July 18, 2018
July 18th, 2018
Dear Brethren and Co-Workers with Christ,
As always, thank you for your generous support for preaching the true Gospel of Jesus Christ in these very challenging times. We do not take it for granted, and we know that God in heaven sees your heart and will reward you accordingly.
This truly is a team effort and you are part of a team that is putting the needs of others before your own. How encouraging it is to be associated with people who care for other people and follow the Apostle Paul’s admonition, “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4). And also, Jesus’ instruction, “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them” (Matthew 7:12).
This last scripture, often called the Golden Rule, is the theme at our Texas Teen Camp where I am writing this, and where we have more than 300 enthusiastic campers and staff working together in harmony for two weeks. This principle of thinking about how we treat others in light of how we want to be treated, is taught to our teenage campers (and to all of us) from the time they get up in the morning until they go to bed at night. The first class of each day is Christian Living, where various ministers talk to our teens with examples and principles they can relate to. Department heads of the various sports and other activities remind them throughout the day how the Golden Rule applies in everything they do, and the day ends with Evening Reflectionand a short talk to reinforce this lesson.
Of course, the camp involves many challenging and fun activities, including water skiing, softball, music class, archery, campus improvement and much more. These camps provide wonderful opportunities for young people to evaluate what kind of persons they choose to be, and to learn leadership skills. I often say that everything I know about organization and leading this Work under Christ, I learned during my 27 years working with summer camps. That is only a partial exaggeration, as it is truly remarkable what you learn in such an environment.
Our Teen, Adventure, and Preteen Camps held around the world have helped literally thousands of young people negotiate life under assault from this present evil world (Galatians 1:4; 1 Timothy 3:15). It is gratifying to see yesterday’s teens serving at our camps as adults today—often married now with children. Our Living Youth Programs are a very small part of our Church budget, much less than one percent, but this is one way your tithes, offerings, and contributions are used, in addition to the larger budgets of preaching the Gospel to the world through television, the Internet, and publications.
Dear brethren and co-workers, do you realize how much you are applying the Golden Rule with your support of this Work? We live in a world that is at war, a world where hunger and disease run rampant. As one of our camp instructors pointed out, these are problems that mankind has never eliminated, in spite of centuries and even millennia on this earth, and these problems will not be eliminated until the return of Jesus Christ.
We often hear people say, “Jesus is the answer,” but do they really understand what this means? Yes, turning one’s life over to Christ is a personal answer to a life out of control, but even this is often misunderstood. However, Jesus is the answer in a much greater way, for He tells us that conditions will get so bad in this world that unless He returns, no flesh would be saved alive (Matthew 24:21–22). He is the answer to our personal problems, but even more so to humanity’s collective problems.
In the same chapter where Jesus gave what is known as the Olivet Prophecy, He makes this bold statement: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (verse 14). Note that it is the “gospel of the kingdom.” This is not talking about going to heaven, and the word “gospel” is far more than simply a type of music on the radio. The Gospel is a message about Christ coming back to set up His world-ruling government on this earth. Zechariah 14 makes it abundantly clear that He will return and will be king over all the earth (verses 1–4, 9, 16–19). This good news (that is what gospel means) is a message about how you and I can have a part in that divine government and help straighten out the mess we see today. As Jesus explained in the parable of the nobleman who went into a far country, those who produce spiritual growth during this lifetime can become rulers over cities (Luke 19:11–27).
It is difficult for many to understand how they can someday rule a city, or two or five, maybe even ten; but God is training us during this lifetime to develop the most necessary character trait for rulers: genuine love and caring concern for those being ruled! If you do not have a copy of our booklet What Is the True Gospel?, be sure to contact your nearest regional office and request a free copy, as it explains far more than I can in this letter.
Sadly, this Gospel of the Kingdom of God is not found in mainstream churches, and the real hope and reward of the saved is not explained by most ministries. Instead, we find repetitious rituals or emotional feel-good services, usually with little biblical instruction. Yes, the Bible is referred to, but God’s master plan is never fully addressed. That is why this Work is so different. We will never be very large, because we give the plain truth, straight from the pages of your Bible—and frankly, the overwhelming majority of people are not interested. They are unwilling to change from unbiblical traditions handed down generation after generation. Yet, somehow, the true Gospel of Jesus Christ will be proclaimed to the entire world as a witness before the end comes (Matthew 24:14).
We certainly hope that we will be the instruments God uses to finish the job. We know that we have the true Gospel and we have the desire and passion to proclaim it, but it will take more than our human efforts to accomplish such a great task. We will continue to press forward, doing all we can while trusting in God to do through us what we cannot do ourselves.
Today I received an encouraging report on progress in our Work in Central and South America. Our numbers are small, but the message is going out, and we read that it is through God’s spirit that the work is done, and that we should not despise the day of small things (Zechariah 4:6, 10). In the last few months, we started small congregations in the following Colombian cities: Sevilla, Calima, Barranquilla, and Bucaramanga. We also have a new congregation in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and another in Temuco, Chile. These are mostly the result of our radio program, but also our Spanish-language YouTube channel. Each group ranges from five to ten new people. Though small, they remind us of Paul’s first-century travels through the Mediterranean world, where many congregations were no more than a few believers meeting in a member’s home.
Each human being is precious in God’s sight. He is not trying to save the whole world now, but He is training leaders for tomorrow. Your support of this Work indicates you are practicing the give way of life. We are grateful for your prayers and financial support that make all our efforts possible, and you are storing up treasure with God (John 4:36). Thank you for stepping up and caring for others.
Sincerely, in Christ’s service,
Gerald E. Weston