September 2, 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

New Website and Email Addresses Coming Soon!

From Mat Morgan:

As we continue to transition our systems to support our new denominational name, Grace Communion International, we are pleased to announce that we have acquired the domain name www.gci.org. This address will provide an easy point of reference for those searching for our website and those sending email communications to most elders and employees. Currently, you can access our web site at either the placeholder site www.gci.org or our current active site www.wcg.org and use the same email addresses as before. However, this will change as the transition progresses. Please see details below for the next steps in this transition.

Now that we can use gci.org, our IT staff has begun moving all @wcg.org email addresses to @gci.org. Until the transition is complete (it probably will take a month or two due to the large number of addresses that need to be moved), you can continue to send emails to all @wcg.org addresses, since they will be redirected to new @gci.org addresses as they are activated. Once the transition is complete, we will let you know to update all your @wcg.org email addresses to @gci.org. Finally, after a couple more months, we will discontinue all @wcg.org email to complete the transition.

At the same time, we are working with a local web design firm to design a new denominational website. When the new site goes live (planned on or before Jan 2010), we will offer a fresh new look, easier navigation to key areas, and an even clearer focus on God’s love for every person and GCI’s participation with the Triune God in sharing that love. For you techies out there, the website will be developed under an open-source content management system called Drupal, which will give us a flexible and affordable means to maintain and enhance the website now and in the future. Please pray for everyone involved in this project.


SEP Rockies

From Mark McCulley:

2Shields formationThe 46 staff members of SEP Rockies served 64 campers, ages 11-18, during the week of July 26 to August 1 at Long Scraggy Mountain Ranch outside of Denver. Activities included riflery, wilderness skills, dance, Ultimate Frisbee and an overnight campout at the top of Long Scraggy Peak.

Chapel services used the film The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as a visual aid to present the gospel.

. .


Church Planting Seminar

From Randy Bloom:

Twenty participants attended Church-Next Training (CNT) August 24-28 in Twin Peaks, California. Church-Next Training provides a comprehensive overview of principles and practices for planting churches. Participants included church pastors, district pastoral leaders and seven members of a GCI church planting team from the Philippines, including GCI Philippines National Director Eugene Guzon. A church planter with the United Methodist Church also attended. For more information on CNT, visit the Church Multiplication Ministries website at cmm.wcg.org. If you would like to plan Church-Next Training for your district network or congregation, contact Randy Bloom at Randy.Bloom@wcg.org.

2CNT 3 . 2CNT 2


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


August 26, 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, sponsored by the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), is a time set apart for us to remember thousands of our Christian brothers and sisters around the world who suffer persecution, simply because they confess Jesus Christ as Lord.

This year, thousands of Christians worldwide will join in prayer November 1 for persecuted Christian families. There are many countries in the world today where Christians are martyred for their faith. For example, the world watched in horror the unbridled violence that was unleashed on Christians in Orissa state, India, last year. There are other places, such as North Korea, where acts of persecution take place, but we often don’t see or hear the full story.

The WEA is made up of 128 national evangelical alliances located in seven regions and 104 associate member organizations representing 420 million evangelical Christians worldwide.

Greg Pugh
Greg Pugh

Greg Pugh, Rocky Mountain District Director of Church Multiplication and Development for the Evangelical Free Church of America, was a guest speaker at the Denver Regional Conference. An experienced church planter, Greg spoke with us about how to prepare to plant churches. Randy Bloom interviewed Greg about the characteristics of people who effectively start new churches. You can watch a video of this interview entitled, “You Might be a Church Planter if …” by logging on to the CMM website at cmm.wcg.org.


Papua New Guinea

Mark Latham, Papua New Guinea (PNG) pastoral coordinator, returned home from a mid-year visit to our congregations in PNG July 26. On this trip, Mark was accompanied by Australian Youth Coordinator Kwan Borden. Mark wrote:

Traditional Chimbu dancers
Traditional Chimbu dancers
Kwan Borden & John Banda
Kwan Borden & John Banda

This was Kwan’s first trip to Papua New Guinea, a land of the unexpected, and there was an air of excitement surrounding his visit. The congregations in Port Moresby and Mt. Wilhelm were eagerly awaiting his visit and had prepared an exotic cultural welcome. Dancing and singing were followed by a traditional mumu meal. It was a special and emotional time and showed the genuine love of this community to visitors.

As well as meeting the congregations, work was done on the electrical wiring, concreting the floor, window installation and lining the walls and ceiling of the church building at Mt. Wilhelm. Great progress has been made since last year when just the frame and roof were done. The congregations sincerely thank all the donations from Australia for this project. We thank everyone for their prayers of support and for good health and safety. It was greatly appreciated.

. 26Papua New Guinea 44

A rainwater tank was also purchased through CarePac [our Australian church’s relief and outreach ministry] donations. The tank will enable fresh water to be used on-site instead of members having to carry buckets of water up the hill from a river. A cleaner and more reliable source of drinking and cooking water was needed because the river is also used for bathing and laundry.

Ben Gelwa with the rainwater tank
Ben Gelwa with the rainwater tank

The rainwater tank holds 4500 liters and will collect the water off the new church building. At present the rainwater tank has arrived at the village and preparations are being made to connect it. It should be in use in October – in time for the beginning of the wet season.

The congregation is excited to have the tank and thanks everyone who has donated so much. This will make their lives easier and healthier.

A communal kitchen is also planned to help in good nutritional cooking and teaching as well as allowing the community to exercise their generous hospitality to each other, visitors and the surrounding community. The church is a shining example to the surrounding community and a light on the hill on the tallest mountain in Australasia.


Africa

Gary Moore, who just returned from Africa, reported that our church in Botswana was recently registered, meaning our members there can now rent a facility and meet publicly. Until now they have been meeting in members’ homes.


Prayer Requests and Updates

CGI Pastor Charlie Piscitello of Batavia Christian Fellowship, New York, and his wife, Judi, ask for your prayers for Charlie, who is awaiting repair surgery for a grapefruit sized hernia. The surgeon delayed the surgery two weeks to give additional time for Charlie to reduce his blood sugar level. Charlie is also suffering with sever sciatica pain. Cards of encouragement can be sent to:

Charlie and Judi Piscitello
205 Bank St.
Batavia, NY 14020-1503

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


August 20, 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Jessica
Jessica

Santiago and Elke Lange are the proud grandparents of Jessica Maduka, born August 11. Little Jessica, parents Sarah and Charles Maduka, and aunts and grandparents are doing well.


Journey with the Master

From Ted Johnston:

Greg Williams
Greg Williams

Generations Ministries continues to reach out with God’s love to connect cross-generationally with young adults through Journey with the Master (JWM). JWM is a two-year journey that has three weekend gatherings designed to help young adults identify and explore God’s call on their lives to participate with Jesus in his ministry in our world—including within our church.

To date, more than 200 young adults have begun the journey, and several more are scheduled to begin soon. The most recent JWM weekend event was held in Glendora, California. Greg Williams led the event, partnering with several older adult sponsors and mentors who shared the weekend with 31 young, ministry-minded adults.

Participants were asked for their feedback on the event, and here are typical responses:

Do you feel the event was beneficial to you? Please explain why.

  • It helps me to practically examine myself in terms of my relationship with God and his gifts for me, and how to use those gifts towards my goals.
  • Very beneficial for me because I feel like I am at an important crossroad in my life clarifying what to do next. A lot of what we learned has practical things I need to do, but really focused on God.

What is your greatest take-away from the event?

  • Not to have my life too busy for what God has for me.
  • Setting some goals in my life and feeling a little more prepared to go back home and be a leader in my church youth group and my school.

Look for scheduled events at: http://genmin.wcg.org/calendar.htm.


Estonia

From Carl Aas:

I returned home from Estonia last night after our fourth summer school in the town of Kallaste, Estonia. The pupils told us that they had really looked forward to this event, and we have become quite close friends with a number of the older pupils. Several have invited me home to their family. So I am already starting to think about next year’s summer school. I would like to thank the WCG staff of teachers: Timothy Ståhle, Matteusz Kostrzewa (Alhaug), Frederic Clausen, Philip Cifuentes Silbigger and Hendrickje Kehlenbeck, for their service to each other and the pupils.

Among the subjects we taught were: “Keys of success,” “Advanced English,” including active communication and what they should do and not do in a job interview. We also taught American football and badminton.

We had around 40 pupils, the same number as last year. In addition to classes, we visited the largest telescope in northern Europe and a large aviation museum. I also held a public meeting for about 35 people.

This group picture of the staff was taken the day we left Tallinn for Kallaste to start the summer school week.


Italy

From Daniel Boesch:

We held our annual festival July 31-August 3 in the historic town of Ferrara (greater Bologna area). This year we were not able to provide translations in other languages, but we did have about 70 Italian members in attendance. Also in attendance were the pastor of a local protestant church and a couple of their members. This year’s theme was “The Lord Has a Plan for You.”

Besides daily worship services we had several meals together, a praise and worship afternoon, an excursion to a nearby natural park by boat and a guided bicycle tour at night around the walls of Ferrara.


SEP Scotland

From the UK office:

Camp has gone really well with activities including archery, initiative training, sailing, canoeing, netball, football, encaustic art, leatherwork, hill walking, and many more. Campers also learned how to prepare and present their own worship sessions, and participated in interactive classes on practical Christian living. Find out more by checking www.sepuk.org

. .


Bahamas Mission Trip 2009

From Robert McKinney:

19Californians-and-Bahamians_edited-2They came from far and wide to attend the Bahamas Summer Vacation Bible School, which was actually a mission trip, a Vacation Bible School and a mini-SEP all rolled into one grand two-week long extravaganza event! Mike and Janet Morrison led a team of 20 from California to run the program. Their hard work and enthusiasm, together with the assistance of local church volunteers, spearheaded by our local VBS coordinator Gillian Curling, helped to make this our best summer program ever.

We plan to follow up with the young persons who attended, and we are hopeful that much lasting fruit will come as a result of our time together. We are thankful to all our members who served this year, especially our brothers and sisters from California, the Naval family from Haiti and our local members as well. We are hoping to send a good number of our young people to SEP SoCal to gain some additional training and experience for the future, and tentative plans are underway to host another trip in 2010.


Jamaica Mission Trip

A ten-member GCI team comprised of two members from Trinidad, one from Florida, five from Ohio, one from Indiana, and one from Scotland, served adults and young people on the WCG campus at Christian Pen in Jamaica July 5-9.

Besides hosting a leadership seminar conducted by team member David Perry, and a Vacation Bible School that served more than 100 children, the team helped with needed repairs to the campus.


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


August 13, 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

All participants
All participants

John Torgerson, GCI pastor of our Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, church, sent this report about initiating a Sports Stacking ministry. Sports Stacking is for ages 5 to 100 – even Pastor John participates. He says he is within 2.5 seconds of the Senior level world’s record! He wrote:

On Sunday, August 2, we held the first Tournament and Awards banquet attended by the participants, their families, and a number of regular church members who stayed for the afternoon. The ministry began through the efforts of Dan Gezzi, who moved into our church area last year. Our intent was to offer a new youth activity in our community. Through this ministry we have had contacts with five children and their families – contacts that we would not likely have made any other way. So far we have 8 participants in Sports Stacking – three children and five adults. Those who are unfamiliar with Sports Stacking can check out the feature article from our local newspaper on the ministry at http://www.dellsgrace.org/Stacking.pdf


Dells Celebration 2009

From Doug Johannsen:

You’re all invited to our annual Dells Celebration at the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells, WI, from September 17, through 20, 2009. Our theme this year is “From Exclusion to Inclusion.” Join us on this four-day journey as we examine four major areas of life where people are commonly unjustly excluded and learn practical ways to include all.

Step 1: Reserve your room at the Kalahari by Monday, August 16, 2009. The Kalahari is the premier family resort in the Dells featuring the world’s largest indoor water park and new theme park. Phone 1-877-525-2427 for reservations.

  • HUT— $109 per night plus tax, 1-4 people only
  • LODGE SUITE – $129 per night plus tax, 1-4 people only
  • COMBINATION SUITE (lodge and hut) —$238 per night plus tax—sleeps up to 8 people
  • VILLAGE (lodge and two adjoining huts)—$347 per night plus tax—sleeps up to 12 people

You must call the Kalahari Resort no later than August 16th to reserve your room. After August 16, the low prices we’ve negotiated will no longer be available! Let the reservation personnel know you are with the Worldwide Church of God/Grace Communion International. The Kalahari reservation number is: 1-877-525-2427.

You may also book your room online:
First, go to: https://res.kalahariresort.com/V1Web/GroupComments.aspx
Then enter:

  • Group ID 10646
  • Password: 244
  • Contact Password (Optional): leave this blank
  • Click on “Make Reservation” and follow the prompts.

Step 2: Register with Grace Communion International/Worldwide Church of God HQ online at: www.wcg.org/go/wisconsin. Follow the prompts and pay with your credit card.

Or you may download a registration form, fill it out and mail your registration with a check to: Grace Communion International, PO Box 5005, Glendora CA 91740-5005

Or if you do not have Internet access, contact Dells Coordinator Doug Johannsen by phone (763-576-1086) or by mail: 14210 Uranium St NW, Ramsey, MN 55303, and he will mail the forms to you.

Step 3: Come celebrate Jesus with your family and friends. Enjoy good food and many other activities! (By the way, the Kalahari is a very family activity oriented facility. It has a huge water park and a brand new theme park!)


Philippines

From Eugene Guzon:

For years, we had only one member based in Shanghai, China. But in recent years, God has added more to that number. Most of our members in China today got to hear the good news and accept Christ as a result of relationships built by our tentmaking missionaries over the past five years. Most of the baptisms occurred two years ago. Considering the context of this “restricted access” country, we praise God for the ministry that started through the dedication and boldness of Ces, an English mentor, and the very enthusiastic response of young Chinese university students.

Over these past few years, God has been revealing himself more and more to them, as they fellowshipped, studied the word, shared their lives in creative, yet fun ways – like meeting in homes and parks. There were about 12 all together, but some graduated from university and returned to their home provinces or work in the big cities. A core group still stays in the city where the university is located, and they have become teachers too. Most of them have gotten married and have started their own families.

Last year, because of increasing pressure from school authorities, our tentmaker-mentor had to move to another school, but the situation got even worse when a full-time monitor was assigned to watch her every move. As of now, she is strongly considering a ministry in another 10/40 window nation nearby. This situation prompted us to think of ways through which our young converts can continue to be discipled, equipped and trained for ministry. Our goal is to help these native Chinese believers to become mature Christian leaders, who in turn can serve and equip others.

Last year, I, together with one elder from California whom I invited to teach with me during a visit to China, commissioned a leadership team of three. They held the fort, and have since been meeting together with prospective believers.

Last July I again visited the members in three cities. One handicap is my inability to speak their language, and their limited ability to express themselves in English. By God’s provision, I was able to bring with me a Chinese brother whom I met several months ago in the University where I am enrolled here in the Philippines. His name is Edward. He now works in a Christian establishment in China, and he also ministers to a small group of Christians there. But he often prayed for the opportunity to minister to his home province.

He was so thankful when I invited him to join me in my recent visit, because this took him back to his home province – an answered prayer! He also got to see his parents whom he had not seen for three years because of distance and financial constraints.

Edward was effective as a translator. The participants were able to discuss issues in their heart language. Even the spouses of the brethren who do not understand English were able to better appreciate the beauty of God’s plan for them. We taught them leadership principles based on Nehemiah, did a series on parenting, and taught them how to conduct a communion service. During our four-day visit, we were able to have three communion services, with each of the three local leaders taking turns conducting the ceremony. I encouraged them to do this every week, if possible, or as often as practicable.

We also got to visit and pray for the sick mom of one of the members in another city. God granted us favor in terms of relationships built, even with the Buddhist father.

One of the highlights of our trip was the opportunity to counsel and pray for Lulu, a recent convert, and her husband, a non-believer. Lulu was baptized two years ago, and while they had a civil wedding last June 28, she asked me to pray over them and celebrate their union with former classmates and converts at the University.

Because of the need to follow-up on equipping, we are praying that we can conduct another visit this coming August, especially to train leaders on basic hermeneutics and to organize the church. It will also be an opportune time for celebration, as one of our sisters there is expecting to deliver her baby. I pray for God’s provision for this plan.

The harvest is great, and God has been truly faithful! We pray for more opportunities to participate in what he is doing in China and thank God for his abiding presence and awesome power.


UK musical evangelism

Brian Smith and Eddie McCalla
Brian Smith and Eddie McCalla

The Reconciliation DJs are two committed Christian music presenters/DJs/MCs whose motto is “unity in diversity.” They are Eddie McCalla (Scottish Jamaican) who attends the Camberwell congregation and Brian Smith (Anglo Irish) who attends the Coulsdon Community Church.

The two are both life-long jazz fans and have specialized in playing Soul, R&B, Blues, Gospel and Jazz for eating, listening and dancing for some 15 years. They are available free (expenses outside London area) for any church outreach evangelism event, but prices are reasonable for parties, birthdays, weddings, etc.

They will host the complete event if required and can advise on organization, publicity, etc. Croydon Jazz and Blues Festival 2009 sees them doing their stuff during the lunchtime sessions in North End Croydon (outside JJB Sports), alternating with a live band, on June 12-14 between 11.30am and 3.00pm. For further information see the festival website www.jazznet.co.uk

The Reconciliation DJs have their own top quality equipment, a tour bus and their passports are up-to-date, so what are you waiting for! Enquiries to: Brian Smith Reconcile@bdlrs.freeserve.co.uk or tel 0845 260 6668 or +44 (0) 1798 813133


Thailand and Singapore

From Rod Matthews:

The refugee problem along the Thai border with Myanmar is not getting better. Most of the refugees living in the camps within Thailand are ethnic Karen who have previously fled the fighting with the Burmese army inside Myanmar. In one of the camps (actually a town of about 40,000 people), our congregation of nearly 60 continues to meet for worship each week. This camp is one of about ten along Thailand’s western border with Myanmar.

The United Nations has made a more concerted effort in the last year or two to resettle refugee families overseas. In this time period, amongst our own group, two families gained approval to resettle in Australia, one in the USA and one in Norway. Unfortunately, three other families were denied approval to resettle in Australia, in spite of being guaranteed full sponsorship and resettlement assistance from various agencies including the church, and must now seek resettlement in another country.

In July, Malaysian pastor and pastoral coordinator for Thailand, Wong Mein Kong, and I made our annual visit to western Thailand to meet with our Karen pastor. We expected to find a smaller group this year. In spite of it being a Tuesday morning, we didn’t! We discovered that while the three families have moved overseas, more families have joined our group. They have come through contacts with our members including several people from another denomination who prefer our services. One man is a deacon, who is proving very helpful to our pastor, since our deacon was one of those who were approved to move overseas.

. .

There are many children there who sang beautifully for us during the service, accompanied by a guitar played by a friend who is not a member of our congregation, and who teaches the children Karen songs. I gave a short message on the love and care that God has for us in spite of our physical circumstances – which had to be translated into the Karen language as I spoke.

In spite of the UN’s resettlement program, which has managed to find new homes for more than 50,000 people in the last year, the number of refugees in the camps is no fewer. In fact, the problem has been exacerbated by the arrival of more refugees to take the empty places. Unfortunately, the new arrivals are mainly economic refugees who perceive that if they can filter in amongst the political refugees, they might get an opportunity to move to a western country. This has made the job of the camp authorities much more difficult in determining who qualifies for resettlement according to the relative danger they face “back home” in Myanmar. While it is understandable that anyone living in the poverty that afflicts so many people in Myanmar would try to find a way to move to a new home in a more prosperous country, it complicates the situation for the political refugees who have been in the camps in Thailand for decades.

During our visit to the camp, we delivered to our people two boxes of Karen hymnals and coloring books for children which had been donated by Chogait Garmolgomut, our member in Chiang Mai (Thailand) who, with his wife, now runs 11 English language and bi-lingual schools for young children in various parts of Thailand.

Many years ago, Chogait, a graduate of Ambassador University in Pasadena, returned to his native Thailand and eventually started an English language school for little children, whose parents saw the benefit in their children being bilingual, especially in what is the world’s language of business. The one school has now grown to 11, with their newest school opening its doors in Chiang Mai for the first time about two months ago when the current school year commenced. Called the Little Stars Ambassador Bilingual School (ABS), it is already a hive of activity and looking to expand in the months ahead.

Chogait and his wife, Amporn, a dedicated Christian who came to be introduced to Christ through her husband many years ago, also host and serve a church congregation in one of their schools each weekend. Recently they had to introduce two different times for services since the meeting room did not accommodate the numbers wanting to attend. Those attending come largely from school staff members and personal contacts. The value of personal example cannot be underestimated in spreading the gospel.

Singapore

During the same trip, Wong Mein Kong and I travelled to Singapore for a significant event in the history of the local congregation. It was a delightful occasion to ordain Joe Zachariah an elder, and the entire congregation celebrated. Joe and his wife, Anna, have a track record of serving the church faithfully and consistently in humility and dedication. Pastor emeritus, Yong Chin Gee, who has been struggling for some years with poor health, was able to travel with several members from southern Malaysia across the causeway to Singapore to join us in the ordination ceremony. It was a great pleasure for him to take part in this milestone event with the local members numbering about 40.


Prayer Requests and Updates

Al Calame, assisting Dennis Lawrence in caring for the little flock in Plattsburgh, NY, asked for prayer for his wife, who has terminal cancer. He wrote:

I’m writing to ask you to put my wife on your prayer list. Jenny was recently diagnosed with fourth-stage gall bladder cancer, which is terminal. They gave her 3-6 months to live. They felt they could extend her life and improve the quality with some chemotherapy, so she began the first session Tuesday. That night she went into a coma. They can’t explain why and they don’t hold out much hope that she’ll even awaken, because they see evidence of oxygen deprivation in the brain, possibly from her sleep apnea. Of course, the doctors don’t know our great God and his ways. I am trusting him that what will develop will be his will and for the best, but we’ve only had 42 years together and are working on the next 42. Jenny is 62 and a loving wife, mom and grannie. Please pray that God will heal her and we can continue in service to others for many more years.

Cards may be sent to:
2862 Toupin
St. Laurent, PQ H4R1G8
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


August 5, 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Camp Director Paul David Kurts sent this recap of Higher Ground 2009:

At Higher Ground 2009, campers not only heard the message of God’s unconditional love for everyone and the life we all share with the Father, Son and Spirit, but they witnessed it also. Seventy staff members from a dozen different church backgrounds served 140 campers and showed how Christians from all denominations can work together, recognizing their shared identity as children of God.

Based on last year’s camper feedback, the chapel messages addressed the reality of the camper’s lives by featuring stories of men and women in the Bible who encountered God and were used by God in spite of their imperfections, age and social status. The chapel theme was “Real Life, Real People, Real Good News.”

Camp activities including dodge ball, paintball, high ropes, water polo, disk golf, and arts & crafts. To foster team spirit and build family bonds, dorm members participated in activities together and sometimes would compete against another dorm. Evenings featured special events such as a talent show, camp dance, praise and worship concert, a magic show and the ever-popular Camo Night. On the last night, each dorm had its own campfire and fireside chat. It was a time to share their thoughts for the week, encourage one another, and ask questions of counselors and guests.

Jeff McSwain from Reality Ministries in Raleigh visited the camp on Friday to observe how we reach out to young people in the light of who they already are in Jesus. He was very excited about what we are doing and may consider partnering with us next year or running his own camp at the same location.

Higher Ground 2009 filled up in record time. Based on early registrations for 2010, we expect next summer’s camp to fill up even faster. Higher Ground offers a $75 discount for registrations received by August 31. The camp website is www.carolinacamp.com.


Jay Richie, Pathways Camp Director, sent this update:

This year Pathways Camp was blessed to have our best camp experience ever for campers and staff alike nestled in the beautiful hills of Jackson, Ohio during the week of July 18–24.

.

This year we had 118 campers, 13 mini-campers and 58 staffers gather to worship God, have fun, learn social skills, and learn more about our life in Jesus. We used the Narnia-themed curriculum, which proved to be a powerful message that the kids could understand and get excited about.

. .

Aside from our normal activities, we were able to participate in an outreach event one afternoon – without ever leaving the facility. We worked with the Jackson County Family Services Division and arranged to have 21 kids between the ages of 7-14 attend camp for a few hours. We had staff there to help out, but we put most of the work of running a block-party style of events on the capable shoulders of our Senior Campers. It was simply awesome to see and feel the love of Jesus flowing out of our campers and into the lives of those other children.


South Africa

From Gary Moore:

Last weekend at the South African board meeting I was able to pass along some sports equipment donated by the Vancouver congregation for use at the South African summer camp. It was great getting the news this week from Dennis Thibault that the Castlegar, B.C., congregation has decided to fund the travel of our national ministry leader in Zambia to each congregation in that country. Their generosity will be deeply appreciated.

The first photo is the passing on of the sports equipment, and the second is proof that I really am in Africa. We had the chance to interact with African elephants weighing in at 4.5 tons. They are pretty impressive animals.

5gary . 5Gary1


Prayer Requests and Updates

Bangladesh

From John Biswas:

You are all aware that it is difficult to share Christ’s message of hope in fundamentalist Islamic Bangladesh. More than 150 million people are living in a space smaller than Iowa. Muslims constitute 90 percent of the population, Hindus 9 percent, and 1 percent are Christians, Buddhist and others.

Sadly, two week ago fanatics attacked and badly damaged our Bangladesh mission center. They numbered about 19 to 20 people. They entered the mission compound carrying homemade firearms and have first broken the security walls. They also broke doors, windows and threatened our people. They vandalized the clinic casting out medicines and supplies, plus our books, Bibles and Christian literature and other materials.

5BEA Brave WorkersSome of the BEA gospel workers tried to save mission property, but they were chased and threatened by the attackers. We thank God that none of the gospel workers were hurt except for some minor wounds. Our people have calculated that from this incident, the Mission Center has incurred a loss of more than $3,000.00 damage.

Despite all this and the persecution of our little Christian outpost, our BEA brave gospel workers take it as a challenge to work for Christ, even though they are persecuted and disturbed from time to time.

The BEA gospel workers are helped and encouraged by your continued prayers and support. By God’s grace they remain strong and dedicated to his work. They do firmly believe that our Savior the Lord Christ saves at every step while they share his message to the people of darkness. They earnestly seek your kind prayers in their efforts.


From Brian Spurgeon:

The Spurgeon family would like to thank everyone who has been praying for Dosha Spurgeon. She went to be with the Lord at 8:50 pm Tuesday evening. Our great Lord chose to give her fullness of life with him in his eternal kingdom.

We are grateful for the time that God blessed us with this wonderful woman of God. She has been such an inspiration to so many with her kindness, patience understanding and love. We miss her deeply, but we know that she is in a better place, and that through the power of Jesus our family will go on united in love and moving forward to the crown of life that we are all waiting for.

We would deeply appreciate your continued prayers as there are so many children and grandchildren who have been affected by her passing on. The dynamics in our family are affected by this change. We love you so very much and treasure the kind words and thoughts that we receive from you. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Cards may be sent to:

The Spurgeon Family
2276 Huntington Drive #228
San Marino, CA 91108

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.


July 29, 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

During the three days of the Dallas conference last weekend the attendance ranged between 185 and 250. Dr. Ross Jutsum was on hand to provide worship music and was joined by Murdock Gibbs at the final service. Many told me that this was the best conference that we have done to date.

29TX LL . 29TX CL . 29TX RR



A new showing of the art of Basil Wolverton is currently on display in New York’s Barbara Gladstone Gallery until Aug 14. The link is: http://www.gladstonegallery.com/wolv.asp?id=1632

The New York Times has posted a nice history (with slideshow) of MAD Magazine’s “grossest and funniest illustrator” to accompany the show. Here is a link to the article: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/23/arts/design/23basil.html?_r=1&th&emc=th
….


UK

From Stuart Foster:29 Northern Ireland 11

In Northern Ireland the concept of a “retreat” conjures up images of several days of fasting and walking barefoot – more of a type of penance. But, as the combined Craigavon & Ballymoney congregations discovered, the Ballymoney Summer Retreat, a first for GCI Northern Ireland, was no fast but a veritable physical and spiritual feast!

29 Northern Ireland 22We were all looking forward to getting together – it had been some time. The first day, Saturday June 20, was hosted at Ballymoney’s regular church hall. This enabled members, many of whom are elderly and could only attend one day, to sample the flavor and more relaxed atmosphere of a retreat. The Ballymoney ladies, renowned for their catering skills, enhanced the occasion by preparing a delicious lunchtime spread for the 45 attendees on that day. Over the course of the weekend around 60 people participated in the event.

29 Northern Ireland 33The theme for the weekend, perhaps recognized and recited by us all since childhood, was “The Lord’s Prayer.” Though viewed by Christians as a simple outline or rote mantra, our mentors Messrs. James Henderson and David Stirk, with enlisted helpers – we, the audience – examined and amplified every nuance of each word and verse over the two-day period. By Sunday evening, we had, only just scratched the surface of this profound passage of Scripture. A quote taken from Deacon Will Linton’s Retreat program put it this way, “Rather than a prayer to be repeated, the Lord’s Prayer is more like a magnificent house to explore.”

The whole occasion proved to be more than a lesson in biblical exegesis or how to study the Bible. It was an opportunity to explore and share our own personal understanding with friends and communicate with our loving Father.

Unanimously the Northern Ireland brethren decided to meet again next Spring.

Craigavon member wins bowling competition

by Marlene Foster

29 Annie1My mum, Annie Darlison, arrived home from a Chest Heart & Stroke activity recently with a big smile on her face. She had been presented with 2 trophies, one gold to keep permanently and one silver, her name engraved on them both. We knew she was good at bowling but we didn’t know she was that good! We were pleased for her to have won the CHS bowling competition. She was the first woman in five years to do so.

Mum suffered a severe stroke about 15 years ago. She has had to adapt to using her left hand because she was paralyzed down her right side. Learning to bowl has been a great achievement for her, and her motivation to learn new skills has been encouraging to all the family. No matter our age or disability, we can all try something new. Annie’s two other daughters (my sisters) attend GCI in Liverpool and Ipswich.


Dells Celebration 2009

From Doug Johannsen:

You’re all invited to our annual Dells Celebration at the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells, WI, from September 17, through 20, 2009. Our theme this year is “From Exclusion to Inclusion.” Join us on this four-day journey as we examine four major areas of life where people are commonly unjustly excluded and learn practical ways to include all.

Step 1: Reserve your room at the Kalahari by Monday, August 16, 2009. The Kalahari is the premier family resort in the Dells featuring the world’s largest indoor water park and new theme park. Phone 1-877-525-2427 for reservations.

  • HUT— $109 per night plus tax, 1-4 people only
  • LODGE SUITE – $129 per night plus tax, 1-4 people only
  • COMBINATION SUITE (lodge and hut) —$238 per night plus tax—sleeps up to 8 people
  • VILLAGE (lodge and two adjoining huts)—$347 per night plus tax—sleeps up to 12 people

You must call the Kalahari Resort no later than August 16th to reserve your room. After August 16, the low prices we’ve negotiated will no longer be available! Let the reservation personnel know you are with the Worldwide Church of God/Grace Communion International. The Kalahari reservation number is: 1-877-525-2427.

You may also book your room online:
First, go to: https://res.kalahariresort.com/V1Web/GroupComments.aspx
Then enter:

  • Group ID 10646
  • Password: 244
  • Contact Password (Optional): leave this blank
  • Click on “Make Reservation” and follow the prompts.

Step 2: Register with Grace Communion International/Worldwide Church of God HQ online at: www.wcg.org/go/wisconsin. Follow the prompts and pay with your credit card.

Or you may download a registration form, fill it out and mail your registration with a check to:

Grace Communion International
PO Box 5005Glendora
CA 91740-5005

Or if you do not have Internet access, contact Dells Coordinator Doug Johannsen by phone (763-576-1086) or by mail: 14210 Uranium St NW, Ramsey, MN 55303, and he will mail the forms to you.

Step 3: Come celebrate Jesus with your family and friends. Enjoy good food and many other activities! (By the way, the Kalahari is a very family activity oriented facility. It has a huge water park and a brand new theme park!)


Northern Light Summer Camp

Northern Light Camp Director, Todd Fox wrote:

29 camp groupWe have successfully concluded Northern Light Summer Camp in Lanesboro, Minnesota. There were 26 campers and 18 staff members.

Activities included: Oneota Life, Pioneer Life, South Treetops (for the older campers – the facility’s toughest treetops course), East Treetops (for the younger campers), Earth Exploration, Group Challenges, Archery, Minimum Impact Camping, Rock Climbing, Basic Orienteering (for the younger campers), GPS Pathfinders (for the older campers) and canoeing. We also held workshops for the campers in Arts & Crafts, Videography, Photography, Worship Leading and Prayer Journaling.

We started each day with camp devotions led by the campers. It was especially nice to see the depth that developed within the entire group of campers as the devotions were led by the older campers.

A dynamic that contributed to the overall synergy of the camp was the mix of ages for evening workshops. This was the first time in this camp’s history that we mixed campers out of their dorm assignments. We found that the older ones ‘looked out’ for the younger ones and the younger ones looked up to the older ones. The older ones showed more respect in helping the staff members teach the lessons as well.

29-camp-canoe . 29 camp laugh .


Philippines

From Yasmin Ann D. Maninang:

“Dedicated to the Honor and Glory of God”, was the theme of the Evangelism Explosion (EE) graduation of the GCI North Hills Village Church, held at the Multipurpose Hall in Bangaray Tigbe, Norzagaray, Bulacan July 5. The training was headed by the local church EE Coordinator and Lecturer Pastor Med and Sister Neng Maninang. This is their 11th year of equipping local church leaders and members about friendship, evangelism, discipleship and healthy growth. One hundred and twenty-five people accepted Jesus Christ during the training. One hundred and twelve attended the graduation ceremony.


Disaster Relief Fund

Because of the generosity of several of our U.S. Congregations and individual members, here are some of the ways we have been able to provide help to fellow members in times of disaster.

  • 2006: $20,000 to Bangladesh to build a disaster shelter
  • 2006: $11,400 to the Philippine church members for typhoon damage
  • 2007: $4,000 to Solomon Islands church members for earthquake damage
  • 2007: $5,000 to the Philippine church members for typhoon flooding damage
  • 2007: $4,000 to Bangladesh church members for monsoon flooding damage
  • 2007: $10,000 to Bangladesh church members for monsoon and typhoon flooding damage
  • 2008: $9,000 to the Philippine church members for typhoon flooding damage
  • 2008: $1,000 to Baton Rouge, LA church members for hurricane damage
  • 2008: $1,000 to Beaumont, TX church members for hurricane damage
  • 2008: $3,300 to Houston, TX church members for hurricane damage
  • 2009: $5,000 to the Honduras church members for earthquake damage

Prayer Requests and Updates

From our ministry leader in Holland, Frans Danenberg and his wife, Lamberta:

29Frans&Family1A week or so ago my dad had a fall resulting in a serious head injury and a broken hip. He was operated on, and survived that, but he died peacefully in his sleep, at 4 a.m. this morning. I will be preparing the services with my youngest brother and a catholic priest to honor my dad. He reached the age of 93 years, and we are thankful for that.

Yesterday we visited Lamberta’s father, whose health is rapidly declining. He gets oxygen daily and is very weak with heart problems and diabetes. So it is a very sorrowful time for us. Please pray for the family, and I know you will. That gives us peace.

Cards may be sent to:
Hopklaverstraat 18
NL-1314 SX ALMERE
NETHERLANDS

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 22, 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Caribbean

Charles Fleming
Charles Fleming

From Charles Fleming:

In Grenada, the government invites different pastors to do a 10-minute devotional with the Cabinet. They recently asked our Aaron Marshall to lead the devotion. He spoke on Romans 13:1-7 and assured them that God is for them and wants them to succeed. So much so that he instructs his people to respect government leaders and support them. Aaron then went on to encourage the Cabinet to take their responsibilities seriously and not to do anything that would shame them or undermine their opportunity to serve the people of Grenada. Talk about an insightful message!

In Jamaica, our congregation in Christian Pen serves the surrounding community by conducting funerals for any who request it. Recently a goat farmer in the area was killed and the family and a government Ministry asked to have the funeral at our church. The deceased happened to be someone the Prime Minister had helped and so the PM attended the funeral.

Afterwards, the Ministry that organized the funeral was so impressed with the working relationship they had with Leroy Joiles and the leadership team that they called to thank them.

It turns out that that is the Ministry we will have to apply to when we want to negotiate the purchase of the land we presently lease. Is the Lord “setting us up” with some good relationships for that time? Walking through life with Jesus is a fascinating journey – always new opportunities to go with the new mercies we experience daily.


SEP SoCal22CALSEP 2009187-1

Mark & Anne Stapleton report the successful completion of SEP So Cal, which was held July 5-11 at Cedar Lake Camp in the majestic San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California. Seventy-four staff served 187 campers. The theme was “Oasis.” Ann wrote:

The primary focus of our teaching was to let campers and staffers know that God loves them and created them to be in a deep, loving and abiding relationship with him. We talked about the many “mirages” that hinder understanding of the true Oasis—one being the mirage of a perceived separation from God. We emphasized that the Father loves and accepts all people, and as we abide in the Father’s love and drink in of the Living Water, he creates for us an Oasis of life-giving fruit in our lives so that others can come taste and see that the Lord is good.


Angola

Mission Developer Kalengule Kaoma recently visited our congregation in Luanda, Angola. He wrote:

Pastor Oliveira Kitambala met me at the airport and we visited our three congregations in Angola. On Saturday June 27, and Sunday morning I spent time together with twenty leaders from our three congregations in Angola.

22angolapraiseband . 22Deacons-ordained-on-June-28-Luanda-20091

During church service on Sunday, we had an added joy when three deacons were ordained to assist Pastor Oliveira in Golf SAPU, which is the main congregation in Luanda. Jean Rene Kamiaka’s praise band also graced the occasion with vibrant music.

Here are Angolan congregation statistics:22Angolayouth222_edited-1

  1. Golf SAPU (Luanda) has 30 baptised members, 7 prospective members, and 15 teens and children (52 av. Attendance)
  2. Estalagem de Viana – 6 adults, 4 teens, and 5 children (15)
  3. Huambo Province – 22 adults, 4 teens and 7 children (33).

Unemployment in Angola has also affected some of our members. To assist some members, Pastor Oliveira and his leadership team in Luanda put aside some funds to help the youth with self employment. Heritie Mbaki runs a barber shop. Antonio Compani owns a tuck shop [a shop that sells sweets and snacks near a school] at Pastor Oliveira’s school where enrollment is 720 pupils. Armando Gamondele has established a mobile phone shop where he sells phone chargers, phones, and phone accessories. As always, there was a request to spend more time.


Africa

Gary and Wendy Moore
Gary and Wendy Moore

Gary Moore wrote:

Wendy, Kylie and I will be leaving for South Africa Tuesday evening, July 21, returning Monday August 24. Three seminars are planned for the three major centers – Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. I will be relaying to the ministry and membership there some of the key concepts that were so effectively passed along to us by Gary and Cathy Deddo at our recent conference in Edmonton. I would appreciate prayers for our safety, as well as for God’s inspiration on these seminar presentations. In addition, I’ll be serving as the denominational representative at their board meeting, and traveling to Botswana to visit our congregation there.


Penticton fall retreat

“Early bird” registration for the fall retreat in Penticton has been extended to the end of July. Information and the registration form are available on the Canadian national website (www.wcg.ca).


Prayer requests and updates

Pastor Alan Redmond requested prayers for Pastor Steve Posiak and retired pastor Bob Morton, whose homes are threatened by fires in the Kelowna area of British Columbia, Canada. Both are under evacuation alert, and their cars are packed and ready to go.

Melba Leontine sent this request for prayer for our mission team in the Bahamas:

This summer, a few congregations (led by Mike and Janet Morrison of NewLife Fellowship and Steve and Gloria Brooks of the LA church) sent a Mission Team of 20 people to the Bahamas to minister to Haitian Refugee children. On their first two days, they have encountered heavy rains, lightning and thunder. Weather is hot and humid. The group has been having difficulty sleeping at night due to the heat, noise of thunder and flying termites. Brownouts are common. The group will be teaching Haitian and Bahamian children though a Vacation Bible School program. There is a lot of interest in the Haitian community to participate, and it is a great opportunity to share the gospel of Christ to them.

Please pray for good weather, good health for our missionaries and success in their mission to share the gospel.

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 15, 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Mrs. Mariel Jumangit Luistro from the Philippines gave an update on our church in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. She wrote:

God has prompted one Filipino overseas worker to have regular Bible Studies and worship services in Dubai. Mr. Nitz Malaga, who hails from Oton, Iloilo, began working for DUBAL in the early 1980s. He was introduced to our magazine when he saw a copy in a friend’s house and was baptized in 1986. He was WCG’s lone member then, but by 1990, services were being held in Mr. Malaga’s house using sermon tapes from the UK. In 2000, then UK National Director David Silcox ordained Mr. Malaga as Dubai’s pioneer pastor.

Dubai
Group in Dubai

In 2008, Mr. Malaga turned over the responsibility of senior pastor to Mr. Cesar Dela Paz. The pastoral team now includes Mr. Dela Paz, Mr. Malaga, Mr. Loi Lotero, Mr. Jay Ryan Manzano, and Ms. Cielo Vidal. Philippines National Director Eugene Guzon had ordained Mr. Dela Paz in 2007 during the first WCG festival in Dubai.

CGI Dubai is working on a children’s ministry. A newly acquired curriculum for teaching children will be inaugurated next month. A long-thriving Bible study small group hosted by the De Guzman family meets every Monday. Mr. Dela Paz initiated last year a Bible study group in Fujairah that also meets every Monday. He plans to have more Bible study small groups in various areas to reach most of the members and to reach out to others on weekdays.

Regular services in Dubai are held on Fridays, with approximately 50 in attendance. We have also seen several baptisms in recent months, and we have emerging small groups not only in Sharjah, but also in Abu Dhabi and Oman through Mr. and Mrs. Arji Cruz.

Mr. Guzon met with a group of members in Abu Dhabi the first week of July.


Crossing Borders mission camp

From Lee Berger:

For the fourth year in a row, Crossing Borders mission camp reached out across the Mexican border with the good news of Jesus Christ. We’re grateful that our denomination sponsors this camp that provides opportunities for the attendees to see how God is working in other cultures.

Congregation at outdoor church service at Pallet City
Congregation at outdoor church service at Pallet City

With ongoing American news media reports of violence at the border and of swine flu, we did our homework in advance to make sure our attendees would be safe. We found that border violence in Nuevo Laredo (where we conduct our ministry work) had decreased by about 75% in the past couple of years (although other areas of the border have unfortunately seen an increase). Also, there had been no confirmed cases of swine flu within 200 miles of our location. So we were glad to get the green light to proceed with the mission outreach camp. Unfortunately, many other church-related groups cancelled their ministry work into all parts of Mexico for the summer, leaving a large hole in the physical and spiritual provisions for our cross-border neighbors.

Hunger Rescue converted ambulance for feeding homeless
Hunger Rescue converted ambulance for feeding homeless

During the weeklong camp, we participated in a variety of ministry programs. One day we helped distribute bulk food supplies to about 60 pastors and ministry leaders to take back to their people. Later we handed out individual cooked meals and hygiene supplies to several dozen homeless people living behind garbage dumpsters, on street corners, in parks and under bridges.

One of the homeless was a woman who had formerly been the wife of a pastor. She had made some bad decisions, falling into immorality and addiction, and now living alone on the streets. She felt totally separated from God, worthless and abandoned by her former friends. She insisted that God did not love her and would not listen to her anymore because of her actions. It broke our hearts as we tried to convey to her that God still loves her very much and has never stopped loving her even for an instant. Unfortunately, so far her shame, guilt and performance-based religious teachings are blinding her to seeing God’s loving face and feeling his arms embracing her.

Consuelo Orduño and other helpers at children’s church service
Consuelo Orduño and other helpers at children’s church service

During the camp, we became aware that many people are not assured of God’s love. They are missing out on the crux of the gospel, so we tried to share the love of the Father in the Son through the Spirit with everyone we met.

Crossing Borders group photo
Crossing Borders group photo

Other activities included feeding large numbers of people, helping with adult and children’s teaching services, praying with people, distributing gospel tracts, skits and music in the public parks, a construction project, and more. As a new activity this year, we added two afternoons of conducting a Vacation Bible School for the children of a poverty-stricken “pallet city,” where hundreds of small homes are made of refuse materials and there is no running water and no electricity. Consuelo and Pedro Orduño and Lucero Villarreal put together an excellent program, and the children thoroughly enjoyed their Bible lessons, songs, games and snacks.

Although the temperatures were very hot and the conditions sometimes uncomfortable, our 17 attendees came away with a new love for all of God’s children and an increased appreciation for sharing God’s transformational truth of his love for everyone.

To find out more about next summer’s camp and our winter shoebox ministry, go to www.cbmission.org or call Lee Berger at 903-653-0992.


Canada

From Gary Moore:

We were in Alberta most of the week for the summer camp held at the Silver Meadows Camp northwest of Edmonton. There were 100 campers and staffers, who enjoyed a positive camp experience in spite of the rain and cooler weather. For three days in the middle of the week, a mini-camp was held for about 10 pre-teens. During one afternoon a number of campers went into the local community and visited a seniors’ residence, playing games and talking with the seniors all afternoon. In this way, the loving environment of the camp – a love that comes from God – was extended beyond the camp community.

Attendance at the camp has been rising each of the last couple of years, and includes a significant number of grandchildren of members, friends of teens, and even a few who have no Christian background. When I think of the key concepts of Trinitarian theology – that our Triune God lives in loving relationship, and draws us into that relationship of love – it is clear that the camp is in harmony with what we are all about. We are called not to do our own ministry on Christ’s behalf, but rather to enter into his ministry, and that was happening at Silver Meadows Camp this year!

SilverMeadows . 15SilverMeadows2 .

Photos: 1) The main camp building. 2) A mini-camper learning to draw a bow. 3) Willy Clack at bat. Willy has been a part of the camp staff in South Africa for many years, and travelled to North America for the first time to visit our Silver Meadows camp. He introduced the campers to the great sport of cricket.


Prayer Requests and Updates

Lee Berger sent this update regarding his cousin, Carlton Marshall.

Many of you know about Carlton from previous prayer requests and updates, and our family wants to share some great news with you.

For background, Carlton is a police officer in Dallas, Texas, on the SWAT team. During a drug raid in October 2007, Carlton was shot and nearly died on site. By a miracle he was saved and taken to the hospital for critical surgery.

The bullet basically paralyzed him, then he had a blood clot in his lung, a major stroke and then meningitis. So he was paralyzed in all limbs, and he became deaf. This was a heavy blow for his wife, Susan, and their two small children, Joseph and Jessica. Through God’s amazing grace and Carlton’s determination and courage, he has worked extremely hard and has regained limited use of all his limbs. He has received wonderful support from his loving wife (she is also a Dallas police officer), other family, his police friends, neighbors, church family and his overall community. He normally functions from a wheelchair, although he can walk short distances on a walker. He has cochlear implants in his skull so he can now “hear” somewhat. He lives at home and travels to physical therapy three days a week. His goal is to rejoin the police force as an active officer in a training/consulting capacity, and to be able to be a husband and father to his wife and children.

Now for the latest news flash: Carltons’ family has been chosen to have their home rebuilt by Extreme Makeover—Home Edition, the hit ABC TV show! The theme for this coming season is “Heroes” – very fitting.

Ty Pennington and his team showed up on Carlton’s doorstep July 10 and called them outside with their bullhorn. It was a total surprise to the family. On Saturday the family heads to Disneyland. Sunday the old house is demolished, and on Thursday the new house will be unveiled – all in less than a week. Many, many people have prayed for Carlton and his family over the past 21 months, and he has remarked to us on multiple occasions that he is amazed and humbled by the outpouring of love and support. Now, having a new home outfitted for his physical condition will be an added amazing blessing. Thank God for all he has done and continues to do in this situation! We don’t know yet when the show will air, but we’ll try to keep everyone updated as we get details. Pass this great news on to anyone you want.

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 8, 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Preceding the UK Board of Trustees meeting, I delivered a sermon in our Birmingham, England, congregation. Their choir sang three hymns and we enjoyed a potluck following the church service. Mike Feazell visited our Glasgow, Scotland, congregation and our Coulsdon church in south London.

8Birmingham Mission Singers . 8Birmingham church 4 July 2009


From CAD:

8multiplicationChurch Multiplication Ministries has developed Church Next Training, a training event focused on the key principles and skills necessary for starting and sustaining new, Christ-centered, disciple-making congregations. These principles are also relevant for helping established churches continue to grow in ministry effectiveness and in developing environments that produce new churches.

This year, Church-Next Training will be conducted August 24-28 at the Pinecrest Christian Conference Center in Twin Peaks, California, in the mountains north of San Bernardino.

Please share with your ministry leaders the information provided with the form linked to this weekly update. Sam Butler, district pastoral leader in Michigan, is being sponsored by congregations in his district to attend this training event. Perhaps your congregation or district can help sponsor someone to attend Church-Next Training and learn how we can work together to start new churches.

For more details and to register online for Church-Next Training, go to cmm.wcg.org.

Info: http://www.wcg.org/events/twinpeaks.htm
Flyer: http://www.wcg.org/events/CNT%20Pinecrest%2009.pdf
Online Registration: http://www.wcg.org/go/cmm09ca


Zimbabwe

From Mission Developer Kalengule Kaoma:

8Zimbabwe11I returned from Zimbabwe two days ago. The visit went very well and I was able to see members in Chitungwiza, Harare, Domoboshawva, Chegutu, and Bulawayo. I spoke at a combined worship service in Chitungwiza, where members from most Zimbabwean congregations attended. Most of them are well. In recent past, we made prayer requests for Zimbabwe and on behalf of our Zimbabwean brethren. Thanks for your prayers. This is a prayer update.

Praise be to God who has intervened in the lives of Zimbabweans. What a difference there is from last year. Last year, people were starving, suffering from cholera, and tension was in the air. Today, there is relative peace. There is less intimidation between political parties. Supermarkets are almost full with essential commodities from neighboring countries, especially South Africa. It is really a breath of fresh air.

The Zimbabwean dollar has been suspended and no longer in use. Citizens lost all their multi-trillion Zimbabwean dollar accounts. Depending on where you are in Zimbabwe, South African rand and USA dollars are now the official and dominant currencies being used for trading, commerce, and services.

Mealie meal (corn meal, which is a staple food), cooking oil, beef, chicken, goat, pork, bath soap, all sorts of groceries, petrol, diesel, etc., are now available. Instead of multi-million percent inflation per annum, there is now a deflation figure of -2 percent. The challenge Zimbabweans are facing now is a lack of cash. Finding a dollar is a big job in itself. Civil servants are earning $100 per month across the board.

Many lack food, not because it is not available, but because they don’t have money to buy it. Please continue praying for our brothers and sisters. Zimbabweans are determined people.

8zimbabwe22Members are looking forward to the upcoming Family Festival in October. The youth are planning a national youth career guidance camp August 18-23. Pastor Joseph Mpofu, Zimbabwe National Ministry Leader, is conducting a Ministerial Trainee Program every quarter for interested people. Joe Mpofu has been visiting Zimbabwean congregations and has really put in a lot of effort to rekindle the fire among members.

While in Domboshawva, Joseph Mpofu presented a Shona Bible to one of our faithful members. She danced with joy. She said, “I was born on twentieth May, 1940. All my life, I have never owned a Bible. Today, I have my own Bible! Thank you very much.”

In Bulawayo, Senior Pastor Denny Mpande invited me to direct his Outreach Speech Club. Invited guests and regular club members all enjoyed a luncheon, after which club business was conducted. There is a lot of interest in club members who are not members of WCG. Pastor Mpande plans to invite more people from the community.

Thanks so much to everyone for their prayers and support!


Jacksonville, Florida

8FLChurch members, families and guests from Florida and Georgia gathered in Jacksonville, Florida, for a two-day Reconciliation Workshop June 27-28. The seminar was presented by ORM (Office of Reconciliation Ministries) director Curtis May, who was accompanied by his wife Jannice.

Just over 70 members from a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds gathered at the Jacksonville Christian Family Fellowship building for the presentations and discussions. Topics presented included “Jesus’ Dream and His Ministry of Reconciliation,” ORM promotional videos, “Inventions & Contributions of African-Americans,” “Different Types of Conflict and Broken Relationships,” and “Solutions and Ways to Be an Ally for Healing.”

As shown in this photo of the ORM Resource Table, a variety of helpful resources were made available, including videos, booklets, the book Mending Broken Relationships, newsletters and handouts.

Host Pastor Marty Davey of Jacksonville commented how the workshop addressed reconciliation in three key ways: recognition and repentance of our individual and national faults, inspiration and encouragement in moving forward, and information and resources for recognizing the need for and accomplishing reconciliation.

Several neighboring GCI pastors were able to attend as part of their continuing education goals and for their personal instruction and inspiration.


Philippines

From Lawrence Parane

8SEPBacolod111This year’s youth camp in Bacolod May 30 to June 2 kicked off the theme, “Breaking Barriers,” by focusing on Romans 15:1-15. Sixty-five spiritual lives were renewed and energized. The campers were grouped into levels instead of dorms. There were 36 campers for Levels 1 and 2, comprised mostly of first-timers, 20 members of Level 3 (facilitators); and 4 kiddy campers.

The topics were “The Love for God” (taken from Romans 8:31-39), and “Formed for God’s Family” (taken from Hebrews 2:10), by Pastor Rex Dela Peña.

8SEPBacolod22The camp was not just filled with fun and educational activities, it was also a nature trip, embracing and adoring the Lord’s enchantingly picturesque creation! The campers had an adventurous two-kilometer trek to the Hidden Valley and had time to meditate at the Pine Tree Farm.

Some of the highlights were the baptism of five people during the camp, the Royal Banquet, where the campers experienced some fine dining as culinary expert Chef Jun prepared fine entrés and hors d’oeuvres together with Maitre-d’ Jomel Dimarucut. The same night, talented campers showcased their God-given abilities at the Variety Show. It was truly an SEP to remember!


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 1, 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Mpofus

Please join me in extending congratulations to our Zimbabwe Ministry Leader, Joseph Mpofu, and his wife, Gladys, who celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary on Thursday June 18. Bulawayo Senior Pastor Denny Mpande, who was the best man at their wedding 42 years ago, attended the celebration.


2010 International Conference, July 22-25

Save the date! The 2010 International Conference is scheduled for Thursday through Sunday, July 22-25. (The day preceding the conference, Wednesday, July 21, will be a day of meetings for church pastors.) The format for the conference will be similar to our previous international conference. Details, speakers and agenda will be forthcoming. We know that budgets are always tight, but we are committed to keeping costs low.


Lexington, Kentucky regional conference

It was a delight to rejoice with nearly 300 enthusiastic people at our Lexington, Kentucky regional conference. I flew to Lexington immediately after returning to the U.S. from Australia, where our Australian, New Zealand and Fiji pastors met in Caloundra, Queensland for their winter conference.

1Lexington . 1lexingtoncenter . 1Lexingtonright


Canada

From Pastor Dennis Lawrence:

Mark Yandt, a young man who has been involved in our camp program from when he was very young (his parents, Randy and Tina (van der Polder), ran the water ski program for years), is riding a bicycle across Canada to raise funds for our eastern Canadian camp – Camp Connections. He has done a lot of the work to make it happen and has obtained many wonderful sponsors, leading to the prospect of significant funds to be raised. He left Victoria on June 17 and seems to be doing very well. His almost daily blog, depending on whether he stops where he has internet access, is interesting. The web address is: www.crosscanada2009.ca.


Colombia

Sacramento, California, Pastor Mike Swagerty and his wife, Sandy, visited the Bogota and the Barranquilla, Columbia, congregations June 10 to 16. Mission Developer Hector Barrero sent this report:

1Prayer group Bogota . 1Attendance Bogota . 1Servants Bogotar

Thursday and Friday nights we got together first with the youth leaders and then with the leaders of the Bogota congregation. The next day Sandy, Mike, Paulina and I took a one-hour flight to visit the Barranquilla congregation, where over 100 people gathered for afternoon services. The congregation usually meets on Sundays, but on this occasion they met on Saturday since Mike also wanted to visit the congregation in Bogota. The same day we went back to Bogota, where we attended services on Sunday morning. Mike presented a sermon on sister churches, the same sermon he presented in Barranquilla. That night we went back to church because two couples were being married and four others were renewing their marriage vows. It was a ceremony attended by more than 140 people, including relatives of the couples and church members.

Mike and Sandy were impressed with the kindness and happiness of our people, and all of us appreciated their visit.

1Wedding11 . 1Renewalsc . 1Wedding22


South Africa

1face2faceThe Church in South Africa has launched a new bi-monthly magazine, Face to Face (F2F). It will be sent initially to all members and coworkers in South Africa, but the plan is to expand circulation to include nominal Christians and unchurched people. F2F replaces the African edition of the Worldwide News, which was primarily for members. F2F will focus on mission and outreach, making Christianity relevant to Africans as they go about their lives, incorporating our new understanding of Trinitarian theology.

Members are encouraged to distribute the magazine as and how they see fit. F2F has also been advertised on some local radio stations where the church has a short broadcasting time slot. We are broadcasting five-minute and half-hour messages on three radio stations in South Africa, with one more planned for July. We are in negotiations with another two. During the broadcast we offer a free copy of F2F magazine, and we have already received some encouraging response. F2F is receiving about 100 requests for subscriptions each month, so at this rate the current circulation of 1500 could double within a year. The only thing holding us back is cost.

The magazine is based on Christian Odyssey, with some material contributed by local writers. Other articles are reprinted from the Canadian Northern Light and the British magazine.

F2F is edited by Hilary and Eben Jacobs, assisted by Shaun and Sandra de Greeff in technical areas. Although circulation is limited mainly to South Africa at present, copies are sent to senior pastoral leaders in Botswana, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Swaziland, Kenya and other nations in Africa.


Denmark and Estonia

From Pastor Carl Frederick Aas:18Carl Aas

I recently sent out the information and booking forms for our autumn festival in Åjang, Sweden. Three camping villas are already booked or reserved. I have also received bookings for five wooden cabins, and one booking for a small cottage. I have never received so many bookings so early!

In May I visited Denmark and we had meetings in Fredericia and in Copenhagen. We also had the yearly official church assembly where we ratified the accounts for the Danish church. At the meeting I met Jefferson Davis who is now working in a restaurant in Copenhagen.

I am on my way back from Estonia, starting to write this newsletter on the bus from Tartu to Tallinn. We had a public lecture on Wednesday evening June 3 in Tartu, where about 35 people attended. I discussed difficult scriptures, which was my second lecture on this topic. In Tartu, Estonia, where we were staying, we have held summer school for the Estonian youth three years in a row. On Wednesday, the last day of the normal school year, all 100 pupils of the school assembled. The principal and mayor of the town gave speeches and handed out diplomas and certificates to the pupils for work well done during the school year. Then I was introduced and on behalf of the church presented ten scholarships to ten pupils the principal and local English teacher had chosen. They chose nine pupils who had the best grades in English and one pupil who had improved the most during the school year. I gave a short speech reminding the pupils that they should carpe diem (which in Latin means “seize the day”, or “make the most of every day”). I encouraged them to use their youth to prepare themselves for their future. After this official ceremony I had a meeting with the mayor, principal of the school and the English teacher concerning this year’s summer school project. This year two neighboring towns have asked if they can send their youth to our summer school. Last year we had about 40 pupils, and depending on how many from the neighboring towns will attend, we might have twice as many as attended last year.

Yesterday I returned from Bergen and Stavanger. I had meetings in both places. I was happy to see Reidar Lie in Stavanger. He looked well but is feeling weaker. The doctors have confirmed that he has cancer that has spread to many parts of his body and that they cannot do anything for him. He said he has lived a long life and he accepts God’s will in his life. I ask for your prayers for him and his family.


Philippines

May 26 to June 1 marked a wonderfully successful SEP Cebu. “Included, accepted and loved” became the theme and guiding principle or rationale behind every service and activity at the camp. The activities staff planned and prepared well.

1cebu meal left . 1cebu included accepted loved center . 1cebu baptism rt


Prayer Requests and Updates

Brian Spurgeon, GCI elder and son of deceased long-time Pasadena employee, Jackie Spurgeon, requests prayers for his mother, Dosha. He wrote, in part:

The biopsy results came out negative. I spoke with my mom yesterday by phone and she said that she is cautiously optimistic. Since the biopsy her lungs, have increased fluid again and she doesn’t breathe easily. The nurses are having her get up and walk to help decrease the fluid. I thank God for what He has done so far and I ask that we all continue to pray for her complete healing. The hospital is:

San Antonio Community Hospital
999 San Bernardino Road
Upland, CA 91786

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