March 30, 2023
Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread are almost here! This is a time of reflection, but it is also a time for rejoicing. On back-to-back nights we experience both extremes. We will soberly and thoughtfully commemorate the death of Jesus Christ on Tuesday night, April 4, which will be followed by the joy and excitement of the Night to Be Much Observed on the next evening, April 5.
As we begin the annual journey through the seven festivals, which outline the plan of salvation, we must not forget the suffering all around us. In a series of tornadoes this past week, more than two dozen people were killed in the small rural town of Rolling Fork, Mississippi. From what we know, the town was completely destroyed by tornadoes on the evening of March 24. Through Justin Adkins, our pastor in this area, we know that no members were in the path of the storms. This is a relief, but it doesn’t take away the tragedy that took place in the lives of those in the path of the storm.
At the same time, the death toll in Malawi from Cyclone Freddy has more than doubled in the past few days—511 have been officially declared dead, with 533 still missing. The storm has displaced more than 500,000 people. Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, so there is little hope of things getting better anytime soon. Our pastor in Malawi, Elifazi Salawila, has written that no members were affected by the storm—no injuries or deaths—but there has been some property damage, which we are currently assessing to determine how we can be of assistance.
You may recall that back in 2016, as a result of a major cyclone in the Philippines, the Church set up an international fund to assist members in need. We have continued that fund, and in the past seven years, we have used it to help many brethren around the world. This year, we are already using this fund to offer financial assistance to members in Malawi affected by the cyclone and to purchase food for the brethren in Kenya who are experiencing food shortages.
While the world is in turmoil and many are suffering, the mission of the Church—to preach the gospel and care for the brethren—is going forward with increasing strength. In this year’s Church budget (2023), we have committed our largest financial investment for preaching the gospel since our beginning in December of 2010. After more than a decade of building our literature base, we have begun advertising on social media, and the results have been amazing. Individuals advising us in this area have commented that the results are nothing short of incredible. Let me give you a few facts about our most recent advertising campaigns:
From this experience, we have learned that advertising over social media does work! Thousands of people are responding to our ads and requesting our literature!
As a result of additional income during the COVID years and the decrease in spending during those same years, the Church has built up a cash reserve, making it possible for us to invest more funds into preaching the gospel in 2023 than at any time during our short history. Compared to 2018, our “Public Proclamation” budget for 2023 has more than doubled in real dollars. And in just one year alone—between 2022 and 2023—we increased our “Public Proclamation” budget by 42 percent. We are still a small organization, but our financial investment in media has produced results far beyond what we expected. God has truly blessed us, not only with the funds to invest in preaching the gospel but also with new and younger writers who are excited about their part in taking this message to the world!
We are also getting closer to launching our new LHT video program. It will be a 20- to 30-minute program that will go out on all the media and social media platforms we have access to along with COGWA.TV. Before beginning actual production of the program, we decided to build a brand-new set, much different from anything we have done before. We are fast approaching completion of the set, and then we will begin production. We have high hopes for this new program, which we will post weekly or biweekly once we get a few programs recorded.
In the past, I have described the mission of the Church as preaching the gospel to the world while caring for our brethren. I compared these two aspects of that mission to the two legs of a person. To walk without a limp, both legs must be strong. I believe this is the correct approach toward our work—to make sure both legs are strong, preaching the gospel (Matthew 24:14; Matthew 28:19) and caring for our brethren (John 21:17). Thank you for your generous support. This year is shaping up to be a dynamic one in so many ways!
I want to wish all of you a most meaningful Passover, with proper attention given to the sacrifice of our Savior, Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 11:26-29). And I hope your Night to Be Much Observed is filled with rejoicing (Exodus 12:40-42). Our understanding of the truth and our knowledge of God’s plan of salvation give us reason for hope in the midst of a very troubled world.
Sincerely, your brother in Christ,