This Week's PRC and Sister-Church News, April 5-11, 2020

Ps27 1Today, April 5, is the fourteenth Lord's Day of 2020; we may note the following news and information concerning PRC congregations, the Seminary, sister churches, and mission fields.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

That is an amazing statement, one we cannot fathom, yet we embrace. Even when His Father’s anger and hatred of our sin was poured into His heart, yet at same time the Father loved Him. “This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.”God never loved Him more than the moment He was Alone with the judgment for our sin. Because it was in that sacrifice that Jesus revealed in the highest degree His love for His Father’s will, and His love for us whom the Father gave to Him.

​Jesus was never alone because the Father was always with Him in His love.  Even when he cried from the darkness, his cry was “MY God, My God …”

​This all means you and I are never alone. Can’t be alone, never have been alone, never shall be alone.

​Yes we feel the effects of the confinement. We experience the lack of the communion of saints. Nor has the corona virus stopped the trials of life, our sins, death, and struggles that we must face. God has not stopped correcting us. His will is still being revealed to you today, and it may indeed be difficult for you, cutting off all hope you might think. 

​But you can’t be alone! He is Immanuel, God with us.

​You are not alone in the trial that descends today, in the thoughts of your heart that trouble you. You may feel cut off from the land of the living (God’s own presence). But you are not alone. The crucified, risen, exalted Lord Jesus, the one full of grace, is with you.

​We confess today: “I left Him alone. In my sin I said ‘Away with Him!’ Many a time have I forsaken Him and fled. But He has never forsaken me and never will. He is the friend who sticks closer than a brother. I belong to Him by His grace. I am not alone.”  ~ Rev. C. Haak in Meditation to Georgetown PRC this week

CONGREGATIONAL NEWS:

  • Once again this Sunday the PR congregations, sister churches, and mission fields experience the impact of the pandemic COVID-19, as national and state governments attempt to limits its spread.

    Due to state stay-at-home orders or lockdowns, most of our congregations are not allowed to hold services today; some of our pastors are prerecording messages or live-streaming sermons, songs, and prayers. Our sister saints in Germany, India, Myanmar, N. Ireland, the Philippines, and Singapore are likewise affected. As we honor our local, state, and federal governments and submit to their mandates at this time, let us also thank and praise our God for the means we have to receive His Word and to stay connected as members of Christ's body, as well as for the constant access we have to His throne of grace. Let us pray for one another daily - for protection from harm, for healing where the disease has struck, and above all, for preservation in the peace and comfort we have in Christ.

    2. Bow down Thy ear to my request,
    And swift deliverance send;
    Be Thou to me a rock of strength,
    A fortress to defend. 

    3. Since Thou my rock and fortress art,
    My leader be, and guide;
    From all temptation rescue me,
    Thou dost my strength abide.

    9. But, Lord, in Thee is all my trust,
    Thou art my God, I cried;
    My life, my times are in Thy hand,
    I in Thy strength confide. 
    Psalter #80 (based on Psalm 31)
  • On March 29 Rev. J. Engelsma (Doon PRC) declined calls from Cornerstone PRC (Dyer, IN) and Kalamazoo (MI) PRC.

  • On March 29 Rev. J. Laning (Hull PRC, IA) received the call from First PRC, Edmonton. He plans to answer on or before April 19.

  • On March 22 the congregation of Providence PRC voted to extend a call to Rev. M. McGeown (Limerick, Ireland mission). *Today he announced his acceptance of this call.
  • The Consistory of Kalamazoo PRC has formed a new trio consisting of Revs. C. Haak, J. Mahtani, and M. McGeown.  The congregation will be voting on Monday evening, April 13, at 7:00 p.m, D.V.

  • The Council of Hope PRC (Grand Rapids, MI) has formed a trio consisting of Rev. C. Griess (First PRC-GR, Rev. J. Mahtani (Grandville PRC), and Rev. C. Spronk (Faith PRC). The congregation is to vote by ballot by April 14.

  • The Council of Unity PRC formed the following trio from which to call her first pastor: Revs. E.Guichelaar (Randolph PRC), J. Mahtani (Grandville PRC), and C. Spronk (Faith PRC). A congregational meeting is scheduled for April 15.

  • "First Protestant Reformed Church of Edmonton has released their pastor, Rev. John Marcus, under Article 11 of the Church Order with the concurrence of Classis West and the synodical delegates. Rev. Marcus is now available for call within the Protestant Reformed Churches."

  • "The Council of Grandville PRC announces to the churches that Rev. J. Mahtani is eligible for a call on April 1, 2020.

  • Did you know... that
    • these PRCs are live-streaming sermons today (and for the time being, including Good Friday and Easter)? You are encouraged to worship with one of these congregations: Crete at 9:30 AM and 5:30 PM CDT; Faith PRC at 9:00 AM and 5:30 PM (EST); First PRC-GR at 9:30 AM and 5:00 PM (EST); First PRC-Holland at 9:30 AM and 5:00 PM; Grace PRC at 9:30 AM and 5 PM EST; Hope PRC-GR at 9:30 AM and 5:00 PM (EST); Hudsonville PRC at 9:30 AM and 5 PM EST; Hull PRC at 9:30 AM and 6:00 PM; Loveland PRC at 9:30 AM and 6 PM MST; Lynden PRC at 10:00 AM PST; Pittsburgh PRC at 9:30 and 5 PM EST; Southeast PRC at 9:30 AM and 5:00 PM EST; Southwest PRC at 9:30 AM and 5:30 (EST); Zion PRC at 9:30 AM and 5:30 PM (EST).  There are also many audio sermons that you can access on this website for your further use.
    • Faith PRC (Jenison, MI) held an online Singspiration this past Friday night for her families, led by her pastor and his family? Plans are to have another one Easter Sunday night.
    • some congregations are gathering online photo albums of the families and members worshiping at home?
    • What wonderful ways to continue to be the church of Christ, in worship, organic life, and fellowship!

DENOMINATIONAL NEWS:

DKuiper livestream class March 2020 1b
Prof. D. Kuiper giving an online class this week from his seminary office

PRC Seminary News:

  • The seminary is on Spring break this week. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, seminary is open only for essential operations at this time. No auditors or visitors should come until the restrictions are lifted. The staff can try to assist you with any needs, however. Call or email the seminary with your important needs.

  • Due to the recent "stay-at-home" order from our governor, the faculty and students have switched to all online classes until the restrictions are lifted. Some classes are using previously recorded videos and receiving assignments via email, while other classes are being livestreamed using Zoom. So far this has worked well and we are thankful to be able to continue in this way. The second round of practice preaching has been put on hold for the time being.
  • Future Teachers and Ministers: Information for the 2020 PR Scholarship Fund essay competition is now available. Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to receive the essay topics and submission requirements. Completed essays must be submitted by May 30th.

Ps133 1 2

Let us remember to pray for our fellows saints in every land and place, including in our sister churches!

SISTER-CHURCH NEWS:

  • Concerning our sister church in Singapore, Covenant ERC, the following may be mentioned:
    • From her bulletin today: Psalm 122:1,2: I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD. Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem. The words of the Psalmist reminded us of the blessedness of God’s people coming together to the house of the Lord to worship Him. You can sense the delight of God’s people to be gathered in His temple. However, we missed this blessedness last Lord’s when Covenant could not gather in Church to worship the Lord due to the COVID 19 issue. This will continue for the next few weeks till the Lord’s deems fit that the storm of the COVID 19 be over. Though we could not gather together to worship, we are thankful to God that we can still worship together through Live-Streaming. We pray that the Lord will receive our worship and bless and fed us through this means. May this experience also work in our hearts the delights and longings that we can once more be together in His house to worship Him.
    • This morning we welcome our seminary student bro Josiah to lead us in worship and to bring a word of edification. His professors in PRC Seminary have suggested that he should continue to give a word of edification while he is in Singapore to attend to some urgent family needs. Session has approved that Josiah will lead in worship for today morning service.
    • The 2020 Church Camp Committee has decided to postpone Church Camp in 2020 to December 21-24, 2020.
    • The February 2020 newsletter - Reformed News Asia - was posted recently and may be found on this page. 
  • Concerning our sister church in Ballymena, N. Ireland, Covenant PRC,  the following may be noted:
    • From last week's bulletin: Now that we are unable to “diligently frequent the church of God” physically because of the coronavirus, we can be thankful for the good gift of God to us (or at least many of us) of the internet. We will be livestreaming from church today at the usual time: 11AM and 6PM. Go to https://cprc.co.uk/livestreaming/ to watch.
    • Sadly, the CPRC Council has decided to close our mission work, the Limerick Reformed Fellowship (LRF). After almost 10 years of having a missionary there and 6 years before that of the LRF meeting without a missionary, there has been insufficient growth. Rev. Martyn McGeown of the LRF is eligible for a call by the Protestant Reformed churches. Upon receipt and acceptance of a call, God willing, it would take some months for him to gain legal permission to work and reside in the US or Canada. This would enable him to preach and pastor the members of the LRF before they move to join the CPRC (for several of them need a similar amount of time to tidy up their affairs in Limerick before relocating), and it will provide ministry longer for those who, for various reasons, are not able to move.
    • Read the latest CPRC newsletter - February 2020!
    • Read the new February 2020 issue of the "Covenant Reformed News"!
    • Join Reformed believers from around the world at the 2020 British Reformed Fellowship family conference at Castlewellan Castle in Northern Ireland from Saturday, July 11 to Saturday, July 18.  Our speakers, Prof. David Engelsma and Rev. Andy Lanning, will lecture on "Union with Christ".  For information see the website http://brfconference.weebly.com or contact Briana Prins at 616-214-2779;  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Rooms are filling quickly, so complete your booking form today!
  • Concerning the PRC in the Philippines, the following may be gleaned from the bulletins of the Berean PRC, PRC in Bulacan, Maranatha PRC, and Provident CC:
    • Congregational and Denominational News:

~ Berean PRC: Rev. V. Ibe will lead us in our worship services today via live streaming on our Facebook page. Our brothers and sisters in Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija will join us today in our worship services via Facebook live, the Lord willing.

~ Bulacan PRC: Due to the lockdown imposed on all of Luzon province, the Consistory is encouraging members to have special family worship on Sunday using Rev. Flores' sermon transcript. Her pastor is also doing a brief devotion on Zoon each night at 8:30 for the members.

~ Maranatha PRC: Rev. L. Trinidad will lead us in both Worship Services via livestream on Facebook: Maranatha Protestant Reformed Church. 

~ Provident PRC: The elders have sent links to worship services of Zion PRC (Rev. J. Holstege), for morning and evening. Let us hear the word of God through these videos in our homes today. Rev. D. Holstege sent a third pastoral letter to the congregation yesterday.

~ PRCP Seminary: There will be no classes at our seminary this week, not only because of the lockdown, but also because classes are recessed for holy week.

~ The most recent mission newsletter (January 2020) was published and distributed in February.

~ And for more on the life and work of our "sisters" in the Far East read the news under Philippine missions.

  • The PRC also has a "corresponding relationship" with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) of Australia. We remember these brothers and sisters in our prayers and labors also.

it is finished

Did Jesus suffer defeat when He died on the cross? Read this resource to learn more.

SPECIAL NOTICES:

  • With many PRC members and fellow saints worshipping at home due to the present pandemic, the entire collection of Psalm Choir videos is a valuable resource. You may find the playlists on YouTube here. Also, all volumes of the Psalm Choir CDs are being available FREE during this time. These too can be used for family or personal devotions, as well as for personal comfort and peace in seasons of fear and distress.
  • The Reformed Book Outlet is temporarily closed for the safety of our volunteers. If you need to place an order or have questions, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We will not be answering the phone. Thank you.

  • Are you looking for good Reformed literature and a solid Reformed and biblical magazine? Visit the Reformed Free Publishing Association's website (www.rfpa.org), where you will find information on books in all major Christian categories, as well as on the bi-monthly periodical, the Standard Bearer.

  • Would you like to learn more about the PRC and her doctrines and practices? Are you in need of some pamphlets and/or articles published by the PRC for use in evangelism and/or witnessing? Visit the PRCA Evangelism page for a complete list of materials available in digital format or by order from the publishing church.

RWH Logo 2019

  • Llisten to the Reformed Witness Hour each Sunday - on a radio station near you or on Sermonaudio wherever you are!
    • Continuing this month, Rev. R. Kleyn (Covenant of Grace PRC in Spokane, WA) is delivering a series on prayer, with today's message titled "Our Savior's Unique Suffering" based on Lamentations 1:12. Listen to the broadcast on the station near you or visit the links provided here to listen to this program.
    • From the Reformed Witness Hour Committee:

~ The Reformed Witness Hour Committee wishes to remind everyone that you can receive their bi-monthly newsletter via email simply by signing up at http://eepurl.com/gikNsL.  Each newsletter contains information about places around our globe where the RWH is downloaded; news about the RWH’s witness on the radio and via the internet, printed booklet, and CD and links to many popular and relevant RWH messages.

~ A Spanish edition of the RWH has been produced and may be found on this YouTube channel (PRC Espanol). Why not check it out - and help spread the word!

 young peoples convention header 2020

ESPECIALLY FOR PRC Young People and Young Adults:

  • 2020 PRYP's Convention News! Registration for the 2020 Young People’s Convention opened on Monday, March 16!
  • Young Men's Conference - Young men of High School and College age, please plan to attend the GPRC Young Men’s Conference, with the theme of "Run, Fight, Lead!", on Saturday morning, April 25, from 8 am-12:00 pm, at Georgetown Protestant Reformed Church. Breakfast is included! Don’t wait, register today!  For more details and to register please visit georgetownprc.org/runfightlead

  • Colorado Retreat: Save the date August 3-6, 2020 for a young adults retreat in Colorado!

  • Future Teachers and Ministers: Information for the 2020 PR Scholarship Fund essay competition is now available. Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to receive the essay topics and submission requirements. Completed essays must be submitted by May 30th. 

  • The Western Young People's Retreat, hosted by the Lynden and Spokane Young Peoples, will be held July 14-17, 2020, at Camp Sanders in N. Idaho.  This is a retreat for Young People ages 13-18 (going into 9th-12th grade).  More information and registration will be available in March. Contact Rev. Kleyn at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have any questions.

Vellore family worship 2020
Family worship in Vellore, India (Sunday, April 5)

PRC MISSION NEWS:

Domestic Labors:

  • Remember in prayer our home missionary, Rev. A. Spriensma, who continues to labor in the West Michigan area and beyond through Byron Center PRC, the calling church.
  • Limerick Reformed Fellowship News:
    • Rev. M. McGeown led the services today. Today he also accepted the call to Providence PRC in Hudsonville, MI.
    • (From the PRC Contact Commitee) Our sister church, the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church in Northern Ireland, reports that they have decided to close the mission station in Limerick, Ireland that they had been overseeing for the past ten years. Rev. McGeown will likely stay in Limerick for the next six months and will then, the Lord willing, move to the United States. We submit this disappointment to the good providence of God who is alone wise. Remember the saints in Limerick and Rev. McGeown in your prayers.

Philippine Missions:

  • Berean PRC News: This congregation continues to work in Gabaldon, Nueve Ecija (the saints join Berean PRC services via livestream during this time of confinement).
  • Provident PRC News: The trip of our two missionaries Rev. D. Kleyn and Rev. R. Smit to Canturay Church and Inayawan Church, Sipalay, Negros Occ. to preach and teach to the two congregations is cancelled due to the Community Quarantine from March 15 to April 12, 2020. Let us remember to pray for their missionary work.
  • The newest Philippines mission newsletter has been published and posted! The January 2020 issue may be read here.
  • For more on life and activities in the Philippines from the personal perspective of the missionary's, visit the Kleyn's blog, the Holstege's, and the Smits!

We remember in prayer the needs of these busy pastors and missionaries in the Philippines, especially in these difficult days of quarantine. May the Lord of the harvest give them grace to be faithful and encouraged in all their labors.

India:

  • Let us pray for our sister church's work (Covenant ERC in Singapore) in Kolkata, through Rev. E. Singh. In the CERC's bulletin last week was this notice about the work there: Also do remember our brethren in CERCI, Kolkata who are not able to meet as they do not have the online facilities in most of their homes. Do pray that the Lord will sustain them and provide them the means to be fed with the word of God.

Myanmar:

  • We also remember Hope PRC's (Grand Rapids, MI) support of and involvement with Rev. Titus' work in Myanmar. From Hope's bulletin this week we are given this update concerning things in that country at present:

Rev. Titus reports that life in Myanmar right now concerning the coronavirus is nearly identical to what we are experiencing. They have economy shutdown and stay-at-home orders similar to what we have. Worship services and related church activities have been canceled. Men of the congregation are out of work or unable to go to work while this situation persists. Rev. Titus is working hard on his studies and translation work. Your committee was able to meet together yesterday along with Rev. Titus via a Zoom meeting application that allows us to video conference together from our own homes with our computer or tablet. We are thankful to the Lord for the provision of this means to continue in gospel labors within his kingdom. “Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved” (Ps. 55:22).

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Reformed Witness Hour Messages for April 2020

RWH Logo 2019

First PRC of Grand Rapids, MI and the Reformed Witness Hour Committee announce the messages scheduled for April 2020 on the RWH radio/Internet program.

This month Rev. R. Kleyn, pastor of Covenant of Grace PRC in Spokane, WA, brings some special messages for Good Friday and Easter, as well as more messages relating to prayer. Be sure to tune in (or listen online anytime!) for these important messages. The schedule for this month is laid out below and also attached in pdf form.

RKleyn RWH

April 5, 2020 - Our Savior's Unique Suffering, Lamentations 1:12

April 12, 2020 - Now Is Christ Risen, I Corinthians 15:20

April 19, 2020 - Our Greatest Privilege, Hebrews 10:19-21

April 26, 2020 - Draw Near to God, Hebrews 10:22

You are encouraged to listen to these important messages and to let others know about them too. Help spread the word about the Reformed Witness Hour, now in its 79th year of broadcasting the truths of God's sovereign, particular, efficacious grace!

DID YOU KNOW? Our weekly broadcast is available as a podcast on Google Play, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, and most other podcast apps. Subscribe today by searching for “Reformed Witness Hour”.

Visit our website for the latest podcast and for other news and information!

The Reformed Witness Hour Committee wishes to remind everyone that you can receive their bi-monthly newsletter via email by simply signing up at http://eepurl.com/gikNsL .  Each newsletter contains information about places around our globe where the RWH is downloaded; news about the RWH’s witness on the radio and via the internet, printed booklet, and CD and links to many popular and relevant RWH messages.

And don't forget our Spanish programs on YouTube!

RWH Facebook image

Use the attached flyer (pdf) to spread the news of these important gospel messages!

PO Box 1230, Grand Rapids MI, 49501 | reformedwitnesshour.org | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you wish to be added to the mailing list to receive the printed booklet of the messages each month, send an email to Judi Doezema at doezema at prca.org.

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Covenant Reformed News - March 2020

Covenant Reformed News


March 2020 • Volume XVII, Issue 23



COVID-19 and Christian Doctrine

The doctrinal framework provided by the inspired Scriptures is necessary for us to understand rightly the coronavirus pandemic. The Christian worldview makes sense of COVID-19, giving us comfort and peace in the Lord Jesus during these unsettled times. In this short article, we will see how the coronavirus fits within the six main heads of biblical doctrine (somewhat rearranged): 1) God, 2) man, 3) Christ, 4) the end times, 5) the church and 6) salvation. So do not be troubled or shaken!

1) God. The true and living God is infinite, eternal and unchangeable in His wisdom, power, love, faithfulness, holiness and justice. As such, the Most High is the sole Creator, universal Ruler and supreme Judge. He is absolutely sovereign, as the One who “worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Eph. 1:11)—including the coronavirus—for “none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” (Dan. 4:35).

2) Man. Unlike the angels, human beings have a physical body, including lungs, which are especially attacked by COVID-19. Unlike the animals, man possesses a spirit and does not merely cease to exist at death like a dog (Ecc. 12:7), contrary to the myth of evolutionism with its lies that provide false consolation to millions.

Through the fall of Adam, our representative head, the entire human race, Christ excepted, is conceived and born in sin, and totally depraved by nature (Rom. 3:10-18; 5:12-21). As a rational, moral creature, man has a conscience (Rom. 2:15), a sense of right and wrong, and a fear of death and divine judgment (Heb. 2:15). This is why many unbelievers are so scared of this plague.

3) Christ. As the Son of God and the Son of man, our Lord Jesus is fully God and fully man. Through His perfect obedience in a sinless life and a substitutionary death, our Saviour is “Lord both of the dead and living” (Rom. 14:9). The crucified and risen Christ is now enthroned in heaven, executing God’s eternal decree and ruling over all things in providence.

He is the Lamb who, upon His exaltation, received the book from the hand of the Triune God and opens the seven seals, including the fourth seal with its pale horse (Rev. 5-6). Its rider, Death, employs especially four terrible means to kill people: war, famine, wild beasts and pestilence, including the coronavirus (Rev. 6:8; cf. Eze. 14:21).

4) End times. The Lord Jesus lists some of the signs of His return in Matthew 24:7: “[a] nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be [b] famines, and [c] pestilences, and [d] earthquakes, in divers places” (cf. Luke 21:10-11). The pestilence of COVID-19 is certainly “in divers places,” such as China, Italy, Iran, Spain, USA, Germany, S. Korea and, indeed, almost all the countries of the earth.

These worldwide afflictions not only reveal that the holy God of heaven judges sinful man on earth, but they are also harbingers of the second coming of Christ and the final judgment. How often our Lord Jesus promises in the Book of Revelation, “Surely I come quickly!” This is our one “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13).

5) Church. The most obvious effect of the coronavirus upon the church is that of disruption. Sunday worship services, catechism classes, Bible studies, etc., are either cancelled or severely curtailed all around the world. Outside one’s own household, there is little or no communion between the saints in the way of physical contact or face-to-face meetings. The Christian sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper are in abeyance.

Instead of going to Lord’s day services, many must use CDs or DVDs or audio cassettes or books. Others have access to on-line sermons or live webcasting. Currently, the CPRC live streams, by video and audio, prayer and the reading and exposition of the Word from our church building at the same time as our regular Sunday services: 11am and 6pm (https://cprc.co.uk/live-streaming). We are looking forward to the day when we can sing Psalm 122:1 together again: “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.” Meanwhile, let us intercede for one another and fellowship with each other by phone or on-line.

6) Salvation. As regards the application to us of our redemption in Christ, it is still absolutely gracious and certain, according to God’s unchangeable will, for “whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified” (Rom. 8:30)!

So what is Jehovah doing with His elect, reconciled and regenerate people through the coronavirus? The divine goal and result with His saints in this life—even now!—is the same as it has always been and will always be: conforming us “to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Rom. 8:29)!

How is our heavenly Father doing this during this pandemic, when the official preaching of the Word and the sacraments in the (physical) gathering of believers and their seed for public worship on the Lord’s day are temporarily denied to us? (During these days of COVID-19, Psalms 42, 43, 63, 84, 137, etc., are more poignant.)

We recall that there are other means that God especially uses at times like these: earnest prayer (have you been growing cold?), the reading of the sacred Scriptures (maybe you have been neglecting the Word?), the study of Reformed books (for which you may not have had much time of late), etc. Jehovah will graciously use these spiritual means, in connection with our present trials, for “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28)!

So let us not worry about the future but trust our merciful heavenly Father (Matt. 6:24-34; Phil. 4:6-8), who will use this plague, as He formerly used a terrible famine, for His people’s salvation and everlasting “good” (Gen. 50:20). Rev. Stewart
 


Check out our new “Coronavirus Resources Page,” which includes recent sermons on “The Coronavirus and the Fourth Horseman” and “The Six Seals and the Coronavirus.”
 

The Idea of the Organic in Scripture (8)

In the last issue of the News, I was dealing with the question of the difference between God loving all men absolutely and “offering” salvation to all men on the one hand, and His commanding all men to believe in Christ on the other hand. One can consult that article for the details. The defenders of the gospel as a loving offer to everybody head for head confuse the command of the gospel with a mere offer. This is inexcusable exegesis. Even in every-day speech, who confuses an offer with a command?

The appeal of the questioner we were answering in our last article is based on II Corinthians 5:20. In this text, Paul says that, as an ambassador of the gospel of Christ, he “beseeches” the Corinthians to be “reconciled to God” through faith in Jesus. The offer defenders appeal to the word “beseech.” On that word and similar words in Scripture, they hang their doctrinal error of God’s universal love and tender plea to absolutely everyone to believe in Christ.

I pointed out in the last article that words similar to the word “beseech” indicate the seriousness of God’s command that comes to all men to believe in Christ. God means what He says when He commands all men to forsake sin and believe in the gospel. He does not play games. Several remarks must be added to this.

Historically, the Reformed churches have always made a distinction between the will of God’s command and the will of God’s decree. The doctrine of election and reprobation belongs to the will of God’s decree; the will of God’s command is that all men forsake their sin and believe in Christ. Yet the will of God’s command is related to the will of His decree, for the will of His command is the means God uses to execute the will of His decree of reprobation so that reprobation is accomplished by God in the way of wicked man’s rejection of the gospel. The doctrine of a well-meant offer to all, rooted in an alleged divine desire to save everybody, has crowded out the doctrine of sovereign double predestination. This refusal to believe the truth of divine predestination is not only rooted in its inherent conflict with the idea of a well-meant offer, but historically those who hold tenaciously to a well-meant offer of the gospel have denied, or ended up denying, double predestination.

Such has been the nature of the preaching of the gospel throughout history—even in the Old Testament times. Even then, the gospel always came with the command to forsake sin and believe the promise of God that He would send the Seed of the woman, Jesus Christ.

And so God has worked through the ages. The gospel was preached to the organism of the nation of Israel, including elect and reprobate. The gospel was always the same: it included an urgent command to all who heard it to repent of their sins and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ—in the old dispensation to believe in the promise of the coming of Christ as the Seed of the woman. But that command, preached to the organism of the nation, came to the elect as well as the reprobate, for the elect had to repent and believe the promise of Christ, as well as the reprobate. That was the command of God that came to all.

But along with that command came also the promise that whoever believed in Christ would receive eternal life in Him. That promise too came to all who heard the gospel. Those who rejected God’s command and scorned His promise were damned; those who believed the promise, forsook their sin and repented were saved.

So it is also in the new dispensation. In the organism of the church, this is always the command of the gospel: repent and believe! Never is that gospel to be reduced to a mere loving offer to all men absolutely, for that is a caricature of the gospel, and does terrible despite to the only true and sovereign God.

From God‘s point of view, the true preaching of the gospel that I have described is the means He uses to accomplish His purpose of election and reprobation, for the gospel is “the power of God unto salvation” to all who believe (Rom. 1:16). God gives the gift of faith to His elect whom He knows eternally as His own (John 17:9). Whereas, He hardens the reprobate who reject the gospel and mock His command to repent.

God works in this way because He does not treat men as robots, so that the elect believe because God pushes the right button. My minister used to say that God does not take the elect to heaven in the top bunk of a Pullman sleeper. He works in them so that they actually do believe. Nor does God work in the reprobate in such a way that they reject the gospel because God compels them to reject it. Adam was created capable of doing all the things that God commanded him, but he rebelled and now his descendants show their wicked rebellion by turning their backs on Jehovah and remaining in the slime of sin.

The figure that Scripture uses to explain this truth is found in Isaiah 55:10-11 and Hebrews 6:7-8. It is the figure of rain that falls on the earth, and waters both herbs and weeds. The rain is responsible for the herbs bearing food and it is responsible for the growth of the weeds so that they manifest themselves as weeds. The same is true of our Lord’s teaching in the parable of the four kinds of soil, and the parable of the wheat and tares (Matt. 13:3-30, 36-43).

Yet it must also be remembered that the gospel is preached to an organism, whether a nation, a church or a family. Hence, in John 15:1-8, Jesus compares the nation of Israel to branches. Christ Himself is the vine and God is the husbandman. There are branches in the vine that bear fruit and there are branches that do not bear fruit. The latter are those who do not turn from their wicked way (in Jesus’ day, particularly worshipping God in outward and formal law-keeping to gain salvation by the works of the law). The former are those who confess that only by faith in Christ can they be saved (in Jesus’ day, Nicodemus, the Marys, the disciples, the thief on the cross, etc.). Prof. Hanko


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Comprising 37 meditations, this book addresses the theme of struggle and suffering in the life of every believer as a pilgrim in this world.


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9 lectures and 2 sermons covering important aspects of eschatology, such as the great apostasy, dispensationalism, antichrist and the final judgment. 

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This Week's PRC and Sister-Church News, March 29 - April 5, 2020 (Updated)

Nahum1 7Today, March 29, is the thirteenth Lord's Day of 2020; we may note the following news and information concerning PRC congregations, the Seminary, sister churches, and mission fields.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

And nothing creates perspective on our troubles more than the thought of Jesus hanging on his cross in the pitch blackness. The thought has often come to me in the last week or so of the isolation Jesus felt on the cross. We are feeling something of the isolation of quarantine and social distancing. Now it is to the point where we cannot even see our friends and family on a regular basis, apart from those who live in our homes with us. And yet we know our friends and family still love us and want to have contact with us when circumstances change. We can look hopefully ahead to a day a few weeks from now (the Lord willing!) when we can once again meet in the Lord's house together on the Sabbath Day. We can dial up a friend on our phone and hear his voice, or send an email to mom.

But Christ was alone. Utterly alone. He was forsaken by the crowds who used to follow him. He was forsaken by his disciples. He was forsaken by Peter. He was forsaken by the nation of Judah. He was forsaken by the world. He was forsaken even by his own Father. He was alone not because of quarantine. He was alone because he was rejected. In his rejection, he hung suspended between heaven and earth with iron spikes piercing his hands and feet. And yet the agony of the crucifixion was nothing comparing to the anguish of hell which rushed upon him in all its horrifying force in the darkness. Maybe today you are sitting in your home alone, but still with access to friends and family by technology, and still with access to God by faith. Think of Christ who was alone. We dare not even attempt to imagine what utter loneliness prompted him to cry out with these words - "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?" Psalm 22:1.

Again, the point is not to minimize our suffering, but to encourage us in the midst of it. Jesus was totally forsaken and rejected for your sake. You, now, can endure a short period of isolation and quarantine with patience for his sake. And you can even sing in the midst of it all, these words from Psalter 329, "Affliction has been for my profit; That I to Thy statutes might hold; Thy law to my soul is more precious; Than thousands of silver and gold." (Rev. J. Holstege in a pastoral letter to Zion PRC this past week)

CONGREGATIONAL NEWS:

  • The significant news this Sunday continues to be the impact of the pandemic coronavirus on the PRC congregations, sister churches, and mission fields. The Lord in His wise providential plan and hand has humbled us and the peoples of this world, that we may realize how frail we are, that we may see how dreadful our sin is that brought such disease and death into the world, but also that we may find anew our total help in God and our only hope of salvation in His Son, Jesus Christ. By God's grace may we humble ourselves before the Lord our God, hear His Word, and find peace and comfort in our Savior.

    Most of our congregations are not holding services today; some of our pastors are pre-recording or live-streaming sermons, songs, and prayers. Some members of our sister churches are under quaratine and forbidden to gather; our missionaries in the Philippines are limited in their travels and therefore in their labors; the saints in India are in lockdown. As we honor our local, state, and federal governments and submit to their mandates at this time, let us also thank and praise our God for the means we have to receive His Word and to stay connected as members of Christ's body, as well as for the constant access we have to His throne of grace.

    But the salvation of the righteous is of the LORD: he is their strength in the time of trouble. And the LORD shall help them, and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him. Psalm 37:39,40

  • Rev. J. Engelsma (Doon PRC) is considering calls from Cornerstone PRC (Dyer, IN) and Kalamazoo (MI) PRC. Today he announced his decline of both calls.

  • On March 22 the congregation of Providence PRC voted to extend a call to Rev. M. McGeown (Limerick, Ireland mission).

  • The Consistory of First PRC, Edmonton has formed a new trio from which to call a new pastor: Rev J. Engelsma (Doon PRC), Rev. J. Laning (Hull PRC), and Rev. M. Vanderwal (Wingham PRC). The congregation is to vote today. *Rev. J. Laning has received this call.

  • The Council of Unity PRC formed the following trio from which to call her first pastor: Revs. E.Guichelaar (Randolph PRC), J. Mahtani (Grandville PRC), and C. Spronk (Faith PRC). A congregational meeting is scheduled for April 15.

  • The Council of Hope PRC (Grand Rapids, MI) has formed a trio consisting of Rev. C. Griess (First PRC-GR, Rev. J. Mahtani (Grandville PRC), and Rev. C. Spronk (Faith PRC).

  • "First Protestant Reformed Church of Edmonton has released their pastor, Rev. John Marcus, under Article 11 of the Church Order with the concurrence of Classis West and the synodical delegates. Rev. Marcus is now available for call within the Protestant Reformed Churches."

  • "The Council of Grandville Protestant Reformed Church has been informed by Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church that they have received a rejection of their last appeal with the Singapore government for an employment pass for Rev. J. Mahtani. CERC has now exhausted the appeal process with the Singapore government. In light of this information Grandville PRC announces to the churches that Rev. Mahtani is eligible for a call on April 1, 2020."

  • From Immanuel PRC's bulletin today (Lacombe, AB): After their negative experience at the border, the Bleyenbergs are uncertain as to what they should do. We have advised them to wait with any further attempt to cross the border until things settle down. Keep the Bleyenbergs in your prayers during this difficult time. As we remain separated at this time from our pastor and his wife, and from each other, may we be persuaded by the words of Romans 8:38,39: “that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

  • Did you know... that Rev. C. Hanko's book of memoirs contains his personal remembrance of the disastrous worldwide flu (Spanish influenza) of 1918-19. Hear his story as the church and her saints dealt with a great affliction in those days too:

And then, to make matters worse, the influenza epidemic hit in the winter of 1918-1919. Once more schools and churches were closed for six weeks. Almost no one went to work. Nearly every home had one or more sick with the flu. Doctors could not keep up with the calls that came in. They worked day and night. But the worst of all was that they knew no cure. They tried the usual medicines, and they tried the most caustic medicines, all to no avail. Hundreds died. Funeral services were held outside. Very few went to the cemetery.

A little girl in our neighborhood died also. Her coffin was placed by the front window for the neighbors to see. The minister preached the funeral sermon in the street.

A gloom hung over all. Everyone wondered, 'Will it strike us next?' There were some homes in which the whole family was stricken, and one home in which there were five deaths. My future mother-in-law, Mrs. Alida Griffioen, gave birth to a child in a room shut off by sheets while others in the family had the flu.

Ministers were in a quandary as to what to do. Rev. Groen was so afraid of catching the flu that he refused to visit any one. Rev. Peter Jonker Jr. of Dennis Avenue Christian Reformed Church was out almost day and night visiting the sick. He would place a ladder next to an upstairs window in order to visit someone upstairs. He wore himself out to the point where he could hardly preach. The consistory allowed him to preach old sermons for awhile.

Our family was spared. We sat at home, trying to seek a bit of entertainment amongst ourselves. But sitting home day after day can grow very wearisome. I remember walking along Wealthy Street just to get out, but the streets were void of pedestrians. The street was 'like a painted ship on a painted ocean.' [a line from a poem of Samuel T. Coleridge] It hardly seemed real. The break came on Sunday when we had our home service in the morning. To prevent further spreading of the sickness, no more than seven people were allowed to meet together; but we did invite in a few neighbors. These were times when prayer was no longer a mere formality, but a cry of the anxious soul pleading for the sick and bereaved.

As the nation struggled to deal with this public health disaster, it also had to contend with sick and crippled men returning from the front (Cornelius Hanko, Less Than the Least, 2nd ed. pp. 42-43).

DENOMINATIONAL NEWS:

PRC Contact Committee News: (repeated from last week)

First, our sister church, the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church in Northern Ireland, reports that they have decided to close the mission station in Limerick, Ireland that they had been overseeing for the past ten years. Rev. McGeown will likely stay in Limerick for the next six months and will then, the Lord willing, move to the United States. We submit this disappointment to the good Providence of God who is alone wise. Remember the saints in Limerick and Rev. McGeown in your prayers.

Second, the Singapore government is placing anyone who visits Singapore under quarantine for two weeks. This will hamper for some time the PRCA's attempts to supply CERCS' pulpit. Remember our brothers and sisters in Singapore in a time when they are without an under-shepherd and now are cut off from our help in many ways. May the Great Shepherd of the sheep care for his flock in these circumstances, as we trust He will.

Third, the government of the Philippines has restricted travel inside the country. This limits the work our missionaries are able to do in areas outside their immediate vicinity. We remain confident that in spite of this"...the word of God is not bound" 2 Timothy 2:9. May that word yet go forth in these uncertain times to the saving and strengthening of His people, and to the glory of His name.

Calvinist Conference Postponed: The Calvinist conference on the doctrine of God sponsored by several Presbyterian churches in Tennessee in April at which Prof. D. Engelsma was to speak has been postponed because of the health alarm. Likely, the conference will now be held this Fall.

KKoole chapel March 2020
Rev. K. Koole leading a recent Wednesday chapel at seminary this month

PRC Seminary News:

  • The seminary is entering its eleventh week of the second semester. Due to the latest "stay-at-home" order from our governor, the faculty and students have switched to all online classes until the restrictions are lifted. Some classes are using previously recorded videos and receiving assignments via email, while other classes are being livestreamed using Zoom. So far this has worked well and we are thankful to be able to continue in this way. The second round of practice preaching has been put on hold for the time being.

  • Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, seminary is open only for essential work at this time. No auditors or visitors should come until the restrictions are lifted. The staff can try to assist you with any needs, however. Call or email the seminary with your important needs.

  • Future Teachers and Ministers: Information for the 2020 PR Scholarship Fund essay competition is now available. Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to receive the essay topics and submission requirements. Completed essays must be submitted by May 30th. 

  • Need for Ministers: Synod 2019 took a decision to place the urgent need for seminary students before our churches. Please remember in your prayers to petition the Lord of the harvest for pastors, and please encourage young men, whom you observe to have the gifts, to consider the ministry. If you wish to listen to a couple of sermons by our professors that address this need, listen to "The (Suffering) Minister's Steadfast Confession" and "The Beautiful Feet of the Gospel Preacher."

Ephesians 2 13

Let us remember to pray for the blood-bought body of Christ throughout the world!

SISTER-CHURCH NEWS:

  • Concerning our sister church in Singapore, Covenant ERC, the following may be mentioned:
    • From her bulletin today: Today is the first time in our history that we have to worship the Lord fully online. ...We hope and pray that we can adjust to this arrangement for the time being and the Lord willing, in the near future we can worship together once again when the COVID-19 situation improves. Let us, however, be thankful that we can still worship together though many activities have to be suspended. Do pray for the spiritual well-being of all the members of the church during this trying time. Also do remember our brethren in CERCI, Kolkata who are not able to meet as they do not have the online facilities in most of their homes. Do pray that the Lord will sustain them and provide them the means to be fed with the word of God.
    • The 2020 Church Camp Committee has decided to postpone Church Camp in 2020 to December 21-24, 2020.
    • *The February 2020 newsletter - Reformed News Asia - was posted recently and may be found on this page. 
  • Concerning our sister church in Ballymena, N. Ireland, Covenant PRC,  the following may be noted:
    • From last week's bulletin: Now that we are unable to “diligently frequent the church of God” physically because of the coronavirus, we can be thankful for the good gift of God to us (or at least many of us) of the internet. We will be livestreaming from church today at the usual time: 11AM and 6PM. Go to https://cprc.co.uk/livestreaming/ to watch.
    • Sadly, the CPRC Council has decided to close our mission work, the Limerick Reformed Fellowship (LRF). After almost 10 years of having a missionary there and 6 years before that of the LRF meeting without a missionary, there has been insufficient growth. Rev. Martyn McGeown of the LRF is eligible for a call by the Protestant Reformed churches. Upon receipt and acceptance of a call, God willing, it would take some months for him to gain legal permission to work and reside in the US or Canada. This would enable him to preach and pastor the members of the LRF before they move to join the CPRC (for several of them need a similar amount of time to tidy up their affairs in Limerick before relocating), and it will provide ministry longer for those who, for various reasons, are not able to move.
    • Read the latest CPRC newsletter - February 2020!
    • Read the new February 2020 issue of the "Covenant Reformed News"!
    • Join Reformed believers from around the world at the 2020 British Reformed Fellowship family conference at Castlewellan Castle in Northern Ireland from Saturday, July 11 to Saturday, July 18.  Our speakers, Prof. David Engelsma and Rev. Andy Lanning, will lecture on "Union with Christ".  For information see the website http://brfconference.weebly.com or contact Briana Prins at 616-214-2779;  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Rooms are filling quickly, so complete your booking form today!
  • Concerning the PRC in the Philippines, the following may be gleaned from the bulletins of the Berean PRC, PRC in Bulacan, Maranatha PRC, and Provident CC:
    • Congregational and Denominational News:

~ Berean PRC: Rev. V. Ibe will lead us in our worship services today via live streaming on our Facebook page. Our brothers and sisters in Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija will join us today in our worship services via Facebook live, the Lord willing.

~ Maranatha PRC: Rev. L. Trinidad will lead us in both Worship Services lvia livestream on Facebook: Maranatha Protestant Reformed Church. This is in compliance to the declaration of our President to have a self-quarantine (total lock-down) that is to stay at home to avoid contamination of that virus with other person. This will take affect in the wholeIsland of the Philippines from March 15 to April 12, 2020.

~ Provident PRC: Like last Sunday, we are not able to gather at church again today. May our gracious God give rest to our souls as we keep the Sabbath day holy in our homes. The elders have sent links to two worship services of Zion PRC (Rev. J. Holstege), one for the morning and one for the evening. Let us watch them in our homes with our families and participate with our voices by singing. Let us set aside our offerings for general fund and benevolence, as we are able, to bring them to church after the enhanced community quarantine.

~ The most recent mission newsletter (January 2020) was published and distributed in February.

~ And for more on the life and work of our "sisters" in the Far East read the news under Philippine missions.

  • The PRC also has a "corresponding relationship" with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) of Australia. We remember these brothers and sisters in our prayers and labors also.

john 15 13 1

Do you think you too great a sinner to be saved by the blood of Jesus? Is it too late for you to be redeemed? Read this resource to learn more.

SPECIAL NOTICES:

  • With many PRC members and fellow saints worshipping at home due to the present pandemic, the entire collection of Psalm Choir videos is a valuable resource. You may find the playlists on YouTube here. Also, all volumes of the Psalm Choir CDs are being available FREE during this time. These too can be used for family or personal devotions, as well as for personal comfort and peace in seasons of fear and distress.
  • The Reformed Book Outlet will be closed through April 4 for the safety of our volunteers. If you need to place an order or have questions, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We will not be answering the phone. Thank you.

  • Are you looking for good Reformed literature and a solid Reformed and biblical magazine? Visit the Reformed Free Publishing Association's website (www.rfpa.org), where you will find information on books in all major Christian categories, as well as on the bi-monthly periodical, the Standard Bearer.

  • Would you like to learn more about the PRC and her doctrines and practices? Are you in need of some pamphlets and/or articles published by the PRC for use in evangelism and/or witnessing? Visit the PRCA Evangelism page for a complete list of materials available in digital format or by order from the publishing church.

RWH Logo 2019

  • Llisten to the Reformed Witness Hour each Sunday - on a radio station near you or on Sermonaudio wherever you are!
    • Continuing this month, Rev. R. Kleyn (Covenant of Grace PRC in Spokane, WA) is delivering a series on prayer, with today's message titled "The Certainty of Prayer" based on Matthew 6:13. Listen to the broadcast on the station near you or visit the links provided here to listen to this program.
    • From the Reformed Witness Hour Committee:

~ The Reformed Witness Hour Committee wishes to remind everyone that you can receive their bi-monthly newsletter via email simply by signing up at http://eepurl.com/gikNsL.  Each newsletter contains information about places around our globe where the RWH is downloaded; news about the RWH’s witness on the radio and via the internet, printed booklet, and CD and links to many popular and relevant RWH messages.

~ A Spanish edition of the RWH has been produced and may be found on this YouTube channel (PRC Espanol). Why not check it out - and help spread the word!

 young peoples convention header 2020

ESPECIALLY FOR PRC Young People and Young Adults:

  • 2020 PRYP's Convention News! Registration for the 2020 Young People’s Convention opened on Monday, March 16!
  • Young Men's Conference - Young men of High School and College age, please plan to attend the GPRC Young Men’s Conference, with the theme of "Run, Fight, Lead!", on Saturday morning, April 25, from 8 am-12:00 pm, at Georgetown Protestant Reformed Church. Breakfast is included! Don’t wait, register today!  For more details and to register please visit georgetownprc.org/runfightlead

  • Future Teachers and Ministers: Information for the 2020 PR Scholarship Fund essay competition is now available. Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to receive the essay topics and submission requirements. Completed essays must be submitted by May 30th. 

  • The Western Young People's Retreat, hosted by the Lynden and Spokane Young Peoples, will be held July 14-17, 2020, at Camp Sanders in N. Idaho.  This is a retreat for Young People ages 13-18 (going into 9th-12th grade).  More information and registration will be available in March. Contact Rev. Kleyn at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have any questions.

Mark1615 1

PRC MISSION NEWS:

Domestic Labors:

  • Remember in prayer our home missionary, Rev. A. Spriensma, who continues to labor in the West Michigan area and beyond through Byron Center PRC, the calling church.
  • Limerick Reformed Fellowship News:
    • Rev. M. McGeown led the services today.
    • (From the PRC Contact Commitee) Our sister church, the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church in Northern Ireland, reports that they have decided to close the mission station in Limerick, Ireland that they had been overseeing for the past ten years. Rev. McGeown will likely stay in Limerick for the next six months and will then, the Lord willing, move to the United States. We submit this disappointment to the good providence of God who is alone wise. Remember the saints in Limerick and Rev. McGeown in your prayers.

Philippine Missions:

  • Berean PRC News: This congregation continues to work in Gabaldon, Nueve Ecija (the saints join Berean PRC services via livestream).
  • Provident PRC News: The trip of our two missionaries Rev. D. Kleyn and Rev. R. Smit to Canturay Church and Inayawan Church, Sipalay, Negros Occ. to preach and teach to the two congregations is cancelled due to the Community Quarantine from March 15 to April 12, 2020. Let us remember to pray for their missionary work.
  • The newest Philippines mission newsletter has been published and posted! The January 2020 issue may be read here.
  • For more on life and activities in the Philippines from the personal perspective of the missionary's, visit the Kleyn's blog, the Holstege's, and the Smits!

We remember in prayer the needs of these busy pastors and missionaries in the Philippines, especially in these difficult days of quarantine. May the Lord of the harvest give them grace to be faithful and encouraged in all their labors.

India:

  • Let us pray for our sister church's work (Covenant ERC in Singapore) in Kolkata, through Rev. E. Singh. In the CERC's bulletin today was this notice about the work there: Also do remember our brethren in CERCI, Kolkata who are not able to meet as they do not have the online facilities in most of their homes. Do pray that the Lord will sustain them and provide them the means to be fed with the word of God.

Myanmar:

  • We also remember Hope PRC's (Grand Rapids, MI) support of and involvement with Rev. Titus' work in Myanmar; for his latest report, visit this page.
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