Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:
Greetings from the Five Cities region of California.
Another full week of handling national and international matters to try to fulfill Matthew 24:14 and Matthew 28:19-20.
Received the following last Sabbath by a member in the eastern USA, after he watched last week’s recommended sermon Dreams, COGs, and One Man Rule:
It is good this member found the sermon helpful. As far as his observation that I was not seeking power and prestige, I would add that he has met with me and seen me both in the USA and Canada, and realizes that my profession, etc. could give me more of that. And yes, I would concur with his position that I would be better off financially (as well as the related stresses of ‘the burden’ associated with the work, cf. Malachi 1:1; Numbers 11:11) if I did not lead the CCOG, as I do not take a salary from the Continuing Church of God (CCOG).
While the Bible says that ministers are entitled to be compensated per the Apostle Paul (1 Timothy 5:17-18), it also warns against worthless shepherds:
1 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God to the shepherds: “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? 3 You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock. 4 The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them. 5 So they were scattered because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the beasts of the field when they were scattered. 6 My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and on every high hill; yes, My flock was scattered over the whole face of the earth, and no one was seeking or searching for them.” (Ezekiel 34:1-6)
While there is nothing wrong with wearing wool clothing, many in the ministry ended up with better clothes than perhaps they otherwise would have. Often their focus has been wrong.
Why do I not take a salary?
Two basic reasons.
1) The work would be affected too much negatively–the Apostle Paul, himself, worked in his profession at times (Acts 18:3). We must feed the flock spiritually, and that does take funds to reach people. Costs are incurred for literature, the internet, video production, graphics, printing, postage, and travel–including sending Pastor Evans, Pastor Owak, myself, and/or others to differing locations to minister.
2) If I took a salary a lot more people would go hungry, especially in Africa (cf. Galatians 2:10). The salary amount that would be appropriate for me by historic Worldwide Church of God standards would be more than all the money we currently send to Africa each year. That being said, while I wish we had more money to send to Africa (and sometimes Asia), as we cannot satisfy all the hungry and other needs there, we are sending what we can. We try to feed the flock physically where we can (yet, even the Apostle Peter could not always give to the needy per Acts 3:6), and that takes funds.
My not taking a salary, car, housing allowance, etc. does not mean I would never consider taking a salary, but with the ‘present distress’ (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:26) I have chosen not to do it and God has blessed our business enough that our family has our needs, etc. met.
We also received an email from a member who, after seeing the Dreams, COGs, and One Man Rule sermon, now wants to translate the CCOG sermons into the Spanish language. That is of interest, so we are working on ways to try to do that. I have long wanted to have sermons in Spanish and we will see if we can do this with him.
The work (Matthew 24:14; 28:19-20; Galatians 2:10) is being done, and CCOG is a work that God has blessed with at least 3 dreams prior to its start and at least once since. But many do not believe that God will work using dreams in the 21st century, despite the reality that most once part of the old WCG supposedly believed that God did in the 20th century (see also Dreams, the Bible, the Radio Church of God, and the Continuing Church of God).
Finally, the DVDs that Pastor Evans Ochieng sent to our office have arrived. Within minutes of seeing the DVDs on Monday, I began the process of uploading them.
For the first time ever, as far as I know of, at least part of the gospel of the kingdom message is online on YouTube in the Kalenjin language by Pastor William. Kalenjin basically means “I told you” and is spoken in parts of the Rift Valley in Western Kenya.
Also, for the first time ever, as far as I know of, the gospel of the kingdom message is online on YouTube in the Dholuo language by Pastor Evans Ochieng. Dholuo is spoken in western Kenya and parts of Uganda. Pastor Ochieng was born in Uganda and lives in Kenya.
Perhaps for the first time ever, the gospel of the kingdom message is online on YouTube in the Kiswahili language by Pastor John Owak. Kiswahili is spoken mainly by the people of eastern and central Africa, so there may already be some of the message online. Specifically, people who live in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, eastern Zaire, northern Zaire, northern Malawi, northern Mozambique, northern Zambia, and the Somali Republic often speak Kiswahili.
We also received other videos which we plan to upload.
Now, these videos (including those on the Kingdom of God) do not seem to be complete in single files as all the DVDs had multiple files on them. So, I sent the DVDs to Bill Wedekind in Maryland for him to see how they can be expanded. Thus, while we do have some limited files currently up, the ‘final’ versions will not be up for a week or so. We will provide links to them once they are available.
It is my hope and prayer that not only will we be able to now give a better witness to more in Africa, we now may have the ability to also have more ‘video’ Feast of Tabernacles’ sites.
Received emails from two CCOG supporters (one from the USA and one from Canada) related to contacts they received from someone claiming to be a female in Somalia. In one email, someone asked she should try to supply some food support to the Somalian woman.
I wrote both emailers and told them that we do not currently know of anyone in Somalia (perhaps with our YouTube videos, etc. this will change).
Also, I would ask all of you to NOT directly send anything to Africa without first discussing it with me. You can, however, always refer people to our websites for information about the CCOG.
While I appreciate the fact that our members in the West want to help the poor in Africa, it is better to send the support to our offices in California and New Brunswick so that we can coordinate and prioritize aid over there.
Perhaps some day, God will open a door to us in Somalia, but this has not happened yet as far as we can tell, though maybe there is a small opening from this woman. We will see.
Nigeria and Malawi Registration
As mentioned last week, many governments in Africa require registration of churches as they want to monitor potential terrorist and other groups.
We are working on Malawi as well as Nigeria.
We had an incident Monday where Nigerian Pastor James Dzermine had to go before a judge because CCOG is not registered in Nigeria.
Here is his report:
I appeared before the court today at 9: am. I admitted all the
mistakes quoted on me about running a non registered organization in
the country, which is contrary to the law.
I was charged a fine of 20,000 naira or six months imprisonment.
I requested for a period of an appeal because I could not afford the
amount by then. God intervened and miraculously I was given four days
for an appeal. I explained that there are some co- ordinations I am
making with the general pastor for the church.
The judge concluded that within the four days, we should pay the fine
and get the church registered. Failure to do do, I will be in jail and
all the operations of the church will be closed. No other opportunity
will be given for the operations of CCOG in any region in Nigeria.
Please try to offer a supporting hand. Help us get the church registered.
After numerous emails, plus three trips to the bank about this, I was able to get the funds to Nigeria which we hope will prevent James’ incarceration and the proper registration of the CCOG in Nigeria. Then the banking system there took more than half of what I sent.
The good news is that we are registered:
Dear pastor Bob,
We managed to complete the registration process.
The registration details included: The continuing church of God, Nigeria.
Elder pastor : Robert Bob Thiel
Assistant pastor : Jameson Dzermine
Treasure : Sharon Recho
Secretary: Peter Nouh
Our lawyer was Moses Nwaekala
Rachael (Sharon Recho)
The bad news is that it is considered to be a conflict if you hold a government job in Nigeria (or at least in that region) and are an officer in another organization:
We finished the registration.
But the problem was that they wanted us to resign out government jobs
since we shall be running other organization. This appeared to be very
hard since it is there where we get our daily bread. Though we serve
many groups and we have to visit, we should also have time to attend
our duties. Congregations in Nigeria grow at a faster rate. If we drop
our jobs only to do God’s work, more will turn to Christ.
It is surprising that we have even converted some Muslims to
Christianity. This shows the mighty work of God.
Though resigning will give us more time to travel to visit various, We
shall have nothing to eat at the end of the day.
We shall hear from them their final decision.
James (Jameson Dzermine)
I have suggested that they see if there are non-government employee members who they can list on the registration so they will not have to give up their jobs–jobs tend to be very difficult to get in most parts of Africa.
There are many obstacles that we face.
Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Ghana
Kenya-based based Pastor Evans Ochieng sent me the following:
We shall travel to Ethiopia on 25th Nov. 2015. I want meet the Elders
tomorrow and organize everything before I leave to Ethiopia
I got email from Samuel from Ghana. I will reply him tomorrow. I
have a lot things to discuss with him concerning the work in Ghana.
And if possible he may accompany me when I will be going to Nigeria.
Pastor Ochieng and Pastor Owak are planning to go to Ethiopia next week. According to our contact there, some of the Ethiopians are interested in becoming part of the Continuing Church of God. We hope to answer questions, provide information, determine their sincerity and interest, and counsel on various matters.
Pastor Ochieng also is intending to go to Nigeria once we have the funds and he would like Ghanaian Pastor Samuel Fosu Gyeabour.
Unlike the Ghanaians, those in Nigeria have declared themselves part of the Continuing Church of God, but did not have a prior Church of God background. This future trip should help us see what they know and what they need to know. We also hopefully will be able to confirm their expressed affiliation.
As far as Ghana goes, the communications I have had with Pastor Samuel Fosu Gyeabour have been positive. The group in Ghana has long called itself the Church of God 7th Day Ghana, which is how it is likely registered. As mentioned before, they ARE NOT affiliated with the group in Denver, Colorado with a similar name.
If we and/or they can afford to send Pastor Samuel Fosu Gyeabour to Nigeria, this would give Pastor Ochieng more time with Pastor Fosu Gyeabour, so hopefully he will find that his group should attempt to formally be part of the Continuing Church of God.
Ekegusii Booklet Bearing Fruit
From Kenya, Japhter Onwonga sent me the following:
Dear Elder Bob; Greeting precious Christ Jesus, trusting fine of you.
Much involved to ensure brethren catch message. However travelling fare to a far distant place in Kisii like the direction of Magenche where newly 50 members that i have visited, are eager and willing to join us. They require 6 windows to get inserted and visitation of Evans. I told of him.
Thanks for 5 books of Ekegusii CCOG HISTORY translation that i got from br. Ezekiel that enable reading those not able understand English.
Welcome of reaching new group that varies from 50 members minimal up. I hope more to get books and meet them as opportunity allow. I wish blessing, Japhter
He is referring to the following booklet:
It is great that our literature in various languages is bearing fruit.
World News Items
The news has been abuzz about terrorism since last Friday’s terrorist attacks in France (see France’s Hollande: Terrorists commit ‘an act of war’ in Paris–will Paris be destroyed? and Russia states terrorist bomb downed plane: Vladimir Putin vows action against perpetrators; Ezekiel 38?). Interestingly, thus far, the French have turned to the European Union and not NATO formally related to the attacks (see Jordan’s King: Now facing WWIII; France invokes EU, not NATO, defense). The terrorism in Paris triggered a related sermonette, which is the one recommended for this week: Terror: Will Paris be Destroyed?
I have been warning for years that civil unrest/civil war will come to Europe. Others are starting to also realize this (see WND: Civil war may come to Europe; LCG: EU to get smaller, ‘possibly 10′ nations). The Bible shows that Europe will strengthen its military (cf. Revelation 13:4; Daniel 11:39-43).
The USA is also under threat from the Islamic State, with videos making claims about destruction coming to Washington, D.C. (see Islamic State threatens Washington, D.C. after Paris; WND wonders if WWIII is beginning) and New York City (see Islamic State threatens New York City and claims ‘soda can’ bomb brought down Russian plane).
In the USA, it was reported that obesity is increasing (see Obesity up– a sign of the times?). The USA is getting ‘soft’ in many ways, and since it will not rely on God, it will come to regret many of its decisions.
Another report came out warning about the risk of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The excessive use of antibiotics in livestock by countries like the USA and China seem to be a significant factor in increasing antibiotic resistance, as has overuse by humans (see BBC: ‘Antibiotic Apocalyse’). Several months ago, we put out a related BNP video, which is still pertinent, as the USA remains at greater risk for pestilence and famines because of its agricultural practices than Europe does (watch Are Americans & Asians setting themselves up for destruction from antibiotic use?).
Last Friday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced that it has approved Chinese currency to be part of the ‘Special Drawing Rights’ basket of currencies it uses (see IMF expecting to add China’s currency–another step in the replacement of the US dollar?). The IMF wants to replace the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency and this is a step towards that. The time will come when the USA dollar will only worth the scrap value of the cotton-paper it is printed on.
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 is also some Choral Accompaniment online).
- Opening prayer.
- Sermonette, which for many who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one titled: Terror: Will Paris be Destroyed? 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 many who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one. The one suggested for this week is: Sunday: First and Eighth Day? 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 that we list each week. 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.
Consider the following from the Book of Proverbs:
8 Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you;
Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.
9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;
Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.
10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
11 For by me your days will be multiplied,
And years of life will be added to you.
12 If you are wise, you are wise for yourself,
And if you scoff, you will bear it alone.” (Proverbs 9:8-12)
Brethren, value wisdom and accept correction that you need so you will have the type of understanding that God wants us all to have.
Pastor and Overseer
Continuing Church of God