The following update is from Hector Barrero who pastors GCI’s congregation in Bogota, Colombia.
An important part of our outreach in Bogota is conducting marriage enrichment classes that are open to the public.
We began a new round of classes on February 25, with an introductory meeting attended by 31 nonmember couples. We connected initially by publicizing the classes on our radio program.
The members of our congregation who will teach these classes have been trained to present a Trinitarian, grace based perspective on marriage enrichment.
Those who signed up for the classes, which last about four months, will attend in various locations around the city. The largest of these groups with eight couples will meet at our church hall.
Holding these classes in the past has brought new members into our congregation. To accommodate this growth, we have recently added a second Sunday worship service. One starts at 8:00 am and the other at 10:30 am. Having two services provides ample room to receive newcomers, opportunities for additional preachers, and possibilities for developing other leaders within the congregation.
This update is from John Halford, editor of GCI’s Christian Odyssey magazine.
On February 14 I joined GCI southeast Asian mission developer Rod Matthews and Malaysian pastor Wong Mein Kong in opening the Ambassador Kindergarten School in Chiang Mai, Thailand. This is the latest development in the remarkable Christian education enterprises of Chogait and Amphorn Garmolgomut.
I have told their story in Christian Odyssey. Chogait, a 1986 Graduate of Ambassador College and his wife Amphorn (Fong) opened several schools in this northern Thai city, and along the way developed a successful and growing ministry.
The school idea grew from a challenge from the late Dr. Herman L. Hoeh, who loved Thailand and all things Thai. Chogait and Fong had been raised as Buddhists. Now as Christians, they wanted to reach their people with the gospel. They asked Herman Hoeh what to do, and he suggested they start a school based on true values and right living. He gave them $100 to get started.
They started small with a school in their basement apartment, teaching in Thai and English. Many Thais want to learn English as it is a significant key to a successful career. As more students came, they were able to expand.
Later, Chogait and Fong leased an office building on the outskirts of the city. They renovated it, making it into a bright school for several hundred students Grades 1-6. I was privileged to help formally open the Ambassador Bilingual School (ABS) two years ago. At that time, they showed me an empty, semi-derelict warehouse that stood behind the main school. “That’s where the kindergarten will be,” explained Fong.
We formally opened the kindergarten on February 14. The old warehouse has been transformed and renamed the “Love Building.” Chogait asked me to say a few words to the large group of parents who had come to the opening ceremony. I told them that in the western world, February 14 is known as Valentine’s Day, when people give gifts to those they love. The school was also a gift of love, to the parents, the children and the future of the country.
The Thais are tolerant of all faiths, but the vast majority of the people remain staunchly Buddhist. Frankly, much missionary activity in Thailand gets nowhere as the Christian message is presented in a way that is out of context with Thai culture. However, traditional values are beginning to fray as Thailand continues to modernize. ABS teaches Christianity by example, and although making converts is not the focus, Chogait and Fong have baptized dozens of people in the last few years. Today a church of about 70 meets in their home.
ABS now offers an education from kindergarten through middle school. Rod Matthews jokingly asked Fong “So where are you going to build the high school?” Without hesitation, she pointed to an empty lot next door. “We’ll put it there,” she said, “if that is God’s will.”
Psalm 127 reminds us that “unless the Lord shall build the house the weary builders toil in vain.” It seems that the Lord is building this “house” as the work is certainly not in vain. It is a success story that is attracting the attention of educators and missionaries in this country.
You can help
Here is how you can help be a part of this success story. Chogait and Fong are not asking for financial help. However, the challenge of running a bilingual school in Thailand is the lack of quality, affordable books in the English language. The Herman L. Hoeh Library, named after their friend and mentor, is in urgent need of books.
Many of us have books that our children and grandchildren have outgrown. If you send us those books, we can get them to Thailand. They do not need to be specifically Christian books, although those are welcome too. But any book for grades K-6, ideally with colorful pictures on any subject of an educational nature would be very welcome. They do not need to be new, but should not be too battered, torn or in any way defaced.
Do you have some books that ABS could use? Then email me at email@example.com and let me know what you have. If you can ship them to me in Indiana, we know how to get them to Thailand.
GCI pastor and district pastoral leader Rick Shallenberger recently traveled to Africa on behalf of GCI President Joseph Tkach. For a report on his time in Zambia, click here. For a report on his time with church leaders in Malawi, click here. Rick’s report on his visit to Malawi continues below.
It was a joy to spend ten days visiting our churches in Malawi. What struck me more than anything was the dedication of the pastors. Everything they do is for their churches. They are constantly looking for ways to reach more people with limited resources. It was exciting and humbling to spend time with them.
Music plays a big part in their churches. Every one I visited has multiple choirs and singing groups. They sing as they stand and walk to and from the front of the church. The whole congregation sings before the sermon (asking for inspiration) and then after (giving thanks). Many of the churches also incorporate dancing. On more than one occasion I found myself standing and dancing with the choir!
I was also impressed by the creativity (and hard work!) shown in how the churches finance their work. Because they (like the nation) are quite poor, they must seek outside income. They have done so primarily through the GCI-run Young Ambassador Private Primary School (YAPPS) in Blantyre and the Kabanga Farm project. These two ongoing projects provide a continuing stream of income.
Let me now introduce you to our Malawi churches and those who lead them.
Gardner & Loney Kunje
Chairman of the GCI-Malawi National Ecclesiastical Council of Elders, Gardener Kunje and his wife, Loney, have a home in Lilongwe. Gardener, who works for Malawi Revenue Authority, was recently transferred to work in Mzuzu, a few hours north of Lilongwe. He assists the pastor there and comes home as often as he can. Gardner and Loney’s two children, Edith and Monica are part of the Young Adult Leaders team working with youth and young adults in and around Lilongwe.
Blantyre Church and YAPPS: Fadrick & Martha Nihaka
Pastor Nihaka co-pastors the main church in Blantyre, which meets in the YAPPS meeting hall. Fadrick is director of YAPPS. He and Martha started this school with two students and three faculty members in the mid 90s and now have almost 400 students and constantly turn students away due to lack of space. Both Fadrick and Martha have bent over backwards to enhance the Malawi experience for my daughter Kayla and Carrie Smith (daughter of GCI pastor Tom and Pam Smith), who have been teaching at YAPPS for the past several months. He also made sure I experienced as much as I could in Malawi and made arrangements for me to speak at several congregations and spend time with several pastors during my two week stay. We met as acquaintances and departed as brothers and friends.
Fadrick and Martha have five adult children, some of whom assist at the school in various ways. They lost a daughter in 1988 and her young son, Peter, lives with Fadrick and Martha. Fadrick also pastors a church in a village about 30 minutes outside Blantrye, assisted by church leader Charles Mpaze.
In addition to his school administration responsibilities and pastoral duties in Blantyre, Fadrick serves with William Mankhomwa (see below) as pastor over two congregations in Mulanje (Minimini and Mombezi) and one in Chiradzulu (Mpanda). Fadrick also serves on the Board of Directors for Yamikani House, an orphanage in a very poor part of Blantyre. Fadrick helps with administrative duties and often visits the orphanage to offer assistance and to read to the children.
Fadrick is 67 and looks forward to retiring near Naminjale, where he would like to build hostels on the church property. These hostels can be used to house members and ministers for church events and can also be rented throughout the year providing an income stream for the churches.
Blantyre & Satellite churches: William & Chrissy Mankhomwa
William was ordained in 1996 and serves as co-pastor of the Blantyre congregation as well as co-pastor of the afore-mentioned satellite congregations. William is a bi-vocational pastor working full time for a government institution known as the Malawi National Examinations Board (MANEB), setting up examinations, and training others to do the same. He lives in Zomba, which is more than an hour from Blantyre. William gets excited when talking about the church and the various congregations he is serving. He is quick to point out the members are committed to serving Jesus and are excited about the gospel of grace.
Most of the church growth is taking place among poor rural people, many of whom are illiterate. Most who can read do not have Bibles. This adds to the challenge of serving and teaching them. Further it is a challenge just to reach these children of God. In fact, William’s greatest challenge for visiting the churches in Malawi is the cost and availability of fuel and the poor road conditions. Some of the areas are unreachable during the wet season. Another great challenge William and other pastors face is the difficulty in being connected to other GCI pastors and to Headquarters. Internet service in Malawi is expensive and not always dependable. Internet accessibility is often limited to internet cafés or pre-purchased time with limited service areas. Even with these challenges, Pastor William always has a big smile on his face as he and his wife serve God’s beloved in Malawi sharing God’s love and life with many.
Naminjale: Weja Phiri
Pastor Phiri and his wife Abigail live on the church property in Naminjale, about 90 minutes west of Blantyre and about an hour from the Mozambique border, in an area surrounded by villages. The property includes the pastor’s home, a few outbuildings, classrooms and a worship center, which includes Weja’s office. They are planning for future growth as evidenced by a massive pile of bricks on the property that will be used to build more classrooms and the hostels mentioned above.
The Naminjale congregation is one of our largest congregations in Malawi with an average attendance of 50 adults. There were more than 150 in attendance on the day I spoke. They are a very musical group, blessed to have at least two choirs and a young adult band, all of whom performed for Malawi TV. The Naminjale congregation is growing and is looking forward to seeing where God will lead them. The members, who come from surrounding villages, are very poor, but their hearts are dedicated to Christ and to building up their property to serve many others.
Dzaleka Refugee Camp: Lokona and Furaha Tosha Bolikoko
Though it was mid-week, many members and children came to church to hear the “representative of Grace Communion International from America.” The service began with many different songs and singing groups. The excitement for worship was contagious and I soon found myself dancing with the choir. It was great fun to hear God being praised in Chichewa and Kiswahili.
Pastor Bolikoko was a school teacher and bi-vocational pastor in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) when he fled to Malawi. He speaks French and Kiswahili. Since moving to Malawi, he has also learned Chichewa, but knows very little English. So my sermon was first translated into Chichewa and then he translated it into Kiswahili. It was interesting to see a reaction to a point first happen in English as some understood, then again in Chichewa as others understood and finally in Kiswahili.
Because all of the members are refugees, few can find employment in the surrounding villages and they must rely on the UN for their subsistance. The exceptions are professionals and businessmen who are often employed in civil service. The refugee camp has more than 10,000 people from Somalia, Burundi, Rwanda and DRC. Most of the members are from DRC. The members have found ways to provide income by raising pigs, and growing and selling crops. The members often make their own homes with mud and thatched grass on a plot they are given by the UN. Members in Australia provided funds for a foundation and for roof trusses for a church building and the members made the bricks. They were short of funds for the iron roof, and were concerned about the rains coming and washing away the foundation of the church, so on behalf of GCI, my congregation gave them enough to finish their roof. Another congregation in Australia recently purchased a keyboard and generator for them to use during worship.
The congregation has many needs – in particular blankets and mosquito nets. Many in the congregation are now suffering from malaria as it is rainy season and the mosquitos are out in abundance. If your congregation would like to purchase blankets and mosquito nets, please let me know by emailing me at Rick.Shallenberger@gci.org. We will coordinate with the Mission Developer and local pastoral teams.
Because the refugees continue to make their way to Malawi, the church continues to grow. Though they have little, they don’t let their needs stop them from worshipping with enthusiasm. As a result, the Dzaleka church is growing rapidly.
Kabanga: Overton & Molly Ngwira
I did not speak in Kabanga, but I did visit the farm and spent time with Pastor Ngwira. Overton oversees the farm and pastors the congregation. Over the years the congregation has purchased several acres of land. In the dry season they make bricks and then they use those bricks to construct buildings on the property. To date they have a home for the farm caretaker, a large meeting hall for church and a three-room structure that houses a library and two meeting rooms. During the summer of 2012 one of the rooms will be converted to living quarters for a French college student who is going to live in the village for seveal months as a project for her school. She will work the farm and assist the church. In addition to the land the church has purchased, the village chiefs have also given them access to several acres to grow more crops or to graze cattle and goats.
The church in Kabanga started with rapid growth, but it has since seen a decline. The leadership believes the decline is due to worshipping on Saturday, which is the main business day for the villagers. They are currently talking about moving the day of worship to Sunday, which will remove a large stumbling block and enable the church to grow.
The farm not only supports the church in Kabanga, but helps support other churches around Malawi. Their primary crop is maize (corn) and they also grow pumpkins and other vegetables. They are raising goats and are building pens so they can raise pigs as another source of income. In the future they’d also like to raise cattle.
The primary challenge is getting enough farm labor. They have plenty of ideas and little manpower. I suggested they look around and see and appreciate what God has already given them. I suggested God would provide manpower when and if he feels they need to expand further. They are quite successful in what they are currently doing and it’s not always necessary to try to do more and more beyond our means. They were receptive and very appreciative of my words and thanked me for coming on behalf of our denomination. They are a dedicated and hard working group of people whom God has blessed abundantly. His blessing to them is also a blessing to the other churches in Malawi.
Lilongwe: Macdonald & Ireen Mgunda
While I did not have the opportunity to visit the Lilongwe congregation which Macdonald pastors, I did spend time with him as we toured a bit of Lilongwe, and had a meeting and dinner with the Young Adult leaders on my first day in Lilongwe. On the following day, Pastor Mgunda was part of the team that traveled to the Dzaleka Refugee church and Kabanga Farm.
Besides pastoring the Lilongwe congregation, Pastor Macdonald works closely with Pastor Silvester Nkosi working with the Young Adult Leaders and assisting where needed with Dzaleka and Kabanga. Macdonald and Ireen have six children and are very interested in children’s ministry. One thing I noticed was Macdonald was nearly always smiling and showed tremendous enthusiasm for the church and for sharing the gospel.
Silvester and Molly Nkosi
Silvester and Molly live in Lilongwe with three of their six children still living at home. Silvester is a teacher by profession and a pastor by calling. Ordained an elder in 1997, Silvester serves as Director for Youth and Children ministries for Malawi, while holding on to his teaching profession.
Over the years, Silvester has pastored several congregations in and around Lilongwe and continues to assist Macdonald Mgunda in the Lilongwe congregation and helps supervise unordained pastoral leaders. He is one of the founders and serves as the director of the Kabanga Church Farm project. He founded one youth camp and has served as assistant director at several others. He also serves as the pastoral liaison for the Dzaleka congregation, coordinating the needs of the members of the refugee church with the congregations around the world who desire to help.
Silvester was my host for my two days in Lilongwe and spent much of the day asking questions and showing a great desire to learn more about Trinitarian theology and its application to pastoral ministry and our journey with Jesus.
Despite poverty and other great challenges, GCI in Malawi is rapidly growing. Our pastoral couples there are deeply dedicated and doing an amazing job leading our members to actively share God’s love and life with the people of their nation. I am inspired and humbled by their dedication to Jesus’ Great Commission. Please join me in praying for them.
2012 is the 50th anniversary of Grace Communion International in the Philippines. Plans have been underway since last year to celebrate this “jubilee year” in events held throughout the year. Happy 50th anniversary GCI Philippines!
Jerome Manriquez, area superintendent for Mindanao, recently visited Zamboanga to conduct a conference with about 15 area pastoral leaders Topics addressed included Trinitarian theology, church management and finances, and the roles of pastors, pastoral teams, leaders and members.
GCI pastor and district pastoral leader Rick Shallenberger recently traveled to Africa on behalf of GCI President Joseph Tkach. For a report on his time in Zambia, click here. Following is Rick’s report on a Q&A meeting he held with pastors and other leaders in Malawi. Next week, he will share more about Malawi, introducing the pastors and giving information on the congregations.
On Saturday, January 14, I had the opportunity to speak at our congregation in Numenjale. On the way to the service I was informed that Malawi TV, one of two Malawi television stations, would be taping the service to be played later (it was played on January 21). This was one of those Holy Spirit moments, because when I realized I was preaching to all of Malawi, I shared the story of the Prodigal Son-Dancing Father and told the audience that all in Malawi are included in God’s love and plan. I’ve since been informed the response to the message was so favorable, they’ve played it two weeks in a row.
Following the service, I held a Question and Answer meeting with a group of our pastors and other leaders from that area. For four hours that day and two the next, we met at a lodge owned by Franklin Likupe, Chairman of the Board for the Malawi churches, and Chairman of Ambassador School. Here is a summary of what we discussed:
Day of worship. I noticed that the congregation holds its worship services on Saturday. I asked if there was a particular reason. The first thing a few said was, “Well since the day doesn’t matter, we decided to not change it.” So I posed the question, “Not matter to whom?” After a few minutes of discussion, they came to agree the day does matter. All had stories about people wanting to come to church, but then not coming because services were on Saturday, a business day. After a while, I said it seems that their own culture tells them the day does matter. Then I talked a bit about the error in thinking that because it doesn’t matter to us, it doesn’t matter to others, along with the error we used to make, saying that it’s no concern of our to make it convenient for others. I suggested we focus on making it as convenient as we can for others to participate in worship by coming to church. They were looking forward to continuing this discussion among themselves.
Name of the denomination. They asked what I thought of our name, Grace Communion International. I told them I could not think of a better name to describe who we are as a denomination. We talked about each of the three words in our name and their meanings and then the power of the name when all three words are put together. The more we talked the more excited they became about the name and its significance.
Grace. One of the pastors asked me to help him understand grace better. So I pulled out two 50 kwacha bills (local currency). I then asked another pastor to name the four Gospels and told him if he did, I’d give him the money. He did and I gave it to him. Then I walked over to another pastor and handed him 50 kwacha. I told him it was simply because I loved him. He got very excited (not about the money) because he suddenly got what grace was all about. Then we talked about grace being undeserved. That led to a discussion among the men on how to handle various situations in their congregations.
Grace based ministry. We had an animated discussion concerning how we can use a grace based approach in our ministry to people. One pastor was insisting that our chief responsibility is to point out to people their sins so that they repent and turn to Jesus. It was fascinating to see the group gather around this pastor, to help him come to understand a more grace based approach. It was beautiful to see this pastor (who sincerely wanted to understand) grow right before our eyes.
The Lord’s Supper. On Sunday, I was asked to lead the group in communion, which I did. I commented that communion can be sober, however, it can also be joy filled. Communion is about us being one with the Father, Son and Spirit and about remembering that we are one together because of Jesus. I then led communion in a spirit of rejoicing and we ended with a shout of “Hallelujah.” There were many positive comments about seeing communion in a different light.
Preaching. Because my sermon on Saturday included stories, I was asked how I come up with them. I told them I take stories from the Bible and my life experience – always to illustrate a key point in the sermon – relating it to real life. We discussed how Jesus taught using stories. I noted that the Bible is full of stories that we can use – in fact the Bible is God’s story, a story that, through Jesus, now includes us! And so we can use our life experiences to tell the story.
Divorce and remarriage. It is common in their culture for a man to leave his wife to marry another, then not support the first wife and her children. Should this practice be allowed in the church? I shared that our responsibility is to teach about God’s love and forgiveness, not to condemn people in judgment. However, part of teaching about love is helping men understand that not supporting their wives and children is not showing love. This led to a discussion about men marrying girls as young as 14, and other related topics.
Reaching the unchurched. A follow-up to the question about grace concerned how to reach unchurched people. We spent a lot of time talking about how we view the unchurched. We need to consider this before we talk about how to reach them. That discussion linked back to the sermon I gave about seeing people as God sees them and loving them because they are God’s beloved. This led to an animated conversation about being included and sharing the good news with others.
We discussed other topics including blessings and cursings. I ended by encouraging them to meet more regularly to let “iron sharpen iron” within their group of pastors. It was a profitable six hours – I felt like I was living in the time of the early church when Jesus told the disciples not to worry about what they were going to say, for the Holy Spirit would lead them. I had no way to prepare for this meeting, nevertheless, I felt that God used it to encourage, enlighten, comfort and uplift a group of dedicated servants of God.
Tammy Tkach visited Grace of God Fellowship in Tucson, AZ, on January 29. She gave a sermon entitled “Our Relationship with Jesus, Part 2.” She showed how eternal life, which is knowing God through his Son, Jesus, is a close, affectionate relationship. And that relationship needs to be our main focus, the centerpiece of our lives. The occasion of her visit was very festive, with a visiting praise band, and a special meal.
GCI pastor and district pastoral leader Rick Shallenberger recently traveled to Africa on behalf of GCI president Joseph Tkach. Following is Rick’s report on his time in Zambia.
On December 30, 1991, the president of Zambia, Frederick Chiluba, declared his country a Christian nation. Since that day, crime has dropped, people have become more concerned for others, and churches have grown. Our GCI congregations are no exception. Though our members have very little, they are actively sharing God’s love and life with those around them. As a result, our existing churches are growing and new ones are being planted.
I traveled in Zambia with Kalengule Kaoma, GCI’s mission developer for central Africa. He lives in Lusaka, Zambia with his wife, Nsama and their four children. Kalengule spends a lot of time traveling to many countries in central Africa, teaching and conducting training seminars for pastors and ministry leaders. Following is information about some of the key pastoral leaders we visited in Zambia.
Inyambo and Mutinta Nyumbu
Dr. Inyambo Nyumbu is national ministry director for GCI in Zambia. His wife is Dr. Mutinta Nyumbu. With Inyambo’s assistance, the GCI pastors and other ministers in Zambia are focused on building and otherwise supporting their churches. Given their poverty, they are constantly on the alert for ways to generate church income so that they can plant more churches. Businesses are started and profits are invested for the sole purpose of building the church.
Peter and Judith Chipempele
Peter and Judith built a home with bricks that Christ Fellowship Church purchased three years ago. Now they are collecting bricks to build a church to replace the tent they meet in. They have two children and care for two family “orphans” in their tiny home. Recently, they received a generous donation and are wisely investing about half of it to generate an income stream. They also plan to purchase bricks by the truckload and then sell some of them for a modest profit. It is important that African churches develop income streams because donations are very low due to deep poverty.
Peter asked if we could send him some theology textbooks and Bible reference books. He has a love of learning, but no means to pay for formal education. Kalengule said any books we send would be passed around among the pastors for all to use. We are now making arrangements to send books to them.
Kennedy and Zelipa Musopelo
Kennedy and Zelipa just started a GCI church in Lilanda and face many difficulties. Kennedy told me that it was quite an honor to be visited in his home by the African mission developer and a US representative. Our visit significantly raised Kennedy’s credibility in the eyes of his family and community. The Lilanda congregation is very poor and they are behind on their rent of $20 a month. We donated enough to catch them up and pay for the next few months as they pursue options for generating an income stream. Their church meets in a school building with15 classrooms. Each classroom is used by a different denomination – all holding church at the same time. Sometimes they try to outdo each other in their worship and preaching. When the 15 churches end their services, 15 more groups come in for the next service.
Kennedy and Zelipa are looking for a way to raise funds so they can buy some land and build a church that can grow. They are outgrowing the school classroom and need to find a place to establish a church home for current and new members. They also need to find a new home to rent or build so they can get out of the family home. Kennedy loves to learn and is beginning a new diploma program in theology.
Chris and Bibiana Kalaba
Chris and Bibiana and their five children live in Chawama. They are tenants in a small home attached to two other homes. Chris is seeking higher education and Bibiana is seeking her first education. She hopes to one day study law so she can help support the church with her future income.
The Chawama congregation is growing fast. The Sunday before our visit, they had 150 adults and many children in attendance. The children have class outside the main hall during the worship service. Due to our visit, they expect attendance to rise even more. Having their own building has been a real blessing, but they are quickly outgrowing it. They have plans to build a larger building with a wall around it for protection. Once a month they have “Bring a Brick” services. Members bring a brick to church, or they will go as a group and each purchase a brick to carry back to the church. These bricks are stored in one of the rooms of the church. When they have enough bricks, they will begin construction.
Again, many noticed our arrival and departure. You are constantly reminded of the value and significance of visiting the pastor in his church and in his home. It is quite an honor for them in the eyes of the community (and it is an even bigger honor for us!).
Jack and Kabwe Banda
We visited the Banda’s congregation in Chongwe, where I gave the sermon. The church meets in a school, which is owned by a church member. They serve a very poor community and are actively reaching out and growing. They have a large children’s ministry. They use a blended form of worship, mixing traditional hymns with African worship music. The service was energetic and inspiring.
Pastor Jack loves to learn and has a desire to attend Grace Communion Seminary to further his education and work toward a Master’s Degree. We aren’t sure how that will work because of limited Internet access, but we will look into ways to help Jack and others benefit from Grace Communion Seminary.
Grace Communion International is rapidly growing in Zambia. There are many challenges, but the pastors and wives are dedicated to meeting them. Their dedication to their pastoral calling and to the Great Commission is inspiring and humbling. Please join in prayer for our brothers and sisters there.
The following report is from Samuel Mercado, national youth ministry leader for GCI in Mexico.
On November 19-21, 2011 the first Mexican youth camp was held in Maxamitla, in the Tiger Mountains about 135 kilometers from Guadalajara. About 38 youth from six GCI congregations attended.
The camp’s goals were to unite GCI Mexico youth, help them identify their spiritual gifts (and learn how those gifts relate to the gifts of others), and help them understand how they can take an active role in their churches back home.
The camp theme was “The Master’s Touch,” which centered on part of the “Journey with the Master” curriculum provided by GCI Generations Ministries.
Camp activities included singing and icebreakers, an evening bonfire, a tour of the nearby town and a hike to a nearby waterfall.
Camp instruction, which focused on the camp theme, included viewing the video Dust, which explores our calling to be disciples of Jesus and showing that Jesus has confidence in our ability to finish the work he has entrusted to us. Instruction also included a spiritual gifts inventory to help campers determine their dominant gifts (some discovered gifts they did not know they had!). Campers also completed an assessment to determine their personal relationship styles, learning how one style relates to another. Campers also wrote down their definition of the plan of salvation, then shared it with others. Finally, they filled out surveys concerning the camp and their local church to give input for making improvements.
The cost to the campers was subsidized, in part, by the GCI congregations in Tabasco and Guadalajara. Without this assistance, many would not have been able to attend.
Overall, the camp was a great success – no campers wanted to leave at departure time! New friendships were formed (and will be continued on a newly launched Facebook page). Campers showed great interest in becoming actively involved in God’s work through GCI in Mexico.