As the Days of Unleavened Bread are coming to a close, I want to note some of the courageous travel by our ministry to difficult to reach places in the world. I do not have information on all of our traveling ministers, but here are the ones I do have reports from.
Paul Moody has been visiting Nigeria and Ghana. He flew first to West Africa on Monday, March 26, and spent the Passover in Lagos, Nigeria. He then proceeded to Benin City for the Night Much to be Observed and the First Day of Unleavened Bread. After returning to Lagos, he went on to Accra, Ghana, on Monday, April 2. Then to Winneba, Ghana, to conduct a leadership workshop, spending a couple of days with the church leadership from the three village congregations of that region.
For the Last Day of Unleavened Bread he is planning to split between the Winneba and Kwanyako congregations before returning to Accra for the weekly Sabbath. There he will conduct a leadership workshop in Accra on Sunday, April 8, before flying out that night for home.
Jorge de Campos’s travels have spanned Portuguese-speaking areas on two continents in the Southern Hemisphere. He has visited Northern and Southern Brazil in South America and is now in Angola, Africa. In Brazil he has conducted Kingdom of God seminars in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. He also traveled to Maloca de Moscou in the far north of Brazil for the Passover, Night Much to be Observed and First Day of Unleavened Bread. I accompanied Jorge last November to that area and found his account most interesting.
Then, when Jorge traveled south to São Paulo to conduct Kingdom of God seminars, the Academic Director and religious leader of a school of Theology in Mesquita invited Jorge to participate in a future congress with some 500 religious leaders in the region wherein he could tell them about the gospel of the Kingdom of God.
In Angola, where Jorge is now, he will conduct leadership training in addition to preaching on the Last Day of Unleavened Bread. This has truly been a remarkable and diverse journey. Follow his travels at: http://v2.travelark.org/travel-blog/jorgedecampos/8 .
In Colombia, Scott and Gayle Hoefker have not only conducted various meetings in scattered areas of this country (there are five congregations), but have gone to visit many of the members in their homes. They have traveled through some very dangerous areas of Colombia to serve the people. Follow their travels at: http://v2.travelark.org/travel-blog/gayle_hoefker/24 .
We thank our ministry for these complex visits that require intense planning. The travel is exhausting with its inherent inconveniences and its health and transportation risks. Pray for all of us to fulfill our missions to preach the gospel and to care for the brethren in all these areas and to return home safely. Even with all the challenges of the intensive work, we all feel similar to what the Apostle Paul described towards the people in Philippi and Thessalonica, with words of remembrance and gratitude for their faith. We should always be thankful and honor those whom God has called and who have committed their lives to Jesus Christ.
Bev and I are now in Lusaka, Zambia, where we will conduct two services tomorrow and then a service and Bible study on the weekly Sabbath. The venue will be our 12-acre church property on the edge of Lusaka. The church here has started a poultry operation on the property which we want to expand in the future to growing crops. Yesterday we were welcomed by pastor Major Talama and his wife, Felicia, along with others in the congregation. We had lunch with 11 of us and discussed the events of the past year since we were last here.
The highlights of the past two weeks for us have been the dedication of two beautiful new church buildings in Blantyre and Lilongwe, Malawi. The churches here have a home! This will become a base for the congregation as well as for public proclamation of the gospel. We will be dedicating two more buildings this coming week in Mufulira and Mufumbwe, Zambia.
Another highlight was the visit of deacon Filius Jere and his wife, Chosiwe, who came to visit us in Lilongwe, Malawi, from nearby Chipata, Zambia. He is a retired journalist after a 36-year career in media. He has worked as a Zambian reporter in the Netherlands and Germany. Filius had produced a “Zambianized” version of the Beyond Today radio program for a few years by taking a 20-minute section of the BT television program and adding introductory and summary content that included local contact information. The program has taken a one-year break, but we will start it up again shortly. As a result of the program, the Chipata church of nearly 50 was raised up along four smaller groups in the eastern province of Zambia. Filius still does an agricultural program on radio three times a week. On the stronger radio station that we will use, we will be the only religious program—and it will also stream on the Internet. Filius’ on-air voice is widely recognized and his commentary accompanying Beyond Today programs gives them immediate credibility.
Not the least of our recent experiences in Malawi was visiting and working with Brennan and Michala Hilgen, who work directly in caring for the Church. They attended the Pastoral Development Program last November in Cincinnati and are putting their training to immediate and relevant use. And, they are doing it extremely well! They are also initiating a farm program for the brethren in Lilongwe to apply some of the conservation farming techniques of Filius Jere. I recorded a podcast with Brennan and Michala which describes some of their work and their impressions of living in Malawi. You listen to the podcast here: https://www.ucg.org/members/united-news/inside-united/inside-united-podcast-episode-077 .
There is a lot more to say that is described in my TravelArk blog at: http://v2.travelark.org/travel-blog/victorkubik/23 .
The Best Cure for Spiritual Cancer
This week I’d like to talk about a subject relevant to the meaning of these Days of Unleavened Bread which are coming to a close.
Do you ever wonder how cancer starts? It begins with one tiny cell. Through DNA damage, the presence of a trace amount of toxins, or other causes, one tiny cell emerges broken or deformed. Usually, the body’s finely tuned defenses since the deformed or mutated cell and utterly destroy it. Active defenses protect the body.
But sometimes the mutated cell sneaks past the body’s defenses. Quietly, in a deadly fashion, the deformed cell splits. And splits again. The emerging mass of worthless cells takes up space and resources. These cells contribute nothing to the well-being of the body. Undetected and unchecked, they grow faster and faster.
Suddenly, the once tiny group of cells reaches a tipping point. A tumor composed of millions of cells emerges. Left unchecked, the tumor can grow into metastasizing cancer and spread rapidly. If not caught in time, the now malignant cancer grows faster than can be contained. The result can be a painful death.
And all from one tiny cell.
What’s my point? Pride is a cancer of the spirit. There is, of course, nothing wrong with a quietly satisfied pride from a job well done. But there is a different kind of pride that leads to a dangerous—even lethal—direction.
Unchecked, boastful pride in human beings destroys relationships—both between humans and with God. When a relationship is destroyed by puffed-up pride, bad things happen.
How powerful is destructive pride? Once, possibly millions or even billions of years ago, peace reigned throughout the universe. A group of incredibly powerful spiritual beings were a critical part of that peace.
Then deadly pride entered the picture. A poisonous thought formed and was nurtured: “you said to yourself, ‘I will ascend to heaven and set my throne above God’s stars… I will climb to the highest heavens and be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:13-14 Isaiah 14:13-14 13 For you have said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also on the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
American King James Version×, New Living Translation). The result? As Isaiah records, “How are you fallen from heaven, O shining star [Lucifer], son of the morning! You have been thrown down to the earth” (Isaiah 14:12 Isaiah 14:12How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how are you cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations!
American King James Version×, NLT).
Pride is thus documented as the first recorded sin in the Bible. The archangel Lucifer was so powerful and magnificent that he became puffed up with pride. He dared to equate himself with God. Like a tiny cancer-cell-in-the-making, this pride-drenched thought led to resentment, anger and finally rebellion. Lucifer utterly destroyed his relationship with God and became the adversary, Satan.
Resentment, pride and resultant anger have destroyed people’s well-being—even their careers. When a leader is full of wrongful pride—including those who serve in the ministry—major damage can ensue. Such damage, like what is wreaked by physical cancer, is often slow to repair and heal. Left unchecked, it can be spiritually fatal. In my almost half-century of service in the ministry, I have witnessed this among those whom I thought to be the most competent of leaders.
We must be on guard, as no one is immune from this.
But there is good news—there is a cure! This spiritual malady can be prevented.
We have just reviewed these critical lessons during the Days of Unleavened Bread, the first of the annual Holy Days. Hopefully we have a renewed and clear understanding of how pride can puff us up. It can begin as a subtle thought: “I’m better than how I’m being treated. I deserve better.” That migrates to a dangerous territory where we can covet and begin to plot. From one tiny thought, more can emerge. Left unchecked, we can become resentful, then angry.
And anger- or resentment-directed action can come to no good.
So, our loving God gives us these Holy Days as an annual reminder, to give us a compass check so we can correct our course and orient it back toward Him. We need these days.
The sequence of the events leading up to the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread in the book of Exodus were no accident. As we read of the ancient Israelites moving in haste, so ought we to consider our own personal sense of urgency in doing what God directs us to do. They did not have time to put yeast in their bread (Exodus 12:33 Exodus 12:33And the Egyptians were urgent on the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men.
American King James Version×), just as we should not allow time or opportunity for prideful thoughts to take root and spread.
Can we take the spiritual lessons of these Days of Unleavened Bread with us over the coming months?
Note what the Apostle Paul wrote to a largely Gentile congregation in Corinth: “Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” (1 Corinthians 5:6 1 Corinthians 5:6Your glorying is not good. Know you not that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?
American King James Version×). Leaven occurs naturally. It is everywhere. Just as our adversary is described as “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2 Ephesians 2:2Wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience:
American King James Version×), so is the widespread and pervasive power of spiritual leaven to plant dangerous thoughts that lead directly to lethal sin!
As Paul encourages us, we are to be “a new lump, since you truly are unleavened” (1 Corinthians 5:7 1 Corinthians 5:7Purge out therefore the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, as you are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
American King James Version×). Paul then admonished the Corinthians, and us today: “Therefore let us keep the feast [of Unleavened Bread], not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness , but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth ” (1 Corinthians 5:8 1 Corinthians 5:8Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
American King James Version×, emphasis added). Jesus himself warned: “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees” (Matthew 16:6 Matthew 16:6Then Jesus said to them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
American King James Version×). These are groups who had ready access to the Scriptures. They should have known better. But blinding pride got in the way.
In how we conduct our lives on daily basis, Paul implies that we have a choice. We can choose to serve and worship God. Or, like the once-magnificent Lucifer, we can make a bad choice that may first appear to be innocent, but that will actually lead over time to a catastrophic end.
As the 2018 Days of Unleavened Bread draw to a close, let us fully grasp the spirit and meaning of these days and carry them forth. Let each of us ask God to search us and reveal to us any cells of spiritual cancer. As He is our spiritual Defender, let us urgently ask Him to utterly destroy prideful and resentful thoughts, and to help us embrace the example of humility set by our Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:5-8 Philippians 2:5-8 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took on him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross.
American King James Version×).
Prevent spiritual cancer. Apply the lessons of the Days of Unleavened Bread in the days ahead and be spiritually victorious!