GCI Update

Three Rs for Easter

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

joeandtammyTeachers tell us that to lay the foundation for a good education, students need to master the three academic Rs—Reading, ‘Riting and ‘Rithamatic. As we prepare for Easter-themed worship this weekend, let’s focus on three spiritual Rs that help us understand God’s plan for all humanity—Redemption, Restoration and Reconciliation.

These three are “feel good” words, even when not used in a religious context. We like it when something is reconciled, restored and redeemed. Like when our checkbook reconciles with our bank statement. Or when a broken life is redeemed. How about when something that is broken is fixed and thus restored? I have a huge model of a sailing ship in my office. During the relocation of GCI’s home office from Pasadena to Glendora, it was broken. My good friend Scott Wertz restored it. Now you can’t tell where it was cracked. I love that it looks brand new.

In his parables, Jesus often used the “feel good” aspect of redemption, restoration and reconciliation to help us understand how God “feels good” about bringing humanity to salvation. There is the parable of the lost coin, and also the one about the lost sheep. Jesus wants us to know that God loves us. We are his highly-valued possessions, and he wants us back with him, where we belong.

It’s God’s nature to seek to live in friendly relationship with his creation. Jesus told us: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). How sad that the relationship is often portrayed as almost adversarial: IF you do everything God tells you, THEN he will, almost grudgingly, let you in. I’m sure many of us remember receiving the communion elements, worried half-sick that we might be eating and drinking damnation to ourselves. What a travesty of the truth!

The night before his crucifixion, Jesus prayed for his disciples, and all who followed them, with these words: “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world” (John 17:24). Paul then added this thought in Ephesians 1:4: “He [God the Father] chose us in him [Jesus] before the creation of the world…” Let’s not read over this exquisite point—the Triune God wants us! We belonged to him before the world was created. To borrow an old phrase, we were a gleam in God’s eye before he spoke the cosmos into existence with all its matter, energy and attendant processes and multiplicity of life forms. We belonged to God from even before that beginning. God’s love has been outgoing throughout eternity and he is drawing people back to himself.

All that exists is the fruit of God’s free will and divine love. The universe is not necessary and not self-sufficient. The universe and everything in it are contingent and dependent. As created things, we can never be just ourselves alone. God maintains the core of our being or we cease to exist. But it is his will that we do exist—not just for a few decades, but forever.

Once this fact of God’s love and purposes for us and all creation has sunk in, there can be only one response—gratitude. And that gratitude is expressed in worship. Worship is so much more than singing a hymn, saying a prayer or giving an offering. To be sure, these are components of our worship, but there is much more to worship than those actions, which usually are done in a church service.

Worship that expresses gratitude to God is not the product of our religious experience, faith, repentance or decision. Instead, as noted by J. B. Torrance, it is “the gift of participating through the Spirit in the incarnate Son’s communion with the Father.” In worship, Jesus first offers himself to the Father on our behalf and in our place. Then, on the basis of that self-offering, Jesus shares with us his human-Godward act of worship—his praise, prayer, repentance and adoration. While this response to God in worship becomes our own as we participate in faith, it always is in Jesus, by the Holy Spirit. The ultimate worshiper and our worship leader is Jesus.

Viewed from this trinitarian perspective, our worship of God is a 24/7 activity. United to Christ and filled with his Spirit, all our time is holy; all our activities are part of a life of worship—a response of gratitude to our triune God.

My wish for you all is that you have inspiring and meaningful times of worship during this Holy Week, culminating in the Easter celebration of our Lord’s resurrection. He is risen!

Your brother in Christ,

Joseph Tkach signature



Ted Johnston

Donna and Ted Johnston
Donna and Ted Johnston

Ted Johnston, a member of the GCI’s US Church Administration and Development (CAD) team, grew up in West Lafayette, Indiana. “I attended the Methodist Church during my childhood, but in my teen years drifted away—spending most of my time with school and playing in a rock band (I had hair then!).” In 1968, amidst the turmoil of Vietnam war protests, race riots and assassinations of national leaders, Ted drifted from church. “At the same time, my father had a spiritual awakening through reading WCG literature. Following meeting with a WCG pastor, he urged me to apply to Ambassador College. Though I was not particularly interested, I did so. Following a series of rather miraculous events, I was accepted quite early in the year. I agreed to attend.”

A short time later, Ted attended a WCG church service for the first time (in Indianapolis). Then in late August 1969, Ted entered Ambassador College in Pasadena, California. His first date on campus was with Donna Graves from Pennsylvania. Ted and Donna married five years later.

In 1971, after two years at Ambassador, Ted transferred to Cal Poly in Pomona, California, at the request of Herbert Armstrong, who asked Ted to obtain a degree in landscape architecture so that he could bring that expertise to Ambassador’s Architecture and Engineering Department. Before he finished at Cal Poly, the entire department was laid off. Ted then went to work for EDAW, the landscape architects and planners who had provided services to Ambassador since it opened in 1948. Now employed by others, Ted continued to serve the church and college.

After graduating from Cal Poly, Ted and Donna married and lived for a short time in Southern California, where Ted began serving in youth ministry in the Santa Ana church. “Shortly thereafter, I was transferred by EDAW to Colorado. That is where our children Traci and Joe were born (actually Joe was born at our fall festival in Missouri, but that’s another story!).” Ted worked for EDAW in its Fort Collins, Colorado, office for several years as a project manager, then principal/vice president. “During those years, my family attended the Fort Collins church, where I served in preaching, music (leading the choir) and youth ministry. In 1987 after 15 years in business, I was re-hired by WCG—now to serve in pastoral ministry. My first assignment was in the Kansas City South and Topeka, Kansas congregations as assistant pastor. Then in 1990, we transferred to Colorado where I served as senior pastor of the Grand Junction and Craig churches.” During the years in Western Colorado, Ted also served as district youth ministry coordinator and coordinator of our Vail fall festival site. He also completed a master’s degree in psychology, with an emphasis in family ministry and counseling, at Regis University in Denver.

In 1997, the family was transferred to Ohio, where Ted served for three years as senior pastor of the Akron and Canton churches. Then in 1999, he began working as district superintendent for the Northeast U.S. He also started work on a master of arts in Christian studies degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, which he completed in 2007.

In 2000, in addition to his work as district superintendent, Ted began serving with Jeb Egbert as co-director of WCG-USA youth ministry. “When that ministry broadened in 2005, it was renamed Generations Ministries (GenMin). I had the opportunity to direct GenMin from 2006 through 2010. In 2010, I handed the baton of leadership to Greg Williams, who later handed it to Anthony Mullins.” Ted now serves on the CAD team as a regional pastor, ministry developer and communications coordinator. In the latter role he is webmaster of CAD websites, produces church development videos and produces several online publications: Equipper, GCI Weekly Update, The Surprising God and Sermon Series. Ted also serves on the faculty of Grace Communion Seminary, teaching Trinitarian Youth Ministry and Christian Counseling.

In 2012, Ted and Donna moved from Ohio to the gulf coast of Alabama to live near their daughter Traci, son-in-law Troy Calvert and two grandchildren Lauren (7) and Jack (4). Ted and Donna’s son Joe and Joe’s wife Carey live in San Francisco—a third grandchild is on the way!

Ted said that in all of his WCG/GCI roles over the years, “What has brought me the greatest joy is helping people, young and old, come to know the God who loves them, hear God’s call on their lives and then experience the joy of walking faithfully in that calling. It continues to be a great pleasure to equip people to share in ministry with Jesus. In doing so, I feel God’s presence and experience his pleasure. It has been a source of great joy and peace to share this calling with my wife Donna. She is amazingly loving, loyal and accommodating. We will celebrate 40 years of marriage this June.”

Updates from Canada

GCI Canada director Gary Moore provided this update.

Montreal English church celebrates 45th anniversay

MontrealOn March 29, the Montreal English congregation celebrated its 45th anniversary. The celebration included a special church service and a meal. John Adams and his wife Edna (at left in the picture) were guests. John formerly pastored the congregation.

The day was designed as a reunion, giving current and former members a chance to reconnect and share memories. Several former pastors sent greetings, as did GCI president Joseph Tkach and GCI Canada director Gary Moore.

Men’s retreat planned

GCI men in Ontario are hosting a men’s retreat (they call it an “advance”) on May 2-4, 2014. It will be held in Eastern Ontario (about a 90-minute drive from Montreal). GCI men in Canada, the U.S. and elsewhere are invited. For information, email Ken Brady at kbrady@caladena.com or phone Ken at 514.923.0414.

Updates from Asia

These updates are from GCI mission director Rod Matthews.

India: reaching out to children

India children's homeGCI has two churches in India—one in Hyderabad pastored by Dan Zachariah and one in Bangalore pastored by Joe D’Costa. I visited both recently with GCI-USA district pastor Rick Shallenberger, who was representing GCI president Joseph Tkach. Both churches have a special focus on reaching out to underprivileged children.

The Hyderabad church provides spiritual and material support to the Asha Kiran Home for Girls. The parents of the girls housed there are unable to care for them due to incarceration. The Sisters who run the home are always delighted to receive visitors, and the children love to sing and dance.

Faust SchoolIn Hyderabad, Mary Zachariah directs the Faust School. The children there contribute in various ways to the Asha Kiran home. In addition, there is a growing relationship between the Hyderabad church and Shining Stars (pictured at left), an after-school-hours center where children receive personalized academic attention.

Susanna children's homeSome years ago, as an unexpected gift, the Bangalore congregation welcomed a new member, Dr. Piria Suntharam. He brought with him the Susanna Children’s Home (pictured at right), which he had founded in a rural area of the state of Tamil Nadu to care for children with no parents or whose parents are unable to care for them. Dr. Suntharam continues to face serious hurdles in developing the home, including government regulations and lack of staff. He would appreciate your prayers.

Shristi AcadamyIn Bangalore, we visited the Shristi Special Academy (pictured at left), a facility that is focused on educating and developing children with mental disabilities. Many of these children suffer from autism and remarkable results are being achieved. Parents benefit immensely from the support of the academy in helping their “special” child become fully integrated, accepted and valued. The Bangalore congregation is exploring possibilities of being more involved in supporting this remarkable facility.

Nepal: Deben’s Vision

NepalDeben Sam, GCI’s mission partner in Nepal, has leased land and built a new church facility, bought land (pictured at right) for an orphanage, and conducted the first “Mobile Bible School” operating in rural Nepal villages.

Kathmandu schoolDeben also runs the Himalayan Bible School (HiBiS) pictured at left in Kathmandu. It serves young men and women selected from the Mobile Bible School classes who show potential and passion for spreading the gospel. HiBiS consists of three months of classes followed by nine months of practical work, during which the students return home to conduct meetings, evangelize and teach. At the end of that time, they are assessed and, if confirmed by the local church, offered full-time missionary positions. When such appointments occur, funding becomes necessary. To help meet the need, Deben has established the Unreached People Missionary Society.

Rick Shallenberger and Mohan Jayasekera accompanied to Kathmandu where they taught some HiBiS classes. Rick’s GCI Cincinnati congregation provides much of the support for a medical clinic on the outskirts of Kathmandu, which also is supported by the Himalayan Gospel Church (a coalition of ministries led by Deben). The clinic provides free medical services to needy children and mothers. Some patients have asked why we do this work and a few have responded to the call of God as a result of hearing the reply.

Myanmar: Second Booklet in Chin Language

bookletWe are delighted to announce that our second booklet produced in the Falam Chin language of northern Myanmar (Burma) has been printed in Yangon. That booklet (pictured at right) is The God Revealed in Jesus Christ. The booklet was translated by a young theology graduate named Van Thawm Lian. We first met him several years ago when he expressed great excitement about our literature.

2500 copies of the booklet were printed for distribution among the Chin peoples of which there is an extensive community in Yangon, and for use by Van Thawm Lian in the seminary where he teaches.

Roger Abels honored

At the recent GCI-USA regional conference in Chicago, recognition was given to Roger and Donna Abels for their many years of service in GCI pastoral ministry. Roger is retiring from GCI employment this coming summer. He currently serves as senior pastor of GCI’s congregation in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Below is a picture of Joseph Tkach honoring the Abels. Thanks Roger and Donna!

Abels retire 2014

Do we know them?

The Holy Spirit places in our hearts the desire to reach out to non-believers with the gospel of God’s grace. But doing so is increasingly challenging, given the rapid changes in the world around us. Do we know the people we’re trying to reach? Here are a couple of resources that can help:

John Moskel’s wife

Please pray for Shirley Moskel, wife of GCI pastor John Moskel. Shirley is in the final stages of small-cell carcinoma in her lungs and liver. Radiation treatments and chemotherapy were discontinued in January.

Her oncologist is a good friend of hers, having worked together with her at Lexington Medical Center several years ago. He promised that she would be made as comfortable as possible.

She has recently been placed on hospice care at home. Her hospice nurse has estimated that she may live for another few weeks. We would request your prayers on her behalf, as she is encountering a great deal of pain at this time, in spite of being on a pain pump and taking additional pain medications. She is conscious and fairly alert, though experiencing some mental confusion and anxiety. But her sights are firmly set on the Kingdom of God.

Cards may be sent to:

John & Shirley Moskel
130 Youpon Drive
Lexington, SC 29073


Janet Warner’s husband

Prayer is requested for David Warner, husband of Janet Warner, pastor of GCI’s Las Cruces, New Mexico congregation. David has been diagnosed with acute myeloid lukemia and is being treated at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. He has been accepted into a small pool involved in a clinical trial of a new chemotherapy that is showing great promise.

Please pray for David’s healing and for comfort for Janet who is also grieving the loss of her mother who died about two weeks ago.

Cards may be sent to:

Janet Warner
14112 Highweed Drive
Horizon City, TX 79928-5577