Pat Jones (right) introduces Jeff Bleijerveld, Director of Global Ministries.

About 50 people attended last Thursday’s “Hang with the Bishop” event. The location was the festively-decorated (for VBS) gymnasium of College Park Church in Huntington, Ind. As with the other three Hang with the Bishop events held thus far (in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan), Pat Jones emceed the occasion, and attendees had the chance to ask any questions they wished of Bishop Ron Ramsey.

A few days ago, Jeff Bleijerveld talked about “crossroad cities,” a concept that fascinates me. He says he’s got a lot more to unpack on that subject.

Fort Wayne, like so many American cities, has some crossroads qualities. We’ve got the largest population of Burmese outside of Myanmar, plus a lot of immigrants from Bosnia and Darfur. And yet, they remain somewhat invisible to me. I don’t know where to find them.

Last Saturday, I attended the dedication of a Habitat for Humanity home that my church, Anchor, along with three local Presbyterian churches, funded and built. The keys were handed over to a Muslim family (seven kids!) from Somalia. That’s them in the photo, along with some other folks from Somalia. This family spent 13 years in refugee camps before making it to the States four years ago. The husband and wife, and I assume the kids as well, now speak English very well.

During the ceremony, two young men, immigrants from Ethiopia, expressed their appreciation to us for helping their “brothers and sisters” from Africa. Very cool.

So we got a touch of the crossroads thing. In building this home, they saw the best of Christianity, and maybe some seeds were planted.

Have you seen the new Global Ministries video on the Philippines? Jeff Bleijerveld, the director, put this together using footage from his May trip to the Philippines. It’s quite good, and suitable for viewing as part of a church service or Sunday school class.

There is a lot of activity regarding mission trips this summer.

  • A group from College Park UB church (Huntington, Ind.) returned from a week in Honduras early this morning. Everything went well, and associate pastor Roger Vezeau promises some photos and stories.
  • Banner Church (Byron Center, Mich.) is sending a group of eight high school students and four adults to Nicragua June 26-July 6 (which means they left today). They’ll help complete construction on two church buildings and provide a couple outreach events in hopes of connecting villages to their churches.
  • Michele Vigil, Youth & Disciple Pastor at Hillsdale UB (Hillsdale, Mich.) reports that they’re taking 12 teens and adults to Honduras July 14-21. They’ll stay in La Ceiba, visit a few orphanages and churches in the area, and do some work projects at the Bethel school.

We’re inviting UB people to design a logo for the 2009 US National Conference. We need car racing imagery combined with the name XLR8 (the text-message equivalent of “Accelerate”–clever, huh?). Think Nascar, without the trademark infringements. All the details are given on the Healthy Ministry Resources website

UB pews are loaded with talented people. Know someone in your church who might be interested in designing a logo? Make sure he/she hear about it. The deadline is July 31. And the winner gets a whopping $100. (Several possible designs have come in already.)

Bethany House of the Lord is a four-year-old United Brethren church planting project in Cumberland, Maryland. The congregation emphasizes a simple household approach to ministry and worship. Using an age-integrated curriculum for daily devotions based on the Sunday sermon, parents are encouraged to take responsibility for the discipleship of their own children.

On Fathers Day 2008, Pastor Michael Mudge took vacation and left the responsibilities for leading worship and preaching to the congregation for the fourth consecutive year. This year, the preaching was done by three young men of the congregation…ages 15, 13, and 39!

hirschy_paul.jpgPaul Hirschy, former bishop and now a Huntington University staffer, has been offering the Good Sense stewardship training to UB churches. He recently conducted this at Franklintown UB church (Franklintown, Pa.). What’s this about?

Paul explains, “Willow Creek developed the Good Sense materials because they found that people would not give the time required for the demanding Crown Ministry. It is practical, designed to be done in one day, with six one-hour sessions. However, people are expected to do some pre-session work in preparation for the training.

“The material emphasizes that:

  • God owns it all and we are to be good trustees of what God has entrusted to us.
  • Credit card debt is the most damaging kind of debt, and people need to be very wise in the use of credit cards.
  • People can get out of debt and find financial freedom.

Credit card debt is a huge issue for many people. Churches need to deal with it to be relevant to one of the major problems in people’s lives.

“I like Good Sense because it is easy for people to understand, it can be presented in one day, and the cost is reasonable ($15 per manual, which a couple can share).”

If you’re interested in possibly hosting a Good Sense seminar, contact Paul Hirschy at or call toll-free 1-866-213-3710.

Macau is becoming what we called a “crossroads” city. While the population consists primarily of Chinese and Macanese (people of Portuguese descent), you increasingly find people from many other countries. New York, Paris, Berlin, Toronto–those are well-known crossroads cities, where you see the nations gathered. Now Macau is joining their ranks. 

On the high-speed ferry from Hong Kong, I met a Canadian coming to Macau on a six-month contract to work with Cirque du Soleil. You find Filipinos and East Indians everywhere, many coming on short-term contracts or seeking service-industry jobs. Unfortunately, Macau’s growth and international attraction is built on misfortune–gambling.

We have a missionary team in this crossroads city. What do we do about that? What might God be intending? Can we reach people who then go back to their homelands and have an impact beyond Macau? 

Living Stone UB church in Macau has already begun embracing this opportunity. Three Filipinos currently attend the church, and they are increasingly open to saying, “We’re going to reach internationals.” 

A medical team left for Honduras last Friday. Donna Hollopeter, associate director of Global Ministries, is a member of that team. She sent this brief email back to the Global Ministries office on Monday, June 24: “Just a note to let everyone know that we are just fine. It is quite nice here temperature wise. We have been incredibly busy. Two clinics and so far we have seen 709 people. Lots of need, definitely.”


L-r: Thurm Payton, Howard Matthews, Mike Caley, Mark Ralph, Scott Hergert, Darrel Bosworth, Gordon Kettel.

J. Michael Caley, Banner Church, Byron Center, Mich.
Banner Church is part of a LEAD team, the first one in Michigan. The initials stand for learn, encourage, achieve, dream. It’s a group of pastors getting together for the specific purpose of thinking and praying together about the most strategic places God might have us plant a new church.

The commitment of that team and church, by the pastor participating, is:

  • Identify a potential church planter.
  • Pool resources.
  • Set goals for how often to start a new church.
  • Do everything possible to support and encourage the planter.
Gordon and Lori Kettel

Our LEAD team gathers every 6-8 weeks to support the work of Gordon Kettel, who is planting a church in Grand Ledge, Mich. Our experience has been good. Gordon is so fun and entertaining; we have a great time together. In addition to me and Gordon, there are:

  • Howard Matthews (HomeFront UB, Grandville)
  • Scott Hergert (First UB, Lansing).
  • Thurm Payton (Lighthouse UB, Williamston)
  • Darrel Bosworth (Kilpatrick UB, Ashley).

We have committed for a period of 2-3 years to start a church and see it through. We serve as a sounding board for Gordon. He shares struggles and asks questions, and we agree to always laugh at his jokes.

In the 1980s, I became a church planter. I felt entirely alone, even though I received a regular paycheck from the conference treasurer and was told the conference backed us. God used that experience to teach us, as a family, some amazing things, and we learned how to share Christ without any real support. But the LEAD team concept excites me, because I feel it’ll lead to some real success stories.