Update 207


Do Not Quench The Holy Spirit

On August 20, 2005, Edwin Pope will give the sermon, titled, “Do Not Quench The Holy Spirit.”

The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at 12:30 pm Pacific Time (which is 2:30 pm Central Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

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The Way

by Dave Harris

In several references in the Book of Acts, Christianity is simply called “the Way” (Compare Acts 9:2; 19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:14, 22).

It is a fact that those who heard the gospel, who repented, who were baptized and who received God’s Holy Spirit became very different people. They changed their patterns of living by turning whole-heartedly to God. In doing this, they stood out from others–from the religious Jews and from the pagan peoples of the Roman Empire.

It isn’t really so different in our day! If we truly live as Christians, our way of living will not be in harmony with those who are unconverted. Peter addresses this: “For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles [or, the world]–when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you” (1 Peter 4:3-4).

Jesus explains that His followers are lights in a world of darkness. He teaches that each should “‘Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven'” (Matthew 5:16). That “light” is the fruit of God’s Holy Spirit in each of our lives (Compare Galatians 5:22-23). The difference is made even more profound for us in living “the Way”– as we are instructed: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).

Thinking as Jesus thought means ALWAYS seeking to do the will of our Father (Compare John 5:19; 5:30; 6:38; 8:28-29; 12:49-50; 14:10). In Hebrews, the incomparable mission for Jesus Christ when He came into the world is summarized: “‘Then I said, “Behold, I have come–In the volume of the book it is written of Me–To do Your will, O God”‘” (Hebrews 10:7).

Only the precious few have ever fully and unconditionally committed themselves to God and to “the Way” of His Son. Those who have–and those who do–have this remarkable promise indelibly recorded in the Word of God: “‘Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever”‘ (Daniel 12:3).

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Venezuela Threatens USA

“Agence France Presse” (AFP) reported on August 16, 2005, that “Venezuela’s energy minister, Rafael Ramirez, said that Caracas is ‘ready and willing’ to cut off its oil supply to the United States, if there are any signs of aggression from the superpower toward his country… On Sunday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez threatened to end oil exports to the United States if Washington did not stop its ‘aggressions.’… Washington’s attacks could provoke ‘something more serious: These two daily boats full of Venezuelan oil could head another way instead of going to the United States,’ warned Chavez, whose country is the fourth-largest provider of oil to the United States, supplying some 1.5 million barrels a day… Ramirez made a similar statement on Tuesday, declaring that Caracas, the only Latin American member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, had other clients to court, including China.”

The article continued:

“Chavez has become an increasingly outspoken critic of the United States, and accuses Washington of planning attacks against Venezuela, while the United States has accused Venezuela of funding efforts to destabilize Latin American neighbors and allowing weapons to cross into Colombia, whose government is battling a leftist insurgency.”

Airline Crashes on the Rise?

This week the world witnessed at least two tragic airplane crashes, causing many people to wonder how safe airline travel really is these days. Interestingly, the most recent accident occurred in Venezuela. The Associated Press reported on August 16, 2005:

“A chartered jet filled with tourists returning home to the French Caribbean island of Martinique crashed Tuesday in western Venezuela, killing all 160 people on board. The plane plunged to the ground after the pilot reported both engines had failed, officials said… The crash was the deadliest in Venezuelan history… the death toll surpassed a 1969 crash in Venezuela that killed 155, including 71 victims on the ground… The plane was carrying 152 tourists from Martinique, including a 21-month-old child, returning home after a week in Panama, officials said. All eight Colombian crew members also were killed.”

The article continued:

“The crash came only two days after a Cypriot airliner plunged into the mountains north of Athens, Greece, killing all 121 people aboard. Both jets were flying for new, low-cost regional carriers that are springing up around the world as governments deregulate air travel.”

Germany’s Newest Election Campaign

The EUobserver reported on August 15 about the German election campaign, as follows:

“German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder on Saturday (13 August) kicked off his electoral campaign by warning the US that it should not use military force against Iran. Speaking at a political rally in his native Hanover ahead of next month’s election, the German leader said Germany’s ‘friends’ in Europe and the US must maintain a strong position while negotiating with Iran over its nuclear programme. ‘But take the military options off of the table; we have seen that they’re not suitable,’ he added. This was an apparent reference to a statement by US president George W. Bush on Israeli television the day before that ‘all options are on the table’ with regards to Iran. Mr Schroder said that no one was interested in letting Iran become a nuclear power, but that the ongoing dispute must be resolved by developing a ‘strong negotiating position’ using peaceful means. ‘For that reason I can definitely rule out that a government under my leadership would participate in that,’ he said… His comments have awakened a sense of deja vu. Three years ago, when running for re-election, strong statements he made against the ‘military misadventures’ in Iraq were widely believed to have contributed to him being elected Chancellor once again.”

The Associated Press added the following information in its article of August 13, 2005:

“Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder opened his campaign Saturday for next month’s national election seeking to rejuvenate his beleaguered center-left party by taking a swipe at U.S. military aggressiveness and the verbal gaffes of a conservative opposition leader… Schroeder won new support by ratcheting up his criticisms of the…U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and donning high galoshes to visit flooded cities in the depressed east… The chancellor also turned his attention to turmoil within the opposition, attacking Christian Democrat leader Angela Merkel, who hopes to replace him, and her ally Edmund Stoiber, head of a Bavarian sister party who questioned the intelligence of voters in eastern Germany… Merkel found herself immediately on the defensive seeking to control the damage caused by Stoiber’s remarks… Stoiber, the governor of Bavaria, said at a rally that he didn’t want the former communist east to swing the Sept. 18 election–a reference to the voters in six eastern states who helped return Schroeder to office in 2002 when Stoiber was the conservatives’ candidate for chancellor. ‘Unfortunately, we don’t have such intelligent citizens everywhere as we do in Bavaria,’ said Stoiber.”

Earthquake in Japan

The Associated Press reported on August 16, 2005, about Japan’s most recent earthquake:

“The earthquake was powerful enough to sway skyscrapers 185 miles away in Tokyo. And with an estimated magnitude of 7.2, it had the potential to cause catastrophic damage. But this time, Japan got lucky. No one died in the quake that rocked a wide swath of northern Japan on Tuesday… Still, the jolt underscored the fragility of the lifelines of even the most modern, quake-resistant cities. It forced highways and railroads to close, leaving tens of thousands of people stranded, and 17,000 households lost electricity. And with Tokyo overdue for a major quake of its own, it was a psychological jolt for many.”

The article continued to explain:

“Japan sits at the juncture of four tectonic plates–or moving slabs of the earth’s outer crust–and is one of the world’s most quake-prone regions. There have been several recent strong quakes in Japan. The biggest, at magnitude 6.0, shook the Tokyo area on July 23, injuring more than two dozen people and suspending flights and trains for hours… The Dec. 26 Indian Ocean earthquake with a magnitude estimated at 9.1 to 9.3 and the tsunami it triggered killed more than 176,000 people in 11 countries, and left half a million homeless in Indonesia alone.”

The German Pope and His Native Country

The Independent (UK) wrote on August 16:

“Pope Benedict XVI’s return to his German homeland later this week has been billed as a visit to a godless country in which more people trust the police and the nation’s largest supermarket chain than the head of the Roman Catholic Church… In an interview with Vatican Radio yesterday he said he hoped his appearance would ‘spark a wave of new faith among young people’… However, much of Germany’s media poured cold water on the Pope’s aspirations. Der Spiegel devoted its front cover to the visit and carried the headline: ‘Believers – desperately sought. The Pope’s homecoming to an un-Christian country.”

The article continued to explain correctly:

“Some of the difficulty stems from the reputation Benedict earned in Germany prior to his election. As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he was known as a severe enforcer of Catholic orthodoxy – at odds with modern Germans and their acceptance of birth control, homosexuality and sex outside marriage. The other problem is a steady decline in the number of people attending mass. Hundreds of Catholic, and Protestant, churches have been turned into shops, pubs and cinemas in attempts to find worthwhile uses for the buildings. The dilemma has worsened since reunification and the addition to the population of some 17 million Communist-educated and largely agnostic or atheist former East Germans.”

Bible prophecy shows that in the not-too-distant future, this picture will change considerably. Most of the German people will become strong followers of the pope.

On August 18, 2005, The Associated Press reported:

“Benedict XVI arrived Thursday in his native Germany to cheers from youthful pilgrims on his first foreign trip as pope, a journey that will emphasize outreach to Jews and Muslims and evangelizing a Europe that has drifted from its Christian heritage… The strong wind knocked off the pope’s white skullcap as he got off the plane, blowing it back inside the cabin. He reached for it in vain and decided to go on with the ceremonial welcome hatless. The wind also toppled the World Youth Day cross from the bow of a cruise ship he was to ride on, breaking one of its arms. The cross was first used during World Youth Day in 2000 in Rome and has been carried around the world by Catholic youth groups, including to the site of the World Trade Center attacks in New York. Workers were busy repairing it.”

The article continued:

“Benedict landed to a subdued arrival, compared with some of the greetings received by his charismatic predecessor, John Paul II. He skipped John Paul’s custom of kissing the ground, and only a few hundred enthusiastic admirers were brought to the airport. Thousands more, however, cheered as they watched on a large television screen in front of Cologne’s famed cathedral, erupting in shouts as his plane landed. More than 400,000 pilgrims registered ahead of time, organizers said, and up to 1 million people are expected for an open-air Mass by Benedict on Sunday. Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and President Horst Koehler greeted Benedict on the red carpet as he descended from the plane, which had German and Vatican flags hanging from the cockpit windows.”

The fact that both the German Chancellor and the German President officially welcomed Pope Benedict XVI shows that they don’t consider the pope as just a religious figure, but also, as he is indeed, the head of a political state–the Vatican.

Russia’s and China’s Joint Military Exercises

The Washington Post reported on August 16, 2005, about joint military exercises between Russia and China. The paper stated:

“Russia and China will hold their first ever joint military exercises this week as the once wary neighbors demonstrate their willingness to cooperate in the face of the U.S. military presence in Central Asia… The two countries have held exercises before with other Central Asian republics, but this week’s maneuvers are the first bilateral exercises…

“The two countries have invited observers from the Central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, which together with Russia and China form the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. That group recently called on the United States to set a timetable to withdraw its forces from bases in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, which are used to support military operations in Afghanistan. The Uzbek authorities later gave U.S. forces 180 days to pull out, after the United States criticized the Uzbek government for suppressing demonstrators in the city of Andijan in May, leaving hundreds dead, according to human rights groups…”

The article continued to point out:

“Toward the end of the exercise, the Russians will deploy strategic, long-range bombers, capable of carrying nuclear weapons, which will fire cruise missiles at targets on the surface of the sea… Russia is trying to interest the Chinese in nuclear submarines and strategic bombers, which [Alexander] Golts [a military analyst and journalist in Moscow] said, could be deployed against the U.S. fleet in the Pacific. Golts said Russia was eager to lock in new contracts quickly, to hedge against the European Union lifting an arms embargo it imposed on China after the 1989 crackdown on protesters in Tiananmen Square. The U.S. Defense Department has warned the European Union that lifting the embargo would bring ‘serious and numerous’ consequences.”

Russia’s Bird Flu Epidemic

“Russia cordoned off roads and slaughtered hundreds of birds on Monday to contain the advance of a bird flu epidemic toward Western Europe… The outbreak, previously confined to five remote areas of Siberia, has now struck a major industrial region — Chelyabinsk in the Ural mountains, which separate Asia from Europe… Chelyabinsk… lies about 1,000 km (600 miles) from the region where the first flu outbreak was reported. Although no humans have yet been affected, there are fears the disease could spread to humans on the Eurasian landmass, possibly unleashing a global influenza pandemic.”

Der Stern Online reported on August 18, 2005, that the German government fears that the bird flu epidemic will reach Europe and Germany, and that they are “preparing for the worst.”

Nuclear Terrorist Attacks Certain

On August 11, 2005, WorldNetDaily reported the following:

“In the 2004 presidential debate, President Bush and Senator John Kerry both agreed on one thing–that the possibility of nuclear terrorism was, ‘the single most serious threat to the U.S. national security.’ Former Central Intelligence Agency Director George Tenet said: ‘Al-Qaida continues to pursue its strategic goal of obtaining nuclear weapons.’ His successor at the CIA, Porter Goss, said: ‘It may only be a matter of time before al-Qaida or another group attempts to use chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear devices.’ FBI Director Bob Mueller said: ‘Intelligence continues to show al-Qaida’s clear intention to obtain and ultimately use some form of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear material in its attacks against the United States.’ A CIA Counterterrorism Center expert said: ‘Al-Qaida probably has access to nuclear expertise and facilities, and there is the real possibility of the group developing a crude nuclear device.’

“The Robb-Silberman Commission put together by President Bush said in its report: ‘The U.S. intelligence community has assessed that al-Qaida was capable of fabricating at least a crude nuclear device if it could obtain the requisite nuclear material.’ Vice President Dick Cheney has warned: ‘The biggest threat we face now as a nation is the possibility of terrorists ending up in the middle of one of our cities with deadlier weapons than have ever before been used against us–biological agents or a nuclear weapon or a chemical weapon of some kind, to be able to threaten the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans.’ Warren Buffett said: ‘We’re going to have something in the way of a major nuclear event in this country. It will happen. Whether it will happen in 10 years or 10 minutes, or 50 years … it’s virtually a certainty.'”

Will the Messiah Be Born?

On August 12, 2005, WorldNetDaily published the following article:

“Russian Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar believes the Earth will soon see the coming [of the] Messiah to judge all mankind. ‘We know that he is very near at hand, but he needs not only to be born but also to come,’ Lazar told the Gazeta daily. ‘The Messiah may well have been born already, but unless he is ordered by God he cannot reveal himself with God’s help and change the world for the better.'”

This idea, as expressed by Rabbi Lazar, is based on the erroneous belief that the Messiah still has to be born as a human being, as the Jewish people reject the truth that Jesus Christ was already born as the Messiah, almost 2,000 years ago. The Bible–both the Old and the New Testament–teach that the Messiah will appear TWICE–first as a human being (which has already happened), and then as GOD. The SECOND Coming of the Messiah, the “LORD of lords and KING of kings,” is indeed near.

The tragic erroneous belief that the Messiah must still be born as a human being might inadvertently support the rise and acceptance of Antichrist, also known as the “false prophet.” The Bible predicts that a human will be born in the end time, PRETENDING to be Christ, but deceiving most people. It is highly probable that that individual has already been born and that he will manifest himself on the world scene in the very near future.

Famine in Africa

On August 10, 2005, MSNBC.COM published this shocking article about famine and sickness in many African countries. It stated:

“Mali, one of the world’s poorest countries, usually has trouble ensuring all its people are fed. Hunger is worse than ever this year in Mali and across chronically dry West Africa because of a locust invasion last year, followed by drought. Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania also are affected. An estimated 1.5 million of Mali’s 11 million people are said to be facing hunger, including an estimated 144,000 children suffering malnutrition… the solution to chronic malnutrition across West Africa is education first, then economic development. Children at greatest risk are those recently weaned from mothers who aren’t sure what kinds of solid foods to give to their babies, particularly in times like these when creating a balanced diet is even more difficult.”

New Terrorist Attacks on September 11, 2005?

The Sunday Times published a frightening article on Sunday, August 14, stating: “American intelligence chiefs have warned that Al-Qaeda terrorists are plotting to drive hijacked fuel tankers into petrol stations in an effort to cause mass casualties in London and US cities in the next few weeks.The leaked warning, contained in a bulletin issued by the US Department for Homeland Security last week, says the attacks aim to create catastrophic damage at about the time of the fourth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.”

The New York Times published a similar article on August 12, 2005, stating:

“A group of F.B.I. counterterrorism analysts warned this week of possible terrorist attacks in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago around Sept. 11, but officials cautioned on Thursday that they were skeptical about the seriousness of the threat. The warning grew out of intelligence developed from an overseas source indicating that terrorists might seek to steal fuel tanker trucks in order to inflict ‘mass casualties’ by staging an anniversary attack, officials said… Domestic security officials have long thought that tanker trucks could be used in terrorist attacks. New York, Los Angeles and Chicago are considered at the top of potential targets, along with Washington and Las Vegas, because of their size, high profiles, symbolic value and past plots by Al Qaeda… [The report] also warned that terrorists would seek to hijack gasoline tankers or trucks hauling oxygen and ram them into a gasoline station to cause major explosions.”

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The Bible says that Lot was just or righteous. But did he not commit horrible sins? How can he then be called "righteous"?

It is correct that 2 Peter 2:6-8 refers to “righteous Lot,” and describes him, by extension, as a “godly” person. The entire passage reads: “[Since God turned] the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)–then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment.”

We must not forget that God spared Lot because He would not destroy the righteous with the wicked (compare Genesis 18:23). The two angels could not find ten righteous in Sodom (compare Genesis 18:32). Only Lot was willing to give them shelter, when they appeared in Sodom as strangers, while “all the people from every quarter” surrounded Lot’s house (Genesis 19:4), to “know them carnally” (verse 5). They did not realize, of course, that the men were angels. Since the Bible says that all of the men were present to act “wickedly” (verse 7), this might even suggest that Lot’s sons-in-law were present as well. Still, the angels were willing to spare Lot’s wife, Lot’s daughters, and even Lot’s sons-in-law (verse 12-15). There is no indication that Lot’s wife, his daughters or his sons-in-law were righteous, but God wanted to spare them for Lot’s sake. However, the sons-in-law did not flee and were consumed, and Lot’s wife died, too, when she looked back, as she apparently did not really want to leave Sodom (Genesis 19:26; compare Luke 17:28-33). We also get the impression from the account in Genesis that God spared Lot, to an extent, because of His righteous servant Abraham (compare Genesis 19:29), implying that Lot was not as righteous as Abraham.

Nevertheless, Lot, too, is described as righteous. However, the fact that Lot is described in that way–in comparison with the wickedness of his surroundings–does not mean that he was without fault or sin. Lot sinned when he greedily chose for himself the seemingly best part of the land of Canaan, “the plain of Jordan,” even though God had promised all of this land to Abraham (compare Genesis 13:7-13). Lot sinned greatly and horribly when he was suggesting to the homosexual citizens of Sodom to commit fornication with his two virgin daughters, to protect the two strangers in his house (compare Genesis 19:8). And he sinned when he allowed his daughters to make him drunk with wine, so that they could have offspring with him (compare Genesis 19:30-38).

However, Lot is still called “righteous” by God, as God looks foremost at the heart and the motive of a person. God forgives sins upon repentance, and He judges us mercifully, when our hearts are right. David SINNED horribly at times; for instance, when he committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband Uriah murdered in war. But God forgave him his sins, when he repented. He called David a man after His own HEART. The prostitute Rahab SINNED when she lied about the spies, but she did so because she wanted to save the spies. Lot SINNED when he was willing to turn over his daughters to the wicked men of Sodom, but he did so because he wanted to protect the strangers under his roof, fulfilling God’s command of hospitality and all that it entails.

This does not excuse Lot. But it also shows the great mercy of God who is willing to forgive us our unrighteousness, upon repentance, and to focus, instead, on our righteousness. Peter describes Lot as “just” or “righteous,” because he “tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds” (2 Peter 2:8) — even though he might not have always known how to ACT righteously.

In Ezekiel 9:1-11, we find a similar example involving those who are protected from harm because of their righteousness. In this passage, God commands His angels to slay the wicked, but to spare those in Jerusalem “who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it” (verse 4). Again, God is focusing primarily on the hearts and motives of His people. This does not mean that God tolerates or even justifies wrongdoing–but He understands that the flesh is weak. That is why we need God’s help DAILY to make us righteous–both in motive and in conduct–by forgiving us our sins, upon genuine repentance, and by cleansing us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). When we confess and leave behind our unrighteousness, as Lot did, God forgives and forgets about it, while focusing instead on our righteousness.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

A new StandingWatch program will be recorded on Friday.

The Global Church of God in England celebrates their 10th anniversary on 20th August 2005. They had their inaugural service on the 19th August 1995 with 11 in attendance. This was held in the home of Brian and Jill Gale and continued for 3 months until a suitable hall was found. On 11th November 1995, services were transferred to the Friends Meeting House (Quakers) in Derby where they have been held, with very few exceptions, ever since.

Bob Devine, the Pastor at Derby since the inception of the Church, died prematurely in early 2002 and has been sadly missed. There have been many visitors in the last 10 years, and 212 different people have attended–some of whom also attended the Feast of Tabernacles in England. Brian Gale was ordained a deacon at Pentecost in 1996 by Evangelist Colin Adair and Elder Bob Devine. He was later ordained an Elder at the Feast of Tabernacles 2002 by Evangelist Norbert Link. The current deacon is Michael Downs who was ordained on January 31st 2004 by Norbert Link, who was the guest speaker at Derby on that Sabbath, and Brian Gale. Whilst the current congregation is small, they are holding fast diligently to the truth.

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Open Doors

Open Doors
by Cali Harris (22)

It was a normal Monday morning recently when I went to work as a host at the restaurant where I am employed. I have always felt very blessed to have a great job, especially one where the Sabbath and Holy Days are not a problem. Lately, however, I have been interested in finding more challenging work. A few hours into my shift, my manager came up to the host stand and told me that the restaurant’s current sales manager was leaving the company.

Then, my manager offered me the open position! Right in front of me was an open door.

I could immediately close the door, turn around, and walk away from the opportunity, worried I may not have the skills necessary to do the job. Or I could leave the door open and deliberate for weeks, wondering whether or not this is a responsibility I really feel like taking on.

OR, I could walk confidently through the open door, having faith in God that this job is His answer to my prayers. Despite my nervousness I did walk through the open door; I saw it as a blessing and felt assured that God would guide me along the way. God opened the door for me, but I had to choose to faithfully walk through it.

Making a big decision–or walking through an open door–is sometimes a doubt-filled, stressful process. But if we are continually striving to build our relationship with God, then we can walk boldly through open doors!

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How This Work is Financed

This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.

Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson

Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank

Our activities and literature, including booklets, weekly updates, sermons on CD, and video and audio broadcasts, are provided free of charge. They are made possible by the tithes, offerings and contributions of Church members and others who have elected to support this Work.

While we do not solicit the general public for funds, contributions are gratefully welcomed and are tax-deductible in the U.S. and Canada.

Donations should be sent to the following addresses:

United States: Church of the Eternal God, P.O. Box 270519, San Diego, CA 92198

Canada: Church of God, ACF, Box 1480, Summerland, B.C. V0H 1Z0

United Kingdom: Global Church of God, PO Box 44, MABLETHORPE, LN12 9AN, United Kingdom

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