Greetings from Charlotte,
Mr. Jonathan McNair has been in town this week, meeting with various individuals regarding the new Living Education program (Living Ed for short). We should have more specifics shortly regarding the year-long program for young adults, with particulars on cost, classes offered and other details. Also, we are on target to begin the online learning program in August or September. Semi-annual responses to the offered “Antichrist and Beast of Revelation” DVD have been very strong overall, with the U.K. receiving a 21.7 percent response so far. They are expecting a full 22 percent before it is over, topping their previous high response of 21.9 percent. The U.K. also experienced a 4 percent increase in television responses year over year. Canada reports that 2017 attendance was up 5.6 percent over 2016. They now have 42 congregations in nine of their ten provinces. Meanwhile, Mr. Rob Tyler reports that the Living Youth Program got off to a good start this past week in New Zealand. See report below.—Gerald Weston
This week, our TWNow program focused on the dangers of social media. Part of the attraction of Facebook, Pinterest or YouTube is the natural human desire to see or read something new. As Christians, we’re no different. We’re curious and we want to learn. But with the flood of information washing over us from every direction, it’s challenging to know where to start, even with Bible study. Part of a pastor’s job is to focus our attention on one topic at a time, through weekly sermons and Bible Studies. But how about our own personal Bible study? Where do we begin? Living University helped to provide focus points for personal study through its classes. The goal of our new “Living Education” team is to continue to assist our members and ministry by providing a roadmap of “focus points” over the course of the year. Our new format, however, will be designed to be available to all members. Stay tuned for more information about how to register and participate!—Jonathan McNair
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 firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible. International requests should be received before January 29 and U.S. requests before February 20.
More 2017 Highlights
As we seek to fulfill the commission to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to the entire world, our Internet and Social Media efforts complement our print and television efforts, bringing Tomorrow’s World content to almost every corner of the earth. More people are reached every day, and some of them go on to read more online, or to request the magazine or additional literature. Below are more highlights for the year of 2017.
• Our YouTube channels continue to reach new people and produce good quality views. The majority of our YouTube content is the Tomorrow’s World telecast, but as many of you know, we are now also producing TWNow, and the Canadian office is producing Viewpoint.
• So far, our English-language Tomorrow’s World YouTube channel has produced more than 8,750,000 lifetime views, and more than 23,000 subscribers, with 1,630,000 of those views being from last year. Less than 10 percent of these views were from advertising.
• Additionally, our Facebook pages continue to be a good way for us to reach many new people. Currently, our English-language Facebook page has more than 290,000 fans and many days, our English-language Facebook page posts reach more than 20,000 people.
Thank you very much for your prayers and support for these and all our efforts to preach the Gospel around the world.—Wyatt Ciesielka
Living Youth Program
Friday Evening Online Teen Bible Study
The online Teen Bible Study on Friday evening, January 19, will cover Matthew chapter four and the first half of chapter five. 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 2 and 3, can also be found on the Living Youth website.—Sheldon Monson
Living Youth Camp in New Zealand
The ten-day LYP New Zealand camp has gotten off to a great start, blessed with near perfect weather. Twenty-seven campers from Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu are making the most of every minute! Though their homes may be separated by oceans, nothing can separate the bonds of friendship LYP creates. We are also thankful to HQ and the Morgan Montgomery Fund for generously sponsoring one of our isolated youths from Papua New Guinea, providing him the experience of a lifetime. This year we have four new activities: softball, archery, art and etiquette. Daily Bible Studies have touched on various topics, including Proving God Exists, Godly Communication, and Preparing for Baptism. We hope you will have an opportunity to see many of the great photos on Facebook.—Rob Tyler
Outstanding LYP Bills
Camp registration for all U.S. camps in 2018 will begin on Sunday, February 11. A number of people have camp bills from previous years which have not yet been paid. Please make every effort to settle your account, as you will need to do so before registering for 2018 camps.—Sheldon Monson
The Importance of Prayer: Jesus urged His disciples to “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation” (Matthew 26:41). David and Daniel prayed three times a day (Psalm 55:17; Daniel 6:10). Jesus prayed all night before making a major decision (Luke 6:12-13) and when He prayed, He prayed earnestly (Luke 22:44). When Jesus’ disciples asked, “Lord, teach us to pray,” He gave an outline of a model prayer (Luke 11:1-4). It is worth noting that in this model prayer, the focus at the beginning and at the end of the prayer is on God and His coming Kingdom, while personal requests are sandwiched in between (Matthew 6:9-13). This helps us keep our personal issues in a proper perspective. It is also instructive that Jesus prayed for His disciples who were called out of this world, but He did not pray for the world because He knew that God was not trying to save the world now (John 17:8-11). Prayer is an essential tool that enables us to talk with God and build a closer relationship with Him so we can become more like our Father. The Scriptures reveal that our sincere and earnest prayers are like sweet incense to God (Revelation 5:8). This is why the Apostle Paul encouraged Christians to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Let’s use this important tool to build our relationship with God.
Have a profitable Sabbath,
Douglas S. Winnail
News and Prophecy—January 11, 2018
EU’s Internal Troubles: In the wake of parliamentary reforms in Poland, the EU has threatened to use Article 7 against the nation. “While only a warning, Article 7 could lead to sanctions and a suspension of EU voting rights” (Deutsche Welle, December 20, 2017). According to an EU spokesperson, “Judicial reforms in Poland mean that the country’s judiciary is now under the political control of the ruling majority. In the absence of judicial independence, serious questions are raised about the effective application of EU law.”
Poland’s president disagrees with the ruling and blames it on EU politics. Hungary’s prime minister has vowed to defend Poland’s position in the EU, should Article 7 proceedings be triggered. Germany and France have indicated they would support an Article 7 action. The reality is that a conservative movement is afoot across Europe and is manifesting itself in a powerful way in Poland and Hungary. The situation is being called “a grave threat to the EU” and highlights the stark difference of opinion and perspective among European nations and leaders (The Guardian, January 6, 2018). In a recent interview, Hungary’s prime minister told Germany, “You wanted the migrants, we didn’t” (Deutsche Welle, January 8, 2018).
While EU leaders are pushing forward with military integration, political upheaval and issues of national sovereignty remain real concerns of numerous EU nations. The Bible clearly prophesied that the end-time configuration of the European beast power would be one of fragile unity—of “iron and clay” (Daniel 2:33, 41-43). As prophecy marches on, we will see the “iron and clay” aspect of the EU become even more evident. Where will it end? You can know! For more details about the future united Europe, be sure to watch Revelation: The Mystery Unveiled!
Suffocating Oceans: According to a recent study in the highly respected journal Science, “Ocean dead zones with zero oxygen have quadrupled in size since 1950… while the number of very low oxygen sites near coasts have multiplied tenfold” (The Guardian, January 4, 2018). Because most sea life cannot live in these dead zones, scientists predict that mass extinction and ecological collapse could occur if the trend continues. Rising ocean temperatures have led to the deoxygenation at sea, and “coastal dead zones result from fertiliser and sewage running off the land and into the seas.” Scientists report that “The decline in ocean oxygen ranks among the most serious effects of human activities on the Earth’s environment” as it suffocates and kills fish and destroys habitats (Smithsonian Insider, January 4, 2018).
But there may be prophetic significance to what is occurring. Jesus predicted that one of the signs of the end of the age would be widespread natural disasters (Matthew 24:7). The prophet Hosea warned that because human beings would violate the laws of God, “the land will mourn… even the fish of the sea will be taken away” (Hosea 4:1-3), and the Apostle Paul says that “the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now” as a result of man’s misguided activities (Romans 8:22). However, the Bible also reveals that eventually God will bring His judgment on this earth before the return of Jesus Christ. At that time, a third of the sea will become blood and a third of the living creatures in the sea will die (Revelation 8:8-9), as God punishes mankind for their defiance, their sins and rejection of Him.
Yet there is good news ahead! The Bible reveals that Jesus Christ will return to the earth (John 14:1-3). He will bring a “restoration of all things,” including the environment (Isaiah 11:1-9; 35:1-7; Acts 3:19-21). Ultimately, healing waters will flow from Jerusalem and restore sea life once again (Ezekiel 47:1-10). To learn more about the Earth’s future recovery and the exciting changes ahead, be sure to watch “Hope for the Future.”—Scott Winnail, Chris Sookdeo and Francine Prater