April 23, 2009

Greetings from Charlotte,

 Our traveling speakers have returned from their respective assignments during the Spring Holy Days with positive reports from their visits to a number of Church areas. Mr. and Mrs. Meredith visited our congregations in Phoenix and Ft. Lauderdale. Mr. Meredith spoke to a full house in Ft. Lauderdale on the last day of Unleavened Bread. Mr. Hernandez is continuing his prolonged trip visiting congregations in South America where he ordained Mr. Sergio Carvajal in Chile as an elder. This week Mr. Meredith has completed a co-worker letter and has been working on other matters. Mr. and Mrs. Apartian arrived back in Charlotte on April 12. Mr. Apartian gave two sermons here on the Last Day of Unleavened Bread. Mr. and Mrs. Ames returned to Charlotte and gave the first weekly Sabbath sermon after the Days of Unleavened Bread. This morning I finished the last lecture for the LU Old Testament Survey class, and I will leave this afternoon to conduct our second Regional Conference of 2009 in Kissimmee, Florida this weekend. Mr. Rod King is currently in South Africa to visit our brethren there and to participate in the Church’s South African corporation Annual General Meeting. This Sabbath, April 25, Mr. Jonathan McNair will conduct a Public Bible Lecture in Long Island, New York. More than 7,500 subscribers have been invited to attend. Your prayers for all these events are appreciated.
Church Administration
Second Passover (Repeat Announcement)
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.
Divine Protection
Last week we reported on the devastating tornado that ravaged the small town of Mena, Arkansas, from which our members in Mena were spared. Mr. Rick Stafford laterwrote, “I have just talked again with one of our members in the Mena, Arkansas area.  She confirmed the same details related to me by the members right after the terrifying tornado hit over a week ago. There was massive damage to the town and three people were killed.  The middle school, court house, jail, hospital and other business were seriously damaged. Thankfully, none of our members were injured or suffered property damage.” 
Soon after, we received the following report from Mr. Gene Hilgenberg concerning similar divine protection for a member in Oklahoma. Mr. Gene Hilgenberg wrote, “On the Sabbath of April 11, a number of fire storms roared through Southwestern and Central Oklahoma. While more than one hundred homes were reportedly destroyed by these fires, only one of our members, age 85, of Midwest City, was affected. Her home was surrounded by the fire. She had been evacuated with her daughter and son-in-law who live with her. When she returned to her home she had only minor damage to her home and an unattached garage. All of her yard was burnt, even around her propane tank. Both of her neighbors’ homes were completely destroyed. The fire department later told her that when they arrived to her home someone had already been there and had put the fire out. They know of no one who had been there so we give the credit entirely to our Great God, who is our protector.”
Visit to Martinique
As mentioned above, the Apartians returned from Martinique after a very successful visit with the Church brethren there. Martinique was the first island in the West Indies to broadcast Mr. Apartian’s French radio program in the early 1960s, and the broadcast continues to this day, although on a smaller station. To this day, Mr. Apartian is much recognized in the island as the presenter of Le Monde à Venir. This year, 22 members took the Passover in Martinique and 34 celebrated the First Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Mr. Simbert Hodebar, one of the six original members of the Church in Martinique, much loved and respected, was ordained a deacon by Mr. Apartian during his visit.
Spanish Work Update
Spanish Regional Director Mario Hernandez visited our brethren in Santiago, Chile from April 14 to 19. He spent the Last Day of Unleavened Bread, as well as the weekly Sabbath of April 18, with our congregation there. On Friday, April 17, Mr. Hernandez presented a live radio program at a station that covers a large portion of Chile’s capital and the following day he ordained Mr. Sergio Carvajal, Sr. as an elder. Mr. Carvajal had been serving the brethren in Santiago for several years as a deacon. The congregation’s joy was such that a celebration ensued after services!
New Zealand Update
Mr. Kinnear Penman reports: We have contracted with Prime TV for another year’s broadcasting nationwide at the excellent time of 8:00 a.m. each Sunday. The weekly ratio of responses from first-time callers continues to hover around the 45-55% level. During January through March, a total of 5,680 items of mail were posted and this mail contained 8,058 pieces of literature. Both these figures show a healthy increase over the same period in 2008. A vigorous Tomorrow’s World mailing list renewal programme has reduced the number of subscribers to about 3,800. But I believe this is a quality mailing list, which was shown by the response rate to the semi-annual letter offer of just over 35%. There are at least 124 persons enrolled in the Bible Study Course. A pleasing indication of members’ and coworkers’ commitment and of God’s blessing is the income that He is providing to us to do His Work. The regular tithe and donation income during the first three months of 2009 shows a 13% increase over the first three months of 2008.
I have performed two baptisms so far this year and I am counseling several others. Some are being regularly visited with a view to their beginning to attend services. In Auckland, we are approaching the capacity of our hall to accommodate us and are keeping our eyes open for alternative meeting places.
Nashville Public Bible Lectures
Mr. James Sweat reports: Two Public Bible Lectures were conducted by Mr. Bob League on April 4 and April 11 in Nashville, Tennessee and were attended by 12 and 13 subscribers, respectively.  While these figures do not seem very impressive, nine of the 13 subscribers returned to attend Sabbath services on April 18 in addition to two who also attended the Last Day of Unleavened Bread.  That is almost 70%! These new prospective members are more informed, more serious and more committed to the truth and the discovery of God’s true Church than most have been to this point.  The entire process has been especially encouraging and uplifting for all of the Nashville brethren—to be able to participate in this special way in the Work of God!
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 Peruand Tobago. 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.
El Cusco, Peru
This year the Peruvian brethren will celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles in El Cusco. The city sits at 11,000 feet above sea level, has an average temperature of 50º F and receives close to one million visitors a year.  Services will be held at the hotel “Centro Recreacional y Convenciones Sol de Oro-Cusco.” The cost of lodging for nine days, including three meals a day, is USD$145 per person. Simultaneous interpretation into English during services will be available at this site.
If you want like to attend the Feast in Peru, request a transfer by registering through the MyLCG section of www.cogl.org and contact Madeleine Lincoln-Strange at mlincoln@lcg.org or by phone at 704-844-1960, ext. 217.
Crown Point, Tobago
The Feast of Tabernacles in Tobago will be held at The Trim’s Meeting Hall in Crown Point, Tobago. The Meeting Hall is situated within walking distance from the airport. Tobago basks in tranquility and sunshine, just 22 miles off Trinidad’s northeastern tip. This is Robinson Crusoe’s desert island (Tobago was the inspiration for the book)—a land of swaying palms, deserted beaches and secluded half-moon bays sheltered by coral reefs resplendent with underwater gardens. Scattered fishing villages, pastel-hued houses, small and special hotels and easy-going people, all contribute to a feeling of total peace and quiet. Surprisingly, Tobago has a torrid past, having been the most fought over island in the Caribbean. Nowadays, however, you’ll find an innocence and a naturalness that is unique. Visit the famous Bucco Reef and Nylon pool—one of the wonders of the world! For a list of accommodations at this site, login at the MyLCG section of www.cogl.org
If you would like to attend the Feast in Tobago, request a transfer by registering through the MyLCG section of www.cogl.org
LCG Is Twittering!
To better reach our members and others who rely on social networking websites, the Church has established a Twitter account.  Twitter users can find us online at username lcginfo.  We will be posting updates regarding online content, as well as short bursts of news from the Church Web effort and other news of the Work.  We are still not sure about Twitter’s long-term potential as a tool for the Work, so for now we are committing to a three-month test of Twitter, after which we will evaluate our longer-term plans.  So, don’t wait—if you are a Twitter user, follow us right away at www.twitter.com/lcginfo.  We look forward to seeing you online!—J. Charles Ogwyn
Blessings of Unity: David wrote, “How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity” (Psalm 133:1). Jesus said “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30). Jesus also prayed for His disciples “that they may be one as We are” (John 17:11). The Scriptures reveal that the disciples had different personal perspectives (Acts 15, Galatians 2), but they learned to work together as a coordinated team to achieve their mission (2 Peter 3:14-16). They obviously realized that if each marched to his own drum, the job they were given to do would not get done. This is why the Apostle Paul stated that as we do the Work of God we must be respectful and patient with each other, “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3). Paul also emphasized that there is “one body and one Spirit… one Lord, one faith, one baptism” and that the work of the ministry involves fostering the unity of the faith and not being split apart by different ideas about methods or doctrine (Ephesians 4:9-16). As we are led by the same Spirit, we will see divisions diminish and we will be more “perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10). Peace, harmony and unity in the Church of God will become visible fruits when we are led by God’s Spirit.
Have a peaceful Sabbath,
Douglas S. Winnail
News and Prophecy—April 23, 2009
Israel Threatens the U.S. The new Israeli President, Benjamin Netanyahu, stated in a recent interview that “The American president… must stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons—and quickly—or an imperiled Israel may be forced to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities itself.” Mr. Netanyahu went on, “You don’t want a messianic apocalyptic cult controlling atomic bombs. When the wide-eyed believer gets hold of the reins of power and the weapons of mass death, then the entire world should start worrying, and that is what is happening in Iran” (Atlantic Monthly, March 31, 2009). Also, in a recent meeting with President Obama, the Sultan of Saudi Arabia pressured the U.S. not to concede to Iran’s nuclear ambitions and risk destabilizing the Middle East. Long ago, God prophesied that He would make Jerusalem a “cup of drunkenness” or a “cup of reeling” to all the surrounding peoples. He also warned that Jerusalem would be a “very heavy stone” and that nations who would arise against it would be “cut in pieces” (Zechariah 12:1-3). Today, while many nations would like to destroy Israel if they could, this nation is “too heavy” to move and is really causing world leaders to “reel” as they try to figure out what to do with it. We must continue to watch how God’s prophecies will come to pass.
The EU and Germany “Snub” Israel. Events in recent weeks have seen German President Merkel postpone indefinitely a meeting with her Israeli counterpart—urging him to continue pushing for a two-state solution in the Holy Land. Germany’s foreign minister also recently failed to extend an invitation to meet with Israel, something customarily done in his letter to a new Israeli government official. Concurrently, the EU is considering the idea of sanctions against Israel unless it makes progress toward a two-state solution (IsraelNationalNews.com, April 7, 2009). These actions support the Palestinians who have pushed for years for an “equal vote” with Israelis. Several Palestinian leaders have indicated that they will accept rule or oversight from any outside party, so long as they have an equal vote. God prophesied that during the final three-and-one-half years prior to Christ’s return, a European Beast power would be in control of the Holy Land and that this Beast power would be heavily influenced by a powerful church (Daniel 9:27; 11:40-42; Luke 21:20-24; Revelation 17). It is sobering to watch Germany and the EU pushing an agenda for Jerusalem that could lead to the fulfillment of long-standing Bible prophecies.
Civil Violence in Thailand. Bangkok, Thailand is experiencing rioting related to the 2006 ousting of its Prime Minister. The military, which has the capability to quell the violence, is being very careful so as not to destabilize an already volatile situation. Violence and protests have included fire-bombing of police stations. To date, the king of Thailand has played a very low-key role and has chosen not to intervene. Supporters of the former Prime Minister accused the new Prime Minister of taking power four months ago through deceit and trickery (Stratfor.com, April 13, 2009; YahooNews.com, April 16, 2009). Proverbs states that people rejoice “when the righteous are in authority” (Proverbs 29:2). Although the situation in Thailand has not escalated to the level of civil war, it is serious and points to several aspects of Bible prophecy that are being fulfilled today. Jesus Christ warned that “wars and rumors of wars” would increase as the end of the age approaches (Matthew 24:6). The level of civil strife in Thailand could escalate as long as the king chooses not to act and intervene.—Scott Winnail