June 11th, 2020
Greetings from Charlotte,
The world is beginning to open up after the initial shock of COVID-19. This does not mean the problem has gone away—in most locales it hasn’t, but it has in some. News reports tell us that New Zealand is currently COVID-free and, other than travel bans in and out of the country, is now fully open. This is good news for the Church. Australia seems to be opening up a bit, and in addition, we are holding services with some modifications here in the United States in a variety of locations. Members should not be pressured to attend, and particular care should be taken by anyone whose age and/or pre-existing conditions render them more vulnerable. The prevalence of COVID in the area should also be considered. But at some point, it becomes not only prudent, but essential, to come out of hiding after the danger has passed us by, and exercise courage and faith. Please exercise balance in all of this.
It is shocking to see the unraveling of the United States. What began as a protest has turned into the dismantling of law and order, and we in the Church need to see where this is heading. While everyone that I know is outraged by the event that sparked the unrest, we must not fail to recognize the big picture and we ought not lend our support for something that we know little about and may regret in the end. Jesus made it clear in John 18:36 that His kingdom is not of this world. If it were, then His servants would even go so far as to fight to protect Him, but it is not. We are ambassadors for God’s kingdom. Let us not forget that, and let us not allow the spirit of this world to pull us apart. Let us love one another and pray for one another.—Gerald Weston
Church-Wide Livestream on June 27
As a reminder, we will livestream Sabbath services from Charlotte on the Sabbath of June 27. This will be a full service, with the sermon given by Mr. Gerald Weston. All brethren from all LCG congregations should plan to tune in to the Charlotte service at 1:00 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time (USA) on June 27. A phone number will also be available, for those who do not have Internet access. For those who live in time zones where this is not feasible, or for those who need a translation of the message, a recording will be available soon after June 27.
One of the newest features that you may have missed at LCGEducation.org is our weekly column “Digging Deeper,” written by one of our Living Education faculty members, Mr. Ken Frank. In this weekly column, Mr. Frank gives nuggets of fascinating background information, making the Bible come alive. Recent titles include, “Nathan’s Well-Intentioned Mistake,” “The Prophetess Anna,” and “Why Could the Widow Only Give Two Mites?” This week’s column features his post titled, “Hannah’s Messianic Prayer,” which gives a surprising connection between Hannah and Jesus Christ.
The number of people enrolled in our Pentecost Unit is now 899! We’re hoping that one more person will log on to help us hit the 900 mark!—Jonathan McNair
Feast of Tabernacles
This week we’ve been communicating with our Regional Directors and Festival Site Coordinators outside of the United States, and we are hearing detailed accounts of Feast preparations in countries around the world. As each nation’s government responds to the current impact of the virus in their country, we find a wide variance around the world. For example, New Zealand is now “COVID-free,” but, by contrast, Barbados is heavily regulated, with face masks mandatory for all religious meetings and a one-hour limit imposed. Accordingly, our ministers are working hard to secure halls and make plans as they can, allowing for the conditions in each particular country. Please ask God to guide this process, as the Feast is less than four months away. As a reminder, this year we will be asking brethren to attend in their own country, as travel restrictions are still in force and probably will be at the time of the Feast.
We have made more progress on several Feast sites within the United States this week as well. Eight contracts are signed, and another eight are in the pipeline. We are expecting to have about 22 sites in the U.S. this year. Thank you for your fervent prayers for our Feast planning efforts all over the world—God is definitely opening doors!—Festival Office
Please Do Not Make FOT Housing Arrangements
As Mr. Weston has explained, we are asking brethren to attend their assigned site this year. As soon as we have contracts signed and sites nailed down, we will publish the list of those sites with the congregations they are assigned to. At that time, we will also have a registration process. Will transfers be allowed? There may be some few transfers allowed—we’ll have more information about that as registration nears.
Even if you hear of Feast sites being planned—even if it is your area and will be your assigned site—we ask brethren to NOT yet make housing arrangements. There will be plenty of time to do so as registration is accomplished. Thank you for your patience and cooperation.
Living Youth Program
2020 Texas Teen Camp and Texas Preteen Camps Approved
Final approval has been granted for us to conduct both the 2020 Texas Teen and Preteen Camps at Lone Star Camp in Athens, TX. Airport pickup will be done by van, not bus, for those flying to camp. Please e-mail your travel plans to Jenny Penman ([email protected]) right away, even if you are arriving by vehicle. We also need all staff members to let us know how many new shirts they will need. If you do not need shirts, we would like to know—so we can use the money to purchase other things. Can’t wait to see you there!—Sheldon Monson, Living Youth Programs Director and Jason Fritts, Assistant Living Youth Director
TrainRight Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Training
Beginning two years ago, all staff members at U.S. camps who are 18 years of age or older are required to participate in an online training program for awareness and prevention of child abuse. The program is approximately one hour in length. Once you have been accepted as a staff member at one of the camps, you will receive an e-mail from [email protected] titled “Invite - Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Training Program” with a link to register for and complete the training online.
Note: The certification for this TrainRight course is good for two years: the year it is taken plus the following year. For example, if you took the course in 2018, the certification was valid in 2018 and 2019. Therefore, you would have to retake the course this year to receive your new certification for 2020/2021.
First Aid/Lifeguard Certificate and Archery Certificate
If you have a current certificate in First Aid/Lifeguarding and/or an Archery certificate and will be serving in this capacity at any of the LYP camps in the United States this summer, please send a copy of your certification to Jill Ewers ([email protected]). The certificate must be current and valid through the entirety of the camp(s) where it will be used.
Food Handler Training Program
If you have received certification as a Food Handler or Food Manger through an ANSI-accredited food safety program for the state of Texas, and will be attending Texas Teen Camp or Texas Preteen Camp this summer, please send your certificate to Jill Ewers ([email protected]), copied to Mr. Joshua Penman ([email protected]) and Mr. Sheldon Monson ([email protected]).
The Path to Justice: We are living in an age when lawlessness, rioting, and looting are viewed as legitimate ways to attain social justice for almost any cause (2 Timothy 3:1–5). From a human perspective, it is tempting to want to support a cause that “seems” right in our eyes (Proverbs 14:12) without fully understanding both sides of the issue (Proverbs 18:17). While it is noble to want to alleviate suffering and injustice, we need to remember that this is Satan’s world (2 Corinthians 4:4) that is permeated by his spirit of lies, envy, hatred, and violence (Ephesians 2:2; Galatians 5:19–21). The goal of modern social justice warriors is to improve the world by human efforts without the need for God or a Messiah (Isaiah 59:4–5, 14–15). However, our Creator is a God of truth and justice (Deuteronomy 32:4) who hears the cries of the poor and oppressed who look to Him and wait on Him (Job 5:8–9; Psalm 17:1–2). Christians who live by faith need to remember that Jesus Christ is coming back to establish judgment and justice on this earth (Isaiah 9:6–7), and He will need leaders who can rule with justice and mercy (Psalm 72:1–4) and point people away from the unfruitful ways of this world (Ezekiel 45:9). This is why we need to develop the mind of God (Philippians 2:5) and wait on God to change society. At that point, we will have the opportunity to show the world the true path to justice (Isaiah 26:7–9).
Have a profitable Sabbath,
Douglas S. Winnail
News and Prophecy—June 11, 2020
Behind the Cloak of COVID-19: For the last few months, the novel coronavirus pandemic has seemed at times like a cosmic black hole: It has relentlessly consumed everyone’s attention—especially in the media. Turn on the television or radio, scan headlines on the web, or swipe through the news on your phone, and COVID-19 often dominates the headlines and discussion. However, behind the ominous, ever-present cloak of the virus, the world is suffering from numerous other calamities.
Recent super-typhoons have devastated islands in the Pacific (Nature, May 15, 2020). In East Africa, locusts have devoured whatever they can eat, and severe flooding has destroyed what crops are left. An unusually severe hurricane season is forecast for the Gulf of Mexico. In the United States, floodwaters are surging over the Midwest, while drought and wildfires are hitting the Southwest. Eastern Europe and central Russia are also struggling with wildfires. Efforts to suppress the fires are expected to be greatly hampered this year due to measures taken to stem the COVID-19 pandemic. Severe drought in Zimbabwe has resulted in power cuts and a lack of clean water. While the recent unrest, protests, and riots in the U.S. have been able to break the COVID-19 veil and reach the headlines, the larger picture is that many governments around the world appear to be in crisis—further fracturing international relations and disrupting global trade and supply lines. Then there is the ongoing economic impact of the pandemic restrictions themselves—damage that will change the world in ways that can now only be guessed at.
Bible prophecies have long warned that signs of the approaching end of the age will include wars and rumors of wars (note the current “war of words” the U.S. is waging against both China and Iran), earthquakes in diverse places, famines, pestilences (COVID-19, Ebola, AIDS, etc.), and more (Matthew 24:3–8). As the return of Jesus Christ draws near, we will see more such events—only more severe. For greater insight into what to expect in the future, be sure to read “A Vital ‘Key’ to End-Time Prophecy.”
Cannibal Rats Emerging in Cities: It appears that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected more than just people and the economy. New research by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning of “‘unusual or aggressive’ behavior in American rats as a consequence of more than two months of human lockdown” (The Guardian, May 25, 2020). Urban rats that normally feed on food waste from restaurants and trash in the streets no longer have these food sources available to rely on.
Many rats have recently been observed feeding on each other or their own young. The Washington Post reports that unusually aggressive behaviors have been noticed in New York, New Orleans, and Chicago. The hungry rats are beginning to plague cars, as they consume engine components, tires, and wire casings, causing fires and costing car owners large sums of money in repairs or replacement (May 23, 2020). The Post also notes, “Rats can transmit food-borne illnesses such as salmonella, and their urine can also worsen allergies and asthma.” Rats can also directly transmit more deadly diseases like hantavirus, hemorrhagic fever, plague, and tularemia, as well as transmit many other diseases indirectly, through fleas and ticks.
God warned the Israelite-descended nations that, because of their sins and disobedience, He would use not only other nations to punish them, but also disease and beasts of the earth (Leviticus 26:14–16, 21–25; Jeremiah 15:3–4). So far, we are not witnessing a rat infestation of “biblical proportions.” However, we can see from what is happening how such a plague could easily arise in major cities around the globe, as a result of the removal of regular food sources of these rodents. To learn more about this important subject, see “Understanding the Coming Plagues of Prophecy.”—Scott Winnail and Francine Prater