September 29th, 2022
Greetings from Charlotte,
This past Wednesday, we held a meeting to discuss our progress in India and the direction is encouraging. As I mention in the weekly video update, we now have two congregations in India and hope to have another one before too long. We also had a meeting with our leaders in South Africa and were encouraged by the progress there as well. Last weekend Hurricane Fiona ravaged Puerto Rico and other parts of the Caribbean before heading up to Atlantic Canada, where it did considerable damage in parts of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland. And this week, Hurricane Ian slammed into Cuba on its way to Florida, where it was the fourth most powerful storm on record to hit the state. You may not be aware of this, but we have baptized members and prospective members in Cuba. Please remember to pray for all of our brethren, whether in the Caribbean, mainland United States, or Atlantic Canada, whose lives have been disrupted by these two powerful storms. For some it will be a long recovery. All of us here in Charlotte give you our warmest wishes that you have a wonderful and profitable Feast of Tabernacles. We look forward to seeing some of you in a few days.—Gerald Weston
This will be the last World Ahead before the Feast of Tabernacles.
The next issue will be published on October 20, 2022
Hurricane Ian slammed into the southwest coast of Florida on Wednesday, bringing 150-mph winds, extremely high storm surges and flooding, and knocking power out for 2.5 million Florida residents. As of this writing, there are no reports of injuries to brethren in its path, but full communication has not yet been restored. It doesn’t appear that the storm has done any damage to our Feast site in St. Augustine, but another Feast site, Hilton Head Island, is still in the path of the storm. Other Church of God groups have Feast sites along the path as well. While Ian has been downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm, it still carries high winds, heavy rains, and may bring potentially heavy flooding over the next 24 hours. And of course, even if the meeting halls of our sites are not damaged, housing in the areas will potentially be affected, especially near the coast. Brethren with housing contracted for either St. Augustine or Hilton Head Island are encouraged to make contact directly with their establishments to assess any problems. Please be praying for all of God’s people and the Feast sites, that God would protect them through this major storm.
Dr. Scott Winnail has been appointed the Assistant Regional Director for the United Kingdom. He will assist Regional Director Peter Nathan in his responsibilities in the UK and Ireland, and he will also begin to work with Mr. Nathan in parts of Europe and Africa. Dr. Scott Winnail will make several trips to the UK and other areas over the coming year and will probably move to the UK in the summer of 2023. Until that time, he will remain the pastor of his current congregations.
Mr. Donald Stevens, who is currently serving as an elder in the Houston, Texas, area, will be moving to the Washington, DC, area to work with Dr. Winnail as the Assistant Pastor in those congregations. Mr. Stevens and his family are planning to move to their new assignment sometime after the Feast this year.
Recent and Upcoming Tomorrow’s World Presentations
Last week, we held one Tomorrow’s World Presentation, a follow-up in Kansas City, Missouri, where we had 7 guests. Regrettably, the follow-up TWP that was scheduled in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, was cancelled due to a storm. This week, we have one follow-up presentation scheduled in Kansas City, Missouri. This will be the second follow-up for the campaign in that city. Thank you all for your continued prayers for these presentations.
Feast of Tabernacles
Festival Locator Forms—U.S. Only
Every year at the beginning of the Feast, attendees have been asked to fill out paper Festival Locator Forms. The information is used in case there is an emergency and we need to contact someone quickly. We have moved these forms to an online format for United States sites. Your Festival Site Coordinator should email you a link to the form before the Feast. If you are able, please fill this form out prior to the Feast; it greatly reduces the amount of work for the coordinators. Thank you for your cooperation!
Children and the Feast
Blessing of the Little Children: It is the practice of the Living Church of God to have the Blessing of the Little Children at the Feast. This practice follows the example of Jesus Christ (Matthew 19:13; Mark 10:13). When parents of small children came to Him and asked Him to bless their children, He did not forbid them. If you have small children (“babes in arms” whom you can pick up for this special blessing), listen for announcements from your Festival Site Coordinator to find out which day the Blessing of the Little Children will take place. If you have any questions, please contact your Festival Coordinator.
Caring For—and Watching—Our Children at the Feast: Parents, please remember that children are not permitted to run or engage in horseplay before, during, or after services at the Feast. Children playing on the stage or near speakers and microphones can damage expensive equipment. Children darting in and out among fellowshipping brethren can be a trip hazard. For the elderly, this can be dangerous, even life-threatening.
Children Must Be Supervised: Parents should always be vigilant when it comes to their children at the Feast. Parents have full responsibility for their children at the Feast of Tabernacles, including at services. Although precautions are taken and there are activities for children, the Church meeting or event is not a childcare facility and the Church does not take responsibility for the care of children at Church meetings or events. Their absolute safety cannot be guaranteed. The ultimate responsibility for the care of children always remains with parents or guardians. Please ensure that the conduct of your children and young people is adequately supervised throughout their attendance, and that your children are fully under your control. Parents should be aware of where their children (including their teens) are, and not allow small children to wander around unsupervised.
Children Sitting with Parents: Experience has shown that children and teenagers pay better attention and therefore learn more from the messages when sitting with a parent than when sitting elsewhere with a group of other young people. Therefore, it is the policy of the Church to have children and teens sit with their parents during services. An exception may be where an individual child or teen may sit with a friend’s parents and family. Obviously, a teen attending whose parents are not also in attendance would be exempt.
U.S. Deadline for Payments Before Feast—Repeat Announcement
Please note that our last scheduled day to print checks will be Tuesday, October 4. After that date, we will not be able to print any checks again until Thursday, October 20. Any invoices we receive by October 3 will be paid before the Festival break. Any invoices we receive after October 3 may not be able to be paid until October 20.
If you have any questions concerning specific invoices or payments, please contact Michelle Greene in the Accounts Payable Department at 704-708-2234 or Rylyn Baca at 704-708-2237. You can also email [email protected].
Tithe of the Festival Tithe—Repeat Announcement
For many decades, the Church of God has practiced what is called the “tithe of the Festival tithe.” What this means is that brethren who can afford it are asked to send a tenth of their Festival tithe to the Church before the Feast, to help pay for meeting halls and other Feast expenses, as well as to help brethren around the world with limited resources to attend the Feast (Deuteronomy 14:27; 16:14). If you are able and you have not already done so, please send in your tithe of the Festival tithe for this year. This contribution is greatly appreciated.
Stay Focused During the Feasts: Jesus taught, “Seek first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33), and He warned against being sidetracked by the cares of this world (Matthew 13:22). The Fall Holy Days keep us focused on the culminating events in the plan of God, and Satan will use all kinds of devices to distract us from focusing on God’s plan for mankind (2 Corinthians 2:11). During the Feasts, remember to make time to pray for the sermons and the fellowship. Review your notes and add additional thoughts. Take some quiet time to reflect on why you are at the Feast, and how you can serve and encourage others at the Feast. Also think about what changes you can make in your life as you go back home to become more like Jesus Christ. During these Festivals, let’s stay focused on God’s Big Picture—and remain teachable—so we can be in the coming Kingdom of God.
Have a wonderful and profitable Festival period,
Douglas S. Winnail
News and Prophecy—September 29, 2022
Haiti in Chaos: The Caribbean island nation of Haiti is in chaos as fuel prices soar and the government threatens to cease fuel subsidies (New York Times, September 21, 2022). All this in a nation where poverty is rampant and governmental stability has been fleeting for many decades. One opposition leader has called on crowds to close down local banks. A well-known gang leader also called on crowds to depose the sitting president and “overturn” the system.
The current Haitian president’s “decision to more than double the price of gasoline and diesel this week could reduce profits from the lucrative trade in black market fuel, which is controlled by groups of Haitian elites.” In recent weeks, Haitian customs officials have cracked down on illegal drug and weapon imports and have increased taxation on legally imported goods. While this has increased tax revenue, it has also angered the drug- and gun-runners, as well as Haitian businessmen who rely on revenue from duty-free imports. The president has made enemies of powerful individuals. While inflation in Haiti, overall, is hovering at 30 percent, “the cost of imported rice rose by 40%, cooking oil by 88% and wheat flour by 68%, leaving nearly half of the population facing severe hunger” (MSN, September 21, 2022).
Haiti is a nation used to suffering. But the current rate of inflation in a nation reliant on imports is too much for the average citizen to bear. Haiti is a microcosm of what much of the world could look like in the years ahead, as famine and inflation continue to increase and governments lose control. The situation in Haiti reveals why Jesus Christ must come, to establish a just and perfect government. To gain more insights into the problems we face today, read or listen to “Is Man Capable of Self-Government?”
Floods in Pakistan: Pakistan is experiencing wide-spread flooding, along with a host of other challenges (Reuters, September 22, 2022). Hundreds of thousands of people are now displaced and living in open plains, as floodwaters cover large swaths of land. Experts predict it could take two to six months for floodwaters to fully recede. As a result of the stagnant water, mosquitos are breeding rapidly and malaria is spreading. Last week alone, there were more than 44,000 new cases of malaria. Currently, one in four people screened for malaria test positive.
Lacking fresh water, people are drinking stagnant water to stay alive. This will lead to diarrheal disease and subsequent death, especially among the elderly and small children. Typhoid is also spreading rapidly. The recent flooding has affected 33 million people in Pakistan. Aid is slow to arrive, and some estimate it will take $30 billion to restore the situation to normal.
Neither the government of Pakistan nor its rural inhabitants are equipped to handle widespread flooding. While the nation’s leaders have pledged some funding for food and water, money and supplies will run short. And global weather catastrophes are forecast to continue in the years ahead. Ultimately, it is the Creator who controls the weather, and whose helping hand we should seek in such times as Pakistan is facing. In the Bible, God associates “rain in its season” with following His laws (Leviticus 26:3–4)—and negative consequences for ignoring those laws (Leviticus 26:14–16, 31–32). As we witness catastrophic suffering around the globe, we need to pray, Your kingdom come (Matthew 6:10). To learn more about this coming Kingdom that Jesus Christ will establish at His return, read or listen to The World Ahead: What Will It Be Like?—Scott Winnail and Francine Prater