Bishop Denis Casco (right) of the Mexico National Conference sent this report on Saturday, March 19.

This is a report from Mexico, where God is powerfully acting through a campaign of evangelization that Bishop Denis Casco launched with the help of pastors, leaders, and members of the United Brethren in Christ churches Mexico.

Today, March 19, more than 400 United Brethren members from ten churches met in one of its church buildings in the state of Queretaro to celebrate The Regional Conference of the Cluster 3, located two hours from Mexico City.

Highlights of this conference:

  • Over 400 people attended the event.
  • Bishop Denis Casco anointed the leaders with oil in an inspirational ceremony in which there was prophecy, anointing of the Holly Spirit, and Word of exhortation.
  • All who met in this conference committed themselves to take the spiritual leadership of cities, villages, indigenous groups, youth, the family, and the children to reach them for Jesus Christ.
  • After a beautiful worship service in which people were moved by the power of the Holly Spirit, we ate a delicious meal together food, sharing with the families and other friends that were invited to the celebration.
  • Finally, we are so thankful to God because the building of the UBC Evangelical Center Church of Begoña was finished and their doors are open to receive to all people who are needy and heartbroken.

Rev. Robert Sanders, 82, of Reedsville, Ohio, passed away Saturday evening, March 19. He had pastored UB churches in southern Ohio since 1955–Mt. Zion, Salem Chapel, Laurel Chapel, West Pleasant Hill, Liberty, Logan, and Mt. Hermon. He concluded his ministry with 23 years as senior pastor of Mt. Hermon UB of Pomeroy, Ohio, 1980 to 2003.

Rev. Sanders served in the Army-Air Force in the Philippines 1946-1947. He also taught school for 30 years. Rev. Sanders was ordained in 1973.

Rev. Sanders is survived by his wife of 58 years, Nina, three daughters, and one son.

Funeral: 1 pm Wednesday, March 23, 2011. Rev. Peter Martindale will officiate.
Visitation: 5-8 pm Tuesday, March 22.
Location: White-Schwarzel Funeral Home, 9 Fifth St., Coolville, Ohio. Phone: 740-667-3110

Huntington University has been ranked sixth in the nation for Online Christian Colleges & Universities for 2011. Huntington offers online degree programs through its EXCEL Adult Degree Programs and the graduate school.

The rankings were compiled by The Best Colleges, a publication that reviews publicly available data and then produces independent ranking assessments of colleges in various disciplines. Rankings were based on schools that exemplified a Christ-centered education and met other criteria–graduation and retention rates, education quality, financial issues, reputation, and other factors.

Best Colleges wrote, “With strong showings in every category we measured, Huntington University online is one of the top online Christian universities around.”

Huntington’s oline programs are designed to fit into the busy schedules of adult students. EXCEL offers associate degree programs in Christian ministry and organizational management, in addition to bachelor’s degree programs in business management, human resource management, and not-for-profit leadership. The graduate school offers master’s degree programs in youth ministry leadership and education in an online hybrid format.

The Top Ten Online Christian Colleges were:

  1. LeTourneau University (Longview, Tex.)
  2. Liberty University (Lynchburg, Va.)
  3. Azusa Pacific Uniersity (Azusa, Calif.)
  4. Northwestern College (St. Paul, Minn.)
  5. Malone University (Canton, Ohio)
  6. Huntington University (Huntington, Ind.)
  7. Crown College (Bonifacius, Minn.)
  8. Ohio Christian University (Circleville, Ohio)
  9. Dallas Baptist University (Dallas, Tex.)
  10. Northwest Christian University (Eugene, Ore.)

HTV News, Huntington University’s television station, won second place in the “TV Studio Production” category from the National Religious Broadcasters Association.

Students Katrina Helmer, a senior broadcasting major from Noblesville, Ind., and Brendon Shick, a senior film studies and broadcasting double major from Grand Rapids, Mich., are listed as producer and director. They were presented with certificates at the national NRB convention in Nashville in February.

HTV News also took second place in the 2011 IASB College Broadcasting Competition Awards for the “Television Newscast” category. Shick won third place in the Television Spot Production category for that same competition.

HTV is a weekly news program written, directed, produced and edited by Huntington University students.

Jeff Bleijerveld with the Macau team. L-r: Jenaya Bonner, Mia Kline, Jeff, Brandt Kline, David Kline, Melissa Kline, and Bridger Fetters.

Jenaya Bonner meeting with some students in Macau.

Jeff Bleijerveld, Director of Global Ministries

Throughout the world youth show signs of apathy, but perhaps not more so than they do in Macau. Surrounded by Mainland China, with a rather confused national identity and a future of simply serving as Asia’s gambling capital, jobs and money come easily to the youth of Macau, but the future seems rather bleak.

Our team of Jenaya Bonner, Bridger Fetters, and David and Melissa Kline work in local schools as English language teachers and conversationalists. This lends legitimacy to their presence in Macau, but also provides opportunity for them to get close to students, hear their pain, and share the gospel with them in meaningful ways.

Working alongside the Living Water and Living Stone United Brethren churches, they network with church members so other Macanese believers can be brought into the circle of friends they form. This ensures that the gospel message is not simply dismissed as a Western cultural phenomenon, but is relevant for Asian culture as well.

Just after I left Macau on March 7, I received a disturbing message from David Kline. The body of one of his students was found floating near the ferry piers. While nothing was said to indicate it had been suicide, and would not in this culture, neither was there indication that a criminal investigation had been launched.

Both David and Bridger teach at the same school and ask for prayer as numerous significant conversations are taking place with students trying to deal with the tragic loss of a classmate. Pray that out of this tremendous loss, many will find hope in Christ.

Brad Kittle (right) has been appointed senior pastor of Praise Point UB (Willshire, Ohio), effective April 1, 2011. He had been senior pastor of The Rock, a UB church in Findlay, Ohio (originally called Faith Community), since 2008. Kittle replaces Mark Rutledge, who had served as senior pastor of Praise Point since January 2006. A special retirement service was held for Rutledge on March 27, 2011.

Praise Point was formed in January 2003 when two UB churches, Zion and Willshire, merged. They sold their previous buildings and constructed a brand new facility in a prominent location in Willshire. That building was dedicated in September 2006.

Huntington University launched a new website on March 16, 2011. It was the culmination of a ten-month project.

“One of the goals of this project has been to update our ‘front door to the world’ with fresh imagery and contemporary layouts that instantly convey the excellence of a Huntington University education,” said John Paff, executive director of communications. “We also wanted to make it easier for faculty and staff to participate in the ongoing editing and updating of our web content.”

The website was built from the ground up with a new server environment running Ektron CMS400.NET, a robust content management system used by many major corporations and universities.

Thousands of pages and tens of thousands of individual files were painstakingly moved from the old site to the new web system by a diligent team of staff and students, Paff said. Once this phase was complete, more than 50 meetings were scheduled before public launch to enable faculty and staff to carefully review every section of the new web site.

The  Pastoral Ministry Leadership Team, meeting on March 15, 2011. Cathy Reich, administrative assistant to Bishop Phil Whipple, is seated at the computer in the foreground taking notes. To her left, and continuing around the table, are PMLT members Dennis Sites, Terry Smith, Robert Bruce, Chris Little, Chuck Wheatley, Craig Burkholder, Gary Gates, Lee Rhodes (chairman), and Bishop Phil Whipple.

The Pastoral Ministry Leadership Team, meeting on March 15, 2011. Cathy Reich, administrative assistant to Bishop Phil Whipple, is seated at the computer in the foreground taking notes. To her left, and continuing around the table, are PMLT members Dennis Sites, Terry Smith, Robert Bruce, Chris Little, Chuck Wheatley, Craig Burkholder, Gary Gates, Lee Rhodes (chairman), and Bishop Phil Whipple.

The Pastoral Ministry Leadership Team met yesterday and today (March 14-15) in Huntington, Ind. They had the privilege of being the first denominational group to use the new conference room in the national office.

The PMLT deals with a range of issues related to ministers–licensing, education, accountability, restoration, the Pastoral Ministry Handbook, and much more. Lee Rhodes, pastor of Countryside UB in Breckenridge, Mich., is the chairman. All of the members are ministers.

Jeff Bleijerveld, Director of Global Ministries

Global Ministries is partnering with Samaritan’s Purse in the aftermath of Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami.

United Brethren people are compassionate and generous. So when disaster strikes a country, they want to help. People often contact Global Ministries to ask if we are doing anything to help in a specific situation.

Our practice is to partner with organizations which specialize in disaster relief. When the earthquake hit Haiti in January 2011, we partnered with Samaritan’s Purse and CH Global and channeled relief contributions to them. Within weeks of the earthquake, UBs had sent nearly $70,000 for disaster relief.

Likewise, the tsunami in Japan requires the expertise of a major relief ministry. Global Ministries is again working with Samaritan’s Purse.

Donors can direct funds to the organization themselves. Or, we will gladly forward your gift—100% of it—to Samaritan’s Purse. Some prefer the latter to avoid being placed on a mailing list.

What is Samaritan’s Purse doing?

At the request of Japanese Christians, Samaritan’s Purse has deployed a team to provide emergency relief aid to people affected by the earthquake and massive tsunami that hit the northeastern coast on March 11. Giant waves engulfed coastal towns and swept away houses, cars, boats, and trains.

The twin disasters devastated hundreds of towns and villages in northeast Japan. Hundreds of thousands of survivors have been left without adequate food, water, shelter, or heat as overnight temperatures dip near freezing. There is no electricity in many regions; the nights are cold; and the suffering is great. Evacuations over nuclear power concerns have
 only compounded the problems.

Samaritan’s Purse is planning to distribute food, water, medicine, blankets, hygiene supplies, and other essential items to people who have lost virtually everything. Their Japanese church partners have secured five trucks and begun purchasing supplies, and have secured permission to enter the disaster zone. Local believers are being mobilized as volunteers.

Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham has, in the past, conducted evangelistic Festivals in the Japanese cities of Osaka and Okinawa, and they have hundreds of church partners in the country.

If you want to channel relief money through Global Ministries, you can send a check to:

Global Ministries
302 Lake Street
Huntington, IN 46750

Include a memo note on the check designating the gift for “Japan relief.” Your entire donation will go toward relief efforts.

Jeff Bleijerveld (left) preaching at a UB church in Thailand. Beside him, translating from English to Mandarin, is Mark Choi, the Hong Kong missions director. On the left is a Thai worker translating from Mandarin to Thai. (click photo to enlarge)

One of the pulpits (click to enlarge)

A view from behind one of the pulpits. (click photo to enlarge)

Jeff preaching in a Thai church. Most of the people sit in plastic chairs, while the children sit up front on the floor. (click photo to enlarge)

Jeff Bleijerveld, Director of Global Ministries

Our two churches in Thailand feature the largest and most impressive pulpits in the denomination.

Rev. H. M. Lee, who heads up our work in northern Thailand, made pulpits from the trunks of two large teak trees. The stumps sit upside-down.

I’ve wondered how Rev. Lee brought the stumps to the churches. Teak is a very heavy wood.

I had the chance to preach from these pulpits. The large size came in handy, since we needed several translators. I spoke in English, another person translated from English to Mandarin, and then another person translated from Mandarin to Thai.