July 13, 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Linda Rabey sent this report about the women’s retreat held near Ottawa, Canada, last weekend:

Fifty-six ladies enjoyed the 11th annual retreat organized by the Women’s Ministry of the Ottawa-Gatineau congregation. For the second year in a row, the location chosen was in a beautiful park reserve at the Manoir d’Youville in Quebec, which enabled the ladies to take beautiful walks through the park and enjoy the river surrounding this small island. This year’s retreat included ladies from five denominations and four provinces, as well as one from Washington State.

The worship music was superb, provided by ladies from various congregations. This year we also were blessed with a worship dance presentation. The talks were very much appreciated. Marge Haughton of the Smiths Falls congregation spoke on “Walking through the Valley of Death.” Dorothy Nordstrom from Edmonton spoke on “It’s Just about Love.” Dorothy’s sister, Ingrid Gula from Prince George, spoke on “My Depression, My Faith,” and Ingrid D’Andrade from Montreal spoke on “God’s Love Languages.”

It was a time the ladies could relax, laugh, cry, and speak to their sisters in Christ about some of their challenges, trials, hopes and dreams. Every year we wonder if we will be able to continue to hold this annual event, as there is so much preparation and work by numerous volunteers who sacrifice many hours and much energy and prayer to bring a retreat to fruition. But once again, after the retreat is over, and one sees the incredible benefit, growth and fruit born from so many ladies coming together and being inspired in and through the Holy Spirit, there seems to be no other decision but to start planning for next year. God willing, we will have a 12th annual retreat for this area in 2012.


Canada

From Gary Moore:

Our local congregation in Abbotsford (Harvest Christian Fellowship) held its annual retreat last Saturday, June 25, at the home of Jim and Karen Miller. Todd Martin, our pastor, did a great job facilitating, as those who attended took a focused look at how our congregation is doing, and through prayer sought God’s direction as we seek to be useful and fruitful in his hands. Mike Baker, who recently moved from the Halifax area, was kind enough to share the pictures below.

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Leigh Smithson was in touch from Silvermeadows, the western summer camp. He said that there are 36 teens and 13 preteens, along with 22 staff. Leigh mentioned that Steve Posiak (pastor for our churches in the Okanagan region in British Columbia), and Amy Pena (our new pastor in Regina) are there, and are proving to be wonderful additions to the camp.

Craig and Debbie Minke’s oldest son Bryce was awarded two plaques at the Langley Christian School awards assembly. One was for Excellence in Humanities (Grade 11) and one is a Community Service Award “for service rendered unselfishly to the school or Community.” In addition, he was awarded a certificate of excellence in Math and Science. Congratulations to Bryce!

Finally, I have a report from Mark Yandt of the Ottawa congregation (see below). A couple of years ago Mark rode his bike across Canada to raise money for Camp Connections, our Eastern youth camp. This year Mark organized a 173-kilometer weekend ride from Ottawa to the home of Dennis and Lynn Lawrence in Montreal for members from the Ottawa and Montreal areas. Mark’s report is below, and the pictures prove they really did it.

Congratulations to the group (including my brother Karl who made the trek)! The funds raised are going to a very worthy cause, as the camp continues to make a meaningful difference in the lives of many.


From Mark Yandt:

We did it! Great job riders! Thanks to everyone who supported us and followed our progress on Facebook as we traveled. The trip was a huge success. I know everyone wants to know how much we raised, but I will hold you in suspense and mention a few highlights and give a few stats first, so read on!

It was an extremely early start for the three team members from Montreal, who drove to Ottawa Saturday morning, July 2, to meet the riders from Ottawa. Spirits were high, though, and after a picture on Parliament Hill, Victor Zampino, Karl Moore, Elizabeth Ferlatte, Tina Yandt and I embarked on the first leg of what was to be a 110km pedal to Hawkesbury.

The team meandered its way east through Ottawa, leaving the city on Innes Road, where the plan was to meet up with the support vehicle (driven by Ingrid Zampino), which couldn’t follow us everywhere in the city. It was a pretty efficient 31.8-kilometer trip to the first break point. Everyone was fresh and the weather was fantastic, so this first bit was easy. A light snack and some sunscreen, and we were back on the road.

The only surprise on day one was the lack of asphalt! Road bikes can’t handle much gravel, so when we ran out of road, we navigated east, searching for paved roads. With a little help from Karl’s iPhone, we managed to find a route that didn’t take us much out of our way.

We pulled into Stephanie’s Motel parking lot at 4:55 p.m. Sun baked, with legs of jelly and slightly tender rear ends, only the thought of a cold drink and much-needed dinner was enough to motivate us to clean up and meet for some grub. With 110 kilometers of sun and road behind us, dinner could not have been more satisfying. We laughed and relived the day’s events over an amazing meal before falling into an exhaustion-induced super slumber! The team averaged 22.3 kph over the weekend and was on the road for almost seven hours Saturday.

Day two was another beautiful day. The sun was shining and there was a brisk west wind that pushed us all day. Nicole Lim joined us, which made the group six riders, and after a good breakfast we set out at 9 a.m. The route from Ottawa to Montreal is flat in general, but there were some hills to conquer. Sixty-two-and-a-half kilometers later, we arrived at the Lawrences’ home, where they welcomed us with cold drinks and a much-needed cool-down in the pool. And we were finished!

Thanks to the fundraising efforts of all the riders who peddled their kilometers prior to the trip itself, we gained an incredible amount of support from a huge number of people who had never supported the camp in the past! This not only gave us an opportunity to spread the word about the camp, but also to broaden our support base for the future. Thanks to Facebook, Twitter, and the wonder of the Internet, we were earning $24.12 for every km that the team cycled! All totalled, this means we gathered over $4100 of support for Camp Connections! It’s an achievement we can all be proud of!

We hope to see even more riders pedaling in Peddling Kilometers 2012. The team this year showed that everyone can participate! It’s an event for all ages and all levels of cycling experience! What an amazing adventure it was!


Bangladesh

From Rod Matthews:

Bangladesh National Director, John Biswas, and I are excited to announce that GCI will conduct its first conference and development weekend in Dhaka, March 16-18, 2012. Our staff from the Bangladesh Evangelical Association (BEA) mission center near Barisal will travel to Dhaka, enabling some of them to visit the capital for the first time. Some GCI pastors, elders and church leaders from elsewhere in Asia and even further afield will attend to give our remote workers their first personal contact with fellow workers in the gospel from abroad who are also part of our international fellowship. This is a wonderful opportunity for visitors to see one of the world’s more populous countries, the contrasts of life in Dhaka, and perhaps a trip to rural Bangladesh. More details will follow in the months ahead.

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Captions: 1. Bangladeshi Children in Services 2. John Biswas with local people


Sri Lanka

From Rod Matthews:

Announcing the church’s first ever publication in the Tamil language! Through funding from the New Zealand congregations and individual donors, the Discipleship Course (Discipleship 101) was translated into Tamil in Sri Lanka for use among the large Tamil population there, the second-largest ethnic group in Sri Lanka. The work was done by a professional translator associated with Youth For Christ in Colombo, and 1000 copies were printed by the Colombo Theological Seminary (CTS), with whom we have a warm and growing relationship. CTS is selling the course in its seminary bookshop and is using it as a text in one of its basic Christianity classes. We are in the process of assessing whether this Sri Lankan Tamil translation will need revisions or can be used as it stands in Tamil-speaking areas of India and among Tamil speakers elsewhere.


India

From Rod Matthews:

Yelagiri is a delightful hill-country town in the northwest of Tamil Nadu state. Church members from across our southern Indian pastorate traveled there May 26-29 to attend a spiritual refreshment weekend with the theme of “Facing Our Christian Challenges.”

Pastor Joe D’Costa wrote:

While most parts of India including Bangalore sizzled with hotter-than-usual weather, Yelagiri was cool. Forty-three members including eleven orphans attended. This was the first time we had the children from Dr. Suntharam’s orphanage attend. It was like an SEP camp for them. They were well behaved, responsive, and participated in and enjoyed all the games and activities. They sang the English hymns at services in the morning with gusto, and Dr. Suntharam gave a summary of the message in Tamil at the end of each day’s message.

A Bible study in Tamil was conducted for the children each evening of the weekend camp. Two ladies from the church spoke at these Bible studies. Before the study the children put up a special show with skits, songs and dances. All of them carried a Bible. They opened to the quoted scriptures very quickly and read them, much to the surprise of all present. Most of the children are from Hindu background.

Even though the cost of food and lodging at the camp center has increased to Rs.450 per person per day, the priest at the camp center charged us Rs.275 per person per day. The priest who manages the center was impressed with our group and offered to keep the rates the same for us in October when we visit the center for our annual family festival. We have accordingly booked the camp center from October 2-8, 2011. He offered to sponsor one child for every two children we sponsor for the festival. So it appears that the children will be attending with us from now on.

The food was amazing and in plenty. The campsite is surrounded by mountains, lots of greenery and fruit trees loaded with mangoes and jackfruit at this time of the year. The beautiful natural surroundings made it conducive to spend time with God, making the weekend a spiritually uplifting experience.


Prayer request

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


July 6, 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Congratulations to Olivier and Susan Carion’s son, Pierre!

In addition to his full-time work at Rothamsted Research in Harpenden, England, Pierre also serves as a local firefighter. Recently, he and two other firefighters were awarded the Chief Constable’s Commendation for Bravery following a life-threatening fire.

The picture shows Pierre with Stuart Nagler, Chair of Hertfordshire Police Authority, on the left and Frank Whiteley, Chief Constable for Hertfordshire, on the right. To view an article featuring the three firefighters and the Mayor of Harpenden from The Herts Advertiser on the June 23 Click Here.


Invitation: National Youth Workers Convention

From Anthony Mullins: Youth Specialties hosts a National Youth Workers Convention every year. This year, one of the gatherings will be held in Atlanta. I want to invite you to join me there in November. The details are listed below. This will be a “pay-your-own-way” event, so you’ll need sponsorship from your camp or mission, local church or your own bank account for all expenses. We receive a significant discount by registering as a group ($100 per person) so please let me know by July 31 if you can attend.

A new feature this year is the Theology Forum. Presenters include Andrew Root (who has appeared on You’re Included), Kara Powell, Kenda Creasy Dean and Dean Blevins. Topics include:

“What does it mean to be a person?”
“The interaction between human and divine action”
“Theological issues impacting Christian Formation of adolescents”
“How do practical theology and culture interact?”

Website: Click Here

Dates: November 18-20, 2011
Location: Atlanta Marriott Marquis – Atlanta, GA
Registration Cost: $198.00 per person (if we have a group of 4 or larger)
Hotel Cost: $119.00 for double occupancy
Promo Video: Click Here

For David Crowder Band fans, they will be leading worship at NYWC, and this will be one of their last appearances together. You can read more about the band here: http://www.davidcrowderband.com/


Lexington, Kentucky

From Ted Johnston:

At the Lexington regional conference in June, Philip Nation of LifeWay Resources gave a presentation concerning the Transformational Church assessment and consulting process. This process provides churches with tools and assistance to help churches grow in their ability to participate effectively in what Jesus is doing in the power of the Holy Spirit to fulfill the Father’s mission – both locally and globally.


Bogota, Colombia

From Andrés Felipe Barrero:

Forty-two young campers visited Los Tunos June 24-27, a two-hour drive from the church. Topics included family, relationships and the grace of God.

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Crossing Borders mission trip to Mexico

Crossing Borders recently completed its 6th year of ministry short-term trips to Mexico. Nine participants distributed food, toiletries, socks and other necessities to “Meals-On-Wheels for people without addresses.” They also cooked and served homeless street people in Nuevo Laredo, visited with native ministry leaders, preached and performed dramas at a local church service, conducted Vacation Bible School at three locations, and toured a private ministry facility to see how the ministry might be involved with them on their next trip.

When they were serving dinner to non-Mexican immigrant deportees, the city mayor heard about what they were doing and met with them to discuss their ministry goals and offered his help to the group for future trips. While Crossing Borders participants always seek to declare God’s love through their actions, on this trip they also had opportunity to preach the gospel in a church service. Chaplain Steve Solari and director Lee Berger each gave a short sermon with drama skits.

Crossing Borders’ next trip to Mexico will be in December, when they will deliver hundreds of shoebox gifts. If your church would like to provide gifts, or participate in the trip itself, see the Crossing Borders website at www.cbmission.org or call director Lee Berger at 903-746-4463.

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Photos by: Lee Berger (except where noted)
Photo 1: CB team (with local ministry leader, Randy Leyendecker) distribute food and necessary items to Juan, a homeless man.
Photo 2: Serving a meal to, talking with and praying for non-Mexican immigrants as they are deported.
Photo 3: VBS crafts for children of the Los Artistas neighborhood
Photo 4: Pastor Pedro Castillo is excited to receive large boxes of shoes, bags of clothes and some children’s teaching resources.
Photo 5: Nuevo Laredo city Mayor Benjamin Galvan (center, behind flag) and other government officials meet with Crossing Borders missionaries [photo by staff photographer for mayor’s web blog site: http://benjamingalvan770.blogspot.com/]


Philippines

From Len Josen:

The Ambassador School for Children opened in 2004 with eight students in the nursery level. Since then, Ambassador has added one extra level each year. This year, we are proud to introduce our energetic batch of fifth graders as the Department of Education accredited our Grade 5 level.

In pursuit of our vision to become an international school, we enthusiastically welcomed four of our international students from the U.S.A., Korea, and Indonesia. During the annual parent orientation, the school also presented some of our exciting programs to be offered this school year, such as the football training program, the expansion of the Rondalla Team, and the school’s association with the Quezon City government for the Adopt-a-Park Project, which will instill environmental awareness and patriotic values in our kids and parents.

Ambassador is also enterprising a partnership with two colleges that specialize in the field of business administration, health, global education, marketing and advertising, and multimedia arts. This partnership is in line with our desire to further the students’ learning experience, promote health awareness among the students, parents and the community, and intensify our thrust of providing a quality learning environment, staff and resources.


Thailand

From Rod Matthews:

Pastor Livingstone Besweri is a young African man pastoring a small congregation in Ratchaburi, Thailand. In October last year, he sent us an email asking if we could be his spiritual mentor. He was impressed with the material on our website, and wanted to be a part of our ministry since he saw that Jesus Christ was “the top.” Southeast Asian pastor Wong Mein Kong visited him last year and was impressed with his approach and sincere desire to build a closer relationship with us. So in May this year, when we both were visiting Thailand, we drove two hours southwest of Bangkok to the town of Ratchaburi to meet with Pastor Livingstone again. God works in unexpected and marvelous ways. Pastor Livingstone is only 26, is from Uganda and is teaching primary-level English in a local school. His brother, Samuel, 35, who is a level 2 chemistry teacher, and Samuel’s wife, Margaret, assist in this ministry. They have two children, Nicholas, 2, and Esther, 3 months.

Pastor Livingstone can speak basic Thai, but not enough to preach in the language, yet the congregation of about 20 people consists of a majority of local Thai people, some of whom cannot speak much English. Each week they hire a local Thai lady who speaks fluent English to translate their sermons into Thai. Livingstone and Samuel’s parents live in Jinja, Uganda, and host a house church of about 50 people in their home there. He told us that he forwards all the material he learns from us to his parents. When I told him that we had churches and a pastor in Uganda, he immediately wanted to connect his parents with GCI in Uganda – now a work in progress.

Our visit only strengthened their desire for us to mentor their ministry, and we are in the process of building this new relationship and providing him with more biblical educational material. They were delighted with the 10-lesson discipleship course (Discipleship 101) as a tool for ministry, and through Pastor Livingstone, we have funded its translation into Thai. This should be available electronically in the near future, adding one more international version to the six other Asian language editions already available.

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Captions: 1. Samuel and Livingstone Besweri 2. Ratchaburi Bible Study


Karen Congregation

From Rod Matthews:

Upon arrival in Maesot, Wong Mein Kong and I were disappointed to learn that on this trip we were not permitted to visit the refugee camp where our Karen congregation is located. Karen elder, Lah Shi, informed us that the United Nations is in the process of categorizing and separating the various classes of refugees in the hope of eventually closing the camps along the Thai-Myanmar border. Five major camps hold over 100,000 refugees who are mainly ethnic Karen people who have fled

Myanmar to avoid the decades-old conflict with the Burmese army..

The UNHCR has been attempting to resettle genuine political refugees for some time, but as families are resettled overseas, new refugees arrive, many of whom are economic refugees, seeking a better life for their families as they hear about the resettlements. So the population in the camps has not declined. Economic refugees do not fall into the mandate of the UNHCR and once the sorting process has taken place, many of these are likely to be returned to Myanmar. But after decades of life in these camps, there are many elderly people who cannot face a new and much more complicated life in a foreign land where they would also have to learn a new language. Many of these long-term refugees will probably have to live out their lives in Thailand unless there is a permanent and secure political settlement within Myanmar. The political refugees whose lives are endangered by a return to their homeland desperately need and desire a new life for their children. It is a confused and uncertain situation for so many who are stateless and dependent on the UNHCR and humanitarian organizations for their survival.

The Australian churches provide financial support every month for our Karen congregation, to help with medical needs, educational expenses for the children, home repairs and food supplements, and to provide pastoral care and support.


Prayer Requests and Updates

Marilyn Gentleman, facilitator of our Fairbanks, Alaska, Grace and Truth Community Church, passed away June 29 at the age of 69. Although confined to a wheelchair for more than 30 years, Marilyn faithfully and cheerfully served God, her family and her community.

Cards may be sent to:
Dennis Gentleman
1326 6th Avenue
Fairbanks, AK 99701-4136.


It’s with deep regret that I inform you of the passing away of one of our pastors, Colin Curtis. Colin had been battling prostate cancer, as well as having a stroke. He died of heart failure. Colin had served the church for many years, initially in Durban, before moving to Pretoria, where he pastored our Raslouw congregation. He is survived by wife Dolla, a son and two daughters.

Cards may be sent to:
88 Springbok Ave
Theresapark
0155 SOUTH AFRICA

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 29, 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The Lexington, Kentucky, district conference took place last weekend. During the conference we presented Debbie Bailey with her Advanced Diploma in Christian Ministry for completion of all required courses from Grace Communion Seminary. We also congratulated and honored Ron Dick, who is about to retire, for his years of service.

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Bogotá, Colombia

Ministry leaders met at the home of Hector and Paulina Barrero the weekend of June 10-12 where Randy Bloom discussed principles of leadership and starting new churches. On Sunday the Bogotá congregation celebrated Pentecost with about 145 in attendance. Randy gave the sermon and two were ordained, Cristobal Daza and Yesid Perez.

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Hector, Paulina and Randy discussed producing voice-over translation for the FaithTalk Group Training videos (http://faithtalkgroups.blogspot.com/). Randy will provide transcripts of the video lessons and Hector will record the voice-overs.


Paul David Kurts, Hillary Irusta and Emma Lee Kurts

Pastoral Ministry Assessment

Through Church Multiplication Ministries, U.S. Church Administration and Development (CAD) provides trained ministry assessors who conduct in-depth assessments of those men and women being called by God to serve as GCI pastors and church planters. It is standard CAD practice to assess all prospective church planters, all individuals being hired for the first time as full-time employed pastors, and all pastoral interns.

Last Thursday, Ted Johnston and Ken Williams teamed up to train Paul David Kurts to serve as one of our assessors. Then on Friday, Ted, Ken, and Paul David (with his wife Emma Lee sitting in) formed a team that assessed Hillary Irusta. Hillary is serving as a GCI pastoral intern. Hillary’s assessment will give her valuable, in-depth guidance as she completes her internship. It will also provide valuable input as this fall she begins a Master of Divinity seminary degree program, with an eye toward serving in the future as a GCI pastor or church planter.

 


Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Joseph Franklin writes:

In preparation for the closing of the academic year and the summer vacation, I sent letters to invite all the parents to join the school’s staff and personnel in the traditional farewell lunch that we offer our kids at the end of the academic year. This invitation also concerned the distribution of school reports for their little ones and diplomas for those completing the preschool cycle. This joyful event was scheduled for June 26.

But, because of the extreme heat we are experiencing, and an epidemic of fever that kept a good number of children out of class, we organized these activities on June 21.

The activities took place under our long tent that is next to our wood building where we usually meet for worship and socials. We could not sit inside the building, so 125 participants and about 15 late comers stood outside. They joyfully applauded the kids as they passed up front to play, each one his part, reciting Bible verses, recounting the history of great people of the Bible, which they learned in class.

It reminded me how a team of missionaries like Jeff Schneider, Cecil Pulley, and Charles Fleming, who came down on February 2010 to work under heavy rains, helping us. The Holy Spirit has gotten into the needs of this population using some loving hearts that are open for service. God is glorified and we all are blessed.

We give thanks to our sister churches in Indiana, my beloved brother David Perry and his wife Jonnie, and all those who helped and pray night and day. We thank Mr. John Halford who encourages through his colorful articles, particularly those that witness of GCI moving everywhere in the planet.

Our heartfelt thanks go to you all.

This year,16 children completed the preschool cycle, but only 10 were part of the ceremony, the rest were sick, which we regret very much. We ended the year with 81 kids. We missed 53 whose families have moved to other camps.

We pray that every one comes back healthy after these two months vacation.

God bless you all.


Mountaintop Camp, Georgia

From Emmanuel Andrews

Quite a few campers this year said that although they have come to camp many times, this year was different in that they really got a better understanding of what Christ is about. Seeing the growth in the kids from year to year is inspiring and makes the work we do even more fulfilling.

We are a participatory camp; the campers are involved in helping the camp to run. We have very low food cost this year due to the efforts of our leadership team (specifically Rick & Pearline Dolsey and Helen Garrett). They were able to get Kroger to sponsor a breakfast and we got donations from Sam’s Club as well. This is ongoing and we hope to get Wal-Mart involved next year. We also had the Saturday night spaghetti meal sponsored by the Men and Women’s Ministries of Living Hope Christian Fellowship, and we were able to secure paper products and condiments from Sonic restaurants. As a result the cost for food came to around $700.00 for the entire camp for the entire weekend, and the kids ate well.

Campers: 52
Staff: 50
Li’l Toppers: 17

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Canada

From Gary Moore:

Wendy, Kylie and I had a tiring, but most uplifting visit to St. John’s, Newfoundland, last weekend. It was great seeing Chris Starkey, Frank and Linda Gough and the members there.

We received the sad news from South Africa that Colin Curtis died. Colin was lay pastor of the congregation in Pretoria that Wendy’s parents attend. He was a wonderful person and a caring pastor, and will be greatly missed. Your prayers for his wife Dolla and their children and grandchildren would be much appreciated.

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Photo to the right is of some of the St. John’s members, and the photo to the left is of Colin and Dolla Curtis.


Estonia

From Carl Fredrik Aas

I have been in Tartu, Estonia, for a couple of days to have a church meeting and a public lecture. I have given public lectures four times a year for about 15 years. This time we tried something new; we advertised in the newspaper an open question and answer session. The ad did not say that I would answer the questions, but that we could discuss the questions. Leo and I were quite concerned how this would turn out. We were concerned that people would not listen and respect different points of view. I started with some introductory comments that I also have questions about certain scriptures, but I would try to discuss the questions they felt important. The session went much better than anticipated. About 50 people attended.

The day we had the public discussion, the 13th of June, was 70 years since 10,000 Estonians were deported to Siberia by the Russians in the beginning of the Second World War. On the 25th of March 1949, another 20,000 Estonians had the same fate. Most died and never returned to Estonia. I was therefore prepared for a question about why God allows suffering, and the question came: Was this God’s will that this should happen? I believe that we have a way of explaining that God is truly just and loving at the same time.

I will go to Estonia in August in connection with our summer school project. This year many of those who could be interested in going as staff teachers are not able, for a number of reasons. At the moment only four young WCG adults (including myself) have confirmed that they will come. One or two have not decided yet. I ask for your prayers for the summer school project, that we have the teachers we need and that it is a success. Nice warm and dry weather would also be appreciated!


Prayer Requests and Updates

From Gary Moore: I want to include an update from Dennis Lawrence that he sent this morning. I know he is the prayers of many of us, and both he and his family continue to need our support.

I’ve hesitated to write a health update for a while, not really knowing what to say. I got out of hospital on March 4 and had a couple of weeks in recovery mode. Then I felt pretty well and started doing as much as I felt I could and wanted to do, preaching, some visiting, work around the house and with the family. On Easter, I noticed a small spot on my belly and thought that ”it” was back, but didn’t mention it until I saw the doctor 10 days later, who confirmed it. All the chemo, radiation, and stem-cell transplant didn’t get the cancer; it’s still there. I’ve had about the best that could be thrown at me, and it didn’t work, aside from keeping me alive to now, which is no small feat considering the aggressiveness of this lymphoma.

So it’s growing again. We took a while with the doctors to consider the best method of treatment, as I’ve had the strongest chemo, and anything more would start to damage internal organs. I’ve now been referred to the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal and am part of a clinical research trial of a new and promising cancer drug called panobinostat.

I just started this last Wednesday, and it’s too early to know how it’s going or even what side effects come from it. I’ve known the fatigue and much more nausea, especially later in the day, than I did before, maybe a side-effect? Each week I go for a checkup. I can take as many of these cycles as needed once we see whether/how it is working, and that will be evident through shrinking this mass on my abdomen.

I so much appreciate all the love and prayers that have come toward my family and myself over the last months. Currently, we are planning toward our first family wedding for July 9 and it looks like I’ll be able to give her away and to officiate, likely with a tear or two. Sadly, my health will be an ”elephant in the room” for the celebration but, hopefully, we won’t focus on that too much. But we have relatives coming from far and near, as well as our two beloved churches here who are doing a wonderful work in hosting a community meal for the reception.

Thank you, each of you, for your calls, emails, and love that have flowed so freely this past year. I’ll keep you posted as we go forward, better than I have the past four months!

www.cornwall.wcgweb.org
www.montreal.wcgweb.org
www.camp-connections.org


Update on Joplin, Missouri

Jim Kissee writes: The Joplin members not directly affected and especially those who were in the tornado path are so grateful for the prayers, cards and encouragement they have received. Veda Wead is now in physical therapy. She is making a remarkable recovery. Her family is deeply appreciative to the local congregation for assistance given to them during their mom’s weeks in ICU in Springfield. A nurse in the ICU read the cards Veda received to her, and she commented to me that those cards were so thoughtful and loving.

Gerald and Gloria Ambroisus found a rental while their house is being rebuilt. The destroyed structure has been removed and the foundation for rebuilding laid.

Don and Shirley Haas, whose home was on the edge of the tornado with limited damage, now have a more normal street, though they miss the trees.

Kathy Bettes will soon have the damage to her home repaired. Her damage was not as urgent. She is still (and understandable so) nervous about the weather.


Joyce Powell

Joyce Powell, beloved wife of UK minister Stuart Powell and mother of Joanne McCulley, died June 23 at the age of 78. Her five-year struggle with heart disease ended peacefully and quickly with Stuart and Joanne holding her hands. Many thanks for all the love, prayers and support over the years. Joyce’s funeral will be July 4. She requested donations to Mission Aviation Fellowship (www.maf-uk.org) in lieu of flowers.

Cards may be sent to:
Stuart Powell
63 Sharphaw Ave
Skipton,
N. Yorks BD23 2QJ
England

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


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June 22, 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Hearty congratulations to Eleazar and Benina Benavides, who will be celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary this weekend! Yes, that’s sixtieth! Eleazar is an elder in our Albuquerque, New Mexico, congregation.

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Sleep: food for thought

According to Science Fair, researchers in Wisconsin and Italy have found that the brains of rats kept awake past their bedtimes begin to turn themselves off, neuron by neuron, even though the rat is still awake. This suggests that that the 35 percent of Americans who routinely sleep less than seven hours a night are also having portions of their brains go off-line even though they’re still awake. The message is that we need to take sleep seriously (from Science Fair, 4/27/11).


Lexington, Kentucky

From John Halford: Sunday, June 19 was a bittersweet day for the Lexington, Kentucky, congregation. Ron Dick, who has been the congregation’s pastor for more than 20 years, will be retiring to Florida. Ron’s wife, Linda, has been ill for several years, and she finds the warmer climate more favorable.

As his final act of official service to the congregation, Ron ordained Beth Jeffers as an elder. I was asked to represent the denomination in installing the new pastoral team consisting of Beth Jeffers, John Bailey and John Todd.

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The Lexington congregation has recently been blessed with a remarkable outreach opportunity. One of the members heard about a pastor of a Hispanic congregation who was looking for a location for his newly planted church to meet. The leaders of the two churches met, and our church agreed to let the new congregation use our building on Sunday afternoons. In return, the members of the new church offered to take care of the landscaping of our property, something that was beginning to be a challenge for our aging members. In addition, the two congregations decided to join together for occasional worship services and to work alongside one another in community outreach.

The pastor and elders of the Hispanic church attended our service last Sunday, and Pastor Emmanuel Romero sang some special music in English and Spanish. Then Ron invited them to join us in ordaining Beth and commissioning the new pastoral team. I found this development inspiring and encouraging, and I have asked Beth Jeffers to tell the story more fully for a future edition of Christian Odyssey.


UK Women’s Conference

Friday, June 3, some 60 women gathered in glorious sunshine at High Leigh Christian Conference Centre for a weekend of relaxation, inspiration, conversation and fun. After a warm welcome and dinner, Nancy Silcox led worship and Shirley Henderson, who coordinated the conference, gave a message focused on the theme of the weekend, “Love Never Fails…What can I do?”

Saturday dawned another beautiful day. Hard working ladies behind the scenes, led by Joy Barlow, arose early and posted a letter beneath our doors to set the tone for the day ahead. After welcoming the day visitors, Julie Robus led worship and Helen Francis did a reading. Our keynote speaker for the day, Tammy Tkach (editor of Connections, a publication for women in ministry and wife of the GCI president, Joseph Tkach) spoke about how knowing God as triune deepens our personal relationship with God.

After the all-important tea and fellowship break, Tina Sullivan invited everyone to share their outreach activities. Barbara Wilkinson led worship in the afternoon, and then the group split up for the four workshops being offered. Evelyn O’Callaghan Burkhard led “Helping People Deal with Loss”; Irene Wilson led “Beware! Comfort Zone!”; Tammy Tkach led “Praying Outside the Box”; and Sinead Henderson led “Building Accountability.” Saturday concluded with a evening of hilarious games provided by Sinead Henderson and Comet Chukwurah.

Sunday was another glorious day full of chatter and reminiscing as the weekend drew to a close. Julie Dickson led us in uplifting worship as the focus moved deeper into relationship and communion with God. Tammy spoke about the freedom we have to know God’s love and give it more fully, and Shirley led us in the final Communion service, reminding us of our place together in the body of Christ. Due to the individual efforts of all, many of whom travelled long distances, gave up time, invested ability and listened and shared, the weekend was a resounding success.


Visit to biblical and classical Turkey

The UK church is planning a tour to biblical and classical sites in Western Turkey.The tour would leave on Saturday, June 2, 2012, and return on Sunday, June 10. Flights leave from the UK to arrive late into Izmir (ancient Smyrna) via Istanbul on the Saturday night, June 2. Then we would travel by air-conditioned coach to Ephesus, Miletus, Hierapolis, Laodicea, Sardis, Pergamum, Troy, the Dardenelles, and Istanbul, from where we would return home on June 10.

Among the many highlights would be visiting some of the places where Paul and John were in New Testament times, exploring archaeological sites, and going shopping in the world-famous Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.

The cost is still being finalized, but is likely to be about £1200 per sharing adult. The single supplement is £249. The cost is inclusive of flights from Heathrow or Manchester, half-board accommodation, entrance fees to sites, land transport in air-conditioned coaches, airport transfers while in Turkey, plus the services of an English-speaking guide. Not included are travel insurance, visa costs (£10 cash upon arrival), lunches, tips (voluntary circa £50 per person for trip). Also not included are any increases in flight taxes and fuel surcharges.

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To register an interest please email: james.henderson@gracecom.org.uk

Please note that departures from New York and France may also be available.


Prayer Requests and Updates

From Dennis Lawrence:

I began my new treatment yesterday and am feeling rather poorly today. I have some abdominal pain but I have medication to control that. My treatment involves cycles of three weeks where I go in at the beginning and have an infusion of retaximub, a chemo drug, and get panobinostat in pill form. This treatment is a hopeful one, but we don’t know how long it will take to make the difference we want to see made. After that, I only need to return to hospital weekly for checkups. I feel weak today but tomorrow should be better and I hope to be in church in Montreal this weekend, but I have to go day-by-day right now. Thank you very much for your ongoing prayers, calls, and emails of support and encouragement. It makes a tremendous difference.

Cards may be sent to:
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


June 15, 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Please join me in extending hearty congratulations to a friend and brother in Christ, Charles Fleming, who graduated from Fuller Theological Seminary last week with his Doctor of Missiology degree. Charles was also selected by the faculty for one of three leadership awards from among the 74 doctoral graduates. Moreover, congratulations go to Charles and Carmen’s two daughters, Michelle and Anne Marie. Michelle just graduated with a Masters degree in Mental Health Counseling, while Annie graduated with a Masters in Business Administration.


We also salute Robert Meade and Bret Miller on 25 years of employment with the church. Robert is manager of our accounting and Bret is our IT manager.

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Ohio

Kayla Shallenberger, daughter of Rick and Cheryl Shallenberger, graduated this past Saturday from Ohio University with a degree in Elementary Education. Kayla graduated Summa Cum Laude, or in the top five percent of her class. She is serving as a care-giver for her grandmother this summer as she prepares to return to Malawi in September to teach at our school in Blantyre.


Abbotsford, Canada

Sally Miller, daughter of proud parents Jim and Karen Miller of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Abbotsford, was the valedictorian of Langley Secondary School this year. Jim is an elder in the congregation, and daughter Sally regularly takes part in worship leading.


Generations Ministries

Our GenMin summer camp and missions season is in full swing. Please join us in praying for success and safety. You can find a list of all the camps and missions at http://genmin.gci.org/campministries.htm.

Professional musician and Dallas GCI member Doc Gibbs wrote a song to accompany the “Living Loved” 2011 camp theme and curriculum. You can listen to it at http://genmin.gci.org/Web Documents/Living Loved theme song.mp4 and download the lyrics at http://genmin.gci.org/Web Documents/Living Loved theme song lyrics.docx

Thanks Doc!


Dallas, Texas: Heart O’ Texas Camp

Twenty campers and 15 staff came together for a weekend of training, sharing and fellowship, and “Acts of Random Kindness” in the local community was again the exciting highlight of the camp. Anthony Mullins, GenMin camps and missions leader, gave the chapel messages and participated with the campers in their activities. Dallas North youth ministers Scott and Shawna Herridge led camp activities and kept the campers engaged. Camp concluded with a worship service in the Dallas North church, where each group of campers shared their camp experiences with the congregation.

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Office of Reconciliation and Spiritual Mediation (ORSM)

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday last week Curtis May was guest speaker at an inter-church, multi-ethnic conference in Dallas, Texas, on the topic of Church Growth in a Changing World. The conference was hosted by the Baptist Church Missions Association.

On Tuesday evening Curtis spoke on Jesus’ example of crossing barriers in John 4, then held a Q&A session. On Wednesday he spoke from Ephesians 2, emphasizing the need for prayer, love and willingness to fellowship with people of all walks of life. A round-table discussion and Q&A followed.

On Thursday Curtis joined Baptist Mission Director Scott Whitson in leading a lively round table discussion in which pastors were asked to share their issues relating to church growth and diversity. The conference ended with a round table discussion at a Spanish church with a group of White, Black and Hispanic pastors.

GCI pastor and ORSM chapter leader Tom Pickett did most of the preparatory work for the conference, assisted by Baptist Pastor Charles Dorsett.

Photo: Curtis and Jannice May (far left) take part in a round table discussion with more than two dozen Dallas area pastors.


Canadian Thanksgiving Celebration

Craig and Debbie Minke sent this update regarding the Thanksgiving Celebration Retreat being held in Penticton again this year. Due to the Canadian rotating mail strike, they asked me to include this information in my update, so that anyone interested would be able to receive the information. Guest speakers include retired elder Ronald Kelly, who served our denomination for more than 45 years, and elder Randal Dick, who served as our director of international missions from 1993 to 2007 and is now a senior consultant with Design Group International.

Gary and Wendy Moore will join the group for a few days, with Wendy presenting a GCI Canada missions update. Planned events include a lunch cruise, a winery tour, a Thanksgiving Banquet, and other activities.

More information is available on the Vancouver church website at http://www.gcicanada.ca/features/penticton2011.php


Prayer Requests and Updates

Jewel Love, one of our elders in the Beaumont, California, congregation sent this update about his treatment for prostate cancer:

We have completed a week of radiation treatments. So far my treatments have been routine. I have suffered no adverse side effects yet. They have put us up in the Fisher House. The main number is 310-478-3711, and our room extension is 45916. We have a private bedroom and bathroom. All residents share the large living room, kitchen, dining room, family room, and library, and the common areas. Lelia, my wife, who is serving as my caretaker, has worked diligently and enthusiastically to organize our living quarters. Her efforts have produced an extra clean and sanitary place for us to live in for the next few weeks. We have seven weeks more to go, so please continue to remember us in your prayers.


Retired church employee Rona Martin died May 13, 2011. Rona worked full time for the church as Herbert W. Armstrong’s housekeeper from September 1965 until March 1986, when she retired and moved to Tucson. She was born in October 1914.

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 8, 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Pastor Bill Ford sent this report after the Massachusetts storms last week:

Our hearts and prayers go out to the folks in West Springfield, Springfield, Munson, Brimfield and the other communities who were hit so hard by the devastating storms. I have contacted most of our members in the Amherst and Holden churches who live south of the Pike in western and central Massachusetts, and all contacted are safe, although Ken Whiting did sustain some roof damage at his shop in West Springfield. Ken was there when the tornado passed within 100 feet of his place. His comment: “Scary stuff.” Tom and Nicki Marion had a close call when the storm went just to their north in Springfield, yet they had no damage to their property. As of this report, I have not yet been able to make contact with Scott Kellogg, who lives in West Springfield where the storm seems to have originated.

As to the Holden churches members, Sue Gaulin, who lives in the Charlton area, north of the Pike, let me know that they were safe. I have yet to make contact with George Dembowski who lives in Southbridge in direct line of the storm just east of Munson, one of the towns that were hit so hard. The cell towers may be down in his area.


Philippines

GCI Philippines reached a milestone Saturday, May 28, 2011, with the 50th anniversary of the local church in Kiara, Mindanao. Pastor Jojo Geron and wife Tata led the pastoral team in welcoming more than 400 members and guests.

The Kiara church began with a small group of settlers from the Visayas area who took advantage of a government program of land distribution in Mindanao. The leader of the group, Fidel Cambare, who was associated with the Church of God (Seventh Day), made contact with the Radio Church of God through its Philippines representative, Pedro Ortiguero. Church headquarters in Pasadena sent Gerald Waterhouse to visit the group and officially establish the Kiara church.

That small group grew into an enduring and vibrant church that helped establish other churches and is now actively supporting several tentmaker missionaries, especially in Thailand. With attendance of more than 200 on a regular basis, Kiara is still the biggest local church in the Philippines.

National and Missions Director Eugene Guzon gave the anniversary message entitled, “What the World Needs is Jesus.”

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Colombia

From Hector Barrero:

On May 29, the Bogota congregation celebrated Mothers Day. The children had a special presentation, while the men, led by members of the Spokesman Club, presented flowers to all our mothers and women. At the end of church services we surprised the mothers with a Mariachi presentation before dinner. More than 150 people attended services that day.

Nine new people have been attending as a result of the radio programs, and some of them now want to become members. Nearly every Sunday there are visitors who listen to our radio programs.

We have opened a Wednesday weekly church service at 7 p.m. with an average of 20 people attending. We also have eight small groups led by church members.

We are about to finish this year’s 4-month marriage series. Eight couples will be graduating. Two of the couples attend our church, and the other six are members of other denominations who took the class so that they could teach it in their churches.

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Prayer Requests and Updates

Bernie Schnippert sent this update about his health:

As you may recall, over the last few months I had four procedures performed to “kill” five or six major carcinoid tumors in my liver. Two of these procedures used radioactive beads, and two used chemically infused beads. In my last update, I told you the next major step was a CAT Scan to occur about five weeks after the final procedure to see how successful the procedures had been. Last week I traveled to Portland for the CAT Scan. The results were declared to be “very successful” in that most of the major, treated tumors showed substantial decrease in size, indicating their mortality in whole or part.

I still have not recovered 100 percent from the procedures, which were to some degree debilitating, or from the previous cancer downturn, which caused us to need the procedures in the first place. (As I have mentioned before, there is no cure for my cancer at this stage. Also, there are probably countless other smaller tumors in my liver and elsewhere that cannot be treated.)

Another positive step, however, is the new use of a pill that recent studies have shown to possibly stop carcinoid growth or even reverse it in some patients. (This pill has been used for years with kidney cancer and was recently tested for carcinoid.) This is in some ways a major breakthrough, because up until now there has been no pill which had any effect on carcinoid, yet this one is proving effective for some types of carcinoid cancer (there is more than one type). Of course, it varies widely with the patient, so only time will tell how it affects me. It has numerous potential side effects, some of which are serious and would result in me being taken off the drug.

The biggest “win” for me going forward would be that I recover all my pre-cancer strength, that the treated tumors continue to shrink some more, and that they do not grow back, or that they grow very slowly. Although there is no cure, it is still our goal that I “die with the cancer, not from the cancer,” which is in effect as good as a cure.

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 1, 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Charles Fleming reports that Leroy Joiles and Daniel Graham have been ordained as elders in Jamaica. Leroy was installed as Senior Pastor, serving as National Leader for our churches in Jamaica and as pastor of the Christian Pen congregation. Daniel was installed as Assistant Pastor for the Christian Pen congregation. Charles said that both men have done an excellent job serving as pastoral leaders for several years and that it was a pleasure to formalize their roles. They are both much loved by the congregation.

Last weekend, Charles led approximately 25 of the leaders of all four Jamaican congregations in a three-day retreat for integration of spiritual formation exercises and strategic planning. Participants expressed appreciation for the time, and Leroy told Charles that they have already scheduled follow-up sessions.

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According to George Barna

While more than 66% of Americans say they are either “religious” or “spiritual,” just 18% claim to be “totally committed” to engaging in personal spiritual development. Among adults who claim to be Christian, just 14% say their faith in and relationship with God is the highest priority in their life. While 80% of U.S. adults say they are Christian, only 20% contend the single, most important decision they have ever made. Only 22% of adults who believe they are Christian state they live in a way that makes them completely dependent upon God. Other Barna research indicates such dependence only emerges in times of crisis or suffering.

An eight-decade-long research effort found that children of failed marriages died almost five years earlier, on average, than children from intact families. The results of the research are published in a book titled The Longevity Project and provide some sobering insights. “Parental divorce during childhood emerged as the single strongest predictor of early death in adulthood,” said the authors. The causes of death ranged from accidents and violence to cancer, heart attack, and stroke. The authors noted that the early death of a parent did not have the same effect on children’s lifespans or mortality risk as that of parental divorce and family break-up. (The Longevity Project, by Howard S. Friedman and Leslie R. Martin, Hudson Street Press, & LifeSite News 3/23/11)


ORM becomes ORSM

From Curtis May

To broaden the effectiveness of our outreach, we have updated the name Office of Reconciliation Ministries to Office of Reconciliation and Spiritual Mediation. Our brand and our mission will not change, but the new name will enhance our ability to reach out to more organizations as we continue to advance the work of reconciliation, mediation and oneness.

Some have asked what I will be doing now that I have retired. I will continue as director of ORSM. I will also continue serving the church as an elder and board member. Although I will maintain the ORSM office in Glendora, California, most of our work will be done at our new address in Banning, California, which is:

Office of Reconciliation and Spiritual Mediation (ORSM)
300 S. Highland Springs Ave., Ste. 6C #108
Banning, CA 92220


Bangladesh

John Biswas reports that by many miracles of God’s grace, the church in Bangladesh is growing. In spite of the very difficult climate of hostility, John has recently started two new village churches about five miles from the mission center. We now have 16 churches in Bangladesh. The members of the two new churches either have to meet out in the open or walk the five miles to our mission center. Because of the harsh conditions, this is difficult for mothers with children, so John hopes to construct a multipurpose building for each church. These can be used for our worship services and Bible studies, plus act as shelter when needed. Two photos show an outreach meeting where the men and women traditionally sit separately, and the other two are of the members of our two new churches.

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Prayer Requests and Updates

Update on Joplin
From Jim Kissee:

Long time Joplin member Veda Wead sustained serious head injuries in the recent tornado, but is recovering well. For nearly a decade, due to health and age, Veda has been limited in attending services or church activities. Dan King, who has been of tremendous service in the aftermath of this storm, found her alive in ICU in Freeman Hospital in Joplin. She had been dug out of her residence by her children and transported to the hospital. However, she was “lost” for two days in the jumble of movement and activity.

Meanwhile, members Don and Shirley Haas sit in what seems like a silent world. As Shirley said, though they are so near, yet they hardly know what has taken place. Don is legally blind, and age limits their movements. Don’s son, Calvin, has had four tours of duty in Iraq. He shared that he hadn’t seen anything like this. The community of Joplin whittles away to restore the city’s heart, and a lot of whittlers are coming from small hamlets, large cities, counties and states to provide strength, support and encouragement.

Please send cards, for now, to the church address and we’ll be sure they are delivered. All the Joplin members and especially those directly affected thank you for your prayers.

PO Box 611
Joplin, MO 64802

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 25, 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Joplin, Missouri, Pastor Jim Kissee reported:

I visited the members in Joplin yesterday. All the members are okay though understandably they’re nervous about the weather. Except for chainsaws and clean up noise, the lack of connection (radio, TV, electricity) for the elderly and disabled is like a bygone time. Words and even pictures cannot portray the reality. Front porches, bedrooms, years of life, cars all disassembled and left in a huge pile like brush. While not far away from these “brush piles” the evidence of life was vacuumed from the scene to who knows where. In the midst of unrecognizable places people are sitting in the rubble not knowing where to start, and a few blocks away others are searching frantically on an almost barren location hoping to find a few memories to give hope to the future.

I drove through backstreets to within a block of a member’s home north of the tornado touchdown point where the only evidence of a nearby disaster was the national guard and police directing traffic on the main roads into the devastated area. Trees were standing with leaves and bark while just a few blocks away you view the national news iconic St. John’s Hospital with land denuded all around. And a few blocks on the south side of St. John’s, the campus of the other major hospital stands as it did on Sunday before the tornado hit.

When I got home my daughter had heard from a former AC student and classmate of hers that her parents lost their home and three of her cousins lost homes as well. On Sunday a huge double rainbow (filmed for national news) followed the storm track from Joplin to the east, eventually reaching our home 80 miles away. Though sadness prevails, hope, like this rainbow, is rising.

Thankfully, all the members are well, though all the members know or have friends who suffered severe loss and even ultimate loss. If anyone wishes to send encouragement to Kathy Bettes whose home suffered damage within view of St. John’s on the south side, or to Don and Shirley Hass, who suffered damage to their property and lived just northwest of St. John’s, or for Gerald and Gloria Ambrosius, whose home was in the direct path of the tornado at the east end and was destroyed after nearly a half century of living there, please send cards, for now, to the church address and we’ll be sure they are delivered. All the Joplin members and especially those directly affected thank you for your prayers.

PO Box 611
Joplin, MO 64802

We are in contact with Pastor Kissee regarding emergency needs so the GCI Disaster Emergency Fund will be used as needed. If your congregation would like to donate to help members recover from this or future disasters please send donations to the GCI Disaster Relief Fund. This fund has been established so we can respond with help for costs of emergency member needs in the wake of such disasters. These costs include such items as food, water, clothing, and temporary housing, as well as temporary local pastoral salary expenses and other emergency local church expenses. The fund is generally coordinated by pastors in the affected areas working with the Treasurer’s Office in Glendora. Since Grace Communion International is a non-profit organization, donations to the Disaster Relief Fund are tax-deductible in the United States.

Donations can be made online at our website at www.gci.org, or for those who would prefer to mail a check, the address is:

Disaster Relief Fund
Grace Communion International
PO Box 5005
Glendora, CA 91740


Oklahoma City

Pastor Mike Rasmussen in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma reported that members and property are safe after a tornado came within one mile of their church building and two miles of the Rasmussen home. About 60,000 people are currently without power in the area.

The Oklahoma GCI Crosswalk camp starts this weekend, so Mike is asking that we pray for good weather.


Northeast U.S. Conference

At the GCI regional conference in Parsippany, New Jersey, we had the joy of witnessing the ordination of GCI church planter Dishon Mills. A video of the ordination can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-z2kHehwiM. Dishon and his wife, Afrika, are in the process of planting a new GCI congregation in Randolph, Massachusetts (near Boston). We thank God for Dishon and Afrika and are praying for their journey in ministry with Jesus.

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Anthony Dady

United Kingdom

Congratulations to UK elder Anthony Dady, who was elected May 5 to be a councilor in Corby, the town where he lives. Councilor Dady sees this as an exciting development in his community ministry, where he is already active in many initiatives designed to share the love of Jesus with local residents.


Grenada

Over the weekend of May 6-8, the Grenada church held a spiritual formation retreat with 15 of its members. Spiritual directors for the weekend were Larry Hinkle, and Charles and Carmen Fleming.

Larry, who pastors GCI congregations in North Broward and Port St. Lucie, Florida, is developing a spiritual formation retreat model. The retreat was designed to bring us into a greater awareness of God’s loving presence through a wide range of spiritual formation exercises.

Attendees appreciated being able to experience the presence of God in this way, and they want to make this retreat an annual event for their congregation.

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Southern Africa

From South Africa National Director Tim Maguire:

I would like to update you on my trip to Mozambique over the Easter weekend. As you probably know, GCI Canada had very kindly sponsored a pastoral training long weekend to allow Caleb Makhela and me, along with a visitor/translator from GCI-Portugal, Daniel Fernandes, to ground them in basic theology and train the Mozambique pastors in GCI theology.

I collected Daniel from the airport at 6 a.m. on the Wednesday before Easter and left straight away for Louis Trichardt, where we picked up Caleb, then on to Mutare in Zimbabwe, where we slept over at the Govas’ home, one of our Zimbabwean pastors.

Travelling in Africa is never easy, as Daniel found out at the Beitbridge border-post. We stood in queues for about five hours on the Zimbabwe side, and Daniel was greeted with his first African sunset as we were finally ready to drive into Zimbabwe. He took out his camera and snapped two pictures of trees with the sun setting behind them. Unfortunately, we were still in a restricted area where cameras were not allowed, and the Zimbabwe CID pounced, arresting him on the spot. They took him into a back room, confiscated his passport and camera and told him he would have to appear before a magistrate the next day.

I realised what they were really after when the Zimbabweans started rubbing thumb and forefinger together in the universal sign language of money! On telling them we were pastors and were unwilling to pay any sort of bribe, and threatening to phone the Portuguese Embassy, they made Daniel delete the pictures and we were on our way again, arriving at Pastor Gova’s home after midnight.

We left Mutare the next morning, eventually arriving in Morrumbala in northern Mozambique just before midnight on Thursday. Most of the conference attendees had already arrived and were dancing the night away in praise and worship. After a warm and touching welcome, we crept off to our hut to sleep. The music and dancing continued into the early hours of the morning.

Only the next morning did we realise that instead of the 54 delegates we were expecting, more than 350 had arrived! They had brought their reed mats with them and most were sleeping under the stars, without even blankets to keep them warm. What a humbling experience to see this thirst and sacrifice for God’s word.

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We also discovered that since my last visit in September 2010, no longer were there just 54 congregations, but 87. Another 33 churches had been raised up in just six months!

The next four days were spent in fellowship, song, praise and teaching. They hungrily drank in and accepted the good news we were blessed to bring them. On Sunday I had one of the most moving experiences of my life when we formalized the affiliation process and welcomed our brothers and sisters from Mozambique into the GCI fellowship. We then took communion with them, which was a first-time experience for most.

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Please remember to pray for Mozambique. The challenges these people face are many. Disease is rife. The average life expectancy is at least 20 years below the world average. It is one of the poorest countries in the world. We now have about 2500 members there, not one of which is employed or has any means of income. They are all subsistence farmers and live day to day, hand to mouth, scratching a living out of the harsh African soil. Yet they are filled with joy and the fruit of the Spirit, a humbling lesson to us all. I have attached a few pictures of the trip.

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Prayer Requests and Updates

Andrew McArthur

Pastor Andrew McArthur from Living Hope Family Fellowship in Hillsdale, New Jersey passed away on May 16, 2011. He leaves behind his wife, Falisa Evett, and three children Elyse, Evan, and Everett. He will be greatly missed by all his friends and family.

Cards may be sent to:
411 Harrison Ave. Apt.3
Garfield, NJ 07026


Cora Guice

GCI board member, Frank Guice, shared this request regarding his wife, Cora:

Cora would like for the church to join her in prayer for healing of her neck, right shoulder and arm areas. She fell about two months ago, but we are not sure that is the actual cause of the pain and other symptoms.

On May 15, she needed to go to Urgent Care, and since that time the pain worsened with spasms, swelling, numbness, tremors and tingling in her arm and hands with cold sensation. She had an MRI on her neck today, May 25, and will have another MRI on her arm tomorrow.

Cora appreciates your sharing of love and concern.

Cards may be sent to:
7411 Juneau Ln
Fontana, CA 92336-0717


Jim Meade

Robert Meade, manager of our accounting department in Glendora, updated us about the condition of his father, Jim Meade, who is pastor of the GCI congregation in Port Huron, Michigan. Jim had a successful surgery Monday for his heart blockages. Robert wrote, “He had three stents put in, and by that afternoon he was talking, joking and eating! He was released from the hospital Wednesday morning, and is now home recovering. After the surgery, the surgeon said the blood flow through the heart was at about 70 percent (up from less than 10 percent). Once he has sufficiently recovered, he will need to go back in about six weeks for another set of stents to get the blood flowing at 100 percent. Also, his blood pressure is kind of high, so they are hoping that comes down to a normal level as well. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers for him and his wife, Kim.”


Patsy Ross

Pastor John Ross informs us that his wife is continuing to have consistent pain, recently had neck surgery, and will be consulting to have future surgery. Pastor Ross would appreciate our prayers.

Cards may be sent to:
Mrs. Patsy Dezell Ross
1204 Glendale Cir
Greenwood, MS 38930-7203


Dave Fiedler

It has been a while since I could give you anything definitive on my eye. I had a checkup with the surgeon last week and she said the retina is holding. She said that I should come back in July to see about trying to remove the oil again, and then have a lens implant. She understands my reticence about that, because when we tried it in February, my eye pressure went down to zero and the retina re-detached. I asked about trying a contact or aphakic lens first to see what kind of vision I could get back. She thought that was a reasonable idea. So yesterday I went to an optometrist and after an hour of tests and trying different lens, we’ve concluded that my vision can’t be improved enough to even begin working with my good eye. Looks like I’m stuck with being the one-eyed “cyclops” for the remainder of my life. I don’t think I’ll have the oil removed again (risking another detachment) unless I go blind in my good eye. I can still drive, golf, fish, and see my beautiful wife and grandkids, so life is good!

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


Don Lawson sent good news about Sue’s treatment progress:

After 46 days at USC Norris Cancer Center, Sue is finally home! She was in protective isolation, and on two kinds of chemo for 40 days. She will now be going in for outpatient chemo five days per week, four weeks on and two weeks off. This will last for six months to a year. They have pronounced her in remission, which does not mean cancer free. They have to continue treatment to make sure they got all the cancer cells. We are very thankful she is home, and she wants to say thank you for all the prayers and cards. Sue loved the cards, and the doctors and nurses could not believe she got cards from all over the world. We taped them to the walls in her room, and they covered most of the room. I stayed with her most of the time and was able to relate our experience of coming out of legalism into the grace of God to the hospital chaplain. He shed a few tears of joy, and we prayed together.

Thanks so much for your thoughts, prayers and loving concern for the last 13 months!

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 18, 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Randy Bloom, director of Church Multiplication Ministries, interviewed Dishon and Afrika Mills, who are starting a new GCI congregation in Randolph, Massachusetts, and District Pastoral Leader Larry Wooldridge, who explained the role of his district in supporting the Mills.

You can view the interview by visiting: http://gci-usa.blogspot.com/p/multiplying-leaders-ministries-and.html.


Update from the UK

While in the UK recently for our UK church board of trustees meeting, I traveled to the north of England to attend a most enjoyable outreach event put on by the Northampton congregation. Two pictures below:

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SEP Luzon 2011: "In His Love"

Philippines

Luzon

The Villa Julia Resort in Silang, Cavite, was the venue for 136 campers and 48 staff for this year’s Summer Enrichment Program in Luzon. One camper, Albert Longhurst, came from New Zealand and joined SEP, commuting all the way from Ilocos, where the family was visiting.


Santa Rosa

"Lost World" VBS in Santa Rosa

Sixty-seven enthusiastic kids, ages 4 to 12, attended GCI Santa Rosa’s Vacation Bible School (VBS), held April 17-21 at the Laguna Bel-Air 3 Learning Center. Most participants were children from the neighborhood, but a number were shuttled daily from Barangay Don Jose, where GCI holds a regular Bible study for children. Grateful parents expressed their appreciation for the outreach activity, which was held in cooperation with the Laguna Bel-Air 3 management, which provided the venue free of charge.

The theme of this VBS was ”The Lost World,” which highlighted the fallen nature of creation and God’s intervention to save the world. It featured dinosaurs, Noah’s ark, the Garden of Eden, fossils and other interesting subjects in a safari-style learning experience, which was a hit among the young ones.

The event was spearheaded by National Director Eugene Guzon, who is also the pastor of the Santa Rosa congregation.


From CAD: Church Growth Conference

On April 26-29, thirty GCI ministry leaders attended the Exponential Conference in Orlando, Florida. Exponential is an annual resourcing event focusing on starting new churches. Nearly 4,000 people attend from across the US and various international areas. To learn more about Exponential and to register for the 2012 conference, go to www.exponentialconference.org.

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You can also view GCI pastors telling about their experiences at Exponential by visiting http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tseLf1Mmdg8


Jamaica

Charles Fleming shared a note from Daniel Graham about a special memorial service for Lateef Edalere.

The memorial service for our late pastor, Mr. Lateef Edalere, held May 1, was an historic service. The Edalere family was all in attendance, including Mr. Edalere’s grandchildren. Many former WCG members attended, and the fellowship was very rich and exciting.

Among those giving tributes were Michael Mitchell and Leaford Henderson. Mrs. Anthea Henderson read the moving eulogy. Leroy Joiles delivered the sermon.

The Lateef Edalere Fund was set up in memory of Mr. Edalere, who was known for his love for children.

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Spain

From Pedro Rufian:

Thanks for your prayers and thoughts for the people affected by the recent earthquake in Lorca, Murcia, in the southeast of Spain. Thanks to God we do not have any members there, but we asked that God may give comfort and encouragement to everyone of those who have lost loved ones, or whose properties have been affected and are in fear without being able to go back to their homes. About 40 percent of the city buildings suffered damage, many of them are reparable. Maybe 10 percent of them will need to be demolished. How is it possible that a 5.4 earthquake has brought about so much damage? The explanation has to be that the collision point of the two plates, the African and the European, was just about 1000 meters deep, very shallow for these types of events. These two geological plates stretch along the coast on an inland band of about 50 kilometers wide from Valencia to Huelva. This area has the highest earthquake risk in Spain.

The members nearest to the earthquake zone, Alex and Maria Luisa Valencia, live about 100 kilometers from Lorca, and were not affected, other than to feel some shaking.

The sister of our church treasurer here in the Madrid congregation does live in Lorca with her paraplegic son who is confined to a wheelchair. They live in an apartment on the fifth floor and could not get outside during the earthquake because the elevator was destroyed. Some hours later, with the help of her elder son and two police officers, they were able to be brought down the stairs. They will stay in another home they have in Aguilas City, about 50 kilometers away, until the apartment building is repaired. Our treasurer, Marivi, and her husband drove about five hundred kilometers from Madrid to Aguilas to be with them during this past weekend.


Prayer Requests and Updates

Jewel Love, assistant pastor in Beaumont, California.

Lelia Love requests prayers for her husband, Jewel, who was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer. They will move into Veterans Housing in Los Angeles on June 6 and he will begin radiation treatments that afternoon. They are scheduled to remain in Los Angeles until approximately August.

Cards may be sent to:
Mr. & Mrs. Jewel R. Love
850 Gail Ave
Redlands, CA 92374-2544


Jim Meade

Thank you for your continued prayers for Jim Meade, pastor of the GCI church in Port Huron, Michigan, who was diagnosed with serious artery blockages and valve leaking. Last week, while he was not feeling well enough to have open heart surgery, he took the time to get a second opinion. Thanks to God and your prayers, he got in touch with another specialist who feels that he will not need the trauma of open heart surgery, but instead his blockages can safely be handled with stents. This is a far less invasive treatment, so both he and his wife Kim are happy to be able to go this route. He has been feeling better, and so has scheduled the surgery for Monday, May 23.

Cards may be sent to:
3665 Ruddock Rd
Kenockee, MI 48006-4212

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 11, 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Glendora, California

On May 7, the New Covenant Fellowship of Glendora, CA celebrated its 14th annual “Hispanic Heritage Day and Cinco de Mayo” celebration.

Cinco de Mayo (May 5) commemorates a major battle outside Mexico City in 1862 when a French army was turned back from occupying Mexico permanently and threatening to undercut the effort of President Lincoln to reunify the United States. This year Assistant Pastor Paul Tellez explained why Americans of Hispanic descent celebrate this day with such gusto and how it points to the need to relate to each other and appreciate each other as part of that great multicultural community we see in Acts 2 — the Church. Our Mexican-American members hosted the event with decorations, lively music, special food, themed messages and the annual smashing of the piñata by the children.

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Photo captions: 1. Pastor Neil Earle with children on Glendora Church’s 14th Cinco de Mayo service 2. Auryn McNally goes for a whack at the pinata 3. Glendora cuties line up in their “piñata hats”


Canadian Update

Gary Moore sent this inspiring note from Alan Redmond about a major award given to Sandra Norris, wife of Charles Norris, one of our elders in the Winnipeg congregation. I have mentioned the wonderful work of Hands of Hope that operates in Winnipeg in previous updates, and want to add our congratulations to Sandra for the wonderful way she has yielded her life to the Jesus Christ. The love of God expressed through her for those less fortunate is indeed transformational and inspiring!

From Alan:

On April 27, 2011 Sandra Norris was presented an award for Community Leadership at Volunteer Manitoba’s 28th Annual Awards Dinner in Winnipeg.

Carolyn and I attended the celebration. Also the Premier of Manitoba was present at the Winnipeg Convention Centre along with Federal and City politicians.

In 2000, Sandra and her husband Charles began taking furniture to the less fortunate in Winnipeg. In 2002 Hands of Hope was incorporated as a charity with support from the Winnipeg church, now called Grace Christian Church. As the organization grew, Charles and Sandra received a salary, but in addition worked many extra volunteer hours.

After operating out of a donated building with no heat or electricity, Hands of Hope was able to get a piece of land from the City of Winnipeg and funding from the Provincial and Federal governments to build a warehouse, which officially opened in September 2005. Sandra and Charles sold their home in the country and moved to Winnipeg in order to better serve the community.

Since its humble beginnings, Hands of Hope now employs five full-time staff and networks with social workers, the Health Sciences Centre, half-way houses, refugee centers, women’s shelters and other organizations. Two years ago, Sandra gave up her position on staff and now continues to serve as a dedicated volunteer. Sandra is a remarkable, deserving recipient of the Volunteer Manitoba award for Outstanding Community Leadership.


Update from the UK

SEP UK is a two-week summer activity for young people aged 12-17. It’s located on the banks of Loch Lomond, about 40 miles north of Glasgow. It offers a range of about 20 activities and welcomes young people of all denominations and none. This year it runs from July 31 to August 13. (The early booking discount has been extended to May 16.) For more details, see www.sepuk.org. Adventure Camp is for 7-13 year olds. It’s from August 27-29 and is being held again at Well End Activity Centre, Borehamwood. For more details see www.wcg.org.uk.


Prayer Requests and Updates

Update on Martin Manuel’s grandson

Jason passed another milestone Wednesday afternoon when the medical staff removed the breathing tube and his body reacted without a glitch. He immediately talked because he had something urgent to tell us, although his throat was very sore. This morning, speech therapists worked with him to determine his ability to speak, reason, and understand. He wowed them. His progress continues to amaze the staff. He already wants to go home, but has more major milestones to pass. This is trying his patience. Still undetermined is the next step for his heart. Will he go on the list for a transplant? What treatment will he need in the short term? He is still in the ICU. Also unresolved is the matter of fluid on his brain. Please include these matters in your prayers as well as Jason’s need to cope with all that he must go through. Thanks for your continued loving support.

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Cards may be sent to:
Jason Richards
16917 NE 99th Court
Redmond, WA 98052


Brendan Terry

We received this note from Mary Terry, Pam Morgan’s mother, concerning her five year old grandson, Brendan:

I just wanted to let you know the results of Brendan’s chest X-ray. He does not have pneumonia. I believe that God intervened on his behalf. The fever and cough he had for the past week indicated that something was seriously wrong. The staph infection is also clearing up, after only two of the chlorine baths, which is also evidence that God is truly there for us. I can only praise His name and give Him my thanks. Thanks to everyone for their loving kindness for Brendan. Lovingly, Mary

Cards may be sent to:
Brendan J. Terry
137 Poppy Avenue
Monrovia, 91016

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