GCI Update
Connecting Members & Friends of GCI
Header Banner

August 13, 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

All participants
All participants

John Torgerson, GCI pastor of our Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, church, sent this report about initiating a Sports Stacking ministry. Sports Stacking is for ages 5 to 100 – even Pastor John participates. He says he is within 2.5 seconds of the Senior level world’s record! He wrote:

On Sunday, August 2, we held the first Tournament and Awards banquet attended by the participants, their families, and a number of regular church members who stayed for the afternoon. The ministry began through the efforts of Dan Gezzi, who moved into our church area last year. Our intent was to offer a new youth activity in our community. Through this ministry we have had contacts with five children and their families – contacts that we would not likely have made any other way. So far we have 8 participants in Sports Stacking – three children and five adults. Those who are unfamiliar with Sports Stacking can check out the feature article from our local newspaper on the ministry at http://www.dellsgrace.org/Stacking.pdf

Dells Celebration 2009

From Doug Johannsen:

You’re all invited to our annual Dells Celebration at the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells, WI, from September 17, through 20, 2009. Our theme this year is “From Exclusion to Inclusion.” Join us on this four-day journey as we examine four major areas of life where people are commonly unjustly excluded and learn practical ways to include all.

Step 1: Reserve your room at the Kalahari by Monday, August 16, 2009. The Kalahari is the premier family resort in the Dells featuring the world’s largest indoor water park and new theme park. Phone 1-877-525-2427 for reservations.

  • HUT— $109 per night plus tax, 1-4 people only
  • LODGE SUITE – $129 per night plus tax, 1-4 people only
  • COMBINATION SUITE (lodge and hut) —$238 per night plus tax—sleeps up to 8 people
  • VILLAGE (lodge and two adjoining huts)—$347 per night plus tax—sleeps up to 12 people

You must call the Kalahari Resort no later than August 16th to reserve your room. After August 16, the low prices we’ve negotiated will no longer be available! Let the reservation personnel know you are with the Worldwide Church of God/Grace Communion International. The Kalahari reservation number is: 1-877-525-2427.

You may also book your room online:
First, go to: https://res.kalahariresort.com/V1Web/GroupComments.aspx
Then enter:

  • Group ID 10646
  • Password: 244
  • Contact Password (Optional): leave this blank
  • Click on “Make Reservation” and follow the prompts.

Step 2: Register with Grace Communion International/Worldwide Church of God HQ online at: www.wcg.org/go/wisconsin. Follow the prompts and pay with your credit card.

Or you may download a registration form, fill it out and mail your registration with a check to: Grace Communion International, PO Box 5005, Glendora CA 91740-5005

Or if you do not have Internet access, contact Dells Coordinator Doug Johannsen by phone (763-576-1086) or by mail: 14210 Uranium St NW, Ramsey, MN 55303, and he will mail the forms to you.

Step 3: Come celebrate Jesus with your family and friends. Enjoy good food and many other activities! (By the way, the Kalahari is a very family activity oriented facility. It has a huge water park and a brand new theme park!)


From Eugene Guzon:

For years, we had only one member based in Shanghai, China. But in recent years, God has added more to that number. Most of our members in China today got to hear the good news and accept Christ as a result of relationships built by our tentmaking missionaries over the past five years. Most of the baptisms occurred two years ago. Considering the context of this “restricted access” country, we praise God for the ministry that started through the dedication and boldness of Ces, an English mentor, and the very enthusiastic response of young Chinese university students.

Over these past few years, God has been revealing himself more and more to them, as they fellowshipped, studied the word, shared their lives in creative, yet fun ways – like meeting in homes and parks. There were about 12 all together, but some graduated from university and returned to their home provinces or work in the big cities. A core group still stays in the city where the university is located, and they have become teachers too. Most of them have gotten married and have started their own families.

Last year, because of increasing pressure from school authorities, our tentmaker-mentor had to move to another school, but the situation got even worse when a full-time monitor was assigned to watch her every move. As of now, she is strongly considering a ministry in another 10/40 window nation nearby. This situation prompted us to think of ways through which our young converts can continue to be discipled, equipped and trained for ministry. Our goal is to help these native Chinese believers to become mature Christian leaders, who in turn can serve and equip others.

Last year, I, together with one elder from California whom I invited to teach with me during a visit to China, commissioned a leadership team of three. They held the fort, and have since been meeting together with prospective believers.

Last July I again visited the members in three cities. One handicap is my inability to speak their language, and their limited ability to express themselves in English. By God’s provision, I was able to bring with me a Chinese brother whom I met several months ago in the University where I am enrolled here in the Philippines. His name is Edward. He now works in a Christian establishment in China, and he also ministers to a small group of Christians there. But he often prayed for the opportunity to minister to his home province.

He was so thankful when I invited him to join me in my recent visit, because this took him back to his home province – an answered prayer! He also got to see his parents whom he had not seen for three years because of distance and financial constraints.

Edward was effective as a translator. The participants were able to discuss issues in their heart language. Even the spouses of the brethren who do not understand English were able to better appreciate the beauty of God’s plan for them. We taught them leadership principles based on Nehemiah, did a series on parenting, and taught them how to conduct a communion service. During our four-day visit, we were able to have three communion services, with each of the three local leaders taking turns conducting the ceremony. I encouraged them to do this every week, if possible, or as often as practicable.

We also got to visit and pray for the sick mom of one of the members in another city. God granted us favor in terms of relationships built, even with the Buddhist father.

One of the highlights of our trip was the opportunity to counsel and pray for Lulu, a recent convert, and her husband, a non-believer. Lulu was baptized two years ago, and while they had a civil wedding last June 28, she asked me to pray over them and celebrate their union with former classmates and converts at the University.

Because of the need to follow-up on equipping, we are praying that we can conduct another visit this coming August, especially to train leaders on basic hermeneutics and to organize the church. It will also be an opportune time for celebration, as one of our sisters there is expecting to deliver her baby. I pray for God’s provision for this plan.

The harvest is great, and God has been truly faithful! We pray for more opportunities to participate in what he is doing in China and thank God for his abiding presence and awesome power.

UK musical evangelism

Brian Smith and Eddie McCalla
Brian Smith and Eddie McCalla

The Reconciliation DJs are two committed Christian music presenters/DJs/MCs whose motto is “unity in diversity.” They are Eddie McCalla (Scottish Jamaican) who attends the Camberwell congregation and Brian Smith (Anglo Irish) who attends the Coulsdon Community Church.

The two are both life-long jazz fans and have specialized in playing Soul, R&B, Blues, Gospel and Jazz for eating, listening and dancing for some 15 years. They are available free (expenses outside London area) for any church outreach evangelism event, but prices are reasonable for parties, birthdays, weddings, etc.

They will host the complete event if required and can advise on organization, publicity, etc. Croydon Jazz and Blues Festival 2009 sees them doing their stuff during the lunchtime sessions in North End Croydon (outside JJB Sports), alternating with a live band, on June 12-14 between 11.30am and 3.00pm. For further information see the festival website www.jazznet.co.uk

The Reconciliation DJs have their own top quality equipment, a tour bus and their passports are up-to-date, so what are you waiting for! Enquiries to: Brian Smith Reconcile@bdlrs.freeserve.co.uk or tel 0845 260 6668 or +44 (0) 1798 813133

Thailand and Singapore

From Rod Matthews:

The refugee problem along the Thai border with Myanmar is not getting better. Most of the refugees living in the camps within Thailand are ethnic Karen who have previously fled the fighting with the Burmese army inside Myanmar. In one of the camps (actually a town of about 40,000 people), our congregation of nearly 60 continues to meet for worship each week. This camp is one of about ten along Thailand’s western border with Myanmar.

The United Nations has made a more concerted effort in the last year or two to resettle refugee families overseas. In this time period, amongst our own group, two families gained approval to resettle in Australia, one in the USA and one in Norway. Unfortunately, three other families were denied approval to resettle in Australia, in spite of being guaranteed full sponsorship and resettlement assistance from various agencies including the church, and must now seek resettlement in another country.

In July, Malaysian pastor and pastoral coordinator for Thailand, Wong Mein Kong, and I made our annual visit to western Thailand to meet with our Karen pastor. We expected to find a smaller group this year. In spite of it being a Tuesday morning, we didn’t! We discovered that while the three families have moved overseas, more families have joined our group. They have come through contacts with our members including several people from another denomination who prefer our services. One man is a deacon, who is proving very helpful to our pastor, since our deacon was one of those who were approved to move overseas.

. .

There are many children there who sang beautifully for us during the service, accompanied by a guitar played by a friend who is not a member of our congregation, and who teaches the children Karen songs. I gave a short message on the love and care that God has for us in spite of our physical circumstances – which had to be translated into the Karen language as I spoke.

In spite of the UN’s resettlement program, which has managed to find new homes for more than 50,000 people in the last year, the number of refugees in the camps is no fewer. In fact, the problem has been exacerbated by the arrival of more refugees to take the empty places. Unfortunately, the new arrivals are mainly economic refugees who perceive that if they can filter in amongst the political refugees, they might get an opportunity to move to a western country. This has made the job of the camp authorities much more difficult in determining who qualifies for resettlement according to the relative danger they face “back home” in Myanmar. While it is understandable that anyone living in the poverty that afflicts so many people in Myanmar would try to find a way to move to a new home in a more prosperous country, it complicates the situation for the political refugees who have been in the camps in Thailand for decades.

During our visit to the camp, we delivered to our people two boxes of Karen hymnals and coloring books for children which had been donated by Chogait Garmolgomut, our member in Chiang Mai (Thailand) who, with his wife, now runs 11 English language and bi-lingual schools for young children in various parts of Thailand.

Many years ago, Chogait, a graduate of Ambassador University in Pasadena, returned to his native Thailand and eventually started an English language school for little children, whose parents saw the benefit in their children being bilingual, especially in what is the world’s language of business. The one school has now grown to 11, with their newest school opening its doors in Chiang Mai for the first time about two months ago when the current school year commenced. Called the Little Stars Ambassador Bilingual School (ABS), it is already a hive of activity and looking to expand in the months ahead.

Chogait and his wife, Amporn, a dedicated Christian who came to be introduced to Christ through her husband many years ago, also host and serve a church congregation in one of their schools each weekend. Recently they had to introduce two different times for services since the meeting room did not accommodate the numbers wanting to attend. Those attending come largely from school staff members and personal contacts. The value of personal example cannot be underestimated in spreading the gospel.


During the same trip, Wong Mein Kong and I travelled to Singapore for a significant event in the history of the local congregation. It was a delightful occasion to ordain Joe Zachariah an elder, and the entire congregation celebrated. Joe and his wife, Anna, have a track record of serving the church faithfully and consistently in humility and dedication. Pastor emeritus, Yong Chin Gee, who has been struggling for some years with poor health, was able to travel with several members from southern Malaysia across the causeway to Singapore to join us in the ordination ceremony. It was a great pleasure for him to take part in this milestone event with the local members numbering about 40.

Prayer Requests and Updates

Al Calame, assisting Dennis Lawrence in caring for the little flock in Plattsburgh, NY, asked for prayer for his wife, who has terminal cancer. He wrote:

I’m writing to ask you to put my wife on your prayer list. Jenny was recently diagnosed with fourth-stage gall bladder cancer, which is terminal. They gave her 3-6 months to live. They felt they could extend her life and improve the quality with some chemotherapy, so she began the first session Tuesday. That night she went into a coma. They can’t explain why and they don’t hold out much hope that she’ll even awaken, because they see evidence of oxygen deprivation in the brain, possibly from her sleep apnea. Of course, the doctors don’t know our great God and his ways. I am trusting him that what will develop will be his will and for the best, but we’ve only had 42 years together and are working on the next 42. Jenny is 62 and a loving wife, mom and grannie. Please pray that God will heal her and we can continue in service to others for many more years.

Cards may be sent to:
2862 Toupin
St. Laurent, PQ H4R1G8

Remember that prayer is the battleground where we fight the good fight of faith. Let’s encourage everyone to join together in prayer, for we belong to Christ, and by the Spirit it is in Christ that we pray. Prayer and other spiritual activities help keep our hearts in tune with God and remind us of who we are in Christ. He is our all in all, and in him we are eternally beloved of the Father and blessed to share his good news with others.

Love from my family to yours,
Joseph Tkach