Evangelist THE BRETHREN
Vol 132, No. 1 Jan/Feb 2010
DEDICATED TO ADVANCING THE LIFE AND MINISTRIES OF THE BRETHREN CHURCH
NEW DAY, New Year By the time you read this you all will be well into the New Year calendarwise, but the real challenge for us all, however, is to do more than embrace each day as it arrives. More than observing the calendar, we must strive to understand the times and how we can respond individually and together as congregations to changes we see around us. Historians help us understand how the whole known world was already in a rapid state of change at the very time God came to us as the Savior. These changes might appear as just another round of developments in the history of humankind. However when we compare the work of God against the background of history we understand that Jesus was born at a unique and strategic moment in history for the communication of the gospel. History really is His Story. It was at just the right time that Christ was born. We are living at a time of incredible change, and of course not all of it is good. What was up is now down, and
vice versa. Who would have predicted the demise of some of our institutions, corporations, our economy, our leaders, or our heroes? Who would have guessed the new entities that are moving into their places? I truly believe we are living at one of those “right times.” Someone recently said that God has truly blessed this generation to allow us to be alive at such a critical moment in history. All of the change around us is opening new doors of opportunity for each person and congregations together to advance our commission and advance the Kingdom. Dear friends, the one thing we must not do is to keep the blinders on and refuse to acknowledge that we are living at such a tremendous time of change and opportunity. Additionally we must not allow ourselves to simply think that we can continue to do the same things better. Those of us who serve you here from the Brethren Church National Office have no answers for your next steps. You have the answers. No one can discern next steps but you. What we can do is ask good questions to help draw out observations that you otherwise might not have imagined. We can also provide breadth of exposure. We work closely with many leaders and congregations all at once. We can help you see the forest and the trees because we are in
a position to have a wide-angle view. What we don’t have is context. That’s where you come in. You alone have the answers, and we can help you find them. We need each other. Give us a call (toll-free at 1-877-2891708) to begin a crucial conversation about the some of the questions that you might pursue. Additionally, with this issue we are beginning to tell some of the great stories of how God is working amid our vision and values. Along with each of these stories we will be showing a “sidebar” which will include some great questions for thought and discussion that might lead to ministry implementation. So pastors and lay leaders; why not take this issue with you to your next board or ministry meeting and take just five minutes to ask what part of the sidebar might fit into your discussion at the next meeting? These are real stories from real Brethren churches along with some great questions to help you draw insight for your own unique implementation. Finally, we remind you that General Conference is not that far away! We are asking pastors everywhere to begin to work and prepare now with key local leaders in planning to attend on July 19-22, on the campus of Ashland University. Anyone can attend! But really, local lay leaders are the ones who truly represent each congregation and are the ones we will equip with great new questions, leading to new ideas, leading to new expressions of mission from each congregation, leading to community transformation: lost people finding the fullness of life offered in Jesus Christ. We have the best of the best coming to lead us with their own great questions. Read now, prepare for tomorrow, plan to join us in July!
Executive Director The Brethren Church
Relational … Missional … Sustainable … Reproducing … Global
CHURCH PLANTING Do You Have What It Takes?
Paul Stanley Stockton, California Many of us have heard great stories of church planting and the blessings that come along with seeing an infant congregation actually get off the ground and become an active, viable part of the community of God. I am sure that many of us have likewise considered how we might be a part of something like that, only to perhaps talk ourselves out of pursuing it because we think we might not have what it takes. We certainly do not want to undertake such a monumental task only to be seen as a failure if it does not work out. Trust me when I tell you that all of those thoughts have passed through our minds here in Northern California as we have undertaken the task of partnering with MissioChurch and Viseth and Socheata Hou to launch the Carson Oaks Cambodian Community Church. We have learned however, over the last several months, that when God desires to plant a church, the only thing that stands in the way is our willingness to understand his vision, and our willingness to do the work that it takes to make the church plant work. You might ask how one knows if a church plant in their area is something that God wants. The answer is quite simple: first, you must pray. I am not talking about a passing acknowledgment to God about the possibility of a church plant. I mean real, on your knees, seeking God kind of prayer. If you have met Viseth and Socheata, you know exactly what I am talking about! Secondly, open your eyes and watch what God presents to you. Our experience started several years ago when I went on a mission trip to the Philippines with Darren Sen, who is Cambodian. We talked about how great it would be if we could do some church plants in Cambodia someday and how we could pull it off. When we had district conference in California two months later, we
were told of a Cambodian man who just entered ATS (Ashland Theological Seminary) who had the desire to go to Cambodia to plant churches! We knew then that God might just be up to something. Meanwhile, Viseth and his wife began ministering in Ashland and the surrounding areas, seeking out Cambodians they could lead to Christ and begin fellowship with. As graduation approached there was talk of the Houâ€™s going to the east coast. But in talking with Bill Ludwig, Ken Hunn, and Dave Cooksey, Viseth and Socheata saw God leading them to ministry in the Brethren Church and more conversation about the vision to minister to fellow Cambodians led them to discover that one of the largest (if not the largest) concentration of Cambodians in the United States was in Stockton, California. It just so happens that in Stockton there is an already-established Brethren church with people who have a vision for ministry to Cambodians and who have the same ultimate goal as the Houâ€™s: to eventually land in Cambodia to plant churches! The good folks at MissioChurch and the BCNO had the wisdom to contact us as quickly as possible, and when they did, things really started to fall into place. But we will talk about that as we go along. The bottom line is that if God shows you that he desires to plant a church in your area, all that you have to do is be willing. Willing to listen, and willing to work. If you possess these two things and God is calling you to do this, you DO have what it takes. It has not been easy, but what has God called you to that is? This is an ever-unfolding story and it has been trying as well as exciting and we have seen tremendous moves by God in the process. I look forward to sharing them with you as we unfold the story of what being a parent church in this NEW DAY vision with MissioChurch and the BCNO looks like!
Questions for Prayer, Thought, & Application * Pastor Paul Stanley honestly shares his fear of failure regarding church planting. What fears would you need to face down in order to attempt a church plant or some other new leading of God? * Seeking God earnestly in prayer is listed as a key ingredient in attempting new things. What new thing is God calling you to do, and what would it look like in your setting to seek God with your whole heart? * Carson Oaks Community Church was strategically positiioned to launch a Cambodian church. How is God shaping you for a new venture? * What hard task is God calling you to embrace in the power of the Holy Spirit?
MOBILIZATION: The Brethren Church decided almost a decade ago to connect with the biblical understandings of “church” and “health” as described in the organic language of Christian Schwarz’s Natural Church Development. Currently 41 Brethren congregations have attempted to use, or are using the NCD process and tools to help pursue great Kingdom effectiveness. One of the most helpful partnerships for that process is with CoachNet, the organization developed by Dr. Robert Logan. They have, by far, the greatest volume of resources and tools related to the NCD process, as well as a wealth of resources for planting healthy churches and ongoing leadership development. This article by Jeannette Slater was posted recently on CoachNet’s web site. It speaks to a situation many of our congregations have found themselves in at some point as they try to move toward increased health and effectiveness. If your church leadership team is on the NCD journey, or perhaps has “tried NCD once” with little or no positive results, maybe something Jeannette offers can spur your thinking. Read it thoughtfully. Take time to discuss with your leaders, and wrestle with a few good questions: * What have we learned so far about ourselves? * What actions have we taken as a result of what we’ve learned? * If we’re feeling stuck in the process, what things could we do to take some good next-steps forward? * Where do we need guidance, and have we asked for help? * By what date will we get started again?
MAINTAINING MOMENTUM by Jeannette Slater
Executive NCD Coach
Dear Jeannette, I got our church interested in NCD. We even pulled together a church health team and took the NCD survey. After we got the survey results back we lost momentum. I’ve had trouble getting our church health team to meet so that we can take the next step. Where did we go wrong? What can we do to get things going again? And how can we keep the momentum going? Signed, Stymied Dear Stymied, Recently I’ve heard of several churches that are in the same place. There was some initial excitement about NCD but that excitement didn’t carry over into continuing with the NCD process. Several issues could contribute to this scenario. First, initial excitement is not necessarily equal to commitment. I’ve written previously about the importance of gaining commitment (CoachNet members can find this article in the NCD network). You need a strong commitment first from the church decisionmaking body and second from the church health team. This needs to be a commitment to engaging the whole process, not just to taking the survey. If that commitment is lacking, it may be time for a “come-to-Jesus meeting” to help the church health team re-commit to the NCD process. Also, people are used to shortterm concrete projects and are not comfortable working with a long-term process. So naturally there will be some passive resistance to continue. The church health team training will help them understand the NCD process and roles in the process.
What often happens is that when the results of the NCD survey are received, the team could experience the ‘emotional tollbooth’ (also an article in the NCD network) and be unable to move past it. Or they could move on and accept the results and then feel like they’ve done the NCD and yet not have a sense of urgency to do anything about the minimum factor. Another issue that can kill momentum is getting buried in the details. Some people feel they need to know all the details before they can even take the first step. NCD is a process and a journey by faith. A helpful question to consider is, “In light of what we know, what’s the next step?” Your coach should be able to help your team determine next steps. Find a date on which most of your team can be present
and invite your coach to be there either in person or on a conference call to help you move forward. Energy transformation is one of the growth forces. This is a key to momentum. Recognize where the energy is and capitalize on that energy. A high point of energy is when the survey results are received. One way to help a church health team maintain momentum is to have the team calendar out the NCD process on their own church calendar (see church health team training for details on how to do this or ask your coach). The church health team can do this before they receive their results or immediately after they receive their results. I suggest doing this planning the same day or even before the team gets their results. Any lag time between getting their results and planning the NCD process on their church calendar will result in a loss of precious energy. Lack of clarity of next step will also result in loss of momentum. Finally, as your church continues through the NCD process, an important way to maintain momentum is to celebrate small wins along the way. Don’t wait until the end of the NCD cycle to celebrate. If you see ways the church is experiencing positive change as a result of the NCD process or if you see initial results from your plans, share those with the church and celebrate together. This will encourage people to stay with the process to see what else God will do. Momentum is critical for any longterm process. Continually look for ways to encourage the church health team and the church to stay the course and complete the NCD cycle. Celebrations at the end of the cycle will empower the church to begin another cycle toward church health. © 2009 by CoachNet Used by permission
NCD is a process and a journey by faith. A helpful question to consider is, “In light of what we know, what’s the next step?” Perhaps some of the CoachNet Resources combined with asking good questions of a coach can help your team recapture that forward momentum as together we move into a new year of ministry. Let us know how we can resource your journey by contacting Gary Diehl at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling the National Office at 877-289-1708.
Brethren Peace Initiative Peace-full Greetings once again from Brethren Peace Initiative: Although we have communicated with you readers a few times over the past two years, our Peace Leadership Team welcomes this opportunity to become a visitor in your home on a regular basis through the Brethren Evangelist. Executive Director Ken Hunn has made this privilege possible, in reply to our inquiry, by encouraging us to prepare a “column” — sometimes longer, sometimes short — for every one of the six issues per year. We are pleased to be able to do that, and we’ll attempt to make each submission informative, interesting, and inspirational — all related to our biblical and Brethren historical callings to be workers for peace and justice in all areas of our lives as believers in Jesus. Speaking of biblical, latch on to these exhortations of the Apostle Paul in Romans 12:10-21: great suggestions for followers of Jesus who want to be peacemakers: * Love one another with mutual affection. * Outdo one another in showing honor. * Persevere in prayer. * Bless those who persecute you. * Live in harmony with one another. * Do not claim to be wiser than you are. * Do not repay anyone evil for evil. * Never avenge yourselves. *** And the underlying peacemaking principle: OVERCOME EVIL WITH GOOD! LOGO: The newly-designed logo on this page is the creative work of Rich Hagopian, pastor of the Smoky Row Brethren Church in Columbus, Ohio, and a member of our Peace Leadership Team. Thanks, Rich, for your simple and distinctive design. A FABLE: “Tell me the weight of a snowflake,” a coal-mouse asked a wild dove. (A coal-mouse is a small species of titmouse, a little bird with a black head.) “Nothing more than nothing,” was the answer. “In that case I must tell you a marvelous story,” the coal-mouse said. “I sat on a branch of a fir tree, close to its trunk, when it began to snow, not heavily, not in a giant blizzard, no, just like in a dream, without any violence. Since I didn’t have anything better to do, I counted the snowflakes settling on the twigs and needles of my branch. Their number was exactly 3,741,952. When the next snowflake dropped onto the branch — nothing more than nothing, as you say — the branch broke off.” Having said that, the coal-mouse flew away. The dove, since Noah’s time an authority on the matter, thought about the story for awhile and finally said to herself: “Perhaps there is only one person’s voice lacking for peace to come about in the world.” (From New Fables Thus Spoke, “The Caribou” by Kurt Kauter. Quoted from PEACEMAKING: Day by Day, a Pax Christi USA publication.) Keeping Peace in Mind, Phil Lersch, Facilitator (St. Petersburg, FL) for the Brethren Peace Leadership Team: Matt Black (Columbus, OH), Rich and Carolyn Hagopian (Columbus, OH), Ryan Gilmer, (Ashland, OH), Mark and Chantal Logan (Bridgewater, VA) Note: To visit our link on the Brethren Church web site, Google Brethren Peace Initiative, click on the top entry, and begin with the April, 2009 article to read all six installments of a Peace Sermon by Dr. Brenda Colijn of Ashland Theological Seminary.
2010 Youth Convention July 19-22, Ashland University
Taylor Mason (entertainment) He is a ventriloquist. He is a musician. He is a stand-up comic. He is a writer. TAYLOR MASON has lots of skills, none with any application to real life. Nonetheless, he carved out a career in comedy and show business that has taken him around the world and into living rooms across the USA for the past 25 years. He’s appeared on a myriad of television programs, he has won awards, he’s played Carnegie Hall, and he’s written a book for Penguin Publishing. Having graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in agriculture (fertile training ground for any comedian!), followed by a master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern (in advertising — he could have written beer commercials!), TAYLOR MASON has never held a “real” job. His experience as a comedy writer and performer has taken him from The Second City Theater in Chicago to headlining gigs at every major comedy club across the country. He’s as comfortable writing and executing humor for corporate clients like Microsoft and Wal-Mart as he is doing a show for teens or children on a Disney cruise ship. He’s performed for countless church functions. He’s done bar mitzvahs and synagogue shows. He continues to sell out comedy clubs and is requested at college campuses. This is not the kind of act that draws media attention or big-time television sitcom deals or lucrative movie offers. TAYLOR MASON stays out of the bedroom and out of the bathroom (which sets him apart from most comedy acts today) and concentrates on jokes and punch lines. He respects people’s differences and concentrates on getting laughs. He gives great effort every time he takes the stage.
SING LOVE SING (worship band) Hailing from Indianapolis, Sing Love Sing is looking to the future with great anticipation. Whether it be writing, recording, production, or just jumping around on a stage somewhere, the guys in the band have come into their own as souls filled with a song. Each has a passion to see music take people from all over the world into the presence of the living God. Bottom line, their prayer is that the music they make will allow each and every listener to come closer to Jesus Christ. Drummer Jeremy Hendricks put it best when he said, “Outside of discovering who Christ is, nothing else really matters.” Come journey with the band as they seek to give all glory, honor, and praise to the One who sits on the throne!
Paul Stanley (speaker) Paul Stanley is the senior pastor of Carson Oaks Community Church, located in Stockton, California. Paul graduated from Ashland Theological Seminary with an M.Div. in 2005. He and his wife Barbara have been married 17 years and they have one son, Caleb. They love living and serving God in an area where they can experience God’s creation either at the beach, or in the Sierra Nevada Mountaints with just a short drive! Paul’s passion is seeing people understand who they are in Christ and seeing them become what God has created them to be. Paul is looking forward to worshipping God at Engage and watching the love and understanding of the true God fall on young men and women who are purposed to take their generation by storm!
Women’s Outlook Newsletter A P u b l i c a t i o n o f t h e Wo m e n’s M i s s i o n a r y S o c i e t y J a n u a r y / Fe b r u a r y 2 0 1 0 Vo l u m e 2 3 , N u m b e r 3
The President’s Pen Dear Sisters, You know how at Christmas time the spirit of giving is so strong all around us. And we think of the example of Jesus and all that He gave up to be born here on earth, and all that He gave to everyone around Him during His ministry, until He finally gave the ultimate for us, His life. Every Christmas I feel all warm and happy about giving to those around me. And every New Year I resolve to be more considerate and generous from now on. And every year about now I think “Oh, great! I’ve blown it again!” Well, if Jesus is to be the model for the way we live our lives, giving is something we should be doing all the time. I recently read some good thoughts on the subject in a Daily Bread devotional. The author encouraged us to give the gifts of: listening when someone needs to talk, showing affection and compassion, sending cards or notes, giving a sincere compliment, and sharing laughter. I added some other things to my list of possible gifts: a surprise visit, running an errand, doing yard work or other chores, a funny internet greeting, providing a meal or some baked goods, a coupon for an activity together, or an anonymous financial gift. I’m sure each of you could think of a dozen more ideas. And our giving would vary according to our talents and circumstances. Now these ideas that I’ve mentioned are all easy things. So why do I have trouble doing them? Most of them take very little money. However, most of them would take some time, and I can be very stingy with that. I am very capable of finding things that I want to do to
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Missionary Miscellany I n t e rnational missionaries-oft h e - m onth for JANUARY are José and Norma Rivero in Buenos Aires; Eduardo Rodriguez in Colón; Monica Romero in Colón; Victor and Mable Alesandroni, and Edy and Liliana Hoogendorn — all in Argentina, South America. The national missionaries are Tim and Jan Solomon in Sarasota, Florida. The Solomons supervise the Florida branch of the South America Theological Seminary. The FEBRUARY missionaries-of-themonth are Claudio and Karina Castellis in Asunción Paraguay, SA. Reggie and Julie Harvey at the United Community Brethren Church in Dayton, OH are the national missionaries. DAVID AND JENNY LOI, our missionaries in Malaysia, were the international December missionaries. They traveled in China in November 2009 and sent this report: How Great Thou Art Praise that we came back safely on November 25. Our God is a great and faithful God. We witnessed His mighty work in China. The greatest miracle is salvation — 12 persons prayed to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. 72 persons gave testimonies that God had healed their physical illnesses: migraine headaches, blurred visions, flu, colds, neck and back pains, heart and gastric problems, etc. And 50 persons gave testimonies that they had inner healing. Their hurts were healed; they were freed from curses and bondage. They felt peace and comfort in their hearts. They felt the power of the Holy Spirit on them. Their spirits were revived. Hallelujah! Glory To God! Prophetic Words Came to Pass What a wonderful God we serve! He often gives prophetic words to us through different people before we go on China mission trips. As early as May
30, soon after we came back from US trip, an Australian prophetess prayed for us. She said, “God is saying that there is a new door that He will open for you and you will go through it. And you will feel that it is a familiar place. It will be like China was many years ago. It will feel like a familiar place, but it’s a new door.” Normally, we go to different churches at different areas which we do not know in advance. But the first church we visited during this trip was the church in a village in Zhoukou which we had visited in the spring this year. Then the church was small. It was packed and there was no place to move. David prophesied to tear down the place and build a bigger one. They immediately took action. Now their church can accommodate more than 200 people. We believe they wanted us to visit their new church to show that David’s prophetic words came to pass. The day we arrived at the village, it started to snow (a month earlier than usual), the first snow this winter. The ice caused the electricity wires to breakdown, so there was no electricity for 2 days. It looked familiar because we had been there before. It was like China in the old days because - with no electricity - we had to use candles for light. It was cold! We went to two other places which had no electricity for 2 days due to other reasons. For us, it was a short time only, but the people who are living there suffer. They don’t have heating system in the house. We have to wear coats indoors. Apart from the church that we had visited, we now move to a new district (a new door) to serve with new leaders, but still in Henan Province.
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Each year we are interested in your local activities of outreach and support for your local youth. This winter plan a new activity for yourselves, letting some of these doings be the germ that sparks your ideas. Contact the local president for more information. SOUTHEAST DISTRICT
Bethlehem: sent cards to missionaries; contribute money and save labels for Riverside Christian School (RCS); two members do children’s stories during worship; sent thank-you card to author of each month’s devotional article. Linwood: helped sponsor one youth to Brazil for 5-week mission trip; sent special gift for teachers at RCS; had a stay-athome tea for World Day of Prayer. Oak Hill: sent money to USO to provide phone cards to troops: wrote letters and cards to our college-age students, reminding them that we loved and prayed for them; supported our youth with their projects for camp, conference, and various trips. St. James: sent cards to missionaries each month, each member writing a short encouragement note; prepared and served meal for local Rescue Mission; collected children’s clothing for needy families; packed health kits at New Windsor MD, center for overseas; auctioned donated gifts with money designated for RCS. St Luke: raised funds via bake sales and 30 pieces of silver. NORTHEAST DISTRICT Berlin: sent cards to all missionaries; supported Operation Christmas Child; support local youth group. Brush Valley: gave money monthly to needy family; three members made a quilt and sold it by silent auction to help with projects. Masontown: supported RCS with
clothing, love gifts for teachers, saving box tops and stamps; supported missionaries with birthday cards and prayers. Pleasant View: prayed at each meeting for missionaries and church planters; financially support the one assigned by district; sent clothes, jewelry, educational labels, soup labels, and canceled postage stamps to RCS; members worked with kids’ church ministry; encouraged youth in their school-related projects and camp. Raystown: provided youth with a Kentucky Fried Chicken dinner after they fasted for a hunger program; contributed monthly to local food bank. ValleyBrethren (Jones Mills): prayed and corresponded with all missionaries; sent birthday and anniversary cards; sent financial support, Box Tops for Education, canceled stamps, Campbell labels for RCS; sold RADA knives. OHIO DISTRICT Beacon of Hope: sold cheese balls and hot drink mixes at Christmas; in June have an annual flea market. New Lebanon Afternoon: earned funds for social outreach through sales projects, garage sales, and bazaars. Park Street Joy: invited guests to a carry-in dinner with special emphasis on missions, presented by James and Jenn Pinto; worked one day at Camp Bethany preparing the kitchen for camp; sent Christmas love gift to staff at RCS; sent stamps and box tops for education for RCS. Trinity Junioretttes: did outreach through monthly offerings and selling entertainment books. Trinity Sr.: supported Haven of Rest ministry and Miranda radio ministry; purchased bunk beds for church. Williamstown: supported RCS by holding an auction and contributing all funds; sent new toys to RCS. INDIANA DISTRICT Burlington: wrapped Christmas gifts at Kokomo Rescue Mission for the needy; donated money to Open Arms, a women’s shelter in Kokomo. Corinth: sent cards each month to our college students; gave mon-
ey to some in need; remembered shut-ins at Valentine’s Day; helped fire victims by giving a blanket; adopted a child in India. Cornerstone: supported youth through Dinners for Campers during September – April (excluding December) – the first Sunday of each month a meal was provided after church, the freewill offering supported Camp Shipshewana campers. County Line: operated the church’s food pantry that served people in two counties; provided food baskets to needy; operated the After School program for 18-20 children each evening – kids are given snacks and help with homework; at their Mother-Daughter banquet an auction of 21 gently used purses and one new Vera Bradley purse netted $300, designated for a new missionary family serving in Albania. Dutchtown: each became a prayer partner with a missionary; provided food for a couple for 3 months from Angel Tree ministry; supplied a mitten tree; had a potato bake for Cross Bars ministry. Flora: supported financially as well as prayerfully. Huntington: sent cards and prayers to missionaries. Loree I: filled shoe boxes and paid postage for Operation Christmas Child; contributed to Maria Miranda’s radio ministry; sent clothing for Cross Bars ministry. Loree Charity: supported youth with their garage sale and spaghetti dinner, raising funds to attend a religious movie; gave wedding and baby showers for all young people. Mexico: filled shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child – the church was a collect6ion center and checked all boxes before delivering them to a state center; supported Birthright with contributions, gave gifts for the Center in lieu of exchange, heard their speaker from Kokomo; contributed diapers and kid supplies for Peru Birthright Center monthly; contributed money to Salvation Army, Helping Hands, Hispanic radio ministry, Kumars, and Riley Children’s Hospital Guild; collected mittens and scarves for area schools; two members were part of work team to RCS and contributed money for industrial mops; provided food for one of six district Lenten services. New Paris: made cot blankets for RCS; served meals and contributed money to visiting RCS team; served breakfast to
Women’s Outlook Newsletter
congregation with contributions designated for missions. North Manchester: sent 32 Valentines and fast-food gift cards to college students; prayed at each meeting for them. Oakville: sent cards to missionaries; contributed money to India, RCS, and young lady going to Bogota, Colombia, to teach English in a children’s home. Roanoke: cards and prayers to national and international missionaries. South Bend: supported Luvability Ministries to developmentally disabled, Indian orphanage and Cross Bars; sent stamps, coupons, and Christmas presents to RCS; made cookies with youth for camp scholarships. South Bend Women Meant to Serve: formed “Young Women Meant to Serve,” mentored and included them in all activities; “Love Covers” fleece blanket ministry; Easter baskets for shut-ins; ladies tea to thank our supporters in May. Tiosa: supported Amy Helt, missionary from the church; purchased a bed for Peru orphanage; monthly provided 3-4 Angel Food baskets for unemployed. Wabash: collected canned food and miscellaneous articles for food pantries, each Sunday is designated for specific categories, i.e. paper, personal, food, hats, gloves, scarves; sent money to RCS. Warsaw: prepared “Replanting Lives” kits for refugees for World Relief; promoted “Pinching Our Pennies” in January, February, March, when congregation brought pennies. CENTRAL DISTRICT Cerro Gordo: sent monthly support for a teacher at RCS. Lanark: served two soup luncheons and designated free-will offerings for Peru missions and ATS students: gave baby gifts to community Pitter Patter pantry; gave groceries for local food pantry. SOUTHWEST DISTRICT Tucson Faith, Hope and Charity: promoted missions with a Missionary Board in fellowship hall, using pictures, world map and localities marked, and mission moment one Sunday per month during worship; in December names are exchanged for Secret Prayer Sister and, in her honor, love gifts are sent to RCS; sponsored David and
Jenny Loi’s visit to our church, hosted a potluck meal for the congregation, and learned many aspects of their ministry in Malaysia and China; sponsored Todd Ruggles’ visit after conference and learned his family’s blessings and struggles in Mexico City; sent monthly support for an orphan girl and a pastor in India; gave scholarships to summer campers. Two societies — Milford, IN, and Carson Oaks, CA — sent detailed reports of their monthly activities. Instead of my consolidating their reports, you may read their activities in the March-April Newsletter. Meanwhile, use one or some of these ideas to broaden your usual spring activities. An oftenquoted scriptural verse is James 1:25, Be ye doers of the Word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. Doing is an active verb, we don’t just sit when we do! Don’t think you are busy when you do nothing. Be an encourager, be a pray-er, and be a doer. Norma has more suggestions.
Missionary Miscellany (continued) Mission of Grace and Compassion Bruce and Marylou Wilkinson wrote to say that God was sending us on a mission of grace, to show God’s compassion. It was a mission of grace not only for the Chinese people, it was for us too!. Oh, if not for God’s grace, we would not have come home safely. By grace, we left for Shanghai 2 days earlier before coming back. But after we arrived in Shanghai, David had sore throat, running nose, cough, mouth ulcers, and fever for 2 days. Prior to that, we had running noses almost every morning. God was gracious to give us extra time to rest in Shanghai. Jenny anointed David with anointing oil and prayed for him. She was the watchman. The fever came and goes. For all we know, David could have had H1N1! But we had the faith that God would heal David before we leave Shanghai to come home because a Pastor Wong in Bintulu had prophetic words
from God. He prayed that we have “faith anointing.” He also said that we would bring God’s love and compassion to the people in China. By faith, we claim these words because we believe our God is a faithful God. He will never go back on His words. We believe they have received faith anointing, love, and compassion. The fact that God already healed the people with the symptoms that David had, we were very sure that God would heal David. There is no reason He healed the others and not David. Praise that the day we were to go to the airport Nov. 24, the fever came down and David was healed completely! The small door we went through! That something important behind the door is FAITH. During the days of persecution, the house-church Christians had a lot of faith in God and they even sacrificed their lives. Just imagine if David had to see the doctor for health problem. It could mean David had to be isolated, we have to give in detail our whereabout during the past 2 weeks and the people we were in contact with, we would not only expose our identities but also the local Christians’ identities. Though China is more open now, house-church Christians still have to be very careful. Everyone had to go through temperature scanning when we arrived at KL International Airport. It would have been troublesome if David had fever! It would mean questionnaires and isolation! The weather was very cold because it was in the winter month, when we went and also it started to snow a month earlier. We believe this was in God’s plan in order to accomplish His purpose. Our hands and feet were frozen and our feet were hurting a lot. Our feet only recovered 8 days after we came home. By grace, a sister-in-Christ gave us an electric warming pad to warm our hands or it would have been worse. Praise the Lord. By His grace we had overcome the problems. Thank you for your faithful support in prayers and in finance so we can continue to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, teach the unchanging Word of God, and expect the mighty and miraculous power of the Holy Spirit. For we know it is “not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord Almighty (Zechariah 4:6). To God Be the Glory! In His Service, David and Jenny Loi
NOW SEE T HIS: (1) Directory change: Please make this change in the local societies section of the Directory, which was in the previous Newsletter. Indiana District: College Corner - Cindy Klinger, president, 5690 S 400W, Wabash, IN 46992 (2) Scholarships to Ashland University Annually the Women’s Missionary Society gives scholarships to Brethren women who will be seniors in 2010-2011 at Ashland University. Very soon Phyllis Roussakis, president, will send the application form to those whom we know. Alert your daughter or those in your church to watch for Phyllis’s letter. (3) At the January Board meeting, Cheryl Schmiedt announced her resignation as editor of the Devotional Guide, effective after Conference 2010. Study the current Devotional Guide. If you are interested, and have the ability to write, please indicate your interest to Phyllis Roussakis, president. (4) Each year when the WMS budget is presented, you hear the words that a sum of money was given from the estate of individual(s). These funds are listed under the term Legacy Fund and are invested. Only the interest is used annually. Last year the Legacy Fund interest ($3,200) was used for Missionaries’ Emergency Medical Fund (MEMF). In previous years the Legacy Fund was designated for one AU Chapel memorial window, the South America Seminary in Florida, training for pastors in Malaysia, repair of the Indian orphanage, and acquisition of property in India. This summer approximately $3,200 will be available again for another missions project. It is a wise decision to designate a percentage or a specific amount of your estate for missions. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” Matthew 6:21. (5) Remember the project for this year is helping to refurbish Camp DeQuecito
The Editor’s Ending in Cordoba, SA. Your offerings may be brought to Conference (July 19-22) or mailed to Joanne Kroft, financial secretary, 608 Twp. Rd. 1151, Rt. 5, Ashland, OH 44805.
The President’s Pen (continued) fill my day. But since the Lord is the One who gives me every hour of every day, you would think I would want to use that time in ways that would please Him. My other problem with being more giving is that I just do not have as much compassion as Jesus had. Okay. I know nobody has THAT much, but I’m way down on the scale. I need to pray daily for the Spirit to help me care more about those around me and less about myself. So, if I ever get my priorities straight, my life will show it in the amount of giving that I do, not only of money, but also of my time and abilities. And, if each of us ladies were loving and giving like Jesus, just think what we could do in our WMS groups! They would become so exciting, we’d hardly be able to wait until the next meeting to see how much we could give and how many we could help! Isn’t that part of the purpose of our organization? WMS was not formed so that we could come together once a month for a business meeting and refreshments. One of its stated purposes is to support mission; another one is to teach Christian womanhood. Both of those things involve a lot of giving. And the Bible tells us to do that giving generously and cheerfully. Well, ladies, I’m going to work harder on my individual spirit of giving. And if any of you are all set in that department, why don’t you work on how our WMS groups can be more giving, too— not only on the local level, but the district and national levels as well. It’ll just feel like Christmas all year long! In Him, Norma Waters Ohio District President
Dear Friend, You are indeed Women Meant to Serve, and you do! It is good to read about your projects and ministry to your youth. Your outreach into the community, throughout the US, and into other countries is taking Christ to the world. This is our mission, just as Norma wrote. Don’t be comfortable and content with your deeds of kindness. Think outside the box, stretch your ideas, and continue to serve Him. Special accolades to South Bend Women Meant to Serve who formed “Young Women Meant to Serve” and mentor them. During the holidays, we wished Happy New Year to many! I was quite surprised when someone said, “Happy Decade!” Surprised? More than that. I was perplexed! For one thing, it doesn’t quite have the happy sound to it. And I can handle one year’s greeting, but a decade? Then I thought, Let’s start with Happy New Day. One day at a time, like God’s compassion, which is new every morning, Lamentations 3:23. Mary Carolyn Davies captured my thoughts in her poem, “A Vow for New Year’s”. “Every hour and every minute Has a New Year’s Day tucked in it And each single one of these Is packed with possibilities — Possibilities of pleasure, Of sharing with some friend some treasure, Of making a “Good morning” cheery -Making a good one from a dreary -Of shutting tight the lips to hide A bit of gossip safe inside Instead of letting it get out To roam about and maybe do More harm than you would like it to. Let us take a little vow, Since it is the New Year now, To be more kind, more brave, more gay This year and make each single day That comes a model New Year’s Day!” Happy New Day! Your friend,
the Next chapter Jeremy McClung
On November 9th, 2008 Muskoka Community Church (Huntsville, ON Canada) held its first public Sunday gathering at an elementary school. This came after a whole year of building relationships with people in the community. The launch service attracted 104 people, and attendance has averaged about half that number since. After a year of worshipping together, the church celebrated their first baptisms in January 2010. Pastor Jeremy McClung shares his thoughts on this important milestone. January’s baptism service was a highlight for me personally, and for Muskoka Community Church as a whole. Approximately 70 people showed up on Sunday afternoon, January 24 to cheer and watch as seven people were dunked (three times forward, or course!) as a symbol of their new life in Christ. Though some nature-lovers would have preferred the lake, the 12+ inches of ice left that idea cold and we had to settle for an indoor pool in a local resort. The picturesque view of the snow-covered trees and icy lake was held safely behind thick glass. For many people this was their first experience of a baptism service outside of a traditional church environment, and I’m sure quite a few (including a few guests from other churches) didn’t know what to expect. But the atmosphere was joyful and exuberant as we celebrated the changes God has been doing in the lives of four women, two men and one eight-year-old girl. We gathered afterward in a very crowded hospitality suite to share a potluck feast, while the kids enjoyed the use of the pool for the evening. It was our best party yet! (I heard a longtime Baptist who came as a guest comment, “They’re not really going to swim afterward, are they?” Apparently he was worried the swimming pool would be contaminated by the sins that had been washed away. Of course I checked to make sure the resort had a special filter for that!) Despite being quite nervous about the details (e.g. how hard do you push?) of doing my first baptism service on my own, it was a very rewarding experience for me on a personal level. Since moving here two and a half years ago, I have been looking forward impatiently to this experience. What a thrill as I finished praying for each person and the crowd erupted into a cheer louder than when the Leafs score an overtime goal in the playoffs! It reminded me that God knows what he is doing as he works slowly but steadily through all of us to accomplish his amazing work. As I told our growing MCC family, in football even though only one person carries the ball across the goal line, the whole team helped make it happen and shares in the victory and celebration. To those of you who have supported this church plant from afar with your prayer, encouragement and resources — thanks for being a part of our team and helping make this day happen!
They Got It at freebaY “FreeBay. You get it? It’s like eBay, only everything is free.” giving and rewarding experiences for our churcn and our community, the act of service in iteself is simply a means to an end. Our true goal in each and every project is to simply tell people that the love of Christ is just as real today as it was 2000 years ago and that the proof of that claim can be found in the way the Christ-followers of Ashland live their lives. We’ve been blessed so abundantly as a church community that we thought it would be obedient to show our gratefulness to God by blessing others. So after collecting many new and used items and filling our new office space (lovingly named the Quarry — the place where stones are collected and refined) with Christmas gifts aplenty, we advertised throughout Ashland that our church would be giving away free Christmas presents on the twelfth of December. We were stunned by the response. Although our event didn’t start until 10 a.m. there was already a line of people gathering outside our building at 9:00. By 9:30 the number of people had grown to nearly 70 and by 10 o’clock there were well over 150 people outside waiting to shop for Christmas presents for their families and loved ones at a place they could afford. The conversations and blessings that were had in the next four hours were divinely inspired. More than simply coming to supplement their Christmas shopping, people came to realize that our church family truly desired to
communicate God’s overwhelming and unrelenting love to them. Miracles happened. What else would you call a broke father being able to provide a new bicycle to his son For Christmas? What would you say if you were a mother coming to a free garage sale looking for a used board game to give your children and leaving with an X-box? And yet after all the clothes, toys, and furniture were distributed it wasn’t the stuff we gave that mattered at all. It was the truth the Lord handed out that day that truly inspired people. Truth like “I haven’t forgotten about you,” “I still love you,” “I am still God.” For us, and for the individuals we were able to serve through our FreeBay event, that truth was and is the reason for the Christmas season. ~ Nate Bebout 5 Stones Assistant Pastor
That’s how I would explain what we were planning on doing in the weeks leading up to our Christmas outreach. When folks heard of our attempt at giving back to our community by donating Christmas presents to individuals who might not be able to afford spending much money this holiday season, people would sometimes roll their eyes about our wordplay. But we don’t mind too much here at 5 Stones — We’re used to being just a tad awkward. Every month at 5 Stones Community Church we attempt to bless the Ashland community through a ministry named Missional Revolutionaries. The hope and goal of this outreach team is simply to show the love of Christ to our community in loving, practical, and thought-provoking ways. In the past we’ve pumped free gas for unsuspecting commuters, cleaned and mulched local parks, and helped struggling families furnish their homes. Although these events have proven to be life-
At first I was overwhelmed by the sheer need with hundreds of people standing out in the freezing cold waiting to be welcomed into the Q. But as the event moved on and we had opportunities to talk with people even in brief encounters I was reminded this was just one more way for Christ followers to show folks in Ashland that the Jesus of the manger hadn’t forgottem them and that he loves them. It was the most “CHRISTmas” Christmas shopping I’ve ever experienced. ~ Glenn Black
Fremont Lanark Celebrates Dedicates New 125 th Anniversary Church Building Since its founding in 1900, First Brethren Church of Fremont (OH) has owned three locations. The first was on South Street, built in 1925 and it served the congregation well until 1970 when we purchased the former Hayes United Methodist Church building on South Park Avenue. Its size, age and expensive upkeep led the congregation to sell the building in 2005 to an independent congregation and worship with stuffed deer and elk heads (just joking, itâ€™s a beautiful facility!) at the Izaak Walton League for about 3Â˝ years, then another few months as a house church. The present building was purchased about one year ago. The building has served as a car dealership, body shop and, most recently, a pet store. After much red tape getting a clear title, since the title was held by a German bank, the inside was stripped to the bare walls and remodeling began! Skilled leadership and labor were done by a wide array of dedicated members of the congregation. State inspections cleared with flying colors and the congregation moved into the building in a semi-finished state. Dedication Sunday was celebrated on October 18, 2009. Funding was from the proceeds of the South Park building and generous donations from friends and members of the congregation as well as a stranger on a motorcycle who rode up and gave a large donation. As a result the building was completed to this point debt-free! A kitchenette, Sunday School class space and more flex-space is planned for the back half of the building as funds become available. The yard will need more work as well.
175 members, friends and former pastors worshipped together on Sunday, October 4, 2009 to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Lanark, Illinois First Brethren Church. Our theme for the weekend was Romans 8:28. Saturday night guests were welcomed, served a meal, and former pastors and others participated in sharing memories.
Pastors attending were Revs. Paul and Donna Steiner, Rev. and Mrs. David Cooksey, and Rev. and Mrs. Thomas Schiefer. Mark and John Berskhire of Arizona represented their father, Rev. Francis Berkshire. A carry-in dinner followed Sunday worship, providing further time for visiting and sharing. A table display and bulletin boards were arranged with pictures, books, and scrapbooks of former events in the history of the church. Rev. E. Clair Lathrop serves as the current pastor. ~ S ubmitted by Sue Michael
The Lanark church in 1973
The 1895 church building
Today is just the beginning of a new era of ministry for the Fremont Brethren. Our goal is that this will be a place of unselfish ministry to one another and a base of operations for active outreach to those who do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior.
“TEAM USA” Gathers in N. Manchester Orphan, Pastor partnerships on the agenda
Although the Indiana winds were more than just cold, the bright sunshine warmed the hearts of those who were part of last November’s mission trip to India as they reconnected in North Manchester recently. These members of “TEAM USA,” as they became known in India, gathered to share their memories with Linda Immel and to brainstorm ways of sharing more effectively the life-transforming stories of what God is doing through our international Brethren partners. Linda currently serves the denomination as part of the International Ministries Council, and has a huge passion for the work in India. In addition to host Linda Immel from North Manchester, those from TEAM USA participating in this gathering were Pastor Terry and Marsha Leach (Cerro Gordo, IL), Pastor Russ and Sherrie Gordon (Milledgeville, IL), Pastor Jim and Susie Black (College Corner, IN), Pastor Billy and Norene Hesketh (Milford, IN) and Gary and Nancy Diehl (North Georgetown, OH). Also connected via speakerphone for part of the conversation were Jim and Nancy McGraw from Pleasant View Brethren in Vandergrift, PA. Like many other Brethren, Linda grew up knowing about the work the Kumar family was doing. Unlike most others, though, she has actually seen the work first-hand on a past short term trip. She is now the volunteer coordinator of the effort to connect U.S. partners (formerly referred to as sponsors), who provide ongoing financial and prayer support, with the kids in the children’s home and with the village churches and pastors. Linda has done a tremendous job organizing the partnership efforts, but now welcomes the opportunity to share her passion with an expanded team of people who can help her multiply her efforts. One significant point of help came into place when Jim and Susie Black volunteered to work directly with Linda as representatives from TEAM USA. (Thank you, Blacks!) There were plenty of laughs, and more than a few tears, as each one shared about special God-moments from the trip. Linda shared with the team that there are currently 12 of the 85 children at the children’s home
without a specific U.S. partner, and that the Brethren mission has the capacity to care for up to 120 children if the partnerships become a reality. A ministry investment of $30 per month is still enough to partner one child in this ministry. There are currently only 50 of the almost 120 trained pastors who have specific U.S. partners. An investment of only $50 a month is still all it takes to partner with a pastor in India. The harder work came as the group wrestled with the question: “So, what needs to change as a result of this experience?” Here are a few of the ideas and important nuggets the team hopes to work toward for our future. • Maintaining clear, ongoing communication with existing U.S. partners of children and pastors, updating events and milestones in their lives and ministries. • Increasing the “personal touches” in all Brethren churches from our international partners on a regular basis. • Extending ongoing invitations to new potential ministry partners. • Seeking active participation from all U.S. Brethren congregations in this or another international ministry. • Increasing the number of pastors and “regular” people participating in cross-cultural ministry experiences. • Allowing these experiences to have greater impact on our own local view of ministry. • Using technology more effectively to increase communication (like providing webcams to international partners and broadcasting live Skype conversations during U.S. events). These, and many other ideas, will continue to reshape a model for connecting the heads, the hearts, and the hands of Brethren all over America more effectively to the work God is doing through Brethren internationally. Please pray for Linda and her new team, for the Ministry Councils, and Executive Board, and for your denominational leadership team and staff as they strive to lead us toward an even greater Kingdom perspective through our global partnerships. There was one very important point to which everyone agreed: We will forever be different because of how God touched us through this experience!
The Brethren Evangelist (SSN 0747-4288) is published six times a year by The Brethren Church, Inc., 524 College Ave., Ashland, OH 44805-3792 (telephone: 419-289-1708; email: email@example.com; fax: 419-281-0450. Authors’ views are not necessarily those of The Brethren Church. Subscription rates: Sent free to Brethren Church members; $15.00 per year to others. Member, Evangelical Press Association. Postage: Paid at Ashland, Ohio. Postmaster: Send address changes to The Brethren Church, 524 College Ave., Ashland, OH 44805-3792. January/February, 2010, Vol. 132, No. 1
The Brethren Church 524 College Ave. Ashland, OH 44805
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YOU can make a difference All of the Indian children in the photo have been partnered by the members of Team USA (see page 14 inside) or the churches they represent. For just one dollar per day they will receive shelter, food, clothing, education, and the love of Jesus! Currently there are 12 children without partners, and 20 more could be taken in if partners were available.
in someone’s life! There are several Brethren pastors/evangelists who are struggling to continue in ministry because they don’t have partners. The cost is small — only fifty dollars a month — to bring the gospel to those who have never heard. There are Bible students waiting to go into the villages, but it is difficult for them to support their families without our help.
Please prayerfully consider your role in helping to spread the gospel to the unreached of India, Fill out the form below and mail it to Linda Immel. You may also contact her by phone at 260-982-8238, or email at linda firstname.lastname@example.org. She will be glad to send you information about how to get started in making a difference in India.
India Orphans and Pastors NAME ADDRESS PHONE E-MAIL I/We would like to partner with the following for 2010: (please indicate the number of Orphans and/or Pastors that you would like to partner) _______ Orphan(s) for $30 a month BOY GIRL EITHER
_______ Pastor(s) for $50 a month
MAIL TO: Linda D. Immel, 2001 East Street, North Manchester, IN 46962