As I look over the list of activities and events that we update you on this week, I notice that the reports come from so many different places. When you check the various links (and see the note below concerning links) you can read about a convention we just held in Ghana, a report of a camp in the Rocky Mountains, a festival in the Philippines and a Ministerial conference in New Zealand. The sun literally never set on these activities.
It is always exciting to see the different ways our International church seizes opportunities to reflect the life and love of God, both within our own fellowship and out to the wider world. I think this is a powerful reminder that God is the God of all human kind, whoever and wherever they are. It is our privilege to be among those who represent him and reflect his love – worldwide, 24/7.
One of the ways we experience and express God’s life and love is in the bonds of marriage. Ted Johnston, who serves on the U.S. Ministry Development Team and also coordinates production of GCI Weekly Update, recently officiated at the wedding of his son Joe Johnston to Carey (Graeff) Johnston. The couple, who live and work in San Francisco, were married recently on the Pacific coast near Gualala, CA. Congratulations to Ted and his wife Donna and to Joe and Carey!
I pray that you experience God’s rich blessings of love in your family relationships, and if some of those relationships are fractured, that you will experience God’s gift of reconciliation.
Love from my family to yours,
Please note: The GCI Weekly Update email is sent to all U.S. pastors, and mission developers and national directors outside the U.S. Those whose email systems disallow active (hot) links, can access the full content of each issue (including my letter) at https://update.gci.org/.
This update is from mission developer Rod Matthews.
This summer, a conference for the GCI ministry in New Zealand was held near Wellington. It has been two years since the group met, so everyone appreciated and enjoyed this one.
Pastoral Director, Dennis Richards wisely chose to use the occasion as a time when the ministers could share their experiences and skills acquired over the years. He opened the conference discussing “Shepherds of the Flock.” Rotorua pastor, Peter Lindop, spoke on “Asking Appropriate Questions,” a valuable topic drawing on his experience as a hospital chaplain. Wellington elder, Louis Smith kept everyone enthralled with “Porirua – It’s Amazing!”, bringing out principles of community outreach based on his lengthy experience in community service in this multi-cultural city near Wellington. After an interactive discussion focused on pastoral questions and experiences, everyone left refreshed and encouraged by the fellowship and learning.
Participants were given the book The Years Before Waitangi by Patricia Bawden. It traces the origins of Christianity in New Zealand, which included the account of the first Christian service ever held there, conducted by Samuel Marsden in 1814. The 200th anniversary will be celebrated widely in the churches across the country in 2014. Patricia Bawden is an acquaintance of our New Zealand church board member, Gael McInnes – both are in the New Zealand Christian Writers’ Guild.
Ghana Convention 2011
Convention 2011 in Ghana took in two locations on September 8-11. The theme was “Come Celebrate the Triune God.”
Pastor Jonathan Hammond from the New Ashongman congregation spoke on Thursday on the sub theme “Come celebrate the Lord.” A message concerning evangelism from Francis Ablordeppey was followed by an outreach to the surrounding area. A guest speaker was Emmauel Okai, Chairman of the Ecclesiastical Council. He crowned the festival by delivering an important message to the youth on the sub theme,” The fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom.
The following report is from mission developer Hector Barrero.
About 40 people recently attended a two day seminar led by GCI in Lima, Peru. Those in attendance included members from Piura, a city in northern Peru near the border with Ecuador. Another group came from La Huaca, Cajamarca, also in northern Peru. Others in attendance included members formerly part of the Adventist Church, including theologian Haroldo Camacho.
Jose Kasum leads the church in Peru and lives about one hour drive from Lima. We used to have weekly services in Lima but due to the high cost of renting meeting facilities, the members decided to have three small groups and get together once a month at Jose’s home. About 25 people total attend in these small groups. Jose and a group of members registered officially the church in Peru with the name: “Comunion Peruana de la Gracia.”
The seminar participants are grateful to the church in Vancouver, Canada for covering the costs of conducting the seminar.
Philippine Festival 2011
Philippine members gathered at Teachers Camp, September 21-25, for Festival 2011 with the theme, Growing Together in His Love. The celebration began with an evening service. Andrew Teng, pastor of Glory to the Lord Fellowship (GCI Quezon City) encouraged the audience to know that God loves them, to receive God’s love, to offer it and walk it. Other services (all held in the morning), included sermons from Gil Llaneza, the pastor of the Manila congregation. He discussed how GCI’s Trinitarian theology informs how we approach evangelism. In another service, Philippine national director Eugene Guzon spoke on God’s love as the foundation of the identity and activity of the GCI Philippine church.
Festival activities included a lunch for seniors, and a forum on Trinitarian theology led by Pastor Len Joson. There was also a time of fellowship and challenging games for pastoral teams and other congregational leaders. After one service, participants enjoyed a lunch provided by the Crossway congregation’s men’s group. After the lunch, members from the Manila South church, and teachers and staff from the Ambassador School for Children gathered the children for fun, games and Christian lessons. Santa Rosa church leaders hosted the teens and singles in a GCI version of The Amazing Race. That night, a dance was held, with participants dressed in Asian attire.
The members are looking forward to next year’s festival when they will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the beginning of GCI’s presence in the Philippines.
OMNIA: SEP Rockies
OMNIA was the theme for SEP Rockies, the Generations Ministries camp in Colorado. OMNIA is the Latin word for everything, and the theme expressed the truth that Christ is everything. This theme was derived from Col. 1:27: “God has chosen to make known the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” The camp theme song was Everything by Tim Hughes.
Many lessons were learned in camp, including being reminded of God’s provision and protection. The staff was on their knees on several occasions regarding inclement weather. God answered in undeniable ways. The weather kept us indoors and caused us to miss several scheduled activities. We were humbled to see how much the campers enjoyed this down-time. The more connected they are with technology, the less actual interaction they get with each other throughout the year. They had so much fun just hanging out!
The schedule was intentionally shifted to provide more life-on-life interaction between campers and staff. In one activity at the beginning of camp, each camper met for one minute with each of about 30 different staff members. As a result of this interaction, several staff members knew every camper by name within the first two hours of camp!
In an outreach class, Cliff and Mary Snyder from Higher Education for Ethiopia talked with the campers and gave them opportunity to make gifts for new friends and pen pals across the globe. Once again, the camp had a Guy/Girl Day to allow boy and the girl campers to assemble separately to discuss challenges related to their gender.
This year the camp made a shift in how worship is conducted, seeking to relate praising God with music that is culturally relevant. Doing so was a huge hit. Seeing campers and staffers singing, praising and dancing before God was pure joy!
For a glimpse of SEP Rockies in action, watch this video (the featured speaker is Anthony Mullins of GCI Generations Ministries who served this summer as SEP Rockies’ camp chaplain):
Janna Jones, the daughter of GCI pastor Jim Kissee, gives the following update:
I would like to thank everyone for the prayers, thoughts and cards. I have been so touched and encouraged by the cards that I have received from all over the U.S., plus from England and Australia. Your taking the time to do this for me means so much. I am 31 weeks pregnant now and baby girl (to be named Lilah Elaine) is doing well. Her 30 week ultrasound showed her to be right on track growth wise at 2 lbs., 13 oz. Our current plan is to induce labor on November 30 (38 weeks five days gestation) and then surgery to remove the cancer and my entire thyroid on December 13. The surgeon described the surgery as tedious and estimated that it would take about three hours. Your prayers for him and me would be much appreciated. A recent ultrasound of my neck showed that I do have cancer in some lymph nodes in my neck which means it has spread a little further than we had hoped. The surgeon will take those lymph nodes in the surgery. Testing following the surgery to stage the cancer will determine if I have to go through radiation.
Overall I would say I am doing well. I am continuing to work three, twelve hour shifts per week as an ER nurse. Those shifts are becoming more and more challenging, but I am trying to work as long as I am able. We recognize that December is going to be a challenging month but we are surrounded by friends and family willing to help us. We are also of course looking forward to welcoming our baby girl into this world and introducing her to her very sweet big brother (Zander, age tw0). Thanks again for the thoughts, prayers and cards. The outpouring of love we have received during this unexpected set of circumstances has really helped to carry us through. My husband Nate and I are both so appreciative.
With love, Janna
847 S Campbell Ave
Springfield, MO 65806
The following update concerning Felix Johnson is from his wife Melba:
Felix is home from surgery. He was on his way home about 1:00 PM. Everything went extremely well! He feels fine and is resting comfortably–can’t keep him in bed.
Our family thanks you very much for your prayers. God gave Felix favor with all who attended him in pre-operative care.
International Day of Prayer
November 13 is the International Day of Prayer. This year the theme is Hearing Their Cry. For information and resources, see http://www.idop.org/.