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May 25, 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Joplin, Missouri, Pastor Jim Kissee reported:

I visited the members in Joplin yesterday. All the members are okay though understandably they’re nervous about the weather. Except for chainsaws and clean up noise, the lack of connection (radio, TV, electricity) for the elderly and disabled is like a bygone time. Words and even pictures cannot portray the reality. Front porches, bedrooms, years of life, cars all disassembled and left in a huge pile like brush. While not far away from these “brush piles” the evidence of life was vacuumed from the scene to who knows where. In the midst of unrecognizable places people are sitting in the rubble not knowing where to start, and a few blocks away others are searching frantically on an almost barren location hoping to find a few memories to give hope to the future.

I drove through backstreets to within a block of a member’s home north of the tornado touchdown point where the only evidence of a nearby disaster was the national guard and police directing traffic on the main roads into the devastated area. Trees were standing with leaves and bark while just a few blocks away you view the national news iconic St. John’s Hospital with land denuded all around. And a few blocks on the south side of St. John’s, the campus of the other major hospital stands as it did on Sunday before the tornado hit.

When I got home my daughter had heard from a former AC student and classmate of hers that her parents lost their home and three of her cousins lost homes as well. On Sunday a huge double rainbow (filmed for national news) followed the storm track from Joplin to the east, eventually reaching our home 80 miles away. Though sadness prevails, hope, like this rainbow, is rising.

Thankfully, all the members are well, though all the members know or have friends who suffered severe loss and even ultimate loss. If anyone wishes to send encouragement to Kathy Bettes whose home suffered damage within view of St. John’s on the south side, or to Don and Shirley Hass, who suffered damage to their property and lived just northwest of St. John’s, or for Gerald and Gloria Ambrosius, whose home was in the direct path of the tornado at the east end and was destroyed after nearly a half century of living there, please send cards, for now, to the church address and we’ll be sure they are delivered. All the Joplin members and especially those directly affected thank you for your prayers.

PO Box 611
Joplin, MO 64802

We are in contact with Pastor Kissee regarding emergency needs so the GCI Disaster Emergency Fund will be used as needed. If your congregation would like to donate to help members recover from this or future disasters please send donations to the GCI Disaster Relief Fund. This fund has been established so we can respond with help for costs of emergency member needs in the wake of such disasters. These costs include such items as food, water, clothing, and temporary housing, as well as temporary local pastoral salary expenses and other emergency local church expenses. The fund is generally coordinated by pastors in the affected areas working with the Treasurer’s Office in Glendora. Since Grace Communion International is a non-profit organization, donations to the Disaster Relief Fund are tax-deductible in the United States.

Donations can be made online at our website at www.gci.org, or for those who would prefer to mail a check, the address is:

Disaster Relief Fund
Grace Communion International
PO Box 5005
Glendora, CA 91740

Oklahoma City

Pastor Mike Rasmussen in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma reported that members and property are safe after a tornado came within one mile of their church building and two miles of the Rasmussen home. About 60,000 people are currently without power in the area.

The Oklahoma GCI Crosswalk camp starts this weekend, so Mike is asking that we pray for good weather.

Northeast U.S. Conference

At the GCI regional conference in Parsippany, New Jersey, we had the joy of witnessing the ordination of GCI church planter Dishon Mills. A video of the ordination can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-z2kHehwiM. Dishon and his wife, Afrika, are in the process of planting a new GCI congregation in Randolph, Massachusetts (near Boston). We thank God for Dishon and Afrika and are praying for their journey in ministry with Jesus.


Anthony Dady

United Kingdom

Congratulations to UK elder Anthony Dady, who was elected May 5 to be a councilor in Corby, the town where he lives. Councilor Dady sees this as an exciting development in his community ministry, where he is already active in many initiatives designed to share the love of Jesus with local residents.


Over the weekend of May 6-8, the Grenada church held a spiritual formation retreat with 15 of its members. Spiritual directors for the weekend were Larry Hinkle, and Charles and Carmen Fleming.

Larry, who pastors GCI congregations in North Broward and Port St. Lucie, Florida, is developing a spiritual formation retreat model. The retreat was designed to bring us into a greater awareness of God’s loving presence through a wide range of spiritual formation exercises.

Attendees appreciated being able to experience the presence of God in this way, and they want to make this retreat an annual event for their congregation.


Southern Africa

From South Africa National Director Tim Maguire:

I would like to update you on my trip to Mozambique over the Easter weekend. As you probably know, GCI Canada had very kindly sponsored a pastoral training long weekend to allow Caleb Makhela and me, along with a visitor/translator from GCI-Portugal, Daniel Fernandes, to ground them in basic theology and train the Mozambique pastors in GCI theology.

I collected Daniel from the airport at 6 a.m. on the Wednesday before Easter and left straight away for Louis Trichardt, where we picked up Caleb, then on to Mutare in Zimbabwe, where we slept over at the Govas’ home, one of our Zimbabwean pastors.

Travelling in Africa is never easy, as Daniel found out at the Beitbridge border-post. We stood in queues for about five hours on the Zimbabwe side, and Daniel was greeted with his first African sunset as we were finally ready to drive into Zimbabwe. He took out his camera and snapped two pictures of trees with the sun setting behind them. Unfortunately, we were still in a restricted area where cameras were not allowed, and the Zimbabwe CID pounced, arresting him on the spot. They took him into a back room, confiscated his passport and camera and told him he would have to appear before a magistrate the next day.

I realised what they were really after when the Zimbabweans started rubbing thumb and forefinger together in the universal sign language of money! On telling them we were pastors and were unwilling to pay any sort of bribe, and threatening to phone the Portuguese Embassy, they made Daniel delete the pictures and we were on our way again, arriving at Pastor Gova’s home after midnight.

We left Mutare the next morning, eventually arriving in Morrumbala in northern Mozambique just before midnight on Thursday. Most of the conference attendees had already arrived and were dancing the night away in praise and worship. After a warm and touching welcome, we crept off to our hut to sleep. The music and dancing continued into the early hours of the morning.

Only the next morning did we realise that instead of the 54 delegates we were expecting, more than 350 had arrived! They had brought their reed mats with them and most were sleeping under the stars, without even blankets to keep them warm. What a humbling experience to see this thirst and sacrifice for God’s word.



We also discovered that since my last visit in September 2010, no longer were there just 54 congregations, but 87. Another 33 churches had been raised up in just six months!

The next four days were spent in fellowship, song, praise and teaching. They hungrily drank in and accepted the good news we were blessed to bring them. On Sunday I had one of the most moving experiences of my life when we formalized the affiliation process and welcomed our brothers and sisters from Mozambique into the GCI fellowship. We then took communion with them, which was a first-time experience for most.



Please remember to pray for Mozambique. The challenges these people face are many. Disease is rife. The average life expectancy is at least 20 years below the world average. It is one of the poorest countries in the world. We now have about 2500 members there, not one of which is employed or has any means of income. They are all subsistence farmers and live day to day, hand to mouth, scratching a living out of the harsh African soil. Yet they are filled with joy and the fruit of the Spirit, a humbling lesson to us all. I have attached a few pictures of the trip.





Prayer Requests and Updates

Andrew McArthur

Pastor Andrew McArthur from Living Hope Family Fellowship in Hillsdale, New Jersey passed away on May 16, 2011. He leaves behind his wife, Falisa Evett, and three children Elyse, Evan, and Everett. He will be greatly missed by all his friends and family.

Cards may be sent to:
411 Harrison Ave. Apt.3
Garfield, NJ 07026

Cora Guice

GCI board member, Frank Guice, shared this request regarding his wife, Cora:

Cora would like for the church to join her in prayer for healing of her neck, right shoulder and arm areas. She fell about two months ago, but we are not sure that is the actual cause of the pain and other symptoms.

On May 15, she needed to go to Urgent Care, and since that time the pain worsened with spasms, swelling, numbness, tremors and tingling in her arm and hands with cold sensation. She had an MRI on her neck today, May 25, and will have another MRI on her arm tomorrow.

Cora appreciates your sharing of love and concern.

Cards may be sent to:
7411 Juneau Ln
Fontana, CA 92336-0717

Jim Meade

Robert Meade, manager of our accounting department in Glendora, updated us about the condition of his father, Jim Meade, who is pastor of the GCI congregation in Port Huron, Michigan. Jim had a successful surgery Monday for his heart blockages. Robert wrote, “He had three stents put in, and by that afternoon he was talking, joking and eating! He was released from the hospital Wednesday morning, and is now home recovering. After the surgery, the surgeon said the blood flow through the heart was at about 70 percent (up from less than 10 percent). Once he has sufficiently recovered, he will need to go back in about six weeks for another set of stents to get the blood flowing at 100 percent. Also, his blood pressure is kind of high, so they are hoping that comes down to a normal level as well. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers for him and his wife, Kim.”

Patsy Ross

Pastor John Ross informs us that his wife is continuing to have consistent pain, recently had neck surgery, and will be consulting to have future surgery. Pastor Ross would appreciate our prayers.

Cards may be sent to:
Mrs. Patsy Dezell Ross
1204 Glendale Cir
Greenwood, MS 38930-7203

Dave Fiedler

It has been a while since I could give you anything definitive on my eye. I had a checkup with the surgeon last week and she said the retina is holding. She said that I should come back in July to see about trying to remove the oil again, and then have a lens implant. She understands my reticence about that, because when we tried it in February, my eye pressure went down to zero and the retina re-detached. I asked about trying a contact or aphakic lens first to see what kind of vision I could get back. She thought that was a reasonable idea. So yesterday I went to an optometrist and after an hour of tests and trying different lens, we’ve concluded that my vision can’t be improved enough to even begin working with my good eye. Looks like I’m stuck with being the one-eyed “cyclops” for the remainder of my life. I don’t think I’ll have the oil removed again (risking another detachment) unless I go blind in my good eye. I can still drive, golf, fish, and see my beautiful wife and grandkids, so life is good!

Cards may be sent to:
20389 Strawline Road
Bend, OR 97702

Don Lawson sent good news about Sue’s treatment progress:

After 46 days at USC Norris Cancer Center, Sue is finally home! She was in protective isolation, and on two kinds of chemo for 40 days. She will now be going in for outpatient chemo five days per week, four weeks on and two weeks off. This will last for six months to a year. They have pronounced her in remission, which does not mean cancer free. They have to continue treatment to make sure they got all the cancer cells. We are very thankful she is home, and she wants to say thank you for all the prayers and cards. Sue loved the cards, and the doctors and nurses could not believe she got cards from all over the world. We taped them to the walls in her room, and they covered most of the room. I stayed with her most of the time and was able to relate our experience of coming out of legalism into the grace of God to the hospital chaplain. He shed a few tears of joy, and we prayed together.

Thanks so much for your thoughts, prayers and loving concern for the last 13 months!

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