Dear Brethren and Co-workers with Christ,
I appreciate Mr. Wallace Smith pinch-hitting for me by writing the June Member/Co-worker letter. As he mentioned, I was in Winnipeg, Canada, for a Tomorrow’s World Presentation. And it was a walk down memory lane. It was 2002 when I gave the first presentation there. At the time, we only had two sisters who were baptized members and a seven-year-old boy, but a small handful of people, actually one family, joined with them as a result of the presentation. Spiritual growth is slow. It means people have to change, to repent of their past, including their religious past in most cases. Few are willing to do so, but we now have a congregation of about 70 members in Winnipeg.
Fifty-four people came to hear my most recent presentation—“The Gathering Storm.” Mr. Michael Brown, our minister in Winnipeg, joining me in fielding questions for about a half hour. The ladies in the congregation provided an outstanding covered-dish meal for everyone who wanted to stay to check out our Sabbath service which followed. Thirty-two guests joined our members that afternoon for the service. Most of them are not ready to change at this time, but some will likely become a part of the Winnipeg congregation.
I hope that all of you co-workers will take the opportunity to attend one of these presentations when one comes near to you. We send out invitations by mail, but you may also find one coming your way by checking at our website: TomorrowsWorld.org.
Last week (as I am writing this) 22 adventuresome young people traveled to Olympic National Park on the coast of Washington State to backpack for four days. They were part of one of our adventure programs. By the time you receive this letter, our teen summer camp in Texas should be underway where 200 staff and campers will spend two weeks of fun, fellowship, and instruction in righteousness.
Today’s teens are assaulted with ideas that were foreign to those of us who are older. They are being taught in school to hate the country where they reside and to explore lifestyles that God refers to as abominations. So insidious is this indoctrination, that many older people have also given in to accept this national suicidal propaganda.
How amazing it is that the superstore Target, or any store, would proudly sell transgender clothing for children! When thinking adults protested, Target moved the clothing from the front of the store to the back. Some considered this a win, but was it? Or was it three steps forward on the part of these gender ideology activists and two steps back? The clothing was not removed—only moved to another location in the store so it was one step forward at the end of the day.
But we may be seeing a pushback. At last count, Budweiser has lost $37 billion in capitalization as a result of its short foray into “trans” advertising. Obviously, they don’t know Joe Sixpack, their main client! But corporate America, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand do not seem to be getting the message. It remains, three steps forward and two back—meaning one-step forward.
Any student of the Bible ought to understand how God thinks about these things, but how many Bible students are there today? More and more are turning away from God, especially those of younger generations. But for those in tune with scripture, it is not surprising that, as our peoples turn away from God, our nations find themselves in one crisis after another. Many Americans and Canadians see their countries going in the wrong direction, but fail to connect the dots between the causes, our immoral behaviors; and the effects, the problems besetting us.
It is into this strange world that our teens and young adults were born, not by their design, but by chance of birth. They need the truth of God and the courage to live according to that truth, but who is teaching them the right way and inspiring them to act on that understanding? Jonathan McNair, one of our evangelists and a dear friend of mine, and I were talking the other day about the need to reach this younger generation. And he reminded me of something I know very well. We must start with our own. While we would love to have a powerful impact on the young of the world, and will continue to strive to do so, we do not want to lose the children who currently attend our services. Our Living Youth Program adventure trips and youth camps are part of that process.
Of course, the Church relies on parents to teach their children. As God instructs, “And these words which I command you today [the Ten Commandments] shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). And as we read in Psalm 78: “Give ear, O my people, to my law; incline your ears to the words of my mouth…which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength and His wonderful works that He has done” (vv. 1, 3-4).
I will be directing our teen camp in Texas again this year, but have invited ten of our younger ministers, men in their forties, seasoned men, who in many cases are raising children of their own, to pass along the legacy we have built over decades of experience to reach our teens. Our Living Youth camps are not sports camps, but we teach and play sports. They are not music camps, but we have opportunities for our young people to contribute their talents in this way. And they are not camps for practical jokes or “pairing off.” They are camps for passing God’s way of life to a new generation.
Our desire is to pass along to these younger ministers approaches that promote outgoing concern for one another among our teens. As I often instruct our teens in camper orientation, “That geekish fellow sitting in front of you, that shy and awkward girl in back of you, both have a heart, and they desire the same things you do. They want to love and to be loved. They want to be respected. They don’t need to be picked on or made fun of. They don’t need to be shunned or pushed aside. Here at LYP, we care for one another.”
Of course, teens don’t do that naturally. They need to be taught and we have traditions that promote outgoing concern. At mealtimes, we don’t let them pick and choose who to sit with as they do in school, but we assign dorms to sit according to a plan that throws them together with those they may not know as well. When they are finished eating, they wait until they are dismissed, rather than allowing a fast eater to leave the company he is in to go and spend time with his favorite buddies or girlfriends. It is simple details such as this, and there are many more, that we want to pass along to our younger ministers to enable them to maintain our legacy.
In addition, we have had three weddings the last three weekends and all six individuals grew up attending our services. And I believe our youth programs had an impact on all of them. But more importantly, their parents taught them the way of God. These young people have made the critical decision to reject this world and its immoral values and have chosen a better way. They also showed outgoing concern for others—values we teach at our camps—and have supported one another in resisting the perverse society around them.
Many of you do not have children or grandchildren who regularly attend Living Church of God services, and therefore have not been part of our Living Youth Programs, but I wanted to share this with you, because while the expense is relatively small compared to our other endeavors, it is nevertheless an important portion of where your tithes and offering go. Thank you dear brethren and co-workers for your part in this end-time work. World conditions are aligning with Bible prophecy. Time is short. May the Kingdom of God come within our lifetimes!
Sincerely, in Christ’s service,
Gerald E. Weston