Jennifer Blandin, a UB missionary in Macau, commented the recent headlines in her latest newsletter.

“The nightly news is full of daily statistics from the SARS outbreak. Yes, Macau is very close to Hong Kong, but yet far enough away to not have a single case of SARS! I know that this unbelievable, but the World Health Organization confirmed it last week. I’m calling it like I see it, a blessing from God. Something that has not been on the nightly news is how it is affecting the people of Hong Kong. I think the initial shock and fear has worn off, but there will possibly be long-lasting affects on people’s trust. People don’t know who to trust anymore. Their government was slow in reacting, their money could not cure them, and the doctors they trusted were the ones getting sick. While I don’t like seeing people get sick or be scared, it is a time when a lot of people in Hong Kong are thinking about who they can trust. A great time to point them to the One they can trust –Jesus!

“Due to this SARS disease and the thought that it is spread by droplets of people’s “water” going through the air, there is now a campaign to stop people from spitting. From little babies to grandparents, Chinese people know how to spit. It could almost be considered a sport. But there is now a fine of $60 if you are caught spitting on the streets. Since the new fine has been put in place, I haven’t heard of anyone getting fined. But I have wondered if I could charge the fine to anyone I have seen spitting!

“The war in Iraq has brought about mixed views. The topic has brought about some lively discussions, but we’ve felt no “backlash” because we are Americans. While people may have differing views of the war, we are friends first!”

Here are a variety of news items sent in April from Hong Kong National Conference.

Myanmar. Planning is underway to raise $50,000 to buy a new Language Center. Carmen Chin will return to Hong Kong in May to prepare for the delivery of her second child.

Thailand. Rev. H. M. Lee has employed another mail preacher to assist the work of the center and the church. A short-term mission trip from Hong Kong to Thailand has been postponed due to the SARS epidemic.

Sri Lanka. Bridget Ho, a member of Hong Kong Conference, is serving with Operation Mobilization in Sri Lanka. She is involved in voluntary work in a children’s centre, in teaching English, and in distributing rice. She is looking for suitable churches for mission work.

Sally Hock-Harrison sent these notes from West Windsor UB (Dimondale, Mich.):

  • After the AQUIRE the Fire youth meetings in Breslin at Michigan State University in March 2003, our youth group went from 8-9 kids to 25-plus, and they have had to rearrange and tear down walls in the basement to make a new youth room. The youth group leader is Christy Lambright, a college gal going to Great Lakes Christian College in Lansing.
  • A Bible study/mentoring group meets on Wednesday night for the youth.
  • Pastor Dick and Darlene Thorp went on a one-week cruise to celebrate their marriage, and came back refreshed.

  • HomeFront Church in Grandville, Mich., is a restart of the former Maple Hill UB church. Howard Matthews is the pastor. They have a website at
  • Michigan Conference is planting a new church in the West Lansing area. It is called Journey Church, and is using a home church model. Tom Blaylock, who previous planted Lighthouse Community UB in Williamston, Mich., is the pastor of Journey Church.
  • Fowlerville UB is mothering a daughter church in Dansville, Mich. It is called Heritage UB church. Cal Hodgson is the planting pastor.

Jana Hoobler sent these notes:

  • Our Bible Study students on Taipa are asking more and more difficult questions about the Bible. Praise the Lord that they are reading the Bible on their own. One student from Thailand told me last week that she looked on the web and found a Thai New Testament that she can look up to read the passage we’ll be studying before our meeting each week. Another student came in with questions about this week’s story before we even met, because she’d been preparing at home. Pray for wisdom as we respond to their questions. Praise the Lord that they are searching His Word at home as well as at our center.
  • I’m thankful for my Mom this Mother’s Day, and all the time she invested in teaching me about God. She led me to Christ in our kitchen when I was around five years old. I’m so thankful for this Christian heritage that most of my Chinese friends have gone without.
  • Ava, a member of Living Water Church, is a student at Macau University on Taipa. She is trying to get a small group Bible Study started with some of her classmates and professors that will meet at our center. Pray that they will be able to find a time that they can all meet.

Martin Magnus, a retired minister in Ontario, underwent major surgery last Thursday (May 8) for a brain tumor. His son, Brian Magnus, Bishop of the UB Church in Canada, sent this report on May 13.

“I brought my Dad, Martin Magnus, home from the hospital this afternoon. He’s physically doing very well. The greatest news is that the surgeon says that the post-operative CT-Scan shows that they got all of the tumor and that he’s ‘almost certain’ that it’s benign.

“Dad had only taken one Tylenol in over two days and most of the swelling in front of his right ear has gone down. He’s able to eat with the help of some anti-nausea medication. He has 28 steel staples in his head in a question mark design starting at the hairline above his eye and moving back above his right ear, then around to the front and down in the middle of his sideburn.

“In his own words, ‘It’s going to take a while to become oriented again.’ His voice is weak and hoarse (from the anesthetic?) and he’s very tired. He is a bit disoriented and felt a bit claustrophobic when he got home. Continue to pray for him after this brain surgery.

“Thanks again so much for all of your phone calls, emails and cards to Mom and Dad. They appreciate your love and your prayers especially.”

  • Darren Duncan resigned as Senior Pastor of Living Word UB in Columbus, Ohio, effective May 18, 2003. He will be going into active duty as a military chaplain. The church will be unassigned for the present time.
  • Ben Gladhill resigned as Children and Youth Pastor at Atlantic Avenue UB in Franklin, Pa., effective April 2.
  • Paul Rowe resigned as interim pastor at Mount Olivet UB, Mt. Solon, Va., as of May 7 due to health reasons. The church is unassigned for the present time.

On Sunday, May 4, Banner of Christ UB (Byron Center, Mich.) shared gifts of people and nursery furnishings to the newly forming HomeFront Church. HomeFront is a church under development with Rev. Howard Matthews as pastor. This was the former Maple Hill UB Church.

Banner has committed to a partnering relationship with this rejuvenated sister congregation and on this Sunday had a presentation of numerous nursery items to outfit HomeFront’s nursery and young children’s area. Banner also is sending two families to help with the forming launch team that Pastor Matthews reports is now over 30 adults.

The service included a time of prayer for the launch team and Pastor Matthews, and the presentation of the two new cribs, bedding, and several toys and games for the new church. Banner had collected items that the HomeFront children’s ministry team had identified and registered at the local Target store for a nursery shower. An empty crib was placed in Banner’s foyer for the month of April with gift tags attached to the crib. Members of the church picked up tags, bought and wrapped the gifts and returned them to the crib during the month long “shower.”

HomeFront is poised to begin a series of preview services for the community to come and see during the summer months. Their first preview service was on Mother’s Day.

During the Easter holiday, Pixley UB looked for a way to reach out to neighborhood families. Pastor Rodney Bittick writes, “Originally we considered running a three-day VBS on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. But knowing that our small number of workers could be easily overwhelmed by a daily increasing volume of children, we decided to try a more modest one-day carnival-type event. Our goal was two-fold: to establish a connection between the church and its largely Hispanic neighbors, and to get scriptures and Christian materials into the homes.

“Setting aside the same three days, we set to work on Monday making take-home bags. We made bags for children and adults in both Spanish and English. They contained Scripture portions and tracts as well as treats and other prizes.

“On Tuesday, we canvassed the homes in the immediate neighborhood of the church, passing out flyers and inviting them to the party. We decided to call it √îFiesta de Vida’ (Festival of Life).

“Wednesday was party day! The church parking lot was decorated with colorful signs (in Spanish) and helium balloons. Activities included games, coloring pages, and a flannel graph story telling of Jesus’ crucifixion, death and resurrection. Hot dogs and sodas were served and the party ended with the breaking of a pi‚Äìata. The party ended at noon, and each person present was given a gift bag.

“In all, about 35 children and approximately 17 adults attended. Most of the grown-ups and many of the smaller children spoke only Spanish.”

Alan DeCristoforo sent this update on his health condition. He is serving as Spiritual Care Pastor at First UB in New Castle, Pa. “Since I know a lot of people have been praying for me, I should let them know that I stood up and preached for 30 minutes during the Sunrise Service. After the service, I was assisted to the main floor where I stood up, with help, and walked out of the sanctuary. I had on my braces, and two gentlemen helped me stand up.”