Dave Thrush was the director of Rhodes Grove Camp (Chambersburg, Pa.) for many years. He had been experiencing terrible headaches since last Thursday (June 3), and finally saw a doctor on Monday, June 7. A CT scan of his head showed that something was going on, so he was referred to a neurologist, who did a spinal tap and an MRI.

Dave’s wife, DuAnne, reports, “The bottom line is that there’s a small soft tissue mass with bleeding around it in the center base of his brain. They transferred him to Hershey, leaving Chambersburg a little after midnight.

“The neurologist at Hershey says he’s familiar with this type of issue. Dave continues to have pain, not as bad as Thursday night, but still not good. I’m getting things around to get coverage at school and then I’m going up to Hershey.

“We will appreciate your prayers. As Dave said this evening, ‘You sure don’t know what’s going to happen in a day when you get up in the morning.'”

Schoolkids in Haiti

Schoolkids in Haiti

With the help of CH Global, 62 Haitian children have found sponsors among people in our Canadian UB churches, and schools are operating in three of our churches in Haiti. We’d like to double the number of schools and, with the help of US donors, sponsor an additional 200 children before the end of 2010.

Sponsoring a child provides access to education, nutrition, healthcare, and an opportunity for the entire family to come to know Christ as Savior. All of our programming is offered through our Haitian United Brethren churches and benefits our people and their surrounding communities.

As we look to the future, we recognize there is no “magic pill” for Haiti. However, investing long-term in education and the spiritual development of children and adults is one way we can make a meaningful difference.

In the coming days, we’ll be looking for ways to provide micro-enterprise opportunities. The old saying compares teaching a man to fish as opposed to giving him a fish. In Haiti, the question is not whether the man has a fish or knows how to fish: most simply don’t have access to the pond. Haitians have skills and abilities that would allow them to support themselves and their families. Sometimes all they lack is an initial investment to get them started.

A Youtube video showing destruction in Millbury from the tornado.

The Mainstreet church (Walbridge, Ohio), is mourning the loss of two persons from the church who died in a tornado Saturday night, June 5.

Mary Walters and her son Hayden, 5, died in the storm as the family slept. Mary’s husband, Ryan, and their daughter, Madison, 9, are hospitalized; Ryan is in critical condition. One member of the Mainstreet youth group also lost his father to the storm. Altogether, at least five people were killed.

The tornado ripped through Millbury, a 1200-person bedroom community of Toledo located a few miles from Walbridge, causing extensive damage to homes and city buildings.

At least 100 homes were destroyed or damaged, along with a number of city and commercial buildings. The township police and emergency medical services building were, by one report, destroyed. The 911 operators, who worked in that building, had to be relocated. The high school, where graduation was to be held on Sunday, June 6, also sustained heavy damage.

Mainstreet Church canceled Sunday services because of damage to the church and the devastation to property and people’s lives around them.

The church website says, “Regardless of the damage to our building, we will be the church to the community around us.”

In that spirit, Mainstreet has mobilized to help care for people in the community, working to prepare and distribute food and help people with shelter and clothing.

Mainstreet opened its campus at 705 N. Main Street in Walbridge as a shelter for persons in need. They call this their 705 Campus; it was the church’s main facility until they relocated in 2007. Bags and gloves, among other things, are available here so people can help their neighbors with cleanup efforts. The 705 Campus is also open for anyone needing shelter Sunday night. Food, clothing, water, and toiletries are also available there.

On Sunday night, Mainstreet began serving food to people at the new 795 Campus. They also began delivering meals to volunteer workers and displaced people.

Marty Pennington is senior pastor of Mainstreet Church.

View a collection of Flickr photos showing the destruction.

Here is an update from Doug Birdsall regarding the Lausanne Congress planned for October 2010 in South Africa. Four thousand participants have been selected from 200 countries. I will have the privilege of representing the United Brethren church. This will be the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization; the Second Congress was held 36 years ago, in 1974.

Doug Birdsall (right) is executive chairman of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization. He grew up in a United Brethren preacher’s home, a son of Roger and Mary Lou Birdsall, and a sibling to Brent, Brian, and Connie. Doug has been working on this historic meeting for five years.

Greetings from 37,000 feet over the North Atlantic.  As I write to you I am flying home from London to Boston on the final leg of a round-the-world trip for the Lausanne Movement.  The trip began 17 days ago as I departed from Boston going to Hong Kong, with subsequent stops in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, and Dubai before going on to Cape Town, South Africa.

While in Cape Town, our Lausanne Global Lausanne Leadership and our Cape Town 2010 Congress Team – 120 gifted and highly motivated people – held a productive week of meetings. We were dazzled as leaders of each working team presented their reports and had a growing awareness of history in the making.  At the end of the presentations at the Convention Centre, Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda, Honorary Chairman of the Congress, turned to me and said, “This is incredible, just amazing. This will go down as the most thoroughly planned Congress on world evangelization in history!”


David and Melissa Kline and children are currently in Ontario visiting churches and supporters. They will be speaking nearly every Sunday until the end of July. If you would like to hear their presentation on Macau, you can find them in these places:

June 6 New Hope UB church (Toronto, Ontario)
June 13 Parkwood Gardens UB church (Guelph, Ontario)
June 20 Banner of Christ UB church (Byron Center, Mich.)
June 27 Union Church (Huntington, Ind.)
July 11 East Washington UB church (Ashley, Mich.)
July 18 Monticello UB church (Spencerville, Ohio)

One of the tent cities in Port au Prince

One of the tent cities in Port au Prince

During May I traveled to Haiti to assess the current situation with the help of our Haitian leader, Rev. Oliam Richard. Joining me were Paul Plato (Canadian UB Missions Director), Ed Sider (Director of CH Global), and a number of others.

At present, 1.3 million Haitians have been displaced by the destruction following the earthquake. The majority live in tent cities. It seems that a sea of blue Samaritan’s Purse tarps and tents cover any vacant lot or field in the greater Port Au Prince area. Lack of food, dignity, and hope are a constant problem. Children are not attending school and the jobs the parents worked at before the quake no longer exist.

Yet we found that our UB churches are bursting at the seams. Across the country there are reports of people coming to faith in Christ.

With the addition of a recent offering of $7,900 from Hong Kong Conference, our total for Haiti Relief has reached $170,000. Over half has already been distributed to Samaritan’s Purse and CH Global for immediate relief needs. With the remaining $70,000 we’ll complete construction on our Delmas Church in order to open a new school for up to 200 children.

Later in October, we’d like to send a number of work teams to rebuild two UB churches in Cite Soliel, the poorest area of Port Au Prince, where two UB churches were destroyed by the earthquake. Here again, we’d like to not only restore these places of worship, but open schools for needy children in this community.

We’re grateful for our partnership with fellow UB churches around the world and for organizations like CH Global that share our passion to bless the nation of Haiti.

Kevin Leibensperger

Kevin Leibensperger

Kevin Leibensperger, 53, bishop of the Evangelical Congregational Church since 2008, was killed Tuesday, June 1, in a car accident. According to police, he apparently lost control of his vehicle while traveling in central Pennsylvania; the car hit a tree and caught fire.

The United Brethren church has a long association with the Evangelical Congregational Church. Many of our ministers have attended seminary at ECC-owned Evangelical School of Theology in Myerstown, Pa. (whose president have included UB ministers Ray Seilhamer and Kirby Keller). We have cooperated with the EC Church  in missions and in other ways over the years, and the idea of merger has arisen from time to time.

Bishop Leibensperger leaves behind a wife and four grown children.

Reports indicate that Tropical Storm Agatha has caused 123 deaths in Guatemala, 14 in Honduras, and 9 in El Salvador. Guatemala, however, is also feeling the effects of the Pacaya Volcano eruption that began last Thursday night and continued to spew ash until Tuesday.

Here are two reports from our superintendent in Guatemala, Rev. Francisco Najera (right).

First Report

“It has been raining nearly without a break since Tuesday, May 25, causing widespread flooding in several parts of the country. However, on Thursday the 27th at 3 pm we also felt a tremor throughout most of the country which did not last long, thanks be to God, but caused a little scare. At 7:20 pm, loud thunder was heard, and since it was raining we thought everything was normal. But after  our evening service we realized that ash was falling along with the rain.

“This alarmed us all, because we were seeing something very unusual. It fell for several hours through the night due to the eruption of a volcano located between Guatemala City and Escuintla. The International Airport is closed due to the volcanic ash that is as deep as 8 cm (half inch) in some areas. The roof of my house sank in part due to the weight of water and ash, and several neighboring houses also were damaged.

“The Mount of Olives Church, which has just opened, is 18 kilometers from the volcano and lost about 40% of its roof. Although the volcano is closer to where our Escuintla churches are located, they have not reported damage. Our Central Church has no damage to its structure, but the ash has plugged downspouts and water is entering the building, as there is no place for the water to go.

“The government has declared a state of emergency in three departments of the country. About 2500 people have been evacuated. Several roads have collapsed, but the airport is scheduled to reopen on Monday. Please remember us in your prayers.”

Second Report

“Since yesterday, it has rained without even a pause for 18 hours. This has caused rivers to overflow, and roads and bridges to collapse. Five families housed in the Rock of Salvation Church have unfortunately lost their homes and all their possessions due to the rains. We thank God, they were in the church, not in their homes when they collapsed and were swept away. We have taken clothes and food to this group of 23 people, mostly children, who are hurting deeply. We are doing everything possible to feed and house them.

“Your prayer and assistance would be welcomed. The rains continue, and will continue until next week according to the news media.”

Global Ministries will pass on 100% of any donations received to assist our Guatemalan church members. Please be sure to indicate that your gift is intended for “Guatemalan Relief.”

Pastor Tim Hallman (right) and layman Terry Sutton bring Matt Beck out of the water.

Pastor Tim Hallman (right) and layman Terry Sutton bring Matt Beck out of the water.

Pastor Tim Hallman gave a short message in the main lodge.

Anchor Community Church (Fort Wayne, Ind.) baptized 12 persons on May 30. About 135 people attended the service held at the Stillwater Retreat just south of Fort Wayne, Ind. Anchor has held a baptismal service at Stillwater for the past ten years.

The day began with a brief service in the main lodge–singing, a short message from Pastor Tim Hallman, and the testimonies of four of the baptism candidates. Then everyone grabbed chairs and headed down to the lake.

Nearly all of the persons baptized were fairly new to Anchor. They included four couples. In three cases, partners assisted Pastor Tim Hallman in baptizing each other. A 13th person planned to be baptized, but she got called in to work that morning.

A potluck meal followed the baptisms. And then people hung around for a fun afternoon of swimming, canoeing, fishing, games, and fellowship.

Here are more photos from the day.