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Archive for October, 2015

Rod Matthew’s Regional Update – Vanuatu

October 30th, 2015
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To view Rod Matthew’s update from Vanuatu please click Regional Update – 21Oct2015

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John McLean’s Life Together

October 30th, 2015
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Hello again from the National Office. Once again around the country our festival celebrations of the Gospel and our lives together in Christ were wonderful occasions of fellowship, learning and union and communion in Christ. A very big thank you to our elders and organising teams who put these events on each year. It is simply great to get together, fellowshipping with people from around the nation, and celebrating sharing in the life and love of God with one another. Here are reports from our festival elders.

 Victorian Festival from Al Kurzawa

 This year we had the highest attendance at the Victorian festival since it moved to Echuca-Moama in 2008.  We had people in attendance from South Australia, NSW, and Victoria.  There was a wonderful energy throughout the week as we had all age groups represented including one family with 6 kids!  The theme for the week was “Messages from the Gospel of Luke”.   The speakers were Randall Bourchier, Matt Gudze, Barry Rice, and Alaric Kurzawa.  It was great having Matt and his family at the festival this year as in 2014 Jervis had just been born and they weren’t able to attend.  We also had a variety of worship leaders through the week representing many of the different congregations represented at the festival, including one day when the teens and small kids led us through the worship songs.  One of the favourite segments during services is the children’s church presentation when all children sit on the floor at the front of the hall with Mary Bourchier and participate in a small presentation of a bible story.  This year we were also blessed with an International flavoured treat as we had a Congolese family who has immigrated to Australia sing special music on two separate occasions.  

 This was the first year we had the SEP bucket, where we encourage people to drop in any spare change they have throughout the week as a fundraiser towards the Generations Fund which supports our SEP camps.  This tradition began at the Caloundra festival several years ago and we were keen to see how it would work at our festival.  We collected $400 by the end of the week.  Amazing how much a few silver and gold coins can add up to over a week!

 The week also included a family fun day at a recreation reserve, a free day with night-time services so attendees could do some exploring of the local attractions, and a movie night.  We had many families and couples who attended the Victorian festival for the first time this year.  The week was summarized well by one family who were able to come for the first time by combining the week with their annual family vacation.  They had only planned to come every other day so the family could also do a few “family outings” during the week.  However, by the end of the week they had only missed two services and none of the extracurricular activities.  The reason they ended up being at so many of the events was best summarized by the mum, “The week was about so much more than just the church services every day, it was about communion with each other throughout the whole week.”  The last day included the taking of the Lord’s Supper, many “hugs and goodbyes”, and many “We’ll be back next year” comments. 

 CALOUNDRA FESTIVAL from Bob Regazzoli

 Once again we enjoyed a week of celebrating our life together in Jesus Christ, and that was very evident with the very pleasant and peaceful atmosphere. Around 300 people attended at various times during the Festival, with several attending one of our services again for the first time in 20 years or so.

 We were blessed to have Mike Feazell as a guest speaker, and his messages, along with John McLean and other speakers were greatly appreciated. The sermons will be available on the GCI Australian website, under the Media section.

 Caloundra 2015

 The spirit of service was very evident, and we appreciate the way so many help out with the services, music, and activities to make it such an enjoyable time. Activities included a meet and greet, youth evening, a ladies social, bush/SEP style dance, and a seniors lunch, along with a lot of fellowshipping time. Donations to SEP included $1562, and an additional $351 raised from the sale of cards made by Hayley Howard and Michelle McLaughlin.

 One of the highlights was the baptism of two young people, are we rejoice in their belief in the Gospel, and commitment to Jesus Christ.

Caloundra 2015 2 

 Ulladulla Festival from Rod Dean

What incredibly warm and beautiful weather we had this year. With a theme of the ‘Fullness of God” we could certainly give thanks to the many blessing we received each day.

 Ulladulla 2015

 A wide range of ages contributed to a real family atmosphere. In children’s church Mary Bourchier introduced a new style of teaching children, the Godly Play method.  This is an innovative Montessori-based curriculum that engages children in learning through storytelling, ritual, and hands-on activity. It is calmer, with time for the children to explore their response to, for example, a parable. Because of the effect on their children, many parents were inspired to learn more about it. The young adults continued their vital contribution to the festival: technology, organization of activities, worship and messages. Their friendships from all over Australia and their love for God added to the aliveness and well-being we all experienced.

To thank all those who contributed is like giving the credits in a movie. So many make their contribution for the smooth running of the 8 days. Many are invisible. We had a remarkable generosity at the festival. Whether the need was cleaning products to Yurana House, the PNG orphanage, the offerings and the payment of festival costs, there was a wonderful response. Thank you!

Ulladulla2015(2) 

 Attendance this year was higher than last year with the largest being 138. We had guests from the US and UK. Dirty Bingo was very well attended with 98 participating. Dirty Bingo involves players bringing inexpensive gifts wrapped up in ways to conceal what is in the gift. Then everyone plays bingo.  When you get a bingo you can choose a prize. After all the prizes are taken is when the game turns dirty. When someone gets a bingo they can take the unwrapped gift from another player. It is enjoyed by all ages.

Also the Ulladulla Dash had 60 participants – a new record. This involved a two hour search in beautiful coastland bush to find objects, solve problems, answer questions to build a team point score determined by the value of the challenges achieved. 

The last special music and the last hymn on the last day finished the festival with a crescendo.

We are very appreciative to the Highway Christian church in allowing us to use their very suitable facilities.

Western Australia Festival from Mohan Jayasekera

 We had 110 people attend as we celebrated our inclusion in the life our loving God. Matt and Sandra Gudze were here to join us in our celebrations and so was Bruce and Belinda Wauchope and also Vernessa Kersting from Perichoresis Adelaide. The highlight was  the family day picnic with about 150 people attending and enjoying Peter Boon and his amigos’ providing lunch with nando’s style chicken. There were other activities like a family river cruise and a tour of Alcoa’s facilities in nearby Pinjara. There was a wonderfully relaxing atmosphere and a great sense of togetherness.

 Orphans in Kenya

Rod Dean received the following wonderful email from African Mission Developer Kalengule Kaoma after he sent him a message that $2,500 was coming from the Wollongong church for orphans in Kenya. As Rod said, sometimes we are not fully aware of the significance of what we are involved with. We often don’t see all that is going on, or all that God is doing – often behind the scenes. Here’s KK’s message:

 God is awesome. He works in ways which are beyond our imagination.  Let me share this with you.

Six hours ago, I was in a bus travelling from Chipata where I spent a night on my way from Malawi. While on the bus I got an SOS from Pastor Rose who is in charge of orphans and widows in Manyera area of Kenya. “The orphans have no food,” she wrote. Since I was far away, I could only offer prayers and send a message to encourage and assure Pastor Rose about God’s care and concern for the needy.

When your email came, I was getting ready to alight from the bus and walk home. I did not read the message until now. Here I am reading your message that money has been approved for orphans.

God is wonderful. He works in ways which point us to Him. Hallelujah! Thank you my brother for being a channel of God’s love for the needy.

Blessings,
KK

In Conclusion…

Our fellowship may be small, but in God’s grace we are able to have an impact far greater than our size. Thank you all for being expressions of God’s love in the world.

You can see an interview I did with Kalengule, and another one I did with Greg Williams, the Director of Church Administration in the USA, at the Pan African conference earlier this year on our web site under the Media section.

This coming weekend we have the Victorian Regional Weekend in Melbourne. Your prayers for this occasion, and for one another, and all our brothers and sisters around the world are much appreciated. We always pray for you, with appreciation and gratitude and much affection.

God ways are indeed beyond our imagining, and he is able to do more than we ask or think as he blesses us with every blessing in Christ.

In grace,

John

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Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin September

October 16th, 2015
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