Resources for the members of the United Church of God

Update from the President: Jan. 9, 2020

You are here

Update from the President

Jan. 9, 2020

Beyond Today Programs Recorded

Yesterday, Wednesday, January 8, we recorded three new Beyond Today programs before a capacity audience in our studio. This brings the total number of programs recorded to 396. Programs recorded were: “The Truth about the Rich Man and Lazarus” by Steve Myers, “Three Proofs the Bible is True” by Darris McNeely and “Who Will be the Final Superpower?” by Gary Petty.

In addition, Gary Petty and I recorded a podcast about his book The Mercy Effect which is about conflict resolution. We plan to do a number of podcasts featuring various chapters of the book. The Mercy Effect is available from Amazon and now can be viewed on Kindle, as well. In our first podcast, we spoke about how human beings find it difficult to live at peace, and why. In the Church the dynamics of conflict are often the same. Is there really a workable solution to conflict? We want to explore this subject and find lasting practical answers to clashes in our relationships. Both Gary and I have given lectures on this subject and have a special interest in conflict resolution.

Ambassador Bible College will finish its first semester tomorrow. Currently, Scott Ashley is at the home office for two weeks teaching Survey of the Gospels.

Trip To Asia: Singapore

On Sunday, we returned from an almost three-week journey to three areas in the Far East. I have already reported on our visit to the Philippines and the fine training conference we held for ministers and church leaders. The conference truly was a wonderful event as we lectured and discussed the various elements of caring for churches and brethren individually. We also focused on women as supporters of their husbands, but also leaders in their own right in their congregations. Since our conference, we have received many appreciative notes and we all look forward to continuing the education process in the Philippines and elsewhere internationally. This is vital in order to provide direction and skillful leadership that holds to the highest standards of conduct.

The second and third cities that we visited were Singapore and Hong Kong. Each city has a group of about a dozen people who meet weekly. Both churches meet in the homes of our two women facilitators that I call the “Lydias of the Far East”—in Singapore, Rosalind Yong, and in Hong Kong, Mary Ong. Rosalind hosts the Sabbath meeting in her home with some attendees coming from neighboring Malaysia and sometimes Indonesia. She lives in the top two stories of a high rise building, where there is a spectacular breathtaking view of the Straits of Malacca with its many ships in transit. Half of the world’s shipping tonnage passes through this sea gate.

We held an all-day Sabbath event featuring a Bible study and a sermon on December 28th, and really appreciated seeing the brethren here again. I admire these people for being faithful and devout over the years despite living so remote from any other brethren. On the next day we set out to visit some who were not able to attend, including one lady who had surgery on her shoulder. We all met-up in the home of elderly Clement Lim. I first met Clement at the Feast of Tabernacles in Phuket, Thailand, in 1993. He was baptized in London in the early 1960s.

About 375 people receive the Beyond Today magazine in Singapore. We had hoped to conduct a Kingdom of God seminar, as we did in Manila and Hong Kong, but were steered away from doing it because of fears that this kind of meeting could be construed as anti-government activity. But, upon arriving here and talking to the brethren, we found that they would have welcomed such a meeting inviting Beyond Today subscribers. The make-up of Singapore is 16% Christian, 16% Muslim, 35% Buddhist, and myriad followers of Taoism, Hinduism and several other religions making up the remainder of the five million inhabitants. There appears to be a tolerant respect for one another in Singapore. We saw several well-established Christian churches, such as the Methodist church, with prominent buildings. With as many subscribers as in Manila, I would have been very interested in meeting those who read Beyond Today.

In Hong Kong, where we have only 35 subscribers for a city of seven million people, one BT reader had been studying about the Kingdom of God on his own. He received an invitation to attend a Kingdom of God seminar. He was overjoyed. At the seminar, he was a very intent listener and stayed long after the seminar to meet with people and now wants to attend our weekly Sabbath meetings. Interestingly, his name is Victor.

During our stay in Singapore we had further opportunities to spend time with our brethren and we loved it! One family was Henry and Carol Chin with whom we spent some time every day. That gave us time to socialize, but also to discuss our faith and ask and answer questions.

Our last stop: Hong Kong

Senior pastor Earl Roemer met us at the airport on January 1. In the evening, we had a dinner with a number of the Hong Kong brethren. One young lady, who is a schoolteacher, came here from Harbin in mainland China. As I mentioned, the “Lydia” of this home church is Mary Ong. She is a lively and active lady who takes the lead in looking out for the Hong Kong brethren.

While in Hong Kong, we spent time seeing some of the sights of this spectacular bustling city. Questions about the months-long protests came up. We found that upwards of 200,000 people were massed just a few miles from the hotel where we stayed. But no one seemed alarmed and everyone took this phenomenon in stride. We found out more about what was happening here in Hong Kong by turning to CNN and BBC. The people we talked to were careful with any comments they made about what’s going on in Hong Kong, particularly on social media. Overall, there is no sense of alarm.

Last Friday, January 3, Terry Franke, who assists Earl Roemer with the Hong Kong church, Mary Ong and I visited with the Web branding and marketing agency that the church had been using. We are upgrading our current obsolete site to display literature in two forms of the Mandarin language, as well as in English. Our site will be brought up to be consistent in appearance with The new website will give us a credible reach into mainland China. The United Church of God is registered in Hong Kong.

We are finding that much more can be done than we thought—not only in Hong Kong, but also in mainland China. The Chinese people have a special interest in family and success. In our discussions we talked about tailoring a message to Chinese interests.

The Kingdom of God seminar was held last Sabbath, in our hotel where the Feast of Tabernacles is also celebrated. It went very smoothly! Visiting these three areas gives us a lot to think about in fulfilling the gospel commission that God has given His Church in Matthew 28:19-20 Matthew 28:19-20 [19] Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: [20] Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen.
American King James Version×
and Matthew 24:14 Matthew 24:14And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations; and then shall the end come.
American King James Version×
. I believe that it’s more manageable to preach the gospel now than it was for the Apostle Paul in the first century Roman world. He was successful in establishing churches in Asia Minor and Greece, but it was not always easy. After Paul met with Lydia and the others in Philippi, he was imprisoned. We have not come anywhere near that. He was also beaten, which is worse than just being imprisoned. But he kept on in spite of opposition from outside and from within.

I want to thank all who had a direct part in making this visit a success—and to God for making all this possible as He gives us His grace to do the things we do.

To see a complete story of our visit to Asia with many photos, please go to