Member News

September 2023 Member Letter

September 7, 2023

Dear Brethren,

Last month I wrote to you about the advances being made by our Media department in our mission to preach the gospel to the world. Since this is my last letter prior to the holy days, I wanted to provide you with some additional statistics that I believe are very encouraging. But first, our work must be viewed in the context of the world we currently live in.

While we have much good news to report, along with some amazing blessings, the world continues to sink into darkness, violence and hatred. In Africa, it seems that military coups are spreading from country to country. Just this week Gabon, formerly a French colony in West Africa, removed its president in a military coup. Gabon became the eighth African country to face a coup in the past three years, following Niger by just a few weeks. The results have been violence and famine for the people as military and political leaders jockey for power in these impoverished countries. 

In Latin America, Guatemala just elected a new president, Bernardo Arévalo, but his political party, the Seed Movement, has been suspended, which brings into question the seating of those elected to Guatemala’s Congress from that party, setting up potential problems in the weeks ahead. In Peru because of the recent removal of the president, a national election must be scheduled before 2026 and could be as early as this fall. Peru has a long history of corruption in government, with five former presidents either imprisoned or awaiting trial on corruption charges. Elections in a number of other countries in Latin America have included violence or the threat of violence. In Ecuador, one of the primary candidates for president was recently assassinated.

And then, of course, there is the United States. I don’t believe I have ever seen such hatred and animosity among political parties as we see today, and we are still more than a year away from the next national election. The absolute hatred between political parties, with both showing a desire to destroy people if they stand in their way, is out of control. It seems that we have taken the concept of “the end justifies the means” to a whole new level. You can’t pick up a paper or read a magazine without feeling the depth of the hatred that is growing in this country. I am thankful that in the Church our allegiance is to a different government, which will never disappoint or turn from what is right. We are citizens of the coming Kingdom of God and, therefore, do not get involved in the political parties of this world. Politicians are simply not the answer.

It is in this context that we are reaching more people with the good news of the Kingdom of God than we ever have before in our short history. In my last letter, I mentioned how much has been accomplished in the past year. Let me give a few updated statistics from this past year in Media:

  • As of Aug. 31, we have 33,354 subscribers to Discern (digital and print combined). This is an increase of 10,783 or 305 percent when compared to the same period in 2022.
  • As of Aug. 31, we have had 101,700 downloads of The Book of Revelation: The Storm Before the Calm since we began advertising it approximately one year ago. And to date, we have had 65,895 downloads since we began advertising the Change Your Life booklet approximately eight months ago. We have more than tripled the total downloads for these two booklets in less than one year.
  • On average, we’ve spent $0.70 in advertising for each Revelation booklet downloaded and an average of $0.86 for each Change Your Life booklet downloaded.
  • On Oct. 13, we plan to launch our new video program—Life, Hope & Truth Presents—with a new episode being posted every two weeks thereafter.

We are deeply committed to preaching the gospel to the world and caring for God’s people. We have increased the budget for our Media department by 80 percent since 2018. That is $800,000 in actual dollars. Of course, any organization can spend money, but we must carefully evaluate the results. Since our beginning, when we launched our Life, Hope & Truth website, we are seeing our greatest expansion in preaching the gospel—both in terms of money spent and in terms of actual responses. Please pray that God will bless our efforts and that we will see even more amazing results when the new video program is launched. The calling is up to God the Father (John 6:44), but it is our job to spread the seed around the world (Matthew 13:18-23; 24:14).

Before I conclude this letter, I want to give you an update on one more item. It has been almost a year since the Ministerial Board of Directors, in conjunction with the administration, approved our studying the possibility of building our own auditorium/education center on our property here in McKinney. At that time, we secured the services of Alliance Architects, located here in the Dallas area, to develop a model and provide us with a complete set of plans for such a building. The architects have informed us that these plans are now mostly complete, and the city of McKinney has given tentative approval.

At our next MBOD meeting scheduled for this December, I will share these plans and costs, seeking approval from the MBOD to pursue one of three options: (1) enter into a contract with a builder to construct an auditorium/education center in 2024, (2) put off any building for another year and then review again or (3) decide that building is not something for the Church to pursue, effectively ending this possibility.

I hasten to add that whether we build or not will not impact the efforts of our Media department. The Church of God, a Worldwide Association, through its founding documents, requires a balanced budget each year. When we project the income for an upcoming year, we must provide a budget that comes within that amount. In other words, the funds we would use for a new building would not come from our annual budget but from the surplus that God blessed us with during the time of the pandemic. As an organization, we are completely out of debt and are in our strongest financial position with our cash reserves. Please pray for God’s guidance and direction as we make these important decisions for the future of the Church.

I want to wish you and your family a wonderful Feast of Tabernacles wherever you plan to attend. This year, we have more than 40 Festival sites in 36 different countries. Please travel safely and enjoy the Feast. We are commanded to rejoice and learn to fear God during the Festival (Deuteronomy 14:23-26). Let’s do both, and let’s do them well!

Sincerely, your brother in Christ,

Jim Franks