Announcements for July 27, 2017
Summer Trips to Canada
From Doug Johnson: The summer season provides an ideal opportunity to visit our brethren in Canada, and this year has been no exception. With my wife, Janel, I took trips to Ontario and Newfoundland before participating in one summer camp this year and then fully gearing up preparation for the fall festivals.
Ontario: We had planned to visit our Toronto and North Bay congregations on the Sabbath of June 24 and were able to do just that.
But a tragic automobile accident that claimed the life of North Bay member Shirley Bowman on May 31 changed things. Aden and Shirley Bowman and their young family first came to God’s truth in 1988, when they lived near Ottawa, Ontario. Janel and I were the first pastor and pastor’s wife they knew in God’s Church, as that was the area we served from 1986 to 1989.
Mr. Bowman asked me to participate (assisting Scott Lord, his current pastor) in conducting his wife’s funeral on Friday, June 9, which I considered a very sad honor. Mr. Lord asked if I’d consider staying in the area after the funeral for the Sabbath of June 10. He and I gave split sermons for the two congregations, which combined to meet near the tiny town of Ullswater, Ontario. We valued the time we could spend with this remarkable family, sharing their grief. How we look forward to the resurrection of the saints! The Bowman family appreciates the hundreds of cards they’ve received, along with the outpouring of concern, shared grief and comfort from brethren around the world. With many visitors still in the area, Sabbath services on June 10 saw an attendance of 45, which was slightly more than double the normal attendance for the North Bay congregation.
Given the turn of events, we were glad to be able to return just two weeks later on the Sabbath of June 24. We visited Toronto in the morning and the North Bay congregation (again meeting near Ullswater) in the afternoon, and I had the opportunity to speak to both groups. The churches were once again warm in their welcome, and we cherish the bonds we all experience, even in times of sadness, by the power of God’s calling and Spirit.
By the time of this second visit, Marlin Bowman and his wife, Meghan, had welcomed their first child, a daughter (Anaya Shirley Bowman), born 22 days after her grandmother Shirley’s death. The Bowmans are moving ahead, with full reliance on God’s help and comfort for their present challenges and the difficult times still in front of them. Life moves on, and our goal never changes, does it?
Newfoundland: Our second area visit to St. John’s, from July 19-23, was full and productive. Last year was more a get-acquainted visit. This year, we were able to visit (in their homes) all the members of the congregation except Dr. Garvey Chilopora, his wife, Gloria, and their three children, who live about a 3½-hour drive west of the city. But we look forward to spending a bit more time with the Chiloporas as the CYC summer camp program draws them southward shortly!
David Smith, our elder in St. John’s, continues to look after the group of 10 members. Our appointments this year revealed some growing interest from new contacts, so as the “man on the scene,” he will keep in touch with one or two who have a sincere desire to learn more about the work the Church of God, a Worldwide Association, is doing. Church attendance locally will soon see an increase of about 20 percent! Brandon and Tarah Schulz, members currently attending in Columbia, South Carolina, will shortly be moving to the area. The anticipated visits of Birmingham, Alabama, pastor Tom Kirkpatrick and his wife, Sarah (Tarah’s parents) will give the congregation the very real possibility of occasional visits by another pastor.
Following the pattern from our first area visit in 2016, the congregation hosted a very pleasant potluck meal after services, shared by the 11 of us able to attend on the Sabbath of July 22. The stalwart faithfulness of God’s people, even in small groups at some distance from others of like mind, never fails to encourage and inspire.
We are experiencing some modest growth in attendance for the six congregations across this beautiful and vast country, and we appreciate your prayers for God’s guidance in striving to serve His people here.
PCD Update on Second Quarter of 2017
From Cecil Maranville: The Personal Correspondence Department processed 915 contacts in the second quarter of 2017. That is almost exactly the number of the first quarter, but down 21 percent from the second quarter of 2016, which was a record breaker. Below is a sampling of the emails from this quarter.
- “Happy Sabbath” images on our Life, Hope & Truth share page (https://lifehopeandtruth.com/share) stirred the curiosity of one reader, who wrote, “You say happy Sabbath—which day is the Sabbath?”
- Another question about the Sabbath: “In keeping the Sabbath day holy, should I attend a baby shower, which will be held at a lake club? I do not want to support any business [that] buys or sells on this day. I am torn, as I wish to honor the mother of the baby as she is my niece. I am thinking I am being convicted, though, even before I make this decision. Hoping you could help me understand the right thing to do before God.”
- “I’m a Christian, and I believe we should worship on the Sabbath (Saturday). Where is the nearest Church of God church where I can worship? I live in southeast Texas. Thank you.”
- Also about the Sabbath Commandment: “[It says,] ‘Nor your male servant, nor your female servant. …’ Servant, meaning slave. So, where’s your or the Bible’s justification for the fact that owning a slave is completely okay? I’m only curious.”
- “Can intercessory prayer be prayed for God to not only intervene in a person’s life but in his marriage as well?”
- “In your booklet Mystery of the Kingdom it says that nobody is actually in heaven yet. What I don’t understand … then [is] how did so many people visit heaven and come back saying that they saw people in heaven, e.g. Colton [Burpo] saw his sister and grandpa?” Included was a link to a YouTube video by an evangelical organization that repeats this boy’s story, which is the basis for a widely circulated book about going to heaven.
- This is somewhat long, but we include it due to the remarkable insight this person, who is new to the truth, has: “What Bible do you use? Are you a member of the church that this site belongs to? I’m SO HAPPY I can’t even tell you to FINALLY find a church that believes as I do but is not Kingdom Hall of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. My mother is part of them, and we argue a lot about things concerning the Word. However, I do NOT agree with other churches either. I have expressed my feelings during holidays in hope of finding someone who sees these things the way I do, but no one ever has. Things such as Santa Claus, which is a LIE. A BIG FAT LIE! How can anyone who truly believes God’s words lie? Especially at such a time as ‘Christmas,’ which I think [is] in itself a lie. And Halloween … COME ON!! Gore, blood, evil spirits! You have got to be kidding me! I cannot be part of a church that celebrates such things. Bunnies, ghouls, Santa Claus; none of this makes sense to me, and I’m a new Christian. So it REALLY puzzles me that if I can see it how [can] SO MANY others who have been living the godly life for so long not [see it]. But I found this site … thank you, Jesus. I believe He led me here [because] of all my questions. I’m so thankful for finding you. But I’m really curious about Bibles. My mom’s church uses their own, and I’m scared to death to read that one [because] I think they write it the way THEY want it to be understood. Please help … which one does … your church approve? Thank you so much!! God bless.”
- Occasionally we receive “questions” that seem suspiciously like a minister asking us to do his sermon preparation for him. Here is one such question from the last quarter: “For example, like, prepare a sermon TOPIC THE NARROW AND WIDE GATES—how will you prepare with the scripture?”
- We often receive questions about visions or dreams, such as this one: “Hey I had a dream like the world is going to end soon. In this dream the road was cracked open with fire, and people [were] running to it trying to cross it. But me and my kids [were] going the opposite way, and I heard someone say, you knew this day was coming, and I began to pray, and it was like it’s too late. I watched my son cry because he didn’t want to die; it was like I couldn’t breathe. What does this mean?”
- “The Bible says the Book of Life was written ‘before the foundation of the world,’ so it seems to me that one’s name either is there or [is] not? Confusing.”
- “How can I know God’s way for my future?”
- “Why did the Jews observe Passover the evening of Christ’s crucifixion, while Christ celebrated it the night before? Were the Jews observing Passover on the wrong night? If so, how does Christ’s crucifixion align with the slaughter of the Passover lamb? Obviously it couldn’t if He and His disciples were keeping the ‘real’ Passover the night beforehand.”
- “If you take your own life, does that separate you from God [and] do you lose your salvation and spend eternity in hell after judgment?”
- “Does God choose our mate, or is this our decision to make?”
- Readers often cite our website in their writings, such as this one: “I am doing a report for a paper of mine in a class, I was wondering, when was the article that describes the role of women in the past and the present published to the website?”
- “I [am] wondering if it’s wrong if a pastor or fellow Christians says you are forgiven when you confess a sin to them. Because it does say confess to others in the Bible. So if you do and the pastor or fellow Christian says, yes, you are forgiven. And you personally needing that verbal face to face assurance. Is that wrong? Yes, I know that God forgives me, but is it wrong to want or need the assurance from a pastor or fellow Christian to reassure me [by saying], yes, you are forgiven?”
- We receive some challenging questions from people in non-Western cultures, such as this one from an area that practices polygamy: “I got my first [wife] in 2006. We finished traditional marriage in 2008, after getting our first child. In 2010 I caught my wife with another man in adultery. I brought another lady to be my wife. Both of them now have three and two children respectively. My question: now that I’m born again whom should I divorce in order to wed?”
- And, we routinely receive questions that aren’t particularly clear, such as: “We are suppose to pray for my son’s home tomorrow, my daughter’s and I. My son is asking us, but I have been working over nights 12 hrs shifts, which means I get off at 7 am and will attend church etc and then go pray. Will I be ok knowing that my body will be super sleepy and exhausted? I am spiritually great. Just wondering if there is a verse or warning about praying for others when you are weak like that in the Bible.”
- Many people write to us in “cellphone text-speak,” such as: “My quetion is how would u knw if God is speaking with u? or if u heard a voice bt u dnt see a person how would u knw it’s him?”
Other questions are heartrending, but it is encouraging to be able to show grieving people the truth. A mother wrote: “I lost my son May 5, 2017—he was 8, my youngest of two children—due to a house fire. His name is Khyri; it means kingly. I want to know, how often is he with us daily? His sister is 12. Is it something he wants me to know?”