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Evangelistic small groups in Ohio

GCI’s congregation in Tipp City, OH (CrossRoads Christian Fellowship) has been actively forming evangelistic small groups that reach out to unchurched people. They first invite people to participate in the Alpha course conducted in their church building. Those who show interest in following Christ are invited to participate in follow-up small group discussions using The Hope of Jesus, a small-group curriculum grounded in Trinitarian theology that was written by CrossRoads pastor Jim Valekis.

Not only do these small groups provide opportunity for unchurched people to be discipled, they also serve as opportunities for existing members who are emerging leaders to become small group facilitators. If you’d like to learn more about CrossRoad’s experience using these tools, email Jim.Valekis@gci.org. Also see GCI’s FaithTalk equipper website, which offers various resources that help congregations form small groups that are safe places where spiritually interested unchurched people are encouraged to discuss matters of faith.

Visit from Texas Governor

Left to right: Jane Parsons, Governor Rick Perry, Pastor Sonny Parsons

The office of Texas Governor Rick Perry recently telephoned Sonny Parsons, the senior pastor of GCI’s church in Big Sandy, Texas. They asked if the Governor might attend the congregation’s community-wide waffle breakfast being held in celebration of the Fourth of July. They mentioned that the Governor wanted to share in an Independence Day celebration in a rural Texas community, and picked Big Sandy and our church as the place to do so.

Sonny reports that the Governor seemed to greatly enjoy his visit.

Camp reports

Northern Light Camp (U.S.)

This update is from Todd Fox, former director of Northern Light Camp, the GCI Generations Ministries camp held at the Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center in Lanesboro, Minnesota.

We recently completed our 2012 camp with 27 campers and 26 staff members. We felt it was the smoothest running camp yet, due in large part to our highly experienced staff members.

Our camp theme was Rooted, with Nathan Keating (who wrote the song Rooted) leading chapel worship.

A joyous camp highlight was the baptism of two campers (with two others planning to be baptized back home). Another highlight was a ceremony in which camp director Todd Fox passed the baton of Northern Light Camp director to Troy Meisner.

Camp activities included back-country camping, trail hiking, high ropes, rock climbing, canoeing and archery. Various classes gave the youth opportunity to develop skills in art, finance, writing, leadership, videography, photography, wood working, worship leading and other areas. The week closed with an exhibit of these skills and musical entertainment from Ross Jutsum.

Silvermeadows Camp (Canada)

This update is from Gary Moore, GCI national director for Canada, concerning the GCI summer camp held in western Canada.

Counting campers, pre-teen campers and staff, we had about 80 involved in a most profitable and Christ-centered week of camp. My wife Wendy and I were most impressed with the dedication of the staff who sacrificed their time and comfort to serve in such a meaningful way.

On the last day of camp, we witnessed a wonderful event – the baptism of Natasha and Bryce Minke in Lake Nakamun.

Crossing Borders mission trip

This report is from Crossing Borders director Lee Berger.

This summer was Crossing Borders’ 13th mission trip into Mexico. Each trip is unique, but this one was a new experience. Because 11 of the 13 participants were Crossing Borders alumni, I (mission director Lee Berger) encouraged the attendees (pictured at right) to be open to new insights as to their role in mission. I asked them to see the people we would serve as God sees them—his beloved children.

Much about the trip this trip was new for us. We stayed in a different facility, began a relationship with a children’s home new to us, and spent more time ministering to the homeless. We also began a partnership with Faith Missions Ministries – a group that has been working in Mexico for 25 years. On this trip, we constructed our first house – a small one for a needy family (see pictures below – old home on the left; new home on the right). We worked on the house for two days and built bonds with the family.







In our work with the homeless, we found ourselves one-on-one with desperate people. Our goal was to spend time listening to their stories, showing a caring heart and telling them about the love and grace of God, no matter what their present circumstances.

I spent time listening to a lady tell of being drugged by some men and having her body sold for sex to others by her handlers. She was trying to get back home to interior Mexico, hoping to escape from those who had abused her. Other people spoke openly of their addictions. In all this work, we partner with Mexican pastors so that we connect those needing help with local ministers who provide follow up.

As missionaries, we cannot solve the national, community, family or personal problems of people in Mexico. However, by our presence, actions and words, we can point them to the One who can open the eyes of their heart to the hope he freely offers to all.

Spanish-speaking churches

This update is from Lorenzo Arroyo, mission developer for Spanish-speaking GCI churches in the U.S. and all GCI churches in Mexico.

Hawthorne, California

On June 16, we held a leadership development intensive in Hawthorne, California. About 30 emerging leaders attended from six GCI Spanish-speaking churches in the Los Angeles area (participants pictured below).

Our guest instructor at this intensive was Dr. Michael Morrison, pictured at right with Heber Ticas interpreting. Michael addressed the topic of Biblical Interpretation.

This intensive was the fourth in a series of ten in GCI’s CEM (Centro de Entrenamiento Ministerial) program which began in 2011 and will conclude in late 2013. The program’s intensives cover biblical studies, theological studies and pastoral ministry. Besides attending the day-long intensives, CEM participants do several book reports and participate in practicums that involve them in serving their local churches. The next two intensives will be conducted by Dr. Dan Rogers, addressing church history on September 22 and multiplication in healthy churches on December 8.

Howell, New Jersey

On June 23-24, district pastor Heber Ticas and I (Lorenzo Arroyo) visited the GCI Spanish-speaking congregation in Howell, New Jersey. We conducted four workshops and gave two sermons with the goal of encouraging this small congregation with 30 members (including children). Heber held a leadership meeting with pastors Bernabe Roman and Alejandro Alcantara, and six ministry leaders. Heber will return in September to assist the congregation in developing an overall ministry plan including detailed descriptions of key ministry leadership assignments. The congregation is turning a corner and eager to move forward.


In early June, GCI pastor Manuel Ochoa and I (Lorenzo Arroyo) traveled to Mexico City for five days. We were delighted to see the fruit being borne by our congregations there. I recently received a report from Alfredo Mercado, the GCI national leader in Mexico and pastor of our church in Guadalajara – he shared that they recently performed four baptisms!

Filipino youth training

This update is from pastor Ben Babol, the pastoral team chairman of the GCI Philippines congregation in Santa Rosa.

The Santa Rosa and Manila South congregations recently hosted a Youth Leadership Training Program at the Royale Tagaytay Country Club in Tagaytay City, Cavite. 70 young men and women attended from the Laguna, Mindoro and Pampanga areas.

The 3-day event was headed by camp youth director Brian Everett Raduban, a pastoral team member in the Santa Rosa church, assisted by Don Santillan. Eugene Guzon, who is national director in the Philippines, welcomed participants on the first night and conducted a lecture on “how to organize events” the following day so that attendees could take new skills home. Pastors Ezra Raduban, Nomer Venus and Rex dela Pena took turns discussing various subjects on servant-leadership. Other activities included amazing race, basketball, movie and swimming. Royale Tagaytay management allowed the free use of its beautiful covered sports facilities. The youths enjoyed the comfort of hotel-like accommodations and meals.

Feedback from participants mentioned God’s goodness and love. The youth appreciated the lectures and activities and wished the event could have lasted longer.

A Deeper Walk

GCI’s Jacksonville, Florida congregation recently hosted A Deeper Walk – a seminar presented by GCI ministers Dr. Larry Hinkle, Dr. Charles Fleming and Ms. Carmen Fleming through their ministry, Odyssey in Christ. The seminar focuses on spiritual formation and deepening one’s awareness of the Triune God.

The 56 seminar participants attended several sessions on Saturday, including methods of enriching one’s prayer life, Bible reading, getting in touch with one’s consciousness of God, preparing one’s heart and mind for Holy Communion, and using prayers of healing and encouragement to minister to others.

On Sunday, seminar participants joined with the Jacksonville congregation for their worship service. Seminar presenters were impressed by the congregation’s hunger to know God better, their spirit of service and family love; and the way they are embedded in the surrounding community (12 people from the community have recently begun to attend).

A Deeper Walk is one of several seminars offered by GCI Church Administration and Development – click here for a list of available seminars.

Southern Asia and South Pacific update

This update is from Rod Matthews, GCI mission developer in Southern Asia and the South Pacific.

SEP India

This report is from Daniel Zachariah, GCI’s pastor in Hyderabad, India.

Jesus places a special value on children. His love for them was undeniable when he took them up in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them, saying, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14).

Encouraged by his example, we had the unique privilege of loving and blessing many children last month. We held a residential camp where 27 children, ages five to fourteen, attended from May 11 to 13. Several children from nearby villages joined the camp. We had them all take residence in our church premises for the three days. Members volunteered to provide food for all the children on these days. The picture at right shows a few of the children enjoying a meal.

From morning until bedtime, they were tirelessly and enthusiastically involved in all the activities. Stephie, Celina, Saritha and Prasanna were our residential counselors, teaching them Bible lessons, songs, crafts, dance and games.

Vanuatu Building Project

This report is from Rex Morgan, GCI’s national coordinator for Vanuatu and the New Zealand office manager.

In 2010, New Zealand member and builder Les Evans began construction of a building at Rory, the Vanuatu village on the island of Malekula where our main congregation is located. Les previously supervised the construction of a new meeting hall and a large concrete water tank to give the church facility water self-sufficiency. The new building was originally planned to include a workshop for fabricating furniture for sale to provide additional income for the church community. It was also to be used for tool storage, a community function room, the church library and a place for visiting ministers to stay.

A perennial problem has been the lack of building materials in this remote location. Fiji pastor, Isei Colati, went to Vanuatu in late 2011 as a guest speaker at their family festival, with the added goal of taking a further step toward completing the project but, alas, the same problem prevented any progress.

In a review of its purposes, it has become obvious that making furniture for sale isn’t feasible because of difficulties in getting quality raw materials and then finding a market on Malekula and nearby islands which are remote from the capital, Port Vila. But the most pressing need is for a place for visiting ministers to stay to save the church considerable accommodation and transportation expenses. Vanuatu pastor William Davies, who lives on the neighboring island of Espiritu Santo, will be able to use it on his bimonthly trips to Rory, and Rex Morgan and other visitors can use it during the annual festival.

Amazingly, further research has shown that it is less expensive to purchase the materials needed to complete the building from hardware stores in Fiji and have it shipped to Malekula in Vanuatu, so Isei Colati has organized this. The cost of $3,500 for needed materials is exactly half of the amount put aside by the congregations in New Zealand for “Vanuatu Outreach” in 2012. The Fiji church has kindly offered to help pay for another trip to Vanuatu by Isei Colati to help organize the project. The members are now assessing gardening and farming ideas to help the church community become more financially self-sufficient.

GCI Philippines update

Here are updates about two recent GCI activities in the Philippines.

Outreach to children

This update is from Arlan Aquino, one of GCI’s area superintendents in the Philippines.

Several members from Baguio City and La Trinidad recently traveled to Bokod, Benguet for a Children’s Outreach Program. According to staff member Myla Faminialagao, the purpose was to “let the children further understand who Jesus is in their lives” and help them to “have a relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

The program had two classes, one for children 2 to 8 years old and another for children 9 to 14. The first class, led by Grace Ogas, had 23 attendees. Topics included Getting to Know God Through the Bible; and Knowing Jesus as Son of God, Son of Man, Friend and Savior. The second class, with 15 older children, considered topics such as Vanity, Who Jesus Is to Me, and Discipling Others. Myla also taught them how to make cards for Mother’s Day.

Bicol churches celebrate 40th anniversary and attend Missions Fest

This update is from Eleanor O. Bongat.

GCI in the Bicol region recently celebrated its 40th anniversary. The theme was Beyond the Great Commission, Preparing the Bride.

Eugene Guzon

Attending were GCI Philippines national director Eugene Guzon, missions director Dr. Rey Taniajura, senior pastor of City of Praise for Asia Edwin Villagomez and the national missions team led by Cecilia Bangay. The celebration was opened by pastor Pamor who recaped the Bicol church’s 40-year journey. It began with one congregation in Naga City and now there are 15 in the region. Missions director Dr. Rey Taniajura then addressed the group, followed by a message from pastor Reuel who gave a glimpse of the past in pictures provided by members. Also included were warm messages from pastor George Escara and Dr. Taniajura.

The celebration coincided with Missions Fest, which included several plenary presentations and workshops. Eugene Guzon made a presentation titled GCI Mission for the Next Decade emphasizing the need for all members to participate in mission. He noted that two years ago there was a good response from GCI members to go to the mission field. But at the moment there is a tapering down in the number of missionaries, hence the urgent need to mobilize response from the churches.

Dr. Taniajura gave a presentation titled The Greatest Story Ever Told: Preparing the Bride and Mission. He said that the greatest of all events in eternity past and present is the preparation of the bride (the church). Her involvement in mission is in anticipation for the coming of the Bridegroom (Jesus Christ).

The missions team conducted workshops on networking, giving, cross-cultural experience, spiritual warfare, member care and intimacy with God.

Worship was led by various music teams, including God’s Little Musicians, a group of young and talented children. A prayer concert was held with a focus on least-reached people groups including tribals, Hindus, unreligious, Muslims and Buddhists. Prayers were also offered for GCI and the government of the Philippines. Pastor Edwin Villagomez concluded by challenging participants to actively enter the mission field. Several responded and received prayer. The event closed with a benediction from Jose V. Manzano, Bicol area assistant superintendent.