January 28th, 2021
Greetings from Charlotte,
We have run ads on Facebook in the United Kingdom for the last two months as a means of overcoming the loss of the CBS stations there. These promotions have brought in over 1,200 Bible Study Course requests and more than 1,600 booklet requests. We recently established a similar program for the French language, with initial advertisements focusing on Paris. Similar programs are already in place for both the German and Dutch languages, with Afrikaans coming next. Canada mailed 63,600 booklets, Bible Study Courses, CDs, and DVDs in 2020, a 62 percent increase over the previous year. This was the highest total ever for LCG Canada, shattering the previous record by 11,600. Mr. Robert Tyler reports: The Church is growing in both New Zealand and Australia, with the highest LCG attendances ever in both countries. TV responses continue to do well in the Philippines, Australia, and New Zealand. GOTOs were up in 2020 over 2019. Income was up in Australia and New Zealand and expenses were down—thus placing both countries in strong financial positions. This week, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Ames are scheduled to travel to Greensboro, North Carolina, for the Sabbath, and the following week to Williamsburg, Virginia, for the Sabbath and a Tomorrow’s World Presentation. Be sure to pray for Mr. and Mrs. Ames and for all our ministers as they travel to do the Work of God.—Gerald Weston
Requests for Passover Supplies—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. We need this information before March 5 for U.S. congregations in order to ensure timely delivery and to save on shipping costs. International requests should already have been submitted. The date takes 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. U.S. requests should be received before March 5, and international requests should already be here. Please direct your requests to the Church Administration Department at [email protected] as soon as possible.
We have received quite a few applications for Living Education-Charlotte for the 2021–22 school year, but it’s not too late to apply! We are looking for young people who are serious about building a strong foundation for life, based on God’s word. But our program is not just about self-improvement. Each year, our students build lifelong bonds with other young adults who share the same convictions and values. With God’s help, as a Church, we wholeheartedly preach the Gospel today through television, the Internet, and print. But through efforts like LivingEd-Charlotte, we are also preparing for tomorrow by investing in the next generation of servant leaders. If you know a young person who has the potential to be a young pillar for tomorrow and is between the ages of 18 and 30, encourage them to apply today at www.lcgeducation.org.—Jonathan McNair
Living Youth Camp
Living Youth Camp Acceptances
We will be sending out acceptances for LYC soon and spots are filling rapidly. Only a limited number of staff applicants can be accepted this year, so if you are thinking about coming to teen camp and haven’t applied yet, please do so now! It really helps us in planning to have applications in early so that staff positions can be filled and campers can be assigned to dorms. If you are undecided about applying because of concerns regarding COVID-19—for instance, whether or not you’ll be able to cross the border if you’re an international applicant—please don’t let that stop you from applying. If you need to cancel as camp gets closer, you will receive a full refund of fees and tuition up to at least one month before camp. We’d much rather you apply early and have to cancel, than apply late. It’s going to be a fantastic year!—Joshua Penman
Year-end 2020 donation receipts for the United States have been printed and mailed this week.
Redeeming the Time: The Apostle Paul urged brethren in Ephesus to live purposefully and to make the most of every opportunity to grow and become more like Jesus Christ “because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15–18). Ephesus was a bustling port city that was full of temptations to distract and disorient individuals who were striving to live a Christian life. Jesus also warned against being sidetracked from our spiritual goals by getting caught up in the “cares of this world”—the physical issues that can dominate our daily lives (Matthew 13:22). These warnings and admonitions are still important today! As our secular, materialistic, and increasingly anti-God society hurtles towards the climax of this age, we need to stay focused on the main goal of doing God’s Work and developing the knowledge, wisdom, and godly character that will be required to reign with Jesus Christ in the coming Kingdom of God. Let’s make the most of our time to prepare for this exciting future!
Have a profitable Sabbath,
Douglas S. Winnail
News and Prophecy—January 28, 2021
New Relationships Among Arab Nations: Beginning last summer, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Morocco, and Bahrain signed onto the Abraham Accords—a peace deal some call “the most significant breakthrough in the Arab-Israeli conflict since the 1990s” (Foreign Policy, December 21, 2020). Many don’t believe these nations are interested in peace, but instead are concerned about how they can benefit from the deal—including technology, arms, and favors from the United States. Many analysts are now watching Saudi Arabia to see if the powerful Islamic nation will follow suit with its own agreement with Israel (Washington Post, December 15, 2020).
Cooperation is increasing among Gulf states that have recently been at odds with each other. In early January, Deutsche Welle reported the claims of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that “the Gulf states had signed an agreement on regional ‘solidarity and stability’ at a summit aimed at resolving a three-year embargo against Qatar” (January 4, 2021), noting also that he thanked the U.S. and Kuwait for their mediator roles. Now Egypt has resumed diplomatic relations with Qatar, making Egypt “the first country to officially do so under an Arab deal to end a long-running dispute” (Reuters, January 21, 2021). Saudi Arabia plans to reopen its embassy in Qatar, and Bahrain and Egypt have both reopened their airspace to Qatar. The relationships fostered by this U.S.-brokered agreement, along with the Abraham Accords, are intended by the U.S. to provide a strategic bulwark against the regional threat posed by Iran.
How might these events impact the future of the Middle East and the Arab nations? Bible prophecy states that at the end of the age a powerful “king of the South” will face off against a European “king of the North,” with control of Jerusalem at stake (Daniel 11:40–43). The current efforts at cooperation could lead to the formation of the prophesied “king of the South.” To learn more about future events in the Middle East, be sure to read or listen to The Middle East in Prophecy.
India’s Bird Flu Epidemic: In addition to struggling against COVID-19, India is facing two different strains of bird flu (Deutsche Welle, January 14, 2021). The nation has culled thousands of birds and warned citizens that the flu can spread through human-to-human contact, though the highest risk comes from contact with poultry.
In reaction to these new virus strains, the prices of chicken, eggs, and other fowl plunged and many shops and stores that sell such foods were closed. Shop owners who defied the closure laws were threatened with having their licenses revoked (NDTV, January 13, 2021), and restaurants were forbidden to serve chicken or eggs. By the end of 2020, bird flu outbreaks had also spread to ten European nations, Japan, and Korea (PoultryWorld.net, December 29, 2020).
Avian flus are yet another plague afflicting nations around the globe, and at least one of these bird flu strains (H5N1) is deadly to humans. We appear to be entering a time where the risk of pandemics is increasing. Bible prophecy reveals that many devastating events will erupt in the world before Christ’s return, including disease epidemics (Matthew 24:7). Yet, Jesus Christ warned that these are just “the beginning of sorrows” (v. 8). It is sobering to see world events lining up with end-time prophecies, but these events also point to the imminent return of Jesus Christ to establish His everlasting, peace-filled Kingdom over the whole earth. For more details about what we will see in the days and years ahead, read Armageddon and Beyond.—Scott Winnail and Francine Prater