Greetings from the saints in the City of Angels Church! The Lord blessed us with an incredible weekend! Saturday was the gorgeous “Kingdom wedding” of Leonard (Chip) & Ashley Moody, where disciples travelled across the country to celebrate and honor this noble couple! Sunday was another festive All Congregational Service at the Downtown LA Sheraton! Initially, the singing was incredible, then on the second song we “took it up a notch!” Cory Blackwell gave a rousing welcome and Sal Velasco – the new father of Salvador Jr. – led our hearts in a powerful prayer in English and Spanish, which particularly encouraged the 40 disciples in the OC Latin (Spanish-speaking) Sector, which he & his awesome wife Patricia now lead! Afterwards, it was announced that Cathi Martinez will join her husband Lou Jack serving full-time in the new Antelope Valley (“AV”) Sector of the Central Region! This sector – some 75 miles north of Downtown LA – has grown under the Martinezes’ creative leadership from 0 to 32 in less than four months, as 23 remnant disciples have joined us either by placing membership or restoration and they in turn have had seven baptisms – one of which was Erika on Sunday!
Following, ten awesome disciples placed membership: Kyle & Joan Bartholomew – who have come from Honolulu to train for the Crown of Thorns Church planting to Manila, newly married Curt & Morgan Valdez – who will serve in the campus ministry full-time in the Central Region under the Bartholomews, Rob & Theresa Hamblin of Phoenix and Ashley Dunn of New York City – all three have come to strengthen the AMS Region, Sparkle Leonard from Chicago has come to help build the South Central Region, Ashley Godwin – who will be a full-time intern on the San Francisco Team, and Margie Flores, who literally risked her life serving for a very fruitful year on the Sao Paulo Mission Team!
Afterwards, Arthur Whittle gave a moving testimony in his restoration of the reason he “had to leave” our former fellowship to find revival in God’s new movement! Kyle gave a touching communion and Nivan Bhalla – who will return shortly to India – gave a convicting contribution talk. Three were baptized to close this amazing service!
However, for many, the Lord’s Day was only beginning, as over 300 came back to our 2:30PM Bible Talk Leaders Meeting! Tim Kernan, who had returned just the day before from Paris where he was able to secure housing for the mission team through the generosity of the Paris Remnant Group, delivered his farewell message about what he had learned in his two years of training in the City of Angels Church. He titled his message, Caleb The Sizzler!
And now more exciting news around the globe…
Raul Moreno of Sao Paulo: “Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land.” (Proverbs 25:25) Here in Sao Paulo, we have the custom of reading a “summarized version” of the weekly Good News Email to the whole church at our Sunday service! It is incredible for this young congregation to hear about the miracles that God is doing around the world, as we strive to fulfill Jesus’ dream of the evangelization of the nations in our generation! It was great to have our very own Tyler & Shay do this all in Portuguese, as all the original missionaries here are now fluent in this very rich and expressive language. Most exciting to our congregation is the awesome news that Kip & Elena have encouraged Tyler & Shay to extend their missionary time in Sao Paulo to December. Then, they will return to LA to finish their training to lead a US planting in the summer of 2013, as the movement needs more US Churches to raise the funds to complete the planting of the 12 Crown of Thorns Cities!
Sunday’s service concluded with the baptism of Natalia! She was very broken-hearted, as she shared with extreme gratefulness that God gave her a chance to become a true disciple of Jesus and to escape from the trap of just being religious. Please keep praying for us as we pray for you! We love you with the love of the Lord!
Jay Shelbrack of Chicago: What an amazing week we had as we begin a new chapter in the powerful Chicago Church! At least 30-40 disciples showed up to see Mike & Brittany and the “Chicago half” of the San Francisco Bay Mission Team drive away in their truck. Many by-standers came to see what was going on in the heart of downtown Chicago. Numerous people had thought it was the filming of a reality show! One lady who asked was so amazed at the zeal, said that she wanted to know who we were and then come out to the church with her husband and pastor! They asked if we could study the Bible with them, as they have tried for years to start their own church in the inner city with no fruit.
On Saturday, we had our First Annual Men’s Retreat called, Courageous Men. Several visitors asked what they had to do to join the church, as they saw the unity and fun! We had activities from arm wrestling and tug-of-war, to a “preach-off!” The highlight for the church this week was the three baptisms: Tiffany from UIC is a pre-med student; Alma from the Latin Ministry whose husband and teenage daughter are now studying; and finally Roberto of Triton campus, who rejected the truth a year and a half ago, was baptized! Barb & I need your prayers, as we are striving with all our hearts to please God by stepping up to lead the Great Chicago Church!
Mike Underhill – the San Francisco Bay Mission Team Leader: “When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men [and women] who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’ The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.” (Psalm 126:1-6) This past Tuesday, 15 of us set out from Chicago on a four-day trip on the historic California Trail (I-80) and traveled to San Francisco. We finally “landed” Friday night, where we celebrated with a dinner at a San Francisco remnant family’s home, the Zamoras – who first contacted Kip on Facebook! The father of the family, John Zamora, nicknamed “Jay-Z,” a former restaurant owner, had burritos waiting for us! After so many long talks over the phone, all of us “were like men who dreamed” as we all finally held hands in prayer to our God who brought us together!
Saturday, we unloaded a truck packed with 16 people’s things! All the time we were overflowing with enthusiasm, as we looked forward to what God would do at our first service in San Francisco the next day. Sunday morning, with Jason Ochs – baptized last Sunday in LA – boosting our number of members on the mission team from 19 to 20 that have arrived in San Francisco, we filled the Zamoras’ living room with chairs! A little before 10AM, “the Scriptural starting time for church,” the room was buzzing with excitement and laughter! We sang “songs of joy” for this most auspicious beginning for the San Francisco Bay International Christian Church! After a few songs, John Zamora got up to lead, I Tried And I Tried Until I Found The Lord. Although this is a song of joy, this one was led with “tears.” John had been patiently waiting for so long for God to bring hope to him and his family through a church of sold-out disciples!
I preached a message called Digging Deep: Laying A Foundation On Jesus Christ. Gary & Cyndee Ochs, our Shepherding Couple for the San Francisco Bay ICC, were “weeping” as they delivered a powerful contribution message about how they’ve never “out-given” God! During the entire service, we were so grateful to have 45 in attendance and there are still more disciples on the mission team from LA who will arrive after the GLC!
Immediately afterwards, a “visitor” pulled me aside and tearfully shared how he was ready to get restored. He said as soon as he heard the singing, he started crying and remembered his days as a young disciple in the Mexico City ICOC years ago. Also, many non-Christians began to study the Bible to be baptized! After only 48 hours in this beautiful city, “our mouths [are] filled with laughter [and our hearts] with songs of joy!” Please keep us in your prayers!
Michael Williamson of London: “All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:15) We had another incredible University of East London student – “Big Dan” – baptized this past Sunday afternoon amidst a crowd of over 100! We typically baptize in a small pool, but because Dan stands a whopping 6’ 8” (1.98 meters), we had to parade through Camden-town to the Regents Canal to dunk this big fish in the river! The church was so fired-up! The Kingdom is awesome!!! See you at GLC!
Ricky Challinor of Portland: Good news from the birthplace of God’s new movement! First of all, a young man named Albert was baptized this Sunday! He was met by our brother Jeff Eitelbach. (Aka one of the “dunkables,” as he dunks people into the water!) Most encouragingly for Coleen and me, many “Kingdom Kids” and others that have fallen away and whom we personally know have been surfacing and are beginning to attempt to “rekindle the fire” in their relationships with God! Lastly, I was proud of my wife in her leading of the Portland sisters, as ALL the women were in Bible studies after church with women of ALL ages! Pray for us, as we are working so hard convinced that we are God’s only hope for this great city and the entire Northwest USA to be evangelized!
Debs Rajan of Chennai: Greetings from the region of India that our faithful brother the Apostle Thomas evangelized! As in the book of Acts, “With shrieks, evil spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city.“ (Acts 8: 7) Many have been healed of their spiritual sicknesses in the month of June. Sajai’s wife has been coming to the church for months. Seeing the love of the disciples, she left all her gods, accepted Jesus as LORD, and was baptized into Christ! Gracelyne, who holds a Masters in Business Administration from Loyola Campus and now works for one of the largest and reputed software companies in India, was baptized in just four days!
Viji, a final year University student, comes from a strong Hindu background. Her dad was murdered a few years ago. She was praying to God to show her the path to life. When we started studying the Bible with her, she had to face a lot of persecution from her relatives. She told her mom that she had not only found the truth, but also her “Heavenly Father.” She was baptized and is our first Black Belt in Karate!
Mervyn, an engineering graduate whose father is one of the prominent pastors of the Pentecostal Assembly of God Church here in Chennai, also decided to make Jesus his Lord and Savior and was baptized into God’s true church! Also, we had two more sisters get baptized! Of special note is June, who travelled all the way from Bangalore to Chennai (200 miles/330 km) to check out our church. She had heard a lot about us through Roger, a young disciple. Her previous plan was to be here for two days and return to Bangalore. After we started the studies, she cancelled her ticket and stayed back. She decided to get baptized and made the commitment to come every Sunday for the service!
This Sunday, the joy of the disciples was so overflowing that our good news sharing lasted for more than an hour! The week previous, the whole church went to the movie The Avengers and so Sunday my husband did a blow-out sermon titled, The Avengers. All six “Biblical Avengers” were from the book of Judges! Of particular note was Jael, the “Black Widow!” God has so encouraged us, as we are now exactly 50 sold-out disciples in Chennai! Truly a blow to Satan and to God goes all the glory!
Jeremy Ciaramella of Phoenix: Greetings from the “Valley of the ‘Son!’” The first few days here in Phoenix have been so refreshing for Amy & me as we believe that our God has called us back into the full-time ministry to lead the awesome Phoenix Church! We are so grateful for the love and maturity of the disciples in the Phoenix Church, as they have wrapped their arms around us, served our family, and given their hearts freely.
Especially encouraging was the “first baptism” I was able to witness in Phoenix – Eric! Eric, a man who was raised on a Navaho reservation, was an “MP” in the military and also holds a degree in psychology. He was baptized just after sunrise in the Salt River at the base of the majestic desert mountains, all of which “declared the glory of God!” Sunday, God added more disciples to our number, as Fred was restored and Anthony Patterson, Amy and I all “officially” placed membership from LA.
The singing was electric and Chris Chloupek brought the house down with a witty, convicting and inspiring lesson about Snow White And The Heavenly Dwarves – because we “all fall SHORT of the glory of God!” The spirit in the church was inspiring and the fellowship during the BBQ that followed was equally amazing! The Speckmans’ work here has laid a solid foundation, and we are so very grateful to be walking with them over the next couple of weeks as we labor to water it – and watch in awe, as God makes it grow! (1 Corinthians 3:5-9)
Anthony Eckels: Good news from Orlando! We have been praying for Orlando to not just be a “disciple making church,” but a “disciple multiplying church!” God is answering our prayers! The Clerzeau Family continues to reach out to their extended family relatives, with three of the sisters now disciples, and Francise, their older sister studying the Bible! Sunday, they brought their two brothers to church, their nephew and their childhood friend, and ALL of them want to study the Bible! Also, Micah and Ashley Poole, brought their sister, and cousin to church. Ashley, just baptized a week ago, has been in Bible studies EVERY day with Micah’s sister, who should be baptized very soon! Finally, in Orlando, love is in the air! Brittany Miller & Jonathan Smoot are dating! Can’t wait for the Sullivans, the Pattersons and all the LA disciples to move here following the GLC!
Andrew Smellie of New York City: “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.” (Acts 13:2-3) What a day in the Lord! Today the Spirit sent off to LA eight powerful disciples. They will join Coltin & Mandee Rohn, the Boston Mission Team Leaders, and the rest of the Boston Mission Team who will all be sent out at the GLC to plant the Boston International Christian Church!
At the same time, God blessed our labors with two baptisms in the Singles and Marrieds Ministries (Julie & Jessica) and three place-memberships from our sister church in Syracuse: Randy Garayua and Mike & Pam O’Donnell! Randy will be joining our AMS/Downtown Ministry, as he is very talented in music production & promotion, having had his own company. The O’Donnells will be our new House Church Leaders in Staten Island and will serve with Kenneth & Cheryl Chin as Shepherding Couples for the NYC Church!
This has been an incredible weekend of faith, fun and fruit in New York City! On Friday, well over 20 disciples made their way down to Staten Island to welcome the O’Donnells and help them move into their new home! On Friday night, we all prayed and “miraculously” finished moving them in within two hours! The O’Donnells mentioned later that the landlord was so impressed at our spirit and love in our hard work that she cried! On Sunday immediately following service, we had our Send-Off Party for the Boston Team, as we ate and wrote cards to this fantastic team and as they shared their love for NYC! In order to set an example of love and unity despite the historic sports rivalry between Boston and New York City (Yankees vs. Red Sox, Knicks vs. Celtics, Giants vs. Patriots) we gave each of them “I Love NY” t-shirts in the official Boston Celtic green color! We encouraged them to wear them proudly, and when (not if!) persecution comes, to share their faith boldly about how the power of God can unite even the greatest of rivalries!
At the end of our day, the Boston Team shared their hearts for the NYC Church, and the last brother, Jibriel Graham, ended his sharing with a wedding proposal to his girlfriend Jasmine! It was probably one of the smoothest proposals I have ever seen, as Jibriel threw out rose petals from his pocket as he shared his love for her before he popped the question! Jasmine was completely taken by surprise but joyfully said “Yes!” After a thunderous applause and congratulations, I read the above Scripture in tears to the team and substituted their names. Then the entire church gathered around them and laid their hands on them to bless their new journey as Kenneth Chin prayed for their faith and courage! What a day in the Lord!
Carlos Mejia: Greetings from Santiago! Lucy, the boys and I are finally here and ready to work hard to build God’s Kingdom in South America! Today, we had an awesome service as Alfredo & Alejandra gave a very touching welcome and introduced Lucy & me by reading portions of the City of Angels Church Bulletin from 2008, when we were reinstated and appointed Evangelist and Women’s Ministry Leader. We are very thankful for Alfredo & Alejandra, for after the Gonzalezes left for LA in April, they valiantly led the church here while both worked full-time jobs… and the church grew under their leadership!
In my lesson, I shared about all the missionaries – Jared & Rachel McGee, Abelardo & Elida Flores, Job & Erin Sterling, Albert Wagers, Renail Richards, Jose Otero and Ana Hernandez – who have given up everything in the US and moved in April, May or June of this year to evangelize Santiago, Chile, South America and all nations! I challenged the church to imitate the heart of these awesome disciples for the mission of Christ. (Philippines 3:17) However, the highlight of the service for me was the restoration of Claudio & Leslie. Through the efforts and love of our Marrieds Ministry, they were added to the body as they had sadly left God and the church after the demise of our former fellowship. Today, they were reconciled to God, each other and God’s Kingdom! Praise be to God! We can’t wait to see many of you at the GLC!
Dearest brothers and sisters of the SoldOut Movement, the 2012 Global Leadership Conference – August 5-7, 2012 – is a little more than a month away! Our goal is 675 registrations as we are striving to make this historic occasion a “break-even” event, so as not to burden the City of Angels Church. Presently, there are 209 paid registrants: USA – Charlotte (5), Chicago (22), Los Angeles (85 – AMS Region , Central Region , East Region , Inland Empire Region , OC Region , South Region , South Central Region , Ventura Region , West Region ), Eugene (2), Hilo (5), Honolulu (6), New York City (8), Orlando (6), Phoenix (5), Portland (13), San Diego (6), Syracuse (5), Washington DC (8), Others (1); International – Brisbane (2), Chennai (2), Curacao (3), Kiev (4), London (3), Santiago (4), Stockholm (8), Sao Paulo (4), Other (2). Continue to pray for all the mission teams that Lord-willing will be sent-out by the Sprit at the GLC: Boston, Mexico City, Orlando, Paris and San Francisco! And to our God be all the glory, honor and praise!