January 14th, 2021
Greetings from Charlotte,
The online Living Education courses have been popular among our members, with 2,346 people enrolling in them. The number studying them is no doubt higher, as oftentimes more than one person sits down at a computer to go through the lessons. With Passover only ten weeks away, this year you may want to join the 1,110 previous enrollees in the Passover course, or review it once again. Our most popular course was the Life and Teachings of Christ, where 1,877 took the first module.
Our three CBS stations in the U.K. were dropped by management late last year, and we have been looking for an alternative. WORD network airs in the U.K. so we are adding a second airing on that national and international network. Beginning January 24, we are scheduled to air the program at 6:00 a.m. EST here in the U.S., but that is 11:00 a.m. on Sunday in the U.K.
As our world descends into greater chaos and confusion, let us spend our energies on drawing closer to our Creator, rather than getting caught up in the politics, conspiracies, and squabbles of this world (Isaiah 8:12–13; Revelation 18:4). In light of the increased potential for disruption we are seeing today, it would be wise to make sure that you have enough food, water, and other necessities put away to deal with unexpected events (whether political or weather-related) that may suddenly arise.—Gerald Weston
Deadline for International Requests for Passover Supplies
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. We need this information before January 15 for international congregations and by March 5 for U.S. congregations, in order to ensure timely delivery and to save on shipping costs. These dates take into consideration the slowdown of mail service in some places because of the pandemic.
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.
Living Youth Program
LYP New Zealand Summer Camp
The sixth consecutive LYP Teen Camp is underway in Eltham, New Zealand, situated below stunning Mount Taranaki. Although disappointed international campers and staff from the Australasian region could not attend due to COVID-19 border restrictions, the camp has nonetheless been a success so far. Nineteen enthusiastic and happy campers are participating in activities including Christian Living, Speech and Communication, Dance, Softball, Tennis, Swimming, Kayaking, Waterslide, Gaga ball, Netball, Riflery, Baking (for girls), Song-leading (for boys), and the foreign game of Australian Rules Football. The camp theme of “The Strength Required of a Gideon’s Army” is resonating well with the campers in these challenging end times. The camp will conclude on Monday, January 18, and we would appreciate your prayers for a successful finish to the camp.—Paul Kearns, Camp Director
Living Youth Teen Camp Registration Now Open!—Repeat Announcement
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.
The Value of Counsel: One of the common pitfalls of life is trusting in our own judgment when we only see part of the picture. When we make decisions or take actions based on how we see a problem, the results can be costly to ourselves and to others. This is why Solomon wrote in Proverbs 3:5, “lean not on your own understanding,” and in Proverbs 3:7, “Do not be wise in your own eyes,” and again in Proverbs 28:26, “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool.” Solomon also warned in Proverbs 11:14, “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety,” and again in Proverbs 15:22, “Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established.” We can obtain wise counsel and valuable advice from prayerfully studying the book of Proverbs on a regular basis and from seeking advice from parents, the ministry, and from more experienced friends and associates, who can be objective and help us see a bigger picture than we perceive on our own. God wants us to succeed and be happy in this life and become wise leaders in the coming kingdom (Daniel 12:3)—which is why He inspired and preserved this advice about the value of counsel!
Have a profitable Sabbath,
Douglas S. Winnail
News and Prophecy—January 14, 2021
Unrest in U.S. Capital: Riots and demonstrations rocked a number of American cities in 2020, but the protest in Washington, DC, on January 6 was something different. On that day, protestors claiming to be supporters of President Donald Trump pushed their way into the U.S. Capitol Building, resulting in widespread damage and five deaths. Protestors apparently felt emboldened by comments made by the president in the weeks leading up to the Electoral College certification and his remarks at a rally immediately preceding the onslaught. Regardless of the president’s level of responsibility, which is the subject of ongoing debate, international opinion has come down hard on America and on Donald Trump. German Chancellor Angela Merkel commented, “A ground rule of democracy is that after elections there are winners and losers. Both have their role to play with decency and responsibility so that democracy itself remains the winner” (Deutsche Welle, January 7, 2021). Even British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, an ally of President Trump, leveled criticism at the president and his supporters (Politico, January 7, 2021). Mr. Johnson lamented, “All my life, America has stood for some very important things, an idea of freedom and an idea of democracy and… in so far as he encouraged people to storm the Capitol, and in so far as the president consistently has cast doubt on the outcome of a free and fair election, I believe that that was completely wrong.”
Although many are lamenting the “assault” on American democracy, the reality is that democracy, like all other forms of man’s government, is a humanly devised system. While many would argue it is the best form of government man has devised, democracies are inherently unstable. Long ago, in his famous work The Republic, the Greek philosopher Plato described a theoretical cycle of human governments, with democracies ending in chaos that invites the emergence of a tyrant who promises to restore order. However, the Bible reveals there is another government coming that will not be created by imperfect human beings. This government will be headed by a perfect ruler with perfect character—Jesus Christ—and will be built on a perfect set of laws (Isaiah 9:6–7; 11:1–10; 32:1). To learn more about the future of democracy, be sure to read our exciting article “Perfect Government Coming Soon!”
More Locusts for East Africa? The year 2020 brought a massive locust plague that caused widespread destruction of crops and livelihoods in East African nations (Deutsche Welle, January 5, 2021). The COVID-19 pandemic has only added to the catastrophe, and about 35 million people have been left in a state of “food insecurity.”
Now, “the United Nations has warned that a second and maybe even deadlier re-invasion of locusts has already begun.” Adult locusts from last year’s swarm have laid their eggs. The amount of rain in the next couple months will determine the severity of the locust plague this year. The wetter the weather, the more severe the infestation will be. Locusts reproduce prolifically—at a rate of twentyfold per generation. Government officials in East African nations are preparing to attack hatching locusts before they mature, spread, and reproduce, spending millions of dollars on pesticides to be applied both on the ground and from the air.
The Bible records that a massive invasion of locusts was one of the plagues that devastated Egypt and preceded the exodus of the Israelites from bondage (Exodus 10). Officials worry that collateral damage from the locust invasion will cause cross-border problems between African nations and destabilize already weak governments. However, Bible prophecies foretell that even greater plagues lie ahead as we approach the end of the age (Revelation 9; 15–16). To learn why these devastating events will occur, be sure to read “Understanding the Coming Plagues of Prophecy.”—Scott Winnail, Chris Sookdeo, and Francine Prater