GCI Update

Spirit-led

Greg and Susan Williams
Greg and Susan Williams

Dear GCI Family and Friends,

Back in April I was on a group email provisionally planning for a future event. My good friend Pastor Dishon Mills was on the same message. He ended his communication with the statement “This pandemic is making me more deeply appreciate being Spirit-led.”

I have heard others use the phrase Spirit-led, and I think I know what they mean. In this instance, I felt bold, so I wrote back to Dishon and asked, “What does the phrase Spirit-led mean to you”? He was kind enough to take the time to respond.

Hey Greg. I hope you are doing well. Sure, I can share what I believe I understand about “Spirit-led” so far, as I pray for God to continue to bring me clarity. One of our small groups has been studying the book of Acts, and one of the threads we have been following is the ways in which the emerging church discerned the will of God in a dangerous, confusing time. From Acts 15, we gleaned some thoughts about Spirit-led discernment:

        1. Discernment does not happen in isolation, but through Christ-centered conversations amongst a diverse group (diverse with regard to perspectives, backgrounds, gender, etc.) within the church.
        2. When we discuss an issue, we need to give priority to God’s present activity—what God is saying and doing in the church and in the intersection of the church and its community.
        3. Then, we need to look to Scripture for confirmation of what we hear from God and to temper our approach (this may require a shift in perspective).
        4. We establish doctrine, rules, and/or protocols based on what we discern. 
        5. (Point added by Greg) Then make the understanding known throughout the church. Acts 15:30 says they were sent out carrying the letter (news) with them.

So, for me, Spirit-led is a communal or relational term because it is through the life of the church that revelation comes. I believe this is true of Christians both individually and collectively. Yes, God does speak to us directly. He brings affirmation, conviction, and guidance to those willing to listen. While this may appear to be Spirit-led in an individual sense, this too is communal and relational. I believe the Bible teaches us that we should not concretize anything we believe we have heard from God until we have the opportunity to run it by trusted Jesus-loving counselors. The Holy Spirit always leads us into relationship. Practically every time I am “spontaneously” sent to minister to someone (i.e. call a member to check-in), I find that my efforts were an answer to prayer. His leading is confirmed in my conversations with brothers and sisters about what I heard God say. Or my bias is exposed in the conversation when I mistake my voice for God’s.

Nicely stated, Dishon. I feel strongly about the Spirit working with us within the community of the church. We are no longer Moses going to the mountain alone —we are the church participating with Jesus and joining in community and relationship. This means lots of discussion and sharing, lots of processing and discerning, and lots of prayers leading to the decision that “It seems good to the Holy Spirit and us.”

May we be the Christ-centered, Spirit-led church that brings glory to the Father!

Greg Williams

Love Avenue in Latin America

Over the last two months, my wife and I have been keeping in contact with our members in Latin America to provide support to various countries there. The stay-at-home orders in many Latin American countries are affecting the population harshly. As you can imagine, folks generally struggle for the everyday necessities, and amid Covid-19, the struggles have multiplied. My home congregation in Sun Valley, CA, along with our Santa Fe Springs congregation, has been supporting and encouraging members in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Peru, including providing basic necessities for hundreds of families.

We have partnered with our local congregations in El Salvador, Honduras, and Piura, Peru. They have engaged the Love Avenue with tangible acts of love and have joined Jesus in bringing hope to many. Our Piura congregation that is pastored by Ruth Nieves has fully embraced the Love Avenue and is engaging their community missionally. She understands the opportunity that has been presented to her church and they are stepping out in faith.

The letter below is a report that she sent me from their engagement in their community.

Heber Ticas
Superintendent of Latin America &
National Coordinator for Church Multiplication

 


Greetings and thanks from our GCI Piura congregation, Peru.

I am writing to inform you that we have finished the mission that was entrusted to us and that it has been a beautiful privilege to serve the Lord Jesus. We are very grateful to be able to participate with him in his work, bringing hope to many families who are in great need.

We give glory to our God who through you and the encouragement and support from our sister churches in Southern California allowed us to provide 30 food baskets to various families in our community. We have been able to see closely what God is doing. He has made our congregation walk down the love avenue listening to the different testimonies of people who were surprised because they did not have anything to eat and suddenly help appeared.

The Lord Jesus showed us the sad conditions that many people are living through in this pandemic. He also allowed us to prepare 25 dinners for people who spend the whole day outside the hospital near our community and who sleep on the street waiting for results of their relatives who are battling Covid-19.

I would like to share with you all the details of this precious journey, which has been for the glory and honor of our God, but I know there is no time, and I end by telling you that all this is just the beginning of great things. Through your support, more hearts locally have been moved to want to support and join in the work of God. We have wept with those who weep, and we will not remain with our arms crossed, as we have witnessed so much need and thirst for God.

Everything is in the hands of God and we thank him because he answered our prayers. Initially, we did not know how to help with the poverty and need that has been intensified by the pandemic. We are now able to supply this need for a roof and protection against the cold. We even have members who, due to the pandemic, have taken refuge in our tents and become chefs to those in need in the community.

Best regards,
Ruth Nieves

 

A Tribute to Nsama Kaoma

Kalengule and Nsama Kaoma

Nsama Mwila (nee) Kaoma came in my life thirty-three years ago.  Of these, 28 years have been spent together as husband and wife.  We met in Grace Communion International (then WCG) in April 1987.  Nsama served the Lord until she died on July 12, 2020.

God gifted, equipped and prepared Nsama for many roles she did in her life.  Her warm and friendly smiles made it possible to attract people and make friends.  Coupled with pioneering traits and administrative abilities Nsama contributed to my pastoral office as Office Administrator.  Although she was not ordained as an elder, Nsama functioned as a minister in wonderful ways. The impact of these endowments resulted in visionary, servant, gracious and loving leadership.

Nsama’s giftedness and passion in ministry moved her to serve in several areas:  as a Children’s Ministry Teacher, Youth Camp Ministry Coordinator, Camp Office Administrator, Women’s Ministry Coordinator, Church Board Member (GCI-Zambia), Pastors’ Wives Coordinator, Maid Servants Coordinator, Couples Fellowship Facilitator, Marriage Counselor, Region Office Administrator (Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe), GCI-Zambia Office Administrator, Africa Missions Office Administrator, Ambassador College of Christian Ministry (ACCM) Facilitator and Teacher, and Africa Superintendent Office Administrator.  She ably filled the role of a great assistant.

In the communities where she lived, she served as a founding member of Mothers with Infants Support Talks (MIST), Village Banking Secretary, Silverest Community Development Team Secretary, Young Women Empowerment Group, and Women’s Financial, Self-Development, and Empowerment Teams.  Nsama passionately believed in making a difference in people’s lives and that she could work within her identified circles of influence.  She invested in people’s lives through education by paying school fees and generous donations to needy and vulnerable people.

To empower people with skills, Nsama established a school to teach various life skills to help graduates to stand on their own.  She would say, “No one can take away your skill.  You are the only person who can waste your skill.”

All in all, Nsama lived a fun-filled, responsible and engaging life to the glory of God.  A few days before she passed on, she and I talked to our children about death.  Nsama spoke to each child and blessed them.  As a family, we prayed together and I anointed her before we slept.

My family and I look forward to seeing Nsama in the Kingdom of God.

Kalengule Kaoma, Superintendent, GCI Africa

 

Camp Surrey 2020

Well, friends, Covid-19 has been rough. As people who are created to be in relationship, social-distancing has taken its toll on us all. As the shutdown happened, we were all thrown into figuring out a new way of doing church. When we realized that this would mean we could not move forward with our neighborhood camp, Camp Surrey, we were devasted. Then we realized that just like we figured out different ways of “doing church” through Facebook or Zoom, we needed to figure out different ways of “being the church” to our neighborhood as well. We saw the challenges in front of us, but we could not stand the thought of leaving all those neighborhood kiddos hanging. We had an incredible response from our neighborhood with our digital egg hunt, and we wanted to do the same thing for Camp Surrey. We knew the Holy Spirit was in control, but what we experienced this summer was far beyond our wildest expectations.

Our leadership team came together (we all live in the same neighborhood) and decided we would provide a new camp experience for our neighbors. We put our heads and hearts together and after lots of prayers, we came up with a “digital camp” that would allow us to serve all kinds of families in our neighborhood. We stuck with the theme we already had planned “Mission I’mpossible” and we got creative!

Each day, we had videos from different leaders from our church as well as “missions” (challenges) for our neighborhood to participate in. All five families from our leadership team set up “rendezvous points” in their front yards throughout our neighborhood loaded with bags with all the supplies campers would need for that day’s challenge. We continued to set up each day of the week with new supplies. We were able to see lots of familiar faces and meet many new neighbors who were eager to join in on the fun!

Camp Surrey currently caps our camp at 50 campers. This year, because of the digital layout, we were able to serve over 200 families in our neighborhood. My friends, this is the BEAUTY of neighborhood churches and camps! There is nothing more rewarding than serving kiddos and neighbors that you will continue to see and have relationships with throughout the year! We were able to sit in our front yards and see many of the campers from previous years, as well as connect with many new families that we didn’t know before!

We also decided that this year, this was something we wanted to do free of charge for our neighbors and community. People are tired, stressed, and lonely, and we wanted to do something to serve them with no strings attached.  We started off the week with a “Random acts of kindness scavenger hunt” followed by “kite making,” “origami,” “making family flags,” and ended the week with a neighborhood Camp Surrey parade! The joy we saw on the faces of our friends and neighbors was incredible. The Holy Spirit moved in a powerful way.

Each evening throughout “camp,” our leadership team was able to come together in my backyard to debrief each day’s events. We shared meals, we shared our hearts, and it became an intimate gathering where we were able to go so much deeper in relationship with one another as a leadership team. It wasn’t the same as our traditional camp, but it was beautiful. We were still able to experience the late nights and early mornings that we all missed so much about camp!

The experience was a gift from God.  It filled us with hope and was a wonderful reminder that he is sovereign.  He can use all things for his good and we are blessed to be able to participate with him.  We pray that God continues to open the eyes of our hearts to show us all the ways we can join him in ministry, even in the middle of a pandemic.  He’s got this!  Bring on the fun!

 

Ceeja Malmkar
Love Venue Coordinator, GC Surrey Hills

 

 

Virtual GCIgnite

Join us for Virtual GCIgnite—An event to connect young adults (18-30) in our denomination through a time of welcome and worship, and develop leadership through content and breakout sessions focused on spiritual formation and practice.

For more information and to register, click the images below for pdfs of the flyer and brochure. Be sure to share this with the young adults of your congregation!

Wounding Friends

Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are death.
Proverbs 27:6

I was 21 years old when my father died suddenly and no one in my family knew how to cope with that…especially at first. We were all hurting and finding our way through the initial stages of grief. For me, it was rage, pure rage. My world felt so foggy that every line seemed blurred.

The day after we buried my father I got in an argument with my sister and shouted, “If you don’t get out of my way, I’m gonna punch you in the face!” I love my sister and would never hurt her, but rage just came out of my heart through my mouth. My best friend Mike was standing there with us and he stepped between us and said to me, “If you punch her, I’m gonna punch you!” He would have done it, too, and Mike was a big dude. I was so emotionally immature and so damaged in my grief that I took offense that he seemed to turn on me.

What I didn’t realize at the time is that he was loving me like Jesus. Proverbs 27:6 tells us “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are death.” Faithful loving friends will hurt our feelings, if necessary, to help us see and correct destructive behavior. A true friend is willing to say the hard things, in love, to help us be our best selves in Christ. Today let’s stop and thank the Father, Son, and Spirit for the true friends in our lives who correct us in love.

 

By Bill Winn
Pastor, Grace Communion Hanover, Virginia