David Leraaen, associate pastor of of Homefront UB, sent this report:

“As a brand new church (we began having regular Sunday Services in September, 2003), we wanted our first Easter together to be something truly memorable. We wanted to invite our congregation and our community to celebrate the resurrection of Christ with us. So we hosted an art exhibit!

“We invited local artist John Katerberg to exhibit eleven of his original oil paintings depicting the life of Christ. The exhibit opened to the public on the two Fridays and Saturdays preceding Easter Sunday, complete with tour guides, refreshments, interactive children’s activities on Saturday, and an opportunity to meet with the artist as he worked on a new painting. Especially featured were the three paintings that comprise the artist’s Passion Series, which graphically depict the crucifixion of Christ. Though conceived and painted long before its release, the images in these three paintings are reminiscent of scenes from Mel Gibson’s film, ‘The Passion of the Christ.’ With the paintings still adorning our entry way and main hall, we hosted two Easter Sunday morning services, with 329 people on hand to celebrate the joy of the resurrection.

“This Mother’s Day will mark the first anniversary of our “Sneak Preview” service at Homefront Church. Now less than eight months after beginning regular Sunday services, an average of 170 people attend each week, and most call Homefront home.”

David and Melissa Kline arrived in Macau at the beginning of April. David sent this report on April 23.

“Things have been going real well here. We are so busy with setting up our apartment, studying Cantonese, getting together with old friends, getting to know our new jobs, and spending time with the other staff.

“First, we have a three-bedroom apartment on the second floor of a 24-floor building. It has lots of windows that make it bright during the day and beautiful at night because of the lights from buildings around us. We have received our washing machine and bed and are still waiting on furniture, a desk, and a futon for anyone that is brave enough to stay with us. To get an idea of the size of everything, the kitchen is the size of a normal American bathroom, even though this kitchen is nice because it has cabinets. The bathrooms are small and tile from head to toe. The one thing really different about these bathrooms is the water heater takes a shower with you. I mean, the water heater heats the water as you use it and it hangs in the shower on the front wall. The bedrooms are small but very adequate and for Macau standards have tons of built-in storage–what a blessing!

“The next thing that has been taking a lot of time is language study. We have been focusing on sounds and tones. Cantonese is made up of 7 tones for each sound in the language. As you can imagine, tone-deaf Americans struggle a little with this language. We have been doing pretty well, since Melissa knows quite a bit from her previous year-and-a-half in Macau, and from my three short trips, I survive. To give you an example of what can happen, consider two words written with English phonics, touh ngo and touh ngo. As you can see, the sounds are exactly alike but in the first word the tone for the second part of the word is low. This means hungry. In the second word, the second part’s tone is high and this means diarrhea. You can imagine the fun that the people here have listening to us try to speak.

“This weekend we are heading for Hong Kong for two days for a staff retreat/building time. Russ and Nellie Birdsall will be leading two sessions and time set aside to fellowship with each other. Then when we return, we have a couple of days before a short-term team comes from the states. We will be taking them around Macau to show them the sites and make sure they see what we do in our daily ministry.”

Christianity Today magazine named Huntington College one of “The 50 Best Christian Places to Work” in a report of its second annual national workplace survey. Huntington College placed third in the mid-size Higher Education category. Other finalists in this group, which includes colleges and universities with 151-300 employees, included Dallas Theological Seminary (Dallas, Texas), Belhaven College (Jackson, Miss.), The Master’s College (Santa Clarita, Calif.), Westmont College (Santa Barbara, Calif.), and Simpson College (Redding, Calif.).

The focus of this year’s survey was to find Christian companies where leaders strive to create a climate of trust. Best Christian Workplaces Institute (BCWI), which administered the survey, polled more than 10,000 employees from 107 organizations in a variety of industries. The process began by soliciting self-nominations from interested organizations that had more than 15 employees and a Christian mission. Employees in these organizations were then asked to complete an online survey examining their company’s practices. One hundred twenty-two Huntington College employees participated in this survey.

An independent panel of judges weighed together the averages from the employee scores, the participation rates of every organization’s employees in the survey and information from the management profiles. The finalists in 12 categories are listed in the May 2004 issue of Christianity Today.

Roseville UB (Ayr, Ontario) hosted its first-ever dinner-theatre as an outreach event. About 85 people were present for the event which helped open or build connections with several unchurched or unbelieving families. The ladies of the church converted the church hall/basement into a classy Italian restaurant. The main course was spaghetti with several hors dourvres and desserts.

A team from Emmanuel Bible College (Kitchener, Ontario) presented a drama called “The Gospel According to Jessica.” The drama is about a girl from the streets seeking refuge from the weather in church. She asks many questions of the pastor, just out of seminary. He struggles to demonstrate the love of Christ while the church secretary shows unconditional acceptance.

Here are some more updates fromĀ our director in Macau.

  • Of new arrivals David and Melissa Kline, “This is an answer to years of prayers that God would send more long-term workers to join us. Praise the Lord for David and Melissa. Pray for all of us as we come together as a team and seek how we can best serve God together.”
  • Attendance has increased at the Friday morning Women’s Bible Study. In early April, Jana and Jennifer Blandin traveled to Shanghai with five of those women. One of them was from Shanghai and invited them to stay at her home. Jana writes, “I was able to have a lot of quality conversation with the ELP students with whom I traveled. I also just enjoyed seeing a new part of China and being in vacation mode.”
  • “At the end of May, I will step down from being field director of our work here. I will remain on the team, with a focus on teaching and evangelism, which are the things I love to do. Please pray for our team and for me personally through this time of transition. Pray that God will also use this time to take our local churches one step further in their independence from missionary leadership.”

Two Huntington College professors recently published books which you can find in local bookstores or order from the UB bookstore.

  • Letters for Lizzie, by James O’Donnell, tells about his wife’s battle with cancer and heart disease.
  • The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Christianity, by Jeffrey Webb, is a comprehensive overview of Christianity written as part of the popular “Complete Idiots” series.

Doris Grigorian sent this note on April 14. “Nikolai returned from a short stint in Omsk, West Siberia, at the Bible College where he previously taught in 2000-2001. He left in early February 2004 and returned on March 20. At the College he taught Romans, Christian Discipleship, and Russian Literature. He preached, translated, spoke at a young people’s meeting, revisited several new church plants that were started over two years ago, and attended a new church dedication.” The Grigorians are from the Roseville UB church in Ontario. They serve with European Christian Mission.

Luanne Brooks, a UB missionary serving in Haiti with OMS International, sent this report on April 24.

“Sometimes I feel like one of the most blessed people in the world. God has given me the rare opportunity to share his love in places where many cannot go. Thank you for sending me. Thank you for being my support.

“I’m sure you are all wondering what Haiti is like now after the change in government. Let me share with you my first impressions upon arriving. First of all, we had to go to Port au Prince to clear immigration, because it is not up and running yet in Cap Haitian. As we flew closer to Cap Haitian, we could see that there had been some flooding. But what was not under water was green and beautiful. I had tried to prepare myself for what I might see when I arrived. But I was still saddened by the shape of our little airport. All of the buildings were either destroyed or severely damaged. We had to wait for our baggage in a large concrete building that was missing one entire wall. I was prepared for the worst as we drove through the city, but was pleasantly surprised that it was pretty much the same. Cap Haitian was stillwellit was still Cap Haitian. We had to take an alternate route home, because the severe rain and flooding had washed out part of the main road back to our compound.

Dave and Jane Arends and family are currently in Colorado Springs for cross-cultural training at Mission Training International. They wrote on April 18,:

“It has been a fantastic course thus far and further deepening our call to serve in Belize, Central America. We recently participated in the mission’s conference of Salem United Brethren in Chambersburg, Pa., where we received a very warm welcome. Their zeal for missions and outpouring of support was a great encouragement and example to us.

“We are currently at 63% of our monthly support need and are continuing to search for the supporters that God has planned to join our team. We hope to be on the field by the end of this June. We wanted to express a huge thanks to the folks at Otterbein UB in Waynesboro, Pa. (our home church) for all their love and support. We couldn’t do this without them.”

On March 21, King Street Church (Chambersburg, Pa.) sponsored a Missions Night. Nancy Fritz of the Missions Commission writes, “This evening was a time to praise the Lord and thank those who were part of this outreach through prayer, financial support, or active involvement. Everyone experienced a wonderful time of sharing, rejoicing and recalling the wonderful things God is doing in Honduras and Belize through the efforts of short-term work teams.

“Approximately 60 men and women in the Mid-Atlantic conference area spent time in these countries in January and February. In less than two months, with a great crew of nationals, these workers began and completed a church at Mt. Hebron outside La Ceiba, Honduras. A number of team members were privileged to participate in a dedication service before returning to the States. A children’s home in Belize was constructed and is now ready for the roof, which is expected to be completed by another team in May.

“Plans are underway for the 2004 Global Missions Celebration to be held November 13-14 at King Street Church. Since God is igniting a great interest in short-term mission trips, one of the major parts of this conference will be devoted to sharing information regarding opportunities, requirements, training, and plans for maximizing the efforts and results of short-term mission trip.”