Bishop Denis Casco (left) and Gary Brooks.

Bishop Casco headed back to earth.

Gary Brooks in flight.

Bishop Denis Casco in Florida with Gary and Diane Brooks.

Gary Brooks, an ordained United Brethren minister and former missionary in Honduras, has been highly involved with the UB work in Mexico. He goes there regularly to work alongside Bishop Denis Casco in pastoral training and other ministry. He helps teach pastor/leader seminars, which began many years ago as an outreach of the Huntington University School of Christian Ministries. Bishop Casco says Gary has been a mentor to him for over 40 years.

For the past 16 years, Gary has pastored Manatee RV Park Community Church in Tampa, Fla. Though it’s a non-UB congregation, they 15% of their gross income to support United Brethren work in Mexico. Bishop Casco comes to Tampa every other year to give a report to the congregation.

During that visit, Gary and Diane arrange something exciting to do. One year, they took a five-day Christian cruise. Another year, they took Denis to an indoor shooting range. Two years ago, they took a ride in an 80-year-old open-cockpit biplane.

Last October, while Gary was teaching a seminar in Mexico, he asked Bishop Casco if he would be willing to do a tandem skydive during his February visit to Tampa. He not only agreed, but announced at the seminar that that’s what he would be doing.

Gary had done 535 jumps since 1988, when he went skydiving for the first time at age 45. That qualified him for the Parachutists Over Phorty Society (POPS). In 2010, a jump at age 67 qualified him for the Skydivers Over Sixty (SOS) club.

On February 15, Gary and Denis went to Skydive City in Zephyrhills, signed the waivers, and boarded a Twin-Otter for the 20-minute climb to jump altitude (13,500 feet). They both had skydiving photographers to record the entire jump from altitude to the ground.

Says Gary, “During the 60 seconds we spent in free-fall, we reached speeds of 120 mph. My instructor and I did a backflip exit out of the plane and a few high speed 360-degree turns in freefall. At 5000 feet, our instructors pulled the ripcords. Our parachutes opened as expected and we landed within a few feet of the viewing area without even scuffing our shoes. Now Denis knows how eagles feel when soaring above the clouds!”

It was the first jump for Bishop Casco, and the 536th for Gary. Said Gary, “I may be 76 years old, but it was still as thrilling as ever!” And he now qualifies for the Jumpers Over Seventy (JOS) club.

The Thai Community Center under construction.

Through your generosity, we raised $63,451 in 2018 to cover the remaining expenses to complete the Thailand Community Center. Thank you!

The center is slated to be finished this summer. It is well positioned on a busy road in a middle-class ethnic Thai neighborhood. When the center opens, we will offer a variety of classes to bless the community and build relationships that will hopefully lead to new disciples.

The $3,450 raised beyond our goal of $60,000 will be the seed money to help with future necessary interior purchases such as furniture, paint, and equipment.

Help Wanted

UB Global is looking for a someone, or a family, to join the Thailand team as Short-Term Team Coordinator. Role: take care of the teams which come to Thailand during the year. Contact frank@ub.org if interested.

L-r: Grace, Jim, and Heidi Olinger.

Jim and Heidi Olinger have been accepted as the newest UB Global endorsed missionaries. The Olingers are members of the Hillsdale UB church in Hillsdale, Mich.

Jim recently became president of the Nicaragua Christian Education Foundation (NiCE), based in Highland, Ill. The foundation serves churches and Christian schools through student sponsorships, meal packing projects, and short-term mission teams. Their goal is to come alongside and equip local believers to reach their country for Christ.

Jim will oversee all operations of the foundation in the US and Nicaragua. He brings 22 years of pastoral experience and nine years of cooperation with the foundation.

Jim and Heidi have been married for 23 years, and will be experiencing an empty nest this fall as Grace enters her freshman year at Huntington University.

Jeff Bleijerveld, Director of UB Global

Here are two “Top Ten” lists regarding giving to UB Global during 2018. The first list shows the Top Ten UB churches in terms of giving per attendee. The second shows the Top Ten in total giving, regardless of size.

Top Ten Per Capita Giving (Amount Given Per Attendee)
$207: Bethany House of the Lord (Cumberland, Md.)
$173: Kilburn Avenue (Rockford, Ill.)
$146: Mount Carmel (Fulk’s Run, Va.)
$137: The Village Church (Stevensville, Ontario)
$122: Liberty (Stockport, Ohio)
$120: Countryside (Breckenridge, Mich.)
$115: New Hope Community (Toronto, Ontario)
$109: Pleasant Valley (Lake Odessa, Mich.)
$100: Crellin (Crellin, Md.)
$99: Grace (Sherkston, Ontario)

Top Ten Giving (Total Given from the Church)
$88,394: Emmanuel Community Church (Fort Wayne, Ind.)
$38,671: King Street (Chambersburg, Pa.)
$24,268: College Park (Huntington, Ind.)
$19,476: Salem (Chambersburg, Pa.)
$17,364: Mount Pleasant (Chambersburg, Pa.)
$17,309: Parkwood Gardens (Guelph, Ontario)
$13,258: Prince Street (Shippensburg, Pa.)
$12,731: Mount Carmel (Fulk’s Run, Va.)
$11,967: Otterbein (Greencastle, Pa.)
$11,420: Heart O’ the Lakes (Brooklyn, Mich.)

Mark Wallace (right), Executive Director of CH Global, and chairperson of the UB Global board, provided the following report on the growing unrest in Haiti. A team from Canada, scheduled to visit Haiti this month, may need to postpone their trip. We have about 28 UB churches in Haiti, and Pastor Oliam Richard is the superintendent.

Protests have been building in the major centers and highways around the country. For the past 5 days, it has not been possible for the CH Global staff or Pastor Richard to travel more than a block form their homes due to roadblocks in the street. As you can imagine, this is very difficult for everyone. Pastor Richard could not go to church on Sunday. People cannot get out to buy cooking fuel and food.

Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence in Haiti, and our brothers and sisters are accustomed to having disruptions in their lives. Often it blows over after one or two days, and things clear up quickly. This time it hasn’t.

I have exchanged messages with Pastor Richard and the CH Haiti team, and they all tell me that it would be impossible to host the team unless things improve dramatically. The Canadian Government also updated its travel advisory for Haiti today to “Avoid Unnecessary Travel.”

The US State Department issued this travel alert on February 12. It warns of unpredictable and sporadic demonstration. Travelers are sometimes followed and violently attacked and robbed shortly after leaving the Port-au-Prince airport.

Restrictions and other measures have been taken to protect US Embassy personnel. Family members of Embassy personnel under age 18 have been ordered the leave the country.

The medical team.

Fonda Cassidy with a Honduran child.

Robert and Fonda Cassidy traveled January 18-27 to Honduras to hold medical clinics in United Brethren churches.

Robert and Fonda are from the Mt. Solon UB church in Mt. Solon, Va. Since 1987, they have participated in over 40 short-term mission trips, and have led 12 team trips. Over the years, they have led a number of UB medical teams to Honduras and Nicaragua. They now lead their own nonprofit medical mission organization, called Mission of Harmony.

For this trip, they were joined by a team of 3 doctors, 5 nurses, a pharmacist, and 5 assistants who helped with the pharmacy, intake, triage, and other needs. They were joined by Honduran interpreters and their in-country coordinator, who was also from Honduras.

They mostly worked in Santa Rosa de Copán, a beautiful area in western Honduras. They conducted four clinics at four United Brethren churches–at Santa Rosa Copan with pastor Jorge Pesquera; at Rios de Aqua Viva; at Roca de Salvacion with pastor Jose Geovany Dubon; and at Vida Nueva with pastor Erick Villeda.

Fonda writes, “IfF you are a medical person, or would like to experience working with a medical team–feel free to contact us, or visit our website. Our next medical team will be June 21-28 to San Pedro Sula, Honduras.”

Two mission teams are leaving the United States today–one to Africa, one to Asia.

South Africa
A team of 18 persons, about 13 of them women, will spend two weeks in South Africa. This is a Huntington University trip in cooperation with UB Global. They will work in Johannesburg with Impact Africa, the organization UB Global missionary Nichie Parish Stonall has served with since 2015. Two of the team leaders are Arthur Wilson, the HU Dean of Spiritual Life/Campus Pastor; Jessica Hatcher, a residence hall director and therapist for Counseling Services at HU; and Christia Whitacre, an HU grad and UB pastor’s wife from Anchor UB church in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Thailand
A team of 13 persons will spend two weeks in Thailand. This is a “vision” trip, designed to introduce people to our overseas work. Frank Y, associate director of UB Global, is leading 12 persons from various United Brethren churches. They will get to see, hear, and experience what God is doing among the ethnic Thais, one of the least-reached people groups of Southeast Asia.

UB Global is sending a couple of work teams to Sierra Leone to build a new roof for the maternity unit at Mattru Hospital. The teams will go for two weeks starting in mid-February through mid-March, and will work alongside Sierra Leoneans.

The main work will be welding. We have three welders along with others familiar with construction. We need five more people to complete the teams. Trip cost is approximately $3000.

If interested, please contact Michelle Harris, associate director of UB Global, at michelle@ub.org.

Sierra Leone Conference is preparing to send teams to investigate starting ministry in The Gambia. Over the years, a number of United Brethren from Sierra Leone have relocated to the Gambie for work, and they have requested help to start churches. Sierra Leone Conference is now acting on that.

The Gambia is a small nation of less than two million people on the coast of West Africa. It is the smallest country on the African continent, extending about 200 miles from the Atlantic coast. The Gambia River runs down the middle of the country, with about 10-15 miles of territory on each side of the river. Except for the coast, Gambia is totally surrounded by the country of Senegal.

One of the smaller ethnic groups is the Krio people, who are descended from the Creole people of Sierra Leone. The are concentrated in the capital city of Banjul, near the coast.

About 95% of the people are Muslims, mostly Sunni. Christians, predominantly Catholic, account for 4% of the people. The evangelical community is very small.

Mattru UB Hospital in Sierra Leone continues to serve the medical and spiritual needs in the Bonthe district of Sierra Leone. Over the last two years, electrical power has been installed through a solar grid, a water packaging plant has contributed to salaries, and Sierra Leonean and American medical staff have worked together to provide compassionate, quality care.

Short-term teams give a helpful boost to the long-term staff, but medical workers with cross-cultural experience who can commit to a year or longer are still needed to train and develop the work at the hospital. Contact us at info@ub.org for more information!