Billy Simbo, now serving as Superintendent of Sierra Leone National Conference, sent a report about recent developments at Mattru Hospital in Sierra Leone. Mattru Hospital, which became a headquarters for rebels during the civil war, is rising out of the ashes. This mission hospital is making great strides, according to this July report from Superintendent Billy Simbo.

Great things are happening at Mattru Hospital and other things are in store.

Medical Board
The Mattru hospital Board made up of community and church representatives, plus representatives from the Ministry of Health and Sciences, met in June and elected Billy K. Simbo as chairman.

After the normal course of business, the Board appointed an interview committee which interviewed and hired a Finance and Administrative Officer for the hospital. This young man, Julius Gulama, comes as a member of King Memorial U.M.C. church in Freetown. Julius has a very strong accounting background and has wide work experience, including working as an administrative officer for a clinic in Conakry, Guinea.

HU_newresidencehall.jpgHuntington University broke ground for a new residence hall on July 12. Construction will be completed in time for the fall 2008 semester. The facility is designed to house 150 undergraduate students, mostly freshmen and sophomores.

The university’s current housing capacity is 718 beds, including residence halls, Forester Village apartments, and two campus-owned houses. During the 2006-2007 academic year, Huntington was at 93 percent of its housing capacity. For the 2008-2009 year, the university won’t have enough housing for the number of students they expect.

The building, designed by the InterDesign Group, Inc., will sit across from Miller and Meadows halls with the front entrance facing Lake Street. It will have 154 beds, mostly for freshman and sophomore students, and will cost $6-7 million.

The general contractor is Fetters Construction Co. of Auburn, Ind., which also built the Science Hall and renovated Brenn Hall.

The 3rd Annual Tom Ponsot Memorial Classic Golf Tournament will be held on September 15, 2007, with the proceeds going to support Camp Cotubic in Bellefontaine, Ohio. Many of us have fond memories of attending summer camp while we were growing up. Friendships were formed, knees were skinned, challenges were conquered, life-long lessons were learned, and most of all, many were introduced to Jesus. Now that we are older, we are glad such places still exist for our kids and grandkids.

Camp Cotubic is one such place, and it held a special place in the heart of Mr. Tom Ponsot, who passed away in the spring of 2005. Tom saw the great potential of Camp Cotubic and volunteered his time and financial resources to preserve it as a place where his own grandkids and many other children could continue to have summer camp experiences. Tom served as the Chairman of the Board for several years and was passionate about the camp’s ministry. We seek to continue that work through this fundraising event.

You can help in two ways:

  • Enter a Team. Find three other friends and enter a team. The cost is $50/person and includes greens fees, cart, and lunch. You can register by sending your name to
  • Be a Sponsor. Your business, church, affinity group or you can sponsor a hole for $100. You can also make a prize donation to be given away during the tournament.

The tournament will be held at The Woods Golf Course, 12083 US 127 South, Van Wert, Ohio. Sign-in at 7:30 am. Tee-off at 8:00 am.

For more information, contact the Zanesville United Brethren Church at (260) 638-4040 or

Mildred Griffin from Avlon UB church (Bremen, Ohio) passed away July 11. She was the mother of Jane Baker, who served as a missionary in Sierra Leone with her husband, Dr. Ron Baker. Mildred was well-known in the old Scioto Conference. She spent her latter years in a care facility in California.

Brent BirdsallBrent Birdsall (right), pastor of College Park UB church in Huntington, Ind., since 1993, has resigned to accept a position on staff with a church in Minnesota. Starting August 13, he will be Adult Ministries Pastor at Berean Baptist Church in Burnsville, Minn., overseeing all ministries from post-college through senior adults.

Brent and Sandie Birdsall and family served two stints as missionaries in Sierra Leone, and pastored the Emmanuel UB church in Fort Wayne, Ind., in between. Their second term in Sierra Leone was cut short by the civil war; they were part of the emergency evacuation of all UB missionaries on a military transport.

Gary DilleyBrent served as a member, and then chairman, of the Global Ministries Leadership Team, and also served on the Executive Leadership Team.

Gary Dilley (left), director of Global Ministries, was named Interim Pastor of College Park Church, effective July 1. On top of his duties with Global Ministries, he will give about 20 hours a week to leadership at College Park and will preach about half of the Sundays. He was asked to serve during this transition time.

Jennifer BlandinJennifer Blandin, UB missionary in Macau, sent these notes on June 17.

  • Living Stone Church hosted an ELP Sunday service the end of May. Besides our students being invited to come, people already attending Living Stone were encouraged to bring friends. About 50 people attended! Two women, who had been attending the follow-up sessions for chapel, and one man who is a Christian but hadn’t been to church in a while, came from the ELP Program! Plus, people from the church also brought friends and family!
  • During the past ELP term, the staff and students took many opportunities to interact outside of class time. It helped to develop closer relationships, and the difference has shown.
  • We held a final farewell party for Russ and Nellie Birdsall, who left last week. Over 60 people attended! One person I talked with thought only four or five people would come. : Sometimes we don’t realize the impact we are making until the goodbyes. But investing in people’s lives for Christ gives higher return than the Dow Jones could ever hope to!
  • On July 1-4, the local staff and missionaries held a four-day retreat to Thailand.
  • At the beginning of August, I will return to the States for my six-month furlough. My furlough was moved up a few months so I can attend fall classes and attend a few family events while I’m back. I have contacted some churches about speaking, but still have some empty time slots available, should you or your church like me to come and share about Macau and what goes on here. Also, while I’m in the States, I’ll need some reliable transportation. If anyone has a car available, please let me know.

Parkview Huntington Hospital has awarded a $75,000 grant for Huntington University’s new nursing program. This gift is in addition to Parkview’s $100,000 grant in February 2006.

“We could not imagine starting a program without the support of Parkview Huntington Hospital,” said Dr. Norris Fr5iesen, vice president and dean of the university, “and we anticipate a long-term partnership. Parkview Huntington Hospital not only provides financial support like this grant, but will also work with us to provide hands-on training for our future nurses.”

The funds will be used for start-up costs for the nursing program.

“This partnership enhances our already strong ties with the university and addresses the national shortage of experienced nurses,” said Darlene Garrett, chief operating officer for Parkview Huntington Hospital. “The stability and quality of our nation’s health care system relies on a sufficient supply of well-educated and skilled nurses. The addition of a nursing degree program at Huntington University is a major step toward meeting these needs.

Lutheran Hospital of Fort Wayne, Ind., donated 12 beds to Huntington University’s nursing clinical lab. The beds are the same type used in Lutheran’s clinical care areas. They were placed in two classrooms in the newly renovated lower level of the Science Hall, eight beds in one room and four in the other.

Read more about Huntington University’s nursing program.

On Sunday, July 1, Franklin UB church (New Albany, Ohio) held its third annual Faith & Freedom Sunday. The purpose is to give thanks to God and recognize local citizens who have gone above and beyond the ordinary to support their country. It is also a time of recognition of the church’s military veteran as America’s birthday is celebrated.

This year an award of appreciation was given to members of Lima Company. Lima Company is a Columbus, Ohio, based Marine reserve infantry unit that was called to duty in the spring of 2005. In a period of just two months, 23 men were killed in action, and most of others in the unit were injured. The subject of a book, a movie, and national news, Lima Company came home in September 2005; many of the men carried scars that will last a lifetime.

Special invitations were sent out to area politicians, Proclamations and recognition were received from the offices of the Ohio governor and Columbus mayor, and an aide to Senator George Voinivich attended, along with many other local elected officials.
After the church service, members picnicked on an “All American” meal. Local media coverage was generous, with, newspapers and local CBS, ABC, and Fox news crews on hand to do stories for the evening news casts.

Huntington University GraduatesOn May 19, Huntington University awarded degrees to 200 students during Commencement Exercises. Four new programs at Huntington University saw their first graduates walk the aisle

  • Marci Roller, an elementary teacher in Andrews, Ind., received the Master of Education degree. The program, begun in 2005, now enrolls 15-25 students each term.
  • Six students received degrees in Social Work.
  • One student, Jason Latino, received a degree in Digital Media arts. “Our goal is for students to be making films, images, and projects that will find their way out into the campus community and beyond,” says instructor Steve Leeper. “By the time a student graduates from the DMA program, there is every possibility that his or her work will already have established a presence on the Internet, in festivals, and even within the media industry. With the advent of the Internet, there are literally hundreds of venues available for digital media.”
  • Jason Rahn and Matt Gerlach comprise the first graduating class of Recreation and Sport Ministry majors, a program started in 2004 which prepares students to plan, direct, and initiate church-based or community recreation programs and to use recreation and sports as a tool for outreach.