July 8th, 2021
Greetings from Charlotte,
Mr. Peter Nathan reports that the government in Ireland appears to be stalling on taking steps to lift travel restrictions and other measures that would allow the Feast to go ahead. Your continued prayers regarding this matter would be appreciated. The Netherlands and parts of the United Kingdom held in-person services last Sabbath for the first time since February or March a year ago. Parts of Canada that have remained in lockdown are also opening up again. Mr. Paul Shumway reports that as far as we know, all our members are okay, and none report serious damage following Hurricane Elsa’s pass by Barbados. Surprisingly, this was the first hurricane to hit Barbados in 65 years! We would like to recognize Mr. and Mrs. Paul Shumway, who will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary on July 11. We rejoice with them on this special milestone. Some of us will be on our way to the Texas Teen Camp by the time you receive this. Staff will be setting up and receiving Orientation prior to camper arrival on Tuesday. Please take a little time during your daily prayers to remember the safety and success of the camp for everyone.—Gerald Weston
U.S. Festival (Second Tithe) Assistance Requests Are Due Next Week
Attention U.S. Pastors: The deadline to submit Festival Assistance Request forms to the Church Administration Department is next Thursday, July 15. All forms should be properly completed by the members requesting second tithe assistance to attend the Feast this year. Then, the Area Pastors should write their recommendations/comments on the forms before submitting them to CAD. The forms are available to ministers on the MyLCG website (www.cogl.org).—Festival Office
Providing Sermons for Those Unable to Attend the Feast in Person
Attention Pastors: For various legitimate reasons, some members are unable to attend the Feast of Tabernacles in person. Many Feast sites will provide livestream or telephone connections to those assigned to the site. Also, each year, pre-recorded Feast sermons are provided for brethren who are unable to attend in person. There are three options for accessing these pre-recorded sermons. Please survey your congregations now to determine who will need the pre-recorded sermons and what means they have available to watch or listen to them.
- Pre-recorded sermons will be posted online (one per day) during the Feast.
- For those who may not be able to access sermons in that way, we can provide links to the sermons. In early September, shortly before the Feast, the links to access this year’s Festival sermons online will be emailed to the pastors. Please forward that email to the members in your areas who need to view the sermons through the links.
- We request that as many as are able would access the Feast sermons electronically, either on the websites or through the links. However, if there are brethren in your areas who are by no means able to view sermons online and who need to receive sermon CDs through the mail, please send us their names and addresses before the following deadlines:
- July 16 for ALL international recipients
- August 6 for recipients in the U.S.
The Importance of Working Together: Jesus referred to His disciples as His “friends” and encouraged them to “love one another” (John 15:12–17). The Apostle Paul called those who assisted him in his ministry “my fellow workers” (Romans 16:3). He referred to members of God’s Church as “God’s fellow workers” and “workers together [coworkers] with Him” (1 Corinthians 3:9; 2 Corinthians 6:1). These exciting opportunities carry a big responsibility of learning how to work together, and the Scriptures provide valuable guidelines. We are instructed to “be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” and not let contentions divide us (1 Corinthians 1:10–13). We are to be humble; live in harmony; be patient; avoid being haughty, conceited, or ambitious for a position; and be easily entreated (Romans 12:16–18; James 3:14–18). Proverbs 13:10 reminds us that pride is a major cause of contention, and Galatians teaches us that using God’s Spirit is a key to eliminating dissention and promoting peace, cooperation, and friendship (Galatians 5:16–26). How are you doing at learning to work together?
Have a profitable Sabbath,
Douglas S. Winnail
News and Prophecy—July 8, 2021
Landmark Israeli Visit to the UAE: Over the past year, Israel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco signed a historic pact known as the Abraham Accords, normalizing relations among those nations. Now Israel’s foreign minister has paid a visit to the UAE to meet with his “counterpart, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and inaugurate the Israeli embassy and consulate office in Abu Dhabi and Dubai respectively” (BBC, June 29, 2021).
The visit is powerfully symbolic, yet it also has practical elements. Middle East experts highlight UAE ambitions to become a leader in the region, both financially and in terms of security. The relationship should also vastly increase trade with Israel, which will benefit both nations.
Also last week, the king of Jordan and the president of Egypt paid a visit to Iraq—the first visit there by an Egyptian head of state in more than thirty years (Times of Israel, June 28, 2021). Iraq wants to establish closer ties to Arab allies of the United States and seeks the opportunity to play mediator between Arab nations and Iran. At the meeting, the leaders called for increased efforts to seek a peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
The Middle East is an ever-changing region, fueled in great degree by long-standing hatreds. This region of the world figures prominently in end-time Bible prophecies. The current thaw in certain national rivalries is worth watching as God positions nations for a final, end-of-the-age configuration. To learn more about what will transpire in this volatile region, be sure to read or listen to The Middle East in Prophecy.
Starvation in Madagascar: The southern part of Madagascar, an island off Africa’s eastern coast, is in the throes of a severe famine and its worst drought in decades. “1.14 million people are food-insecure [i.e., in danger of lacking enough food] and 400,000 people are headed toward starvation” (Washington Post, July 1, 2021). Due to three years of little rain, winds have swept away productive topsoil. Food shortages are so severe people are scavenging for what they can eat, including unripe cactus, leaves, and the locust that helped bring on the famine. They are even eating ash seasoned with spices and the remains of leather hides used for making shoes (Metro, July 2021). According to the World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director, “This is enough to bring even the most hardened humanitarian to tears” (UN News, June 23, 2021).
Over the last four months, the number of young children in acute malnutrition has almost doubled. The WFP reported that “41 million people in 43 countries were now teetering on the edge of starvation, with 584,000 already experiencing famine-like conditions across Madagascar, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Yemen. This number has increased from 27 million in 2019” (CNN, June 23, 2021). Charitable organizations have warned of a “hunger pandemic.”
As we approach the end of the age, prophecy reveals unprecedented levels of famines in our future, killing an unimaginable number of people (Revelation 6:5–8). As we see more starvation, it will be easy to become calloused to the suffering or just ignore it. However, Jesus felt compassion toward those facing calamity (Matthew 15:32) and promised that those who mourn “will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). As we look around the globe and in our own nations, will the suffering we see move us to cry out to God, “Thy kingdom come”? Scriptures show many signs will occur that point to the eminent need for the return of Jesus Christ—and spreading famine will be one of those events. Do you know the other signs to watch for that indicate Christ will soon return? To learn more, read or listen to Fourteen Signs Announcing Christ’s Return.—Scott Winnail, Francine Prater, Chris Sookdeo, and Marc Arseneault