Donelle Raab, associate pastor of Richfield Road UB, sent this report about a mission work project which stretched throughout February. “Richfield Road UB sponsored a team of 17 people to Honduras. Members of the team went and returned at various times during the month of February. Gary Case and Grady Jones headed the effort. The team built a church in the village of El Naranjal about 45 minutes west of La Ceiba. The former church was 12-by-15 feet. The new one is 30-by-50.

“Even though the new church wasn’t completely finished, Richfield Road left money, and the people in the church in El Naranjal are finishing it. The last we heard, it is almost done. Gary and Grady worked hard to include Superintendent Francisco Raudales and the pastor of the church in the planning. The people in the village were encouraged to work with the team. The children were especially eager to participate.

“The team also sponsored a VBS with the help of the Bethel church in La Ceiba. About 250 children were reached, and 15 or so made decisions to follow Jesus. One boy asked for prayer for a congenital problem with his eye. The team, with the help of Pastor Jose Rivera, made it possible for that boy to be treated by a doctor in La Ceiba.

“Isa Rivera, a student at Huntington College, was an important member of the team working as interpreter.”

David and Melissa Kline are on their way to Macau. They sent this email to their supporters just before leaving on April 1.

“The last few weeks have been crazy for us. David has been busy finalizing business stuff and I have been hugging boxes for two months. In between all of our packing appointments, we have tried to fit in as much time with family and friends as possible. Now we can finally say that our packing has come to an END!

“We leave for Chicago in four hours and we take off at 8 pm Chicago time. By 11 pm Friday evening (US time), we will be standing in Macau!

“God has blessed us so much this year! Thanks for all your prayers. Thanks for all your financial support! Our support level is currently at 100%

“Please continue to pray for us and our ministry in Macau. Pray for our families as we leave today. Pray for our first few weeks in Macau as we are busy finding an apartment, dealing with Immigration, and meeting with old friends.”

Jim Knoll is the new Visitation Pastor at Hillsdale UB, Hillsdale, Mich. This is a part-time position.

Darrin Duncan, former pastor of Living Word UB in Columbus, Ohio, has been overseas serving as a fulltime chaplain in the military. He has returned to the States.

Jennifer Blandin writes from Macau:

“With Chinese New Year falling at the end of January, that allowed us a chance to offer some different types of English classes. Right before Chinese New Year I taught an English and Craft class. To be honest, not much English was used, but the ladies came up with some nice-looking crafts. It was fun to see how creative each person could be!

“The beginning of February had Nellie Birdsall teaching a Kitchen English class. This was only a four-lesson class, which I got to sit in on and help. Students learned how to make some American food and the rest of us got to taste test what they made! Not too bad of deal, I must admit! The ladies enjoyed the cooking class so much, that they are currently setting up other times to learn how to make pizza (and other foods) and to teach us teachers how to make some Chinese food.

The Chinese New Year is one of my favorite Chinese holidays. It’s one holiday where families have time together and everyone is excited for the coming new year. This is the year of the Monkey. Due to the economy doing a bit better than the previous few years, more shops and restaurants closed for an extended holiday break, which was also nice to see people relaxing.

“Two things that always go with Chinese New Year are fireworks and firecrackers, especially when the clock strike midnight and the new year has officially arrived. Every year I think my heart must skip a few beats because of the loud bangs coming at various intervals and from every direction. While Macau has never experienced snow, for a few weeks over the Chinese New Year holiday, Macau is blanketed in red paper from the firecrackers that people have set off from their apartment balconies.

“The ELP’s regular term of English classes began on February 17. A huge praise is that attendance has increase some over the last term. Another praise is that more people seem open to discussing and learning about God.

“One woman who has been attending Sunday evening English Bible study has begun attending worship services at Living Water Church. She continues to want to learn more about God and the Bible, which is exciting to see! Pray that she will continue to seek God and accept Him!

“January saw the return (for the 6th time) of Russ and Nellie Birdsall! It has been fun having them back as volunteers. They’ll be here till May.”

Brian Magnus, Bishop of the UB Church in Canada, recently had the chance to accompany other Canadian church leaders on a trip to Israel. This went far beyond a regular tour. For instance, they had a meeting with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

In December, Good Shepherd UB in Huntington held its 15th annual Christmas Give-a-Way via the Shepherd’s Closet clothing ministry. A total of 210 grocery bags filled with shopper’s choice of clothing, gift items, toys, books, shoes, and hats were given away. The Shepherd’s Closet, located in the church basement, is open to the public year round for clothing for a small donation or for free, depending on the need.

Michael and Kim Hewitt are the parents of a baby boy. Andrew Michael Hewitt was born January 14, weighing 7 lbs., 10 oz. Michael is youth pastor of First UB in Blissfield, Mich.

Ricardo Rivera is the pastor of a new Hispanic church being planted in Sacramento, Calif. Ricardo holds an local conference license. The new church is using the facility of the Faith Christian Fellowship UB church in Sacramento.

Steve and Beverly Swartz have been missionaries with Wycliffe since 1975. They spent most of those years in Australia working on the translation of the Bible into the Warlpiri language, a task which was completed in 2001 with the publication of the Warlpiri Bible. Now, they have decided to move on to something else, and away from Wycliffe. Steve explains:

“Since the Warlpiri Bible dedication in October 2001, I have continued on in my administrative and consultative roles within the Branch, but in all honesty it has been more out of a sense of duty/obligation than of call, at least not such a call that saw us come into Wycliffe in the first place in 1975 and then to Australia and the Warlpiri people in 1978. Perhaps we missed God’s signal to move on to other things in late 2001, but regardless of that, Bev and I now feel that it is God’s time for us to move on from Wycliffe and into something new.

“What does this mean for us? Wycliffe Australia has graciously allowed me six months leave commencing December 1, 2003, and I have appreciated the time thus far to get some extra R&R. However, beyond that, it is our intention to take formal Leave of Absence (LOA) from Wycliffe at a time not yet determined, but which may be in March or April of 2004. We cannot be certain of the future, but our current intention is to eventually resign from Wycliffe. LOA leaves the door open for a return to full service within five years should Bev and I choose to do so. Once we move into LOA status, we are allowed to receive support donations for a further three months from the commencement of LOA.

“In addition to this, after a brief and intense job search, I found and accepted a position at Yirara College (the same place Bev has worked as a tutor) as Executive Secretary to the Principal, the Business Manager, and Assistant Principal. I commenced work on January 19 and am confident that the Lord has opened up this job for me and that I can both handle and thrive in it in the long term. At the time of writing this letter, I completed my first full week of work and thoroughly enjoyed the job and the people I work with.

“It is not at all easy to write these words to friends and family who have prayed for and supported us, who have struggled our struggles and dreamed our dreams, who have laughed and wept and rejoiced with us and the Warlpiri people for these last 25 years that we have lived and worked in Australia. We owe each and every one of you more thanks and credit than we can ever give or repay. We know for certain that anything we have accomplished for the Lord here in Australia has been your accomplishment as well, and we praise and thank God for you all.

“Bev and I stepped out in faith in 1978 when we first came to Australia, and we have tried to walk by faith since then. Now, once again, we step out in faith into something quite different and unknown. But we do so stepping out into the hands of a faithful God.”

Darren Duncan

Rev. Darren Duncan (right), a minister in Central Conference, is currently serving as a chaplain in the United States Air Force. He is deployed at an undisclosed location. Darren was pastor of the Living Word Church (Columbus, Ohio) prior to going on active duty in the spring of 2003. Darren reports that his worship services are packed and that hearts are very receptive to the gospel where he serves.

Jana, director of the Macau Mission, sent the following on February 21.

  • Pastor Karis Vong from Living Water Church had a healthy baby girl this past week. Praise the Lord for this precious addition to our team. Pray for Lawrence and Karis as they adjust to parenthood.
  • Please pray for Pastor Connie Sung from Living Word Church. She was hospitalized recently with stress-related health problems. She is now back to serving in the church. Pray for wisdom as she considers how to adjust her ministry.
  • English Language classes began last week. Enrollment has increased some over last term, and there seems to be a more “upbeat” atmosphere. Praise the Lord for answering prayer in these areas.
  • Pray for Helen, Ronald, Miss Cheong, Grace, and Duong–all non-Christians who are attending English Bible Studies and seem to be sincerely seeking to understand God.