Greetings from Charlotte,

 This week, Mr. Charles Ogwyn reported some very positive gains in the USA for the first six months of 2009. Online literature requests are averaging more than 8,500 per month (compared to 7,100 per month last year at this time). Television responses are running 13% higher than last year, and visit requests are about 7% ahead of last year. This week, Mr. Meredith wrote a letter to brethren and co-workers that discussed aspects of Living University relevant to many U.S. residents. He also conducted a teleconference for the Council of Elders. On Thursday we held a Living University orientation and reception for our new on-site students. This week, Mr. and Mrs. Ames celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary. Last weekend, my wife and I had a very pleasant and profitable visit with the Williamsburg, Virginia congregation, and with Church leaders in the Washington, DC area at a mini-conference. This weekend Mr. Phil West and I will be in Chicago for a Tomorrow’s World Bible Lecture. Close to 6,700 subscribers have been invited to attend and an e-mail reminder was sent to more than 800 of them. With this lecture, we also offered those invited to pre-register online for the event. Your prayers will be appreciated.
NOTE: Please read the following Living University announcement in all congregations this Sabbath.
Living University
Monday, August 17, will mark the beginning of the third year of Living University classes. This semester there are eleven valuable courses to choose from. For those interested in taking an LU course this semester, you need to register before Monday in order to avoid late fees.
Please note the recently approved new tuition policy: People who are 65 or older, or who will become 65 years old during the calendar year, are eligible to audit one Open Learning Program course per semester and/or summer term without a tuition charge, provided that there is space available in the course (“for-credit students” enrolling constitute the minimum number required). Those who audit are responsible for paying any special course fees, meeting published course pre-requisites, and purchasing their own textbooks and other class materials and supplies. To receive free tuition, those age 65 and older should make application for the Open Learning Program and register for the appropriate course. As well, you should send an email to Mrs. Ogwyn (gogwyn@lcg.org ) and let her know that you have registered and need the tuition reduction because you are 65 or older. In addition, please send or e-mail proof of your age for our records (birth certificate, driver’s license, passport, or other official document).
To enroll for courses, visit our www.livinguniv.com website. If you have any questions, feel free to call or e-mail Dr. Scott Winnail at swinnail@lcg.org or 704-844-1960, ext. 304.
Church Administration
The Doctor Had No Explanation
A member of the New Orleans, Louisiana congregation recently requested the brethren’s prayers for God to heal her from severe sciatica nerve pain that prevented her from attending Sabbath services, and for which she was scheduled to have surgery. God completely healed her and she no longer needs surgery. The doctor had no explanation.
Europe and Africa Update
Last week, Mr. Rod King traveled to Germany to visit four prospective members, a married couple as well as a mother and her daughter.  Mr. King writes, “These new contacts are all a result of the hard work Mr. Kaefer has done on the German website.  It has taken time for results to come but we are now seeing little buds swelling into ripe fruit.”
From South Africa, “Mr. Pieter van der Byl reports that the trial of our TV program on a community station in Cape Town is going well.  We had more than 50 responses last Sunday, which is very encouraging.  We are considering the possibility of doing the same soon in Pretoria and possibly in Durban.”
Caribbean Update
Dr. Scott Winnail reports: July was an exciting and eventful month…. The month began with a brief but action-packed, visit to Jamaica. We had more than 80 in attendance for Sabbath services and lesson #16 of the Living Leadership Course. Brethren were positive and encouraging. Our young people were particularly engaged on the Sabbath. Plans for the Feast in Montego Bay are well under way.  We are seeing slow but steady growth in Jamaica and a number of individuals are currently counseling for baptism.
Mid-July brought me to Barbados for my first-ever visit. It was exciting to see the warmth and enthusiasm of the brethren. Attendance on the Sabbath was in the low 70s and the brethren were very warm, positive and welcoming. The Barbados congregation has grown a great deal in the last few years, primarily due to the telecast. On a Sunday I visited the office as our volunteers worked busily to handle the phone calls that came in from the telecast. We had a leadership meeting following the telecast [….] The brethren in Barbados are also deeply involved in Festival planning. Monday we held a Board Meeting for the Barbados Church and then I departed for Trinidad, through torrential rains.
My visit to Trinidad was encouraging and insightful [….]  Mr. Greeman made sure to give me a very good feel for the Church and the Work of God in Trinidad, from viewing a site for a future Bible Lecture, meeting our TV station contact, viewing some of the Island, to meeting many of the brethren. On Thursday evening, July 23, I held a brief meeting with the leaders of the Trinidad congregation and then we held a Bible Study. More than 60 brethren were there and all were very warm and welcoming….
On Friday, July 24, Mr. Greeman and I flew to Georgetown, Guyana. On the Sabbath, we met in an upstairs classroom of a small school where we had 29 in attendance—which filled the room. After services, we had snacks and Mr. Greeman and I then conducted the Living Leadership Course lesson #10. The brethren were also very warm, welcoming, and thankful for our visit. On Sunday, Mr. Greeman showed me the countryside in several different regions of Guyana—a nation with tremendous potential. My hope is to visit our brethren in the hinterlands of Guyana on a future visit.
Feast of Tabernacles 2009
Festival (Second Tithe) Assistance
This week, CAD finished reviewing second tithe assistance requests for the USA. We will begin mailing checks early next week for those whose requests were approved.
Feast of Tabernacles CDs (Repeat Announcement)
If you will not be able to attend the Feast and will need the Festival sermon CDs, please register online right away as “Unable to Attend USA” or “Unable to Attend Canada.” Those living outside the United States and Canada should submit their request for Festival sermon CDs to their area pastor, who will then forward it to the Church Administration Department (cad@lcg.org). Festival Advisors, please assist those without Internet access, who will need CDs, to register right away as “unable to attend”! Last year we sent Feast sermon CD sets to 367 shut-ins around the world. This is an extremely important service.
Feast Volunteers (Repeat Announcement): With only seven weeks until Opening Night 2009, we hope your Festival plans are going well.  Our coordinators are busy putting together their manpower lists and activity and service crews.  You should be hearing soon, if you haven’t already, from your Festival site coordinator or department head about the service you volunteered for, and may be asked to serve at the Feast this year.—Festival Office
Mail Processing Department
Attention Regional Offices and Ministers: Please allow plenty of time for delivery of supplies that you expect to be ordering from Headquarters before the Feast of Tabernacles break, and provide us with an alternate delivery address if you may be away on the expected day of delivery. Private couriers charge us extra fees when there is no one available to receive a package. It is good to be ahead of the curve and avoid last-minute problems.
The Value of Counsel: One of the common pitfalls of life is trusting in our own judgment when we only see part of the picture. When we make decisions or take actions based on how we feel or how we see a situation, the results can be costly to ourselves and to others. This is why Solomon advised in Proverbs 3:5, “lean not on your own understanding” and in Proverbs 3:7, “Do not be wise in your own eyes,” and again in Proverbs 28:26, “He who trusts in his [or her] own heart is a fool....” Solomon also warned in Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way that seems right to a man [or a woman], but its end is the way of death.” To help us avoid making serious mistakes in life, God inspired Solomon to write in Proverbs 11:14, “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety” and again in Proverbs 15:22, “Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established.” We can obtain wise counsel from parents, the ministry, and from older, more experienced friends and associates who can be objective and help us see a bigger picture than we perceive on our own—seeking wise counsel can be very profitable in avoiding serious mistakes!
Have a profitable Sabbath,
Douglas S. Winnail
News and Prophecy—August 13, 2009
Swine Flu Impacts Muslim Hajj. One of the five Pillars of Islam is that every Muslim must make the annual pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina once in their life-time. This annual event, the Hajj, occurs in November-December this year with two to three million Muslims converging in Saudi Arabia from around the globe. Responding to the swine flu threat, the Iranian government has now banned Iranians from attending the Hajj this year (Kaleej Times, August 6, 2009). The Saudi Arabian Visa Division is also cracking down on pilgrims coming to the country for the holy month of Ramadan (August-September). Many Ramadan pilgrims illegally stay beyond their visa expiration date to be in Saudi Arabia for the Hajj. Saudi officials are working hard to strictly control border crossings and tourism in order to limit the potential spread of the swine flu virus (Kaleej Times, August 8, 2009). Although the swine flu is not overly lethal, public health and government officials worldwide are on their guard. It is significant for an event as revered as the Hajj to be avoided by Muslims. Jesus warned that “pestilences” would be one of the initial “signs” of the end of the age (Luke 21:11). This disease epidemic is affecting world commerce, international travel, and religious worship—and is worth watching!
Cocaine Use Skyrockets in Britain. Cocaine use in Britain has increased 25% in the last year. One in eight 16-24 year olds reports trying the powerful drug. Britain’s National Health Service reports that the number of emergency room visits treating drug overdoses has tripled in the last decade. According to the College of Emergency Medicine, “the admission to hospital of young adults with heart problems caused by cocaine abuse has become almost routine since 2004.” The UN has now labeled Britain, “Europe’s cocaine capital.” The shadow Home Secretary observed: “Hardly a day goes by without yet another depressing set of statistics about the scale of Britain’s social problems. Drug addiction causes family breakdown, is linked to a substantial proportion of crime and causes long-term damage to people’s health” (Independent, July 24, 2009). Satan, the god of this age, is profoundly aware of the destructive power of addictive substances like cocaine. God will ban sorcerers from His Kingdom (see Revelation 21:8). The Greek word for sorcerer here is pharmakeus, meaning a druggist or poisoner, or one who uses drugs. Most people who turn to drugs do so to “escape” the world around them. They look to the drug as the way to peace. Yet God says, “Great peace have those who love Your law” (Psalm 119:165). God speed the day when the whole world will turn to Christ and His Way for true and lasting peace!

The Sun Setting on Great Britain. “Time is up for once-great Britain” reads the title of a recent article run in both The Times of London and Newsweek. For the last several centuries, this tiny island nation in the North Atlantic has been at the center of world affairs and has influenced governments and events worldwide. The article’s author, Stryker McGuire, used powerful words to describe Britain’s descent from greatness: “public debt is soaring, possibly doubling to a record 100 per cent of GDP over the next five years… History has been closing in on Britain for some time. The rise of China and India always meant that Britain would have a smaller seat at the increasingly crowded top table of nations. It also meant that the US would recalibrate the so-called special relationship as it sought new partners and alliances, inevitably shrinking the disproportionate role Britain has long played in world affairs… The global recession has hit virtually every country, but Britain more than most. The great engine room of British prosperity, the financial sector, now feels like an anchor. The IMF believes that Britain’s slump will be deeper and longer than that of any other advanced economy” (The Times, August 4, 2009). God warned long ago that the “borrower” would become a servant to the lender (Proverbs 22:7). The prophet Hosea records God’s condemnation against the northern tribes of Israel—also known as Ephraim. Because they reject God and His ways, they will stumble and waste away and the land will mourn—even the birds and fish will be taken away and people will be destroyed for their lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:1-6). Sadly, we are seeing this in the “land of Ephraim” (Britain) today. Yet, thankfully, God will restore Ephraim and Israel and accept them once again when they have learned their lesson and repented (see Hosea 14).—Scott Winnail, James Bennett and Sue Bennett      

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COGwriter 2009