Annette Haines of Eden UB (Mason, Mich.) sent the following news items.

“Angela Oesterle returned at the end of June from working as a volunteer in the library of Jamaica Bible College. She helped catalog hundreds of books to be shelved in their new building. She also taught as a substitute in the college and worked with Jamaicans in Bible studies and Sunday school. She was stretched physically and spiritually from the challenge of working in a different culture. She had previously gone twice with a group from Eden Church for two-week missions trip, and she knew the Lord wanted her to give more time to Jamaica. Angela plans to return to Jamaica when several details are worked out, such as further education and finances.

“In August, we held VBS with the theme “Crown Him King.” This was for the whole family. Margaret Maybee, our music director, and her husband, Milan, one of our former pastors, organized the program. Wanting someone to minister to parents who is still raising children, they brought in Valerie Reynolds, the associate pastor at Mt. Hope UB church in Carson City, Mich. She talked about why God sends tests into our lives and how to handle them.

“While Valerie talked to the adults with young children, the older adults conducted the class time for the children. A staff person from the Lansing Campus Life chapter talked to the teens about learning to be like Christ in four specific areas.

“The missions project was to raise money to buy shelves for the Jamaica Bible College library. Over $800 was raised in five nights for this project. On the last night, 3-4 tornadoes touched down near the church, causing some unexpected excitement! The Lord protected Eden; no one was hurt and no property was damaged, although there was a lot of damage near the church.

“Phase 2 of a three-part building project has begun. Phase 1 was the completion of a new parking lot, because a Family Life Center is being built where the old parking lot was, behind the church. The Family Life Center, which will cover almost 22,000 square feet and cost $2.2 million (including the new parking lot), was begun by a ground-breaking ceremony on September 7. In this ceremony, six men who are church leaders, including the three pastors, turned over a shovelful of dirt. Then they each handed their shovel to a child, who then turned the next shovelful. This was a symbolic means of showing that Eden belongs to the present and to the future.

“The Family Life Center will include a gymnasium that can be used for many things besides sports events, such as receptions, concerts, and eventually, worship services. It will be open to the community as much as possible as a means of establishing relationships and reaching people for Christ. The building will also have classroom space for the Sunday school.”

Ron Gonzales, pastor of Open Bible Fellowship, being interested by the ABC crew.

Sorting clothes in Angels Closet.

One of the Johnston daughters at work in Angels Closet.

On September 29, a family from Open Bible Fellowship (Safford, Ariz.) was featured on ABC’s Good Morning America. Bill and Ruth Johnston started a clothing ministry when the local clothing bank closed. They feared that needy family would go unhelped, and their daughters would come home from school reporting about classmates who needed clothes. So they decided to do something about it.

The result was Angels Closet. They began by storing donated clothes in their garage, giving them out to individual families. They soon expanded into a 10-by-10 foot room behind the church, and then it took over two rooms in the church educational building.

Now, Angels Closet regularly serves hundreds of families a month. They come from four counties and American Indian reservations. All five of the Johnston daughters, ranging in age from 10 to 23, are heavily. Bill says, “You know it’s not something they have to do. They’re doing it because they want to do it. And it makes me feel very proud.”

Two grandchildren are also helping out. Says Trystin, age 5, “I give out toys. I let them take them with them. They don’t need to take them back.”

Bobbie Thompson, the church secretary, reports, “Since the show, we have had several calls and emails regarding the work here. NBC is now wanting to do a special on this family and our clothing bank, and has even spoken of flying them to New York to be on a talk show. Several donations have been called in, and several cash donations have been made.”

An article about the Johnston family can be found on ABC’s website. Angels Closet also has its own website.

Bobbie Thompson also wrote about other recent goings on at Open Bible Fellowship.

“Over 150 kids attended each day of our summer Vacation Bible School. There were 33 decisions for Christ and several rededications.

“A team from the church goes into Mexico every other month to distribute food and clothing, and to preach the gospel. Last count, souls saved to date was over 900.

“Sunday school is going strong, and our worship ministry just added three new members to their team, which now gives us a total of 10 members. Things are going great. With the new facilities we have had plenty of room for everyone.

“Right now, we are getting ready for our Family Fun Night, an alternative to Halloween. Last year, over 1200 people come through our doors. There will be several games with prizes, a concession stand, and a concert held outside during the evening.

“We are excited about what God is doing here in Safford. We are experiencing new growth within the body, and are continuing to look for more.”

On October 12, Sunfield UB (Sunfield, Mich.) will dedicates it new fellowship/Christian education building to the Lord. Former pastor Kevin Cherry will be speaking.

October 12 will also be the annual “Miracle Sunday.” Every year on the second Sunday of October, they take a special offering for the construction fund. Last year they raised close to $40,000. The building, which cost $500,000, has a remaining indebtedness of about $100,000.

Sunfield will participate in a spiritual journey called “40 Days of Purpose” between October 12 and November 23. It is based on Rick Warren’s book, “The Purpose Driven Life.”

Park UB (Bluffton, Ind.) participated with 17 other churches in a Prayer Tent at the Bluffton Street Fair, held September 16-20. Each church was responsible for two time segments during the week. They wore t-shirts that said “Thirsty? Whoever drinks the water I give will never thirst again.” The back of the shirts read, ” Churches cooperating for a changed community.”

Each team greeted the people as they passed by, offered them a cup of water, and received any prayer requests that were given. They gave away 50-70 gallons of water each day. And each day, they emailed a list of prayer requests to the participating churches.

During August, 12 people from Park traveled to Vermont to work at a local church. While there, they built a handicapped ramp, replanted new landscaping, and led the children in VBS. The team members raised their own money throughout the summer in order to make this event possible.

Pleasant Hill (Greencastle, Pa.) UB’s student ministry is called WHAT–Weary Hearts Acquiring Truth (based on Matthew 11:28). This summer, they participated in the “Ultimate Van Tour.” The participants included 20 students, 6 adults, and 2 children.

They left after church on July 27, traveled to the UB church in Oak Harbor, Ohio, and stayed there Monday and Tuesday nights. The youth were challenged to show Christ in a practical way while at the Cedar Point amusement park. Youth came back with many stories of how they showed Christ to others–from holding doors for people, to asking strangers about Christ.

Oak Harbor’s youth pastor, Don Gentry, led the group with devotions Monday night after the Cedar Point experience. Then on Tuesday, they traveled to Adrian, Mich., where they spent time using the pool, gym, and bowling alley at the Christian Family Center.

Then it was on to Mason, Mich., where they spent Tuesday and Wednesday nights at the Eden UB church. They had a bonfire on Tuesday night. On Wednesday, it was on to the UB church in Fowlerville, where the youth were involved in a prayer walk with Youth Pastor Bill Blue.

Say Ray Dutcher, youth pastor at Pleasant Hill, “A trip like this allows students to experience other UB churches and other states”

Rhodes Grove Camp (Chambersburg, Pa.) had 613 campers this summer, 23 of whom made first-time salvation decisions. Campers gave $3,000 to help with world hunger.

Fort Wayne, Ind. Here are several items from Anchor UB (Fort Wayne, Ind.), which on October 19 celebrates its fifth anniversary.

  • About a dozen youth from Anchor UB, along with several adult sponsors, attended the DC/LA youth conference in Cincinnati. Some of the neighborhood youth made decisions for Christ during the event.
  • Soon after returning, the youth headed off again, this time for the Cornerstone music festival in Bushnell, Ill.
  • Jamie Knuth, a member of the youth group, led this year’s VBS program during June. She incorporated high-school, college, and adult volunteers. A great example of youth ministry leadership. Jamie, who has also been a youth leader with Campus Life, is now a freshman at Taylor University’s Fort Wayne campus.
  • Every year, Anchor holds a baptismal service/picnic/worship service at the Stillwater retreat just south of Fort Wayne. This year, five people were baptized. They included a mother and adult daughter; the daughter had led her mom to the Lord during the previous month.
  • Over fifty kids showed up for our fifth annual Neighborhood Carnival. Many of them came for the first time.

The youth of College Park UB (Huntington, Ind.) embarked on a missions effort to help Honduras Conference get its church camp ready for ministry. Twenty-two people, including 16 youth and 6 adult staff, went on one of several short-term mission trips, working in partnership with Honduras Conference.

College Park is starting its second year with the Upward basketball and cheerleading program. Thus far, 27 kids have accepted Christ as a result of the ministry. They anticipate well over 200 students being involved during the second year.