April 30, 2012
About six months ago, German chess historian Gerhard Josten, author of several books on the history of chess and chess strategies, asked for permission to reprint the German translation of Mario Seiglie’s Good News article “Our Amazing Spaceship Earth” (“Unser erstaunliches Raumschiff Erde”).
The article was published as the lead article in the March-April 2007 issue of the Gute Nachrichten magazine and was to be included in a new science book with other contributions of well-known scientists to refute the Big Bang theory. While working on his book, Mr. Josten had found Mario Seiglie’s article on the gutenachrichten.org website and expressed his deepest respect for the thorough research and the quality of publication.
The permission for the reprint was granted by the United Church of God, provided the author would put a link to the source of our article and also publish it in its entirety.
Today the German office received two signed, advance copies of Gerhard Josten’s book “Ein All ohne Knall” (“A Universe without a Bang”). The soft cover book contains 269 pages and features Mr. Seiglie as a co-author. It was published on April 20 and is already listed on Amazon.de.
It is very encouraging to see that the quality of the Good News publication and the work of the Gute Nachrichten magazine is noticed and appreciated by the international academic world.
Congratulations to Mario Seiglie for his great authorship!
Jesmina Allaoua—German office
April 25, 2012
Earlier this month president Dennis Luker and his wife, LeeAnn, made a visit to see the United Church of God brethren in South Africa, Malawi and Zambia. This was during the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread. They were accompanied by Victor Kubik and his wife, Beverly. Mr. Kubik is senior pastor for Malawi and Zambia.
During the same time period, Richard and Emma Kennebeck also made a trip to South Africa to help our office staff there update their file system.
View this 22-minute video update by Mr. Luker about this very encouraging and inspiring trip. See photos and video of some of the brethren and learn about ordinations that took place while there.
We plan to continue to provide these short video updates about visits with our brethren in various areas.
Mr. Kubik also put together a video presentation of the journey, and you can view his 17-minute clip as well.
Peter Eddington—Media and Communications Services.
April 20, 2012
Dear Fellow Ministers,
I’ve just returned from a very positive and uplifting trip to Zimbabwe and South Africa. It was really good to be with the members down there.
I spent Passover, the Night to be Much Observed and the First Day of Unleavened Bread with the brethren in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe.
Members in Zimbabwe are scattered all over the country—a nation that is over three times the size of the state of Michigan—where I live—so it’s always a joy when everybody can get together for a couple of days. It costs us about $1,000 to bring them all into a central location. It would cost far more for me to travel around and visit everybody. They also benefit from being with each other.
In a country that not so long ago suffered from severe food shortages, the ladies put on a really nice meal for us on the Night to be Much Observed. Thanks to the generosity of a teen in Lansing, Michigan, I was able to give every single household a box of scripture cards prepared as a fundraiser by our Ambassador Bible Center.
At the same time, Marshall Takaindisa, a long-time member from a remote rural area, received his “new” (used) battery operated wheelchair. Marshall teaches at a sprawling school complex and, so far, has depended on others to push him around. But now he can get around by himself.
He asked for a wheelchair a few months ago. Finding a wheelchair was one thing—getting it into the country was quite another. Freight charges and customs duties are only part of the problem—the paperwork is quite daunting. It was suggested that I “ride” it into Zimbabwe. For this, I needed a letter from my doctor saying that I needed to use a wheelchair in Johannesburg where the new airport requires a lot of walking. For once the wound in my foot was advantageous!
I asked the office in Pretoria, South Africa, if they could help find the wheelchair. Finally one was found, but when our office employee’s husband, Neil Wallis, went to pick it up, he realized there was no foot-rest. That meant I would have to keep my feet up while using the chair. A foot-rest could be added once it arrived in Zimbabwe.
At the airport the battery ran out so I had to be pushed with my feet up, but we got it on to the plane and into Zimbabwe and into the hands of Marshall, who was absolutely thrilled to receive it. As LifeNets paid for the wheelchair, there was no cost to the church for a wheelchair that will make a big difference in one man’s life.
After Sabbath services on the first Holy Day, I was able to travel to Mutare, a four-hour drive away, where our deacon, Mike Mukurati and his wife Primrose, live. This beautiful mountainous area is close to the Mozambique border. I spent the remainder of the weekend with them. On the Sunday Mike and I visited a new member who lives in Mutare, an 83-year-old lady originally from South Africa, Claudia Harrison. Mrs. Harrison is the only person of European descent in the Zimbabwe congregation. If you’re ever in Mutare you must visit—she makes a really good cup of tea! (I can’t speak for her coffee!)
Following my visit to Mutare, we returned to Harare, and I then flew back to South Africa. I was able to spend the Last Day of Unleavened Bread and the weekly Sabbath with the members in East London, a congregation that recently returned to the United Church of God after they became more aware of recent events.
Their enthusiasm and the spirit of love, joy and peace (the first three fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians chapter 5) was an exhilarating experience for me personally. I longed for my wife to be there to share the time with me, but she was not able to make this trip. Once again, it was a real joy to be with the members in an isolated part of the world.
After returning to Johannesburg, the three ministers serving in the region were able to get together Sunday morning to discuss future plans for serving the area. At the present time, there is just one elder resident in South Africa, Roy Demont, who was ordained last year exactly one week after his wife Jean died. Roy is in his seventies and has been speaking in all four congregations in South Africa, once a month in each. The churches are so far apart that three require flights to get there. While we were talking he offered to go to Zimbabwe a couple of times a year, which will help me out greatly, as I can only make it there twice a year from the United States.
Roy’s son in law, Grant Chick, was also present. Grant lives in Australia and, with the support of the Australian National Council, was able to help out in South Africa during the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread. He and his wife will be returning to the area for the Feast of Tabernacles, where Grant will speak in both Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Also present at the meeting was Jason Webster, who has been doing an outstanding job taking care of the church’s needs in the Johannesburg and Pretoria area.
In both Zimbabwe and South Africa I had the very real sense of being on the frontline of the work that God has called us to do, the work of preaching the gospel and preparing a people. There are currently 120 attending with us in South Africa and about 30 in Zimbabwe.
South Africa does not need a great deal of help from the Cincinnati home office. They are self-sufficient. But we in the U.S. do take care of their magazine and booklet printing and some of their mailing costs. Occasionally they need help in other areas. For example, Richard Kennebeck, our information technology (IT) manager, was there during Unleavened Bread helping them with their computer and office system. His wife, Emma, also helped their office manager and treasurer in South Africa, Isella Wallis.
Zimbabwe requires slightly more help. The members in both countries are excited at the prospect of preaching the gospel in their areas—it is hoped to hold a Kingdom of God Bible Seminar in Harare next time I visit.
Spiritually, the visit to both countries was also a big boost for me personally. In Zimbabwe I very quickly realized my new iPhone did not work at all, which meant I was cut off from the rest of the world. I could not receive calls, text messages or e-mail—and it was wonderful! Very relaxing. I had more time for prayer and Bible study and more time to talk with the members—a reminder of the importance of living by the two great commandments, love toward God and love toward neighbor.
“Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’ Jesus said to him, ‘“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets’” (Matthew 22:35-40).
Our priorities should always be our relationship with God, first and foremost, and then our relationships with other people—with our spouses, our children and members of God’s spiritual family. Electronic gadgets can get in the way—they don’t save us time, they consume time—sometimes at the cost of neglecting those important relationships. In the Western world our spiritual lives are constantly threatened by modern technology. It’s a joy to go to areas that are not yet spoiled in this way and where people still matter. It is not surprising that Africa is the only continent where the number of people claiming to be Christian is actually increasing.
“Look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest” said Jesus Christ in John 4:35. In the previous verse He said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.”
That work continues to this day and we have a part in finishing it. “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).
The African field is indeed “white for harvest.” Those turning in hope to Jesus Christ need to understand the need to be like Him, to keep His commandments, to walk as He walked, to live His way of life. Simply calling yourself Christian doesn’t do this. There’s a need for the truth of God to be revealed and for people to take God’s commands to heart. “You shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul” (Deuteronomy 11:18). “And you shall know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
Africa is an exciting place to be, especially when you are visiting those areas where God has called people to be a part of His spiritual family. Remember your brothers and sisters in Christ who live in Africa; and, if you are ever able, be sure to visit them and be inspired—and take a break from all those electronic gadgets!
Melvin Rhodes—Chairman, Council of Elders, United Church of God
April 18, 2012
United Youth Camps Announcement
This is a reminder that now is the time to register at one of our five United Youth Camps summer camp locations. Campers and staff are anticipating another great camp experience. The official May 1 deadline is coming up fast so please register online at uyc.ucg.org.
Camp scholarships are available if needed so see your pastor for details. Campers and staff, we are really looking forward to a wonderful camp season this summer!
We expect hundreds of campers and staff to apply this year, and all are excited about being together at camp this summer.
Campers and staff, we are truly looking forward to a wonderful United Church of God camp season this summer. Be sure to apply now so you don’t miss out.
Steve Nutzman—National Coordinator, United Youth Camps
April 17, 2012
The Cincinnati East, Ohio, congregation of the United Church of God is continuing its bi-weekly Bible study Wednesday night, April 18. The study begins at 7:30 p.m. EDT and is available live via webcast.
The series on the Gospel of John will cover chapters 7 and 8. Presenters will be Gary Antion and Randy Stiver.
Plan to attend in person, or you can listen online with hundreds of brethren from around the world. Also, please note that we have a mobile option. You can view the Bible study using your smartphone!
Steve Myers—Pastor, United Church of God Cincinnati East
April 16, 2012
Invite them and they will come! The Twin Cities, Minnesota, congregation of the United Church of God had the pleasure of welcoming families from a record 12 states at their “Families for God” weekend! Never before had brethren travelled from so many states to participate in the weekend’s events which took place March 2 through 4, 2012. Those unable to make the journey could join in the Friday night Bible study and Sabbath services, as well as the interactive workshops via live webcast and telephone hookup.
The theme for the weekend was “Joined and Knit Together,” taken from Ephesians 4:12–16. The participants celebrated this milestone weekend in a spirit of truly being joined and knit together as the very people of God. UCG president, Dennis Luker, was the weekend’s keynote speaker with his sermon, “Joined and Knit Together by God’s Love.”
Brian Shaw, pastor of the Minneapolis/St. Paul, Little Falls, and Duluth, Minnesota, congregations, kicked off the weekend by conducting the Friday night Bible study titled, “Bound and Knit Together: A Review of the Unifying Principles in the Fourth Chapter of Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians.”
Marriott’s catering service opened up the Saturday evening by serving a delectable white-linen, three-course meal to the adults and children and, separately, to the teens attending the prom. The two well-attended signature events were the Fun Show and the Teen Prom.
The Fun Show provided an evening for everyone to showcase their talents, passions and abilities with song, music, readings and more to the delight of all attending the event! At the same time, a majestic moment awaited all the fair maidens and gents at the “Royal Ball,” the theme for the teen dinner and prom. Thirty-two ladies and 22 gentlemen, including 7 graduating seniors, heeded the call to attend this memorable event.
Due to last year’s record participation and back by popular demand, Sunday’s activity again took place at the Water Park of America—America’s biggest indoor water park showcasing the natural wonders of Minnesota. A fellowship room with direct water park access provided the perfect haven for all non-swimmers.
David & Stephanie Mörker—Weekend Coordinators
April 4, 2012
Beyond Today program “Easter Exposed” aired the week of March 25-31, 2012. Hosted by Steve Myers, this third-time repeat episode on WGN America generated an impressive 1,178 total viewer responses. It claimed third place ranking out of the 38 episodes aired so far this fiscal year and it also obtained the lowest cost per response over that same period. Once again, the high-level of viewer response to repeat programs such as this one on WGN America, tells us that new audience members are regularly being attracted to United Church of God produced television programs.
Additionally, we are pleased to mention that our recently acquired airtime on the WORD Network continues to attract a growing Beyond Today viewership. The “Easter Exposed” program drew a record 216 responses from our Sunday and Thursday airtime positions. It also produced the lowest cost per response to date on this network.
These results come on the heels of the previous week’s program, “The Millennium: Christ’s Rule on Earth,” hosted by Darris McNeely. It too had attracted the highest response to that point on the WORD Network and yet “Easter Exposed” edged it out slightly to gain the top response position.
Furthermore, these two programs attracted Internet responses from 16 countries! As you may know that the WORD Network airs on U.S cable stations but it also broadcasts on DirecTV satellite television on channel 373 in the U.S. and in many other nations. Internet responses came from the following countries during the past two weeks alone: Austria, Australia, Bermuda, Canada, England, Germany, Jamaica, Malaysia, Netherlands Antilles, Pakistan, Philippines, St. Kitts and Nevis, South Africa, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago and United States. It is very gratifying and rewarding to see the Church’s efforts to proclaim the Kingdom of God continuing to produce such excellent fruit.
As always, please keep praying for our fine Beyond Today hosts, Gary Petty, Steve Myers and Darris McNeely as well as our hard-working production staff. We deeply depend on God’s guidance and inspiration every minute of every day and we appreciate your vital help in asking God to always lead, motivate and strengthen us. We also need your prayers “that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified” (2 Thessalonians 3:1) and that it is not hindered or obstructed in any way. This too is vitally important.
Finally, we wish to thank you so much for your outstanding support and encouragement for all of the Church’s ongoing efforts to preach the Gospel throughout the world. It is sincerely and gratefully appreciated.
Peter Eddington—Operation Manager, Media and Communications Services