Dear Brethren and co-workers in Christ:
Another full week here in the Five Cities region of California as we made numerous posts (even more than usual), article updates, website improvements, handled month-end accounting, and otherwise handled issues and opportunities that we are facing.
We decided to have a break in the Universal Offer of Salvation series for the sermons for this week. We do expect to complete that series, but felt that covering other topics between some of them might be a good idea.
Going through Doors in Asia
We finally were able to go live with our website for the Philippines. The website is www.pnind.ph. PNIND is an abbreviation for Patuloy na Iglesya ng Diyos, which is how the expression Continuing Church of God is translated into the language of Tagalog. Although many in the Philippines understand the English language, many are more comfortable with materials in Tagalog. The website currently is mainly in the English language, but does have links to items that we have in Tagalog (including our Bible News Prophecy magazine: MGA BALITA NG PROPESIYA NG BIBLIYA). More Tagalog language materials are expected.
We are still trying to get materials together for a possibly magazine in the Indian language of Telugu. But we have some computer-related technical issues that we are trying to figure out how to best handle.
Speaking of areas where there are having computer issues, we have again heard from Lazum Brang of Kachinland. Kachinland is in the northern area of the country once known as Burma, and officially now is known as Myanmar. The issue there is virtually no computer access.
Lazum Brang never emails me, instead he mails letters, and then I respond. In his latest letter he said that he would translate the Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God into the language known as Jingpho or Kachin. Jingpho is a Tibeto-Burman language. Presuming he is able to mail that to us, we would likely have to post it online as photographs. Since the Bible says that people of all tongues will respond (Revelation 7:9), we are interested in every language any will translate for us as we consider all of these ‘doors’ that are open to us to proclaim the Christ’s gospel of the kingdom (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:12; Revelation 3:7-8).
We had an all-time record month reaching people at the www.ccog.asia website. Actually, all the actual CCOG websites had all time record months in terms of visitors and articles viewed. Additionally, we had more article views than ever for China at the www.cogwriter.com website last month–the total was 84,017. We are also being linked to by China Central Televison, CCTV.com, and this is contributing to some of the increased interest from China.
One addition to the home page of the www.ccog.org English language website was the following:
Additionally, the other CCOG websites now have a version of this on each of their home pages. For example, the www.ccog.eu home page has the following:
This way hopefully we can better reach all those who are interested as well as those who know others that have interest. Though many of the above websites look about the same, there are differences, and as we add more materials in languages other than English, the differences will become more apparent, and hopefully more relevant for the populations each site tends to be targeted towards.
While we have reserved a website domain targeted towards Africa, until ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) accepts the ZACR (ZA Central Registry) attempt to handle this, we still have to wait (currently they are projecting late 2014). Until such time (unless a better option arises), the www.cogwriter.com and www.ccog.org websites are being used for Africa. Of course, those two website also help serve people in over 220 countries and territories now. But the plan is to ultimately tailor the other sites more towards specific needs for their intended primary audiences.
Reaching those in East Africa
On a regular basis, we are contacted by one or more in East Africa. Most of the time, these are people from Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. In East Africa, personal contact is key to reaching people with the Christ’s gospel of the kingdom. We have had additional contacts since the last Letter to the Brethren.
Individuals and leaders from groups such as the United Church of God, Living Church of God, Global Church of God, Church of God the Eternal, Christian Church of God-Grand Junction, Wilderness Church of God, Church of God, Seventh Day, and former Seventh-day Adventists are the most common to contact us, as well as sometimes some without a prior Church of God background.
While we accept people once part of various groups, we have not targeted any particular group. All in Africa that I am aware of, first emailed us and asked for affiliation.
Though we have many actual and clear supporters in East Africa, we always have to be mindful of those who contact us whose interests are more for financial than spiritual reasons. And this is something we have been checking out on an ongoing basis. We have consulted with leaders, both in and out of Africa, to attempt to determine the sincerity of those that have contacted us. And, that has included me speaking with leaders in the United Church of God, Living Church of God, Church of God the Eternal, Christian Church of God-Grand Junction, Wilderness Church of God, etc. to do so.
We are currently also looking into the possibility of printing some literature in Kenya in order to minimize postage cost and had a leader meet with a printer in Nairobi to discuss this.
Speaking of postage cost, Lazum Brang of Kachinland (in Asia) mentioned that he noticed that it cost us US$23.98 to send him a few pieces of literature. He mentioned that this would feed his entire family for just over three weeks (though he seems to spend a little more during the Feast of Tabernacles). Many in the West do not really understand how low the income is for many people in various parts of Asia and Africa.
Though I was invited as a guest to be interviewed over the radio every month from January to August of 2013, because of my schedule and other factors, I have not been on so far this Fall.
We were contacted recently by a podcast radio show that would like to interview me in regards to my writings about Pope Francis. It is called Jim Paris Live. This is scheduled for December 8, 2013 at 9:00 pm EST (6:00 pm PST) in the USA. Since some have asked for advanced notice of these interviews, this is as much notice as is practical. Eventually, the podcast should be available at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/jameslparis and we may provide a direct link later.
I have never been interviewed by Jim Paris before and hopefully it will go well. He appears to have a Protestant-oriented show. The interview is supposed to last about forty-five minutes. What I like about radio interviews is that they allow us to reach people that we otherwise may not have, and since I am the guest, they normally do not cost the church anything significant (sometimes they cost a long-distance telephone call or two; and this interview only required a couple of email responses from me back to them–which are free).
World News Events
A study came out this week showing that students in most of the Anglo-Saxon descended nations are not progressing as well as those in certain other nations (see Students in more countries passing those of the USA, UK, Australia, & New Zealand). This suggests that the Anglo-Saxon nations will no longer be the world leaders in various aspects of technology. However, I would add that because of language and other issues, those of the Asian nations (several of which had important improvements in this study) will not take the lead either. The Bible points to the rise in the end of a power based out of Europe.
Over in the UK, Sunday was accepted as a day of rest by the Court of Appeals (see UK Court of Appeals backs Sunday as a ‘day of rest’). Expect to see more court decisions backing Sunday in continental Europe.
Speaking of Europe, Croatia passed a law banning homosexual marriage this week. However, since it is part of the European Union, it is likely to be pressured to overturn, change, and/or not enforce this ban. In the USA, the State of Hawaii began to perform homosexual marriages. This makes me wonder if Hawaii may end up with some droughts and/or other weather problems (see Weather Blessings and Sorrows).
We in the Continuing Church of God realize that the Bible warns about the rise of a Beast power that will be worshiped by all the world (Revelation 13:4,8). In the past week, it was reported that the Pope of Rome reached out to the Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox (see Pope Francis reaches out to Eastern Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew) and the Patriarch responded back favorably (see Eastern Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew responds to Rome). Ecumenical steps to lead to the fulfillment of prophecy continue to take place.
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: Satan’s Plan: A Brief Introduction. There is a related written article also titled: Satan’s Plan. 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 Christians, Violence, and Military Service. There is also a related written article titled: Military Service and the Churches of God: Do Real Christians Participate in Carnal Warfare or Encourage Violence?. Other sermons are also available at the ContinuingCOG channel.
- Final hymn.
- Closing prayer.
The suggested sermonette is longer than normal this week; on the particular topic of Satan’s plan I hope to do a full sermon in the future–Satan has busily been working on his plan for some time, and has laid out parts of it in non-biblical prophecies, signs, and lying wonders.
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 try to improve that as well).
The Apostle Paul wrote:
23 Peace to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen. (Ephesians 6:23-24)
Continue with love and faith.
Bob Thiel, Pastor and Overseer
Continuing Church of God