April 16, 2009

Greetings from Charlotte,

 The Spring Holy Days appear to have gone well around the country and around the world. Mr. and Mrs. Meredith were in Arizona and Florida for the two Holy Days. Mr. and Mrs. Ames were in New York state and New Jersey. Mr. and Mrs. Apartian were in Martinique for the Passover and the first Holy Day. While God’s Church was preparing to keep His Holy Days, Bible prophecy and world events continued to march forward—Italy was hit by a destructive earthquake, North Dakota experienced major flooding, the European Union played a main role at an economic summit meeting of the leading nations of the world, and an American ship was attacked by pirates off the horn of Africa. It is important to remember that the Holy Days remind us of the plan of salvation that God is working out on earth. The Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread picture important steps to prepare God’s people to rule with Jesus Christ when He returns to set up His kingdom.
Church Administration
Second Passover
This year, the Second Passover should be taken shortly after sunset on Thursday, May 7. This Passover is for those baptized members who were unable to take the first Passover due to unforeseen circumstances. The biblical instructions guiding this ceremony are found in Numbers 9:1-14.
Mr. Mike Elertson reports: On February 19, a member of the Kingston, Ontario congregation was diagnosed with a life-threatening and infectious disease in her left leg called Necrotizing Fasciitis (more commonly known as Flesh-Eating Disease). She was immediately hospitalized and had to have several emergency operations. She also suffered serious complications in the following days. The infection in her leg had spread quickly and surgeons were considering amputation. But God heard the prayers of His people and performed several miracles. He did not heal her all at once, but in stages. Soon after being anointed, she no longer needed to be on oxygen and her lungs began to clear. She was prayed for again, and another CAT scan revealed that her internal organs had returned to normal. Doctors were amazed and shocked at her quick recovery. They informed her that this disease usually causes the loss of a limb or life, and that she was blessed to have both. Both doctors and nurses even inquired about which Church she attended, and told her family to continue praying since their prayers were being answered. Three weeks after entering the hospital she returned home and has been attending Church services and even the Holy Days! She is walking normally and plans to return to work this week.
Haiti Public Bible Study
Our subscription list in Haiti has been steadily growing over the past five years, mainly through literature requests received via our French-language website, www.mondedemain.org. In January 2004, we had approximately ten subscribers in Haiti, including members. Today, our mailing list is more than 530. Dr. Wilner Pierre, whowas ordained an elder on the Sabbath of April 4 by the evangelists at Headquarters during a very moving ceremony, visited the island for the Passover and the first portion of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. He conducted a Public Bible Study in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Friday, April 10. Six subscribers, as well as fourteen members, attended the study. In addition to serving in Charlotte as an elder, Mr. Pierre will be ministering to our brethren in Haiti.
Visit to Guyana
Mr. and Mrs. Fitzroy Greeman visited Guyana from March 27 to April 2. There were 18 persons in attendance in Georgetown on the Sabbath of March 28, including a new prospective member. During his visit, Mr. Greeman conducted two Living Leadership Course lessons and baptized one person. 
Feast of Tabernacles 2009
All USA and Canadian Feast of Tabernacles site descriptions are now posted at the Member Resources website, www.cogl.org. To read the site descriptions, log to your MyLCG account at www.cogl.org, click on the “2009 Feast Information” button at the right, and then click on the map at the desired site. 
Sunday, May 3, 2009 (12:00 noon, EDT) is the beginning of registration for United States and Canada Feast sites.  Please wait to make housing arrangements until you have registered and received your approval notice.  Most people will receive an “approval” notice at the completion of the registration process. If you do not have a computer with Internet access, contact your local congregation’s Festival Advisor.  He can provide you with printed site descriptions, and registration and volunteer forms. If you have special needs, you may make housing arrangements before May 3; simply contact the Festival Coordinator of the site you wish to attend.
Festival Advisors:  Please download and print the PDF files of the site descriptions, for distribution to those in your congregation who need them.  You can access them by clicking on the “2009 Feast Information” button within the MyLCG section of www.cogl.org. There, you can also download and print the registration form and the volunteer form.
This week, we feature in The World Ahead abbreviated descriptions of the sites in the Philippines (Baguio City) and South Africa. Unabridged descriptions of these and other sites can be found on MyLCG (www.cogl.org). As a reminder, International and Hawaii Feast registrations are now available at the MyLCG section of www.cogl.org.
Baguio City, Philippines
Baguio City, a Feast site since 1967, is known as the city of the pines. Nestled in the Cordillera mountain ranges at 1,500 meters above sea level, it is the summer capital of the Philippines because of its year-round cool climate. During the Feast, the weather is usually very pleasant, a welcome change from the heat in Manila. Established by the Americans in 1909, this city will turn 100 years old on September 1, 2009. Baguio may be reached from Manila by land within five to six hours, and by air in 45 minutes whenever there is no cloud cover. Overseas visitors would fly into Manila, and then travel up to Baguio by air (depending on the weather in Baguio) or by road. Brethren from the local area will meet visitors at the airport and escort them to their accommodations in Manila, and then assist them in their journey up to Baguio.
The Feast site venue is the Teacher’s Camp where there are a number of dormitories and cottages with cooking facilities. The Camp is also accessible from various lodging houses and three-plus star hotels situated within the city proper, most of them no more than five minutes away from the hall by taxi, car or Jeepney. Overseas guests are well catered for, and can enjoy five-star treatment at The Manor Hotel at Camp John Hay, which is also very close to the Teacher’s Camp where services are held. Baguio is a very safe place for tourists.
The Philippine brethren are very warm and outgoing, and just love to see visitors from overseas. At this Feast site, services will be in English. It is a tradition to have a Festival Show and this year will be no exception, so bring your contributions with you, musical items—vocal or instrumental—and funny skits, etc.
If you would like to attend the Feast in Baguio, Philippines, request a transfer by registering through the MyLCG section of www.cogl.org
Glentana, South Africa
The South African Feast site is located in the coastal resort of Glentana which is situated 15 miles southwest of George, in a beautiful coastal area known as the Garden Route, bordering the Indian Ocean in the southern part of the Western Cape. The surrounding area consists of a remarkable blending of mountains, rivers, indigenous forests, colorful shrubs and wild flowers, glorious beaches and rich farmlands. Some of the most exciting land-based whale-watching points in the world exist along the Garden Route coast.
George Airport (eight miles from Glentana) has domestic links with the international airports at Cape Town and Johannesburg. The resort of Glentana is an extremely peaceful area, being a retirement/holiday settlement having no commercial or heavy traffic activity within its confines. The hall is in a safe and quiet area with virtually no intrusive outside noise or interruption of any kind, and includes its own secure parking area. A disadvantage is the lack of shopping facilities in the immediate area, necessitating travel to George to stock up on supplies. 
The vast majority of the accommodation is self-catering and there are very few nearby restaurants. Self-catering accommodation is available and consists of private homes and flats situated on, or close to, the beachfront. Rates vary between R800 to R1500 per day for up to four persons (the current foreign exchange rate is approximately R10.00 for US$1.00). Because there is no public transport in the area (except for taxis, which operate from George and are relatively expensive), we strongly advise visitors to make provision for their own transport in the form of hired cars, which are available at the airport. It will also be very convenient for visitors to have their own transport to travel to services, activities and various sites of interest.
If you would like to attend the Feast in South Africa, request a transfer by registering through the MyLCG section of www.cogl.org
Mr. Wayne Pyle reports: The Church’s media efforts during the first three months of this year have been absolutely encouraging. The response in the US and Canada is up 15%, and the response from brand new, first-time viewers is up 11% over the first three months last year.The semi-annual letter, mailed to approximately 400,000 subscribers around the world has drawn tens of thousands of requests for our first-ever DVD-offer, “The Power of Prophecy.” Our original duplication order for 50,000 DVDs was not enough to cover the response! In the first three months of this year we received more than 56,000 responses from the telecast in North America and internationally. 
Church Administration is reporting very encouraging attendance during the first three months of this year. United States attendance is up approximately 7% compared to the same period last year, and international attendance grew approximately 4%. In the past 90 days more than 40 individuals were baptized. The co-worker and donor increases are also very encouraging. We now have 9,000 co-workers and donors supporting the Work around the world. Co-worker growth is up by 7%, and donor growth is up 26% over a year ago.
Do You Love Your Neighbor? At the Passover, Jesus commanded His disciples to love one another, and He stated that the capacity to show love for one another would be the “sign” that would identify His true disciples (John 13:34-35). This instruction from our Lord and Savior takes on even more meaning when we realize that even at this last meal with Jesus, His disciples were arguing with one another about who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of God (Luke 22:24). Regrettably, these attitudes of strife and competition did not die with Jesus’ disciples. They are still with us today, even within the Church, the body of Christ. According to the Scriptures, if we profess to be Christians and followers of Jesus Christ, but continue to hate (offend, despise, argue with, talk against or be jealous of) our brothers and sisters in the faith, we are deceiving ourselves and are actually walking in darkness (see 1 John 2:9-11). The Days of Unleavened Bread are designed to help us identify and root out these wrong and sinful attitudes so we can more faithfully follow Jesus’ instructions and learn to really love our neighbors.
Have a profitable Sabbath,
Douglas S. Winnail

Supplement to The World Ahead (April 16, 2009):

Last Friday, April 10, a storm that produced devastating tornadoes hit Mena, Arkansas. According to news reports, three people were killed in this storm and 650 homes were damaged or destroyed. Thankfully, none of our members in Mena were directly affected. Their families were also protected, as well as their properties. We are very much grateful to God.

Dibar Apartian

News and Prophecy—April 16, 2009
Another “Rumor” of War. Two former Soviet satellite nations are breathing threats of rebellion. Georgia is working to throw out its president, while Moldova has a powerful “western” movement underway, possibly spurred on by Romania. Russia is now under pressure to act “in its own backyard” or risk NATO taking a stronger role and thus showing up Russia as weak (Stratfor, April 10, 2009). Jesus noted that “wars and rumors of wars” and ethnic group against ethnic group would be two of the signs of the end of the age (Mark 13:7, 8). As time passes and prophecy marches on, these are two more events in a world-wide chain of events that must come to pass. In addition, developments in Georgia and Moldova could either destabilize or galvanize the Russian powerbase. Prophecy indicates that at the end of the age, a monumental army from the north and east will close in on Jerusalem, and devastate the Beast power (Daniel 11:44, 45). This army could be a conglomeration of Asian and Russian forces. For this to happen, Russia will need to remain strong. Time will tell exactly how Russia fares through this period of instability.
The EU’s Role in the Recent G20 Global Economic Summit. According to the London Telegraph, “The European Commission and its president [Barroso] played a crucial but behind-the-scenes role in G20 agreement.” “…Mr. Barroso and his team have had a quiet but immensely influential role in the whole process. Many of the words adopted by the G20 were drafted in his office. Much of the thinking on the future of financial regulation came out of a European Commission report on the subject. ‘If you look at the conclusions of [the Commission’s] spring council one week ago and the conclusions of the G20, you will find they are [almost the same]… word for word,’ he said.” Mr. Barroso’s office has now been commissioned to draft many new documents ordered by the Economic Summit, including the new global financial architecture (Telegraph, April 3, 2009). The European Commission’s role in the recent G20 meeting is sobering, especially given the role that the coming European Beast power is prophesied to play in the future (Revelation 17:12-13; 18:3, 9-15; Daniel 9:27). The EU is now having an increasingly powerful impact on the entire world. The outcomes of the recent G20 meeting make this all the more clear.
Earthquakes in Diverse Places. Last week’s powerful earthquake in Italy has so far claimed nearly 300 lives and left 28,000 people homeless. “The magnitude-6.3 quake hit L’Aquila and several towns covering 230 square miles (600 square kilometers) in central Italy early Monday, leveling buildings and reducing entire blocks to piles of rubble. It was the worst quake to hit Italy in three decades.” Damage estimates for the quake are as high as 400million Euro/$540 million (YahooNews.com, April 8, 2009). Jesus warned that one of the signs of the end of the age would be “earthquakes in various places” (Matthew 24:7). A singular seismic event like the one in central Italy is certainly not the indicator of Christ’s imminent return. However, when combined with similar events happening around the world, it is one of the signs that Christ clearly gave—the “beginning of sorrows”—of His impending return (Matthew 24:8). As we see these events occurring, we should be sobered and recognize that prophecy is truly moving forward. In addition, as true Christians, we need to pray for the victims of these tremendous catastrophes, recalling that every person experiencing these difficulties is made in the image of God, with the potential to become a member of the God-family one day. True Christians should be able to “sigh and cry” over the abominations and sufferings that their fellow human beings are experiencing around the globe (Ezekiel 9:4).—Jim and Sue Bennett, Scott Winnail