GCI Update

What God hath wrought

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Joseph and Tammy Tkach
Joseph and Tammy Tkach

In the late 1830s, American artist and inventor Samuel F. B. Morse perfected the electromagnetic telegraph. Then in 1844, using his new invention, Morse sent a telegram from Washington, D.C. to Baltimore, Maryland. Tapped out using what we now refer to as Morse code (which reduces words to dots and dashes), his message was quite short: What hath God wrought? (Old English for What has God done?) Morse’s now-famous question got me thinking about how God the Father, by sending his incarnate Son in the power of the Holy Spirit, both revealed to us who he is, and reconciled us to himself.

Revelation and Reconciliation is What God hath wrought.

The triune God in action

Holy Trinity by Czechowicz (public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)
Holy Trinity by Czechowicz
(public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Our triune God is a God of action. From all eternity his being is that of doing. The Father, Son and Spirit were always in relationship—always interacting, always loving. As Jesus said, there was a knowing, loving and glorifying of each other before the foundations of creation were laid. There never was a time when God was lonely—he never was the solitary Unmoved Mover some have wrongly imagined. The Triune God is a living fellowship of holy love among the three divine Persons.

Accomplishing Revelation and Reconciliation

We know these things about God only because he acted towards his creation in such a way that we, his creatures, can know him. As Scripture declares and the early church taught, only God knows God and only God reveals God. God did not remain at a deistic distance expecting us to guess, instead he made a personal appearance, revealing himself to us in the person of the incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ. Scripture also declares that humankind, having become alienated from God, is in need of reconciliation with God. We all need the regeneration of our beings that has been accomplished by the Father, through the incarnate Son, and by the Spirit.

To truly know God means to know both who he is and what he has done in relationship to us. Who God is in his being is revealed to us through God’s doing on our behalf. Unlike humans, whose being and doing are separated, and often in conflict, there is no separation, no conflict between what God does and who God is. As T.F. Torrance notes in Theology in Reconciliation, when we carefully and prayerfully take this truth into account, we will arrive at an “astounding conclusion”:

God has made possible, and actual in Jesus, a true human knowledge of himself, not just as God is toward us, but in some real measure as God knows himself, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, from all eternity. (p. 238)

The triune God has brought about both Revelation and Reconciliation.

In and through the God-man Jesus Christ

Christ Pantocrator (St Catherines Monastary) (public domain via Wikimedia Commons)
Icon of Christ (both God and man)
at St Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai 
(public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Scripture tells us that the fullness of the Godhead dwelled in the human-born Jesus. The author of Hebrews put it this way: “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” (Hebrews 1:3). In and through his incarnate Son, Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit, God the Father has revealed to humanity who God is and what he has and is doing to bring humanity into right relationship with himself. Reconciled to God in Christ, we come to know not merely something about God, but who God actually is.

It’s only an analogy, but we might make a comparison between the coming of the Son of God to us in the person of Jesus with one of us going to a bunch of ants in order to have a relationship with them. While remaining who we are (human), we become one of them, dwelling within their anthill. We do this to be with them and to interact with them without losing our identity as a human.

In like manner, God the Father, through the Spirit, sent to us his Word in the person of Jesus to reveal himself to us, and in so doing to bring us his reconciling, saving grace. What the triune God has done reveals who he is—our Reconciling God!

The scientific theology of T.F. Torrance essentially says that the way of knowing God is the same as the way of salvation. Jesus is both the Truth of God (revelation) and the Way to God (reconciliation). Though God is not a part of his creation, nor is creation a part of God, God is not cut off from his creation. As Karl Barth noted, “God is not imprisoned in his transcendence.”

According to Torrance in The Mediation of Christ, God the Father, in Jesus, through the Spirit accomplishes both God’s self-revelation and his graceful gift of salvation-reconciliation:

Perhaps the most fundamental truth which we have to learn in the Christian Church, or rather relearn since we have suppressed it, is that the incarnation was the coming of God to save us in the heart of our fallen and depraved humanity, where humanity is at its wickedest in its enmity and violence against the reconciling love of God. That is to say, the incarnation is to be understood as the coming of God to take upon himself our fallen human nature, our actual human existence laden with sin and guilt, our humanity diseased in mind and soul in its estrangement or alienation from the Creator. This is a doctrine found everywhere in the early Church in the first five centuries, expressed again and again in the terms that the whole man had to be assumed by Christ if the whole man was to be saved, that the unassumed is unhealed, or that what God has not taken up in Christ is not saved. The sharp point of those formulations of this truth lay in the fact that it is the alienated mind of man that God had laid hold of in Jesus Christ in order to redeem it and effect reconciliation deep within the rational center of human being. (pp. 48-49)

Mission Developer Rod Matthews, who ministers for GCI throughout the South Pacific Region, told me about Bislama, a dialect of Pidgin English spoken in Vanuatu. In that dialect, Jesus, the Word of God, is called Tok blong God, literally translated talk belonging to God. No matter the language spoken, Jesus, for all humanity, is Tok blong God. To us, with us, and for us, Jesus is the Word from God—God-talk straight from the heart of God.

Dear sisters and brothers, Jesus is What God hath wrought.
Joseph Tkach

PS: Along with Greg and Susan Williams, and Gary and Cathy Deddo, Tammy and I recently visited England to participate in a ministerial conference (pictured below), and to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of our London churches. Congratulations (and thanks) to all our members there!


Members attacked in Mozambique

This report is from Tim Maguire one of GCI’s Mission Developers in Africa.

I recently received news of an attack by rebel forces in Canivete, Mozambique. We have a church in that small town, and though members there have not been injured, two have had their homes burned down and have lost all their possessions. Please pray for peace and that sanity will prevail. If Mozambique returns to a state of civil war, it will set the country back decades, and sharing in our Lord’s ministry there will become extremely difficult. Words of encouragement can be sent to our members there by emailing manuelvascomorrumbala@gmail.com.

Scene from recent troubles in Mozambique’s “invisible civil war” (source)

Canada youth camps

GCI-Canada hosted two youth camps this summer: SEP Silver Meadows and Camp Connections. Here are reports from each one.

SEP Silver Meadows

This camp was held near Edmonton, Alberta. The 64 campers from several Canadian provinces (and one from the U.S.) were served by 37 staff members (3 were GCI interns). God’s love and blessings were evident. Despite heavy rains in surrounding areas (a near wash-out at the nearby Calgary Stampede), the camp was blessed with beautiful weather after the first day.


The camp theme, Celebrating the Grip of God’s Love, was addressed in morning worship, chapels after breakfast, and evening worship. An afternoon reflection time used the “I am Second” video series, where famous individuals share testimonies about the grip God has on their lives. A spiritual highlight at camp was the baptism of two long-time campers in Lake Nakamum.

Camp activities included wall climbing, paintball and tubing—activities the campers would typically not have access to during the year. Camp concluded with a NoT-alent show where the campers were entertained with various talent acts. This was followed by a graduation ceremony where six senior campers were presented with Bibles and invited to come back as staff members next year.

Here is a video of the camp (teen session):

On YouTube at https://youtu.be/bUXzWYU-ao8.
For the pre-teen session, see the video at https://youtu.be/fUjTjjj5Ngg.

Camp Connections

This camp hosted 73 campers—21 more than last summer. The campers were welcomed into a loving, Christ-centered environment where they enjoyed a myriad of activities. Junior campers learned about the gifts of the Spirit while senior campers explored what it means to embark on a journey with Christ.

2016 was the inaugural year for Camp Connections’ Leadership in Training program. The young leaders not only learned, they served—contributing to the camp through a legacy project involving the finishing of canoe paddles that will be part of the camp’s equipment. The young leaders received separate messages and classes focused on helping them prepare for future leadership roles.

Among the campers were 19 refugees from various cultures and a young man from Restoring Hope Ministries, a street youth mission in Ottawa. As a result of fund raising support from various individuals and organizations (including the Peddling Kilometers program, which raised $17,000!), we were able to give financial assistance to all of our campers.


Help for preachers

Paul Preaching in Athens by Raphael (public domain via Wikimedia Commons)
Paul Preaching in Athens by Raphael
(public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Looking for help in preparing sermons that align with our incarnational, Trinitarian faith? Joseph Tkach’s Weekly Update letter typically has material that can be turned into a sermon. Also check out these other GCI resources:

  1. Sermon Series, which is emailed to subscribers. This publication is currently covering the book of Ephesians. Click here for a sample. To subscribe, email your request to Ted.Johnston@gci.org.
  2. Sermon Summary, which is a feature in CAD’s monthly e-zine, GCI Equipper. Click here for a sample. To subscribe, email Ted.Johnston@gci.org.
  3. Trinitarian Preaching Forum on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/480011505381562/
  4. Trinitarian Theology Forum on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/174169545968632/
  5. The Surprising God blog at http://thesurprisinggodblog.gci.org/

If you have a sermon (in manuscript form) you would like to have published in Equipper, or on one of the online forums, email it to Ted.Johnston@gci.org.

Death of Tom Pickett’s son Andrew

We were saddened to learn that early Sunday morning, September 11, Andrew Pickett, son of GCI Pastor Tom Pickett, died following a stroke he suffered several days earlier. Andrew was taken off life support on Saturday night.

You may recall that Tom’s wife Adrienne died earlier this year (click here for the report). Please pray for Tom, his surviving son David, and the rest of the extended family in their time of grief and recovery.

Here is a note that Tom posted earlier this week on Facebook:

The Picketts a few years ago: (L to R): David, Adrienne, Tom and Andrew.
The Picketts a few years ago:
(L to R) David, Adrienne, Tom and Andrew

My dear family and friends, how can I state the profound truth that God loves us all unconditionally. He has received his precious child Andrew to be with his mother Adrienne in heaven. His organs will be given to others who need them to live full lives on this earth, and he lives on in the spirit. Thank you for your many and heartfelt prayers for Andrew, for me and for his wife and the rest of our extended family. Your continued prayers are appreciated as we move forward into our futures.

Cards may be sent to:

Tom Pickett
1206 Sproles Drive
Benbrook, TX 76126

Joseph D’Costa’s wife

We were saddened to learn that Joanna D’Costa, wife of Joseph D’Costa, GCI’s pastor in Bangalore, India, recently suffered a stroke. Here is Joseph’s prayer request:

Joseph and Joanna D’Costa

We were at church and Joanna gave a prayer. When I began the sermon, she momentarily lost consciousness and became stiff. She regained consciousness quickly and asked that I carry on with the sermon. But we felt that something was wrong so we called an ambulance and rushed her to the hospital. On the way her blood pressure shot up and treatment was administered in the ambulance.

In the hospital it was determined that there was a ballooning of one of the blood vessels in her cranial cavity (outside the brain) from which blood was flowing. This was causing her severe headaches. A procedure was conducted, and she is now recovering, replying normally and even making a few jokes.

It appears that things are coming back to normalcy. Please pray for Joanna’s complete recovery because in such cases there is the possibility of complications.

Cards may be sent to:

Joanna D’Costa
Post Bag Nol 3786
Bangalore 560 037

Deben Sam

Prayer is requested for Deben Sam (pictured below), GCI’s ministry partner in Nepal. Deben’s wife Manju informed us that Deben is very sick and has been hospitalized. He is suffering from high blood pressure and blood sugar, vomiting, severe headaches, and double vision.


Regional Conference videos posted

Click here for videos of the plenary sessions and workshops from the 2016 GCI-USA Regional Conference. CAD asks GCI-USA pastors and fellowship group facilitators who did not attend a Regional Conference this year to watch these as part of their continuing education. Here is the conference presentation from GCI President Joseph Tkach:


For a video of a Fellowship Group worship service demonstration presented at the Orlando Regional Conference, go to https://youtu.be/PKOF2i6cD5I.


Festival registration extended


Registration for the Good News Festival in Ocean City, Maryland, on October 13-16 (click here for details), has been extended through September 16. When registering, be sure to register for the conference itself, then (as a separate step) reserve your room at the conference hotel. The reserved block of rooms at the hotel is filling fast, so register soon.

In addition to previously announced activities, here are three more that will be included in the festival:

  • a beach party hosted by the GCI interns for youth and young adults age 12 to 25
  • a young adult trip to Ocean City Screams
  • Saturday worship service where four of our GCI interns will be proclaiming the gospel