|Connecting People and Churches of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches||Thursday, May 23 2013|
Saturday, 01 January 2005 00:00
January 3 – 7, 2005
February 11-13, 2005
March 5-11, 2005
April 16, 2005
May 14, 2005
Saturday, 01 January 2005 00:00
Working feverishly to finish decorations for the San Franciscan Thanksgiving, the women of Tracy, CA, Grace Brethren Church met Nov. 20 at church over brunch to learn more about the ministry of GBNAM’s World Class City Project in San Francisco, led by Dr. Kevin and Siew-Choo Ong.
To the valley-dweller, this city seems like a foreign country. The expensive, Greek renaissance-style row houses are layered atop their garages, sandwiched together side by side. Contrast that with our wide expanse of land, housing tract patchworks surrounded by agriculture. But our church family was about to see another side of San Francisco that tourists might never see. We loaded our Thanksgiving dishes and decorations and headed for the “city by the bay.”
The Ongs, who had come from Singapore by way of Grace Seminary, had come to minister to internationals in the city. Dr. Kevin and Siew-Choo Ong and their three children have fit in beautifully with the lifestyle and culture of this huge city.
Church-planting director Kurt Miller said, “San Franciscans don’t like the idea of ‘church,’ but they are drawn to our Jesus.” The Ongs know this and have become a link to internationals who may be homesick, lonely, and afraid in new surroundings. They are being used by God to create strong friendships that will point these many people from all over the world to the love of God.
“What could we do to help the Ongs in their ministry, since we are the closest church to San Francisco?” we asked. We could share an American Thanksgiving with them and their many friends. We could decorate the tables with brightly-colored leaves and lay out symbols we have come to cherish such as the horn of plenty. We could make traditional dishes with all the trimmings and share the history of the foods. We could ask our teens to put on a puppet show to explain the first Thanksgiving. We could introduce the Pilgrim’s faith in God as they trusted Him to provide almost 400 years ago as new immigrants to this country. We could inspire our church to pray for the work in San Francisco and share the responsibility of reaching San Franciscans with the Ongs.
We were delighted with the response of our church family, who prepared more food than the group could eat. We decorated pine cone turkeys with paper feathers and made cornucopia ice-cream sugar cones filled with candy. We made Indian teepees of tortillas and pretzels. We served sparkling cider and pie.
Losing our way four times, by 4:30 we were set up and ready to greet guests in a beautiful, borrowed home across from Golden Gate park. Everyone seemed intent on learning all they could about the use of certain foods and everyone heaped up their plates with turkey, gravy and stuffing. Later our teens presented an entertaining skit complete with Indian headdresses. The students watched intently as the puppets told the story of the pilgrims and the Indians celebrating God’s provision at the first Thanksgiving.
What will be our next link? We invited their women to our Christmas Tea in December. The Ongs have invited our church family to the Korean Cultural Night in January which is how they meet many internationals.
May we all be praying for the work of the Ongs and the other believers of the city. Come and see for yourself!
Saturday, 01 January 2005 00:00
The breakfast room at the Comfort Suites in Berlin, OH, was crowded as guests stopped in for a quick breakfast before heading out for their day’s activities. It was a big weekend for this community in the heart of Ohio Amish country. Berlin was one of the stops in a quilt hop—a directed tour of several quilt shops.
But for about thirty women gathering in the meeting room next door, the focus was not on quilts. They had come from all over the country to seek answers to the question, “What does God want for women in FGBC churches?”
This first-ever Women’s Leadership Summit, held the weekend of November 5-7, was the result of years of prayer and discussions initiated by Women of Grace. The leaders recognized their responsibility, as the only national women’s organization of the FGBC, to help women in local churches who are at various stages of their growth in Christ. They had been asking hard questions to discern what God was calling the organization to become.
The women in attendance were invited because their lives reflected an interest in serving God through ministering to women. Each was asked to evaluate the needs of women in their churches and in the Fellowship in general. The group was a cross-section of FGBC women: ages ranged from 26 to 76, and they represented states from the East Coast to the West, as well as Canada.
Dave and Julie Lawson of Wooster, OH, speakers for the weekend, encouraged the group to focus on what it means to become fully formed followers of Christ. They challenged the women to be willing to do whatever it takes to see that happen, both in their own lives and in lives around them.
The women discussed what they believe God wants to see happening among the women in the Fellowship. They listed such concerns as: women need to know how to nourish themselves with God’s Word, women need to help other women know how to care for their homes and families, and women need to know how to pray for the world.
In the end, the group discovered that everything their hearts were longing to see happening in their women’s ministries could be distilled to six essentials: God’s Word, Prayer, Mission, Mentoring, Community and Leadership Development. These core values will help Women of Grace determine what their priorities should be.
Participants divided into groups to discuss how to make the core values a part of local church ministries. The discussions grew lively as they shared the passion of their hearts for each area of the core values.
The weekend ended with a Sunday morning worship service with opportunity for each to share their specific vision for the women with whom they are working. As individuals shared their vision, hearts were brought together with common goals. The Summit ended with a prayer time that reflected the depth of the women’s desire to see God’s purposes accomplished.
In summarizing the weekend, Women of Grace President Janet Minnix said, “This was probably the most significant event Women of Grace has ever sponsored. The women saw that a women's ministry built around the essential values can help to meet the needs of today's women by mentoring them to become fully formed followers of Christ and empowering them to fulfill his purpose for their lives. The seeds have been planted, and we look forward to the fruit that God will bring."
Another Women’s Leadership Summit is planned for November of 2005. For more information on this year’s Summit, go to www.womenofgraceusa.org.
Tell Us Your Vision
Saturday, 01 January 2005 00:00
by Ron Dorner
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for some of the health insurance plans offered in our county today. Health costs continue to rise at unreal rates. Most health insurance plans take decision-making away from the patient and give it to a third party. If there ever was a time to re-evaluate the health coverage for your family; now is the time.
There is good news. You have another option. You can take control of your health insurance. Your policy can be independent of where you work. Job changes do need not be a concern. Health coverage can be more reasonable.
The federal government has passed legislation that allows a new way of obtaining health insurance. It is called the Health Savings Account (HSA) and is available now. Actually, your health insurance consists of a federally-approved high-deductible health insurance policy and a HSA.
To qualify for this plan you must be under age 65, not be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return and not be covered by another health plan. This plan allows you to choose to have your own insurance independent of where you are employed.
A HSA plan gives you control of how you spend some of your health care “premiums.” You must first obtain the high-deductible insurance. You place into your HSA an amount equivalent to your policy deductible each year. Your contributions to the HSA are not included in your taxable income. The amount in the HSA can be used for medical deductibles, vision and dental needs, glasses, prescriptions, alternative therapies, over-the-counter drugs and long-term care insurance. Any amount left over at the end of the year rolls over for future needs. All interest and excesses accumulate tax-free and at age 65 are treated like an IRA. If you are over age 55 you can make additional contributions to your HSA ($500 in 2004).
The high-deductible policy must have at least a $1,000 deductible if you are single and $2,000 deductible for a family. The deductible can be as large as $,2600 (single) and $5,150 (family).
You can see that your total cost of health insurance should be less using this plan. Your high-deductible policy will cost less because the company does not have to cover all those “nuisance” expenses. And if you are frugal and health-conscious, you will pay out little in deductibles. Your HSA account can grow tax-free into a nice retirement nest egg. If you are self-employed, all health insurance policy premiums are 100 percent deductible.
A word of caution, however. Be sure that the insurance policy you purchase is a “qualified” high-deductible health plan. Not all high-deductible plans qualify. Your HSA account needs to be from a U.S. Treasury qualified provider. The trustee fees should be reasonable and provide interest when the accumulated amount reaches a certain size. Options should be available to invest in funds, stocks and bonds just as you would in an IRA.
More and more companies are beginning to offer qualified policies and health savings accounts. If you are looking for health insurance that is portable, lower cost, and allows you to accumulate excess funds tax-free for a future health need or retirement, this new plan might be for you.
Ron Dorner has worked in Grace Brethren financial and estate planning for more than 17 years. For more information, or to schedule a Financial Planning Seminar in your church, e-mail
Saturday, 01 January 2005 00:00
Billy Graham, 86, returned in late November, 2004 to the Rose Bowl to conduct a four-day Los Angeles crusade. Held from November 18-21, it was Graham’s 416th worldwide crusade.
Almost 13,400 people made a commitment to Jesus Christ, according to crusade officials. The crowd the final day nearly filled the 92,000-seat stadium, the largest U.S. venue ever booked for a Graham crusade.
Most people are familiar with the story of how, back in 1949, publisher William Randolph Hearst issued a directive to "Puff Graham." That tent revival in Los Angeles launched Graham into worldwide prominence. Since then he has preached to more than 210 million people in more than 185 countries.
A lesser-known aspect of the success of that first crusade, however, has recently come to light with the publication of the biography of one of Graham’s associates. The book tells the role that a prayer meeting in the Rainbow Room of the Westminster Hotel in Winona Lake, IN, played in launching that first Los Angeles crusade.
Winona Lake, a small resort town in north-central Indiana with a rich religious history, was for many years the home of one of the world’s largest Bible conferences and the home of the evangelist Billy Sunday. Home to the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, it is also the site of the founding of Youth For Christ, Billy Graham’s early employer.
Fred Hartley, writing in his book Everything by Prayer, (Christian Publications, Inc.) gives details of the Rainbow Room prayer meeting. It is the biography of Armin Gesswein, a Lutheran pastor, seminary professor, associate evangelist of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and founder of the Minister’s Prayer Fellowship and the Revival Prayer Fellowship. An excerpt from Hartley’s account reveals the following:
“It was 3 o'clock in the morning on Wednesday, July 13, 1949. Between forty and fifty young men were gathered in the Rainbow Room of the Westminster Hotel in Winona Lake, Indiana. They had been there for five hours praying.
Evangelist Armin Gesswein of Southern California, who had been invited to conduct the prayer sessions, exhorted Billy, "If you are going to have prayer as part of your crusade, it has to be frontal not peripheral." That is exactly how an all-night prayer meeting happened to be called in the midst of a busy week-long Youth For Christ convention.
The men had been alternating prayers with praise, verses of Scripture, and requests for more prayer. Things were beginning to warm up. Hearts were poured out before God. The tide was running high. Gesswein stood to his feet. "You know," he said, "our brother Billy Graham is coming out to Los Angeles for a crusade this fall. Why don't we just gather around this man and lay our hands on him and really pray for him? Let's ask God for a fresh touch to anoint him for this work."
When it was over and the men were still kneeling, Billy Graham opened his Bible to Joel 3:13 and with deep conviction read aloud the words, "Put in your sickle, for the harvest is ripe: Come, get you down: for the press is full, and the vats overflow." Prayer went on in the Rainbow Room for another hour before the men retired.
Dr. Ted Engstrom reflected, "No one who was at that prayer meeting in Winona Lake in 1949 could possibly have forgotten it. It was one of the greatest nights that those of us present could ever remember.”
The launching of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association may not have come from the preaching tent at the Los Angeles Crusade in 1949 as many have assumed, but from the pre-Los Angeles Crusade prayer meeting in Winona Lake and the Los Angeles prayer tent.
God keeps the books and when they are opened from the other side of eternity, we may be surprised to learn the invisible interplay between the private little prayer meetings and the great big public results."