Great Commission Churches

GCC Web News and Information - Changed Lives

Teen Conference by John Meyer

March 1, 2016 - 9:37 AM

Teen_conference2015Most of the teens in our churches come from our own families, and our most important disciples will be the children God has entrusted to us. Reaching teens is also important because they are passing through a season of life that is very impressionable, from good and bad influences.

Summer teen conferences have been an essential part of many of our church calendars for years. These summer events have been life changing for hundreds of young lives.

Most teens have the opportunity to go to four or five conferences throughout their high school years. It can be challenging to produce an exciting and spiritually dynamic event for those who have been numerous times. For the Mountains West teen event (called discipleship Training Camp) we have decided to implement a four year rotation, covering different topics and a different atmosphere each time.

Our rotation of topics begins with Christian Identity. This is the foundation for developing a healthy adult Christian life. Year two is about understanding gender, God’s plan for male, female, marriage and morality. This past summer was our year two topic, and for the first time DTC was split into separate programs for boys and for girls, at different camps.

Next year will cover evidences for our faith, looking at reasons to believe in God, to believe the Bible is God’s Word, and reasons to understand that Jesus really is the world’s Savior and Lord. This event will be held all together on a community college campus – a more academic environment.

Finally, year four will cover Jesus’ great commission and the venue and activities will orient around evangelism and making disciples.

So far the fruit of this plan has been very positive, giving us both a freshness and a sense of direction as we make disciples of the teens God has given us.

Pneuma Church Plant by Jordan Cooke

March 1, 2016 - 9:32 AM

Pneuma_CookeOver the last three years, our parent church, Grace Community Church in Raleigh, has more deeply embraced a longstanding vision and strategy that is both simple and grandiose. The “simple” part, at least in word, involves teaching and equipping people to be disciples who make disciples who make disciples. The grand part entails many things, including seeing people from Grace sent into every people group in the world to spread the gospel.

That’s a task that, no doubt, will be impossible without the Lord’s help. But by His grace, we’ve been making strides in various ways. One of those ways has been sending teams of friends to new areas to labor together in the gospel and “start from scratch” a local church body that will help people become emotionally, spiritually and relationally healthy followers of Jesus Christ.

It’s this mission that led a team of four of us – three from Raleigh and one from Oak Ridge Community Church in Maryland – here to Wilmington just six months ago to start Pneuma Christian Life. We want to see this city won over with the gospel, starting with the campus of UNC-Wilmington.

This campus, filled with some of our next generation leaders, is in desperate need of Christ. Drunkenness and sexual promiscuity are rampant and, in some cases, openly advertised and promoted. Many here struggle with depression and even suicidal thoughts. People here are broken in many ways. But God is moving, and He’s healing people, starting with their souls.

We rejoice that in our first six months we’ve seen over 20 salvations, baptized two new believers, and prayed for over 1,000 students and faculty. God has already added two more committed laborers to our team. The Lord is good and faithful, and we are excited to see how He will continue to restore hearts and build His church!

From Boredom to Adventure by Rob McAlister

February 1, 2016 - 9:28 AM

Rob OutreachFor much of 2014 the way I would describe my life was “boring.” I was thriving at work, enjoying friendships, and with a ministry team at my church. But something was still missing that had the power to satisfy my deepest longings and fulfill my true potential. Instead of a vibrant, intimate relationship with Jesus defined by the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc...), it felt like I was trudging through thick mud... so bored.

I am so thankful for God’s grace. Through a number of divine appointments, including attending a great new year’s conference, God called me to a new adventure with Him. Less than two weeks into 2015, I got an email from Tom Short saying that they were still looking for one intern to travel on his spring semester team. I felt the Spirit prompt me to reply. At first, I resisted. “You mean you want me to give up my great job, my new relationships, and even this new ministry I’m leading in?” The answer was, “This is the great adventure I have called you to.” I couldn’t resist. Only two weeks later I was in Ohio preparing for a 3 month trip to over 20 college campuses to preach the gospel.

Traveling with Tom was life-changing. I had been starved to see the power of God in action. Romans 1:16 says that the gospel is the power of God to everyone who believes. Seeing God at work changing someone’s life who previously was either skeptical or oblivious was incredible. I thought, “Why can’t this be the case all the time? Students back home are hungry for the power of God too!” This led me to enter full-time ministry to help reach college students in Columbia, SC. The transition has been challenging at times, but life beholding the gospel at work is an adventure and is NEVER boring!

Picture: Rob, right, and a friend at UNC-Charlotte

 

 

One Life at a Time by Mary Knox

February 1, 2016 - 9:17 AM

AnifsonMatthew Anfinson is a college student at Bethel University in St. Paul, MN. Matthew is Haitian, and the adopted son of Byron and Heidi, founding members of the Urban Refuge. Matthew was adopted at 18 months old when his adoptive mother was pregnant with their 2nd son Ben. Heidi and Byron raised their sons as twins, with two daughters (the youngest also adopted from

Haiti). Matthew was raised in church, where he served as drummer with the worship team and was active in youth group. There were blessings and trials to being raised by white parents. When the family moved from a suburban area to an urban area, Matthew faced some culture shock. “A lot of my tendencies were ‘white and dorky,’ ” said Matthew. “But I eventually viewed growing up with white parents as an opportunity, to see myself as a bridge between whites and blacks, by being more dimensional.”

In 2011 Matthew’s birth brother found him on Facebook. Matthew found out about his Haitian family—brothers, sisters, his parents, and relatives in Canada. “I discovered my lineage goes beyond Minnesota. I have another family,“ said Matthew. “I started dreaming about how to intertwine the two.” In 2014, Matthew went on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. That trip gave him a deeper desire to see what God had for him in Haiti.

This summer, Matthew was offered an Act Six scholarship to Bethel University. “They take leaders and pump them back into the community, to see them make a difference in their worlds,” said Matthew. The AS scholarship could be a vehicle for him to go to Haiti, accompanied by his adoptive dad and church friends, with dreams of impacting lives, possibly, eventually church planting, and even pastoring, making a difference and fulfilling the requirements of the Act Six vision. Pray for this young man, that he would see his dreams come to fruition.

 

Redemption in the Midst of Tragedy by Timmy Powers

September 1, 2015 - 9:37 AM

Ukranian ArmyIn preparing a presentation concerning the ongoing events in Ukraine, I looked through photographs, scouring countless images that reveal the depth of suffering people have experienced – betrayal by their own government, the senseless killing of over a hundred people in Kyiv’s central square, the tragedy of war, and the seizing of sovereign territory by Russia.

The scope of these events cannot be measured simply by quoting statistics (five thousand people killed and more than a million displaced from their homes). Darkness and hopelessness has pervaded much of the country.

Thankfully, our victorious God is in the business of redemption and of taking what the devil means for harm and turning it into good. In stark contrast to the images of darkness, I am also joyfully picking out beautiful images of Ukrainian believers bringing the light and love of Jesus to the hurting and needy people of their country:

David and Mindy Henson, staff members with GC-Europe, along with members of Spring of Hope Church, have been very involved in serving refugees, providing food, medicine and clothing. Among other acts of service, they have helped in a local burn hospital and made ponchos for soldiers.

Bogdan Semilitko and members of City on a Hill Church regularly travel to wartorn areas of Eastern Ukraine to provide food for the many people who have no resources. One local church that they have partnered with has grown from ten to sixty because people say they have seen the love of Christ in action.

Almaz Church adopted one army battalion to serve, regularly visiting and building friendships, and providing sleeping bags, clothing, and boots. There are countless stories of how the hope and love of Christ is being shared. We want to thank you who have prayed and given generously to help bring lasting change to the lives of the people of Ukraine.

Pictured Above - The adopted army battalion served by Almaz Church.

The Total Health Vision by Jay Flinn

September 1, 2015 - 9:15 AM

Total Health DoctorTotal Health started in 2004 with a vision to provide consistent, quality, and reliable medical care to the poor in Central America.

In short, we want to provide basic primary care medicine to people in great need. We believe that this is a very cost effective way to change the health status of the people we serve and allow them to better provide for themselves, their amilies, and their future.

Total Health currently has three clinics running full time in three Central American countries. These clinics handle approximately 25,000 patient visits annually. Our model of care is very simple: low cost, low tech, high yield.

We can service a patient for under $5.00 per visit including all of the medicines and care that the patient will need. This
model of care has been so successful that we are committed to expanding it, and we are currently evaluating new sites for
additional clinics.

When we talk about providing “Total Health” to people we are also talking about much more than just medications. Safe and sanitary homes, nutrition for children, prenatal care to prevent birth defects, etc., can have incredible impacts on the lives of people in need. So over time, we have developed programs to help in these areas.

Spiritual health is also critical to the well being of the poor. By partnering with local GCLA churches in the areas we serve, we
are able to care for the spiritual needs giving not only support now, but a hope for the future and opportunity to know and grow in Christ. In the end, it is the spiritual health of a person that is most important.

Pictured Above - Pastor and Doctor Jay Martin in action on a mission trip.

The Rock's Taylorsville Church Plant by Josh Whitney

August 1, 2015 - 9:10 AM

Taylorsville Church PlantGod is moving in Utah! The Rock Church utilizes the “one church, many locations” model. The Rock Church was originally
planted in Sandy, Utah (in 1999) by Bill Young and his team. In 2003, we planted a church in Salt Lake City. In 2007, Pastor Steve McInroy led a team to Provo, Utah.

Utah is basically an unreached people group. The state has approximately 2-3% evangelical Christians. Frankly, there is a
huge need for more Gospel-preaching, Bible-believing churches all over this great state. The fall of 2013, we (the pastors) decided God wanted us to step out in faith and raise up new pastors and plant another church. God was clearly working in five men’s lives, so we asked them to join the existing four pastors to lead these locations.

In the spring of 2014, Billy Johnson, Bryan Edwards and I, invited people from all of our locations, to be part of this church plant on the west side of the Salt Lake City Valley. The majority of the church plant team came from the Salt Lake Church location, with other key families joining us, too. We started with a team of about 50 adults and their kids. We spent the summer of 2014 praying and doing outreach around the west side of the Salt Lake City Valley. We had some struggles finding a good location to meet in. Eventually, God led us to share a building with a great church in Taylorsville.

We have been “officially” opened since December and it has been really encouraging. There has been a steady stream of unsaved people and visitors each week to our church. As 2015 has gone on, some of the visitors are starting to knit in. We would appreciate prayers for fruitful outreach this summer, salvations, growth, and a permanent home for our church plant!

Pictured Above - Recognizing new elders at The Rock

Church Planting in Greeley, CO by Doug Dale

August 1, 2015 - 9:06 AM

Greeley TeamAs the location of our meeting place at Summitview Community Church here in Greeley, Colorado moved eastward, we wanted to have a presence again to the west where much of the city’s growth occurs.

There were questions we were considering, too. Could we think about church in a way that would better emphasize ministry during the week with neighbors, coworkers, and others? Could we rethink the service to better promote community?

This yielded a plan to start a second Summitview location in west Greeley on Easter 2014, giving us the benefit of
shared ministries between the locations and the opportunities that a church plant environment presents.

Simplicity has been one of our goals in everything from our bands to our children’s programs. We hope people in
the church will focus less during the week on things like band practice and Sunday School lessons and more on relationships inside and outside the church.

During our gatherings, we sit around tables and have shorter messages followed by a discussion and time to pray
together. The same group sits around each table every week and also meets during the week. Periodically we change these groups up so that people get to know each other over time. Admittedly, this can be a hard environment for a visitor that walks in the door to step into, but is a great environment for those we bring to church personally, which is our focus. This format has been the best received part of what we’ve done.

We have seen much spiritual growth, but not much numerical growth in our first year. As we move forward, we’re making some adjustments to get back on the course we feel God gave us at the start, and we hope to see growth in every area in the months ahead!

Colony Five Came to Us by Annika Bergen

July 1, 2015 - 9:01 AM

annika bergenI lived in India for three months after college, and what struck me most was the intense spiritual hunger and darkness, crammed next to each other as close as the shacks lining the roads. For example, in one slum street we played an audio Bible and 100 people gathered to listen.

That was Colony Four. Right next door was Colony Five, with a police station at its entrance. When our team did outreach there, the police kicked us out, accusing us of trying to convert people (which is illegal in India). After a couple tries, we gave up.

Fortunately, God didn’t. The next year I returned and someone brought up Colony Five in a prayer meeting—“God, we don’t know how to reach them, but please somehow send your gospel there.” The next day my friends and I went out to share Bible stories in a wealthier part of town. We started talking with some older ladies, and a young man stopped to listen. The ladies lost interest, but he was mesmerized. He kept asking questions until I offered to send some team members to his house to share more.

“Where do you live?” I asked. “I’m on my way to work,” he replied, “but I live in Colony Five.”

The same kept happening the rest of my time in that city. I passed out Bibles on a street corner, and a man stopped to take a box back to his home, Colony Five. I taught kids at the vegetable market and a young couple from Colony Five stopped to listen. I shared the gospel at an apartment complex and a man from Colony Five invited us over for chai.

No matter where I went or whom I talked with, it ended with Colony Five, our lost colony. We gave up, but God never did. When we couldn’t go to them, He sent them to us.

Prayer Culture by Jerry van Dalen

July 1, 2015 - 8:53 AM

van dalenWe at The Rock Miami consider it a foundational principle to be a true House of Prayer as described in Isaiah 56:7. We want to establish a prayer “culture” as we try to imitate the example that we saw at The Brooklyn Tabernacle in New York.

The highlight of corporate prayer in our church is the Wednesday night service. We make a constant effort to include all 4 types of prayer: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication (A.C.T.S.) in every service. We pray by themes like our “prodigals,” for our children and students (i.e. at the start of the academic year), our families, our nation, we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, etc. We also make a special emphasis to constantly pray for the sick. We experience many favorable answers as a result of corporate prayer and fasting.

Also during a typical week, and in pursuit of the “culture,” we have:

  • Over 20 prayer conference calls.
  • A women’s prayer group meeting once a week to pray for all the prayer cards that are completed during services. The group commits to praying for 30 days for each prayer card.
  • A group of “servers” dedicated to praying every Sunday in the “prayer room” in the lobby of the sanctuary; before, during, and after each service.
  • We fast as a church for an extended period at the beginning of every year. We also encourage the saints to fast one day a week.
  • Every Monday night we send teams to visit and pray for the guests that come to our Sunday services.
  • We’ve posted a 24/7 emergency prayer line on our website. This website also has a prayer request feature that receives petitions on a daily basis.

We consider ourselves learners when it comes to prayer–we feel we have a long way to go. We are climbing the mountain on prayer toward the summit of a “prayer culture.”

Engaging Muslims in Europe by Daniel Goering & Paul Meiburger

June 1, 2015 - 11:25 AM

Arab FriendsNot too many centuries ago Europe was the birthplace of the reformation. It generated theological thought and passion that reached around the world. It sent out missionaries, established beachheads, and provided models that other nations copied and used to impact the rest of the world.

The developments of the last 150 years however, have left Europe in a fog of secularism and atheism without a moral compass. Ed Slonchka of Global Reach Network shares a startling statistic about Europeans: “The percentage of non- Christians who know a Christian: 14%. This means that 86% of all non-believers do not even personally know a believer from whom they can receive good news.” The immigration of Muslims into this vacuum presents a golden opportunity for thegospel. Yes, some of them are being radicalized, but most are just wanting acceptance and to enjoy life in the West.

In order to better equip people to effectively engage Muslims, Great Commission Europe is planning to organize a “Ministry to Muslims” learning community in Cologne, Germany. This will be facilitated by Sarwar Aziz (a former Muslim, now an elder in the church in Cologne), and Paul Meiburger (a pastor in Torino, Italy, where there is one of the highest population densities of Muslims in Europe).

When the majority of Muslims arrive in Europe, they are generally very open to new ideas. It is a key time to reach them for Christ. Sadly, too many Christians maintain a distance out of fear, forfeiting golden opportunities to befriend, serve, and share the love of Christ. We are praying this weekend will be a big step forward, that those who come learn how to effectively share the gospel with Muslims around them, and that more Muslims in Europe will become followers of Jesus.

Pictured above: Paul Meiburger with Arab friends in Italy

Bridge Builders by Jim Wiebelhaus

June 1, 2015 - 11:20 AM

Bridge BuildersI want to invite you to Bridge Builders – a conference about mind-blowing opportunities to reach people groups with the gospel. Jesus commanded us to make disciples of every people-group in the world. He is so serious about this that He has brought millions of people to our front door.

International Students: Their number has grown to 890,000 and half of them are from the least evangelized countries of the world. Most are eager to make American friends and you could be the first Christian they have ever met. They are the future leaders of their countries and by ministering to them you are reaching their country with the gospel. God is very strategic!

Immigrants: There are 40 million firstgeneration immigrants living in the U.S. Many immigrants come to the U.S. due to severe stress or violence in their home countries. They need to learn the language, how to file forms with the government, how to drive and shop, and they need friends! As you take the gospel to them, they are able to reach their own cultures. This must be our priority if their nations are to be reached with the gospel.

Are you interested in cross-cultural ministry? Do you sense that God might want you to do ministry overseas someday? The best way to prepare is to learn from, pray for, serve, love and evangelize the people groups God has brought to your city. Bridge Builders encourages and informs people interested in cross-cultural ministry. Doug Brown, Ching Yu, Guang Song, Kenny Young, Robbie McAlister, and others will be sharing their stories and passing on what they have learned, May 22-24 in Omaha, NE.

Learn more at www.ism.candlewoodchurch.org.

Jim Wiebelhaus pastors at Candlewood Church in Nebraska.

Mustaches That Matter by Jackie Wallentin

May 1, 2015 - 11:07 AM

Mustaches that MatterMustaches That Matter launched in July 2014, at Walnut Creek Church, in Des Moines, Iowa to help families in the adoption process cross their financial finish line.

MTM leverages the power of the mustache to assist families adopting internationally, domestically, or through the foster care system. All money raised go into a fund to help multiple families each year. Within the first week, MTM met the month-long goal of raising $25,000. In one month MTM provided $76,131.

Over 200 men participated by growing mustaches, and they passed out business cards and engaged in conversations throughout the month to ask family, friends, and coworkers to financially sponsor their mustaches. Many of the participants and a majority of the financial donors came from outside Walnut Creek, which allowed the gospel and the joy of adoption to spread.

The Ekwalls were one family helped through MTM. After hosting two children from Columbia in 2013, Will and Lori Ekwall knew they wanted to bring Jose (13) and Maria (11) home to stay and join their family, including their three children: Isabel, Eleanor, and Kendall. The Ekwalls hosted Jose and Maria through Kid Save, an agency that provides summer and
weekend foster care programs.

“We went into the program mainly as an advocate family, trying to find a forever family for the kids,” said Lori. “Once Jose
and Maria were here, we knew they were really great kids who needed a home.” The Ekwalls began the adoption process
in September 2013 and last July their family traveled to Columbia to bring Jose and Maria home to Iowa. “We are very
thankful for people’s prayers for us, to know people are behind us,” said Lori.

“It’s so good to be done with the process and have our new family home for good.” Visit mustachesthatmatter.com for more
information regarding the campaign.

The Salvage Project by Jeromy Darling

May 1, 2015 - 10:32 AM

Salvage ProjectThe Salvage Project was founded in the fall of 2014 by Jeromy Darling as a vehicle for taking the gospel, through rock ‘n roll, into prisons, halfway houses, hospitals and transitional living homes around the country.

I’ve read the life of William Wilberforce, an incredible man by any measure. He was a father of 6, a politician, philanthropist, who wrote books, gave impassioned speeches, suffered terribly from a stomach ailment, and in his spare
time – he ended slavery in Europe. His life and work plagued my conscience with this one thought: “Are we not capable of doing more?” The Salvage Project is the answer to that question in my own life. My primary focus is young people who are incarcerated, especially young men. This group was raised in a culture of broken promises. Many of these men are fatherless, betrayed by those who should have helped them most. Never before in the history of America has a group of
young people faced such tremendous lies, temptations, distractions and dangers as they do in the 21st century. We will
pay a heavy price for abandoning them. We already are. I want to go where few others will go – right into the belly of the
beast – and use my music and message to help repurpose and restore lives through the ageless message of the gospel.

After spending 7 years as a music volunteer at the V.A. and 3 years doing volunteer concerts at local prisons in Minnesota, God opened the door for me to transition this work into a ministry. I now team with GCC churches around the country to put on concerts in prisons in their communities or for their local youth. Since last fall The Salvage Project has traveled to 7 states and brought the gospel to over 1,000 hurting people.

Read more at www.thesalvageproject.org

Mike's Mission Story by Mike Bledsoe

April 2, 2015 - 10:28 AM

Mike BledsoeIn 1977, I had a young family and the beginnings of a successful banking career. To that point, my spiritual world was very limited. I was committed to following Jesus and to being a godly husband and father but never really considered that I could be involved in missions.

I was challenged to think beyond our local church with a vision for reaching the world, to commit whatever I could to help fulfill the Great Commission. I told God to “count me in.” I must admit, I didn’t understand what that meant or even what the possibilities could be.

In my career I was given a good promotion one year later and I was able to be actively involved in business based ministry and was growing spiritually. Then… my banking career came to a screeching halt due to mergers and acquisitions. So, I did what any sound minded Spirit-filled man would do: I started two new businesses and I was making one-third of the income that I had previously. But, I still had an aching to be involved in missions.

Between the banking and starting the businesses, my wife and I went on a short-term mission trip to Romania serving as a business consultant. Through that experience, God gripped my heart for the world. God continued to allow us to be involved in missions even when we didn’t have the personal resources to make it happen. Over the past 27 years, God has allowed us to be involved in missions in Romania, Moldova, Germany, Sweden, Ukraine and the Philippines.

God put a desire in me to be involved in missions. There is no way that I could have orchestrated the mission’s ministry that He has given us. You never know how God will take a small commitment and turn it into a lifetime journey.

Changed Lives

Teen Conference by John Meyer

Most of the teens in our churches come from our own families, and our most important disciples will be the children God has entrusted to us. Reaching teens is also important because they are passing through a season of life that is very…
Read more ›

Pneuma Church Plant by Jordan Cooke

Over the last three years, our parent church, Grace Community Church in Raleigh, has more deeply embraced a longstanding vision and strategy that is both simple and grandiose. The “simple” part, at least in word, involves teaching and…
Read more ›


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