Letter from Dr. Joseph Tkach - June 2015


June 1, 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters, I want to tell you the story of the Fisk Jubilee Singers. They were a remarkable group of individuals who used their God-given talents to overcome tremendous adversity to build a legacy that has burned bright for more than a hundred and fifty years.

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June 2015    

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Independence Day in the United States, July 4, is almost upon us. For many Americans, that means celebrating with friends, family, and enjoying tasty barbeque. But for one GCI congregation, July means thinking internationally. Let me explain…

Lee Berger heads up a ministry known as Crossing Borders. It started when a group who had never done international missions decided to travel to Mexico and see what they could do to support their brothers and sisters in Christ. Lee’s congregation is in Texas – not far from the Mexican-American border. Because of this, they have a new take on international missions: the day trip!

Roberta Olson connects with a child in Los Artistas

They cross the border each day during a weeklong mission, staying in the U.S. at night and supporting all kinds of ministries in Mexico during the day. Their small group, usually between 12-25 members, is made up of people of different ages and backgrounds, and sometimes includes generations of the same family. Many international ministries might be too intensive for a young person or a retiree, but the innovative style of Crossing Borders allows people of all backgrounds to participate in missions work and enjoy a cross-cultural experience.

To see a video about Crossing Borders, visit: https://www.gci.org/letter/borders

Another thing that sets this ministry apart is that they have no agenda of their own. Instead, they make sure their efforts are always connected to existing local ministries. The thinking goes like this: so often in cross-cultural outreach, those on the mission trip think they know best. But part of the rich tapestry of the Christian faith is that many different cultural backgrounds are represented, and often it’s local Christians who know what their community needs.

This group has found when you approach cross-cultural ministry from a Christ-centered position, you start to ask questions instead of giving orders. A huge element of “crossing borders” in ministry is being willing to fill a supportive role. As one member of the team puts it, “Jesus set the ultimate example of servant-heartedness; this group follows in his footsteps of humble service.”

Lee keeps in contact with local pastors year-round to find out what their communities need. That way, when the group comes to Mexico, they bring resources that are truly needed and can be put to immediate use. Crossing Borders also visits orphanages, where they play games with the children. They hold VBS and sing Bible songs in Spanish. Even though many of the group’s members don’t speak Spanish fluently, they find that laughter, hugs, and compassion translates into any language.

When a group returns home, they find that they’ve received more than they’ve given and notice that their lives are radically and positively changed. Serving those without the same material comforts, and finding God’s riches in the lives of those in a different country changes the way one views their own life back home. Team members often seek out opportunities for ministry in their own communities afterwards, having seen firsthand what an impact Christ-like service can have. Through this ministry, participants are empowered to continue sharing what they’ve learned and are compelled through experience to continue on mission with Christ.

This is one of the things I love about GCI. Just as Jesus humbled himself and washed his disciples’ feet, members of our congregations, our camps and other ministries seek out creative ways to love and serve others while spreading the gospel. Whether the focus is national or international, across borders or close to home, there are countless ways GCI is impacting the world for Christ, and Crossing Borders is just one of them. We are active in the U.S. and over 100 countries worldwide. When you make a donation to Grace Communion International, you can be certian that you are supporting Christ-centered, service-oriented ministries across the globe.

With care and gratitude,

Joseph Tkach
President – Grace Communion International

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