GCI Update

Passing the Baton in Asia

Dear GCI Friends and Family,

For this issue of Update, I wanted to give the column to retiring superintendent, Eugene Guzon. It has been my privilege and joy to work with Eugene over the years.  Lulu, his wife, has been a wonderful partner and support alongside Eugene. Their daughter, Joyce, and her husband, Aron, are vibrant leaders for the present and the future.

During our recent Celebration, Eugene passed the superintendent baton to Danny Zachariah. Eugene emulates the love and patience of Jesus. His commitment and tireless service have been appreciated by the Philippines and the entire Asian Region. I wish Eugene and Lulu much joy and fulfillment in this next stage of life.

In Him,
Greg Williams

P.S. Don’t miss the recordings of the Denominational Celebration in this issue.

I write to share highlights and reflections from God’s work in Asia—a region of diverse peoples, cultures, and spiritual beliefs. A large segment of the population is young. The countries are developing, and resources are scarce. In several areas, Christians are a minority. GCI has been active in the Philippines, India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, and Thailand, with networks in other countries, like Nepal.

I became Asia Superintendent in January 2019. The territory was a new frontier for me with its unique context and geopolitical challenges. An element that characterized this assignment was change. The Healthy Church vision was being introduced. We formed a new Community of Practice (COP) with Danny Zachariah and Wong Mein Kong, who were also early into their roles as regional directors for the Indian sub-continent and Southeast Asia (respectively). The landscape of the church shifted through COVID-19. It was a time of active learning as we tried to discern and follow where the Spirit led.

Participating together

One of the ways God is moving in Asia is through the people. I am inspired by many committed servant leaders, most of whom are volunteers. God provided them as engines of ministry in our local churches to carry out His mission. We have also been blessed through generous partners from our bigger GCI family and other like-minded organizations.

We are experiencing the value of teams. From the GCI Superintendents and Asia COP to the Philippines National Ministry Team, district directors, pastoral teams, and now the Faith, Hope, and Love Avenues, the team-based culture has been empowering and fulfilling. The process of cultivating REAL teams is not quick or easy, but it is a worthwhile investment and is more reflective of the life of our triune God.

Read More

Devotional—Suddenly Furious Traffic Came Up

Editor’s Note: For our Ordinary Time Devotional series, you will be hearing entirely from young authors. They will be sharing their perspectives on the theme, “God is in the streets.” Enjoy reading how the next generation of emerging GCI leaders experiences God outside the walls of the Sunday church gathering.

Traffic jam in Bangkok Downtown, Thailand at night.

From the time I was a young child, I have found it easy to sleep during car rides. Do you? If not, what hinders you from falling asleep? Is it because you are uncomfortable? Or is it perhaps a lack of trust in the person behind the wheel?

It reminds me of the time Jesus Christ slept through a storm:

Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” Matthew 8:23-27 (NIV)

How often do we fully surrender ourselves to our God? It’s not always easy to ignore our worries and anxieties, and just take a moment to rest. Jesus reminded us how important it is to have faith that God already has a plan for us and that the Holy Spirit will guide and protect us. It is no use worrying about things that we cannot control. It is no use raging about the traffic or fretting about what you left at home. Let us learn to rest, to calm down, and converse with our triune God.

Prayer: Father, Jesus, and Spirit, we thank you that you are with us. We acknowledge your presence in every moment of our lives. We entrust to you all our worries and fears. Teach us to understand the power of rest. Teach us to have faith in your mighty plans that we may enjoy every breath we breathe as we worship you. Amen.

By Jessica Joy Pamor, GC Pili Youth Leader
Bicol, Philippines

Neighborhood Camp Richardson

Twenty-two campers ages 5 to 12 from 15 families served by 28 staff members (including 3 teenagers) made for a great time of loving God, loving others, having fun, and being safe at the Richardson Neighborhood Skills Camp. Organized by Grace Communion Richardson with help from our American Heritage Girls Troops TX1595 and TX0147 and Trail Life Troop 147, the young people were taught various life skills and the relational skills of kindness, truthfulness, forgiveness, and courage. It was our first neighborhood camp, and it went very smoothly, praise God, despite some initial trepidation in the planning phase.

The theme of camp was “Develop Your Superpowers.” The staff taught the campers that the skills and gifts that God has given all of us are meant to be developed and shared in love. Skills taught included cooking, gardening, auto care, first aid, graphic design, cartooning, cake decorating, sign language, chess, home repairs, ancient weapons, outdoor skills, sports fitness, and musical ear training. Classes were practical, hands-on, and fun. Role-playing interactions helped develop the relational skills mentioned above.

As Katherine, one of our staff members, shared, “watching Audrey* come out of her shell during the ‘Get to Know You’ games (when just a few minutes before that, she’d been sniffly and asking me to phone her mom), and seeing her really enjoying her first session of ‘Drawing Comics’, and then watching her beaming face skip into the room on the second morning with no hesitation or fear was one of my favorite memories!” Another staff member, Connor, said he loved that the kids got more and more confident during each relational skills session.

I was inspired by the hard work, graciousness, and love of the staff that permeated camp. And I felt it was all worth it when a number of the campers and parents requested that we hold camp again next year with more days added.

Gabriel Ojih, Pastor
Richardson, TX, US

*not her real name

Note: All the pictures were taken by our 14-year-old photographer, Naia Moya.

GCI Buzz—Ministry Rhythms

This GCI Buzz is the introduction (part 1) of our 3-part Ministry Rhythms series. The next two buzzes will dig deeper, focusing on rhythms in the context of church renewal (part 2) and rhythms in healthy church development (part 3).

Check out the full PDF here, and the printer-friendly PDF here. Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 later this year. #gcibuzz

Trivia Night

It didn’t start out as a connect group. We began going to Thursday night Trivia at the local beer place as a way to see our daughter and son-in-law during the COVID pandemic. Nothing else was open and we were able to spend time with them as well as get acquainted with our new community in Oregon. The host asked almost every week if anyone would be interested in hosting the game, and for a long time, I paid no attention. But when the kids decided to move back to California, I decided since we went every week anyway – and the poor host had a five-hour round trip commute – I could do it.

After several weeks went by, I told a few people at church about my new gig, and some of them said it sounded like fun. They got a team together and became regulars. It has grown to sometimes two or three teams and everyone has a great time – sometimes they even win!

Then I was asked to become the Faith Avenue champion. I had no idea what that would mean and wondered if I would have to reinvent the wheel. Pastor Linda assured me I wouldn’t, as there were several groups already going strong. Then she said, with a twinkle in her eye, that Trivia was a connect group! I hadn’t realized it could be called that, but she’s right. The church members have another way to interact outside of services and practice reaching outside the walls. They are warm and outgoing to the other teams, introduce themselves to regulars and new teams alike, and have created a more family-friendly and fun atmosphere.

It’s encouraging to me how God can turn something I meant as a favor to the former host with a long commute, and be a fun little side job, into a way to connect people both within our church and to our small town. And he often knows what we need before we do.

Tammy Tkach, Assistant Pastor & Faith Avenue Champion
River Road, OR, US

Luzon Youth Camp

The flame in the hearts of the youth in the Philippines continues to burn as GC Baguio, along with the help of other local churches, conducted the North Luzon Weekend Youth Camp held July 14-16 at a Girl Scout campground in Baguio City. Seventy campers from different churches in Northern Luzon attended the camp.

Our theme was “Remember Our First Love.” The 3-day camp included daily worship and plenary sessions, archery, ballroom dancing, basketball and volleyball, and community service sessions. These sessions were led by volunteers within the church who surrendered their time and resources to serve the Lord through the camp. Many other staff also helped with the success of the camp.

Some campers have mentioned the “Encounter Night” as their favorite camp activity. The Encounter Night is a night of worship and prayer where everyone can experience the presence of God. The dance was also one of the camp favorites where everyone had a chance to showcase their newly learned ballroom dancing skills, in their best bohemian outfits.

On the last day, five campers chose to publicly profess their faith in Jesus. Their baptisms were witnessed by the other campers and staff. Kari Jobe’s song, “First Love,” was the camp’s theme song. May the flame in the hearts of the young people always be lit as they leave the campsite and go back to their daily lives.

By Jessica Joy Pamor, GC Pili Youth Leader
Bicol, Philippines

Community July 4 Celebration

This year during the city of Orr’s 4th of July celebration, our church decided to participate with a booth. Our theme was “Freely Received – Freely Given” (John 13: 34-35). I encouraged our planning committee to approach this event as participating in the ministry of Jesus in the Spirit. For this event, there was to be no hidden agenda, fliers, tracts, church logo, etc. The purpose was to intentionally experience God’s presence in relationship—knowing he is already there.

Our goal was to share the love of Jesus in daily relationships and commit to bless a person through a tangible act with no strings attached. We offered face painting, cold bottled water, and minor bicycle repair. One of our members invited a friend who brought reconditioned, donated bicycles. Seventeen bikes were given away to those in need. The feedback I got from our members seemed simple and very positive. I could sense excitement and joy in their hearts as each person shared their story at our Sunday service.

Tom Kennebeck, Pastor
Orr, MN, US

GenMin Webinar

The Generations Ministries (GenMin) Webinar Series is designed to equip
congregations to better disciple children and youth. Participants will learn
how to connect with young people in their neighborhood and share the love
of Christ with them. The series is both for groups currently serving young
people and for those who would like to start building those relationships.
The webinars are open to any member of Grace Communion International
congregation or fellowship group, though the research and context of the content was developed for the US.

If you cannot join the webinars live or miss one, the recordings will be made available after registering.

Register here.


Watch the Denominational Celebration Recordings

We are so grateful for your participation in the Denominational Celebration! The live recordings are now available. The playlist includes the GCI stories sessions and GCS graduation which were not livestreamed. The keynote sessions and worship services are also included, in case you missed them. During the keynote sessions, we experienced some technical challenges. We did our best to improve the final product for a better viewing experience.

We are also excited to share a digital version of GCI President, Greg Williams and Mark Mounts’ book with you. You can download it, here.