Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What's a "GCP Mission Intern"? by Bonnie Hailey

Intern – a student, etc. doing supervised temporary work in a field to gain experience (Webster’s Dictionary). 

GCP – Global Connection Process – the training program used at Urbancrest to prepare and equip individuals and family members who believe God is calling them to cross-cultural missions.

In September, UBC began another two-year program to train Mission Interns with the end goal of certifying nine Interns and launching them out to reach the nations (this could include our own nation)!  This will be the second class of Mission Interns being sent from our church as missionaries to serve along-side our strategic partners throughout the world and in the USA. Ron & Darlene Whitmer,  Aaron & Dana Bogan, and Matt Prichard are examples of those who prepared in the Mission Intern Class of 2010-2011 and are currently serving cross-culturally!

 This is the natural ‘next-step’ of a strong missional church. It reproduces! Believers who participate in local, state, and foreign missions grow in their understanding of God’s call “to go make disciples of all the nations” and therefore seek training so that they will be equipped to obey His call. The UBC missions ministry met that demand with GCPN Panorama Curriculum that originated from FBC Arlington, TX.

 Our Mission Intern class of 2011-2012 and group facilitators can be seen in the above photo. The facilitators are leadership personnel within UBC missions ministry who have been trained as instructors to facilitate the GCP Mission Intern classes and fill in as substitute facilitators and co-leaders.

 Our Interns have had many opportunities to use what they have learned. This is not only encouraged, it is expected and a part of their training. The photo below is of the Otto family working in Judgement House. They served in the Heaven scene and also as spiritual counselors.

 As a Kingdom-minded church, we are not only considering our own members but sharing and resourcing local sister churches, church planters, and other “Kingdom-builders” who express a desire to learn about preparing for cross-cultural missions.  To that end, UBC hosted a two-day facilitator training for GCPN (out of First Baptist Arlington, TX) on November 4 & 5. This was a seminary-level facilitator training for some of our mission leadership as well as other churches in surrounding states and church planters.

"Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant." ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

 Pray for the Urbancrest missions ministry as we plant seeds through discipling our members, church planters, sister churches, and the nations.  

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Vail, Arizona Update – A Life Saved!

The Vail, AZ mission team was used in a very amazing way this morning! As the team arrived to serve at a neighborhood block party, a man from the community collapsed. He was turning blue and unconscious. Anna Seibert, who is a trained medical professional, took control of the situation and kept the man alive for 15 minutes while waiting for the ambulance to arrive. It seems the ambulance was held up in traffic. This man would not have survived without Anna today.

It may not be obvious why God would lead you to serve on a mission team or in other service for the Kingdom. You will never know unless you obediently go. God arranged this trip and called Anna to go, “for such a time as this.” With his wife and son looking on, Anna saved his life and touched the lives of all present with the love of God. Now Grace Fellowship Church has an open door into many more lives. We give thanks for those on this team and ask for your continued prayers for Paul & Janet Boroff, Darlys Bullock, Anna Seibert and Beth Irons. Thanks you God, for using Anna today. Please save souls as you save lives and use this team for Your glory.

"I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,' calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it." ~ Isaiah 46:9-11

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Church of the Condemned

For many years, Urbancrest has been involved in ministry with George & Geraldine Smith through church planting and education efforts on Bavuma Island, Uganda. In addition to the ministry on Bavuma, George has been very involved in prison ministry in Jinja. Each time Urbancrest sends a team to Jina, we know that a few team members will go to the prison to preach and pray. Ron & Darlene Whitmer, Urbancrest members who have moved to Uganda to support the work of George & Geraldine, are also very involved in the prison ministry. While in Uganda this month, I went with George & Ron to the men’s prison. My wife Linda went with Darlene & Geraldine to the women’s prison. We brought with us many copies of the Challenge Good Newspaper, which both the prisoners and the guards love to read.

The prisons in Uganda are very different than those in the U.S. Those accused of a crime in Uganda are thrown into a prison designated for that crime until a trial can be held where they can have the opportunity to prove their innocence. In other words, they are guilty until proven innocent. Those accused of murder (or a crime of similar severity) are held in the death row prison until the trial. It could be many years before the trial is actually held. If they are found guilty, punishment is swift. Once condemned, they are held on the second floor of the prison out of contact with the other prisoners for the remainder of their natural life. This is actually an improvement over a previous law which required those found guilty to be immediately hanged.

The prison building itself is also vastly different than prisons in the U.S. The prison we visit is a 3 story row of cells built in an oval shape. In the center is a courtyard where most of the prisoners live during the daylight hours. At night they are returned to 10 x 12” cells where as many as 10 to 12 men are together in one room. There is no air conditioning, color TV, exercise equipment, or library. The prisoners must fix their own Ugandan meal of posho and eat as a group sitting on the ground.

The prisoners we worked with are the “condemned” who live on the second floor. We entered the prison, and after being questioned by guards we were allowed to go upstairs. The guard opened the gate and we walked in. The gate closed. The hallway was dark. It was at that moment that I understood hopelessness. Life was reduced to its most basic essence. The most valuable possession there was a bar of soap. With the prisoners standing all around, it occured to me that these men had been found guilty of serious crimes! I looked for Ron & George, intending to stay close to them.

As we are made our way down the dark hallway, some of the men rushed toward us. Thankfully, it was not to cause harm! They had been expecting us, praying we would come, and grateful that we had not forgotten. George then introduced me to Zep. Zep is a young man less than 30 years old who was saved in that very prison. He is the leader of the “Church of the Condemned.” This sounds very strange doesn’t it? That is not a name we would choose for a church in the U.S., but it is the reality in that prison. Zep leads a church of born-again believers on death row in a Ugandan prison. George & Ron are his mentors. As we gathered, they prayed and sang wonderful songs of worship. Zep and two other men gave their testimonies. Ron & George both brought a short greeting. I was given the privilege of preaching the wonderful words of life and hope to these men who live in a hopeless place. The 18 men who were there were a testimony of God’s grace and forgiveness. I was so humbled to be in their presence. These men live in total dependence on Christ alone.

Now that I have returned home to the U.S., I think about those men that are members of the “Church of the Condemned” and realize that I am one of them. In a sense, we are all members who have been condemned by our own sin. But, praise God that we are also the “Church of the Redeemed,” and so are these men. Our salvation is not of ourselves, but in Christ and His blood that was shed on the cross. It is available to all who believe and repent, calling on His name for salvation. Those prisoners are our brothers, forgiven and purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross!

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” ~ Romans 8:1