April 14, 2020
April 14th, 2020
Dear Brethren and Co-workers with Christ,
How thankful I am that you are part of this Work of God! You have been faithful through the good times, but now we are challenged with this COVID-19 pandemic. You probably hear enough about that, so I don’t want to dwell overly much on that subject in this letter to you, my dear friends.
We are told in the Olivet Prophecy, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). Can we realize just how profound this statement is?
The word gospel means good news, but this term is thrown about so loosely that few indeed understand what that good news is that Jesus preached. We hear about “gospel music,” “the good old-time gospel,” and “gospel preaching.” If pinned down with a little time to think, I suppose that most people would say the Gospel is about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
There is no doubt that these are related to the Gospel. What better news can there be than knowing that God gave His Son for us that we may have our sins forgiven and have the opportunity for eternal life? That is certainly wonderful news and a theme of the New Testament. In fact, it is also found in numerous passages in what is referred to as the Old Testament (see Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22, as examples). But what was the message Jesus preached for three and a half years prior to His crucifixion? Why did He preach in parables and what were they about? What did His message communicate to the minds of those who heard it firsthand? And what was the message His servants taught after His resurrection? These are questions few seem to ask. There is a great lack of curiosity and serious thinking among most church-going folks.
Here are a few other questions that ought to be asked. Why is the day that is considered the most holy day of the year by the majority of professing Christians named after the pagan goddess of fertility and celebrated with fertility symbols such as rabbits, eggs, and lilies? How do you squeeze three days and three nights between Friday sunset and sunrise on Sunday morning? How could the women who came to anoint the body of Jesus prepare the spices before they had acquired them? Why do we not read of Jesus’ first century followers ever celebrating Easter or a sunrise service? And what was the message Jesus preached before His crucifixion? These are just a few of a multitude of questions curious people ought to ask. But few do!
These and many more questions are answered in our booklets Do You Believe the True Gospel? and Easter: The Untold Story. If you don’t have one or both, just let us know and we will send you copies absolutely free of charge.
The Gospel Jesus preached prior to His death and resurrection is very different from what most people think, and their mistake is not due to a lack of evidence. The books known as the four gospels are full of references and explanations of what the Gospel is, as brought out in our booklet on the subject. This Gospel is NOT being preached today, except for what you hear in this Work and from perhaps a very few others. But Jesus said, “the gospel of the kingdom” (there it is!) will be “preached in all the world.” While we have reached some individuals in all but one or two nations through television, the Internet, and our printed literature, we do not think that means this prophecy is fulfilled. Surely this message of the Kingdom of God and of what that Kingdom is will reach more than only a few people in every nation before Christ returns.
Right now the world needs hope. This COVID-19 crisis has shut down the world. People in nation after nation are sheltering at home while businesses close shop, leaving people out of work. But there is some good news. As reported by Newsmax, “People are turning to religion during the coronavirus pandemic. Fox News reports that Bible sales are up as the coronavirus spreads. With many people sheltering at home, they are ordering books to pass the time, including the Holy Bible” (April 6, 2020).
This is borne out by increased responses to our initiatives. While we see a significant uptick across the board, our work in the Spanish language is very exciting. Subscribers to our Spanish YouTube site increased in March by 350% over previous monthly averages. We now have more than 285,000 subscribers to that YouTube channel. These are people who say they want to be notified of new material from us. And, Mr. Richard Ames’ telecast “Seven Signs of the Second Coming” topped the one million mark in Spanish in just two months. This is the fastest any of our programs has reached this milestone. There is nothing like a war, depression, or pandemic to focus people’s minds on what is important!
Many people are looking for answers that we can provide, but with so many of you out of work, doing our Work of preaching the true Gospel and warning this world of what is to come is a challenge. Though it was not unexpected, we already saw a downturn in income over the last two weeks.
However, I want to be totally open with all of you. We did receive the blessing of a large sum of money just as this crisis was beginning. God knew we would need it, and He provided it. He positioned us to be in the best shape financially in many years going into this difficult time. We also have savings in hall rentals and travel expenses as we shift during this crisis to holding Sabbath services online temporarily. This offsets some lost income, but even with these savings, our reserves could be depleted if this lasts very long.
While we have been abundantly blessed here in the United States, that is not the case for many of our offices, congregations, and members around the world. We expect that at least some of our international offices will need help. We also do not want to deplete our reserves to the point of not being able to take advantage of new doors opening to preach the Gospel. For example, we just signed a contract for a television station that covers Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Morgantown, West Virginia. Both cities have Living Church of God congregations ready to welcome newcomers to share in fellowship with people of like mind. The program is scheduled to begin airing Sunday, May 3, at 7:00 a.m. on WPCW. Please pray that it will provide excellent results.
Because of these reasons, I’m asking that those who are able, those who have regular income and are themselves saving from lower travel costs, to please consider giving a little extra to make up for those who are out of work. It is not reasonable to ask people to do what they cannot do, and we will not employ emotional appeals with sad faces and sentimental music. Instead, I am making an honest and simple appeal: Now is a time for those of us who are still working, or who have much, to make up for those out of work or who have little.
This world needs the good news of the coming Kingdom of God. That good news goes far beyond some sort of retirement in the clouds or some kind of celestial drug trip. Our booklet Your Ultimate Destiny gives exciting understanding of God’s plan for mankind. What He has in mind for you is beyond amazing! Be sure to order this free resource if you do not yet have it.
This world also needs to hear the cause of our problems plainly explained and needs to be given the warning that things will get a lot worse unless we turn to our Creator in heartfelt repentance. Notice that the good news will go out “as a witness to all the nations” before the end comes (Matthew 24:14). The majority of mankind will reject that message and the warning that comes with it, but a few will understand and turn to God. How we hope that our relatives, our friends, and our neighbors will listen to, and heed that warning!
One of the most encouraging passages of scripture is found in the book of Malachi: “Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His name. ‘They shall be Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘On the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.’ Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him” (Malachi 3:16-18).
Thank you, dear brethren and co-workers, for your loyal support during both good times and bad. And thank you to all who pray for this Work. God answered your prayers in preparing us for this challenging time. Keep up those prayers, and those of us who can go above the minimum, let us at least partially make up for those who are on fixed incomes or who are out of work through no fault of their own. And everyone, please use good sense and practice regular handwashing and social distancing. We love you and do not want to see any of you go through a painful experience with this virus.
Sincerely, in Christ’s service,
Gerald E. Weston