GCI Update

Black History Month

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

February is Black History month in the USA, in which we acknowledge the contribution that African-Americans have made to this country (a similar celebration is held this month in Canada). For example, the recently released movie Red Tails tells a little known story of African-American aviators who were a part of “the Greatest Generation” and helped defeat the enemies of democratic freedom in the Second World War.

Some people in other parts of the world may wonder why America devotes a month to recognizing the achievements of just one segment of our population. However, the contribution of African-Americans to this nation has not always been acknowledged. In fact, for a long time it was quite the opposite.

Carter G. Woodson

We owe the celebration of Black History Month, and the study of black history, to Dr. Carter G. Woodson. Carter Woodson was born to parents who were former slaves. He spent his childhood working in the Kentucky coal mines and enrolled in high school at age 20. He later went on to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard. Dr. Woodson was disturbed to find that history books largely ignored the black American population. If they were acknowledged it was generally in ways that reflected their inferior social position. Woodson set out to set the record straight. His work influenced the young Martin Luther King.

Curtis May

The awful stain on our nation’s history that was slavery is now in our past, but the effects linger on. It is only in my lifetime that some of the most glaring injustices have been addressed. One of my close friends and colleagues, Curtis May, who is just a little older than I am, spent his early years in Alabama. He experienced the prejudice, humiliation and indignity of segregation. Curtis now heads up The Office of Reconciliation and Spiritual Mediation. This ministry (online at http://atimetoreconcile.org/) is steadily gaining respect and recognition as it seeks to promote forgiveness and understanding wherever there is need of reconciliation and healing.

When I consider this aspect of our past, it leaves me asking how we, a people who sing proudly about “The land of the free and the home of the brave,” and who pledge allegiance to a republic that promises “Liberty and Justice for all” could have allowed ourselves in the past to be so blind, so prejudiced and so stupid. Advocates of slavery and segregation even used the Bible to support their arguments. Could anything be more contrary to the “ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18)?

However, the problem of racism (and the related problem of ethnic prejudice) is not limited to one nation and is not just a black/white problem. Black History Month reminds us that people everywhere are capable of inhuman behavior. Remember Auschwitz, Kosovo, Cambodia, Darfur and Rwanda, to name just a few atrocities in our time. These are signs of the fallenness of all humanity.

Christianity and racism are incompatible. We must work to not just overcome racism, personally, but eventually to obliterate it through our message and example of love and reconciliation. Our own denomination has had to grow in this. We owe a great debt to our pioneer African-American elders, like the late Harold Jackson and Stanley Bass, and also Abner Washington, Maceo Hampton, Leslie Schmedes and Franklin Guice who, though well up in years, continue to make substantial contributions to the life of our denomination. The patience, humility and courage of these men and their families, and many like them, have helped GCI grow in understanding of the evils of racism and ethnic prejudice. I am deeply grateful for the unique contribution my African-American brothers and sisters have made, and are making, to our denomination.

As Acts 17:26 reminds us, “from one blood [God] made the whole world of humanity” (Aramaic Bible translation). We are one people with a common need for forgiveness and salvation. Thank God that we have one Savior and, therefore, a common destiny. God values us all and Jesus paid the same price for each of us. That leaves no room for prejudice, segregation or discrimination of any kind.

So, as we are reminded this month of the significant contributions and the unique sufferings of our African-American neighbors, let me encourage you to take some time getting to know more of that history. Let us pray for the eradication of the lingering injustices still found in our nations. Let us thank God for the ministry of reconciliation our Lord Jesus has given us. And let us look for opportunities to extend that ministry in the power of the Spirit to those within our fellowship and beyond.

Love from my family to yours,

Joseph Tkach

GCI Zambia report

GCI pastor and district pastoral leader Rick Shallenberger recently traveled to Africa on behalf of GCI president Joseph Tkach. Following is Rick’s report on his time in Zambia.

Rick Shallenberger

On December 30, 1991, the president of Zambia, Frederick Chiluba, declared his country a Christian nation. Since that day, crime has dropped, people have become more concerned for others, and churches have grown. Our GCI congregations are no exception. Though our members have very little, they are actively sharing God’s love and life with those around them. As a result, our existing churches are growing and new ones are being planted.

Kalengule and Nsama

I traveled in Zambia with Kalengule Kaoma, GCI’s mission developer for central Africa. He lives in Lusaka, Zambia with his wife, Nsama and their four children. Kalengule spends a lot of time traveling to many countries in central Africa, teaching and conducting training seminars for pastors and ministry leaders. Following is information about some of the key pastoral leaders we visited in Zambia.

Inyambo and Mutinta Nyumbu

Inyambo and Mutinta

Dr. Inyambo Nyumbu is national ministry director for GCI in Zambia. His wife is Dr. Mutinta Nyumbu. With Inyambo’s assistance, the GCI pastors and other ministers in Zambia are focused on building and otherwise supporting their churches. Given their poverty, they are constantly on the alert for ways to generate church income so that they can plant more churches. Businesses are started and profits are invested for the sole purpose of building the church.

Peter and Judith Chipempele

Peter and Judith

Peter and Judith built a home with bricks that Christ Fellowship Church purchased three years ago. Now they are collecting bricks to build a church to replace the tent they meet in. They have two children and care for two family “orphans” in their tiny home. Recently, they received a generous donation and are wisely investing about half of it to generate an income stream. They also plan to purchase bricks by the truckload and then sell some of them for a modest profit. It is important that African churches develop income streams because donations are very low due to deep poverty.

Peter asked if we could send him some theology textbooks and Bible reference books. He has a love of learning, but no means to pay for formal education. Kalengule said any books we send would be passed around among the pastors for all to use. We are now making arrangements to send books to them.

Kennedy and Zelipa Musopelo

Kennedy and Zelipa

Kennedy and Zelipa just started a GCI church in Lilanda and face many difficulties. Kennedy told me that it was quite an honor to be visited in his home by the African mission developer and a US representative. Our visit significantly raised Kennedy’s credibility in the eyes of his family and community. The Lilanda congregation is very poor and they are behind on their rent of $20 a month. We donated enough to catch them up and pay for the next few months as they pursue options for generating an income stream. Their church meets in a school building with15 classrooms. Each classroom is used by a different denomination – all holding church at the same time. Sometimes they try to outdo each other in their worship and preaching. When the 15 churches end their services, 15 more groups come in for the next service.

Kennedy and Zelipa are looking for a way to raise funds so they can buy some land and build a church that can grow. They are outgrowing the school classroom and need to find a place to establish a church home for current and new members. They also need to find a new home to rent or build so they can get out of the family home. Kennedy loves to learn and is beginning a new diploma program in theology.

Chris and Bibiana Kalaba

Chris , Bibiana and children

Chris and Bibiana and their five children live in Chawama. They are tenants in a small home attached to two other homes. Chris is seeking higher education and Bibiana is seeking her first education. She hopes to one day study law so she can help support the church with her future income.

The Chawama congregation is growing fast. The Sunday before our visit, they had 150 adults and many children in attendance. The children have class outside the main hall during the worship service. Due to our visit, they expect attendance to rise even more. Having their own building has been a real blessing, but they are quickly outgrowing it. They have plans to build a larger building with a wall around it for protection. Once a month they have “Bring a Brick” services. Members bring a brick to church, or they will go as a group and each purchase a brick to carry back to the church. These bricks are stored in one of the rooms of the church. When they have enough bricks, they will begin construction.

Again, many noticed our arrival and departure. You are constantly reminded of the value and significance of visiting the pastor in his church and in his home. It is quite an honor for them in the eyes of the community (and it is an even bigger honor for us!).

Jack and Kabwe Banda

Jack and Kabwe

We visited the Banda’s congregation in Chongwe, where I gave the sermon. The church meets in a school, which is owned by a church member. They serve a very poor community and are actively reaching out and growing. They have a large children’s ministry. They use a blended form of worship, mixing traditional hymns with African worship music. The service was energetic and inspiring.

Pastor Jack loves to learn and has a desire to attend Grace Communion Seminary to further his education and work toward a Master’s Degree. We aren’t sure how that will work because of limited Internet access, but we will look into ways to help Jack and others benefit from Grace Communion Seminary.

Grace Communion International is rapidly growing in Zambia. There are many challenges, but the pastors and wives are dedicated to meeting them. Their dedication to their pastoral calling and to the Great Commission is inspiring and humbling. Please join in prayer for our brothers and sisters there.

US pastoral internship program

This report is from Greg Williams who coordinates the GCI US Pastoral Internship Program on behalf of Church Administration and Development.

In Matthew 9, Jesus exhorts his followers with these words: “The fields are ripe and ready for harvest. Pray that the Lord of the harvest will send laborers into the field.” This exhortation forms the basis for our GCI Pastoral Internship Program. Its goal is to join in what God is doing to prepare the next generation of our church pastors and planters.

Three of GCI's pastoral interns

The internship program is officially in its toddler stage. We are about to complete our second year with six interns currently in the program. Some of these internships are voluntary, and some include part-time employment with GCI. For more information, including a list of current interns, see Joseph Tkach’s February letter at www.gci.org/letter/1202.

In April we will conduct our first annual Intern Gathering, meeting at Flat Rock, NC. At that meeting of interns and mentors we will discuss program goals, share best practices and hear from participants as we seek to improve the program. We will also receive training from leaders of the internship program at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and we’ll hear from a young church planter and his team from Grace Blue Ridge Church. Please pray for this important gathering. If anyone would like to help scholarship one of the mentors or interns to attend, please contact Greg.Williams@gci.org. The cost for attendance is $500/person.

For additional information about the Internship Program, see mindev.gci.org/internships.htm.

Jason Richards

Following is an update on Jason Richards, grandson of GCI pastor Martin Manuel (the last update is at https://update.gci.org/2012/01/jason-richards-2/). This update is from Martin’s daughter Doreen, wife of GCI pastor Rocky Ray.

I am requesting prayers for Jason. He has been admitted to the ICU after suffering an undetermined event. He has not had a cardiac arrest.

Steve and Elaine Elliott

Steve Elliott

Many of you reading this will remember Steve Elliott who has spoken at GCI conferences in the US and the Philippines. He has been a great friend and consultant to us.

We just learned that Steve’s wife Elaine has been diagnosed with a moderately aggressive form of breast cancer. The doctor discovered the lumps while giving her a routine checkup. Follow-up tests resulted with the sobering diagnosis.

Elaine will be cared for by Stanford University Hospital doctors. Because this form of cancer can spread rapidly, she will go to the hospital this Thursday for more scans. The doctors will give the Elliotts the prognosis the following day.

Steve and Elaine request the prayers of their GCI friends. Here is their mailing address:

Steve and Elaine Elliott
PO Box 3426
Turlock, CA 95381

Carlton Green

The following prayer request is from Rand Holm, a GCI pastor in Southern California.

Following a minor heart attack last Saturday night, GCI assistant pastor Carlton Green was treated at Valley Presbyterian hospital in Van Nuys, CA. Doctors performed an angiogram and found two blocked arteries. One was able to be completely cleared and a single stint was placed in it. The other one was calcified and could not be cleared. The good news about the artery that was not able to be cleared is that it had slowly closed off long ago and new arteries and veins were recruited and have grown sufficiently, and so that it is fine.

That open heart surgery was not called for is, in itself, a miracle from God. If the cardiologist had tried to clear the calcified artery first, he may have scheduled Carlton for bypass surgery. But that was not needed and he is now doing well, without pain, and with a new super highway in his heart! For a few days he was ministering encouragement and the love of God to ambulance drivers, nurses, doctors, janitors, visitors and pastors at the hospital.

Now he is resting at home, and tells me that, “he’s as happy as a baby boy.” He deeply appreciates all the prayers, and feels greatly blessed by the love shown him by his church family. He also expressed how nice it is to be home with Judith, and again he noted how wonderful it is to have superb medical facilities in this country.

“We praise you Lord God above for all your precious gifts. Thank you for preserving the life of one we love so much. Please continue to heal and bless the work the doctors have done for Carlton and bring him back to all of us soon and comfort and strengthen Judy and the whole Green family. 
In Jesus name, Amen and Amen.” 

Cards may be sent to:

Dr. Carlton & Judith Green
4443 Ventura Canyon Ave Apt 202
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423-3712

Naomi Biswas

Please pray for Naomi Biswas, wife of John Biswas, the leader of the Bengali Evangelical Association. Naomi is quite ill with a problem with her lungs and breathing. She has been off work and is going for further testing later this week. Please pray that she will regain full strength and be able to resume her nursing job and be healthy in time for her scheduled trip with John to Bangladesh for the GCI conference in March.

Cards may be sent to:

Naomi Biswas
10690 Elm St
Loma Linda, CA 92354-2411


Online donation system improved

The GCI IT Department announces improvements to the GCI online donation system.

Individuals (members and others) who wish to make a donation or view their personal donation records, may now do so by going to a new donor services panel online at www.gci.org/go/donate (if a person does not already have a login name and password, they may obtain one easily using the login signup process).

Online Donation Panel

The new donor services panel (see the header above) provides these features:

  1. A means to donate by credit or debit card to a GCI congregation in the U.S., or to a GCI denominational cause.
  2. A donor-controlled recurring donation manager—set it and let it automatically make monthly donations for you.
  3. View your personal history of donations to GCI churches and denominational causes.

All donation information on this site is transmitted using a secure connection to protect personal information.

Birth of Charly Maduka

Charles and Sarah Maduka

Santiago Lange, GCI national director in Germany, and his wife Elke are pleased to announce the birth of their third grandchild, Charly Maduka Jr.

Charly was born on February 1 at the city hospital in Worms, Germany. The baby and his parents Charles and Sarah Maduka are all doing fine.

Roy Page retires, Craig Minke installed

Roy and Sheila Page

After over 47 years of faithful service as a GCI minister and church pastor, Roy Page retired at the end of January. Roy and his wife Sheila have faithfully served several congregations in Canada, most recently those in Vancouver and Prince George.

Craig and Debbie Minke

At the end of his final service as pastor in Vancouver, Roy called forward Craig and Debbie Minke to install Craig as the new pastor. Joining in the ceremony were GCI Canada director Gary Moore and Vancouver elders Bruce Edmonds and Mike Baker. Craig and Debbie are long-time dedicated and enthusiastic servants of the church in Vancouver.

Installation ceremony