Greetings from Charlotte,
This was a shorter than normal workweek and a very cold beginning to 2018 for those living in the northern regions of North America. As I write, the eastern coast of the United States is being battered with one of the worst blizzards to hit the region. Mr. Rand Millich mentioned that there were 472 at the Sabbath Service (including those connecting online) for the Kansas City Weekend. Mr. Rod McNair gave an inspiring sermon about God’s Spirit being in us. It was a very positive weekend with a millennial theme. The weather was cold, but very nice, with no snow or ice preventing people from participating in the activities of the weekend. Mr. Smith and I recorded Tomorrow’s World telecasts this week. We had two very fine split sermons last Sabbath, by Messrs. Wallace Smith and Peter Nathan. They blended together very well and will be sent out as “Must Plays” in the near future. We are gearing up for a number of Tomorrow’s World Presentations over the next two months. Let us all keep 2 Peter 3:18 in mind in our meditations, our actions, and in our prayers: “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Pray for yourself and pray for one another, that Christ may be formed in us (Galatians 4:19).—Gerald Weston
Passover 2018—Repeat Announcement
Important Notice to All Pastors: In 2018, the Passover Service will be observed on Thursday evening, March 29. Please let us know as soon as possible if any of the congregations you serve will need additional Passover Service supplies (bread trays and/or wine trays or glasses) or a copy of the Passover Service recording and letter instructions (available in English, French and Spanish). The Passover Service recording in English is the one made by Mr. Peter Nathan in 2017. To ensure timely delivery and to save on shipping costs, we need this information before January 29 for international congregations, and by February 20 for U.S. congregations.
Also, please let us know of any scattered members who are unable to keep the Passover with a congregation and who need to receive the Passover Service recording and letter instructions for observing it at home. Please direct your requests to the Church Administration Department at email@example.com as soon as possible. International requests should be received before January 29 and U.S. requests before February 20.
Some 2017 Highlights
God blessed our Internet reach and projects in many ways last year, and we anticipate 2018 being an even busier and—with God’s blessing—even more impactful year. Our Internet and Social Media efforts complement our print and television efforts to bring Tomorrow’s World content to nearly every corner of the earth, reaching new people every day, with many of those people then reading more online, or requesting the magazine or additional literature. Following is a small sampling of some 2017 statistics. Information about our other efforts will come later.
Visits to the Tomorrow’s World English-language website were up more than 11 percent for 2017 over 2016.
New users (people who visited the website for the first time) were up more than 18 percent for 2017 over 2016.
The top three most popular booklets for 2017 were Fourteen Signs Announcing Christ’s Return, Restoring Original Christianity and The Ten Commandments.
Visits to the other-language Tomorrow’s World websites such as the Dutch, German, Spanish, Afrikaans, and Russian websites were also up “year over year,” with the French website showing a big increase of 42 percent more visits for 2017 than 2016!
We have a lot more work to do, but we are very thankful for the growth that we had in 2017. We thank you very much for your prayers and support for these and all our efforts to preach the Gospel around the world. We pray that God will continue to bless all of our efforts to preach the Gospel in many ways, in multiple languages, and over various platforms and media.—Wyatt Ciesielka
Feast of Tabernacles
United States Feast Sites in 2018—Repeat Announcement
The phone number previously given for Mr. Stephen Elliott was incorrect. His correct number is given in the 2018 Feast sites listing list below:
California, La Quinta (Rodger Bardo: firstname.lastname@example.org; 602-910-1086)
Colorado, Snowmass (Stephen Elliott: email@example.com; 480-553-1042)
Florida, Panama City (Eddie Breaux: firstname.lastname@example.org; 601-649-1911)
Hawaii (Brandon Fall: email@example.com; 253-292-0698)
Northern Kentucky (Phil Sena: firstname.lastname@example.org; 512-535-6771)
Missouri, Osage Beach (Richard Franz: email@example.com; 314-775-3192)
Oregon, Seaside (Jonathan Bueno: firstname.lastname@example.org; 361-331-1099)
South Carolina, Hilton Head (Mike DeSimone: email@example.com; 704-844-1970)
Texas, Marble Falls (Gary Stein: firstname.lastname@example.org; 940-395-9984)
Vermont, Mt. Snow (Jonathan McNair: email@example.com; 516-724-4452)
Wisconsin, Lake Geneva (Phil West: firstname.lastname@example.org; 262-314-4313)
The international list is not yet complete—more information will be forthcoming as plans are firmed up. Please stay tuned to The World Ahead for more information about the Feast of Tabernacles 2018!
Living Youth Program
Friday Evening Online Teen Bible Study
The online Teen Bible Study on Friday evening, January 12, will cover chapters two and three of the book of Matthew. The Bible Study runs from 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. Eastern time, and the chat room will be open for a half hour before and after the study. To join the study, go to www.livingyouth.org. For those who are unable to make it to the study, archives of previous Living Youth Bible Studies, including last evening’s covering Matthew chapter one, can also be found on the Living Youth website.—Sheldon Monson
Final Semester Registration—Last Chance!
Just a few days are left to register for spring semester Living University classes! Classes begin on Wednesday, January 10. This will be the last semester of LU operation, and your last opportunity to benefit from the in-depth LU learning experience. As the Church transitions its educational efforts, beginning in the fall of 2018 we plan to provide a “limited release” of courses to the general Church membership—with a few classes being added each semester or year. These courses will provide exciting content and have the potential to increase one’s biblical understanding; however, they will be significantly different from the current format.
You may register for the spring semester (fall in the Southern Hemisphere) any time between now and January 9. Those who have never taken a Living University course will need to enroll in the University first, and then register for your selected course(s). Those age 65 and over are eligible to audit one course with tuition waived (you will be responsible for textbooks and a technology fee). High school students may dual-enroll at a significantly reduced rate. If you reside in a developing nation, you may qualify for reduced tuition. A complete list of spring semester courses can be viewed on the Living University website under the link “Spring 2018 Class Schedule.” To make application to Living University, to register for courses, and to find out more, please visit the www.livinguniv.com website. For additional information or questions, please contact Mrs. Michelle Broussard at 704-708-2294 or email@example.com.
Plans and Priorities: The beginning of a new calendar year is customarily a time to evaluate events of the past year and make plans and set priorities for the year ahead. Organizations and leaders of nations do this all the time. In the Work of God, we also look at year-end reports and strive to find more effective ways to preach the Gospel and prepare members to reign with Jesus Christ in the coming Kingdom of God (Mark 16:15; Luke 1:17). As you contemplate the year ahead, what plans do you have, and what goals can you set for yourself to prepare to be a more effective instrument in God’s hands? Jesus admonished His disciples to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). The Scriptures also advise us to ponder the path of our feet (Proverbs 4:25-27) as we prepare for this exciting future. To do this effectively, it will involve setting goals and establishing priorities for your personal life. In the months ahead, plan specific things to do that will help you grow “in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Study subjects or books of the Bible. Read about issues that people face, and look for solutions that can help others. Identify an area of your life that you want to change and go to work on it. Remember that the ultimate rewards will go to those who prove to be overcomers and bear much fruit (John 15:8; Revelation 2:26; 3:5, 21). As we look to the future, take some time to develop specific plans and priorities for the days ahead!
Have a profitable Sabbath,
Douglas S. Winnail
News and Prophecy—January 4, 2018
USA vs. the World! President Trump drew harsh criticism when he announced the U.S. would move its Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the “capital of Israel.” World reaction was clear: “A UN security council resolution calling for the withdrawal of Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has been backed by every council member except the US, which used its veto…. The vote has underlined once again the widespread international opposition to the US move, even among some of its closest allies” (The Guardian, December 19, 2017). Since then, the UN General Assembly also condemned actions of the U.S. and the Trump administration in a non-binding resolution (New York Times, December 21, 2017). A total of 128 nations were in agreement with the condemnation, 35 abstained, and nine voted against the resolution calling for the U.S. to reverse its December 6 declaration.
The U.S. once led the world in generosity, protection, innovation and even opinion. But all of this is changing. As one headline recently declared, “The United States of America is Decadent and Depraved” (Foreign Policy, December 19, 2017). Bible prophecies have long warned that at the end of the age, “the glory of Jacob will wane [fade]” (Isaiah 17:4). Jacob refers to the British-descended people, including the U.S. and several of the nations in Western Europe. World favor is no longer on the side of the U.S., just as the ancient prophets foretold. These same prophecies warn of a time when the U.S. and other Israelite-descended nations (the children of Jacob) would no longer be the “head” but would become the “tail” (compare Deuteronomy 28:13 and 43-44), and we see this happening today!
The Bible reveals that when nations reject God, He removes His blessing from them, and they are left to fend for themselves (Deuteronomy 28:15). While it is sobering to watch the demise of the U.S. and much of the “rest of the West,” Bible prophecies also reveal that, after a period of chastisement, these nations will one day return to God and again be richly blessed! To learn more about that incredible future, read or listen to our informative booklet The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy.
Solutions for Global Malnutrition: While obesity is on the increase around the globe, so is hunger! Both of these conditions can result from malnutrition. In early December, Cape Town, South Africa hosted the 3rd International Conference on Global Food Security in an attempt to better understand global food scarcity issues. “Malnutrition, including over- and under-nutrition and micro-nutrient deficiencies, is the top contributor to the global disease burden. Globally, 800 million people are under-nourished, 2 billion are overweight or obese and 2 billion are micronutrient deficient” (Globalfoodsecurityconference.com). In Southern Asia, nearly 300 million people are undernourished. In sub-Saharan Africa, nearly a quarter of the population is undernourished. Experts expect obesity to impact 3.28 billion people by the year 2030. Obesity often results from eating too much poor-quality food. In a world of increasing prosperity, why is the poor quality of food such a pressing issue?
Bible prophecies have long warned that as we approach the end of the age, hunger, famine and disease—often the result of war or disasters—will affect large numbers of people (Matthew 14:1-6; Revelation 6:5-7). However, the Bible also tells of a future time when food of good quality will no longer be scarce. When Jesus Christ returns, He will usher in a time when “everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree” (Micah 4:4). This will be a time when deserts will flow with streams and be useful for agriculture (Isaiah 35:1, 6). Ultimately, during this future time, leaders will teach people the right way to live (Isaiah 30:20). Global malnutrition will one day disappear. To learn more about this exciting future for the entire earth, watch our inspiring telecast “Hope for the Future.”—Scott Winnail, Francine Prater and Christo Botha