June 9, 2010

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On May 24, Randy Bloom, who was visiting Germany for a leadership conference, along with Santiago and Elke Lange and I, met in Worms, Germany, with Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher, Chairman of the Theological Committee of the World Evangelical Alliance. Dr. Schirrmacher has been familiar with our denomination since the 1970s. He published a paper in 2000 about our doctrinal changes, and his material was instrumental in opening new doors for our church in Germany.

In 1998, Dr. Schirrmacher, who at that time was the Chairman of the Evangelical Alliance in Bonn, spoke in our Bonn congregation. Shortly after that, we were invited to join the Evangelical Alliance in Bonn.

Dr. Schirrmacher has spoken several times in our churches and has presented workshops and given lectures at our annual festival and in our national ministerial conferences. Dr. Christine Schirrmacher, Thomas’ wife, has also contributed to our leadership conferences. Christine is one of Germany’s top experts in Islamic Studies and serves as an advisor to German Chancellor, Angela Merkel.

We rejoice in being able to call Dr. Schirrmacher a good friend and supporter of our denomination who has continued to stretch out the hand of fellowship to us.


Montreal Weekend

Last week, I met with Gary Moore in Montreal for our Canadian Board of Directors annual meeting. The English and French-speaking congregations in Montreal combined for church services. It was a treat to hear our brothers and sisters sing in both languages together. Andre Marineau was ordained as an elder to serve the French-speaking congregation.

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Thailand

From Rod Matthews:

After visiting Myanmar [see last week’s Update], Malaysian pastor Wong Mein Kong and I flew to Thailand to visit our pastor and congregation of Karen people in a refugee camp near the Myanmar border. This camp is one of seven along the border holding approximately 140,000 refugees. Many are political refugees, fleeing the conflict between the Burmese army and the Karen across the border in Myanmar.

Pastor Lah Shi and his wife

In recent years, the United Nations has worked at resettling many refugee families in new homes overseas, but those leaving the camps have been replaced by others arriving, many of whom are economic refugees. You can’t blame people for wishing for a better life for their families and children, but it does complicate the process for the UN in determining priorities.

Pastor Lah Shi met us and we drove for 40 minutes along the border road to the camp (if you can call a settlement of about 40,000 people a camp). Although it was a weekday, we were able to meet with many members of our congregation and have a worship service. Mein Kong and I gave shorter messages, this time translated into the Karen language by Lah Shi. There were a large number of children present who sang for us, accompanied by a young man on the guitar who helps out with our children’s program. I discovered that a number of the children attending are not those of member families but come from the homes packed in around our church building, and who want to be involved in the children’s program especially for the music.

Several Karen member families have been resettled in Australia and the United States, and several others who were refused visas for Australia are re-applying to other countries. The children know of no other world than that of the camp, so education is important to prepare them for a world beyond the camp whenever they might be permitted to access it.

The Australian members provide monthly financial support to the Karen congregation to enable the camp-bound members to have access to supplemental food supplies, cover urgent house repairs after storms, meet medical expenses for conditions beyond what can be handled by the camp’s first-aid station, pay for higher education for the children, and provide pastoral support, including maintaining the church building (right).

When visiting the camp with Wong Mein Kong, I can think of no other more vivid reminder that Christ came to “set the prisoners free.” I can leave the camp any time, but they can’t. I can choose where to live, where and when to travel, and have access to all types of social benefits. They are essentially stateless, the victims of a war decided on by men in distant cities, who are themselves protected by armies and largely isolated from the poverty, disruption and squalor of the innocent people caught in the middle. We leave these brothers and sisters and children in Christ with such encouragement as we can, pointing them to their only Savior, Jesus Christ, and his words of acceptance, comfort and love in the full knowledge that he knows what they are enduring, and will rescue them.


Bogota, Colombia

Hector and Paulina Barerro sent this report about their classes for couples:

Our current main project in Bogota has to do with working with couples. This is the third class we are presenting. Each class is four months long. Last year we graduated about 20 couples after the first semester and then 17 after the second semester. This semester we are working with 22 couples in five small groups. The class is composed of 12 lessons, which means 12 weeks, and includes homework, readings outside the class and short workshops during the classes.

There has been much fruit. Couples who were near divorce are now doing well. Others have come to Christ during the course. Others have started attending church services, and others have returned to their churches after not attending for quite a long while. It has been a very positive experience.

The last of our activities was held May 29, when couples who are taking the class were able to bring friends who might want to take the class next semester. We had a total of 53 couples in attendance that day. We discussed the topic of transparency in marriage, and then we celebrated with food and music.

Some of these couples also start attending our small groups discipleship class. We introduce them to our doctrines and invite them to attend church. Some couples come from other churches just to take the class and some decide to stay with us and join our congregation. The pictures are from the May 29 meeting.


Prayer Requests and Updates

Dave Fiedler

Dave Fiedler let us know that after three weeks, his second attempt at surgery for a detached retina seems to be healing successfully. His sees the doctor again next Tuesday. Dave wrote: “The artificial lens I previously had in that eye had to be removed for the surgery, so I have no sight in the eye while it heals. If everything proceeds as we hope, it will be about three months before I can have a new lens put in. Please thank everyone for their prayers (and please keep them up till I’m out of the woods on this).”


Steven Guice

GCI board member Frank Guice and his wife, Cora, let us know that their son, Steven, who was injured in a work related fall, transferred from ICU to a regular room on Saturday evening and has now been released from the hospital. Cora said that Steven’s appetite is good, that he is sleeping much better, and that he has taken some good walks, although he is still dealing with pain. The Guices thank everyone for their love and concern.


Dana Johannsen

Doug and Betty Johannson sent this update about their daughter, Dana, whose water broke too early for her baby to be safely born. Betty is at the Naval Hospital in Bethesda with Dana. Here’s the latest report:

She has passed 24 weeks now, so that means things are a bit better for the baby, but still no amniotic fluid or just a tiny amount. The baby is active and the heartbeat is good.

An NICU doctor stopped in this morning. The doctor said that each day that she stays pregnant usually means two less days the baby will need to stay in NICU after being born. The odds of survival are now 50 percent, which is up from zero percent on May 19, and then from five percent during the first few days they were in the hospital. They won’t really know about the lungs until the baby is born, but the odds are better than they could have been, because the amniotic sac did not rupture before the 20th week. At 26 weeks (she is now at 24 weeks and three days), the odds jump dramatically to the positive for the baby. The approach is still to hold off delivery for as long as possible. They plan to deliver the baby at 32 weeks because of the risk of complications to Dana’s health if they wait, and because at that point the baby has a good probability of a positive outcome.

Thanks for your prayers; and it is also comforting to know that Jesus is praying about this for us, too.

Remember that prayer is the battleground where we fight the good fight of faith. Let’s encourage everyone to join together in prayer, for we belong to Christ, and by the Spirit it is in Christ that we pray. Prayer and other spiritual activities help keep our hearts in tune with God and remind us of who we are in Christ. He is our all in all, and in him we are eternally beloved of the Father and blessed to share his good news with others.

Love from my family to yours,
Joseph Tkach


June 2, 2010

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Twenty-seven European leaders met in Worms, Germany, for a leadership conference from an Incarnational viewpoint. Elders and wives from Holland, Spain, Switzerland, and Germany enjoyed presentations from David Stirk, John McLean and Randy Bloom. The food and the weather were excellent and only exceeded by the discussions and fellowship. German national director and European co-director of missions Santiago Lange and his wife, Elke, hosted the event.

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Myanmar

Rod Matthews sent this update of his April visit to Myanmar:

Malaysian pastor Wong Mein Kong and I made a trip to visit members and strengthen our connections with some other ministry groups in Myanmar (Burma). On arrival in Yangon (Rangoon), we met up with the leader of our congregation in the southern Irrawaddy delta area, who had travelled to Yangon so as to accompany us back to his village, where the church meets in his home. Also travelling with us was Tluang Kung, a young man that one of the Australian congregations sponsored through a Master of Theology course in a seminary in India several years ago to equip him for pastoral ministry and theological teaching. He is currently teaching at a seminary in Yangon; and since he is fluent in Burmese and English as well as other local languages, he accompanied us as a translator.

The trip from Yangon to the regional town of Myaungmya was arduous – six hours by an old 20-seater minibus with no air-conditioning. The distance was probably over 200 km, but the state of the road made it seem so much longer. At first the tarmac road had large potholes that needed dodging. As the journey progressed, the potholes grew wider to become large unsealed patches of stones and holes, and before long the tarmac had shrunk to a few resilient little patches on a rocky, potholed, unsealed, narrow “highway.”

On one occasion we all had to get off the bus so it (we!) could safely cross an old battered wooden bridge over a small river. Because it was the hot and dry season, the whole road was layered in a fine powdery dust that crept through every crack and hole in the floor of the bus – and in waves through the open windows when a vehicle passed the other way. I guessed that the temperature was around 36°C. (97ºF).

Soon the dust permeated every pore – and you could even taste it. I felt like a scrambled egg when we finally bounced our way into in the regional town of Myaungmya. Now I knew personally what the local members have to experience to travel to Yangon to meet Wong Mein Kong on his annual visits.

The following day we arose early to travel to the rural area where our congregation meets. We rented a river taxi and after 45 minutes of pleasantly puttering up a branch of the busy Irrawaddy River (the main “highway” for commercial traffic and trade), we pulled into a small jetty at a village. At last we had arrived, I thought. But no, we now had to walk about three kilometers across harvested and parched rice fields, keeping to the banks that divide the square paddies, to a house standing in a patch of trees in the middle of the fields.

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This was where the church meets every weekend in the home of our congregational leader and companion since arriving in Yangon. About 30 excited people were waiting for us. They have had very few international visitors over the decades of the existence of this congregation because this part of Myanmar (in fact, much of the country) has been out-of-bounds for foreign visitors for much of that time. Of course, a lovely meal was waiting for us – surely a banquet compared with their normal morning meal.

After eating, we conducted a Bible study. Wong Mein Kong and I both gave a message, translated into Burmese very competently by Tluang Kung. It concluded with a time for questions and answers – theology, biblical practice and its applications, and inquiries about people in our fellowship they had heard about.

Naturally, this was followed by another meal. It was very hot – and outside a little petrol generator ran, off and on, powering a single oscillating fan, which waved a little air at us in each sweep. There is no community electricity supply here. It was a house of two floors. The lower, unwalled section was for animals and for storage of equipment and grain. The family lived on the upper floor, which had walls of woven thatch and curtains on wires dividing the open plan floor into sleeping sections at night. They had a DVD and CD player and a few electric lights when the generator was running.

I marveled at how far this was from the hustle and bustle of life in the big cities where the “important things” happen. How remote! How undeveloped! How beautifully connected with our Creator and the world that sustains us with food regardless of where we live! I’m sure the stars at night were simply stunning – no ambient lighting to smother their glory. God’s presence seemed more obvious and natural here.

Of course he’s always been there. He was there before we ever got there. This little congregation has existed for more than 40 years. They are people whose hearts God had touched and who follow and worship him. People who live in the middle of a largely Buddhist country, and who endure an intrusive and suspicious government who follows their every move. Our visit was tracked by local security authorities requiring hotels and transport providers to record our arrival, departures and movements. We even had a lady from the regional security authorities come all the way to the village, perhaps to ensure we weren’t in any danger. She sat in on the Bible study, which I hope she found interesting. She joined us for that lovely lunch too. So we offered her a lift back in our waiting river taxi.

About 2 p.m., it was time to leave – back across the rice fields (it was now much hotter than when we had come) to the landing jetty, into the river taxi and back along the river to Myaungmya. None of us were willing to face the bus trip again, so we opted for the night ferry back to Yangon. Foreigners are required to take one of the 10 or so cabins on the upper deck. Local people jostle for positions on the lower deck. No seats – just deck space. So they spread a mat and defend their claim. But more and more people pour onto the boat, and ultimately there is no space to walk between families sitting and lying on the deck with their food containers, rugs, cushions and bags.

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In one section, it seems you could rent a deck chair, but almost all the deck chairs I saw were just frames with broken canvas. It took 14 hours with a 9 p.m. and a 4 a.m. stop at regional centers en route. Hundreds getting off, cargo being unloaded by teams of sweating porters, hundreds getting on, more cargo being loaded, hawkers on the wharf desperately yelling for business, holding trays of flat bread and dried fish and other unidentifiable edibles (at least to me). This is life in Myanmar’s Irrawaddy delta. And God has given us a congregation there.

Back in Yangon, we met with our pastor from the north of the country, Naing Key Har, who had spent several days traveling down to meet with us. He pastors our second congregation in Myanmar, which has grown with his leadership and dedication. It will be another year before he sees someone from outside Myanmar again, so we leave him with packages of used clothing, some books and funds to support his pastoral work and help with his family’s medical expenses.

The weekend started when Mein Kong, Naing Key Har and I were guests in the small house church pastored by Tluang Kung’s father, who had moved to Yangon from the north of the country. It’s a little group of about 30, squashed into the lower floor of their very basic two-room home (one room downstairs, one upstairs) on the outskirts of Yangon.

Downstairs has a dirt floor with woven mats for the children to sit on. In fact, a majority are children. They worshipped God with beautiful songs, Tluang Kung accompanying them on the guitar. We both gave messages again with Tluang Kung translating. The children sang and Tluang Kung’s little sister performed some special music. It was simple. “Where two or three are gathered together…”

I should add here that Tluang Kung has completed translating our Discipleship course (Discipleship 101 on the HQ website) into Burmese, has had the translation checked, and with our funding is now negotiating for its printing. Within a few months we will have our first publication in the Burmese language.

The next day, we visited another young pastor who has a similar house church in his rented home. After learning of us through the internet, Daniel Ling and his wife Rebecca had contacted us by email many months ago desiring a connection so as to give them a stronger link with the broader Body of Christ. Unlike many small ministries that contact us by email, they were not asking for financial support (not that they didn’t need it), and we fellowshipped and worshipped together with a unity of mind and heart.

With Tluang Kung translating again, both Wong Mein Kong and I gave another short message bringing God’s word into the lives of these poor, salt-of-the-earth people as they struggle to survive in a land that makes life difficult in every way. I left Myanmar excited about the prospects of future contacts, developments and opportunities in one of the most challenging areas in Asia.


Prayer Requests and Updates

Dennis Lawrence

Lynn Lawrence, wife of Montreal, Quebec (English) Pastor Dennis Lawrence, who recently underwent surgery for a perforated bowel, sent her appreciation for the many messages of support for Dennis and the family from around the world. She said that Dennis is out of ICU and is gaining strength slowly. He has been able to take a couple of short walks and has enjoyed short visits. The doctor indicated that he might be able to go home this week and that after about four weeks they might begin chemo again for his diffuse large B Cell lymphoma. Please continue to remember them in prayer.


Kingston, Jamaica

Caribbean Missions Director Charles Fleming sent this update on the violence in Kingston:

I spoke with Leroy and Diana Joiles last night (May 31) and they report that the violence is down from a week ago, and mainly restricted to the section of Kingston that is headquarters to the alleged drug leader who is wanted for extradition to the U.S. Life in most parts of the country is returning to normal. Leroy thanks everyone for their prayers and asks that we pray that even after the wanted persons are brought to justice that all sectors of the society will address the social needs of the country so that they do not experience the rise of another person who can buy the loyalty of deprived persons. He says that the leaders of our congregations are more determined than ever to do their part to make a difference in the community surrounding our church. He is praying that others will do their part as well.


Trinidad

Our Trinidadian brothers and sisters send their thanks to everyone for their prayers regarding their national elections. The elections are now over and the country has its first female Prime Minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar. Of major concern to most Trinidadians is the need to bring down the high crime rate, especially violent crimes. Please continue to pray for the wisdom and courage of the new government.


Henry Kuper

Henry Kuper, GCI national coordinator in the Solomon Islands, is ill from the residual effects of malaria and complications from diabetes. Henry lives in the far southeast of the country on the island of Santa Ana, and needs to travel on occasions to the capital, Honiara, and to the island of Ranongga at the other end of the country where our major congregation is located. His health is very important to his role in this country of hundreds of islands.


Carmen Davies

Rod Mathews let us know that Carmen Davies, wife of Vanuatu pastor William Davies, has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Rod wrote:

William and Carmen have travelled to Fiji, where a greater range of treatment is available, and are awaiting the results of further tests to determine the nature of any operation needed and the extent of follow-up treatment. While in Fiji, they have the bonus of being the house guests of Isei and Vasiti Colati, our Fijian pastor and his wife (Fijian hospitality is legendary). The Davies are encouraged in knowing that their burden is being shared by brothers and sisters across the seas.


John and Mary Dobritch

From our Canfield, Ohio, pastor, John Dobritch, and his wife, Mary:

We request prayers for our oldest daughter Katherine who gave birth to her first child on May 31. Unfortunately, the baby had previously been diagnosed with Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH) which greatly limited the development of vital organs such as the heart, lungs and kidneys. In spite of the doctors’ best efforts, young Emery John Kaleta died shortly after his birth. Please pray for encouragement and emotional healing for our daughter Katherine and T. J. Kaleta.

Their address is:
T. J. Kaleta – Katherine Sutherland
1955 Raccoon Rd.
Austintown, OH 44515

Remember that prayer is the battleground where we fight the good fight of faith. Let’s encourage everyone to join together in prayer, for we belong to Christ, and by the Spirit it is in Christ that we pray. Prayer and other spiritual activities help keep our hearts in tune with God and remind us of who we are in Christ. He is our all in all, and in him we are eternally beloved of the Father and blessed to share his good news with others.

Love from my family to yours,
Joseph Tkach


May 26, 2010

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Thank you for your faithful and devoted service to your congregations in the ministry of Jesus Christ. Your calling is a sacred one, and I thank God every day that he has raised up such caring and loving leaders for the members of our fellowship. As we move into the extra-busy summer months, I want you to know how much all of us at headquarters appreciate your labor of love, without which there would be no Grace Communion International.


United Kingdom

Gordon Wilson reports that nearly 80 campers have confirmed, and plans are progressing well for this year’s SEP in the UK July 25-August 7. More staff and camper openings are available, and those interested are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. Email admin@sepuk.org for more information or visit www.sepuk.org.

Photo Caption: The London Life Club met February 27.


Update from Bangladesh

John Biswas and Roger Lipross, of the Bengali Evangelical Association, reported on two projects that the Red Deer, Alberta, and Vancouver, British Columbia, congregations funded last year in Bangladesh. Funds were provided to repair damage done to Canada House, and also for the purchase of needed medical supplies for the clinic that serves the community. Canada House was built with mission dollars provided by Canadian churches in the mid 1990s. It has served many purposes, and among other things, now provides housing to community nurses being trained to provide basic medical care to the many rural villages essentially lacking in almost any form of health care. Many thanks to these congregations, and David Sheridan and Roy Page for their generous support of this very worthy mission!

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Canada

Pastor Alan Redmond reported that in a recent fundraiser Hands of Hope ministry, sponsored by our Winnipeg congregation, raised $8600 for its outreach services. Some 400 people attended the fundraiser to hear the nearly 100-member Spirit’s Call Choir. The congregation provided refreshments after the show.

Harvest Christian Fellowship, the congregation in Abbotsford, raised $1295 in support of a young lady in the congregation who is preparing for a mission trip to Africa.


Colombia

Hector Barrero reports that Bogota members Jose and Mary Romero were ordained deacons during the church service on Pentecost Sunday, May 23. “Jose and Mary have been a great blessing to the congregation over the years,” Hector said. After the service, the 170 people attending enjoyed lunch together. Hector added, “The service is video projected to a group on the first floor of the church hall because the second and main floor are not large enough to hold the actual attendance.”

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Church-Next Training in Ohio

Church-Next Training was conducted April 8-10 in Tipp City, Ohio. Twenty-one ministry leaders attended this event to learn about starting new churches and renewing existing churches. CMM team members Lorenzo Arroyo and Randy Bloom facilitated the training. Workshop sessions included: Theological Reflections for Church Planting, Characteristics of Church Planters, Identifying a Focus Group, Clarifying God’s Vision for a New Church, Developing a Church Planting Team and The Pastor’s Personal and Family Life.

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Prayer Requests and Updates

Doug and Betty Johanssen

At 21 weeks into her pregnancy, our daughter Dana’s water broke. That is too early for any reasonable chance of saving the baby if it were to be born now. However, over the last few days, Dana has stabilized somewhat. Things are still critical as far as the baby is concerned. She is still losing fluid because of the tear in the amniotic sack, but the baby is a good weight, the heartbeat is strong and the baby is developing normally as far as they can tell from the ultrasound. They were not able to determine the sex yesterday because of the position of the baby and lack of fluid. There is very little fluid remaining and what the baby makes, drains out because of the tear in the sack.


Dennis Lawrence

Montreal, Quebec (English) Pastor Dennis Lawrence, who has been diagnosed with Diffuse large B Cell lymphoma, underwent surgery last week for a perforated bowel, apparently caused by a combination of the cancer and the chemotherapy. Dennis is in ICU and will be for several more days. If all goes well for next few days, his wife Lynn said, “things will turn in a positive direction, but until that time there are a variety of things that can go wrong that will endanger his life. Chemo has been indefinitely postponed… I cannot express enough how grateful I am for the enormous support we are receiving… Thanks to all for your continuing prayers!”


Stephen Guice

GCI Board Member Frank Guice and his wife Cora sent this update on their son Steven’s progress after his accident on May 14, 2010:

Steven was released from the Medical Center of Aurora on Saturday, May 22. Cora and Stephanie had arrived there and were able to assist his transition to an extended stay hotel in Aurora, Colorado, where other company employees are housed. He is still in a lot of pain (on a scale of 0 to 10, he says it’s a 3 when he’s sitting still, but jumps to a 10, whenever he moves) and he will be dealing with pain for some time to come. He had his first rehabilitation therapy today (Wednesday, May 26) and he hopes to return to work in two months or so. His employer told him it would be no sooner than that. Steven appreciates the concern so many have expressed for his well-being and we do as well, especially the prayers to God for him.


Reconciliation Ministries

From Curtis May:

Thanks for your prayers about the Chicago MDT Seminar. It went very well! The most important aspect of the well-organized event was the healing that took place. Willard High and Sam Butler did a great job leading the last session on Ally Building and Overcoming Internalized Racism. And the Pentecost worship services put the icing on the cake. The congregation’s band and choir were superb. The event was a tribute to the local church and its leadership.


Jamaica

A state of emergency has been declared in two Kingston districts by His Excellency the Governor General of Jamaica on advice of the Government of Jamaica. The current situation has arisen following the Government of Jamaica’s agreement to pursue the arrest of Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke in response to an extradition request from the USA. Yesterday, Sunday, two policemen were killed and six others injured – four of whom have been hospitalized. Two police stations were attacked, at least one of which was destroyed by fire. The situation is very dangerous and has potentially serious legal and political ramifications. Anyone wishing to follow the ongoing developments can do so through:

The Jamaica Gleaner newspaper – www.jamaica-gleaner.com
The Jamaica Observer newspaper – www.jamaicaobserver.com
Power FM, streamed on-line – www.go-jamaica.com/power/ (this can be difficult to access as so many are trying).

Please pray for a swift resolution and the restoration of law and order, as well as minimal of the loss of life and wisdom for the political directorate and law enforcement authorities.


Trinidad

Trinidad & Tobago go to the polls today to elect a government. Trinidad has seen a significant upswing in violent crime in the last few years. This election is crucial to determining the country’s forward path.

Please pray for a peaceful election and transition of government, and that the new government will be wise and benevolent.

Remember that prayer is the battleground where we fight the good fight of faith. Let’s encourage everyone to join together in prayer, for we belong to Christ, and by the Spirit it is in Christ that we pray. Prayer and other spiritual activities help keep our hearts in tune with God and remind us of who we are in Christ. He is our all in all, and in him we are eternally beloved of the Father and blessed to share his good news with others.

Love from my family to yours,
Joseph Tkach


May 19, 2010

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Congratulations to Bob and Ruth Miller, who are thrilled to announce the arrival of their first grandchild! Jackson Miller Dewey was born on April 27, weighing 9 lb., 6 oz. The proud parents are Laurie and Mike Dewey, who live in Germantown, Maryland.


Office of Reconciliation Ministry

ORM Director Curtis May expressed his appreciation for the prayers about the May 5 promotion in Dallas of the upcoming August 7-8 Reconciliation Outreach Conference there. His interview with talk show host Hank Hoaldridge, which was arranged by GCI Pastor Tom Pickett, went very well, and Curtis was guest speaker at the local Ministerial Alliance luncheon, which included pastors, police chiefs and other guests. Several expressed renewed support for the conference and the need to bring churches and communities together.


New Pastoral Intern

Skyeler Lewkowicz graduated from Northwest Christian University in 2007 with a degree in pastoral ministry. He and Tracy were married in August that year after returning from a mission trip to Mozambique. During his senior year Skyeler completed a short-term pastoral intern program under Tim Sitterley, pastor of our GCI congregation in Eugene, Oregon. After graduation, Skyeler served in various ministries both in Eugene and in North Carolina. Late in 2009, he contacted Tim Sitterley to inquire about a possible future in GCI. Early this year Tracy and Skyeler returned to Eugene, and Skyeler applied for an 18-month pastoral intern position while concurrently working on a second university degree. Tracy is completing her master’s degree in education.


Haiti

Update from Charles Fleming:

Jeff Snyder, pastor of the Savanna, Georgia, congregation, and Cecil Pulley, pastor of the Bermuda congregation, traveled to Haiti with me last weekend. We were sobered by the magnitude of the challenge faced by the people of Haiti and, at the same time, inspired by the never-say-die spirit of the Haitian people. Life just goes on at a frenetic pace in the midst of the rubble and devastation.

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We were impressed to see the work done by our members to get the church-sponsored school re-opened by mid April, just three months after the earthquake. Pastor Joseph Franklin sends his thanks to all those who have supported our Haitian brothers and sisters in prayer and with their generous donations. He credits that support with helping them re-open the school as soon as they did. He says that the five-month period ending in September will be a free ministry to the community as part of the church’s contribution to what the government calls “de-traumatization.” During this time the focus will be on giving the children a safe place where they can socialize, receive encouragement and a free meal while their parents are free to begin putting their lives back together. At present some 23 children are enrolled and are being taught by three trained teachers who have been employed by the church. It is easy to imagine the benefit to these three women and their families to be back at work at this time. We got to meet the kids on Monday morning and they are a lively group. Fist bumps became World Wrestling Federation-type smack downs!

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We stayed with the 15 members and relatives who temporarily reside on the church premises. Life for them is extremely difficult as they face daily power cuts, water lock-offs and a leaky roof. The church building was severely damaged, and with the shortage of building supplies, they have only been able to put up temporary walls of plywood. Still, at least three families and two single men have a safe place to live while they recover from the earthquake. It was an inspiration to see these families working together to get through this extremely difficult time. It was also humbling to be served a four-course meal the night we arrived.

While we were there, the members continued their re-building and we were able to join them. We were also able to take in blue tarpaulins, which we helped install in an area used for classrooms. We also demolished two shaky sections of wall on the upper level of the school and Jeff used his building expertise to run electrical wiring into the kitchen and meeting hall.

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On Sunday, members from distant parts of the country traveled in for services. Andre Naval led the worship and Cecil gave the sermon, with Jeff officiating at the communion service. We also had a period of interaction during which members gave testimonies of new insights they gained into who our God is from what they experienced as he protected them during the earthquake. It was truly inspiring to hear people describe, in detail, their sense of the real presence of our living Lord. Their accounts made me think of Paul’s description of his own experience with God during a time of personal danger: “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9 NIV).

It was a graphic reminder of something we all know, that our knowledge of doctrines (as Paul reflected, God raised Jesus from the dead) becomes intensely personal when that same God meets us in the middle of our own lived experiences.

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Members also discussed plans to re-open the school with a full academic program in September. By a show of hands they indicated their commitment to support the school to ensure it remains a central part of their missional engagement with the surrounding community. Over the years many have been impressed by the impact of this small group of fewer than 20 persons through the school they have raised up. They, in turn, repeatedly sent thanks to all who have supported them and helped make their dream become a reality. God truly specializes in blessing the efforts of those who come together in his name in response to his redemptive claim on their lives.

In many ways, the most striking aspect of this visit for me was the realization that our Haitian brothers and sisters draw strength from the solidarity they sense coming towards them from our worldwide church family. It is as if members around the world are a “distant presence” in their daily lives. They repeatedly asked us to pass on their thanks and stated that they take comfort from knowing that people are praying for them. I found myself wondering whether I was experiencing some aspect of the “oneness in Christ” Jesus described in John 14:19-20 and John 17: 20-26.


Prayer Requests and Updates

Please pray for healing for Steve Guice (son of GCI Board member Frank Guice and his wife Cora), who fell five feet from a truck onto a concrete floor. Steve suffered eight cracked ribs, a partially collapsed and bruised lung, facial fracture with severely swollen right eye, and a slight spine fracture, which is stable. No surgery is required at this time for any of his injuries, but the prognosis is that he will have to be off work approximately 4 to 8 weeks. He is at the Arroyo Colorado Medical Center. The Guices appreciate your prayers for him as he goes through the healing process.


John Newsom, Jr., a long-time church member and father of pastor John Newsom, associate Pastor of Manhattan Community Church and New Life in Christ, Queens, NY, passed away early Friday morning. His funeral will be Thursday, May 20 at 10:30 a.m. with a wake at 10:00 am. The location will be:

East Mt. Zion Church
9990 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44106

The family said that flowers are not necessary, but cards can be sent to:

The Newsoms
16903 Invermere
Cleveland, OH 44128

Remember that prayer is the battleground where we fight the good fight of faith. Let’s encourage everyone to join together in prayer, for we belong to Christ, and by the Spirit it is in Christ that we pray. Prayer and other spiritual activities help keep our hearts in tune with God and remind us of who we are in Christ. He is our all in all, and in him we are eternally beloved of the Father and blessed to share his good news with others.

Love from my family to yours,
Joseph Tkach


May 12, 2010

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

New www.gci.org website

Today we are excited to announce a completely new denominational website at www.gci.org. This work has been going on for many months behind the scenes, with the “heavy lifting” being done by the IT staff and a local web developer (Urban Insight). The result is a cleaner, more modern site to share what God is doing through Grace Communion International.

The original www.wcg.org website served us well for over 15 years (several eons in computer time), but it became increasingly difficult to keep it consistent and to take advantage of new technologies. The new website is built on a free, open source framework called Drupal, which is widely used because of its versatility, stability, security, and ability to add features easily. Like all websites, what you see today is only a starting point. There will be a number of changes in the coming months. For example, we are aware the search function is not yet working, but it should be shortly.

We will officially announce www.gci.org to all users and reroute wcg.org to it in a couple weeks. However, we want to give you this preview of the website to share with your members and anyone else. Also, please ask your webmaster to change any links on your local website from www.wcg.org to www.gci.org.

After visiting the site, please give us your feedback. Click here to answer a one question survey comparing the new site with the old, and/or click here if you want to pass on any comments.


Cabner Virgile will be serving as a pastoral trainee under Paul David Kurts, senior pastor of New Beginnings, our Hickory, North Carolina, congregation.

Since becoming a member of GCI in Queens, New York, in 1985, Cabner has served as worship leader, men’s ministry leader, small group leader, and fund raising leader. He sensed God’s calling to vocational ministry ten to twelve years ago and decided to attend the Community Bible Institute and Seminary in Brooklyn, New York, where he completed his Bachelor of Theology and Bachelor of Religious Education degrees. He is now working towards a Master of Ministry at the Queen City Bible College in Charlotte, NC.

A hearty welcome to Cabner, his wife Maria, and their fourteen-year-old daughter Laura!


Zambia

Kalengule Kaoma sent this report:

On April 9, 2009, I travelled to Isoka, a small town in the Northern Province of Zambia in response to a phone call from one of the leaders of the congregation I planted in 1998. In 2006, this congregation had resigned because of changes in the worship calendar. Late February, Patrice Sinyenga, one of the leaders of the congregation, called and invited me to visit the congregation “because the brethren and leadership” had a lot to discuss. Because my schedule was full and due to Nsama’s ill health, I could not make it until April 9, but now we can praise and thank our God that the congregation is back! On April 10, we were 56 in attendance. On the 11th, I baptised ten people and welcomed to GCI five others who had received baptisms in other denominations. We had a big welcome back celebration with great rejoicing.

.

.


The Shack

Our friend, William Paul Young, author of The Shack, has seen his book reach another milestone. As of May 2, 2010, it has spent 100 consecutive weeks on the New York Times bestseller list with more than 50 weeks at #1. It has also been on Publishers Weekly and USA Today bestseller lists for the same period of time.

There are more than twelve million copies in print (ten million copies in the United States and more than two million in foreign translations). To date, there have been 76 total printings (all formats), according to Brad Cummings, president of Windblown Media.

The Shack is fast becoming an international phenomenon, as well. It is being translated into 36 foreign languages and has already become a bestseller in several countries including Brazil, Germany, Canada, the U.K., South Africa, and South Korea. Brazilian publisher Editora Sextante reports that it has printed more than 2 million copies.

William Young has been interviewed on our You’re Included program.


Tucson

Curtis and Jannice May were guests of honor on April 24, 2010, for the Grace of God Fellowship annual dinner dance at Viscount Suites Hotel in Tucson, Arizona. On Sunday, Curtis gave the sermon on Renewal and Reconciliation.

PHOTO: Jannice & Curtis May, Pastor Ted & Lila Millhuff, Pastor Tom & Michelle Landess.


Pastoral Opening

As you read in last week’s update, we have lost our brother, fellow servant and Baltimore pastor Peter Whitting. We all continue to pray for comfort for his family and the congregation, and we are now faced with the task of finding a new pastor to serve in Baltimore. If you or someone you know is interested in this full-time ministry position, please contact Charles Albrecht via e-mail at charles.albrecht@gci.org or by phone at 626.650.2330.


Prayer Requests and Updates

Patama Banks

Patama Banks, wife of Pastor Leonard Banks of our Rochester, New York, congregation, underwent heart surgery January 22 followed by a second surgical procedure January 26. Her heart is functioning well now but she continues to suffer intense lower abdomen pain. They have made several trips to the emergency rooms hoping to discover the cause for the pain. Doctors recently concluded that they need to remove Patama’s gall bladder and examine her small intestine, but they won’t operate until July as additional surgery would be too risky until she’s fully recovered from the heart surgery. Leonard is asking for prayer for pain relief and rest. They haven’t had a full night’s rest since January.

Cards may be sent to:
40 Fountain St
Rochester, NY 14620-1902


Karen Albrecht

From Greg Albrecht: Thursday, May 6, Karen had surgery at USC University Hospital in Los Angeles for cancer in the lymph nodes of her neck. Ironically, the surgery was for the same cancer, in the same hospital, with the same surgeon, which took place almost eight years ago. However, this time the cancer was on the other side of her neck. Her surgeon removed a golf ball sized tumor from her neck, and feels that he removed all cancer that was present. Our entire family thanks God for his peace, comfort and healing. As Karen recovers and her surgical wounds heal we will be having follow up consultations about where we go from here. While we specifically request that no general announcements or prayer requests be made, we appreciate the prayers of the readers of the Weekly Pastor’s Update.


David Fiedler

Please remember Dave Fiedler, who must undergo a second surgery for a detached retina. The recovery is very unpleasant as it involves having to lie face down without getting up for two weeks. Your prayers for a successful surgery and complete healing would be much appreciated!

Cards may be sent to:
20389 Strawline Road
Bend, OR 97702-2627

Remember that prayer is the battleground where we fight the good fight of faith. Let’s encourage everyone to join together in prayer, for we belong to Christ, and by the Spirit it is in Christ that we pray. Prayer and other spiritual activities help keep our hearts in tune with God and remind us of who we are in Christ. He is our all in all, and in him we are eternally beloved of the Father and blessed to share his good news with others.

Love from my family to yours,
Joseph Tkach


May 5, 2010

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It was an encouraging and enriching experience this past weekend to visit our Washington, D.C., congregation, which is pastored by Brian Carlisle.

.


Nashville

Nashville, Tennessee, Pastor Jonathan Stepp reports that the congregation is cleaning the church building damaged by the recent flooding. The backup from overloaded storm drains flowed down various streets to their church parking lot creating a lake. The church cellar was flooded. He has talked to many of the members and all are fine as far as he knows. One member who has lived in Nashville for 55 years told Jonathan he has never seen a storm like this one. The congregation appreciates the concern being expressed and is grateful for everyone’s prayers.


Canada

Gary Moore writes:

The law firm that has been doing the necessary paperwork for our name change has informed us that our Canadian church should now start using its new name, Grace Communion International Canada (English) and Communion Internationale dans la Grȃce, Canada (French).

Wendy, Kylie and I had the pleasure of visiting Colin and Sue Lauchlan and the London, Ontario, congregation last weekend. On Saturday Colin had planned an all-day seminar focused on Trinitarian Theology and its implications, with one session devoted to our role in various denominational mission projects around the world. Leo and Jane Van Pelt came from Kitchener, accompanied by about 20 members representing the Kitchener, Hamilton and St. Catherine’s congregations. A number also attended from the Windsor, Sarnia, and London congregations. There were about 47 people all told, who much enjoyed reconnecting with one another amid the warm hospitality extended by the London church. On Sunday we were able to conduct services with the London group on its own. Staying with the Lauchlans was most pleasant, and the fellowship stimulating as always.

. .

Photos: Colin and Sue Lauchlan (left), a number of the attendees (center), and Leo and Jane Van Pelt (right).

We flew into Toronto a day early, and spent some time with my mother, who is still in the Scarborough General Hospital. Unfortunately, it appears that she is no longer improving. The implications are that she will need to go to a 24-hour nursing care facility. She can get around in a wheelchair now, and we were able to take her outside briefly to enjoy some fresh air. While Wendy and Kylie spent time visiting her, I got her papers together, and was able to file her taxes. My brother Karl is planning to visit her this week, and has arranged for her to get new hearing aids. This will allow us to more easily chat with her over the phone, and stay in regular contact that way.



Eric Wilding

Toronto East

Eric Wilding, an elder in the Toronto East GCI congregation, is working on his Doctor of Ministry degree at the Toronto School of Theology. His dissertation research is on our denomination, regarding our change in a particular doctrine. This is his research question: “What effects has the 1993 shift in the Worldwide Church of God’s doctrine about the Triune God had on its ministers’ understanding of and relationships with God, self and congregation?”

Eric is looking for ministers to write stories regarding their experiences of the change in this doctrine. If you would be interested in helping him with his research, you may email him for further details at e_wilding@hotmail.com


South Africa

South African National Leader Tim Maguire reported that the congregational leaders for our “tent church” in Morelung have been given a plot of land by the local tribal chief, which means they can now begin the process of building a simple church building. Once this is done, the tent (which was purchased by the Okanagan congregations) can be moved to a nearby village, where about 30 people are ready to start another new GCI congregation. So the tent will soon have helped facilitate the start of two new congregations!

Gary Moore, Southern African Missions Director and Canadian National Director, added that GCI Canada arranged for the purchase of approximately 400 Bibles for the 45 congregations in Mozambique that are seeking affiliation with Grace Communion International. The Abbotsford, London and Windsor congregations provided the bulk of the funding.


Ghana

Kalengule Kaoma sent these photos taken by Emmanuel Okai, National Ministry Leader in Ghana, of last month’s baptisms in Buduburam. Buduburam is a church that was planted in 2009. Emmanuel reported that 23 people were baptized at the event on March 21. Emmanuel also baptized five people in March in our Akim Oda congregation

. .


Prayer requests and updates

Dennis Lawrence

Montreal, Quebec (English) Pastor Dennis Lawrence has been diagnosed with Diffuse large B Cell lymphoma. He will begin chemotherapy on May 26. He wrote: “I will see [the doctor] next week for some final test results but he has authorized me to go to be part of an Egbert family reunion in Nag’s Head, NC from May 15-22. I think being by the ocean and being with extended family for those days will be a real morale booster and some fun. At any rate, we now know what we’re dealing with and all signs are very hopeful and positive. The doctor speaks only in terms of curing this thing. I want to thank everyone for the prayer support, email support, cards, and phone calls that have come to Lynn and myself, as well as our family. Thank you everyone, literally, around the world. Thank you for making sure I know I’m not alone in this.”


Peter Whitting

It is with sadness that we announce the death of Pastor Peter Whitting of our Baltimore, Maryland, congregation. After being in the hospital with a prolonged illness, Peter seemed to be making a recovery over the last two months. However, he died unexpectedly at home on Saturday. Peter faithfully served a number of congregations over the years, both in Australia and in the United States, and we are grateful for his outstanding example of pastoral care. Peter is survived by his wife, Charlotte, and his four sons, Tom, Marc, Jonathan, and Ben. We ask your prayers for them during this difficult and painful time for the family. The funeral service is scheduled for Wednesday, May 5.

The family asked that instead of flowers, donations be made in Peter’s memory to the Peter Whitting Scholarship Fund at the Frederick Community College Art Department. Checks should be made payable to Charlotte Whitting, and designated as for the “Peter Whitting Scholarship Fund”

Cards may be sent to:
Charlotte Whitting and Family
7413 Ricksway Road
Pikesville, MD 21208-5720

Remember that prayer is the battleground where we fight the good fight of faith. Let’s encourage everyone to join together in prayer, for we belong to Christ, and by the Spirit it is in Christ that we pray. Prayer and other spiritual activities help keep our hearts in tune with God and remind us of who we are in Christ. He is our all in all, and in him we are eternally beloved of the Father and blessed to share his good news with others.

Love from my family to yours,
Joseph Tkach


April 28, 2010

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

If you haven’t visited our two blogs recently, you might want to take a look. They are good sources for study and sermon ideas. Here are links to The Surprising God Blog http://thesurprisinggodblog.wcg.org/ and the Trinitarian Worship Blog http://trinitarianworship.blogspot.com/. You can subscribe to these blogs by clicking on the “subscribe” link at the bottom of each blog’s main page.


San Fernando, California

Spanish-speaking pastor Heber Ticas of our San Fernando, California, congregation reported that on April 18, the church held the first of two planned anointing and blessing services for children this year. They anointed 127 children, and had 340 people in attendance, including 102 first-time visitors. Children from the church had gone out the previous weekend to invite neighborhood children to the event. Besides the spiritual blessing, the invited children made crafts, played games, and received free pizza while their parents listened to the sermon.

. . .


Church Planting

April 19-22 twenty-six GCI pastors, CMM staff and GenMin staff attended the Exponential Conference in Orlando, Florida. Exponential is an annual trans-denominational church planting conference with more than three thousand in attendance. Key speakers included Ed Stetzer, Alan Hirsch, and Francis Chan. Participants attended plenary sessions and workshops that provided equipping and resources for various aspects of starting new churches. Several GCI participants are in the process of starting new GCI churches.


Prayer Requests and Updates

Lateef Edalere

From the family of Lateef Edalere:

With gratitude to God for a life well spent, we announce the death of Lateef Edalere: husband, father and grandfather.

Lateef was a native of Nigeria, and remained a faithful minister and member of the Body of Jesus Christ for more than 35 years. He lived and served in England, Nigeria, America and Jamaica.

He will be sadly missed by all who knew him – including his wife Yvonne of 44 years, sons Peter (Australia) Paul (England); daughters Anthea (Jamaica) and Alison (America) as well as their spouses – Shehana, Charmaine, Gregory and Leaford.

Lateef and Yvonne were blessed with 5 grandsons and 3 granddaughters. He was known and loved by many, young and old, as “Daddy Edalere” as he touched the lives of those he pastored.

A Thanksgiving service to honor and celebrate his life will be held at 12.30 p.m. on Thursday, May 29, at Herongate Wood, Woodland Cemetery, Billericay Road, Brentwood, Essex, CM13 3PS.

Your love, support and prayers for the entire family at this time will be appreciated.

Cards can be sent to:
Mrs. Yvonne Edalere and Family
29 Kiln Way
Badger’s Dene
Grays, Essex – RM17 5JEUK
United Kingdom


Maxine Neff

A graveside service was held for Mrs. Maxine Neff, wife of retired long-time minister Leroy Neff, on April 27 at Gladewater Memorial Park in Gladewater, Texas.

Cards can be sent to:
Leroy Neff and Family
PO Box 432
Big Sandy, TX 75755


Archie Hall

Retired long-time Pasadena employee Archie Hall died April 21 following a battle with cancer. He was 73. Archie worked in the Transportation, Postal and Security departments. He is survived by Lavern Hall, his wife of more than 55 years, and by his son Stephen Hall, who also worked in the Transportation department in Pasadena.

Archie and Lavern came from West Virginia to work for Ambassador College, and he began as Service Manager in Transportation in 1968. He retired from active employment in 1996. A memorial service will be held in the Halls’ local community.

Cards can be sent to:
Mrs. Lavern Hall and Family
27930 Mallard Rd.
Montague, CA 96064

Remember that prayer is the battleground where we fight the good fight of faith. Let’s encourage everyone to join together in prayer, for we belong to Christ, and by the Spirit it is in Christ that we pray. Prayer and other spiritual activities help keep our hearts in tune with God and remind us of who we are in Christ. He is our all in all, and in him we are eternally beloved of the Father and blessed to share his good news with others.

Love from my family to yours,
Joseph Tkach


April 21, 2010

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Pastor Neil Earle of our Glendora, California, congregation was awarded a certificate of appreciation by the Duarte, California, City Council on April 13 along with other volunteer adults and high school students for their work with Duarte cable access television.

Neil has hosted a current events/Christian apologetics show called “A Second Look” for the past nine years. His show can now be seen on the Internet at www.dctvduarte.com. Curtis May and Mike Feazell are among the many guests who have appeared on Neil’s program.

In the picture, Neil is third from left on the back row, posing with the Duarte City Council and the other volunteer cable TV staff. The teens are part of a Regional Occupational Program. Working in a hands-on environment is a superb motivator for them. One of the teens, Stephanie Ynez, now does lighting for the Dr. Phil Show.

Neil said, “All of this only costs us the price of two large pizzas for the teens each month.”


Mexico

Our Mexican pastors and leaders training conference was held April 2-4 in Guadalajara. Some 30 pastors and leaders gathered for workshops and small group leadership training from GCI-USA ministry developer Lorenzo Arroyo and pastor Manuel Ochoa of Hawthorne, California. Under the leadership of mission developer Hector Barrero, Mexico has experienced a resurgence in mission focus and evangelistic outreach.

. . .


You’re Included video series

You’re Included was recently highlighted on two Christian theology blog sites. Here are links:

http://theologicalscribbles.blogspot.com/2010/04/seriously-good-theological-videos.html

http://cruciality.wordpress.com/2010/04/13/alan-torrance-on-the-incarnation-grace-and-godly-living/


Christian Pen, Jamaica

A few years ago the pastoral team of the GCI congregation in Christian Pen, Jamaica, conducted a funeral service for a person who was not a member of a church fellowship. The relative who made the request was herself not a member of a church and had explained how hard it was for the family to find a church that was willing to conduct the funeral. All the relatives were thankful for the love, concern and sympathy shown by our pastoral team and told others that they had found a church willing to bury people with dignity, even if they were not practicing Christians.

Since that first funeral, the word has spread, and the church now has a unique ministry of conducting funeral services for persons who are not members of any church as well as persons who are members of other denominations. As a result, the church reaches between four and six hundred persons with Christ’s gospel of hope almost every month. The pastoral team is able to share the truth that God loves even the worst of sinners.

The church has conducted a funeral service attended by the Prime Minister, one of his cabinet ministers and the Member of Parliament for the area. Three weeks ago, the church conducted a state funeral for a slain police officer. In attendance were the Acting Commissioner of Police, the two most influential mayors on the island, several rank and file members of the police force and other dignitaries.

Please pray that God will continue to bless this special ministry of love.

. .


Montreal French

Roger Labelle reported that over the Easter weekend the Montreal French congregation held a special outreach service inviting people in the neighborhood to attend. The day went very well, with 11 new children attending, and a total of 24 visitors. Roger said that it was lots of work, but definitely worthwhile.


Prayer Requests and Updates

Pastor Steve Posiak of our Salmon Arm, British Columbia, congregation informed us of the sad news that Karen Leach, wife of elder Darcy Leach, has died after a long battle with cancer. Cards can be sent to:

Darcy Leach
2431 Tamarack Terr. RR 2
Sorrento, B.C. V0E 2W2
Canada


Please continue to remember Pastor Dennis Lawrence and his wife, Lynn, of our Montreal English congregation as they wait for test results for the exploratory laparoscopic surgery Dennis had last Thursday. Dennis was diagnosed earlier with a large abdominal mass that is potentially cancerous. Cards may be sent to:

Dennis & Lynn Lawrence
211 De L’ile Blvd
Pincourt PQ J7V 3R6
Canada


The Walton family is saddened to announce that Laura Walton, 58, wife of elder Merv Walton of our east Pasadena congregation, passed away April 20 after battling cancer for the last four months. Laura’s family was with her at the end, and she died in peace. Cards may be sent to:

Mervin Walton
PO Box 323
Pasadena, CA 91102-0323

A memorial service will be held at 2 pm on Sunday, April 25, 2010 at the Boys & Girls Club of Pasadena.

Boys & Girls Club of Pasadena
3230 East Del Mar Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91107


Africa

Missions Director Kalengule Kaoma and his wife, Nsama, send their deepest thanks for everyone’s prayers for Nsama. They report that her condition has greatly improved. Kalengule wrote: “Nsama recently saw her doctor, who was very impressed with the progress. She is no longer on 24-hour bed rest. She takes two hours of bed rest during the day and takes an early night rest from 7 p.m. She is able to take five-minute walks around the house and is very much tempted to do more. She remembers that she has to be patient with herself. Each day brings us new hope, anticipation, and reason to be grateful and rejoice.”

Remember that prayer is the battleground where we fight the good fight of faith. Let’s encourage everyone to join together in prayer, for we belong to Christ, and by the Spirit it is in Christ that we pray. Prayer and other spiritual activities help keep our hearts in tune with God and remind us of who we are in Christ. He is our all in all, and in him we are eternally beloved of the Father and blessed to share his good news with others.

Love from my family to yours,
Joseph Tkach


April 14, 2010

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I just finished a delightfully entertaining book written by Barbara Dahlgren, Christian Odyssey contributor and wife of San Jose, California, pastor Mel Dahlgren, entitled Zorro and Me: Adventures with a Masked Man Wielding a Sword.

Here is a description of the book from Amazon.com:

Real stories about real people, that’s what you get with Zorro and Me. Throw in a sprinkling of humor and you’ll find yourself shamelessly laughing at their predicaments, messes, and sometimes tough situations. Barbara Dahlgren and her wonderful husband, known by many as Zorro, may seem larger-than-life, but they are just real, down-home people like you. Their slap-your-knee, double-over-laughing stories will make you wonder how they’ve survived all these years. One word can sum that up: laughter. Zorro and Me takes a candid and conversational look at how to learn to laugh at yourself through even the toughest times of life. This valuable insight was gleaned by this charming couple while pastoring churches for more than forty years in Florida, West Virginia, Kentucky, Washington, Michigan, and California.

Speaking of books, I am also happy to see that The Shack by William P. Young is #6 on the paperback trade fiction list.


Honduras and El Salvador

Twenty-five leaders from Honduras and El Salvador got together in early April for a three-day seminar on the leadership of Jesus and Trinitarian theology. Hector and Paulina Barrero gave the presentations.

. . .


Church-Next training

On April 8-10, twenty pastors and ministry leaders attended Church-Next training in Tipp City, Ohio, designed to teach basic principles involved in starting a new church or “re-planting” an established church. Attendees included Mary Bacheller, who is in the process of planting a church for the deaf in Staten Island, New York. Mary attended with her ministry coach, Becky Deuel. Church-Next training was conducted by Lorenzo Arroyo and Randy Bloom.

. . .


Prayer Requests and Updates

Dennis Lawrence, pastor of our Montreal (English) congregation, has been diagnosed with a large abdominal mass that might be cancerous. He will undergo exploratory surgery tomorrow, during which they will biopsy the mass and a micro camera will take pictures of it. He will be hospitalized at least three days, and then it will be a month before the full test results are available. If the mass is cancerous, a one- to two-year recovery plan involving surgery and chemotherapy is expected. The Lawrences greatly appreciate all the prayers and support!

Cards may be sent to:

Dennis & Lynn Lawrence
211 De L’ile Blvd
Pincourt PQ J7V 3R6
Canada

Remember that prayer is the battleground where we fight the good fight of faith. Let’s encourage everyone to join together in prayer, for we belong to Christ, and by the Spirit it is in Christ that we pray. Prayer and other spiritual activities help keep our hearts in tune with God and remind us of who we are in Christ. He is our all in all, and in him we are eternally beloved of the Father and blessed to share his good news with others.

Love from my family to yours,
Joseph Tkach


April 7, 2010

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Left to right, Beal Beaver, Barbara Felling, Pastor Ron Felling, Jim Kissee, Kaye Kissee and Red Burgos

Jim Kissee reported that Ron Felling was installed March 28 as pastor of Grace Fellowship in Tonitown, Arkansas. Ron has served Grace Fellowship for nearly two years, and since last May as the leader of the advisory council. We welcome Ron as pastor.


Office of Reconciliation Ministry

From Curtis May:

Jannice and I traveled to the southeastern part of the country where I toured the MLK Civil Rights Center in Atlanta. Jannice conducted a Connecting and Bonding conference for ministers’ wives in Lexington, Kentucky, and I toured the Underground Railroad Museum in Flushing, Ohio, along with a friend, John Halford, editor of Christian Odyssey magazine.

The museum founder and curator, Dr. John Mattox, was kind enough to take us on a personal tour of the three-story facility. It contains thousands of artifacts, documents and pictures, and Dr. Mattox allows tourists to touch and handle these materials to enhance the impact of the experience. If you ever have the opportunity to visit it would be more than worth your time. After I gave some ORM literature to Dr. Mattox, he commented that he would like to use the material in his prison ministry.

On Sunday I spoke at Christ Fellowship Church, pastored by Rick Shallenberger. Valdasia Merrick, founder of Joseph Dream, attended services with us and sang a song she wrote about Haiti.


Alberta, Canada, Summer Camps

Canadian SEP Director Jennifer Straub, sent the following announcements:

Any adults interested in helping out, please email Jennifer Straub as soon as possible at Jennifer.Straub@ab-conservation.com or salttoday@yahoo.co.uk

Toronto

From Gary Moore:

I’m happy to announce that Eric and Amy Warren will be moving to Toronto to serve as pastor for Cornerstone Christian Fellowship (formerly known as Toronto West) when Doug Smith retires. The exact date of the pastoral transition is yet to be finalized. Doug has done a great job, and the congregation there is moving forward with good momentum. Eric and Amy will be a really good fit to continue this momentum into the future. This naturally leads to my next announcement.

The Pathway Community Church (GCI congregation in Regina) pastor role will be open beginning as early as September 1, 2010. It is a loving, energetic, mission-oriented all-age congregation with an average attendance of 45. The congregation is able to offer a salary to whoever serves in this capacity. Any candidate who feels they may have a calling to serve in this pastoral role is asked to contact Alan Redmond at redmond@mts.net and/or me at gmoore@telus.net. We would appreciate a response by the end of April.


Prayer Requests and Updates

Please join me in extending condolences to the Valekis family. Jim Valekis, pastor of our Tipp City congregation sent me this note:

My mom, Maria Pagona Stratakis Valekis, passed away Sunday night, March 28 at 12:45 a.m. She’d been diagnosed with stage four lung and liver cancer a day-and-a-half before and fell into a peaceful sleep the following day. She was 84. I don’t have any current pictures, but here’s a picture of her how I think she is now, in heaven, with my dad and our Father. Thanks to all for your prayers.

Haiti

Our pastor in Haiti, Joseph Franklin, sent this update on his upcoming surgery: “Dr Elkine Jean Pierre, who is in charge of this section in Diquini Hospital, just called letting me know that I am booked for the surgery and will be admitted on Wednesday, April 7 at 10:00 a.m. Georgette and I thank all our brothers and sisters for their prayers.”

Mr. Joseph Blaise Franklin
9 Impasse Baron
Turgeau
Port-Au-Prince HT 6112
HAITI

Remember that prayer is the battleground where we fight the good fight of faith. Let’s encourage everyone to join together in prayer, for we belong to Christ, and by the Spirit it is in Christ that we pray. Prayer and other spiritual activities help keep our hearts in tune with God and remind us of who we are in Christ. He is our all in all, and in him we are eternally beloved of the Father and blessed to share his good news with others.

Remember that prayer is the battleground where we fight the good fight of faith. Let’s encourage everyone to join together in prayer, for we belong to Christ, and by the Spirit it is in Christ that we pray. Prayer and other spiritual activities help keep our hearts in tune with God and remind us of who we are in Christ. He is our all in all, and in him we are eternally beloved of the Father and blessed to share his good news with others.

Love from my family to yours,
Joseph Tkach