GCI Update

Jesus Conversations

Greg and Susan Williams
Greg and Susan Williams

Dear GCI Family and Friends,

Back in July I had an interesting weekend involving two separate occasions with two people with whom I was able to engage in what I call “Jesus conversations.”

The first event was a Saturday golf tournament where my playing partner was an 80-year-old who was new to the neighborhood. It was a hot day, and the tournament lasted six long hours. Waiting between shots gave us ample time for extended conversations. We spoke of family, travel, fine wine, his time as a Navy aviator. Then he queried me about GCI. What kind of church is GCI? What was my seminary training? I enjoy talking about GCI, but I enjoy talking about Jesus more so.

My golf partner was harkening back to his college days when he had taken a class on Christianity and an overview of the Bible. His family of origin was Lutheran, and his wife’s family of origin was Methodist, so for most of their church-going time they went to a Presbyterian church (that makes sense). He had been stationed in foreign countries, like Japan and Saudi Arabia, so he had been exposed to other world religions. Now at age 80, he was having a heightened curiosity about Jesus and Christianity. We conversed how most other world religions require you to sacrifice and appease their gods through all sorts of ritual and idolatry, where our God took on flesh and came into our world to live and die for us.

We went deeper into the matter of salvation by grace alone. Apparently, he was impressed by how I had been treating him. He is older and, on top of that, he has had double knee replacement surgery. The course was quite hilly so often I would offer to pick up his stray golf ball and bring it to the cart. He would say, “Aren’t you a gentleman?” It was a great opportunity to turn the glory back to Jesus.

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Devotional—Changed by Glory

While [Peter] was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” Matthew 17:5-7 NRSVUE

Luke’s Gospel says Peter, James, and John were led up the mountain by Jesus to pray. Let’s see this through their eyes. As he was praying, Jesus’ glory was revealed. They saw Jesus, the one who had been sharing life with them in many ways, experience a change that was beyond their comprehension. This experience must have changed them deeply, especially in how they regarded Jesus from that moment on.

When we have a glorious encounter with Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit, it doesn’t happen as it did that day on that mountain. Nevertheless, the experience is profound. We do not come away from an encounter with Christ through the Holy Spirit remaining as we were. Certainly, we see things differently, and we see others differently. We also recognize the extended invitation from our loving God to see that he is more than what we assume or expect.

During the season of Epiphany, let’s celebrate the glorious revealing that happened at the Transfiguration, and embrace the beauty of the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in us as our journey to becoming more like Jesus continues.

Prayer:
Loving God, we want to be changed by your glory. Continue to reveal yourself to us. We long to see you as you are, the Beloved Son. We want to live in the light of your truth and be witnesses to your glory. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Terry McDonald
Terry, with wife, Kizzie

By Terry McDonald, Pastor
Kansas City South, MO, US

 

Kenyan Youth Camp

Campers worshipping with Naivasha congregation

Our annual youth camp, held near Nairobi, Kenya, concluded on December 10. The campers enjoyed life skills training, team building activities, worship sessions, and supervised free time to allow for creating friendships. We closed the camp by attending a worship service at the GCI congregation in Naivasha.

Valerie had this to say, “To be honest, I did not know what to expect. The day started with travel in a common bus to the camp site, and I thought, we are doomed. But by the end of the second day, I was warm and into the camp proper. There was a good choice of topics which were relevant to us, and we were given time to socialize with our friends. Indeed, we experienced the love of Christ from our trainers.”


Wangari had this to say, “The theme was wonderful. I have experienced our trainers as pastors before, but I saw another side of them that I did not know; indeed, they are all-round people. They taught us the importance of understanding that choices have consequences.”

Beth had this to say, “Camp was the best part of my holiday. I made new friends. I learnt about a lot of things, for example, self-awareness, self-esteem, phone addiction, and that choices have consequences. Everyone in the camp was on their best behavior and friendly. Our teachers were wonderful.”

At the end of camp, many campers were biding others good-bye saying, “See you next year at camp.” It is our hope and great prayer that we will indeed be able to hold the camp again in December 2024. Please join us in this prayer.

Antony Gachanja, Regional Director East Africa

 

 

GCI Testify

Retirement of Bermie Dizon

Join us in celebrating Bermie Dizon’s retirement. He served as a GCI pastor for 40 years in the Philippines and in the U.S.

Congratulations, Bermie and Carmelita! We are very grateful to both of you for your many years of faithful service.

We wanted you to hear from Bermie in his own words.


After finishing high school in 1974, I moved from a rural area to Manila to take up my university degree. Because my older siblings were members, I started going to WCG services. In 1978, the regional director sent me to Ambassador College in Pasadena to represent the Philippines at the International Youth Leadership conference. There, I met Carmelita (wife to be), the other Filipino youth representative. In that conference, we were encouraged to attend Ambassador College.

In 1980, I started college at Ambassador. Adapting to a new culture was tough, but the prayer closets in the dorm and my new friends helped me through. My wife and I dated in our senior year and got married on campus two days after graduation in 1984.

After college, I was hired as a full-time ministerial trainee in the Philippines. I was assigned to pastor congregations in San Fernando, Pampanga, and Tarlac. I served in the area for seven years and planted churches in Cabanatuan City, Olongapo City, and Angeles City. In Pampanga, we had three children, Ben, Carmel, and Abel.

For twelve years, I served in different congregations. After Luzon Island, I was transferred to Mindanao Island. There I pastored in Davao City, Tagum, Kidapawan, and General Santos City, and planted a church in Digos City.

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Ordination of Job Alimasi Ayuba

On January 13, about 100 enthusiastic people gathered at GC Surrey, British Columbia for a very special and joyous service. Job Alimasi Ayuba was ordained to the position of elder and commissioned as associate pastor of our congregation. The ceremony was performed by National Director Bill Hall.

Job’s long-time mentor from Malawi, Pastor Silvester Nkosi, testified of Job’s long-term commitment to Jesus Christ and service in ministry, including leading children’s groups and youth camps in Malawi. He also served as deacon of the congregation in the Dzaleka Refugee camp, where he lived with his wife, Imani, and their children. Job performed pastoral duties in the Dzaleka congregation on behalf of Pastor Nkosi. In July 2019, GC Surrey sponsored Job and Imani and their family to immigrate to Canada, where Job and Imani have continued to serve in the church and in the community.

We were delighted that six of Job’s coworkers attended the service as well as friends from near and far. Guests from Quebec City, Ottawa, Edmonton, Texas, and Michigan joined our special celebration. Our Swahili members spent many hours preparing a great feast for after the service that was greatly enjoyed by all.

Congratulations to Job and Imani! We pray that God will bless them richly as they continue in loving service to all.

Debbie Minke, Elder, and Craig Minke, Pastor
Surrey, B.C., Canada

Meet Stacey Meade

“Over the years, my love extended beyond the walls of my denomination, evolving into a deep commitment to share God’s love with everyone, as instructed by him.”
Check out this month’s GCI Profile to get to know Stacey Meade, Love Avenue Champion in Charlotte, North Carolina. To read her full profile, click here or the image below.

Prayer Request

Please join us in praying for Ruth and Bob Miller’s adult son Brian. Bob is a retired pastor in Alabama. Brian has a severe lung infection. He is hospitalized in the intensive care unit, and his condition is critical.

Prayer Guide—February 2024

“Prayer is continuing a conversation that God has started through his Word and his grace, which eventually becomes a full encounter with him.” —Timothy Keller

Join us in prayer! Let’s thank God for the good work we are included in and for the dedicated pastors, leadership teams, and members who participate and serve their neighborhoods. May the communities who are served by these congregations experience Christ’s transformative love.

To download the full February Prayer Guide and participate in corporate prayer, visit here.

Share Your Black History Celebrations

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”(Revelation 7:9-10)

“This image of heaven gives us a clue that ethnicity and culture have some sort of eternal value. Our ethnic and cultural differences reflect God’s beauty and creativity. At the same time, those saints from different backgrounds are united in their worship of God. Diversity in unity is part of God’s design for humanity. Our cultural differences should be celebrated, and our unity in Christ should be celebrated even more.” From Embracing Diversity by Dishon Mills. Read the full Equipper article here.


In the U.S., February is Black History Month. Black History Month, also known as African American History Month, is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. It is a time devoted to paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating Black history.

Black History Celebration, GC Fayetteville, NC, 2023

Does your congregation commemorate this diversity awareness month in a special way with your members and neighbors? If so, tell us about it!

We’d love to share your stories of Black History Month celebrations!

 

Regional Gatherings in 2024

Save the Date

Please join us for a weekend of training, appreciation, and worship. Everyone is invited.

See flyer below or visit our website here for more information.

Registration opens late February 2024.

Registration Fee:
The Home Office will cover the registration fee for one pastor/facilitator per congregation and their spouse to attend a regional gathering. A coupon code will be sent with instructions on how to register in mid-February.

Lodging:
Each pastor/facilitator will need to book their own lodging for the gathering.

Hotel courtesy block links will be made available once registration opens. You may also consider booking other accommodations that work best for you (examples: hotel, Airbnb, VRBO, or accommodation with friends/relatives).

After the gathering, the Home Office will send a subsidy to your congregation via the send/draw to help offset the cost of one pastor/facilitator’s housing for the regional gathering. The amount will be set based on the average cost of the discounted hotel rate we were able to obtain for three nights.

LiLY Women’s Conference

We would love to invite you to celebrate our 20th year reunion.

2024 REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN!

20th Annual LiLY Women’s Conference
April 26-28, 2024
Embassy Suites in Independence, Ohio (in person)

“REUNION”

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. Luke 15:20 (NIV)


Registration Fee:
$75 / $85 – Take advantage of our early bird pricing of $75 and register by Friday, April 5, 2024.  The registration fee covers the meeting facilities, speakers, conference bag filled with goodies, plus lunch and dinner on Saturday.

Registration for ages 13-17 is at a discounted rate of $50.

Online registration ends on April 14, 2024.

Hotel Reservation/Cost:

Embassy Suites, 5800 Rockside Woods Blvd. Independence, Ohio

Overnight hotel rate is $129 per night, per suite, 4-person room (total with tax is $303.15 ­­­­­­for both nights – breakfast & manager’s reception included).

Click here to make your reservation online.

Group Name: LiLY Women’s Conference

Group Code: LWC

Central Reservations Number: 1-866-344-7548

Deadline for hotel reservations at the special rate is Friday, April 5, 2024.

Register today online at gccle.church/lily


 

If not registering online: Mail your registration fee and make checks payable to:

Grace Communion Cleveland, 4499 Canterbury Road, North Olmsted, Ohio 44070

(Please include your name, address, phone number, emergency contact name & address, and if you are staying for Saturday night dinner)

If you have any questions, please email us at: LiLYwomensministry@gmail.com

Rosa Hulse
Women’s Ministry Leader
Grace Communion Cleveland

Like/Follow us on Facebook at LiLYWomensConference.