Ben, Lydia, Caleb, and Jackie Dailey

Previously, we reported on the Dailey family from Park UB (Bluffton, Ind.). They were in a serious accident in Fargo, ND., while on vacation. Parents Ben and Jackie were treated and released, but children Caleb (5) and Lydia (2) were hospitalized in critical condition.

The children remain in serious condition, but they are gradually improving. You can follow their progress on Jackie gives regular updates.

On Thursday, December 16, Jackie wrote the following:

Want to hear the best news EVER?! We’re coming to Indiana tomorrow! From what we understand, the flight is scheduled for Friday morning! Both kids will be flown on the same flight to Riley Hospital. HOORAY!!! I will be riding with both kids. Can’t say flying is my favorite thing in the world, but I’m going to do it because it’s what needs to be done to get my kids the care they need.

We had a choice between flight crews and decided to go with the crew here at Sanford. We’ve heard they REALLY want to take our kids, and we know they’ll provide amazing care during the flight. Plus, they know our kids and their conditions–they visit every other day and check up on the kids. Ben will be taking a commercial flight to Indy. Please pray for safe travels and a stress-free trip for both kids.

The conference room at the national office is getting a makeover.

Bishop Phil Whipple surveys the "damage."

We are remodeling the conference room at the national office. Right now, it’s totally gutted. The current conference room had been in place since 1987. The new one will replace well-used furnishings, enlarge the room, and provide significant upgrades in technology (such as videoconferencing).

In the process, we tore out two closets, which contained audio-visual equipment and other things going back 30+ years.

We’re making everything available FOR FREE to United Brethren churches. All you have to do is come get it. We’re not shipping anything.

You’ll find short descriptions and photos on the UB website [Nov 2011 note: this information is no longer there]. Just contact Administrative Assistant Cathy Reich is you’re interested in an item.

Talking with a Turkish mayor about opportunities for ministry.

Jeff Bleijerveld, Director of Global Ministries

Previously, I talked about the idea of starting United Brethren ministry in a Muslim country, and why Turkey would be a good place to start.

Targeting a specific country is one aspect. Another is asking, “Who do we begin with? Who has some effective approaches and models?”

For me and for some members of the Global Ministries Leadership Team, we’re not interested in merely going to another American agency that is doing Muslim ministry. We’d prefer to learn directly from nationals in a Middle Eastern country, gaining their insights into what’s going on.

For that, we had a connection through Emmanuel UB church of Fort Wayne, Ind.

For several years, Emmanuel has been supporting one of its former members, Ladoyt “Rody” Rodeheaver, president and CEO of IN Network. IN Network connects churches and individuals in the United States with Christians in areas of the world where there is great need and the gospel is not widely known. That connection brought us in contact with Benan.

In early October, I traveled to Turkey with Kurt Uhen, a member of Emmanuel and a member of the Global Ministries Leadership Team. Benan took us around the country.

Benan is Turkish. I don’t know how many languages he speaks, but Kurt and I observed him functioning well in 9 different languages. He’s responsible for translating the Kurdish New Testament. He worked with the Bible society in Turkey to do the French, German, English, Arabic, Syriac (a dead language), Greek, Hebrew, and Kurdish translations. His ministry spans Turkey and the region, and he works to encourage, train and motivate pastors, church planters, and leaders.

Kurt and I found that there are a lot of opportunities for getting involved. I’ll talk about them in my next post.

Jeff Bleijerveld, Director of Global Ministries, returned Tuesday (Dec. 14) from Sierra Leone, where he attended the annual conference. A major decision was the selection of John Pessima as the new bishop of Sierra Leone Conference. He replaces Billy Simbo, who has been serving there for three years.

Jeff posted a bunch of photos from the conference on his Facebook page.

This church building in Eastern Turkey is being offering to the evangelical community for free, with the condition that they restore Christian worship in this city of some 200,000 people.

Jeff Bleijerveld, Director of Global Ministries

Turkey used to be the cradle of Christianity. You would never know it now. Pressure from Muslims, from both the state and grassroots levels, forced Christians to flee. Many went to Europe. Numerous churches became mosques.

However, during my trip to Turkey in early October, we visited two churches that have stood empty for around 250 years, and are under the control of the Syriac Orthodox Church foundation. The Orthodox church is looking for someone to come restore worship in these communities of 100,000-plus people. Maybe Turks are motivated a bit by wanting to join the European Union and show they are a pluralistic society. But the open doors are there.

One vacant church we visited could probably seat 300 people. It looks very much like an old European church, with high ceilings and columns. If you did some dusting, and brought in a generator to power lights and sound equipment, you could begin worshiping next week.

They told us, “If you’ll initiate worship in this building, it’s yours. We’ll hand the deed over to you.” An evangelical pastor traveling with us said, “I need to go home and talk with my wife about this opportunity.” We were told there was a large Protestant population that would immediately want to be part of any restart of that church.

In another community, we came across a church—not quite as ornate—with an American missionary couple working there. They have a number of believers who have relocated from other cities and churches to work alongside them, and have taken jobs in that community. The same deal: If we started worship in that building, we could have it.

At the same time, the Turks kept telling us, “This is still Turkey. Don’t write reports saying Turkey is turning to Christ.”

If you’re in a deep cavern and someone lights a match, that spark can seem real bright. But Turkey remains predominantly Muslim, with plenty of opposition to the Gospel.

At the end of each year, pastors are required to complete forms which tell about the church’s ministry during the past year and about their own ministry. The forms for 2010 will be mailed in January. However, right now they can be downloaded from the UB website.

The reports can be downloaded as Word files (which you can fill in on your computer and email back), or as PDF files (which you can fill in by hand). There are five documents:

  1. 2010 Minister’s Reports
  2. 2010 Unassigned Minister’s reported
  3. 2010 Local Church Report
  4. 2010 Women’s Ministry Report
  5. Instruction Sheet

The Unassigned Minister’s Report and the Women’s Ministry Report can both be filled out online.

All reports are due to the Bishop’s office February 15, 2011.

Jeff Bleijerveld, Director of Global Ministries

In early October, I traveled to  Turkey with Kurt Uhen, a member of the Global Ministries Leadership Team who is from Emmanuel UB in Fort Wayne, Ind. We were looking at opportunities for United Brethren ministry.

We have been talking for several years about ministering in the Muslim world.

  • The United Brethren denomination has ministries in Latin America, which is traditionally Catholic or post-Catholic.
  • We have ministry in Thailand, which is primarily Buddhist, as well as in other Asian countries with a large Buddhist constituency.
  • We have churches in India, which is predominantly Hindu.

But we’ve not had any kind of work in a Muslim country. We’re not trying to add ministry in the Muslim world just to say we have a full set. But an increasing number of people in UB churches have a heart for the Muslim world and want to be involved in reaching Muslims. Are we going to get involved, or just send people to other organizations which work in Muslim countries?

As a newbie to Muslim ministry, where should we start? We wouldn’t want to head into Saudi Arabia, a strict Islamic state with sharia law. But Turkey offers some good possibilities. Though Turkey is predominantly Muslim, it is a secular state, westernized in many ways, wants to become a member of the European Union, and provides certain freedoms of religion. It might be a good place to get our feet wet.

Alvordton UB (Aldvordton, Ohio) is trying something new: a live nativity. It will be held 6:30-8:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday, December 18-19.

The church is located on US 20 in Alvordton. Drivers can enter the horseshoe-shaped drive to view the Nativity, which will feature Mary and Joseph, the Three Wise Men, shepherds with sheep, a goat, and, of course “Baby Jesus.”

Music will add to the ambiance of the evening. Each vehicle will receive a bag of goodies as it exits the display.

Ben, Lydia, Caleb, and Jackie Dailey

Members of Park UB church (Bluffton, Ind.) held a prayer service Friday night, December 10, for the family of Ben and Jackie Daily, who are active members of the church.

The Dailey family, on a trip to visit friends out west, were involved in a terrible accident when their van collided with a truck near the Minnesota-North Dakota border. Ben and Jackie were treated and released, but both young children suffered serious head and other injuries: Caleb, 5, and Lydia, two-and-a-half.

Caleb and Lydia were taken to the Sanford Medical Center in Fargo, N.D., about 65 miles from where the accident occurred. They are listed in critical condition.

Ben and Jackie would appreciate your prayers, as they live far from home and care for Caleb and Lydia.

Jackie set up a Carepages site, where she posts regular updates. You need to set up a free account, but it is very easy to do.

L-r: Jeff Bleijerveld, Doug Birdsall, and Brian Birdsall

Jeff Bleijerveld, Director of Global Ministries

Doug Birdsall spearheaded Cape Town 2010 as executive director of the Lausanne Committee. Doug grew up in the United Brethren church, the son of Dr. S. Roger and Mary Lou Birdsall, a long-time minister in the denomination. His brother Brian, a Global Ministries endorsed staff who heads up the Campus Crusade work in Ukraine, also came as a delegate.

Doug did phenomenal job. He was on the go morning, noon, and night. As I left at the end of the day’s events to head back to the hotel to chill out, he was making the rounds of various receptions throughout the evening.

I think Doug and some of the people who worked with him really had a vision for making the congress more than just missions thinkers getting together and hammering out these issues. Their vision was to open this up to the entire church.

One of their goals was to nurture future missions leaders. With that in mind, they focused on inviting people 50 years or younger. I’m 49, so I barely squeezed in. They really weighted their decisions toward getting younger people who might emerge in the future as missions leaders.

Many people were invited to apply for an invitation to the conference, but then they went through a selection process. Each country had its own selection team to determine who would represent that country. About 4000 persons from America applied, and only 400 were invited; I was privileged to make the cut. In Canada, 6000 people applied for only 60 spots. So the selection teams had a difficult job.