Revelation 13,church governance,African plan and many more.

Many thanks to you and Pastor Evans for the love of truth you have.I like Pastor Evans.His heart is after God’s Work.Your prayers for more laborers have been answered and I myself did not know that I will be ordained one of the laborers.Thanks so very much and may God bless you,Pastor Evans and the entire Ministers and congregation of CCOG!

Best regards
Ondigo Ochieng,

We had concerns that political protests in Kenya could have stopped the conference, but we prayed about that prior, and were able to hold the conference as scheduled.

For this week, we have provided a video that contains the introduction to the conference as the ‘sermonette’ and then the sermon given about love. Both are included in the video: Nairobi Conference: All About Love (which contains translations into Kiswahili, and which is posted at the CCOGAfrica YouTube channel and not the usual ContinuingCOG YouTube channel).

Visit to Congregation and Ordination

On the Sabbath I was able to visit a congregation in Kitengela, which is a bit outside of Nairobi.

The host, Silas Muriuki sent me the following:

Dearest Bob,

My wife And I together With our Little Flock At kitengela Nairobi Were very happy for taking time With us over the last weekly holy sabbath.we learned much of Gods love through you, humblerance, humility and more so the holy spirit working in you at this time of our learning in kenya nairobi we us the church in nairobi would love to be receiving any spiritual or material support directly from you if you wish to continue with us in future.this is out of the much challenges that we have been undergoing in the past years before you came and as you know brother Evans has the burden for the whole Africa …


Church location  

 
     Street in Kitengela Town

Evangelist Evans Ochieng gave the sermonette, which we expect to use as an offertory for the first day of unleavened bread.


Koang Deng Gatluak

I gave the announcements, which mainly pertained to the conference. Additionally, I, along with Evangelist Ochieng, ordained Ethiopian Koang Deng Gutluak as a deacon. Koang Deng Gutluak has a Church of God, Seventh-day background and has been with us for a couple of years. We hope that having an ordained leader in Ethiopia will help with various legal and other issues in that nation.

Censorship

On the way to and from Nairobi, I connected through the Dubai airport. The good news is that I got much better access to the internet.

The bad news is that it prohibits visiting the updating portion of the www.cogwriter.com website, so I was unable to make certain posts and updates that I wanted to. The censorship message stated:

Surf Safely!

This website is not accessible in the UAE.

(I connected through the Dubai airport in the United Arab Emirates as that was the least expensive way to get to Kenya this time.)

Not allowing me to have access certainly was not helping my safety.

We should expect to see more censorship in the future–excuses like safety/security, etc. will be used to justify it.

While what happened repeatedly to me in the Dubai airport is not the prophesied ‘famine of the word’ (Amos 8:11-12), it is one more sign that we are getting closer to that time.

World News Items

World events keep moving towards a realignment of the world order. Germany has repatriated its gold faster than it originally said it would, while the EU is talking trade deals with China and Canada in light of trade concerns brought about by United States President Donald Trump (see Germany has brought back its gold and EU approves CETA). The Bible shows that Europe will eventually dominate world trade for a time (cf. Revelation 18).

Germany has denied that it is planning on developing its own nuclear weapons, but some in Europe are looking in that direction (see Trump, NATO, and Nuclear Germany).

The Bible tells of a “great army” developing in Europe (Daniel 11:25). More and more are calling to “Make Europe Great Again” (see ‘Make Europe Great Again’ and Canada’s Trudeau pushes for Strong EU). Steps for Europe’s rise keep occurring.

We are also seeing India rise up technologically–India made the news by sending up about three times more satellites at once than the previous world record (see India sets satellite launch record!). The final time of the Gentiles (Ezekiel 30:3) is getting closer.

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 many who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one. The one suggested for this week is the Nairobi Conference introduction and is included in the video: Nairobi Conference: All About Love. 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 Philadelphia Remnant: It’s all about love and that is included in the video: Nairobi Conference: All About Love. 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 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 ContinuingCOG channel AND MANY SERMONETTE MESSAGES ON THE Bible News Prophecy channel.

Concluding Comments

Notice the following prophecy:

18 I come that I may gather them together with all nations and tongues: and they shall come and shall see my glory. 19 And I will set a sign among them, and I will send of them that shall be saved, to the Gentiles into the sea, into Africa, and Lydia them that draw the bow: into Italy, and Greece, to the islands afar off, to them that have not heard of me, and have not seen my glory. And they shall declare my glory to the Gentiles: 20 And they shall bring all your brethren out of all nations for a gift to the Lord, upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and on mules, and in coaches, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the Lord, as if the children of Israel should bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord. 21 And I will take of them to be priests, and Levites, saith the Lord.

22 For as the new heavens, and the new earth, which I will make to stand before me, saith the Lord: so shall your seed stand, and your name.

23 And there shall be month after month, and sabbath after sabbath: and all flesh shall come to adore before my face, saith the Lord. (Isaiah 66:18-23, DRB).

Brethren, God has a plan for all humankind, and of course that includes those of Africa.

Thank you for your prayers and support as we strive to fulfill Matthew 24:14 and Matthew 28:19-20 around the world.

Sincerely,

Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer

Posted in Letters to the Brethren
About CCOG
The Continuing Church of God, which attempts to represent the most faithful remnant of the Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7) portion of the Church of God, bases its beliefs on the Holy Bible. Read CCOG's statement of beliefs for more information.