Haiti’s priority, right now, is the initial relief and recovery that professional aid and medical organizations are carrying out. Once we get past that, teams will be needed to help with clean up and reconstruction. We hope to send teams as soon as possible, and will let you know when we have more information.

If you are interested in participating on a work team to Haiti, it would be wise to begin getting the necessary vaccinations so you can respond quickly. For example, Hepatitis B requires two vaccinations before you leave the country.

Visit the Center for Disease Control website for complete information.

Marshall Woods, pastor of Mill Chapel UB (Reedsville, W. Va.), sent this report:

“Two years ago we added a $260,000 addition, which included classrooms, restrooms, a large fellowship hall, and expansion of the sanctuary. We baptized 45 people in 2009 and 30 in 2008. Ministries to teens, children, men, and women are active. God is great and doing great things!”

Chet Conley, associate pastor of First UB (Findlay, Ohio), almost lost his grandson, Ethan, on Saturday, January 16. Several days earlier, the eight-year-old developed viral mialytus, a virus that attacks the muscles.

Today, Monday, they are removing the breathing tube and some of the sedation. He is responding.  He still has the feeding tube and kidney dialysis. There will be much physical therapy when this is completed.

eric-church300Last May, Eric Church earned a degree in digital media arts from Huntington University. Now, he’s in the running to win a share of $5 million as part of the Doritos “Crash the Super Bowl” ad competition.

Church was part of a team that produced “Casket,” one of the top six finalists (out of 4000 entries). It features a man who stages his own funeral to eat Doritos and watch football.

People can vote for their favorite of those six finalists. The top three will then air during the Super Bowl. Voters also earn a chance to win Super Bowl tickets.

The “Casket” commercial was produced by Erwin McManus, pastor of Mosaic, a church in Whittier, Calif. Eric Church attends there.

“Shooting it was a blast,” Church says, “especially the whole falling out of the casket stunt. We used 70 bags of Doritos to cover him up inside. It was great!”

Brooklyn Park UB (Baltimore, Md.) dedicated its new after-school youth center on Sunday, January 17. Using $28,000 in donations, they built a 2000-square-foot addition to the parsonage basement. It features several pool tables, Skeeball, a shuffleboard table, and video games. A bar serving soda occupies one corner, and a wood-burning stove occupies another.

It’s named in memory of Maranda Callendar, a local 15-year-old girl who was shot in the head and later died. “If the kids had somewhere to hang out, maybe things would have gone in a different direction,” says Maranda’s stepmother, Chrissy Callendar.

They had been using the parsonage basement as a youth center. About 20 teens would gather there to hang out and play games. By 2006, about 180 different youth, ages 6-18, and come there. But they needed more room. The center was closed for several months so they could complete the expansion.

Local businesses donated walls, flooring, concrete for the foundation, and the wood-pellet stove. Local residents and even other churches contributed. Youth helped with the construction.

Alan McDonald, former UB endorsed missionary, said on Facebook, “I just spoke with our missionary friend there and they are desperate for more help. Three surgeons there have been working non-stop for three days doing amputations.”

Joan Sider, from one of our UB churches in Ontario, spoke for 12 minutes on January 16 with Rev. Oliam Richard, our superintendent in Haiti. She reported the following to Jeff Bleijerveld, Director of Global Ministries.

  • Pastor Richard got to Haiti from the Dominican Republic with three other people. They hired a van. The Dominican occupies the east end of the island.
  • Their home is standing, but they are not staying inside because of continued aftershocks (two on Saturday). They are living in the yard of their home.
  • Esther Richard, Oliam’s wife, has a bad cold and her voice is hoarse, possibly from having lived outside since the earthquake.
  • Esther will probably be flown back to France on Sunday, January 17. The French Embassy will care for that flight. Rev. Richard feels he must stay in Haiti.
  • The Delmas church is standing intact. The only damage was the gate wall, which came down. The courtyard is filled with people. Rev. Richard doesn’t know if all of the church people are safe, though someone told him they were. They planned to worship on the site on Sunday, but not inside.
  • The UB church in City Soleil is completely destroyed. Pastor Baptista and family are well, though their house suffered some damage.
  • Several other churhes were reported to be fine.
  • No contact has been made with the churches in the North.
  • Rev. Richard affirmed postponing the planned work crew from Canada. Says it was the wisest decision.

Theresa Musa and Billy Simbo, the two delegates from Sierra Leone, during the January 13 prayer time for Haiti.

Theresa Musa and Billy Simbo, the two delegates from Sierra Leone, during the January 13 prayer time for Haiti.

William Otterbein, one of the United Brethren founding bishops, originally came to America in the 1700s as a missionary from Germany. Is God up to something in Germany, UB-wise? It’s looking mighty suspicious.

  • A United Brethren church was established there in 1997 by a former UB minister from Sierra Leone.
  • Marshalee Brown Loerch, a missionary from Jamaica Conference, married a German and settled in Germany.
  • Galen Fiedler, son of former UB missionaries to Sierra Leone, and his German wife Maritta live in southern Germany and now hold the status of “non-traditional staff” with Global Ministries.
Billy Simbo, Bishop of Sierra Leone Conference.;

Billy Simbo, Bishop of Sierra Leone Conference.;

At General Conference this past week, Billy Simbo, bishop of Sierra Leone Conference, told about the work in Germany, which is considered an outreach of Sierra Leone Conference.

“In 1997, one of our ordained ministers took refuge in Berlin. Being a well-trained United Brethren pastor, he didn’t sit idle, but started a church in Berlin.

“In 2007, I was privileged to visit Berlin to celebrate their tenth anniversary. They invited me to preach at the final service. About 400 people attended. Most were German citizens, but many other African nations were represented.

“My challenge to them was that when we get together to celebrate their 20th anniversary, they should come to General Conference asking to become a national conference of the United Brethren church.

“We have reaped a lot of benefit from this church. Before medical teams from the United States came to Mattru Hospital, the church in Berlin was sending us equipment for the hospital.

“The minister who started the church in Berlin moved on to the United Kingdom in 2008, and another pastor took his place. He’s pastoring a Methodist church, but has asked permission to start a United Brethren church in England. So I said yes. We’re excited about that.

“There is great potential in Germany and all of those European countries, because everywhere you go, there are lots of African immigrants. We can start churches everywhere with them.”

Jeff Bleijerveld, director of Global Ministries, explained that the United Brethren name is registered with the German government, which is a difficult process. Now, if we want to open other churches in Germany, we have representation before the government.

Me, after I've just signed 100 copies of Tio Archive.

Me, after I've just signed 100 copies of Tio Archive.

I started writing Tio Archie in 1996, and it was published in May 2001. While it tells the story of Honduras, it was not written in Spanish, the language of Honduras. It was published in English. Because that’s what I speak.

But it needed to be in Spanish.

Over the years, missionaries Roger and Marilyn Reeck translated Tio Archie into Spanish. Marilyn worked hard this year to finish the book. On Satuday, January 9, the book arrived in La Ceiba the same day I did (though it came from a printing plant in Tegucigalpa).

The book was unveiled at the end of the January 10 service which opened the General Conference. A number of people asked me to autograph their copies. That’s always a joy and a privilege to do.

Josh McKeown, from First UB church of Holly, Hill, Fla., sent this note on Wednesday, January 13:”Tonight during our youth service called The F.L.O.K. we had four youth accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. We were all so excited to be a part of this awesome experience in their lives and thank God for allowing us to be involved in His plan.”