GCI Update
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Pat Evans

Jack Evans, pastor of GCI’s congregation in Kenai, Alaska, reports that his wife Pat continues to struggle with pain and cognitive impairment since being in an auto accident in 2016 (click here for a prayer request at the time).

Jack and Pat Evans

Recent medical tests indicate the possibility that Pat has autoimmune encephalitis. Further tests are planned to determine how to treat her medically. Jack notes that he and Pat are going through a lot of stress and uncertainty, though they know God is with them. Please lift them up in prayer. Cards may be sent to:

Pat and Jack Evans
308 James Street
Kenai AK 99611

Death of Jerry Backhus

R.I.P. (Rejoicing in Paradise) Gerald (“Jerry”) Bachus.

We were saddened to learn of Jerry’s recent death. He died at age 77 after many years of service to GCI in New Jersey as an elder and pastor.

Born in Clifton, NJ, in 1941, Jerry graduated from high school in 1958 then entered the Air Force and was stationed in the Azores. Following honorable discharge, he married Joan Sprick in 1964. Jerry and Joan (pictured together above) enjoyed a loving marriage for almost 50 years. Jerry was employed as a salesman for packaging and paper companies.

Jerry is survived by a son and daughter, eight grandchildren, and a sister. His wife Joan and his parents preceded him in death. A memorial service for Jerry was held on December 3 in Parkesburg, PA. Another is being planned for the spring in New Jersey. For information email Craig (CMBackhus@hotmail.com) or Kym (Kymberlys@verizon.net).

Here are excerpts from an obituary written by Jerry’s son-in-law:

I’ve been involved in the Emergency Medical Services for a large portion of my life and the most dreaded dispatch of all is when you hear your home address come across the airwaves followed by “A Cardiac Arrest!” I want to thank the Oxford Fire Company, Medic 94 of Southern Chester County EMS, and the Pennsylvania State Police for their expeditious response and heroic efforts. They worked tirelessly to revive Dad but God had other plans. We will miss him but we are comforted knowing he is at peace with his soulmate, Joan, who preceded him in death four years prior. I know he’s looking down on us now, smiling.

Johnstons’ daughter

GCI Publications Editor Ted Johnston and his wife Donna request prayer for their daughter Traci Calvert.

Ted, Donna and Traci

Six weeks ago Traci underwent surgery to rid her of large fibroids growing rapidly in her uterus. Following the hysterectomy, it was determined that one of the fibroids contained a rare and aggressive cancer (leiomyosarcoma). Thankfully, the surgery had removed these fibroids intact and a follow-up scan showed no evidence of remaining cancer. However, because this type of cancer often spreads, additional medical treatments are being considered.

Your prayers concerning treatment decisions and Traci’s healing are needed and appreciated. Please also pray for Traci’s husband Troy and their two pre-teen children, Lauren and Jack. It’s a trying time for the whole family. Cards to Traci and her family may be sent to:

Ted Johnston
12289 Venice Blvd.
Foley, AL 36535

California wild fires

Updated 7:00 pm (Central time zone), November 18.

The recent Camp Fire in Northern California and Woolsey Fire in Southern California are the most destructive in years. As of November 18, the death toll from the Camp Fire approaches 80, with over 1,000 people unaccounted for. Thankfully, all GCI members in the affected areas of both wild fires have been accounted for and found safe. The story is different, however, regarding the homes of some members in Northern California.

Larry and Judy

Larry Van Landuyt, pastor of GCI congregations in Chico and Redding, CA, lives with his wife Judy in Paradise, CA, site of the Camp Fire. He and Judy had little more than hours to pack up family photos and important papers before being forced to drive down a road lined on both sides by flames on November 11. Fortunately, they were able to stay with their daughter in Marysville after evacuating, but it was only by November 13 that they found out that their home and two investment properties along with a vehicle had been totally destroyed in the fire. They had just renovated one of the investment homes to sell. It was scheduled to go on the market this week. Below are before-and-after pictures of the Van Landuyt’s three homes, with the one they lived in on the left. (Click the pictures to enlarge.)

The home of another GCI member in the area apparently survived the fire, but she will have to remain with family in Corning for the time being. Several former GCI members also lived in Paradise, and all have been accounted for. All our members in Southern California (where the Woolsey Fire raged near Thousand Oaks) are also okay. One member couple’s home was in a mandatory evacuation area. Like most everyone in their community, they decided to stay and soak down their home with water hoses. Thankfully, their home was not damaged. Another member couple in a voluntary evacuation area also chose to stay. Thankfully, they too were spared. A single female member was evacuated the first night of the fire and went to a friend’s home. She was there only a couple of hours and had to evacuate again. It appears that the homes in her neighborhood were spared.

Please pray for the Van Landuyts and the many others who will need a speedy response from FEMA and other insurance providers. Larry Van Landuyt believes he and Judy will rebuild. For them Paradise has not been lost. To send Larry and Judy a note of encouragement, email them at larry.vanlanduyt@gci.org or post a comment below.

Heather Smithson

Prayer is requested for Heather Smithson, wife of GCI Canada elder Leigh Smithson. Heather has been diagnosed as having breast cancer. She will be having surgery in the near future. This year has already been a difficult one for her in terms of her health.

Cards may be sent to:

Leigh & Heather Smithson
2 Ireland Crescent
Red Deer AB T4R 3H2

Carn Catherwood

Over the years, we have prayed for Carn Catherwood, GCI board member and former pastor and administrator. Carn recently sent the following update concerning recent health challenges.

Joyce and Carn Catherwood

For the past four months, I’ve had a spate of serious health issues. But now I can report some very good news. Over three months ago, I was diagnosed with a large tumor in the upper colon. In mid-May my Gastro-Enterologist performed major abdominal surgery to remove it. The procedure required a re-sectioning of my colon. Thankfully, the tumor, though large, turned out to be benign. Because of the complexity of the surgery, I was in the hospital for 11 days.

Barely three weeks later, probably because of the shock caused by the surgery to my system, I had the worst Afib/Heart Flutter episode I’ve ever had (I’ve had them periodically for over 30 years). One night my heart-rate was so rapid and irregular that I fainted—my tail-bone was cracked when I hit the floor. My wife Joyce took me to the ER, and as soon as I sat down on a bed my heart rate plummeted to zero, which meant that I had no pulse and was only a few minutes away from dying. A little Asian nurse did CPR compressions on my chest for several minutes and managed to get my heart started again twice. But as soon as it began to beat, my heart rate shot up again. My Cardiologist ordered an emergency heart ablation which was performed the next day. During an ablation a catheter is used to burn away the tissues of the heart that contain defective nerve pathways that cause the heart circuits to misfire. It’s a procedure with some risk and isn’t always successful. But mine was. Praise God.

After eight days in the ICU, I was released, feeling pretty beat-up and shaky. Slowly, my strength has been coming back. Today, three months later, my heart is beating normally and my Electrophysiologist feels the procedure was a success. There appears to be no lasting damage to my heart and the Cardiologist states it should keep me going “until you’re at least 100” (his words).

I am grateful to God for his love, his amazing grace and his presence during those crazy, very scary moments. To him be all the honor and the glory. My sincerest thanks to all of you for your love and prayers.

Cards may be sent to:

Carn and Joyce Catherwood
3941 Andrew Avenue
Denton, TX 76210-3234

Death of James Jackson

We were saddened to learn of the recent death of James Jackson, GCI member, deacon and former Ambassador College employee.

James F. Jackson

James was born in 1925 in Arkansas. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1944 and served in the Central Pacific, Japan and then during the Korean War where he was wounded in combat and received the Purple Heart. He returned stateside in 1952 and married Esther Glover. In 1958 he was honorably discharged from the military and went to work for Ambassador College in Pasadena, CA. He and his family then moved to Big Sandy, TX, in 1964 and James worked at the newly opened Ambassador College campus. He retired in 1990 after 26 years of service. James also served for 55 years as a deacon in GCI’s Big Sandy, TX, congregation. He helped care for the widows and led the Silver Ambassadors.

That James also actively served the community is evidenced by twice receiving the Big Sandy Senior Citizen of the Year award, and once receiving the Christian Community Service Award. The Texas Highway Department also honored James for his work leading the Big Sandy congregation in picking up litter along local highways.

James is survived by his wife Esther Ann Jackson, a son, two daughters, seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Always a kind and caring gentleman, he exemplified the Marine Corps motto: Semper Fidelis (Always Faithful).

Cards may be sent to:

Esther Jackson
654 N Pearl St.
Big Sandy, TX 75755

Death of Steve Burns

We were saddened to learn of the recent death of retired GCI pastor Steve Burns.

Steve Burns

Steve Wayne Burns of Fort Smith, AR, died Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018 at age 71. Steve is survived by his wife, Silvia; a son, Ryan Burns; a stepson, Juan Bernal; two sisters; a brother; and four grandchildren.

Steve graduated from Ambassador College in 1970. He then served as an elder in west Texas, and later entered vocational ministry and pastored the GCI congregation in Harrisburg, PA.

Due to illnesses, Steve had to retire from employed ministry. He and his wife Silvia then moved to the Fort Smith, AR, area. After two serious falls he was hospitalized on September 10 and died on Sept 13.

Cards may be sent to:

Sylvia Burns
3305 S. 68th Circle
Fort Smith, AR 72903-6136

David Sheridan

David Sheridan, pastor of GCI’s congregation in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, had triple coronary artery bypass surgery on September 10. The Sheridan family reports that the surgery used two arteries to bypass 3 vessels, which is both amazing and uncommon.

The surgery was very successful, with no complications. David’s recovery is going well and he is in good spirits as attested by this picture of his ride home from the hospital:

Cards may be sent to:

David Sheridan
101 Cramond Close SE
Calgary, AB T3M 1C1