Jim Ellifritt Sr. (right) and Jim Ellifritt Jr.

Amy Ellifritt knows what it’s like to be a soldier’s wife, and a soldier’s father. Her husband, Jim Sr., is on his way to Afghanistan for a year. And her only son, Jim Jr., is on his way to Iraq. Both are members of the Oregon Army Reserves.

Rev. Jim Ellifritt, an ordained UB minister, serves as superintendent of Northwest Conference and is director of the County-Wide Chaplaincy program, a donation-supported crisis intervention ministry. He and previously pastored the Friendship UB church in Vancouver. But for the next year, he’ll be going by the title Lieutenant Colonel Jim Ellifritt. Army Reserves unit has been called up to help rebuild Afghanistan’s infrastructure. He went on active duty in October, learning the Dari language spoken in Afghanistan. ” I have about 200 hours of reading, writing and speaking under my belt,” he says.

And now, he’s on his way to Afghanistan. He serves in the 364th Civil Affairs Brigade of the Army Reserve.

“As a father, I don’t mind going,” Jim says. “But I wish my son didn’t have to go. But it’s important, and the good thing is that we’re going at the same time and I’ll only have to be apart from him for a year, rather than longer.”

Jim Jr. is a sergeant in the 218th Field Artillery Battalion as an artillery forward observer. He was mobilized with the National Guard and sent to Fort Hood, Texas, at the end of October. He will be with the 39th Separate Infantry Brigage attached to the 1st Cavalry Division, and will probably be in Baghdad by February or March. He and his wife, Rachel, celebrated their first anniversary during the past year, and moved into their first house just three days before the mobilization. Rachel works at a law firm.

Jim and Rachel sold the two daycare centers they owned–something they had planned to do eventually, but which the deployment made urgent. “We have been preparing for the better part of six months for the deployment,” Jim says. “We believe this should streamline many of Debs responsibilities while I am gone. Overall I believe we are as prepared as any of the families that have had this challenge this year.”

This past year has been a busy one for me and the Army. January I spent three weeks in Louisiana. May I was fortunate to be able to go to Thailand for a month. It was a very different and very hot place. I was able to make three dives while I was there. Shortly after I got back I got the alert notification for Afghanistan. Since the first week of October I have been on active duty in the Portland area trying to learn Dari, the language spoken in Afghanistan. I have about 200 hours of reading, writing and speaking under my belt. By the time you get this I should be at Fort Bragg preparing for a year long tour in Afghanistan. It is going to be very unusual to be away from home on Christmas, this will be the first one I have completely missed in 27 years. I am grateful that I was able to spend Thanksgiving at home. The family will be looking forward to Jim being home for Christmas. I am grateful our tours are during the same period instead of back to back, I will miss him for 18 months instead of 2-3 years. There may be a chance of getting leave in the summer and meeting with the wives in Europe, Lord willing.

“I’m excited to be going,” Jim Sr. says. He likes the idea that he and his son will help people in faraway countries experience democracy, education, and a better life. “My daughter Stacy is 18, and she has the right to go to college. In Afghanistan, girls didn’t have that right until we got there. A lot of negative stuff is reported in the neews, but a lot more good is going on.”

Jim Jr. adds, “These Iraqi people have opportunities now to be free, and they’ve never had that before. I’m honored to feel I’m a part of that now.”

Paul Coy, former UB missionary in Macau, has finished his third semester at Asia-Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary (APNTS) in the Philippines, putting him halfway through his Masters of Divinity degree. He hopes to graduate in April 2005. Paul writes of a great opportunity which recently came his way.

“Halfway through the semester, I had an amazing surprise. It shocked me when Dr. Brent Cobb, Regional Director of the Asia-Pacific Region for the Church of the Nazarene, called me to ask me if I would accept a part-time job working 20 hours a week. This would not have been a surprise if it meant working with teens in one church, but he asked me to accept the position Youth Coordinator for the Asia-Pacific Region. This means I am responsible for facilitating the youth work in 29 countries in the Asia-Pacific Region. Cool part-time job with huge responsibilities, huh?

“The Nazarene church calls its ministry to youth NYI (Nazarene Youth International). I am one of seven regional NYI coordinators in the world for the Church of the Nazarene. I very humbly accepted the position in September, as I felt God’s calling to serve in this position. I now enjoy working at Asia-Pacific Regional office on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.”

Jennifer Blandin, a fulltime UB missionary in Macau, sent the following on November 23.

This year marked the 50th year of car racing in Macau. Where do they race cars in such a small place like Macau? That would be on the streets of Macau! While it brings a lot of visitors from around the world to watch the Formula One motorcycles and Formula Three racing cars, it creates havoc for the locals! Macau’s traffic jams get more jammed in November, but I guess that is part of the tradition!

Jana, her sister Cindy, and I took the opportunity to go to one of the time trials. It was exciting to see the cars speed by and we took lots of digital pictures. But after one hour, my ears said it was time to go! I think I ‘heard’ that experience for the rest of the day!

7-Year Stretch! In baseball, the seventh inning stretch is when you stand up and stretch because you’ve been sitting in those hard seats for so long that you no longer feel your toes. It’s a tradition, but also a warm welcome because you’ve been a faithful fan to sit for that long and cheer on your team.

After a person has lived in Macau for seven years, a foreigner goes from being a “temporary” resident to a “permanent” resident. Somehow the time has snuck up on me–I just received my permanent residency card. Amazing how the time flies! I remember when I first agreed to come to Macau, I thought it would be for just three years. Guess God knew better to bait me and then hook me into seeing that His timeframe for me in Macau was longer than three years. Once again God’s plan are far greater than ours, and for that I’m grateful!

Victories. For the past few months a teenage guy, Ziv (don’t know where he got that English name), has been attending Living Word Church with his friends Edwin and Michael. At the beginning of this month there was an evangelistic meeting that Ziv and Edwin attended. During that meeting, Ziv accepted Christ into his life! We’ve got a new brother in Christ!

Today at Living Water Church was a baptismal service. Ken and Gloria, Maggie, and Fong Fong (a woman) took the public profession of faith. During the service, they each shared their testimony and how God had been working in their lives. Some of their non-Christian friends and family were in attendance and heard what they were saying. What a witness! Each shared about ways that life’s difficulties haven√¢t disappeared, but that now they know that they are not alone! God is right their with them. It was an amazing service!

This Christmas we will hold a Christmas party at the Taipa English Center. We are making final plans and hope it will be a special time with the people we know from our English classes and Bible studies.

Please continue to lift both Jana and I up in your prayers. We are still seeking God√¢s direction as to what direction to take the work here in Macau. There have been additional pressures that have come up as well. I have appreciated the words of encouragement that have been received. They have been a true blessing.

  • Robert Larimore is the new senior pastor of Trenton Hills UB (Adrian, Mich.) effective November 1.
  • Gary Abney has been named senior pastor of Gaines UB (Caledonia, Mich.) effective December 8.
  • Wayne Goldsmith has been named interim pastor of Central UB (Montpelier, Ohio) effective November 2003.
  • Donald Palmer resigned as senior pastor at Pennfield Road UB (Battle Creek, Mich.), effective September 30. Mr. Tim Smothers is serving as supply pastor.
  • Steve Sparks is the new Director of Student Ministries (part-time) at Gethsemane UB (Jackson, Mich.).
  • Mrs. Ruth Barnhart, widow of one of former Mid-Atlantic Conference pastor Charles Barnhart, died November 17. She was 91.
  • Darren Duncan, our United Brethren representative to the US Air Force, was recently deployed to a classified location in Southwest Asia. He is ministering to the troops who are stationed there through worship, Bible study, counseling, and visitation. Please pray that God would use him and protect him while he is away from his family during the Holidays. Darren is a former pastor in Central Conference.
  • Rev. Everett Ray passed away on Monday, November 10. He was a retired ordained minister in Michigan Conference. His wife, Susie, is in a nursing home in Hastings, Mich.
  • John Carpenter is no longer Student Ministries Director at Lighthouse Church in Williamston, Mich. The position was cut for financial reasons, effective November 1. He is now pastoring in Florida with another denomination.
  • Tim Sovinec resigned as youth pastor at Fountain Hills UB (Fountain Hills, Ariz.) effective November 1. He will not be reassigned in the denomination.
  • Donald Skidmore is no longer the associate pastor at Living Water Church Plant in Clarksburg, W. Va.
  • Wes Burk has been serving as music minister at Fowlerville UB Church. He resigned that position as of November 30, and has not been assigned to another church at this time.
  • Ron Lambright, the former senior pastor at Neshannock Community Church (New Castle, Pa.), has resigned. The effective date is unknown at this time. Patrick Daugherty is serving as the supply pastor at Neshannock at this time.
  • Donald Palmer resigned as senior pastor at Pennfield Road Church (Battle Creek, Mich.), effective September 30. Mr. Tim Smothers will be supply pastor at Pennfield Road for the time being.
  • Penny Poorman is the new Early Childhood Coordinator at King Street UB (Chambersburg, Pa.) effective October 7.
  • Kevin Whitacre is the new Director of Youth and Young Adults at Good Shepherd UB (Huntington, Ind.), effective November 3.
  • Here is a new pastoral assignment for your records, effective 9/1/03.
  • Don Herb was named Pastoral Assistant at Bethany Evangelical Church (Carlisle, Pa.), and Amy Moreno was named Director of Christian Education. Both assignments took affect in September.
  • Rick Burton, formerly the senior pastor at Central UB Church in Montpelier, Ohio, resigned effective October 31. He will not be reassigned at this time. The church will be looking for a pastor.

In early January 2004, Russ and Nellie Birdsall will be making their sixth short-term trip to Macau. They will work in the English Language Program, teach Bible studies, do leadership development with the pastors of Macau and Hong Kong, and build relationships with the people of Macau and Taipa.

A video has been prepared featuring Russ and Nellie as they share about their love for Macau and how they want to be used by God during the retirement years. If you are interested in using this video in your church, contact the Global Ministry office at 1-888-622-3019 and we will provide one.

Also if you would like to help the Birdsalls financially in their ministry, you can make out a check to Global Ministries and on the memo line note that this gift is for the Birdsalls ministry in Macau. You can also give online via credit card through Paypal. Those gifts are tax deductible.

June Brown, former missionary to Sierra Leone, underwent quadruple bypass surgery in late September in Harrisburg, Pa. That surgery went very well and she experienced a relatively short recovery period. In early November, June had a lumpectomy to remove a cancerous tumor. The doctor feels that the cancer was self-contained, and while June will be undergoing radiation treatments, the doctors are quite positive about her overall medical condition. If you would like to send cards of greetings and encouragement to her, the address is:

June Brown
2716 Rocky Spring Road
Chambersburg, PA 17201

Our missionary couple in India wanted United Brethren people to be aware of an incident which occurred November 19 in Shadnagar, in the same state where they serve.

“A team of 20 American Christians (8 women) came from Florida to this town to do some Christian work through a small school for elementary school children and to help the women by giving them sewing machines so that could earn their livelihood through tailoring. For this purpose a building was rented.

“The local Christians and their American friends were inaugurating the work in the back yard of their office, with a good number attending. While they were praying, the Hindu fundamentalist party (BJP) group came and shouted that they were converting people to Christianity. The Indian Christians who were hosting these were beaten up. The crowd ran away and the Americans went into the van they came in. Soon police came and the BJP group quickly disappeared.

“The people said that the Americans and Indian Christian groups were trying to help them by donating sewing machines and doing a child literacy program. People also said the visitors only prayed but never asked them to become Christians.

“This incident was shown in our local and state news channels. We cannot believe what happened. The Christians did not officially complain to the police. The police say that they will not act unless they receive a complaint. We think the Christians decided to remain silent as probably they Americans came on tourist visas, which legally complicates the picture.”

The UB Executive Leadership Team met on December 9 with the Missionary Church Transition Team. A process for joining the two denominations was agreed upon, and 36 questions which have arisen in United Brethren circles were discussed. On most of those issues, statements were agreed upon, and will be published here around mid-December. A mailing to United Brethren ministers is being prepared. The material–including all of the agreed-upon statements–will then be published on the website.

  • Sunfield UB hired two persons to care for their youth ministry. Dennis Weber will work with junior high students, and Raquel Brace will work with senior high students. Also, Roy Atherton joined the staff as Assistant Pastor. He is from Portland, Mich.
  • Shannon Colwin, formerly the youth pastor at Good Shepherd Church in Huntington, has resigned that position as of July 13, 2003. He is serving in another denomination.
  • Jennifer Barlow resigned as Youth Pastor at First UB (Columbus, Ohio) as of July 31.
  • This month Rev. Bobby Blaine celebrates his 60th year of ministry. He took his first church the same week that he and Virginia were married…which means they are also celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary. Rev. Blaine is a retired minister in Central Conference, and the former longtime pastor of what is now Good Shepherd UB in Greenfield, Ohio.
  • Jim Sturgeon and his wife Joanne, having retired August 31 from the pastorate of Decatur UB (Decatur, Ind.), have moved to Rockford, Ohio.
  • It has been learned that William M. Wood, a retired minister in Central Conference, passed away in June.
  • Nathan Garret has been hired as youth pastor at New Horizons UB (Rockford, Ohio) effective October 10. He was most recently youth director at Shadyrest Bible Church in Chesterfield, N. J.
  • Ben and Lisa Geiser are the parents of a baby girl, Monica Ann. Ben is associate pastor at Christ Fellowship (Westerville, Ohio).