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


June 24, 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Pastoral Conference in Queensland, Australia

Mike Feazell and I attended our Australian elders conference last weekend in Caloundra, Queensland. There were 90 elders and wives in attendance. Mike and I continued the study of Trinitarian theology, and Dr. Dennis Gordon, whose articles you have seen in Christian Odyssey, presented “Creation Perspectives.”

OZ1 . oz2


Busy time for the Kissee family.24Joe&Rachel

Kaye and I have experienced a remarkably busy spring. First our youngest son, Joseph proposed for marriage in December, and the wedding was set for May 9. Rachel and Joe planned a wonderful event for their marriage. Kaye and I felt a special blessing in how Joe and Rachel met. We cherish her family and the bond in marriage her parents have. On the day of the Rehearsal dinner, we had a storm move through that cut off our electricity and did minor damage. Our electricity came back on a few hours before the dinner and this combined with how Kaye planned ahead made for a marvelous evening. After the storm, the weather was just perfect. The wedding was set in the country on a beautiful Saturday evening. We are excited to welcome Rachel into our family.

24Janna & NateJune 7 was another eventful day not the least of which was Kaye and my fortieth wedding anniversary. But this event was made more thrilling and memorable with our daughter, Janna’s wedding. Her wedding was smaller and the setting was our side yard. Janna and Nate were so pleased to have an outdoor wedding. The speed of their wedding was similar to the speed of Kaye and my wedding back in 1969, proposal in late April and wedding in June. Short planning times aren’t recommended, but the wedding was beautiful. We are thrilled to embrace Nate as a part of our family. And lastly I spent time preparing for retirement after 40 years coming in late June.

Blessings, Jim


Philippines

More than 100 young people and 27 staff attended a youth discipleship retreat May 14-16, at the Villa Julia Resort in Cavite. The theme of the camp was “Inside Out,” based on Romans 12:1-2.

24Cavite1 . 24Cavite3 . Cavite

Forty campers from Iloilo, Antique and Aklan attended the mini-Summer Enrichment Program May 8 – 10 The theme of the camp revolved around Jeremiah 1: 4 – 10 “Known and Chosen.”

24Iloilo2 . 24Iloilo1


Ghana

From National Ministry Leader Emmanuel Okai:

In Accra, our new Ashongman congregation had a great celebration on Sunday May 31. With a service full of hymns, anthems and praises, about 170 members and their kids had an inspiring day. After the service, we had lunch for all the members, and fellowship continued until late in the afternoon. In addition, we unveiled and dedicated several items we had acquired since the start of the year: a generator, an electrical inverter (both as stand-by for electrical outages during church services), a new lectern; robes for ushers; and choir robes! We were also happy to know that our three pioneer sponsored students have last week-end completed the Bachelor of Theology degree course at the Trinity Theological Seminary here in Accra, the first graduates since Emmanuel and Monica Sogbo graduated from AU nearly 20 years ago! We are continuing the sponsorship program in the knowledge that people who are properly trained are better equipped to help move the church forward as we expand and grow.


Malawi

National Ministry Leader Gardner Kunje reported that Pastor Fadereck Nihaka from the Blantyre congregation visited the Bunda church as a guest speaker. “The Bunda congregation here in Lilongwe metropolitan is a growing church,” Gardner wrote. “There was a lot of excitement. We baptized ten people.”


Zambia

From National Ministry Leader Dr. Inyambo Nyumbu:

Our four Lusaka congregations, totaling 196, met for a combined Pentecost service. Brethren shared their enthusiasm through music and warm fellowship. This year’s Pentecost celebration coincided with the launch of Central congregation’s move from a rented classroom to its recently acquired piece of land. Being together once in a while for a combined service helps us keep the coals of friendship and brotherly love kindled. We are already looking forward to our weekend family festival in August.

24Zambia3 . 24Zambia4 . 24Zambia1


Prayer Request

Please remember that prayer is the battleground where we fight the good fight. Let’s encourage everyone to join together in prayer. Additional spiritual disciplines such as fasting and study draw us closer to God and strengthen us for what we must do. When more of us prepare individually, the stronger we move together collectively.

Love from my family to yours,
Joseph Tkach


June 17, 2009

16jackdilloncalvertDear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

Please join me in extending hearty congratulations to the family of Ted and Donna Johnston on the birth of grandson Jack Dillon Calvert. Mom Traci, Dad Troy, sister Lauren and baby Jack are all doing well...


Denver Conference

15denver11
While the Denver conference is our smallest gathering, it is still one of the most enthusiastic. We enjoyed the worship, the fellowship and the messages. Continue reading “June 17, 2009”

June 10, 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As I write, I am returning home from the annual Canadian ministerial conference, which was held in Edmonton, Alberta. The weather was wonderful, the fellowship was even better and the sessions were the talk of many of our conversations. We had Gary and Cathy Deddo as guest speakers for two afternoons. While at the conference, we also held our Board of Trustees meetings.

10edmonton2_edited-1.10canadianconference2009_edited-1.10edmonton1


Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Pastor John Wayne Bailey writes:

Over the Memorial weekend Dan Rogers visited our church. He was excited about what we are doing with other churches in eastern Iowa for the 1st anniversary of the great flood.

Next Friday night many of the churches will be sponsoring an evening barbecue. Our church will be with two other churches in the area to serve an area downtown. We expect hundreds of people to come and join us. Everything will be free to the public. The churches are furnishing all food. There will be no reference to church at all. It is just a way we can show people God’s love.

The next weekend will be the big one. We expect many thousands of people throughout eastern Iowa and other states to join us. Our church will be heavily involved in this “Heal the Heartland Celebration.” It will start on Friday night and end Sunday evening. There are about 30 churches to serve this festival. We will have many tents set up on the grounds. It will include hospitals, employment résumé help, counseling, prayers, and much more.

Featured at this affair are a Mike Hagen national strength team, a professional skateboard team, music by The Newsboys and Barlow Girl, guest evangelists, sports events, activities for small children, professional skateboarding exhibits, a big band concert, a Cedar Rapids Kernals baseball game, food vendors, basketball exhibitions, and more than 50 booths.

Our little fellowship (Family of Faith Community Church of Cedar Rapids, Iowa) is assisting in parking, praying, counseling follow-up and much more. Some of our members are driving about 100 miles one way to be here for the weekend.

We feel this is a great opportunity for Grace Communion International to shine in our area. We need prayers that things go God’s way.


Florida

Youth Camp concluded on Monday, June 8, after four days of inspiration, recreation, friendships and new experiences. Fifty-seven youth campers and 33 adult staff from Florida and Georgia participated. Although there was one day of rain requiring a few schedule changes, most of the weather was pleasant, activities took place as scheduled, and the Lord’s protection, safety and blessing was always upon us.

10sep-photo-of-group-2009As part of our Spiritual Enrichment Program, daily chapel messages focused on analogies and lessons from C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as dramatized by a recent Disney film. Teens and pre-teens were able to reflect on what Jesus does for them through this unique teaching tool. At the conclusion of camp, the young people were encouraged to speak with their pastors in their home churches about giving their lives to Jesus and following that up with baptism.

Activities included a zip line and climbing wall, outdoor swimming pool, canoeing and kayaking on the lake, children’s sports and games, basketball, volleyball, BB gun range, archery, arts and crafts, talent show night, dance night, a block party and a novelty-events race. On the last day, the entire group went to Wildwaters Water Park in Ocala to enjoy the numerous water slides and wave pool. Campers were well fed, as church volunteers prepared and served an abundance of food and filling meals.

Next year’s SEP Florida is scheduled for the first weekend in June. Because of the reasonable price we pay to rent the camp, we can keep our camp costs at only $135 per camper for the entire four days. Campers can secure a spot by applying in advance by clicking on the “applications” button at our website, www.sepflorida.com. For more information, call camp director Marty Davey at 904-406-9022.


Pakistan

From Rod Matthews:

10pakistan33In a recent email from our ministry partner in Faisalabad, Dr. Muqaddam Zia, he mentioned that the fighting between the Pakistan military and the Taliban has created a huge exodus of refugees from the Swat, Dir, Buneer and Malakund regions of northwestern Pakistan. Dr. Zia wrote,

The residents of these areas are migrating to safer regions like Mardan, Charsadda and Peshawar. According to United Nation sources, one million people are estimated to be displaced from their places of residence. The Swat crisis is termed as the largest humanitarian and displacement crisis in recent times. About 96% of these [people] are living out in open air. Many of them are children. They are facing a great lack of food, water and shelter.
“….. we have about 23 house churches in this area. Our ministry coordinator has just made a phone call to me that they are planning to move to Mardan city, which is a safer area. There will be 500‐600 believers traveling with him. There is no transport available, so they will be coming down by foot for about 78 kilometers. Please join us in prayer for the security of these precious souls. I will keep you updated as soon as I hear back from him.

10pakistan11In the meantime, the Alpha Bible Church, Dr. Zia’s primary congregation, has planted four more congregations in the Punjab Province in the last month, including one in a village near Jaranwala city. Twenty-four new believers have been baptized.

A pastoral seminar was conducted and some much need ministry equipment, such as bicycles and Bibles, were distributed to some of their fellow workers.
The sewing school established in the Alpha Bible Church building in Faisalabad for young women is going well. The vocational training enables teenagers and young women to become skilled in making clothes for sale so they are not limited to employment as housemaids in the general community, where they are often abused. The Australian churches and members contributed over $1000 to purchase 15 hand‐driven sewing machines and materials needed to start the program. Further monies will be sent to help with the cost of instructors and building the stock of materials and equipment to help make this a permanent service to young Christian girls. Another goal is to add literacy classes in Urdu and English for these young people.

10pakistan22


Africa

Mr. and Mrs. Tsungo, farmers in Rusape, Zimbabwe. Mr.Tsungo also serves as chairman of the WCG Zimbabwe Board.
Mr. and Mrs. Tsungo, farmers in Rusape, Zimbabwe. Mr.Tsungo also serves as chairman of the WCG Zimbabwe Board.

From Zimbabwe National Ministry Leader Joseph Mpofu:

I was visiting our church areas up north. The highlight was in Domboshawva where I visited with Phil Kashumba. We had 10 baptisms in one day; ages ranged from teen to nearly 70! Day before, I attended services and talked to a smiling appreciative group of youth. On my way to the east, I fellowshipped with a farming couple, studied Bible and helped to feed goats and hens. Wherever I went, I found brethren appreciative of God’s mercies. Most of our members are in need of Bibles in their language.

10africa_edited-1
Joseph Mpofu (middle with sun hat in hand) standing with some of the baptized members.

Pray update

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 3, 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

25-year anniversaries6matjoe221

We recently had the privilege of marking another milestone for one of our hard-working employees. At an employee lunch on May 28, we honored Mat Morgan for 25 years of service. He has been a great example of an employee who sought the training and did the work that would help him become an increasingly useful asset for the denominational offices. He has done a fine job, from working in the Auditorium, to facilitating the sale of our Pasadena properties, and now as church treasurer.

We also surprised Nancy Akers, executive assistant in Church Administration & Development, with appreciation for her 25 years of work. She received a plaque and watch earlier this year at the conference in Agoura Hills, CA.


Ft. Myers, Florida

Pastoral team member Hugh Steiginga of Abundant Grace Fellowship, our congregation in Ft. Myers, Florida, reported a recent fish fry. Here is a synopsis:

We had 23 for our worship service. About 15 were guests, including ten first-timers. About 150 came to the fish fry afterward.

Robert, a Christian who has been cooking for us, came with his crew from the Pine Island area. His church recently shut down and he wants to be involved in feeding and helping the homeless. He brought with him 100 pounds of fresh grouper and supplied the French fries as well. Ken and Mary supplied burgers and hot dogs and others in the congregation supplied cole slaw. Potato chips and drinks were also provided. It was quite a set-up with the barbeque grill cooking burgers and hot dogs and deep fryers cooking the grouper and fries. We had four cooks.

Near the end of the day Robert came over and we started to chat. He said he would like to do something like this every Sunday. I asked him if he was serious and he said yes. He said he could supply the food and we could supply the place to meet and serve it. Long story short, we are going to try to do something like this more often.


Peru

Hector Barrero writes:

About 35 from different regions of Peru came together for a three-day seminar in Lima May 22-24. Leaders from Pucallpa traveled 18 hours by bus to be with us. Others from Piura and Trujillo traveled 12 and 8 hours. Friday, May 22, members approved the documents to officially register the church in Peru. The name of the church will be “Comunion Peruana de la Gracia.” Saturday and Sunday morning we spoke on mission and vision, church growth principles, small groups, how to train small group leaders, how to conduct church services and other support structures. Sunday afternoon we spoke on Trinitarian theology. We closed the seminar with the Lord´s Supper.

Pastors Jose Kasum, Carlos Morote and Eduardo Castro showed interest in taking ACCM classes. I told the group that in about three months I will send Yesid Perez, a leader member of our Bogota congregation, to train them in how to start small groups using discipleship materials we are using in our small groups in Bogota.

3lima-members11 . 3from-pucallpa331 . 3the-groupin-peru11


Myanmar

Rod Matthews wrote:

In mid February, Wong Mein Kong, Malaysian pastor and pastoral coordinator for Myanmar, visited Yangon and met with our pastor from the north, Naing Key Har, and three members from our delta area congregation, including two sons of group leader Saw Htoo Plow.who-is-this11

Wong Mein Kong wrote:

The sons told me their father had a fall last December and injured his back, and as a result he has been bedridden and cannot walk. Their mother was diagnosed with a tumor in her stomach. The house of one of the sons still needs repairs to the roof after the damage due to Cyclone Nargis last May. Funds were relayed to the family for emergency assistance to repair their homes last year, but some was diverted to help the surviving family members of another brother who died in the cyclone. His son also has an eye problem that needs medical attention. So I gave them further financial aid for home repairs and the medical needs of his parents and his son.

Naing Key Har reported that the farms of three families in Chin State were destroyed in a landslide and the homes of two families were destroyed by fire. The members in one village asked for help in buying construction materials for their church building. Further assistance was sent through Naing Key Har to help these members.

Wong Mein Kong continued:who-is-this21

We also discussed how the delta members should continue meeting even as Saw Htoo Plow, the leader of the group all this while, is incapacitated. Other pastoral issues and needs of the group were discussed, including worship music CDs or tapes, sermon outlines, and children’s Bible study materials. I asked Naing Key Har to visit the members in the delta the following week to encourage them and give guidance on meeting as a small group with greater shared responsibilities among the members.

For the first time, Tluang Kung met with the group. He is a young man from northern Myanmar who had been sponsored through seminary in India by one of the Australian congregations, and has now returned home to assist in the pastoring of local churches under his father. We came in contact with his father and another pastor of the Church of God Myanmar (no connection with WCG) several years ago at their request. Upon his return from India, Tluang Kung was asked by the church elders there to start a small Bible school to train local people in ministry, so he is very busy.

Wong Mein Kong said that he did a good job in translating during the various discussions. He added:

I gave some Christian books to Tluang Kung that he requested. He politely asked if we could help his seminary in some way. I basically told him that we could help in providing literature and knowledge resourcewho-is-this31s but not financial. He was understanding and not offended. He earnestly asked me to visit Kalaymyo to speak to the elders, leaders and students from all their various congregations. They generally have no training and little experience, and need further training and teaching for the growth of their Churches of God, Myanmar. He feels they would greatly benefit from a seminar or conference if we hold it for them. He told me there are now regular flights between Yangon and Kalaymyo and many foreign tourists go there, so it is quite safe. He said his group would be able to attend for a few days if that was needed. Any time outside of the rainy season (June to October) would be suitable. I told him I was impressed with the idea, and would discuss it further.

Tluang Kung has just completed translating the 10‐lesson Discipleship 101 course (available on the HQ website) into Burmese. This will be particularly valuable for personal study by remote Christians.

Wong Mein Kong concluded, “I am quite pleased about this trip, and I hope future developments will work for the growth of both WCG and the Church of God Myanmar.”


Prayer Update

Prayer is the battleground where we fight the good fight. Let’s encourage everyone to join together in prayer. Additional spiritual disciplines such as fasting and study draw us closer to God and strengthen us. When more of us prepare individually, the stronger we move together.

Love from my family to yours,
Joseph Tkach



May 27, 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

27spring-2009-dianekubik21Please join me in extending congratulations to Diane Kubik, wife of Oleh Kubik, pastor in Binghamton, NY . She finished her college degree at Liberty University and last week graduated Summa Cum Laude (4.00 average). Diane has wanted to finish her Ambassador College degree for quite some time. She obtained her Bachelor of Science in Multiple Disciplines. As Oleh mentioned to me, “It was a wonderful accomplishment and an emotional time. Diane has fulfilled a dream she’s had since 1972, when she married me.”


The Surprising God Blog is an informal blog about Trinitarian theology provided by Grace Communion International for its ministers. It is filled with helpful information including downloads, book reviews and recommendations. Here are just a few items that have been posted recently:
A trinitarian view of family relations
Salvation: re-creation not transaction
If all are included, why final judgment and hell?
Music and Theology

The URL of the blog is: http://thesurprisinggodblog.wcg.org/


27jordan-sky-henderson13James Stokes writes: “Our granddaughter is now a grandmother! Makes me think I must be getting old now that we have a great-great granddaughter! Her name is Jordan Sky Henderson, and she joined our clan on April 30, weighing in at seven pounds, 13 ounces and measuring 21¼ inches long. All are doing well. I’ve attached her picture so you can see what a cutie she is. Grace and I send our love and best wishes. Keep Smilin’!”


Camps

Generations Ministries director Ted Johnston reported the successful conclusion of the first two GenMin camps of the 2009 camp season. CrossWalk, near Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, hosted 130 campers and 80 staffers; and The Mountaintop near Atlanta, Georgia, hosted 90 campers and 100 staffers.

Anthony Mullins, who works with Mountaintop, wrote: “In my opinion, we had the best Mountaintop experience to-date. God’s provision was evident in many ways, not the least of which was having more staff than campers. The staff-camper ratio allowed our volunteers the opportunity to give a tremendous amount of personalized attention and care to the campers. Our volunteer staff is at the highest level of skill and competency that I have seen. The camp was well-planned and well-executed, and much of that success lies at the feet of the leadership team – it’s been a joy working with them. Our theme for the weekend was Mission Possible, and God reminded us again that he is more than able to meet our needs and far exceed our expectations. It was a great camp experience and a privilege to participate in this ministry of Jesus!”

A slideshow of Mountaintop highlights can be viewed at:
http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/video/video.php?v=108896666347&ref=nf


Jamaica Mission Trip

Grace Communion International is sending a team of workers to Jamaica July 5-12 to help the Kingston, Jamaica, congregation with construction projects and a Vacation Bible School. We have GCI members from Ohio, Florida, England and the Caribbean currently on the team. We have room for 5-7 more team members. The trip is coordinated by one of our Cincinnati, Ohio, congregations. Details of the trip can be seen at www.cfcnext.org by clicking on “Jamaica Mission 2009.” The trip is only $600 plus airfare.

Pastors, may we suggest that your congregation might help sponsor one or more of your members to be part of this life-changing mission trip? This mission trip can use men and women over the age of 18, or under age 18 if accompanied by an adult.

For more information, see the web address, or e-mail Mike Lockard at jmlockard@fuse.net or call Mike at 513-741-8059. You can also contact Caribbean Mission Director, Charles Fleming, at charles.fleming@wcg.org for more information about the Jamaican congregation.


Africa

Kalengule Kaoma writes: “Kimani Ndungu, Area Pastor for East Africa, and I traveled to Meru, Central Kenya, where we visited the Kibiricha congregation on May 2. Close to 40 members attended. Kimani noted that since Kibiricha was our first formally organized congregation in East Africa, the members need to keep going forward and not to look back. Not only is Kibiricha the oldest WCG congregation in East Africa, it is also one of the most stable congregations. The group is enthusiastic and hospitable.

On Sunday, May 3, we attended the main congregation in Nairobi, where we worshiped in Kiswahili and English. The Kibiricha and Nairobi congregations send their greetings. They would like you to know that they pray for you.

27kibiricha11 . 27kibiricha33 . 27kibiricha22


Prayer Requests and Updates

Our beloved friend and brother, Werner Jebens, died at approximately 3:00 am on Monday, May 25, 2009, ending his battle with cancer.

Werner was born in Hamburg, Germany and lived in Germany throughout World War II. He completed high school and trade school education in Germany after the War and emigrated to the United States around 1950. He reported he first heard The World Tomorrow on the radio in 1956 and was baptized into the Church by Dean Blackwell in Chicago in 1957.

Mr. Jebens was hired by the Church in the German Department in 1961 and worked as a Researcher, Proofreader and Translator. Later, when there ceased to be a separate German Department, he transferred to Editorial and continued work as a News Analyst and News File Supervisor. He retired in 1995 and was 83 years old when he died.

He is survived by his wife Ruth Jebens and three daughters, Gloria, Sue and Eve and several grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held on Sunday, June 7 at 10:30 am at:
Rancho Del Oro Community Clubhouse
135 Basilica Way
Oceanside, CA 92057

Cards may be sent to:
Ruth Jebens
180 Bautista Court Unit 78
Oceanside, CA 92057

Prayer is the battleground where we fight the good fight. Let’s encourage everyone to join together in prayer. Additional spiritual disciplines such as fasting and study draw us closer to God and strengthen us. When more of us prepare individually, the stronger we move together.

Love from my family to yours,
Joseph Tkach


May 20, 2009

Al Barr's grandchild

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Al and Edna Barr are the proud grandparents of Jessica Isabella Victoria King, their daughter Joanna’s third child. Born May 11, Jessica weighed 7 lbs, 10 oz, and was 20½ inches long. Seven-year-old Jason and four-year-old Kayla are pictured with their new sister.


Update from Newark, New Jersey

More than 180 attended the District Conference in New Jersey with 225 in attendance on Sunday. I was overwhelmed with positive comments about how much the conference helped deepen people’s understanding of God’s love and grace.

newark1 . newark3 . newark4


Update from Africa

Kalengule Kaoma reported:ugandaleadership

From April 24-27, 2009, I visited brethren in Uganda, and I pass on to you greetings and well wishes from our two ministers there, William Othieno and Edward Kagoro, their wives, and congregational leaders.

Twenty-two congregational and ministry leaders attended the two-day conference. The conference was held at WCG’s owned and only WCG property in Tororo, Uganda. All church areas in Uganda were represented. There are six main congregations and two have the potential of becoming thriving congregations. Average weekly attendance in Uganda is 270.

Our first WCG members in East Africa are still with us: William Othieno and Eldad Owora Opio. They are both positive about the direction WCG is going. “We are behind our leader, Pastor Tkach,” they said.

tororochurchbuilding . tororouganda . ugandapastorothieno

After church services on April 25, we shared a meal to which all who attended church services were invited. Conference topics included Listening and Talking to God, Congregation Management, and A Survey of WCG doctrines.


Update from St. Louis

The following article featuring the art of Karla Reinagel, wife of pastor Karl in the St. Louis area, was recently published in the local Suburban Journal.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 10:43 AM CDT
Broken art for broken people: Ministries offer misprints of a Florissant artist’s painting as a message of hope
by Paul Thompson

Submitted photo Pictured with the painting "Hands of Transformation" are (from left) Jannice May of the Connecting and Bonding ministry; Florissant watercolor artist Carla Reinagel; Curtis May, president of Office of Racial Reconciliation ministry; and Willie Mathis, who at one time was homeless in St. Louis

Pictured with the painting “Hands of Transformation” are (from left) Jannice May of the Connecting and Bonding ministry; Florissant watercolor artist Carla Reinagel; Curtis May, president of Office of Racial Reconciliation ministry; and Willie Mathis, who at one time was homeless in St. Louis.

What began as a painting to symbolize God’s power to transform broken lives has taken on a strangely broken and transformative life of its own and for its creator, Florissant artist Carla Reinagel.

“Hands of Transformation” was commissioned by Jannice May for her California-based Christian ministry, Connecting and Bonding. The watercolor painting depicts a broken eagle cradled in Jesus’ hands, which then soars into the bright sky, healed and transformed.

For Reinagel, her eagle is the broken lives and spirits of people everywhere, which healed by loving hands and faith can be repaired.

“People can’t stay broken,” she said. “They need healing and to be transformed until they are ready to be in the world.”

The unique aspect of Reinagel’s story goes beyond the original artwork. When she had 200 postcards of parts of the painting reproduced at a Maryland Heights print shop, the artwork came out fine but the text on the back was skewed. The cards had to be remade.

But the flawed postcards donated by Will Sanford at Cam Printing, it turned out, became the perfect gift to the people precisely in need of healing. Reinagel shipped them to ministries working with homeless people and prison inmates both locally and as far away a New York, Idaho and Iowa.

The postcards, she said, have made a difference in the lives of hurting people who understand the message they convey. “They don’t care about the back; the image on the card is a little bit of hope they can carry with them, at a price they can afford – free.” Reinagel said.

“It’s very exciting to give people a little bit of hope, especially in the uncertainty of the time we live in,” she added. “There is comfort in knowing there is hope for a better future – even if you’re homeless, even if you’re in prison.”

One homeless man, Willie Mathis, now in a veteran’s recovery service called the Hero’s Program, received the first card along with a box of cards and envelopes to give to others in similar circumstances.

“This does something for me,” Reinagel recalled Mathis saying as he stood transfixed before the painting.

Similarly, the very first copy of an Iris giclee – a special printing technique – of the 16-by-20-inch limited edition prints of the painting came out flawed, a corner slightly bent. Reinagel had promised the first number to a teenage girl, a rape victim. But somehow, the flaw in the print gave it added significance. “I gave her that first rumpled little print,” she said.

Reinagel, 49, is no stranger to the brokenness of life or to homelessness. As a child living the Montana mountains where her father was a logger, her family was homeless, living in a tent, until a Christian woman’s charity helped them get established. Her own brother is homeless, living somewhere in Oregon.

Although she had wanted to be an artist since her first inspirations in grade school and high school art classes, she never pursued her dream. But in high school, she had an “epiphany” – simply that she wanted to help people. She just didn’t know how art could do that.

Not until she went through a deep depression 20 years ago, when her two sons were young, did it dawn on her that she was failing to live up to her God-given potential.

“I didn’t see how art could make a difference. I devoted myself to church. But you come to a place where just church doesn’t do it. You have to be true to who God made you to be. He made me to be an artist,” Reinagel said.

“I came from a long period of brokenness. I had no strength, and two little kids to look after,” she said. “After some soul-searching, I told my husband, ‘I want to be an artist.'” That very night, her husband, Karl – now pastor of New Creation in Christ, which meets at Westminster Christian Academy in Town and Country – bought her art supplies. Her journey as an artist began in earnest.

After working for various companies doing artwork for others, in 2007, she opened her own in-home studio, Art of Carla (http://www.artofcarla.com). Limited-edition prints and postcards of “Hands of Transformation” are available at the Chappel House Art Gallery in Florissant and Plank Road Pottery in St. Charles, as well as through her website.

She is currently working on a series of watercolors of Northern cardinals and dogwood trees for her first one-person show. As for her “Hands of Transformation,” it too will undergo a transformation of sorts this summer. Steve Boda of World Impact Ministries in St. Louis is planning to have the urban teens he works with paint their version of the painting on their building this summer.

“We all have brokenness in us. My job is to encourage people, and my art is my means to do that,” she said. “I encourage everyone to stick with their dreams.”


Remember that prayer is the battleground where we fight the good fight of faith.

Love from my family to yours,
Joseph Tkach

January 14th, 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The Seattle/Bellevue & Everett, WA. church teens, called “DJs” (Disciples of Jesus), made 250 complete sack lunches plus 150 extra sandwiches to take to the Family Adult Service Center homeless shelter in Seattle. This shelter does not receive consistent funding from large organizations, so any volunteer services and food were much appreciated. They also provide shower and laundry service to the homeless of Seattle. The food was eagerly received, especially as we just had our first snow storm and some other volunteer groups had failed to show up. We had more than enough to serve not only the people inside the building and people lined up outside, but we were able to leave lunches behind for others coming to the shelter throughout the day. Our pre-teens also put together around 150 toiletry bags, which we were able to deliver to the shelter with the lunches on Dec. 14th.

 


 

 

 

Shoebox Ministry to Mexico Is Growing

shoebox12For the third year in a row, WCG (through its Generations Ministry camp program) has sponsored a cross-border winter ministry trip into Mexico. The December program originated as a follow-up to our weeklong summer missionary hands-on training camp. In the summer camp program we share in outreach with a variety of native ministries in Mexico, and the winter trip helps us reconnect with fresh support for some of those ministries.

For our winter trip we collect shoeboxes packed with gifts for children and we hand-deliver them to children in Mexico across the border from Texas. Last year we had 10 people go along on the weekend trip to deliver 150 shoeboxes, and this year we grew to 28 missionaries sharing 350 shoeboxes full of gifts. Shoeboxes came to us from twelve church congregations and school groups (some shipped in from other states), and attendees came from as far away as Maryland. We are very excited about the growth God is giving this ministry opportunity.

Eight of the missionaries on this trip were alumni of our summer camp program, and they provided the backbone for the trip. But twenty of the attendees of this “micro mission” trip (48 hours duration) were new to the cross-cultural missionary experience. Ages ranged from pre-teens to septuagenarians, and it was especially exciting to see multiple generations of some families sharing in ministry together.

shoebox3There is an axiom that says there are three critical keys to keep in mind in ministry work (especially in international missions). Those keys are Flexibility, Flexibility and Flexibility. For instance, we expected it would take no more than an hour to cross the Mexican border (based on our past experience). But we were surprised with being stuck in a five-hour traffic jam just to get to the border crossing point. Everyone on the road seemed to take this situation in stride, with lots of folks visiting back and forth between vehicles, some people peddling ice cream and soft drinks to the stranded motorists, and a general tone of a giant “tailgate party” while we literally inched our way toward the border.

shoebox5Of course we had to radically rearrange our plans for the day. At our first stop, a local church had planned to have a crowd gathered for us to share various activities and give shoeboxes to the children. But by the time we finally got to their location (several hours late), the crowd was gone and dusk was fast approaching. We broke into three groups and went door-to-door to the neighborhood (an extremely poverty-stricken pallet village) inviting families to come to the local church location to receive shoebox gifts. Within a half-hour we had a happy, expectant crowd assembled, and we gave away shoebox gifts in the name of Jesus to 300 grateful, smiling children. What a blessing it was to our group to see the love of Jesus flowing out to these families.

Our second stop was at a children’s foster home with which we’ve worked for several years. We were eight hours late in arriving at their location, but they greeted us with joyful smiles. We brought food with us to serve them lunch, but now the food was for supper instead. Since it was now nighttime, we lit a campfire in their courtyard and broke into a spontaneous praise & worship sing-along. We had a relaxing evening of talking and playing with the kids, and we were inspired by hearing the personal testimony of the director of the foster home-of the miraculous calling and change of heart God accomplished in her life as He brought her from a non-Christian dissipate life in the Bronx of New York to caring for 25 foster children with the love of Jesus in a border town in Mexico. We gave shoebox gifts to the children in the foster home, and we were able to leave extra shoeboxes of gifts for them to take with them on an evangelism trip into interior Mexico-for them to share with other kids even poorer than themselves.

In many ways the plans for this trip did not go at all as we had planned, but God gave us ample opportunity to share His love with hundreds of children and their families in another country and culture. We were reminded that our plans are not always God’s plans, but if we surrender ourselves to share His Good News, He will accomplish His purposes through our efforts (Isaiah 55).

Maybe you’d like to test the waters and see if God has given you a heart and gifts for cross-border missionary work. If so, there might be a missions group in your local area with which you could participate. Or you might want to come to our weeklong summer camp on the Mexican border (June 22-28, 2009) or next winter’s shoebox trip. For more info on the WCG mission trips, go to www.cbmission.org or call 903-653-0992.

 


 

 

Church Multiplications Ministry 2009 Planning Meeting

The Church Multiplication Ministries team gathered on January 8-9 in Memphis, TN for our annual planning meeting. Dan Rogers, Superintendent of U.S. Ministers, and Ted Johnston, Generations Ministries director, joined us.

After reviewing our CMM vision, mission and faith goals, we discussed our key strategies and plans for casting a vision for church multiplication, helping congregations develop environments that lead to church multiplication, and providing church leaders with resources for starting new churches.

The vision for church multiplication includes the creation of Christ-centered congregational environments which “naturally and supernaturally” lead to the multiplication of ministry leaders who start new churches. We envision starting new kinds of churches, for all kinds of people, in all kinds of places. We recognize that this is a “God-sized” vision, but it is a vision that is validated by scripture and the work of the Holy Spirit through the church throughout history.

Our faith goals (and prayer requests) include:

  • Planting 12 or more new churches each year
  • 45 assessors comprising 15 assessment teams
  • 4 church plant leadership training teams
  • 12 or more ministry coaches for church planters
  • 20 district church planting networks

At this time we have:

  • 22 assessors (3-5 assessment teams)
  • 1 church plant leadership training team
  • 5 ministry coaches for church planters

Our plans for 2009 include:

  • Inviting experienced church planters to speak at the nine regional conferences. These speakers will join me in addressing the conference plenary sessions. They will also participate in the breakout workshops.
  • Conducting Church-Next Training – a 5-day training session for pastors and other ministry leaders who want to learn how to plant a church (dates to be announced).
  • Producing a training resource manual for the Church-Next Training program.
  • Conducting church multiplication workshops for district networks and congregations
  • Developing a process for recruiting church planters.
  • Adding the church planter recruitment process to our CMM website (cmm.wcg.org) and begin to recruit church planters from outside the WCG.
  • Working with district pastoral leaders to begin to develop district church multiplication networks.
  • Presenting a church multiplication workshop at the Wisconsin Dells festival.
  • Developing new CMM promotional tools including a CMM banner and informational fliers.
  • Conducting church multiplication workshops for district networks and congregations. (To schedule a workshop contact Randy Bloom at Randy.Bloom@wcg.org)

Please continue to pray that the Spirit will enlighten all of us – pastors, congregations, denominational leaders – that we may discern his will and follow his direction for starting new churches. Please ask the Lord to provide the ministry leaders and resources we need to participate in his mission to the world by planting new churches. Thank you for your ongoing prayers. Those of us in Church Administration and CMM are grateful for your passion and participation in this ministry. God bless you all as you continue to experience the life and love of Jesus.

Randy Bloom

 


 

 

Prayer Requests and Updates

Please remember that prayer is the battleground where we fight the good fight. Let’s encourage everyone to join together in prayer. Additional spiritual disciplines such as fasting and study draw us closer to God and strengthen us for what we must do. When more of us prepare individually, the stronger we move together collectively.

Love from my family to yours,
Joseph Tkach