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May 20, 2009

Al Barr's grandchild

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Al and Edna Barr are the proud grandparents of Jessica Isabella Victoria King, their daughter Joanna’s third child. Born May 11, Jessica weighed 7 lbs, 10 oz, and was 20½ inches long. Seven-year-old Jason and four-year-old Kayla are pictured with their new sister.

Update from Newark, New Jersey

More than 180 attended the District Conference in New Jersey with 225 in attendance on Sunday. I was overwhelmed with positive comments about how much the conference helped deepen people’s understanding of God’s love and grace.

newark1 . newark3 . newark4

Update from Africa

Kalengule Kaoma reported:ugandaleadership

From April 24-27, 2009, I visited brethren in Uganda, and I pass on to you greetings and well wishes from our two ministers there, William Othieno and Edward Kagoro, their wives, and congregational leaders.

Twenty-two congregational and ministry leaders attended the two-day conference. The conference was held at WCG’s owned and only WCG property in Tororo, Uganda. All church areas in Uganda were represented. There are six main congregations and two have the potential of becoming thriving congregations. Average weekly attendance in Uganda is 270.

Our first WCG members in East Africa are still with us: William Othieno and Eldad Owora Opio. They are both positive about the direction WCG is going. “We are behind our leader, Pastor Tkach,” they said.

tororochurchbuilding . tororouganda . ugandapastorothieno

After church services on April 25, we shared a meal to which all who attended church services were invited. Conference topics included Listening and Talking to God, Congregation Management, and A Survey of WCG doctrines.

Update from St. Louis

The following article featuring the art of Karla Reinagel, wife of pastor Karl in the St. Louis area, was recently published in the local Suburban Journal.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 10:43 AM CDT
Broken art for broken people: Ministries offer misprints of a Florissant artist’s painting as a message of hope
by Paul Thompson

Submitted photo Pictured with the painting "Hands of Transformation" are (from left) Jannice May of the Connecting and Bonding ministry; Florissant watercolor artist Carla Reinagel; Curtis May, president of Office of Racial Reconciliation ministry; and Willie Mathis, who at one time was homeless in St. Louis

Pictured with the painting “Hands of Transformation” are (from left) Jannice May of the Connecting and Bonding ministry; Florissant watercolor artist Carla Reinagel; Curtis May, president of Office of Racial Reconciliation ministry; and Willie Mathis, who at one time was homeless in St. Louis.

What began as a painting to symbolize God’s power to transform broken lives has taken on a strangely broken and transformative life of its own and for its creator, Florissant artist Carla Reinagel.

“Hands of Transformation” was commissioned by Jannice May for her California-based Christian ministry, Connecting and Bonding. The watercolor painting depicts a broken eagle cradled in Jesus’ hands, which then soars into the bright sky, healed and transformed.

For Reinagel, her eagle is the broken lives and spirits of people everywhere, which healed by loving hands and faith can be repaired.

“People can’t stay broken,” she said. “They need healing and to be transformed until they are ready to be in the world.”

The unique aspect of Reinagel’s story goes beyond the original artwork. When she had 200 postcards of parts of the painting reproduced at a Maryland Heights print shop, the artwork came out fine but the text on the back was skewed. The cards had to be remade.

But the flawed postcards donated by Will Sanford at Cam Printing, it turned out, became the perfect gift to the people precisely in need of healing. Reinagel shipped them to ministries working with homeless people and prison inmates both locally and as far away a New York, Idaho and Iowa.

The postcards, she said, have made a difference in the lives of hurting people who understand the message they convey. “They don’t care about the back; the image on the card is a little bit of hope they can carry with them, at a price they can afford – free.” Reinagel said.

“It’s very exciting to give people a little bit of hope, especially in the uncertainty of the time we live in,” she added. “There is comfort in knowing there is hope for a better future – even if you’re homeless, even if you’re in prison.”

One homeless man, Willie Mathis, now in a veteran’s recovery service called the Hero’s Program, received the first card along with a box of cards and envelopes to give to others in similar circumstances.

“This does something for me,” Reinagel recalled Mathis saying as he stood transfixed before the painting.

Similarly, the very first copy of an Iris giclee – a special printing technique – of the 16-by-20-inch limited edition prints of the painting came out flawed, a corner slightly bent. Reinagel had promised the first number to a teenage girl, a rape victim. But somehow, the flaw in the print gave it added significance. “I gave her that first rumpled little print,” she said.

Reinagel, 49, is no stranger to the brokenness of life or to homelessness. As a child living the Montana mountains where her father was a logger, her family was homeless, living in a tent, until a Christian woman’s charity helped them get established. Her own brother is homeless, living somewhere in Oregon.

Although she had wanted to be an artist since her first inspirations in grade school and high school art classes, she never pursued her dream. But in high school, she had an “epiphany” – simply that she wanted to help people. She just didn’t know how art could do that.

Not until she went through a deep depression 20 years ago, when her two sons were young, did it dawn on her that she was failing to live up to her God-given potential.

“I didn’t see how art could make a difference. I devoted myself to church. But you come to a place where just church doesn’t do it. You have to be true to who God made you to be. He made me to be an artist,” Reinagel said.

“I came from a long period of brokenness. I had no strength, and two little kids to look after,” she said. “After some soul-searching, I told my husband, ‘I want to be an artist.'” That very night, her husband, Karl – now pastor of New Creation in Christ, which meets at Westminster Christian Academy in Town and Country – bought her art supplies. Her journey as an artist began in earnest.

After working for various companies doing artwork for others, in 2007, she opened her own in-home studio, Art of Carla (http://www.artofcarla.com). Limited-edition prints and postcards of “Hands of Transformation” are available at the Chappel House Art Gallery in Florissant and Plank Road Pottery in St. Charles, as well as through her website.

She is currently working on a series of watercolors of Northern cardinals and dogwood trees for her first one-person show. As for her “Hands of Transformation,” it too will undergo a transformation of sorts this summer. Steve Boda of World Impact Ministries in St. Louis is planning to have the urban teens he works with paint their version of the painting on their building this summer.

“We all have brokenness in us. My job is to encourage people, and my art is my means to do that,” she said. “I encourage everyone to stick with their dreams.”

Remember that prayer is the battleground where we fight the good fight of faith.

Love from my family to yours,
Joseph Tkach