Click the image below to view and download the Prayer Guide PDF.
Grace Communion Cleveland (GCCle) partnered with Cleveland City Mission to help collect coats for men, women, and children, with a focus on those housed at Laura’s Home Women’s Crisis Center. Members asked family and friends to check their closets for winter coats that were no longer being worn but still in good condition. Twenty-eight coats were collected for homeless and transitioning women, men, and children. We are reminded that even one can make a difference.
We were also blessed to volunteer as a church and help pass out “Farm to Families” food boxes each Thursday in October. These boxes included chicken, dairy and produce. In the summer months, we participated by collecting boxes to give to those in need mostly within a mile radius of our former church home. This time, Grace Communion Cleveland was able to take part in the process of distribution on-site with the Cleveland Heights School System who sponsored the giveaway. We are grateful to be finding ways to reach out during this time.
Love Avenue Champion
October 6 through 8, twelve Home Office employees gathered in Oklahoma City, OK, to plan for the coming year. Due to Covid-19, our meetings took on a different look–we even had GCI branded masks.
We were each seated at individual tables to create proper spacing. At first look, everything seemed so spread out and separated, but after we started working, the extra space didn’t hinder the warm communication or collaboration, and most commented that they liked having the extra space to spread out their documents.
While in Oklahoma City, we traveled to Surrey Hills, the site of the new church building that is being built. We were greeted on-site by Surrey Hill’s pastor, Joe Brannen. Joe gave us a tour of where the sanctuary would be located, classrooms, and meeting space. Although no steel or concrete construction had started, the ground had been leveled and chalk marks, colored string, and wooden stakes were seen throughout the space where concrete was to be poured later in the week. This church facility will also serve as a Ministerial Training Center for interns and pastoral residents when complete.
Our meetings were collaborative, focusing on the Faith Avenue theme for 2021. Working within this theme, we discussed how national and regional resources and events could be focused to support congregations and members in exploring this avenue. The Faith Avenue is one of the three key ministries (the others being Hope and Love) that are important in a healthy church as we share the gospel. Tools, including social media, church hacks, prayer calendar, Equipper, monthly church reporting, and more, will all be used to emphasize and inform participants about the Faith Avenue in 2021.
This planning time together was beneficial and joyful because it is the only time during the year that this group gathers in one place to share ideas face to face. We brainstormed and planned, and also enjoyed recreational time together to relax and deepen our relationships.
The next time we will all be in one place will be the Denomination Celebration in 2021. We hope to see many of you there!
In a couple of months, by the grace of God, I will officially begin my tenure as the National Coordinator for Generations Ministry (GenMin). My friend Jeff Broadnax and others blazed a trail that I am grateful to follow. It is humbling to be placed in a position to assist in the spiritual care for the young people of our denomination in the US. Fortunately, God has proven himself to be a God who can do big things with small things. I would like to share a bit of my story with you, so you understand my confidence in God.
I was 5 years old when I last saw my father, and I emotionally struggled with never knowing the man that made me. My mother was always enough, but there were times when the dad-sized hole in me ached. At those times she would say, “Don’t ever think that you don’t have a father. You have a heavenly Father who loves you.” It took me a very long time for me to believe her. I was born into the Worldwide Church of God, and I struggled under legalism and people who did not treat me with kindness. One adult charged with caring for the youth in a neighboring congregation told me that I likely would not amount to much. Encounters like this made God seem unloving and cruel. On top of that, I grew up in a community where many did not value little brown boys. My family was one of few black families in my town, and I suffered under persistent racism. In high school, my guidance counselor refused to help me apply to colleges because he did not believe I was college material. With a backstory like this, you would expect me to become a statistic, but we serve a God who can do big things with small things.
Miraculously, God did not allow the hatred and dehumanization of others to derail his plan for me. By God’s grace, he decided that I would go to Harvard University, where I studied sociology and African American studies. While in school, he introduced me to my wife Afrika, and our union produced Serena and Cairo, our wonderful children. At Harvard, God also gave me my first career through my work-study job. I became the first African American to serve on the adult staff of the South Boston Boys and Girls Club. It was there that I realized how much I loved working with children. For the next twenty years, every job I had was working either with or for young people. For ten years I worked for the Boston Public Schools, where I headed the office that coordinated afterschool programs and student services. At one point, my office supported 8,000 children and youth across the city of Boston. The kid that “would not amount to much” helped thousands of children learn, grow, and realize there were no limits on what they could accomplish. Our God can do big things with small things.
During this time, God was drawing me to himself and towards my calling in Christ. While in college I decided to stop following God. I believed he existed, but I was angry at him and doubted his love for me. That went on for over a year until, like the prodigal son, I remembered my Father and longed to be with him again. Because God is full of grace, he began to reveal himself in different ways and in different places. My wife and I attended a progressive Baptist church, a megachurch, a traditional Baptist church, and a Pentecostal church. At each church except the megachurch, I was invited to lead in ministry — youth minister, associate pastor, and youth pastor, respectively. It was through these experiences that I came to learn that God is a good God, and in him, there is no shadow or darkness. I came to fall in love with the church and wanted to participate in the work Jesus was doing. God took the kid that hated church and was not taught about Christ to share the gospel with scores of youth and adults. Our God can do big things with small things.
God brought my story full circle and returned me to Grace Communion International. God used the denomination that placed burdens on me as a child to spiritually liberate me and finally give me a theology that felt right. After serving as a church planter in Randolph, MA, the Lord led me to shepherd Grace Christian Church, the same church I occasionally attended in college. God blessed me with a truly beautiful church family. When Greg Williams approached me about the GenMin role, my mind flashed back through the journey I just shared with you, seeing God’s hand in every moment. Of course, I prayed and sought wise counsel from those led by the Spirit, but through the circumstances of my life, God showed me the extent to which he had been equipping and preparing me for this moment before I even knew to call on him. My God can do big things with small things. I pray that God will use me, in partnership with parents, pastors, and congregations, to bring the same message to the young people of our denomination.
The Next Leg for GenMin
But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry… I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. -2 Timothy 4:5-7
In a 4 x 100-meter relay race, each runner is strategically placed so that the team can use his/her speed to maximum advantage to win the race. No matter what position, the coach wants each team member to run their race to the full and then hand the baton to the next member.
There is a 20-meter exchange zone to hand off the baton but experienced runners know about the additional 10 meters called the acceleration zone. It allows you to get up to full speed as you enter the exchange zone and receive the baton.
In that spirit, I’m excited to be handing off the GenMin baton to Dishon Mills for the next leg of the race. I have known Dishon and his family for decades. His mom, Shirley, has been an instrumental prayer warrior in my life, my congregation, and my ministry.
When I received the baton from Anthony Mullins in 2017, I knew my leg was to equip the members of the GenMin camps, missions, and ministries for the transformation the Lord was working in GenMin.
Our motto of Loving Kids, Developing Leaders and Sending a Generation added one spirit-led insight. We moved from sending “A Generation” to sending “Generations”.
Our focus shifted from loving and building children, youth, and young adults via camp ministry to intentionally setting their sights on local congregational mission fields, connection groups, and neighborhood camps. Now it’s time to equip and deploy them.
Dishon has been richly blessed with gifts perfectly suited to lead the discipling, equipping, and sending of those who serve in intergenerational ministry.
This is the second time I have been blessed to watch him take the next leg of a race with me. Back in 2012, after nearly 20 years of service, I was honored and thrilled to release the New Heights Summer Camp into his capable hands. It was a pleasure to watch God use him in fresh ways, with fresh ideas and deep Christ-centered grounding.
I can’t wait to see how the Lord uses him on a national level through GenMin. Like a runner who has given his all and left it on the track, I release the baton and become his biggest cheerleader as he discharges his duties on his leg of the race.
Please join me in praying for Jesus’ strategic placement of Dishon and his team as they continue to love kids, develop leaders and send generations into the mission field to join our Lord, Jesus, in what he is doing in the world.
…is the Father, Son and Spirit’s decision to elect, or choose, humanity to be included in his relationship forever in Jesus!
In Jesus, you and every other person you know, including all presidential candidates that are and ever will be, have been elected or chosen to be at the highest place of honor and privilege possible for a human being – in Christ. All of what it means to be fully human is seated, truly but mysteriously, in that relationship of privilege right now, in the person of Jesus Christ, who represents and substitutes for all of us before the Father. (See Ephesians 1:3-6.)
That is who we humans are, fundamentally, and where your personal human identity is. That is the identity of all members of all political parties everywhere. That is who the presidential candidates in this year’s election in the U.S. really are, too, in Christ (not in and of themselves but in Christ). That is the reason why no matter which candidate has been elected as President of the United States, and no matter how much more difficult or good our political, social, and economical times may get, we all still have a reason for a greater and more REAL hope in the Lord Jesus Christ! Having overcome our evil, sin, and death (which still hinders every human being and political party on earth), Jesus ascended into glory as the God-Man, solidifying the fact that he can still be more faithful than we are (1 Timothy 2:13)
As we live in the Holy Spirit, this is this kind of hope that that will be fueling the thoughts and prayers of us who trust Jesus, the Father’s Son, no matter who we decided to vote for, or decided not to vote for. Hopefully, and appropriately, the decisions you made about your voting came out of a relationship you received from the Father, through Jesus, and in the Spirit. All of what I am describing is not just a static or generic reality but rather a dynamic and relational reality as revealed by Jesus (John 14:12-17) — a relationship in which we ask and seek, and our Father hears and gives (Matthew 7:7-12). In this worshipful and relational way, we who believe and have received Jesus and his Father’s Spirit are participants in having the mind of Christ, even in our voting, and even if we voted differently than other believers might have (1 Cor. 2:16).
Fundamentally, in Christ, all of humanity is still selected and elected to be with him. This is so not because of us but because of Jesus, who sustains everything as the powerful Word of God, now in his human and glorious person (Hebrews 1:3). The sooner we come to embrace this gospel truth by God’s grace, the more we can experience and begin to be who we are in him right now!
Prayer: Please let us fully experience our unity and inclusion in you, Lord. May we see past earthly circumstances to the truth of our identity and belonging in you first and forever.
Pastor, Baltimore, MD
Dear GCI Family and Friends,
It may sound cliché, but we do live in challenging times. The struggles with and through COVID-19 continue; the politics and elections in many countries are more divisive than they have been in years; there is the constant fight for our personal time, attention and resources (not that I am a conspiracy theorist, but the documentary The Social Dilemma on NetFlix made me think); and there is a great need for racial reconciliation and equality. Amid all this, we have our unified mission to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ into the 21st-century world – not a small task. And I especially think about how best to share the gospel with Generations Z and Alpha.
Leadership matters – this concept shows up across all eras of history and certainly is needed today. In a recent internet search, I came across a site for the organization “Leadership Matters for America.” (While we do not affiliate with or endorse this organization, their site provided some useful information that follows.) They identified the markers below as vital ingredients to leadership:
- Strategic Thinking: We want someone who can bring about the right change not just out of rage but with the right thought.
- Planning & Delivery: Planning the right course of action and making sure that the action has brought you to the right place.
- Persuasion & Influence: All the planning will go to waste if people do not understand the right way to be the change.
These are excellent qualities that we want for all our GCI leaders and they certainly align with Christ-centered leadership qualities described in Scripture. This leads me to an important and exciting announcement.
We are at a juncture where a significant leadership transition will be taking place in GCI. Our current Generations Ministry (GenMin) National Coordinator, Jeff Broadnax, is handing over the baton of leadership to Pastor Dishon Mills in January 2021. Jeff will continue to be one of five U.S. Regional Directors. (See the attached article from Jeff called “The Acceleration Zone”).
In our prayerful and careful process of identifying Dishon for his new role, we were looking at his experience along with the following leadership characteristics we list on our job descriptions that make him a good fit to take on the leadership of GenMin.
- Personal health: lives in community, with integrity, and maintains good spiritual/emotional/relational health.
- Self-aware: knowing who he is in Christ, having clarity about personal strengths and weaknesses, and is comfortable filling in his own gaps with competent team members.
- Time manager: well organized and able to divide his time between specific activities and effectively fulfill work-related goals.
- People skills: the ability to deal with a wide range of people in a friendly and effective way that achieves good results.
- Life-long learner: continuing to grow in knowledge and capacity, especially in the areas of youth culture and development resources for Christian ministry in the 21st century.
Above any life experience or leadership qualities, there is the matter of spiritual calling. Is this a role that the Lord has been preparing and grooming Dishon for? How has Dishon discerned this? And what does Dishon want to share with us as a way of introduction? I will ask Dishon to continue this introduction in his article entitled “Big Things with Small Things,” and in our December issue of Equipper Dishon will introduce a new column. I will end by saying “Welcome to Dishon and Afrika, his delightful and supportive wife. We are so glad that you said ‘yes’ and we are excited to see what the Lord accomplishes through you.”
Looking forward to equipping leaders,
With a heavy heart, we must announce the death of a former long-term employee and member, Gene Michel. He was the longest-serving GCI full-time employee before his retirement in 2005. As of Gene’s retirement, he had 51 years and 6 months of full-time employment. He was a wonderful man and a faithful employee.
Gene Michel passed away peacefully in his sleep. He has been in a care facility in Pasadena for over a year along with his daughter, Elizabeth. Being in the same facility was a comfort to both.
Gene attended Ambassador College beginning with the class of 1951. That is where he met his wife, Betty Bates, who was in the first-ever class at Ambassador. Gene headed the Accounting Department for many years and later was responsible for all church properties worldwide. He was a gentle, capable and faithful employee who served well for 51 years.
According to his wishes, Gene will be cremated, and his cremains will be placed with a mausoleum with his wife. There will be no ceremony. Just a few family members will gather at some time in the future for a time of remembrance.
Please keep the Michel family in your prayers as they go through the natural process of grieving and celebrating a life well-lived.
Gene’s brother Bernell specifically asks that no flowers be sent. However, cards of encouragement, love and support can be sent to the family at the address below.
2878 Sycamore Lane
Arcadia, CA 91006-6352
8:15 am, Sunday, August 23, 2020
Cape Town South is one of two congregations in the city of Cape Town. The congregation is under the leadership of Pastor Mark Powell, supported by pastors Europa, Visagie, and Christoffels.
It was a Love Venue initiative led by Grant Erasmus, GCI CTS Worship Ministry Leader. The aim was to serve the neighbours in their street who were not able to attend church services at their respective churches due to the lockdown resolution still in place in South Africa.
The residents in Runge Street were excited as the session was opened in prayer by one of the neighbors. Families gathered outside their homes on the pavement and lifted their voices in song. The church sound system was set up in the Erasmus’ driveway to play the music.
Tim Maguire and his wife Veronica from GCI Pretoria, who were visiting Cape Town, joined Trevor Weber, Regional Pastor, and his wife Virginia at the praise and worship morning. Tim also prayed for the community, who face many challenges as a result of the slump in the economy leading to unemployment and hunger concerns.
Pastor Freddie Europa, who is well known in the community, closed the praise and worship session in prayer. The residents immediately requested another morning of praise and worship, but requested that a Communion service be added as well.
The day dawned as God blessed us with beautiful sunshine and no wind. Praise and worship was again enthusiastically received. During the service, Sandra Mumpies, a member of GCI CTS, gave a short testimony.
The Communion table was set up on the pavement with disposable glasses as part of the symbols and plastic gloves, per recommended protocols.
Pastor Trevor gave a short message from 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, after which the symbols were served by deacon couple Basil and Cristal Benjamin. The residents waited outside their gates on the pavements to maintain social distancing and the servers had to go from house to house.
After a few more songs, the morning presentation ended with the residents again requesting another praise and worship morning.
Dominique Erasmus, the GCI CTS Children’s Ministry Leader, then handed out “Dignity Bags” to some of the young girls. These contain items of personal care products. Dominique had seen the need for these essentials as families had to make the tough decision between food for survival or toiletries. Dominique made a call to the GCI CTS Women’s Ministry and church members for donations to this ongoing “Dignity Bag” initiative.
GCI CTS will continue to strive towards the GCI RSA Vision 2025 of Healthy Church as we share the love of God and the gospel of Jesus with the community.