Archive for February, 2014

LifeTogether – John Mclean

February 28th, 2014
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GCI Mission Trip to Philippines

 Daphne Sidney and Robert and Christine Reeves leave today for a short term mission trip to the Philippines. They will be going to Tacloban, the area worst hit by the super typhoon that left a trail of destruction and loss of life in the Philippines last year.

 As you know, we took up a special offering to help meet the emergency physical needs of those hit by this natural disaster last year. I have kept in contact with Eugene Guzon, the Philippines MD, as that money has been spent providing emergency food and accommodation, including feeding many children. As time has gone on, and the eyes of the world moved elsewhere, the spiritual needs of the people in the wake of such a devastating crisis are enormous. In our communications, Eugene has asked me for help for the ongoing “spiritual needs” of those who suffered through the typhoon there, as well as help with their physical needs. In clarifying what he needed most in addition to prayer, he mentioned face-to-face pastoral care, comfort, encouragement (crisis counselling) on the ground, for those most affected by the crisis. When I suggested a short term mission trip, he jumped at the idea.

 So too did Daphne, when I mentioned the possibility to her. She said she would go “in a heartbeat”, if she could. So, with her enthusiasm, and the financial and infrastructure support and involvement of the National Office, and Eugene’s input, she has put together a mission trip to Tacloban leaving tomorrow! The timing (somehow?) worked out and miraculously fell into place. Daphne is ideally placed to lead this mission, since she and Bill have lived and worked there, as former Regional Director, and Daphne knows some of the people involved already. (So there will be no danger of the cultural misunderstandings that sometimes can make mission trips from Westerners as much a problem as a help.) And her qualifications, both in pastoral care and counselling, are just what is needed. The trip will not just be lobbing in and then disappearing, but building relational bonds that are sustainable and precious.

 Robert and Christine are true servants over many years. In addition to raising their own family, they have fostered children, and Christine still works providing social services for those in need. They are very keen to go, and our small church in Grafton is very pleased and supportive on their behalf, too.  The Eagleby congregation has been very supportive of Daphne in this venture too.

 While the spiritual needs of the people in Tacloban are the priority, they will not be ignoring the physical needs. They will be helping as they can, and are taking with them tents for accommodation (not theirs!), seeds, and other needed items.

 Eugene and some of the staff in the Philippines will be directly involved in the trip. Like Daphne, Robert and Christine, we are all very excited about this trip and the opportunity to bring help, hope and the encouragement of Christ to people in desperate need. Your prayers for their safety, and God’s blessing, are much appreciated. Please pray for them, and those still suffering the aftermath of that super typhoon.

 We certainly wish them God’s blessing, knowing they will be a blessing to those they come in contact with in the Philippines.

Update: the Mission has been faithfully completed and a report will soon be coming.

 Board Meetings

 Thanks for your prayers for our recent Board meetings. We spent a day as a retreat, in prayer, reflection and discussion, seeking to participate in what God has in mind for us to be and do. And our first meeting for the year was very profitable and productive.

 Hans Pederson described the discussion program that had been worked out for the campers at the recent SEP. Hans and his wife Christine served as Chaplains, leading the dorm discussions. The outlines were put together with much prayer and input from Camp Director Al Kurzawa, and Carissa Warren and the National Youth Ministry Team.

 The discussions centred on the theme of “Discovery”, with the text taken from the road to Emmaus story in Luke 24. It was moving to hear how God was present in the whole process, and how the campers entered into the conversation, and had their lives impacted (and in some cases changed) by the discussions.

 Some exciting news from Bharat Naker regarding the beginnings of a refugee congregation in Mount Gambier:

 African plants, Aussie soil

 The story begins with the planting of a GCI congregation by refugee Congolese Christians in the Dzaleka refugee camp in Malawi in 2007. The plant started with about five families (28 people) including Pastor Jaffari (now in Goodna, QLD with another African congregation with Bob Regazzoli), Lokona Bolikoko and his wife Furaha Tosha.

This plant has grown into over 200 with average attendance of 120. Lokona served as a deacon and children ministry teacher from 2007 and was appointed as congregation pastor (volunteer) in 2011 when Pastor Jaffari was resettled in Australia. His wife Tosha served “the women’s ministry…taking a leading role in the congregation choir which has been a strong instrument in preaching the gospel in the congregation and evangelism ministry within the camp and GCI congregations in Malawi” according to the overall supervising pastor of the camp church Silvester Nkosi (who is Malawian and lives in another city from the camp).

 In May 2013 the Adelaide congregation welcomed a mother and daughter (Kiza and  Mary) from the Dzaleka congregation. Then in September this year, Lokona Bolikoko and his family (7 people) were resettled from the Malawi camp to Mount Gambier in South Australia. Given Lokona’s heart and experience and that other Congolese refugees were being resettled into Mt Gambier, there was the opportunity of a church planting in Mount Gambier. This thought was helped by the fact that one of the Adelaide members, Jan Jackowiak, was able to visit Mt Gambier regularly for work (and so help Lokona and family settle in faster and reconnect with GCI here) and that the school principal of the Mount Gambier North Primary school (where Lokono’s and other new migrants’ children attend), Jane Turner, has been very supportive and offered a space for worship without charge.

 On Sunday 22nd December, about 15 members from Adelaide (including Kiza who led the bi-lingual service in Swahili and English) were able to join 25 newly arrived migrants in Mount Gambier for a most joyful church launch service at the school.



Over 40 in attendance including Adelaide supporters in the 1st photo. 2nd photo of about 25 Mount Gambier locals gathered for worship African style!

 The service included songs, prayers and messages in English and Swahili (with translations both ways),not to mention much joyful African worship dancing! Good food and fellowship followed. Please pray for Lokona & Tosha as they strive to settle into Mt Gambier as well as serve the new GCI church plant there.

 This, along with the church in Goodna in Bob Regazzoli’s area (attendance now around 60), is very exciting news.



Lessons from Passover

February 18th, 2014
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We are all very familiar with the dramatic rescue of Israel described in the book of Exodus. As described in Exodus12 it is an Israelite observance as no uncircumcised person was to participate in it.They had to obey his commands as they were instructed. We hear the concepts of haste and unleavened bread and the passing over of the death angel due to the protection of the passover blood on the door posts.

 Stookey wrote:

 One of the unfortunate realities in the Germany and English speaking Christianity has been the loss of the connection of the Passover with the death and resurrection of Jesus. In the more ancient forms of the faith the word Pasch, from the Greek word we translate Passover, is used. This is also true in all other European languages.

 By using the word Pasch or Passover, we are emphasising the continuity between the Hebraic and Christian traditions. We are recognizing that the death and resurrection of Jesus is intimately connected to the Exodus from Egypt.

 Jesus is described as our Passover by the first century church.

 We see from the gospels:

 Jesus chose to die at Passover time.

 It was during the Passover meal that Jesus introduced the breaking of bread and the drinking of wine as an on-going remembrance of Jesus’ saving death.

 John wants us to know that Jesus died as the Passover victims were being sacrificed in the temple, showing that the death of Jesus is the true Passover sacrifice.

 Paul uses this theme in his instructions to the Gentile church in Roman Corinth.The exodus theme runs through the NT, even in to the book of Revelation. Recent scholars such as NT Wright have emphasised this.

 The literal meaning of exodus is the way out.

 Let’s see what insights we can gain from the Passover events for our understanding of the saving work of Jesus.

 We are aware of the fact that there are ten plagues, the climax being the 10th plague – the death of the Egyptian first born on the night of the Passover. So let’s first build up to that event.

Read more…

Message for the Day

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 246 | Wed 05 Feb 2014

February 7th, 2014
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Christians in Nigeria’s north-east continue to suffer at the hands of the al-Qaeda-linked Boko Haram which is waging a jihad to Islamise Nigeria. Meanwhile, Christians in the volatile Middle Belt — Nigeria’s ethnic-religious fault-line — continue to suffer at the hands of Fulani Muslims who, with the support of Boko Haram and rogue security forces, conduct night raids to slaughter Christians while they sleep.

Whole communities are being terrorised off their lands. Christians in Northern Nigeria are repressed, persecuted and traumatised. They are being killed while at worship in their churches. Despite this, mission is strong and Muslims are turning to the Lord in unprecedented numbers. Please pray for Nigeria and its Church in this spiritual battle.

For full report please click here

For another report from the Voice of the Martyrs please click here.