GCI Update

Unanswered prayer?

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We believe that prayer is vital to a life of faith. Skeptics may view it as merely talking aloud to an imagined deity, but that is not our problem. The problem we face with prayer is when it seems to go unanswered. When I think of biblical examples, two come immediately to mind. The first is found in the prophet’s prayer in Habakkuk 1:1-4. Perhaps you’ve prayed using similar words:

How long, Lord, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Therefore the law is paralyzed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted.

hab-prayerGod answered Habakkuk’s prayer, but not in the way he expected.

Having prayed for the injustice in Judean society to be corrected, Habakkuk was stunned when God’s answer was that the nation would be invaded by the Babylonians and carried into captivity. Instead of hearing what he hoped would amount to divine justice, Habakkuk was told that he would have to endure even more injustice. He didn’t complain nor did he deny God’s existence for not answering in the way he expected. Instead, Habakkuk received God’s answer and carried on—he was changed by prayer.

The second example of seemingly unanswered prayer is that of Jesus praying in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46). There, in agony, anticipating the painful sacrifice that lay ahead, Jesus pleaded with God the Father: “Is there no other way?”

Jesus returned to this prayer after checking on his disciples, his closest friends on earth. They were asleep and after waking them, he returned to entreat God with the same question: “Is there no other way?”

Jesus then went again to seek the comfort of his friends, but they were still asleep. Then the cycle repeated itself once more.

Copyright 2013, Tim Davis. Reprinted with permission from Leadership Journal.

My perspective is that when Jesus saw his disciples sleeping the third time, he realized the answer to his seemingly unanswered prayer. That his closest friends could not comply with his request to merely stay awake, showed Jesus that all humanity ultimately fails due to its brokenness. Thus the answer to his prayer was clear—there was no other way. Though his coming death, resurrection and ascension were not the answer that Jesus sought at that moment, he willingly submitted and carried on. He did so even with joy, anticipating what would be accomplished for his disciples and for all humanity (Hebrews 12:2).

As you know, Jesus added a supplemental clause to his prayer. To borrow from the world of insurance terminology, he added “a rider.” He begins with the words, “If there be any way that this cup can pass from me…” and then the rider: “…yet not what I will but what you will.” Jesus’ prayer was not simply a request, much less a demand. Rather it showed his complete trust in his heavenly Father. His prayer demonstrated faith lived out in action.

Though we tend to see prayer as what we say with our voices, God views it as what we do with our whole lives—all that we say, think, hope, love, believe and desire. God’s answer to our prayer thus addresses all that we (and, ultimately, all humanity) are and need to become in relationship to him. Wouldn’t any answer from God less than that be superficial? I’m sure we’re all thankful that God has not said “Yes” to all of our requests!

Certainly, we can verbalize our prayers to God. But since God’s relationship with us extends far beyond just listening to our words, his answers to our prayers involve more than just a snap judgment of “Yes,” “No,” or “Wait.” In prayer, we not only talk to God but also seek to discern how God is responding to us—trusting that his every response is one of loving us towards maturity in Christ. So while God may say “No” to one of our particular requests, that “No” always comes out of his wisdom and compassion for us as whole persons and so should not be regarded as a rejection of us, but as an affirmation of us as his children. Our heavenly Father is wiser and more loving than we are and so are his answers to our prayers.

I’m not suggesting here that God’s answers to our prayers only involve what he does to change us spiritually and never involve changing our circumstances, relationships and physical conditions or those of others. God is omnipresent and sees and knows the needs of everyone before we observe them. He already has his plan of redemption in motion that includes everyone, even the whole of creation. Prayer is our way of joining him in what he is doing in us, in others and in our world. However, we must be the first to understand that we do not always know what is best for all concerned, or just how he is going to accomplish all that he is doing to bring about his redemptive purposes. God’s answer to prayer takes into consideration all of time, all of space and all of creation. So we entrust all our prayers to him, trusting him to exercise his loving wisdom in his every answer. We can count on his answers to always exhibit the same wisdom and compassion we see lived out in Jesus Christ, the Son of God incarnate, crucified, resurrected, ascended and coming again in the glory of his kingdom.

Rather than becoming weary in prayer and well-doing, we can carry on as did Habakkuk and Jesus. A life of prayer offered to the living, redeeming God will always remind us that our own efforts will not bring the ultimate solutions to humanity’s problems. We need God’s saving, redeeming and transforming power. We acknowledge that we lack the wisdom and all-encompassing compassion that God exercises in deciding just how he will realize his saving purposes. Incorporating our prayers into his loving and wise purposes, God will use them to help us become the Christ-like person he intends for us to be. With that perspective, we will pray more and more like Jesus—from the depths of our hearts, gladly echoing his rider, “Yet not my will, but yours be done.”

Yours in Christ’s service,

Joseph Tkach

John Meyer

John Meyer
John Meyer

With October being Pastor Appreciation Month in the US and Canada, it’s nice to hear that one of our own elders has been honored for an achievement that has global impact.

If you know John Meyer who lives in Tracy, California, you know him as an interesting, yet humble servant. What you may not know is that John, now retired, has played a significant role in developing a technology that affects literally billions of people around the world.

Originally from New Zealand, John earned a degree in physics before entering Ambassador College in Bricket Wood, England. In his junior year at AC, he was assigned to work in the college press. At the time, The Plain Truth magazine was just beginning to use color pictures. The press manager asked John to develop the best color separation methods available. While doing so, John came to recognize the limitations of existing methods, which were cumbersome and time consuming. John envisioned a process by which color photographs could be electronically scanned and displayed on a television screen then adjusted to appear as they would when printed. We take this process for granted now—many of us do it routinely on our own computers. But in 1966 this technology did not exist—John was well ahead of his time.

After graduating from AC, John went on to get his Ph.D. in physics and to begin a career at Hewlett Packard Labs where he played a major role in developing the technology that turned his vision into practical reality.

The digital photography revolution came about when a low-cost option for consumers to print out their pictures at home became available. John played a leading role in this revolution by helping to develop thermal ink jet printing and helping solve color communication problems that carried over into the camera domain. These advances resulted in the rapid adoption of digital photography.

John remembers his 28-year career at HP Labs as a wonderful adventure in realizing what was once a rather fanciful vision. His pioneering work revolutionized printing and radically changed the way we take photographs.

Davies medalLast September, the Royal Photographic Society in England recognized John’s achievements by awarding him the prestigious Davies medal. This medal is awarded for significant contributions in the digital field of imaging science.

On a personal note, John says, “I see this as a blessing from God in that I left physics to come to AC; and, with my wife’s encouragement, returned to complete my graduate degree, such that when I was looking for a job there was a company called Hewlett Packard that was looking to employ someone who knew both printing and physics. Everything that I had turned away from, God gave back to me tenfold.”

For further details about the Davies medal, click here.

Conventions in Africa

Kalengule Kaoma, one of GCI’s church directors and mission developers in Africa, provided these updates concerning annual church conventions held recently in western and southern Africa.


Ghana conventionThe annual church convention in Ghana, attended by about 600 people, was held simultaneously in the cities of Kutunse and Hohoe. A major focus of the gathering was the 39th anniversary of the church in Ghana. Convention activities included the inauguration of a Young Ladies Club, which provides a forum for young female members as well as non-members to meet, fellowship, pray and study. It is hoped that this club will spread throughout the churches in Ghana. Also, seven ministry leaders were commissioned, a little child was blessed, a fundraiser was held and meals were provided to all participants on Family Day.


Nigeria conventionThe annual church convention in Nigeria, attended by about 270 people, was held in the ancient city of Benin. Members attended from all over Nigeria. Dressed in brightly colored clothing, they sang and danced with great joy and happiness. The convention theme, “No Disappointment in Christ,” was based on 1 Peter 2:6. Messages encouraged members to put their trust and confidence in Jesus Christ alone. Convention highlights included a baby dedication, baptism of eight youths and 36 adults, a “singles/youth mingle,” honoring of senior members, a talent show and the ordination of a deacon.


Zimbabwe conventionThe annual church convention in Zimbabwe was held at the GCI church building in Chitungwiza, 30 kilometers south of Harare. Thanks to the local members, the small meeting hall there was converted to accommodate the 200 people who attended the convention with the theme, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

On one day, the youth provided the music and messages and led other activities. During the convention, the Annual General Meeting of the church in Zimbabwe was conducted. A new church constitution was adopted by 100 delegates. On the last day of the convention used clothing, gathered by participating churches, was given to less fortunate members.

Netherlands update

Pastor Frans in Zutphen at Burundi Services
Frans Danenberg

This update, from GCI-Netherlands national leader Frans Danenberg, reports on developments in some of GCI’s congregations in the Netherlands.

In September, we were blessed to have visit our worship service in the city of Almere a couple who had served as missionaries in North Africa. Currently they are living in the Netherlands, reaching out to the Muslim community in Almere. My wife met them—she gives them Dutch language lessons.

The same weekend we traveled to the city of Leeuwarden where our congregation, made up mostly of immigrants from the Congo, held a combined service with a Dutch Reformed Church there. Our congregation’s choir sang in both Dutch and Swahili. The Reformed church pastor prayed for our congregation. It was encouraging to experience the favor that our Congolese members are receiving.

Leeuwarden Service1
Service in Leeuwarden

Later that day, accompanied by members of our Leeuwarden congregation, we traveled to the town of Zuthpen to participate in a church service with an independent African congregation composed mainly of immigrants from Burundi. The leader (now pastor) of our Leeuwarden congregation, Matendo Makoti, knows the Burundian congregation. They have expressed interest in joining GCI. As is the African custom, the worship service lasted a long time (about three hours). About 50 people attended what was quite a lively service with drums, energetic music and excited and happy young boys and girls running around. It was quite a weekend—we experienced music in Dutch and Spanish, then Dutch and Swahili, and finally Dutch and Kirundi! It was wonderful to see (and hear) what God is doing in all three locations!

Burundese congregation at Zuthpen
Service in Zuthpen

More recently, Santiago Lange and I had the pleasure of ordaining Matendo Makoti as an elder serving as pastor of the Leeuwarden congregation (see picture below). We also commissioned Bisimana Rukoka as a ministry leader. At this special service we had 81 in attendance, including several African church pastors (pictured below) representing other congregations in the Netherlands. It was a truly festive celebration.

Matendo Frans Santiago
Left to right: Frans, Matendo and Santiago
African Pastors
Frans (left) and Santiago (rear) with the African pastors

Please pray for GCI in the Netherlands. Pray that we remain open to God’s lead, willing to step out in faith to follow.

L.A. church plant preview services

Here is an update from Angie Tabin on progress of the GCI church that she and her husband Saddie are planting in Los Angeles, California. 

Tabin 3 bannerWe have now held three “preview services” to give the people we have been contacting a feel for our new church, which is reaching out to Filipinos in and around the Eagle Rock section of Los Angeles.

We’ve been holding preview services every other week at the American Legion Hall in Eagle Rock. About 100 people (including 10 children) attended the first service with the numbers less than that at the next two as those attending from nearby GCI congregations that are helping us launch returned to their home services. Several of the new attenders have urged us to begin weekly services—we plan to begin doing so in late October.

Tabin 1
Angie Tabin preaching at the first preview service

Tabin 2 pot luckIt is evident that those attending these services experienced God’s presence through songs, fellowship and food. One new contact received Christ as Savior when one of our core team members shared Christ during the refreshment period. Another contact gave a testimony, calling on the audience to support us in what we are doing. We had met her during a time of great trial, having just lost both her husband and sister. She was quite depressed. So we prayed with her and read Scripture. Now she is passionate about sharing Christ with others. She even told us that she wants to be a pastor some day! Another new contact commented: “I would like to support you. I will give my tithe here; even more than my tenth, for I was encouraged and inspired.”

previewIn the preview services we have given sermons on various topics related to faith in Christ and the mission, vision and core values of our new church. We have named it Grace Communion Fellowship. Though our mission has been focused on reaching Filipinos, it looks like we’ll need to amend it—the new people attending have been a mixture of ethnicities and races.

We have made these contacts by various means, including distributing fliers and bottled water, but most new contacts have come through meeting people one-on-one since moving here from the Philippines. We are facing many challenges, but we are thankful to God that he is the “owner” of this new church—he is the Master Church Planter. Please pray that God provides us with more core team members from our new contacts. Up to this point, we’ve been borrowing team members from GCI’s New Hope and New Life churches located nearby. We are grateful for their support during this launch period. We also are grateful for the support given by the GCI district church planting network formed here in Southern California. They have been giving us essential financial, spiritual and logistical support.

preview worship

As to our future plans, we will seek to follow where God leads. Our strategy has been to meet Filipinos first. However, since many of them are in biracial marriages, we are connecting with multiple races. And so we seek to help them all know that they are included, accepted and loved.

preview childrenAs soon as our congregation is stable and God provides a pastoral leader to care for this new flock, we plan to move to another place to plant another church. However, that move is probably a year or more away. First we need to get this church up and running and equipped with a “DNA” for joining Jesus in his missional work. I told the audience in one of our preview services that we are not here to be “saved, seated and satisfied,” but to share the blessings by knowing God and making him known. Our unchurched neighbors are our brothers and sisters in the Lord, so may we all be bold in sharing Jesus with them.

We are truly excited to witness what the Lord is doing in the lives of these people. Isn’t it amazing that we can join in this most important work there is—making Jesus known. He is our All in All!

preview music

For additional photographs from these preview services on FaceBook, go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/Socal.GCI/. For an earlier update about the Tabins, click here.

Arnold Clauson

Arnold and Trish Clauson
Arnold and Trish Clauson

Prayer is requested for Arnold Clauson who serves as a district pastor in the middle south region and pastors three churches in the Dallas, Texas area.

Arnold is battling serious health issues that severely restrict his mobility and cause considerable pain. Your prayers for Arnold’s healing and also for comfort for his wife Trish are needed and appreciated.

Cards may be sent to:

Arnold and Trish Clauson
109 Melrose Cir
Denison, TX 75020-2697

Greensboro 50th

Christian Reconciliation Fellowship, the GCI church in Greensboro, North Carolina recently celebrated its 50th anniversary with a day-long retreat at a nearby state park.

Pastor Hilary leading worship

The day began with a breakfast buffet followed by a Lectio Divina (meditative Scripture reading) session. After a break for refreshments, the group shared a worship service with Pastor Hillary Irusta (pictured at left) leading inspiring and reflective worship in song and prayer. Her father, Pastor Joel Irusta, then gave a short summary of the congregation’s history, while focusing on its vision for the future. After a photo session the group (pictured below) enjoyed a buffet lunch. The remainder of the afternoon was spent in hiking, games and just talking together.


Alex Rowan engaged

Alex Rowan, a GCI-USA pastoral intern serving at GCI’s Ground Zero church in the Denver, Colorado area, recently was engaged to be married to Manda Bulowns. Congratulations Alex and Manda!