Letter from Joseph Tkach — October 2013

Posted by colin on October 23, 2013 under Pastor General's Monthly Letter | Comments are off for this article

October 1, 2013
Letter from Dr. Joseph Tkach  

Grace Communion International - Living and Sharing the Gospel

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Last month I shared with you the joy I felt at our international conference. In that letter I said our denomination is living proof that human beings can set their differences aside and work together in harmony, love, and mutual respect. I want to add one more thing to that list: mission.

GenMinDuring the conference our Generations Ministry team held a separate track for about 90 students and young adults. They discussed various life issues during morning devotions. They spent time worshipping together, building relationships and putting our mission statement into practice by serving at a local food bank. Within a few hours our young adult team had cleaned shelves and refrigerators, organized food and other items, washed windows, painted trim, stair rails and posts, and cleaned the area outside the food bank. One young man said the only reason he went to the conference was because he saw that the group had plans to serve in the community.

I am often inspired by the younger generation’s passion for serving others. This generation seems focused on making a difference for the kingdom. As a result many of our camps now have outreach projects and provide opportunities for campers to make a positive impact for Christ. They are a great example for all of us at GCI.

Even the young children of our congregations are getting involved. In Cincinnati, children collect funds for Les Ambassadeurs, GCI’s school in Port au Prince, Haiti. Over the past six years they have already raised more than $10,000. They call it Small Change for a Small Change. Each week after collecting from the congregation, they also pray for the children of Haiti. I can only imagine the impact this is going to have on their lives long term.

It warms my heart when I hear our young believers say that they want to make a difference. It tells me our mission statement: “Living and Sharing the Gospel” is more than a slogan to them. They love showing that God’s way of life is more than theology or a good worship session. God’s way of life is reaching out to others in mission. And when I say mission, it can be as simple as seeing the people right around us who have needs and reaching out to them, helping them. I’m talking about getting involved in the local community and letting others know we are there to help.

Carolyn's CupboardIt also thrills me to see a growing number of our congregations enthusiastically finding ways to live and share the gospel. For example, Abundant Grace Fellowship, our GCI congregation in Rochester, New York, runs a food pantry. The members went to the local community leaders and asked what was needed in their community. The food pantry mission emerged from those discussions.

To hear more of the story, check out the video about Carolyn’s Cupboard athttp://www.gci.org/av/carolyns

Other congregations also run food banks; some serve the homeless, some mentor and tutor children. Others find ways to serve widows, orphans, single parents, and special needs children in their communities. There are so many ways that our churches are actively making a difference. I wish I had room in this letter to share what every congregation is doing.

I am encouraged because these are signs of a group of Christians who are confident in their faith, which is the result of being confident of who they are in Christ. When we are secure in our identity in Christ, our focus is much more outward than inward.

We love others because we know we are loved and we can stop seeking affirmation of that love. Rather, we affirm God’s love to others. We reach out to others because we know Christ reached out to us and gathered us together, and his desire is that all are gathered in. We serve others because we know how much we’ve been given and we want others to see what Christ has given them. We seek mission opportunities because we know we are participating in what God is doing, and he is doing it with us and through us.

We live and share the gospel through mission because we know that our actions often speak louder than our words. If we want to share the love of God with others, it begins by being the light on a hill Jesus spoke about in Matthew 5. Making a difference for the kingdom through mission is one of the best ways we can share God’s grace with others.

Living and sharing the gospel should include reaching out and serving others in a variety of ways. But it also involves teaching and helping others come to know Christ and his love and mercy. You are making this possible, and I want to thank you. Together we are helping others look to Christ and see who he is and how he works in and through his body.

Yours in Christ’s service,

Joseph Tkach President – Grace Communion International

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