GCI Update

Forward together, through prayer

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As you know, I often close my Weekly Update letter with the reminder that prayer is the battleground where we fight the good fight of faith. It is through prayer – both individually and corporately – that we go forward, together.

There are many ways to pray of course, but not many of them are in tune with what Christian prayer is all about. There is an old saying that goes, “Moses supposes his toeses are roses, but Moses supposes amiss.” Just the fact that we believe something or have always done something in a certain way, does not make that thing true or right. Many prayers are focused on people’s selfish wants and desires, not on the things God has shown us are important. How many people pray for the fruit of the Spirit, for example. How many people pray for the welfare and blessing of their enemies? How many prayers are focused primarily on giving thanks? On the other hand, how many prayers are focused on winning a game, winning a lottery prize, getting the car or house we have our eye on, or on getting someone else to do or see things our way? The Bible says, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3).

The kinds of prayers that Christians pray have to do with Jesus command that we love one another (John 13:34-35). We pray for not merely for things, but for one another, because the primary thing Jesus has given us to do as his disciples is to care about, build up, encourage, strengthen, forgive, serve, and in any other way we can, to love one another.

That is why our prayers are focused on seeking God’s will, because God’s will is that we love one another. Through prayer, we listen to God as well as talk with God. In prayer our hearts and minds are intertwined with his, allowing us to discern more clearly his will and purpose. A good way to pray is to pray through a passage, listening to what God may have to say to us through the passage and talking to him about it.

Using the prayer requests and updates in this publication is one way we can pray for one another, which strengthens our relationships with each other in Jesus. It is another way we can participate in his command that we love one another.

I am so grateful for the concern and love that all of you have for your brothers and sisters around the world, and I know that translates into much prayer. In addition to the prayer requests in the Weekly Update, we can also read stories about the many things God is doing in our fellowship around the world, then take what we learn to God in thanksgiving for his continuing guidance and ongoing provision. It is a way to participate together in what God is doing throughout the world, and more than that, it is a concrete way that we can take part in the love for one another that Jesus wants us to have.

As we learn more about our brothers and sisters around the world we have opportunity to give thanks for the many gifts that he bestows on his children. One of those gifts is the gift of music that God has given to Juan Carlos, the son of Hector Barrero, our national director in Columbia. To listen to a song that was written and performed by this talented young man, go to http://www.youtube.com/user/IIIBARREROIII#p/a/u/0/G_QCrf0MdBs.

Until next time, may you and your family hear and dance to the music of God’s grace!

In Jesus’s love,

Joseph Tkach

SEP UK report

SEP UK was held for two weeks this August in the stunning environment of Loch Lomond, Scotland. Despite torrential rains, the nearly 100 campers displayed a relentless positive energy. Almost a third of the campers had never been to SEP before. For the first time in recent memory, there was a surplus of staff applications.

Sixteen camp activities included archery, riflery and sailing. New this year was a community outreach project undertaken by the trainee staff. The team refurbished the garden areas of the school in the local village, Milton of Buchannan – this was greatly appreciated by the people in the local community some of whom visited SEP for the first time. Many commented that they had often wondered what happened at the camp by the Loch but had never before had the opportunity to come and find out.

Christian Living classes addressed questions about human life. The final worship service of camp brought everything back to the personal and God’s desire to be involved in each individual’s life. A clear presentation of this universal message was augmented by a moving and impactful ‘cardboard testimony’ from about 30 members of staff. On one side the staff members held up a brief statement of their life before God’s involvement in their lives and then flipped it over to describe in a few words how their lives have been transformed. On the last evening of camp everyone enjoyed a wonderful final banquet.

Irish ordinations

The highlight of this year’s Irish Autumn Harvest Festival (held Sept. 11-17), was the ordination of two members of GCI’s churches in Ireland. James Henderson (director for GCI in the UK) was accompanied by Anthony Goudie and Irish Deacons and Deaconesses in ordaining James Joseph (Joe) Casey as an elder (first picture) and Alando (Alan) Bata as a deacon (second picture).

Joe has been a deacon in the Limerick Congregation in the south of Ireland for a number of years. He is also an active member of their pastoral council. Alan and his wife Fe are Filipino members of the Dublin Congregation. Alan recently became an Irish citizen.

In the ordination ceremony, James Henderson (at right in both pictures) spoke briefly about ordination and the roles of deacon and elder as outlined in Scripture. Both men were asked if they would accept their respective roles, to which they agreed. After prayer both men were anointed with oil as a reminder of the presence of the Holy Spirit, and hands laid on them as a symbol of separation to serve. The members of the Irish churches (along with some visiting festival guests) were delighted with these ordinations, and wished both Alan and Joe a blessed and fruitful future in service to their respective congregations.

On mission in Malawi

Kayla Shallenberger and Carrie Smith, two young GCI members from the United States, are on an extended mission trip in Malawi, Africa. They are teaching at a school in Blantyre, which is operated by the GCI church there.  You can follow their progress on Kayla’s blog and Carrie’s FaceBook page.

Trip to Sri Lanka

The following report is from Mohan Jayasekara, GCI director in Sri Lanka.

Mohan Jayaskara

I am amazed at what God has done through the work of GCI in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is a tiny island with a population as large as that of Australia. It has seen the end of a bitter separatist terrorist war that plagued the island for over 25 years only two years ago. It is not an easy place to be a Christian and engage in Christian ministry. Here, GCI is registered both as a church (WCG, being changed to GCI) and as a school (Worldwide Educational Institute).

GCI has been serving Sri Lanka over the years in many meaningful ways. Though we are small, God has been with us and has graciously led and enabled us to live out our trinitarian, incarnational theology. A key moment was our response to the Boxing Day tsunami that devastated Sri Lanka in 2004. We did not simply hand out money but actively participated alongside other Christian and non-religious organizations to deliver relief and participate in reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts.

I recently returned from a challenging, yet fruitful trip to Sri Lanka. Some months ago we became aware that the Registrar of Companies was holding up our certificate to re-register as a church. Our bank account was frozen toward the middle of August because of this delay. So my first order of business was to make a visit to the Registrar with my brother Ajit who happened to know him personally. On our first visit he told us the re-registration had been approved but could not be released due to “instructions from above.” We learned that re-registration certificates for churches are released only on instruction from the Minister for Religious Affairs. That evening Ajit and I spoke to the Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce (we had both played cricket with him for St. Thomas). To cut a long story short, we had our certificate in short order! During the time I was there, we filled preliminary forms to change our name to “Grace Communion International (Pvt) Limited.”

Seminary faculty with Mohan (at center in back row)

The Calvary Church Seminary began operations in our building this month. Tissa Weerasinghe invited me to help. I shared teaching resources with them for graduate classes. They asked to put our Tamil and Sinhala translation of the “Discipleship” book and the English, Sinhala and Tamil translations of “God revealed in Jesus Christ” booklet in their bookshop at their Colombo headquarters. Also, I was invited to speak at their Colombo headquarters church with about 750 in attendance. Later that day I had an inspiring gathering with 12 GCI members in Nugegoda (a suburb of Colombo) in my daughter Niranga’s home. This group meets once in two weeks for study, prayer and fellowship.

Also on this trip we visited 11 refugees from Pakistan being cared for by the Foursquare Gospel Church Pastor in Moratuwa (south of Colombo). We spent time praying with them and encouraging them. I also spent time at the Colombo Theological Seminary on the invitation of Professor Vinodh Gunasekera lecturing to the class “Foundations for Faith” and “Introduction to Doctrine.” These two classes are the ones for which the GCI book on discipleship is a required text.

I am humbled and amazed at the favor shown our denomination, including these invitations to participate in meaningful ways in what God is doing in Sri Lanka through the greater body of Christ. Thanks and glory be to God for the calling to this ministry and the gift of participating in his work.

– Mohan







October Equipper

The new Equipper discusses being missional churches. It features the following video on reaching out with God’s love to the unchurched community.

Seminar in Phoenix

Thirty-one people representing five congregations gathered in Phoenix, AZ for a Ministry Development training presented by Ted Johnston to the SW GCI District (Nevada/Arizona/New Mexico). The two Phoenix congregations hosted the event.

Ted (pictured at left) presented the seminar, “Becoming a Missional Church.” He challenged us to participate in the Father’s mission through Jesus’ ministry by the power of the Holy Spirit. We all went home encouraged to reach out to our communities in more effective ways.

– Glen Weber, district pastor


Dishon Mills sermon

Here is a sermon from Dishon Mills, the GCI church planter who is forming a team to start The Redeemed of Christ Church (ROCC), a new GCI church located in Randolph, MA (near Boston).

The sermon, titled Living on Mission with God, examines our calling to participate in God’s mission, and what that looks like in ROCC. The sermon may be downloaded from Vimeo (click on the icon on the image below) and then shown in worship services or a Bible study.

Marj Friddle

The following praise report is from Marj Friddle.

Dear family and friends,

I have very good news. The wound (staph infected area) is now totally healed much to the surprise of the nurse who came today. It healed in three weeks, though I was told it usually takes at least four to six weeks. We know this is an answer to prayer. The liquid antibiotics were completed last Wednesday and the line removed from my arm. I have been on oral antibiotics for six days and have four more days to go and then I will be finished. I will be really happy to get off of the strong antibiotics that have been required. My lab tests came back good yesterday – no elevation in white cell count – no indication of infection.

We are SO THANKFUL AND GRATEFUL for the MANY cards (68 at last count), numerous e-mails and phone calls that we have received. Our friends and family have been wonderful with their prayers and love for us. We DEEPLY APPRECIATE all the prayers, not only for me, but also for Jim. Our son, Nathan, was here for two weeks and that was a huge help. I still have to take it easy – there is lots of soreness in my abdomen, which will take time to go away. I feel so amazingly blessed that the cancer had not spread and that it was on the right side of my colon so I didn’t have to have a colostomy.

We send our deepest thanks to all of you and are VERY THANKFUL to have you in our lives.

-Marj Friddle

Karen Torgerson

The following update on Karen is from Doug Johannsen.

Betty and I visited Karen this week. We found her in a regular room. She will probably be sent home later this week. Her breathing appears to have returned to the level it was before this episode. Karen asked that I express her heartfelt thanks for all the prayers on her behalf. She said she will never look at prayer requests for others the same way again. We could also see a great reduction in the strain and worry that had been on her husband John’s face.