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