Dear Brethren and co-workers in Christ:
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; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
So, last Thursday, I went to the San Luis Obispo (SLO), California as the first leg of an overseas trip to do just that. At the SLO airport, some church literature had to be removed from one of my two checked backs so that each was 50 1/2 pounds (50.6 pounds is the standard weight limit). But the literature that was removed ended up in my hand carried baggage, so there was no loss from that. From the SLO airport, I flew to Phoenix to connect to London.
While in the Phoenix airport, I worked on the next lesson for the Study the Bible Course. Then flew all night and into the afternoon to arrive in London, England. From the airport, went straight to a nearby hotel. Within minutes of check-in, a prospective member of the Continuing Church of God (CCOG) met with me in order to counsel for baptism. After a several hour session, in which he explained his commitment to the truth and calling, he was baptized. That evening I tried to catch up on emails.
The next day, someone was anointed by me for a health condition. Sabbath services were later conducted at the same hotel. I then loaded that message on my pc to later distribute because of internet connection speeds. Some literature was distributed both days.
So, Matthew 28:19-20 was personally followed in the United Kingdom, and then that continued in Kenya.
Sunday morning was off to the London airport, this time to fly to Nairobi, Kenya to hold a conference for Church of God leaders in Kenya and Tanzania. I worked on writing and editing the Study the Bible Course lesson on the plane.
Monday, CCOG Pastor Evans Ochieng and I met on a variety of matters pertaining to the work in Kenya and East Africa. Church leaders from around Kenya began to arrive Monday evening, and I met with some of them then. Tuesday, two came from Tanzania.
In Kenya, in accordance with Jesus’ words for “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you,” many subjects were covered from explaining it is all about love to church history to baptism to tithing to prophecy to the final phase of the work. There are also many physical needs in Kenya, and we attempted to address some of them.
Various elders, deacons, deaconesses, and hosts attended the conference. Originally we planned on 16-20 leaders, but instead ended up closer to 34.
The conference was held on Tuesday and Wednesday, with after conference meetings lasting to almost midnight. The conference itself was a major success.
Many left Thursday morning to take the long bus rides back to their homes. Some stayed later, and I have had meetings all day and into the evening here.
Most of the leaders who came were part of the Continuing Church of God, but several were not such as Church of God the Eternal, Christian Church of God (Grand Junction, who helped support this conference), etc. This was a unique type of conference with people from so many different groups and backgrounds, and also included several open question and answer sessions. We expect to report more on this conference later (probably in a future issue of our Bible News Prophecy magazine).
Brethren, I have repeatedly asked for you to follow Jesus’ admonition to:
38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. (Matthew 9:38)
Well, at this conference in Nairobi, I met many current and potential laborers for the harvest. As mentioned last week, there have been many baptisms related to the CCOG in Kenya, and now also Tanzania (we also discussed plans related to Uganda as well as Sudan). New plans to even better reach Africa were discussed.
As far as leaders new to the CCOG, after the conference, one of the attendees who asked for a meeting with myself and Pastor Ochieng, became one. This was John Owak. For the past ten years he had been a minister in the United Church of God. John Owak explained that he had been studying CCOG literature for some time (he had also contacted me in the past), and the conference convinced him he wanted to be part of CCOG. He asked if we would accept him as a volunteer (unpaid, and he did not ask for a salary) pastor of the CCOG in his geographic area, working under the direction of our Regional Pastor Evans Ochieng, myself, and ultimately Jesus Christ. Pastor Ochieng and I agreed and wish to welcome him into the CCOG.
Leaders once part of GCG, LCG, WCG, COGaic, CG7, SDA, and/or VWCG, but now part of CCOG also attended. This was the first time I had been able to meet any of them in person (some had email contacts with me prior). CCOG currently has over 20 congregations in East Africa, with more expected soon.
Booklets and Magazines
On this trip, I carried as many Bibles, Bible News Prophecy magazines, and new church history booklets as the standard weight limits allowed into Kenya. So much so, that both suitcases seem to have sustained some damage from the weight on them. I intentionally brought light-weight luggage in order to maximize the amount of literature I could bring with me. The new church history booklet was a hit.
I also brought a new laptop for Pastor Evans Ochieng as well as two banners that can be used to the Feast of Tabernacles.
There are tremendous needs in Africa and we are always trying to figure out how to best serve the needs of our brethren there.
Very late tonight I am scheduled to make the approximately 30 hour trip back home to San Luis Obispo, California.
Tanzania and Baptisms
George Lemi, a CCOG group leader in Tanzania and our primary translator of literature into Kiswahili was able to attend the conference in Nairobi, Kenya. He brought with him a man who wanted baptism. A large COG had offered to baptize him several months ago, but he concluded that they did not have the commitment to doing the work or enough love of the truth, so he waited until he could be baptized by me. So, that baptism was performed in the morning before the second day of the conference.
George Lemi told me he is finishing up the next edition of our magazine in Kiswahili. Many of the leaders at the conference asked for more literature in Kiswahili, so I explained some of our plans to do so. There is at least one more African language we plan to produce literature in.
Related to this trip and others, I have now been directly involved in baptisms of people who are in Europe, North America, Africa, New Zealand, and Asia. Hopefully, that will extend to more in those areas as well as adding South America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Oceania, and Australia.
The work through the Continuing Church of God is bearing fruit (cf. Matthew 7:15-20) around the world (Matthew 28:19-20).
Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread
It is Spring in the Northern Hemisphere and we are planning for the Spring Holy Days. Passover will be after sunset on April 13th this year, with the Night to be Observed the next evening and the first Day of Unleavened Bread. I have heard from two men on both ends the continental USA this past week or so that are looking at having Passover and perhaps other Holy Days in their areas. This would be one in Connecticut and another in Washington state. I plan to mention more about this next week.
To help you remember the dates of the Holy Days, here is a link to our English language Holy Day Calendar.
World News Events
While in Kenya, there was a terrorist incident that killed several. Terrorism is a growing problem, and I believe that much greater acts of terrorism will eventually hit the USA and one or more of its Anlgo-Saxon-Celtic descended allies.
This past week, the Western trend towards promoting the homosexual agenda continued. Saturday morning, I noticed that England had began homosexual marriages (see Homosexual marriages begin in England and Wales). A headline from one of the local papers declared that Britain should be proud of this. Absurd. The Bible actually denounces the pride of Sodom (Ezekiel 16:49). The Bible also warns that those who approved of sexual immortality, including homosexuality/lesbianism, are subject to destruction (Romans 1:18-32).
The American and Anglo-Saxon descended nations err on this and are seemingly trying to accelerate the time of their coming destruction.
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: Military Technology and the Beast of Revelation. There is also a related written article titled: European Technology and the Beast of Revelation. 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: Melito’s Homily on the Passover. There is also a related written article also titled Melito’s Homily on the Passover. 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)–and, of course, we have written article options that we list each week.
Notice the following from the Apostle Paul:
36 Then after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us now go back and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they are doing.” (Acts 15:36-37)
That passage was on my mind this past week as I met with brethren in the United Kingdom, Kenya, and Tanzania. While not able to visit all the cities where we have brethren, I have been able to visit the leaders of our brethren in most of the main areas in which we have brethren on this and prior trips.
Brethren, you remain in my prayers, and I really would appreciate yours for me and the remainder of this trip. As well as prayers for the brethren, leaders, and work in Africa.
Bob Thiel, Pastor and Overseer
Continuing Church of God