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Update from the President: April 11, 2019

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Update from the President

April 11, 2019

Dear fellow servants of God,

Pastor Derrick Pringle and his wife, Cherry, in the Copperbelt of Zambia, are hosting Beverly and me at this moment on our South Central African journey. We are visiting our ministry and congregations during this Holy Day season. We are making 9 stops in South Africa, Zambia and Malawi. Mabasa Chichaya, an elder from Zimbabwe, plans to meet with us in Blantyre, Malawi, towards the end of this journey—so we will have touched all four of these countries on this trip.

Our purpose is to continue strengthening the congregations and the local leaders. The apostles and elders did the same in the early New Testament Church as they traveled over areas where churches had been established and their visits encouraged the brethren:

“Now Judas and Silas, themselves being prophets also, exhorted and strengthened the brethren with many words. And after they had stayed there for a time, they were sent back with greetings from the brethren to the apostles… Then after some days Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Let us now go back and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they are doing’ ” (Acts 15:32-36 Acts 15:32-36 32 And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brothers with many words, and confirmed them. 33 And after they had tarried there a space, they were let go in peace from the brothers to the apostles. 34 Notwithstanding it pleased Silas to abide there still. 35 Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also. 36 And some days after Paul said to Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brothers in every city where we have preached the word of the LORD, and see how they do.
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).

We deeply appreciate our brethren in these countries and see their joy and love. But, behind that, there is the strain of living in difficult conditions politically and economically. Yet, God has called these faithful people and their leaders to serve Him. In the meetings we have held so far, I have been pleased to see the biblical knowledge exhibited by the questions they have asked. In Lusaka, Zambia, a few days ago, our Bible study went on for two and a half hours as we discussed the names and the nature of God, among other subjects.

It is essential that we develop leaders who will carry on the work of the Church. The development in large part is education and training that we are already providing. They must be educated and grounded in our core beliefs and be able to explain them to others. They need instruction on caring skills in working with people.

One example of such training was a multi-day seminar conducted right here in Kitwe by Darris and Debbie McNeely a few months back. The people here commented on how much this meant to them. We are committed to provide this vital service to various places in the world.

You can follow our current journey in greater detail by following our TravelArk blog at http://v2.travelark.org/travel-blog/victorkubik/25 .

How You Can Personally Proclaim the Good News

In a divided world split painfully by extreme partisanship and a steady stream of discouraging, never-ending bad news, many call today for change. Many are simply tired of bad news. People increasingly reject a draining form of negative “entertainment” served up by sarcastic commentators. They want something different.

You are possibly familiar with the popular TED talks, where leaders and experts have a maximum of 18 minutes to define and present a specific topic. Millions have seen these short discourses online.

This year, TED Talk organizers have responded to the current seemingly endless dark and snarky pessimism “to reach beyond the cacophony and disruptions of our current digital world.” In launching their 2019 program, organizers noted: “The political and technological turmoil of the past few years has had unexpected consequences: it’s causing us to ask bigger, deeper and more challenging questions. Like… where is this heading? What really matters?”

We in the Church of God are singularly blessed to already know the exciting and encouraging biblical answers to questions like these. The upcoming Holy Days abound with deep meaning about the present and future nature of humanity. We spend considerable time, effort and funding to proclaim these vital truths and biblical answers in multiple languages around the world. Our message is truly one of hope (Hebrews 6:19 Hebrews 6:19Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters into that within the veil;
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)—of the good news of the coming Kingdom of God! Indeed, in this darkening age, we “look  not  to the things that are  seen , but to the things that are  unseen ” (2 Corinthians 4:18 2 Corinthians 4:18While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
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, English Standard Version, emphasis added throughout).

Here’s an important question: what is the most powerful way to deliver these powerful and important truths?

While various forms of electronic, print and digital communication platforms can reach millions, even billions of people, experts agree that the most powerful way to communicate is  one-on-one, in-person communication. Communicating one to another one-on-one is the most memorable, the most powerful and the most effective way to communicate.

And, according to experts, what’s the most common and noticed form of one-on-one interchanges? You might be surprised—it’s  non-verbal  communication.

Upwards of 55% of all person-to-person communication occurs through body language: how we stand, how we appear, how we seem to be caring or non-caring through our facial expressions and posture.

When you’re speaking with someone, do you ever get frustrated or discouraged when they break eye contact and seem to be interested in something else, simply “grunting” acknowledgement from time-to-time to act like they’re interested? Yes, body language plays an important role.

But the most important type of effective and credible non-verbal communication is  backing up our words with action ! When we  do  what we say, our words take on a new level of power.

Personal example then remains a critical part of proclaiming the gospel! Our personal example as disciples of Jesus Christ who live positive lives is part of the “salt” that Jesus spoke of when He said that we who follow His example are the “salt of the earth” (Matthew 4:13 Matthew 4:13And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelled in Capernaum, which is on the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim:
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). The point? By their behavior and conduct, a disciple of Christ should have a reputation as a basic, fundamentally  good  person. That “salt” changes families, neighborhoods and even societies.

Once we have achieved that, we then become, as Jesus taught, the very “light of the world” (verse 14). This is to be a major focus of our lives on earth, for as Jesus Himself instructs us, “let your light shine  before others , so that  they may see your good works  and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 4:16 Matthew 4:16The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.
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, ESV).

When our actions match our words, we are actively preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Here’s another very important reason why our actions are important. As I prepare this, I am traveling with my wife Beverly through southern parts of Africa.

Why is this relevant? Because, in Zambia, just a little over 50% of the population can read or write. Of that figure, most are males. Many more females born and raised in Zambia cannot read. This tragic state of illiteracy exists in various states all over the continent. Many people in Africa cannot read the words that you are reading right now. We visited with a woman a few days ago and asked her how she spelled her name and to write it for us. She did not know and had to call for someone nearby to come and write it down for us.

From the perspective of preaching the gospel, sending booklets, Bible study guides and printed Bibles to people who cannot read is nearly useless.

This is not a new condition. Highly-literate countries like America, Japan and the countries of Europe are relatively new from a historical perspective. In the past, most people could not read or write  at all . Depending on where you lived in the Roman Empire, in the first century, only 5-10% of the population could read. Fewer still could write!

So that’s why you see phrases in the Bible like “he who has ears to hear” (e.g. Matthew 11:15 Matthew 11:15He that has ears to hear, let him hear.
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and Revelation 2:29 Revelation 2:29He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit said to the churches.
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). Early disciples and God-fearers went to synagogues because that’s where copies of the Bible (the Old Testament) were available and also—more importantly—where they could  hear  the Word of God being  read !

Based on all of that, here is an important point that I invite you to consider deeply: in a world where religion is being challenged and generally disregarded, people increasingly  choose  to be illiterate when it comes to biblical knowledge. Major colleges openly teach that the Bible is a collection of stories, fables and philosophy, possessing no moral authority or relevance. Popular television shows mock biblical standards. Modern relativism—where people make up their own rules—is fast replacing biblical authority.

How can this be countered? By  you  proclaiming the gospel through  personal example .

When you conduct yourself according to biblical teachings—observing the Sabbath, refraining from eating leavened bread while lunching with your co-workers, and especially when openly exhibiting the fruit of God’s Holy Spirit dwelling and working in you—”love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23 Galatians 5:22-23 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
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)— you stand out!

What’s the point? In a biblically illiterate world—whether by sad choice in first-world countries or by circumstance in third-world countries—your conduct becomes a living Bible to those around you!

What was Paul’s approach? “I am  not  shamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16 Romans 1:16For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God to salvation to every one that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
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, ESV). He told the Ephesian elders that the most important achievement of his life could be to openly “ testify [Greek transliteration  diamarturomai , ‘to present solemn, credible evidence’] to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24 Acts 20:24But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear to myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
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, ESV).

What about us? To what do  our  acts and actions testify? Are we living evidence of the truth in action?

My most recent  Forward  column in the  United News  is about being a  living letter , a real demonstration of God’s way of life through our personal conduct. I invite you to read and study it (and read it again—read the version in print or access it at https://www.ucg.org/members/united-news/is-your-life-a-living-letter ).

We have a most important part to fulfill in the preaching of the gospel—a role of far more personal importance than that of giving a TED Talk.

This Holy Day season and beyond, let our actions eloquently testify as living proof of biblical teachings. Living an authentic life that demonstrates biblical principles in action offers the most powerful message we can deliver. Let us tap the transforming power of the Holy Spirit to become more like our Elder Brother, fulfilling the very will of God!

Your Zambian brothers and sisters in the faith greet you. Grace and peace from God the Father and Jesus Christ be with you all.