GCI Update

The spirit of prophecy

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Richard Frankel, one of our pastors in the Chicago area, sent me this cartoon (reproduced here with permission). I just had to share it with you.

The cartoon highlights how some preachers distort the Gospel. The Gospel means Good News and good news is supposed to make you feel better, more hopeful, not make you want to curl up into the fetal position with fear!

Fear is, of course, a motivator. It is easy to manipulate scripture into an intimidating doomsday message, which will get attention and gain a following. However, when the prophecy fails, we rarely if ever, hear those preachers apologize for their false predictions. Most often we just hear justifications and excuses, as they try to maintain their authority by reigniting fear.

Remember Y2K? As the new millennium approached there were dire predictions that many older computers could not process the date change from 1999 to 2000. This, it was suggested, would lead to catastrophic failures, and a world crisis. Many leading preachers jumped on the bandwagon, warning that the computers crashing would signal the beginning of the tribulation. Some were even selling dehydrated food and water purifiers to be prepared, or encouraging folks to stockpile propane and withdraw cash from their banks.

A well-known televangelist told his viewers the Holy Spirit warned him about Y2K. Another described Y2K as “the biggest problem the modern world has ever faced.” He forecast a financial crisis that would bring the world economy into a state of meltdown the likes of which no living human has ever experienced. Yet another distributed a packet on “The Y2K Time Bomb,” including a video, “A Christian’s Guide to Y2K.”

When the fateful moment arrived very little happened. The worst report I recall was that 150 slot machines at racetracks in Delaware stopped working. In Australia, two bus ticket-validation machines stopped working. The worst damage occurred in Germany where 20 million bankcards became unusable. Some customers temporarily lost use of their email and their home pages disappeared. One US spy satellite had problems for a few hours. But the world as we know it kept going. The doomsayers were shown, once again, to be false prophets.

It isn’t just Christians who do this. Predictions about catastrophe happen in almost every religious tradition. Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Zoroastrians all do it. The early Central American civilizations such as the Toltecs and Mayans, and Native American Indian cultures like the Hopi, Navajo, and Lakota Sioux all had tragic prophetic speculations.

The latest end-of-the-world obsession concerns the Mayan Calendar that ends a 144,000-day cycle this year on Dec. 21, the day of the winter solstice. The number 144,000 sounds biblical, so the doomsayers are once again out there warning us to expect something drastic to happen. Unfortunately there will be some who will be taken in by it. Fear, it seems, is never far away.

All this totally misses the point and the purpose of prophecy. As an angel explained to John in Revelation 19:10: “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” And the testimony of Jesus is good news – of his salvation and forgiveness and eternal life. This means that the Gospel is itself the true prophetic word.

Does the Gospel, then, deny or overlook the “bad news” of our sin, the power of evil and its tragic consequences? No, it assumes it while never giving it center stage, never lending it the upper hand. Why not? Because Jesus himself is the first and the last Word. Through his life of obedience, his crucifixion, his resurrection, his ascension, once and for all, evil ultimately has been conquered, sin is forgiven, death itself has been overcome. New life is at hand.

Yes, hearing and receiving the Gospel calls for repentance—of our unbelief in the truth and reality of who Jesus is and what he has done. This repentance leads to faith, hope and love. So the prophetic testimony of Jesus should not leave us curled up in the fetal position. He says to us now in the midst of our need, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10) and “Behold, I am making all things new” (Rev. 21:5).

May our focus always be Jesus and his gospel!

In his service,

Joseph Tkach

Teens serve homeless

Teens from New Hope Christian Fellowship (the GCI congregation in the Eagle Rock area of Los Angeles) served on January 20 at the Pasadena Bad Weather Shelter.

This outreach is coordinated by New Hope members Ron and Cora Grassmann (Ron served formerly as the landscaping manager at Ambassador College).

About 20 teens served about 150 homeless people at the shelter.




Ed Stetzer blogs about GCI

Ed Stetzer

In a recent LifeWay Research blog post about relating to those outside orthodoxy, Ed Stetzer mentions his positive encounters with GCI and describes our miraculous journey into orthodoxy.

NAE: Loving the Least of These

As a member of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), GCI is frequently updated on NAE initiatives, including the one highlighted here. Your congregation may find this of interest.

Out of concern for the poor, the NAE recently asked some Christian sisters and brothers to share their knowledge and experience regarding the relationship between the changing environment and poverty. The publication, titled “Loving the Least of These: Addressing a Changing Environment,” is the result.  You can read more about and download this publication at www.nae.net/lovingtheleastofthese.


ACCM classes

A valuable resource for ministry equipping is Ambassador College of Christian Ministry (ACCM). This online program offers classes in biblical studies and Christian ministry both for credit toward a diploma or non-credit (by audit) – in a flexible format and at a reasonable cost.

Many GCI senior pastors in the US take ACCM classes to fulfill GCI’s continuing education requirement for senior pastors and pastoral teams. Other pastors (elders), ministry leaders and workers find ACCM’s classes to be very helpful to their ministries in Christ’s service.

Following are comments about ACCM from Grant Forsyth who serves as a GCI elder in Michigan.

Being a newly ordained elder, the ACCM program has been most valuable to me. I have really enjoyed the curriculum and the flexibility for people like me. Not only have I learned on a scale that is difficult to quantify, but I have been able to share what I am learning with the congregation and the congregation is enjoying it too.

Because of my job situation, I have pockets of time available to do class work, usually several days and then sometimes weeks before I can get back to it. The flexibility offered by ACCM helps me a great deal.

I really enjoy this resource and the work that has gone into it. It’s a great service to our denomination and it is much appreciated!

Anthony Mullins commissioned

Anthony Mullins

GCI elder Anthony Mullins recently relocated from Atlanta to the Denver area where he will split his time between serving GCI’s newly started Ground Zero Church as co-pastor and ministry coach, and serving GCI Generations Ministries (GenMin) as leader of GenMin camps and mission events.

A special service was held on January 22 to commission Anthony as Ground Zero co-pastor. The ceremony, pictured below, was led by district pastor Mark McCulley (at right) with Ground Zero co-pastor Aaron Armstrong (at left).

Anthony now resides in Centennial, CO.

Commissioning ceremony

Thanks to Scott Wertz

Scott and Barbara Wertz

Employees at the GCI home office in Glendora held a party on January 11 to say goodbye to Scott Wertz and his wife Barbara, and to celebrate Scott’s nearly 40 years of service to GCI as an employee in the GCI home office, most recently as the manager of both records and postal services.

Scott recently accepted a job in Indiana so that he and his wife Barbara can be closer to family (it’s what grandparents do!).

Joseph Tkach commented: “Although it feels like part of our family is leaving, we all wish Scott and Barbara every blessing as they open this new chapter in their lives.”

Joseph Tkach and Scott Wertz

Milo Umlas commissioned

The GCI congregation in Pampanga, Philippines rejoiced on January 22 as national director Eugene Guzon ordained Milo Umlas an elder and commissioned him as the congregation’s new senior pastor.

Eugene Guzon (center) leads Milo Umlas' ordination and commissioning service

Milo was joined on stage for the ceremony by his wife Nona, their three children, Milo’s parents, and the rest of the congregation’s pastoral team.

Milo has been active in his local church since he was a young boy. He is the son of Pio Umlas, a GCI elder and long-time member in Pampanga

The ordination and commissioning service was held at the local congregation’s newly-built, church-owned building in Bacolor, Pampanga.