News and Views

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July /August 2016 Volume 98, Number 4

PBI News

PBI Annual Report for 2015-2016

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We at the Pastoral Bible Institute are pleased to have completed another year of service in the Master’s vineyard (Matthew 20:7). The publication of this journal remains our primary activity. Although circulation has not increased significantly in the past few years, we are gratified to see that The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom is now reaching into several foreign countries. Africa, Croatia, India and Poland are now regularly translating and publishing issues of the magazine.

The first issue of The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom appeared in December, 1918. The effort at that time was to publish Gospel Age Harvest Truth for the benefit of the Lord’s consecrated. That purpose continues. As it was at the beginning, it remains edited by a committee of five brethren appointed annually by the directors of the Pastoral Bible Institute, the parent organization. Our main activity is in the U.S., with wide distribution also in India, Poland, and Africa.

During the past year, translation of The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom also commenced in Portuguese and Croatian. New interest for the magazine surfaced in the Philippines, where Bible Student activity has been growing the past few years. During the past year, Director Todd Alexander made two trips to Brazil to assess the state of Bible Student activity there, and to help with a convention of consecrated brethren. The results of his trip are discussed with other Bible Student organizations so as to have full transparency and try to avoid duplicating efforts of those organizations. We expect that there will be at least one trip to Brazil in the current fiscal year.

Several new items were offered for sale through the magazine this year. A limited number of The Revelation of Jesus Christ by R.E. Streeter were reprinted in Chicago and offered for $15. Brother Streeter also wrote a book on Daniel, which is currently being reprinted and will be offered later this year. We are cooperating with the Bible Fellowship Union in England to determine the feasibility of editing and reprinting some of the booklets on prophecy written by the late Brother Albert Hudson.

We will continue to apply ourselves with energy and enthusiasm to the work the Lord gives us to do. We pray that all of it is done to His honor and glory.

Annual Membership Meeting 

The Pastoral Bible Institute’s annual membership meeting will be held on Friday, July 15, from 9 am to noon, at the University of Pittsburgh, Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Members and non-members are welcome to attend. The meeting will also be available by conference call. Those interested in attending in person should contact Bro. Ernie Kuenzli, the registrar for the General Convention and a director of the Institute. The General Convention begins on Saturday, July 16.

PBI Directors

The annual nomination and election of seven directors was held in April. As is the PBI policy, current directors are not identified on the nominee ballot, each director stands for election annually, and written ballots are received and opened by a member who is not standing for election. Nominations were supervised by a three-member independent committee. Sr. Arlene Jones received and tallied all votes. The directors elected to serve for the 2016-2017 fiscal year are: Bros. Todd Alexander, Dave Christiansen, Len Griehs, Ernie Kuenzli, Tom Ruggirello, George Tabac and Tim Thomassen. These directors will begin a one-year term following the annual meeting. The current directors wish to thank all members of the PBI who participated in the election. We also thank all those members who were willing to stand for election, and those who supervised and monitored the election process.

 

Religious

Religious freedom remains under “serious and sustained assault” around the globe, according to a new annual report from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. “At best, in most of the countries we cover, religious freedom has not gotten better,” commission chairman Robert P. George said. The independent government advisory body recommended that the State Department add the Central African Republic, Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria and Vietnam to the U.S. government’s list of the world’s worst abusers of human rights and religious freedom. Of the 17 countries USCIRF says are of “particular concern,” only 10 have been recognized by the State Department. The official list remained unchanged for nearly a decade, until last month’s rare addition of Tajikistan, a Sunni-majority country where a severely restrictive 2009 law allows the government to crack down on all independent religious activity, particularly that of Muslims, Protestants and Jehovah’s Witnesses. — RNS, 5/2/2016

Officially, the People’s Republic of China is an atheist country but that is changing fast as many of its 1.3 billion citizens seek meaning and spiritual comfort that neither communism nor capitalism seem to have supplied. Christian congregations in particular have skyrocketed since churches began reopening when Chairman Mao’s death in 1976 signaled the end of the Cultural Revolution. Less than four decades later, some believe China is now poised to become not just the world’s number one economy but also its most numerous Christian nation. China’s Protestant community, which had just one million members in 1949, has already overtaken those of countries more commonly associated with an evangelical boom. In 2010 there were more than 58 million Protestants in China compared to 40 million in Brazil and 36 million in South Africa, according to the Pew Research Centre’s Forum on Religion and Public Life. — The Telegraph, 4/19/2016

When Americans experience health problems, they don’t just rely on doctors and medications. A new study found that most Americans have turned to prayer to heal themselves and others. The study found that about nine out of 10 Americans have relied on healing prayer at some point in their lives, with most of them praying for other people’s health and well-being more than their own. However, the study notes that most of those who use prayer for healing do so in conjunction with regular medical care. — CNN, 4/25/2016

A life-sized replica of Noah’s Ark may soon be hitting the Atlantic Ocean. The Dutch ship’s creator has announced plans to move the massive vessel, with the help of a barge, from its port in the Netherlands to Brazil this summer as part of a multi-country tour. Carpenter Johan Huibers, who completed the biblical boat in 2012 as a religious attraction, said he hopes its 6,000-mile journey to South, Central and North America will help spread the message of the Bible. Taking a chapter straight out of the Old Testament, Huibers said he crafted his modern-day ark using the same measurements used by Noah. It’s described as being larger than a football field, stretching 410 feet long, 95 feet wide and 75 feet tall. It weighs 2,500 tons and is said to hold more than 5,000 people at one time. — Huffington Post, 4/26/2016

Social

Some of America’s largest cities are experiencing a resurgence of rats. In Chicago, reports of rodent activity rose by about 70% in the first quarter of 2016 compared to the comparable period a year ago. The resurgence in cities including Boston, New York and Washington, D.C. is believed to be due to overfilled dumpsters, not cleaning up properly after dogs, and a compilation of mild winters. In New York, which has a rodent complaint line for residents, rat complaints have soared over the past five years. — USA Today, 4/24/2016

Scientists stumbled on an extraordinary fossil of a baby dinosaur about two months old when it died. It is the first time such a complete fossil of a very small baby sauropod has been found. If it had survived to adulthood, it would have grown into a behemoth the size of a fire truck. The miniature dinosaur provides an opportunity for paleontologists to extract DNA and learn more about the growth of such sauropods. — AP, 4/20/2016

Powerful earthquakes hit Ecuador and Japan within weeks of each other, but seismic experts said the timing was just an unfortunate coincidence. A magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck Japan on April 14, followed on April 17 by a magnitude 7.8 quake in Ecuador. Although the number of larger magnitude earthquakes has grown over recent years, seismologists say large earthquakes remain rare. The world’s largest earthquake ever recorded was a magnitude 9.5, which hit Chile in 1960. — United States Geological Survey, 4/24/2016

Political

North Korea claimed to have successfully launched a ballistic missile from a submarine, adding another weapon “capable of hitting the heads of the South Korean puppet forces and the U.S. imperialists anytime it pleases.” The development comes amid reports that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un celebrates his sixth anniversary of the Korean People’s Army. — AP, 4/22/2016

Egypt signed a maritime border agreement with Saudi Arabia in the presence of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud. Six days later, the Egyptian Council of Ministers announced that the islands of Tiran and Sanafir, both located in the Red Sea, were Saudi territory based on surveys by the National Committee for Egyptian Maritime Border Demarcation and on 11 rounds of meetings held between the two sides over several months. In the media, there was a lot of confusion and tumult between the agreement’s supporters and opponents. In a related development, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported April 11 that Cairo had informed Tel Aviv in advance of its intention to waive its rights to the two islands, which are in the Gulf of Aqaba, to Saudi Arabia. The newspaper reported that during recent Egyptian-Israeli talks, Tel Aviv informed Cairo that it would not oppose handing over the islands to Saudi Arabia as long as Israeli ships can continue to navigate in the region. — Al Monitor, 5/1/2016

Financial

$18 billion — The estimated cost of Volkswagen Group’s emissions scandal, more than double the original estimate. — Bloomberg, 4/23/2016

Chinese debt investors are turning bearish at just the wrong time for the nation’s corporate borrowers, which face a record 3.7 trillion yuan ($571 billion) of local bond maturities through year-end. With this year’s biggest note payments concentrated in some of the country’s most cash-strapped industries, China needs buoyant bond markets to help its companies refinance. Deteriorating investor sentiment has heightened the risk of defaults in a market that’s already seen at least seven companies renege on obligations this year, matching the total for all of 2015. — Bloomberg, 5/3/2016 A new $20 bill will feature the likeness of Harriet Tubman, a former slave who helped scores of other slaves escape to freedom. She also worked as a Union spy in the Civil War. She will replace Andrew Jackson, the nation’s seventh president. His picture will be moved to the back of the bill. — USA Today, 4/24/2016

Israel

At the time of Israel’s founding, its Jewish population was one-ninth the size of American Jewry, and was also largely poor and needy. Today, the population ratio is one to one, Israel’s economic situation has improved immeasurably, and its population is growing — even as numbers in America are being reduced by low birth rates and intermarriage. The trend lines are clear — the distances between Israeli and American Jews are growing in other ways as well. A couple of generations ago, most Israeli and most American Jews were immigrants from Europe; today, 70 percent of Israeli Jews were born in Israel and an even higher percentage of American Jews were born in the United States. Moreover, something like 90 percent of American Jews are of Ashkenazi heritage, while, half of Israeli Jews are of Sephardi or Mizrahi descent. — Mosaic, 4/26/2016

Israeli researchers have developed a tiny “liver-on-chip” that could help scientists fight liver disease, cancer, and a host of other conditions. The chip is made up of human tissues, with sensors for oxygen, glucose, and lactate. Measurements can be tracked in real time, and readouts appear immediately on a computer. The technology, developed at Israel’s Hebrew University, will enable the study of cellular processes, and will further the understanding of what happens when cells are damaged due to disease. Liver toxicity can limit the use of new medications, so the tool can be used to screen for less toxic drugs. The study, recently published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could revolutionize in vitro methods (studies that are performed with microorganisms outside their normal biological context), presenting a real alternative to animal experimentation for evaluating toxicity of chemicals.” — NoCamels Inc., 4/24/2016

A delegation of 38 Israeli captains of industry went to Egypt under the framework of the Qualifying Industrial Zones (QIZ) for the first time in 10 years. The delegation was sent in an attempt to determine the viability of strengthening Israeli economic cooperation with Egypt. A similar delegation of Egyptian industrialists is expected to visit Israel at the end of 2016. Very little has been done to develop Israel-Egypt trade and economic relations over the past few years. However, with renewed political stability in Egypt, the council decided to encourage the strengthening of ties between the two countries; and interpersonal relationships between the two peoples. Israeli exports to Egypt in 2015 amounted to $113.1 million, compared to $147.1 million in 2014. Meanwhile, Israeli imports from Egypt are much less: $54.6 million dollars’ worth in 2015 and $58.3 million in 2014. 2011 was the last year that trade between the two countries was at full strength, with Israel exporting $236 million worth of goods to Egypt and imports of $178.5 million. The drastic reduction in trade came about as a result of the Egyptian Revolution which came about as part of the Arab Spring. — Ynet News, 4/22/2016

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