Pastor General’s Monthly Letter

Letter from Dr. Joseph Tkach – June 2014

Letter from Dr. Joseph Tkach

 

Grace Communion International - Living and Sharing the Gospel

June 2014

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In Deuteronomy 34, Moses had a “mountain top” moment where God gave him the chance to look out over the promised land. After being chosen to lead the Israelites out of slavery and through the desert, he was able to see the fulfillment of God’s promise. Though the journey was long and difficult, Moses lived to see, from afar, the good gifts God had in store for the Israelites.

As a denomination, we too have been on a journey, one that has often been difficult. We’ve survived doctrinal growing pains, a depletion of our numbers in the United States and various other challenges along the way. Day after day in the desert, the Israelites had to depend on God’s faithfulness to lead them in the right direction. They moved forward in faith, toward a future not yet seen, and trusted that God would not forsake his people or his promises. This has been true of GCI as well.

Now we are at a place where we can look forward in confidence and joy. Our numbers are not in decline any longer – in fact, we have seen astonishing growth and renewal in our denomination in many parts of the world. We have always been international, but this has been a season of significant growth overseas. It brings me real joy to know that the demographics of GCI are coming to represent the diversity of the worldwide body of Christ. We are not a denomination with one language, one culture, one country, or a limited view of the church. Instead, we reflect a mosaic of different cultures, languages, and backgrounds, as we remain united in the good news of the gospel.

Because of our growing diversity, we at GCI want to remain open to how the Holy Spirit wants to use us in ministry. The gospel of Christ is meant for all people, and we have sought to embody that invitation. We are grateful for the diversity of our members and the wide variety of GCI’s ministries the world over. Let me give you some examples of what I mean.

The missions director for South Africa, Tim Maguire, is also working to meet needs in neighboring Mozambique. One of the unique ways he and others there are reaching out is by teaching communities to dig wells, giving them the tools they need to access clean drinking water. He also fosters relationships in these communities allowing him to spread the gospel message. When language presents a barrier, he uses a translation app on his smart phone to help him communicate as he meets this immediate and desperate need for clean water throughout rural communities.

In Western and Central Africa, there are whole congregations of Christians who lack leadership and desire theological guidance – they’ve found GCI online, and in turn have been put in contact with Kalengule Kaoma, a native Zambian and the GCI missions director for the region. This desire is so strong that a full one-sixth of our denomination’s fellowship is now made up of congregations within Africa! I praise God for this global growth and renewal, which has been made possible by being open to new ways of connecting. I can truly see God at work in Africa and in leaders like Kalengule and Tim.

We at GCI don’t believe that the only model of missions is one where Western missionaries bring the gospel to unreached parts of the earth. Instead, within our denomination right now we have missionaries who are breaking the traditional mold. For example, Angie and Saddie Tabin came from the Philippines to Los Angeles, California in order to minister and reach out to Filipinos who have immigrated to the city. They have now planted a vibrant Filipino congregation as a result. We also have a family from Africa planting churches in Holland! Exciting ministries like these reflect the unique ways GCI is being called to meet cultural needs.

Another wonderful area of growth beginning for GCI is in Spanish-language churches across the American West and Southwest, spearheaded by leaders like Heber Ticas and Lorenzo Arroyo, as well as in Mexico and down to Guatemala, where pastors Nathanael Cruz and Alfredo Mercado are organizing conferences and connections across borders. I am thrilled that GCI is involved in meeting the thirst for the gospel in these communities – and not only because of how much I love the food! GCI remains faithful to spreading the gospel of Jesus, but does so in diverse ways. It seems to me that this creativity and diversity accurately reflects Jesus’ good news for the whole world.

I want us to take a moment to look ahead just like Moses did. We have come a long way as a denomination, and we know that God has led us on this journey. The promised land was beyond what Moses or the Israelites could ever have imagined after generations of hardship. I trust that God wants to give us “beyond what we could ask or imagine” as well! My prayer is that we will continue to trust in God’s promise that he will complete the work he has begun as we move into the future and that we continue to seek the guidance of his Spirit.

When I look ahead, I feel confident and hopeful. Not in myself, or even in the good work of GCI – I feel hopeful because I know that each of us has already been liberated by the message of the gospel. Jesus has completed and continues his work of salvation for us and in us. The Bible assures us that we have been brought out of bondage, and are now co-heirs with Christ in his kingdom. Because of what Jesus has already done for us, we are now invited to participate in his ministry. And GCI is doing just that: participating in God’s kingdom, following where he leads.

We have been led by God thus far in our journey as a denomination. I know that we are empowered by God to live missionally, and as you can see there are many vibrant and good ways this is happening. I ask you to pray for GCI as we continue to follow the truth of Christ and to listen to the guidance of his Spirit as he leads us into a future more wonderful than we can imagine. The future fills me with joy, a joy that both you and I can delight in. As you can see, your donations to the denomination help serve across our ministries in many places and in many ways, and together we are helping others look to Christ and see who he is and how he works in and through his body.

With joy and hope in Jesus’ name,


Joseph Tkach
President – Grace Communion International

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