Letter to the Brethren: July 1, 2021

Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings from the Five Cities region of California.

Preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom in the Portuguese Language

A co-worker in Portugal volunteered to provide a translation of our English booklet The Gospel of the Kingdom of God into the Portuguese language. He did so and we have formated it and now have it available online.

Here is a link: O Evangelho do Reino de Deus.

While we had an earlier Portuguese version before, we believe that this is a better and more readable translation.

As reported here before, we are planning on Terry Nelson and his two sons going to Mozambique for the Feast of Tabernacles this year.

While our brethren in Mozambique mainly speak Chichewa, Portuguese is the only official language there (there are about 40 major unofficial languages in Mozambique).

So, I ordered 120 Portuguese-language booklets to be sent to Terry to bring with him. After he gets those (probably in 1-2 weeks), we will see how much room he has to take more literature, possibly including more of the O Evangelho do Reino de Deus booklets.

We believe this will be a good way to get a witness of the good news of the kingdom of God to people in that land.

We are also working on getting more literature translated into Portuguese and there is a chance we might be able to get another booklet there in time for the Feast of Tabernacles this September.

Portuguese is the 8th most spoken language in the world.

My hope and prayer is that in addition to reaching people in Mozambique and Portugal, that we will be better able to reach people in Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Macau, and São Tomé and Príncipe, all of which have Portuguese as the/an official language.

Additionally, we are also looking to see if we can get one of our larger books translated into Chichewa in time for the Feast of Tabernacles. Chichewa is the main language spoken by our brethren in Mozambique and Malawi.

Please pray about that.

Is God Calling You?

The last two CCOG recommended sermons were based on our booklet Is God Calling You?

Anyway, this is, of course, a vitally important topic and we have now updated the booklet as there were some typographical errors and some areas that I felt needed clarification. Although I wrote the book a few years ago, it was highly based on several articles from old Worldwide Church of God writers who made some generalized statements that are simply as applicable in the 21st century.

We now intend to get this newer version in one or more platforms online as well as perhaps getting it translated into more non-English languages.

Beverly Bivens, a CCOG Pioneer

Received a telephone message from Edith Bivens that her sister Beverly Bivens, a CCOG member from Milwaukee Wisconsin, died this past Monday. We have no further details about this.

Beverly Bivens
At the Feast of Tabernacles in 2020

Beverly Bivens was the person who came from the farthest away to attend the first CCOG Feast of Tabernacles in the USA, which was in Santa Maria, California in 2013 (the person actually who came the farthest that year to any of our sites was Johan Kersten who originated in the Netherlands and attended with us in 2013 that year in New Zealans).

At dinner, once or twice, Beverly told me how pleased she was to get in at the ground floor with CCOG.

She attended CCOG sites in the USA every year, through 2020. Where she and I discussed, among other matters, the growth in African membership of the CCOG.

The last time I spoke with her was about two weeks ago. She will be missed.

While we know that for those who died in Christ that their next memory will be the resurrection (1 Thessalonians 4:14-18), there is still sadness and grief from losses from death. And, the Bible tells us, that, “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying” (Revelation 21:4).

That being said, since the Bible also tells us, “that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28), that I believe that all in Christ die when the time is most optimal for them.

I look forward to seeing Beverly in the resurrection–and I am sure (unless God directly fills her in)–she will want to know what happened to CCOG, etc. after she died.

Certainly, she wants all to remain faithful.

Please keep her sister, Edith Bivens, also a CCOG member, in your prayers.

An ALS Miracle?

Herb Haddon, our host in New Brunswick, Canada had been having severe health issues for many months.

Herb Haddon
At the Feast of Tabernacles in 2019

The medical profession diagnosed and confirmed that he was suffering from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease (Lou Gehrig was a famous American baseball player who died from it). Herb and I discussed the diagnosis and my limited clinical experience with it–we did NOT send him supplements for it.

Consistent with James 5:14, Herb wanted the elders of the CCOG to pray for him.

So I prayed for him and requested prayers for him in the weekly Letter to the Brethren, several times (see Letter to the Brethren: March 25, 2021, Letter to the Brethren: May 20, 2021, and Letter to the Brethren: June 10, 2021).

Anyway, while I had been praying for him prior to his ALS diagnosis, I told him I would continue to pray–which I, and others, did. I also stayed in communication with his wife Gisele.

On June 17, 2021, the medical doctors told him to tell his family that he was about to die. The next day, Gisele told me he had taken a turn for the worst. One of Herb’s children contacted me later that day regarding how we would handle his funeral service.

However, on Monday June 21, 2021, Gisele sent an email that said Herb was doing better. On Thursday, June 24, 2021 deacon Richard Close sent me the following in an email:

Good morning Pastor Bob    Less than a week ago the Dr.s told Gisele that Herb was in his last stages and would not be coming home.  Now he is up and writing.    Miracles still do happen.   I expect more as this short time gets shorter.   regards   Richard

Last Sabbath, June 26, 2021, Herb asked me to telephone him, and I did. He told me he believed his ALS was gone as he was symptom free. It also turns out that he and I prayed in a similar manner for his healing. After the telephone call, I dropped to my knees and thanked God. My wife Joyce asked me if this was a miracle and I said it sounded like one.

I also emailed Richard Close after speaking to Herb, and copied elder Aleksandar ‘Sasha’ Veljic. Here is what Sasha sent me a few hours later:

Dear Bob and Richard,

I will be totally honest with you, as I have always been.  In my pleas to God about Herb, I pointed out that his death would have a devastating effect on CCOG.  And even after that update that he was run into hospital, I said to God: I ask you to spare Herb any pain.  I recently had a wisdom tooth surgery and I certainly appreciate what is pain, so please spare him from pain.  And, no matter his current condition, I don’t give up on my conviction that you can perform a miracle.

That was my prayer, and the reason for Herb’s healing I hoped for is that he has been a great example to all the believers.  He has never caused any trouble to anyone, he has never caused any accidents, as we sadly were witnesses to it some time ago, troubles caused by people who now by their age are supposed to be teachers in the Church.  Not only was Herb a superb example of Christ-like living, along with his wonderful wife Gisele, but he has always been very humble.  Prior to his first trip to Haiti, he contacted me (as I visited black Africa in 2017) to ask me for experience and advice on what to look for.  I gave him a very precise advice on how to identify the main needs and priorities and he has done exactly that for the benefits of Church members there and for the furtherance of the Work of God.

So, alike many of us, I was devastated to read about his health conditions.  I prayed, I fasted and I said to God: I am not giving up on my belief that you can perform a miracle!  And please, perform it because loss of Herb Haddon would have a devastating effect on so many of us, on the entire CCOG, and what would then happen with Haiti?  And, so, I am so relieved to see that my and our persistence on miraculous healing was answered miraculously.

So, thank you for sharing this news with me.


Here is what Richard Close sent me:

Hello to Bill and ALL  I also wish to give a 2nd witness—“In the mouth of 2 or 3 witness’s let these things be established” I have talked with Herb almost weekly since early spring and my experience has been the EXACT  same as Bills as far as Herbs symptoms and steady downward spiral health wise including the Dr.s telling Gisele that Herb would not be coming home about 2 weeks ago–the turn around about 1 week ago–and going from a liquid diet to solid food and sitting up –out of bed –in a chair in one day–after being mostly in a coma for a week  –to the Dr.s–proclaiming him free of any and all symptoms of ALS on Sat. June 26, 2021—God’s HOLY SABBATH–to speaking with him personally this afternoon and noticing how strong and clear his voice was—and no labored breathing–still some weak but getting stronger by the day.  As I told Dr. Thiel, a short time back, I believe that this is a possible start to the miracles that OUR GOD  is going to do as part of the final witness to all as we enter the final phase of this work.  Acts 2 and 3 and other scriptures.

I also believe as Bill does –that this HEALING  is for many purposes to many different people—-as many as our GOD MAY CALL or reveal Himself to thru this event.    Richard Close  CCOG    a helper of your joy.

Another member who knew about this (whose wife is a prospective member) sent me the following last Sabbath after he spoke with Herb Haddon:

Obviously, he told me that you two spoke earlier.  First I started crying and then I exhausted myself thanking God for His intervention here.

The witnesses to this are far and wide.  Even my wife …. “Pooh Pooh’d” our efforts at prayer and fasting for Herb and Gisele.  She told me not to expect much – ALS is 100% fatal.  …  but I did point her to scriptures about healing and that nothing is impossible with God.  She, too, was brought to tears by the news.

While ALS is not 100% fatal in the sense some few live with it a long time, notice the following from the ALS Society of Canada:

ALS is progressive and does not go into remission. It is terminal, usually within 2-5 years after diagnosis, although some people have lived with ALS for 10 years or longer. (https://www.als.ca/what-is-als/about-als/progression/ accessed 06/29/21)

This, thus, looks like it could be a miracle.

Here is a report we received last evening:

Good evening Dr.Thiel,

For more than a year, probably even 2 or more years, my health has been deteriorating.  The medical profession figured I was suffering from asthma, so treatment was administered.  I continued to get worse.

In the past year, several specialists examined me to offer their opinions.  My breathing continued to regress.  I often lost my breath.  I began loosing muscle mass and strength throughout my whole body.  I could not stand without aid.  Even my voice was failing.

March 23 tests were performed for ALS.  The disease was confirmed.

On April 19 a lung specialist examined me. The lungs were in great condition.  It was the surrounding muscles to make the lungs function that were loosing their strength.

May 12 I saw the ALS specialist who confirmed everything.

Prayer requests were sent to the church for my healing. From the diagnosis forward everything is a blur.

I can remember after being diagnosed with ALS that the doctors were always coming up with new treatments, so perhaps a cure is around the corner.  A quick study online dashed those hopes. I was not prescribed any medication. I thought of natural medicines that you (Dr. Thiel) could administer.  Surely there was hope there?

As this disease has no cure, death is the only outcome. I was devastated!  I had to turn to God to heal me. Gisele’s faith would prove to be strong as well as the whole Church praying to our Father for my healing.  God has heard and answered.

As my breathing was getting worse by the day, the inevitable happened. On Thursday June 17th, my mouth and tongue turned blue and I was falling in and out of consciousness. From responsive to unresponsive. Called the ambulance and was taken to the hospital. Was unresponsive all day and by evening the situation deteriorated so much that they put me on a respirator. At that time the Dr. told Gisele that the end would come in about 1 hour. 

All my family were called to say their goodbyes. Gisele refused to believe that my time was up because my work was not done. Haiti had to be helped. Told the Drs that God would heal him. This was not the end. They tried to convince Gisele to not hold on to false hope. She told them that faith in God would heal him. God had a purpose for me yet. As Gisele was standing next to me and rubbing me to wake up, I opened my eyes and told her to let me go. She was very emphatic that she would not let me go. My work was not done. I repeated twice more my request for her to let me go and both times she gave the same answer. After a few minutes I turned to Gisele and said “you know what? I am healed!” Gisele agreed. 

I remained lucid for the rest of the evening and all my children had the opportunity to spend time with me. Then unresponsive the rest of the night. The Drs at this point did not understand why I was not dead. Co2 levels still very high. Well over 100 at this time. The next morning they moved me to a ward. Was still unresponsive and did not remember the night before or what was going on. This went on until Sunday. I was  put on oxygen and started coming around at the beginning of the week as the CO2 levels were starting to normalize and they had me on a different BIPAP with oxygen. From then on I could sit in a chair and walk a little bit. I was talking, no more confusion, no more hallucinations, these had been going on for about a week or two when I was home. They had me use a cough assist to clear my lungs as they were very full of phlegm. After a few days lungs all clear and barely out of breath. Could eat a meal without putting on BIPAP in the middle of my meal. Could carry a conversation without any problems. The Drs tried to explain away that my dramatic improvements were due to oxygen. They Removed the oxygen on Wednesday and oxygen levels are now between 93 and 99. So I guess oxygen was not the reason for improvement. Gisele told the Drs that God was responsible for his healing. She had faith that God would heal him through prayers. The Drs thought Gisele was in denial!! I believe they are the ones in denial refusing to believe that God can and does heal. She told them that medicine and science were not the answer to everything.

Finally after getting well enough they sent me home on Monday. I am feeling better than I was a year ago. All tremors and other ALS symptoms are gone. Still weak physically but getting stronger every day.

I truly believe in the power of faith, prayers and fasting. God was with me every step of the way. Praise be to Him.

Thank you to all my brethren for all your prayers. God did hear.

With love

Herb and Gisele

It should be noted that even though ALS is not supposed to go into remission, the medical doctors still believe that Herb has ALS.

While God has healed people in and out of the COG throughout the church age, this apparent healing may be a sign–particularly if other healings of this magnitude or even greater take place. A few years back, we had a deaf man experience a miracle in that he was able to hear after Pastor Evans Ochieng preached in Migawi, Malawi (see Letter to the Brethren: February 18, 2016).

God does heal!

Perhaps because the bulk of end time Christians were prophesied to be Laodicean (cf. Revelation 3:14-18), Jesus said:

8 … when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8)

Many in the CCOG had faith, and Herb Haddon’s medical team now says he does not have ALS. Real Philadelphian Christians have more faith than the bulk of the Laodiceans do.

The Bible teaches:

6 … ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the Lord of hosts. (Zechariah 4:6)

Herb Haddon’s recovery was not because of any nutritional intervention as he did not do that. Nor from any medical treatment, as the medical profession does not have a recovery treatment for ALS.

God, of course, is not limited and can heal. According to reports from the Haddons, He did so in Herb’s case.

Suggested Sabbath Day Services

Here is a suggested Sabbath day service for our scattered brethren and other interested people:

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 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. There are also some messages at the CCOGAfrica channel. There are also messages in the Spanish language at the CDLIDDSermones channel.

World News Items

The USA struck out across the Syrian border after a US military installation was hit by a drone/missile attack allegedly from Iranian supporters (see ‘US Strikes Back After Rocket Attack in Syria’). As most of you know, we suspect that there will be a regional war in that area prior to the prophesied ‘peace’ deal of Daniel 9:27).

The European Union indicated that it does not miss the UK very much, while Russia is trying to get closer to the EU (see Brexit: Why the EU is not missing Britain that much and Russia’s Putin calls for more cooperation with Europe). Furthermore, the UK navy encountered Russia military warnings for sailing close to Crimea (see Brexit: Why the EU is not missing Britain that much and Russia’s Putin calls for more cooperation with Europe)–according to Russia’s President Putin, USA reconnaissance aircraft were also involved (see Putin: US and Britain both behind Black Sea “provocation”; COGwriter: Might Russia end up with parts of Alaska and Canada?). Neither Brexit (the UK exit from the European Union) nor provoking Russia will end well for the UK (or the USA for that matter).

On other matters, Hungary has been chastised by the EU for trying to limit aspects of the LGBTQ+ agenda (see ZH: Hungary Told To Repeal Law Banning LGBT Promotion To Children “Or Else Leave EU”). There was also another Hungarian call for Europe to return to its religious roots (see ‘The Future Of Europe – The Continent’s “Judeo-Christian heritage” To Be Preserved’ “Roots”). Irrespective of LGBTQ+ issues, religious signs and lying wonders will be factors in the final emergence of the European Beast power (see also 2 Thessalonians 2:7-12).

Speaking of Europe, it is taking some steps to have its banks hold more physical gold (see ‘Basel III regulations are poised to shake up the gold market’). The Bible shows that the coming King of the North will accumulate gold (cf. Daniel 11:43), and that looks to be expected to back a European-pushed currency, that is expected to replace the USA dollar as the world’s premier reserve currency.

Concluding Comments

The Apostle Paul wrote:

26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence. 30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God — and righteousness and sanctification and redemption — 31 that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31)

Brethren, just because we are not the wise of the world, that does not mean God cannot use and appreciate us.

He called us to a great warning and teaching work in this age, as well as to be kings and priests in His coming millennial kingdom (Revelation 5:10, 20:4).


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.