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PBI Annual Report for Fiscal 2019
The Directors of the Pastoral Bible Institute (PBI) and the Editors of The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom are blessed to have completed another year of service to the Master of the vineyard (Matthew 20:7).
At this time in the harvest of the Gospel Age, many still rejoice in reading our publication proclaiming the good news of God’s Kingdom and the blessing of all the families of the earth (Genesis 12:1-3).
The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom continues to be the main focus of our ministry. While circulation does not change dramatically, we continue to improve the content of our web page (www.Heraldmag.org). The site contains all back issues, and, although a work in progress, an index of articles sorted by theme, title, author, and scriptures elaborated, back to 1996. Our Facebook page (The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom) is undergoing revision, hoping to make it more relevant for those who search The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom in this way. Because we depend upon volunteers to make our activities possible, we are very grateful for the Lord’s provision of workers this past year. Many labor to assure that our publication and our identity reflect great respect for the Lord’s work.
Election of Directors of the PBI are held each year prior to the annual meeting in July, with nominations for directors coming from a membership committee and elections through written ballots which are counted by a non-director member. Directors elected for our fiscal year May 2019 through April 2020 are Todd Alexander, David Christiansen, Leonard Griehs, Ernie Kuenzli, Tom Ruggirello, George Tabac, and Tim Thomassen. These directors will appoint the new editorial committee
at the annual meeting. This committee is listed on the inside front cover of each issue, along with their directive from the Board.
Additional activity of the PBI involved:
- Completion of preliminary work to print a new
Bible, the Revised Version Improved and Corrected
(RVIC), which has only been available electronically
- Cooperation with brethren in Poland, India, and Croatia, to publish foreign versions of The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom
- Continued representation at conventions and conferences in Brazil and Australia
No one knows how long the Lord will continue calling laborers to His Vineyard. We pray that as long as there is work, we can use our resources with energy and enthusiasm to the tasks He gives us to do.
The Directors of Pastoral Bible Institute, May 2019
Fiscal 2019 Financial Statement of the Pastoral Bible Institute, Inc.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan organization created 20 years ago, concludes in its (April 29) report that “innumerable believers and nonbelievers across the globe continued in 2018 to experience manifold suffering due to their beliefs.” While the State Department’s
annual international religious freedom report covers every nation in the world other than the U.S., USCIRF annually documents fewer than 30 countries that have the most significant religious freedom violations. USCIRF recommends that the State Department redesignate the following countries as “countries of particular concern,” or CPCs: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia. — Religious News Service, 4/30/2019
European governments are wrestling with a need to restructure payments to churches. In several Western European countries, a majority of adults not only agree to pay a church tax imposed on all baptized Christians, but also have no intention of opting out of it, even though they can, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center. Of the 15 countries it studied, Pew found six have mandatory taxes — Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland — while Italy, Portugal
and Spain have voluntary programs. However, the report suggests future funding issues may arise as “Many (young people) are entering adulthood without a religious affiliation and without paying church taxes, replacing older generations of more heavily Christian church taxpayers.” — Religious News
A survey of Protestant churchgoers found that 1 in 3 had a family member or friend who had committed suicide. Across America, the suicide rate is on the rise, contributing to a drop in life expectancy. For Americans aged 10-34, it’s the second-leading cause of death, a silent epidemic that has now begun to get sustained attention. — Religious News Service, 4/29/2019
French billionaires have pledged $450 million to restore Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral following the devastating fire. French President Emmanuel Macron has promised to rebuild the site, stating Monday that France will launch an international
fundraising campaign to assist with the effort. — CNN, 4/16/2019
A group of 19 Catholic priests and academics have appealed to bishops to declare Pope Francis a heretic, in the latest ultra-conservative broadside against the pontiff over a range of topics from communion for the divorced to religious diversity.
“We take this measure as a last resort to respond to the accumulating harm caused by Pope Francis’s words and actions over several years, which have given rise to one of the worst crises in the history of the Catholic Church,” they said in a 20-page open letter. The letter attacks Francis for allegedly softening the Church’s stance on a range of subjects.
It was published by LifeSiteNews, a conservative Catholic website that often is a platform for attacks on the pope. Last year, it ran a document by the Vatican’s former ambassador to Washington, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, calling on the
pope to resign. — Reuters, 5/1/2019
U.S. measles cases in 2019 have climbed to their highest level in 25 years. This year’s nationwide tally has passed the 667 cases reported for all of 2014. That would make 2019 the worst year for measles since 1994. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updates its national measles count each Monday. Roughly three-quarters of this year’s illnesses in the U.S. have been in New York state, mainly in two ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn and suburban Rockland County.
Most of those cases have been in unvaccinated people. — AP, 4/23/2019
Drone technology is leading an agricultural revolution in rural China. In 1991, over half of the Chinese workforce was on farms, but that share had plummeted to 16% by 2018. Most people have migrated to cities for better-paying jobs. To make up for shrinking rural populations, drones are being deployed to help with manual labor on farms. It once took farmers several days to spray 35 acres of crops by hand; now it takes one hour by drone. Using drones also aids farmers economically and environmentally. For example, one company’s drones reduced farmers’ use of pesticides by 6,000 tons last year. — Nikkei Asian Review, 4/26/2019
Prolonged drought in Kenya has sent many farmers into poverty. Soil quality has also worsened over time from deforestation and erosion. To improve the soil and help crops grow, farmers are planting the Melia volkensii tree in their fields. M. volkensii is drought-resistant, its fallen leaves replenish the
ground’s nutrients, and shade from the tree allows other crops to thrive. Farmers can also sell the tree’s timber for quick cash. — Reuters, 4/12/2019
In the early 1990s, Brazilian photojournalist Sebastião Ribeiro Salgado was stationed in Rwanda to cover the accounts of genocide. After returning in 1994 to his home in Minas Gerais, Brazil, he found dusty, barren land for miles and miles. In only a few years, his beautiful hometown underwent rampant
deforestation with less than one percent of the land covered in trees. His wife Lélia made a near-impossible proposal to replant the entire forest. The couple founded Instituto Terra, the organization which tirelessly worked around the clock to bring the forest back to life. Since 1998, they have planted more than 2.7 million saplings of 293 species of trees and rejuvenated 1,502 acres of tropical forest. In addition, 172 species of birds have returned, 33 species of mammals, 15 species of reptiles and 15 species of amphibians. — The Guardian, 4/24/2019
The murder rate in The Bahamas is at its lowest point in nine years. After the rate peaked in 2015, citizens began demanding change. In 2017 the newly elected Prime Minister, Dr. Hubert Minnis, was urged to tackle crime. The government responded by addressing systemic causes of crime and modernizing the police force’s technology. Murders dropped by over 25% last year, and shootings have also declined. However, the number of reported rapes is increasing. — The Nassau Guardian, 4/26/2019
A majority of Egyptian voters approved constitutional changes that would allow President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi to remain in power until 2030, officials said following a referendum. The opposition has said the outcome was undermined by the government’s use of state institutions to ensure passage
of the changes. Nearly 89% of Egyptians who cast valid ballots voted in favor of amendments that include an extension of the president’s term and expansion of his power over the judiciary, the National Election Authority said. About 27 million people,
or 44% of eligible voters, participated in the three-day referendum. The constitutional amendments are effective immediately, the officials said. — Wall Street Journal, 4/24/2019
Syria is experiencing a worsening fuel shortage as a result of Western sanctions, bringing some major cities to a near standstill and causing some of the war’s worst economic circumstances for President Bashar al-Assad’s loyalists. Damascus is plagued by long lines at gas stations that have caused entire streets to be clogged with waiting vehicles as hundreds of motorists line up even before gas stations open and fuel tanker trucks arrive. Fights increasingly break out among frustrated patrons, especially when regime officials or militiamen jump the line to fill up, a reporter witnessed. One resident described the city as paralyzed. — Wall Street Journal,
4/23/2019 (Editor’s Note: Isaiah 17:1 prophesies that Damascus will be a ruinous heap).
Sri Lanka’s president shook up the country’s top security establishment after officials failed to act on intelligence reports warning of possible attacks before the Easter bombings that killed over 350 people, his office said. Government leaders have
acknowledged that some intelligence units were aware of possible attacks weeks before the bombings that struck three churches and three luxury hotels. — AP, 4/24/2019
An Amazon.com Inc. team auditing Alexa users’ commands has access to location data and can, in some cases, easily find a customer’s home address, according to five employees familiar with the program. The team, spread across three continents,
transcribes, annotates and analyzes a portion of the voice recordings picked up by Alexa. The program was set up to help Amazon’s digital voice assistant get better at understanding and responding to commands. Team members with access to Alexa users’ geographic coordinates can type them into third-party mapping software and find home residences, according to the employees, who expressed concern that Amazon was granting unnecessarily broad access to customer data that would make it easy to identify a device’s owner. — Bloomberg, 4/24/2019
An offshoot of Alphabet Inc.’s Google has become the first drone operator to receive government approval as an airline, an important step that gives it the legal authority to begin dropping products to actual customers. The subsidiary, Wing Aviation LLC, now has the same certifications that smaller airlines receive from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transportation. It plans to begin routine deliveries of small consumer items in two rural communities in Virginia soon the company said. — Bloomberg, 4/24/2019
Canadian company Lucara Diamond Corp owns the Karowe Diamond Mine in Botswana where an unbroken 1,758-carat diamond — bigger than a tennis ball — was discovered. It is now the world’s second-largest mined diamond, although significantly smaller than the record-holder, the 3,016.75 carat
Cullinan Diamond, which was discovered in South Africa in 1905. The Cullinan Diamond was cut into nine diamonds for the British crown jewels, which includes the Cullinan I, which is inserted in the queen’s Sceptre and the Cullinan II, which is lodged in the crown that the monarch wears to the opening of parliament. — ABC News Australia, 4/27/2019
Violent attacks on Jews and Jewish targets around the world rose in 2018, a report by the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry indicated. According to the study, released in cooperation with the European Jewish Congress, major violent cases globally jumped 13% last year, from 342 to 387. Those violent attacks were centered in the United States, which was home to more than 100 cases. In the United Kingdom, 68 cases were reported, followed by 35 each in France and Germany, 20 in Canada and more in Belgium, the Netherlands and Argentina. In France, violent antisemitic incidents rose 74% over 2017, 59% in Australia, and 60% in Italy. Most of the cases are vandalism (56%), 23% are threats and 14% are weaponless attacks. — Jerusalem Post, 5/1/2019
In its recently released poll, 7 in 10 Americans view Israel favorably across all political party lines — a level of support that has been steady in recent years, Gallup reported. The 69% of Americans who view Israel “very” or “mostly” favorably was down slightly from last year’s 74%, but “within the 66%
to 72% range seen between 2010 and 2017.” In contrast, 70% hold a “mostly” or “very” unfavorable view of the Palestinian Authority [PA], “identical to last year and similar to the finding most years since 2010.” The poll surveyed 1,016 adults from February 1 to 10. — Israel Project, 3/7/2018
The United States published for the first time a map showing the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, three weeks after the country officially recognized Israeli sovereignty over the strategic plateau. The map shows the 1974 cease-fire line between Israel and the Syrian regime as a permanent border, whereas the border with Lebanon continues to be demarcated as the 1949 armistice line. Israel has long argued that it cannot risk a permanent entrenchment of Iranian and Hezbollah forces along the eastern shores of the Sea of Galilee. The shift in policy has gained increasing bipartisan support. In January, House
Majority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said, “Israel should maintain control of the Golan Heights.” — The Israel Project, 4/19/2019