January 7th, 2021
Greetings from Charlotte,
Mr. Michael Heykoop mentioned in the Canadian weekly bulletin last week that it is inspiring to reflect on how God has blessed His Work and His people despite the challenges faced throughout the year 2020. Television responses were up, attendance increased, and many other facets of the Work surged forward.
Mr. Peter Nathan reported last week that last year was a spectacular year for the Work of God in the U.K. Over 40,000 items of literature were sent out in 2020, compared with 17,422 in 2019. Our previous best year was 2016 with 22,366 items being sent out. Of the items sent out this year, 5,804 were the Bible Study Course Lesson 1 compared with 798 last year. 98.5 percent of these were sent to new subscribers.
In Germany, where our Work is much smaller, we saw a very encouraging surge in growth. The website www.weltvonmorgen.org had more than 110,000 unique visitors in 2020, a 26.3 percent increase over 2019, with visitors coming from 118 countries and territories. During the last six months, 771 individuals signed up for the Bible Study Course, for a yearly total of 1,100. That was more than 150 percent increase over 2019.
And 2020 was also a spectacular year for our Work in the Spanish language, where we had 19.2 million visits to the El Mundo de Mañana YouTube channel. We added 137,000 new subscribers in 2020 and now have a total of over 340,000 subscribers to the channel.
Considering all that the world went through last year, one must be blind indeed if he does not see God’s hand in His Work! Let us be sure to give Him the thanks and pray that He will continue to guide, lead, and magnify His Work through us.—Gerald Weston
Passover 2021—Repeat Announcement
Important Notice to All Pastors: In 2021, the Passover Service will be observed on Friday evening, March 26. Please let us know as soon as possible if any of the congregations you serve will need additional Passover Service supplies (bread trays and/or wine trays or glasses) or a copy of the Passover Service recording and letter instructions (available in English, French, and Spanish). Passover Service recordings for 2021 have been made by Mr. Rod McNair in English and by Mr. Yvon Brochu in French. To ensure timely delivery and to save on shipping costs, we need this information before January 15 for international congregations and by March 5 for U.S. congregations.
Also, please let us know of any scattered members who are unable to keep the Passover with a congregation and who need to receive the Passover Service recording and letter instructions for observing it at home. International requests should be received before January 15 and U.S. requests before March 5. Please direct your requests to the Church Administration Department at [email protected] as soon as possible.
These dates take into consideration the slowdown of mail service in some places because of the pandemic.
One part of the Living Education-Online experience is contributing your thoughts and suggestions to questions posed in our various units. For example, in our recent unit on the topic of prayer, there were 196 student responses to the question Why do you pray? and another 119 responses to the question, How do you pray? Reading through the words of our brethren expressing their thoughts about this very personal activity that we have in common is inspiring and encouraging. To read these contributions from fellow members and to get involved in our courses, go to online.lcgeducation.org and log into the course titled, “Tools for Christian Growth: Prayer.”—Jonathan McNair
Living Youth Program
Living Youth Teen Camp Registration Now Open!
Registration for Living Youth Teen Camp is now open. The camp will once again be held at the beautiful Lone Star campgrounds in Athens, Texas. We are preparing an exciting and enriching God-centered program that is guided by the overall motto of “do everything decently and in order, without confusion, and in peace.” Some of our planned activities include archery, basketball, canoeing, dance, horseback riding, media, softball, ultimate frisbee, swimming, volleyball, and waterskiing. We will be accepting applications for adult staff ages 18 and up, high school staff ages 16 and 17, and of course campers! To register, visit http://camp.livingyouth.org or email Jenny Penman at [email protected] for a paper application to be mailed to you.
Registration for our Preteen and Adventure Camps for 2021 will open at a later date.
Log into your MyLcg account.
The Importance of Doctrine: The Apostle Paul commended Christians in Rome because they “obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine [teaching] which was delivered [to] you” (Romans 6:17, KJV). He also urged Timothy, “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine…. for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16). Paul also warned repeatedly, “in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy…” (1 Timothy 4:1–3). Paul also warned that as the end of the age approaches, one-time believers “will not endure sound doctrine,” but will “have itching ears” and follow various teachers—turning theirs away from the truth to fables and lies (2 Timothy 4:3–4; 1 Timothy 4:1–2). In order to avoid being deceived and misled, we need to study the Scriptures carefully so that we know what the Bible teaches as doctrine (see the Bereans in Acts 17:10–12), and exercise spiritual discernment that comes from nourishing and being led by the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 1:6–7; Romans 8:14). We also need to remember Jesus’ warning that not everyone who thinks he or she is on the right track, actually is (Matthew 7:21–23). This is serious business, especially in these last days.
Have a profitable Sabbath,
Douglas S. Winnail
News and Prophecy—January 7, 2021
Caribbean Volcanos Come to Life: “Volcanoes that have been quiet for decades are rumbling to life in the eastern Caribbean, prompting officials to issue alerts in Martinique and St Vincent and the Grenadines as scientists rush in to study activity they say has not been observed in years” (The Guardian, December 31, 2020). The most recent alert has been issued for the La Soufriere volcano on St. Vincent, where the government has warned that an eruption could occur with less than 24 hours’ notice. The volcanic crater is now emitting gases and has formed a new lava dome, and the area is experiencing tremors. The volcano last erupted in 1979.
Martinique’s Mt. Pelee is also active again, as are volcanos in several other eastern Caribbean islands. In early December, officials warned of an impending eruption—an event that has not occurred on Mt. Pelee since 1932. Today there are 19 “live” volcanos on 11 different islands (two of them are underwater) in the eastern Caribbean. Vulcanologists say the activity on the different islands is not related.
Although increasing volcanic activity on the islands of the eastern Caribbean does not mean impending doom for the island populations, this is worth noting in light of end-time Bible prophecies. Jesus warned that “earthquakes in various places” would precede His return (Matthew 24:7), and erupting volcanos are just one type of earthquake. Other Bible prophecies of the time just before Christ’s return suggest the appearance of massive “super volcanos” of devastating force. As the end of the age approaches, we need to watch for increasing earthquake and volcanic activity around the globe, on a scale and with a frequency never seen before. For greater insights about what lies ahead, read or listen to Fourteen Signs Announcing Christ’s Return.
Nature and Relief from COVID Stress: The coronavirus pandemic has again drawn attention to the benefits of spending time in contact with the natural world. A recent survey in the UK found that nearly two-thirds of adults reported that spending time in God’s creation provided relief from stress related to the COVID-19 crisis: “Nearly half the respondents… felt that spending time in green spaces has helped them cope with rising pandemic-related anxiety” (EuroNews, December 30, 2020). Another report from the University of Vermont found that almost 60 percent of those participating in the study experienced improved mental health and a reduction in stress as a result of spending time outdoors during the pandemic (medicalnewstoday.com, January 3, 2021).
Experiencing the benefits of nature does not always require hiking on a remote mountain trail. All that is needed is getting outside and being around trees, water, birds, animals, and flowers. A walk by a river or a canal, watching squirrels scampering around on the grass under a tree, noticing clouds moving across the sky, enjoying a beautiful sunset—even looking at a peaceful picture or photo of the natural world—can have a beneficial impact on one’s health. While scientists do not know exactly why exposure to God’s creation generates such positive effects, these studies continue to demonstrate the benefits of contact with nature.
Ancient King David, a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), noted the pleasurable nature of green pastures and still waters (Psalm 23:2) and how looking to the hills brought to mind the reassurance of God’s presence (Psalm 121). As we spend time in the creation, we are reminded of the Creator and how small we are in His presence. We are also removed from the stress, noise, and chaos of our man-made environment. The wind, the trees, the sound of water, and watching animals interact naturally is calming. Perhaps this is one reason people flock to lakes, oceans, and mountains to “get away” on holiday. God made the creation to be a blessing for mankind. To learn more about what the Bible reveals concerning ways to stay healthy, be sure to read Biblical Principles of Health.—Scott Winnail and Francine Prater