Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:
Greetings again from Grover Beach, California.
We continue to work to promote the truth, love, and the good news of the Kingdom of God as opportunities appear available.
Reached nearly 5,000,000 Computers in June 2016
Google reported that our campaign with them reached 4,481,944 computers last month. When this is combined with what cogwriter.com and the CCOG websites have reached, this means nearly 5,000,000 computers received information about the truth in June of 2016. This is down a little from May 2016, but historically there is a drop in internet traffic in June and July of each year, so that is not a surprise.
It is our hope to reach more with our Google campaign way, but we are hesitant to increase spending on this because of other priorities in the next 7 or 8 months.
We are looking into the possibility of having a conference in Africa in February 2017. The last time we had a similar conference was in April of 2014. Then, we invited leaders from different Church of God groups in Kenya and Tanzania to attend, and I attended as well. This conference, the related literature, efforts from Pastor Evans Ochieng and I and others, etc. resulted in major growth in the membership of the Continuing Church of God.
For the hoped for 2017 conference, we are thinking about inviting one or more leaders from Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, and Tanzania, plus several leaders in Kenya, as well as possibly someone from Nigeria and/or Mozambique to attend, if we have the finances. I also plan to go and may ask someone else from the West to attend as well. It is most likely that this conference will be in Nairobi, Kenya. Because of financial considerations we will not have as many attend as we would prefer, but we hope to at least have representatives from many of the African countries we have members in.
Prior to this, in 2016, we hope to have Pastor Evans Ochieng visit Malawi, Ghana, Tanzania, and possibly elsewhere in Africa.
Feast of Tabernacles
The Feast of Tabernacles will be here in 3 months.
Those of you who are planning to go to the sites in either Aurora, Illinois, USA or New Brunswick, Canada, who have not let me or Herb Haddon know (his email address is email@example.com), should let us know now, so we can plan better. Please respond as soon as you can.
My email address remains firstname.lastname@example.org
This week I was able to speak to both Herb Haddon and Michael Radtke in Canada about the Feast of Tabernacles and other aspects of the work.
We also have been working on our speaking schedules for the USA and Canadian sites and look forward to meeting whoever we can this year.
I had a radio interview on July 15, 2016 at 9:50 am on WRJN 1400 am in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This was a first time interview at that station. The host believes he is an expert on biblical prophecy and basically that all biblical prophecy was fulfilled in the first century A.D. I disagreed with him on that and pointed out prophecies that were consistent with the coming end of the United States. Something, he later (as I was told) took exception to when I was off the air.
Despite his views, I was able to get part of the warning message to people who normally would never have heard various aspects of it.
Last week we were able to announce that a group from Serbia has declared that it wants to be part of the Continuing Church of God.
Here is an email from the leader of that group, who was once in the old Worldwide Church of God (called WCG below):
My COG background in short: I began reading the Bible back in 1991, when I was staying in England during the turmoil in former Yugoslavia. My cousin was a WCG member. I was baptised on March 10, 1992. I enrolled AC in 1992 (four years term). However, my studies were cut short due to the 1995 Great apostasy in WCG. In the beginning of 1995, the apostasy set in and I organized a student underground at Ambassador College. Later, I survived the United Church of God mess and joined David Hulme as I believed he was going to be the one to lead God’s people faithfully. In the course of time it became apparent that he was rather interested in his own career and was planning to change various doctrines. Thus, I was gradually pushed out of Church of God – an International Community in 2005 because I wasn’t going to give up on prophecy, identity of Israel and relations with friends in various COGs. In 2014, some of my friends felt compelled to leave the Church of God – an International Community and called for reconciliation. I renewed my contact with them as I responded to their call for reconciliation. I was offered a contact with a minister in Europe, but I had no plans to join that group. I wanted to see where it was heading to. This year I established cordial relations with you based on the end-time Work you have been doing. In spite of all my earlier disappointing results in cooperation with some COG leaders, I decided to give it again a chance because I realize that I cannot really achieve anything worthwhile on my own, nor do I want to be a „lone wolf“. I never wanted to be a lone wolf in the first place. It has always been my desire to participate in the Work of God in a full unison with others who are dedicated to that immense task. Since we as a group have concluded that we need to trust God in faith as we move forward in His Work and maintain ties with you, the things have now changed because we don‘t feel we are on our own any more.
So far I didn’t feel I could really trust any COG leadership to the point of cooperating with them and joining their groups. And sadly, mostly to their shame I would say, my translation talent was not used and the Work in Serbia, however small, could not pick up the pace due to their lack of interest. Yet, I never gave up on the main mission of the Church (Matthew 24:14) and have been doing what I can in order to see it fulfilled in my native tongue. Since you have entrusted me to do what I can do well (translation/editing), my experience with you is different. It is especially refreshing to see your commitment to virtually reach all the nations! Thus, I fasted and prayed and felt moved to ask for your advice given our situation in Serbia.
There has never been a Church of God in Serbia as most people are used to. I myself was called to repentance during my stay in England in 1991. From England I was sent to AC as I was deemed dedicated to God and a good asset to the Work. There was not a single member of COG in Serbia. Following my departure from AC (due to doctrinal changes in 1995) and a my one-year stay in Latin America, I returned to Serbia in July 1996. I found economically ruined country and faced all sorts of persecutions, but I had a firm resolve to fulfill Matthew 24:14 in my native tongue. I always tended to think that God allowed me to go to AC for that purpose – to understand the Bible better and keep spreading true biblical teachings in my native tongue. I faced much adversities, including unemployment because of the Sabbath and because I belong to no political party. At the time when I returned, I was part of UCG. In May 1997, I left UCG and joined David Hulme. Meanwhile, I translated several HWA booklets to Serbian in order to use them to spread the Word. My efforts were not met with any enthusiasm. As the result of my efforts some people were called and some were later baptized by ministers in COG-aic who visited Serbia upon my insistence. I was asked to assist in baptism ceremonies and I immersed various baptism candidates. After being pushed out in 2005, I wondered for a while in confusion and despair. I was on a spiritual downhill. It took me some time to get around various issues. In 2007, I decided to continue what I was doing. In the meantime, Facebook emerged, so I used that platform to spread the word as well. I didn’t make any attempt to join any COG. I kept away from them as I didn’t want to (again) fall prey and victim to their misuse of the Scripture and pastoral authorities.
Meanwhile, the CCOG constituted and emerged as the Philadelphian remnant among the Churches of God. Since we have established contact things have changed.
About 4 years ago, I composed a book on baptism by compiling several materials from HWA time and some of my notes from lectures I listened to several years ago. I sent that book to those who were getting familiar with the Word of God and expressed interest in baptism. As a result, I baptised one lad last year upon his request, according to the traditional COG ceremony. At that time I had no contact with you.
Even though I have figured as a substitute for pastoral care in Serbia and performed various duties to the best of my abilities and reliance on God in prayer and fasting, I have never been ordained. True, I attended AC, the institution established with the purpose to educate future ministers and pillars in the local congregations, so I used that education and privillege to the best of my ability to serve God, the Gospel and those called in Serbia. There has never been a minister nor members in Serbia. As a group we started from the scratch and continued to this point. Now the things have become more clear in COG confusion, so we tied ourselves to the CCOG and its dedication to Matthew 24:14.
In a summary, I just want to say that, considering the fruits of your ministry and the teachings that you have been promoting as based on sound biblical doctrines, we as a group have decided to tie in with you and participate in this most important Work on the earth. And in spite of my various bad experiences, I will gladly give my trust (once again) to God that He would lead us in this Work.
Thank you for your consideration and response.
A couple of days ago, I was finally able to Skype with the host/leader of that group. His name is Aleksandar ‘Sasha’ Veljic.
We discussed doing aspects of the work and getting more materials published in the Serbia language. We also discussed the possibility of my wife and I possibly trying to stop off there just prior to going to Amsterdam, the Netherlands for the Day of Atonement and the first half of the Feast of Tabernacles.
We also discussed the Feast of Tabernacles for Serbia this year, though that was not finalized.
Serbia, itself, is in the middle of the Balkan peninsula. As mentioned last week, about ten people there have said they would like to be part of the Continuing Church of God.
World News Items
There was more Islamic terror in France (see Islamic terror again strikes France) and Germany in the past week. Despite the French Prime Minister indicating that people need to learn to ‘live with terrorism,’ expect more in Europe to take steps to deal with the Islamic issues there (cf. Daniel 11:27).
US President Barack Obama seems to believe that international cooperation, perhaps like that of the United Nations, can truly bring peace (see Barack Obama pushing UN’s agenda for terrorism? Could it possibly work?). While the Bible shows a temporal peace will come (cf. Daniel 9:27b), it also teaches that peace will end (Daniel 9:27b) and that sudden destruction is prophesied, even when people claim peace and safety (1 Thessalonians 5:3).
Speaking of the USA, its Republican Party National Convention has been going on this week. Donald Trump was nominated (see Donald Trump selected as the Republican Party Presidential nominee). The next day he made statements to encourage the Europeans to increase their military spending (see Donald Trump threatens to not defend all in NATO unless Europe increases its military spending). No political leader is going to solve the problems of the USA as it needs repentance and the Kingdom of God.
Australia has signaled that it wants a post-Brexit trade deal with the United Kingdom (see Australia keen on making a post-Brexit free trade deal, but there still is an Asian threat). This to be expected, and we should see more discussions between the USA and the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand related to trade.
There were more police shootings (see More police officers murdered in the USA and Kazakhstan) and more signs of unrest in the USA (see Call by New Black Panthers for ‘Blacks-only’ nation) by people who do not understand the way of peace.
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 most who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one: Germany ready for military leadership? 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: Matthew 3-5: John the Baptist, Temptations, and the Beatitudes. 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.
The prophet Ezekiel was inspired to write:
1 “And you, son of man, take a sharp sword, take it as a barber’s razor, and pass it over your head and your beard; then take scales to weigh and divide the hair. 2 You shall burn with fire one-third in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are finished; then you shall take one-third and strike around it with the sword, and one-third you shall scatter in the wind: I will draw out a sword after them. 3 You shall also take a small number of them and bind them in the edge of your garment. 4 Then take some of them again and throw them into the midst of the fire, and burn them in the fire. From there a fire will go out into all the house of Israel. (Ezekiel 5:1-4)
Brethren, disaster will relatively soon come to the nations descended from the tribes of Israel and then later to others. While, unlike the world which some of this will come as a unexpected snare (Luke 21:35), we have hope.
We also need to realize that disasters are coming and we need to pray and lead the types of lives that will be accounted worthy to escape all of these things and stand before Jesus (cf. Luke 21:36).
Pastor and Overseer