April 30th, 2020
Greetings from Charlotte,
We had several meetings this week to discuss opening in-person Sabbath services again. A letter giving the overview of Sabbath services will be sent to the ministry and members in the next few days outlining our approach to opening up. We also held meetings regarding Festival plans for 2020, and more information on that will be coming out over the next few weeks. Rest assured that we will be holding the Feast this year and there is plenty of time to make your arrangements once we have all sites in place. Please do not book transportation or housing at this time as some locations will not be available and new ones will.
We are saddened by the death this week of Mr. Louis Bouwer, longtime minister in South Africa. Please note the announcement below.
Peter Nathan wrote in last week’s U.K. update: “In 2019 we averaged 162 new subscribers a month with a high of 247, bringing in just under 2,000 new subscribers to the Tomorrow’s World magazine. So far in 2020 we already have over 1,700 new subscribers, of which 688 were added in March! Overall literature requests in 2020 are up by 64 percent with the majority of this increase coming via the Internet.” We are receiving this kind of report from a number of our offices around the world.
There are a lot of differing opinions flying about on the Internet and television at this time. Many question whether it was necessary to shut down nation after nation around the world. Before getting caught up in the emotions and politics of it all, never forget who is the prince of the power of the air, the one who is directing the course of this world. He is creating confusion and would love for the people of God to take their eyes off the goal.—Gerald Weston
Second Passover—Repeat Announcement
The Second Passover this year is on Friday, May 8, which means that it will be observed on Thursday evening, May 7, shortly after sunset. This Passover is for those baptized members who were unable to take the first Passover due to unavoidable circumstances, as instructed in Numbers 9:1–14. If you have any questions, please contact your pastor.
Death of Mr. Louis Bouwer in South Africa
We have just received word that Mr. Louis Bouwer, one of our senior pastors in South Africa, died yesterday after some months of declining health. Mr. Bouwer has been serving as the Area Pastor for congregations in Johannesburg and Pretoria.
We will be opening our Pentecost Focus Unit this week as a helpful study resource to learn and review God’s instructions regarding this special Feast Day. As a unique component of this unit, we’ve included podcast-style audio interviews with a number of our pastors, gaining their perspective on important elements from their experience serving the Church. To listen and learn, just go to lcgeducation.org.
Feast of Tabernacles
Feast Registration Will NOT Open on May 17—Repeat Announcement
It had been planned and was earlier announced that Feast of Tabernacles registration would open on May 17. However, because of uncertainties due to the Coronavirus pandemic, registration will not open on that date. Stay tuned for more information as the situation progresses.
The Need for Wisdom: In times of uncertainty, opinions and rumors abound that can generate confusion, anxiety, and fear. How do you determine what to believe, and whom can you trust? The book of Proverbs provides us with helpful advice for making wise decisions at any point in our lives. Solomon wrote, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10). This involves looking into His word asking for God’s guidance in our decisions (2:1–6)—and not trying to rely only on our own understanding (3:5; 18:1–2). Solomon also encourages us to seek and listen to the advice of older and more experienced people (4:1–4; 6:20), and get a multitude of counsel (11:14)—and not just from those you know will agree with you (27:17; 29:5). Another important principle in dealing with conflicting ideas or situations is to get both sides of the issues involved, and not accept the first thing you hear that you happen to agree with (18:17). Life is full of challenges and crises, but we don’t have to be confused or anxious. God, as our Father, has provided these principles for our benefit, and He promises, “He who heeds the word wisely will find good, and whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he” (16:20).
Have a profitable Sabbath,
Douglas S. Winnail
News and Prophecy—April 30, 2020
Desolate Highways: Over the last two months the world has changed dramatically! Streets and highways in cities around the world—from Paris and London to New York, and from Madrid to Los Angeles—became devoid of traffic almost overnight due to lockdown attempts to control the coronavirus.
However, the highway in the sky has also been decimated during this global crisis. Commercial airlines normally make over 100,000 flights each day and carry millions of passengers (Travel & Leisure, May 19, 2017). Yet about 62 percent of the world’s commercial airline fleet is currently grounded due to the COVID-19 pandemic (TIME, April 17, 2020). Many nations have grounded their entire national airline fleets, and others have greatly reduced scheduled flights. Even global shipping has been drastically curtailed, as fewer ships are traveling the “highways” on the high seas.
Bible prophecies warn that one of the curses that will strike the Israelite-descended nations at the end of the age because they have rejected Him will be that “your highways shall be desolate” (Leviticus 26:22). Although there is likely more to come that will fulfill this prophecy, we have suddenly gained a glimpse of the future as to what this could look like. As a result of these desolate “highways,” many national and international businesses are threatened, many national economies will be damaged, and many people will suffer. For more insight into end-time Bible prophecies and their fulfillment, be sure to read Fourteen Signs Announcing Christ’s Return.
Coronavirus and Famine: The BBC reports that the head of the United Nation’s World Food Programme (WFP), David Beasley, recently urged world leaders to act quickly and wisely: “We could be facing multiple famines of biblical proportions within a short few months.… The truth is we do not have time on our side” (April 21, 2020). He was referring to the deteriorating food situation in multiple poverty-stricken nations around the globe. The recently released Global Report on Food Crises highlights the dramatic needs of the top ten at-risk nations: Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Nigeria, and Haiti.
Several of these struggling nations have been hit hard by the ongoing locust plagues, and their food supplies are shrinking quickly. Due to their high rates of poverty, all these nations have millions of residents who can only afford to eat if they are working. Yet, with quarantine mandates, many people are forced to stay at home with no way of obtaining food. Experts fear that death rates due to starvation will far exceed the number of deaths from COVID-19. The BBC noted Beasley’s concern that “30 million people, and possibly more, could die in a matter of months if the UN does not secure more funding and food.” The WFP report estimates that the number of people suffering from hunger could increase from 135 million last year to over 250 million!
Bible prophecies reveal that devastating famines will be among events leading to the end of the age and the return of Jesus Christ (Matthew 24:3–8). To learn more about these momentous, prophesied events, read or listen to “Famines and Food Shortages Ahead!”—Scott Winnail, Francine Prater, Wyatt Ciesielka, and Chris Sookdeo