Greetings from Los Angeles! This week Elena & I had the privilege to worship at the Inaugural Service of the City of Angels Church’s tenth region – our new North Region! Recently moving from the mission field of Sao Paulo, Tyler & Shay Sears did an outstanding job overseeing every aspect of this gathering! This surely will be one of our movement’s most exciting ministries in which God will move in 2013! This week in the City of Angels Church, the Lord blessed us with six baptisms!
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Tyler & Shay Sears – the North Region Leaders
of the City of Angels Church!
After two months of counsel and prayer, the City of Angels Church Leadership has appointed 25 new interns! Congratulations to: Deunte Ford (North), Margie Flores (Orange County), Ashleigh Friends (Inland Empire), Christle Iea (Central), Kristtina Javierre (West), David Jefferson (South), Cesar Limon (Inland Empire), Kiana Lindsey (Ventura), Alton Liu (West), Geraldine Luque (South Central), Elizabeth McDonnell (Ventura), Richie McDonnell (Ventura), Hugo Melendez (West), Eileen Mengis (Ventura), Nathalie Moningka (West), Iggy Odighizuwa (Inland Empire), Melissa Podczerviensky (South Central), Stephanie Pollard (East), Gabe Reed (East), Rebecca Rico (South), Tracy Shelbrack (Orange County), Sean Valenzuela (South), Ashley Watson (Ventura), Jason Woody (Inland Empire) and Adam Zepeda (Orange County). Though at this point, the congregation cannot afford to employ our new Interns full-time, they (along with our already paid Interns) will receive full scholarships ($6,000/year) for the International College of Christian Ministries, which officially opens this Saturday!
And now more detailed reports from around LA…
Tyler Sears: “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.” (Joel 3:14) Greetings from the Amazing North Region! Today, Shay & I had the honor of initiating the North Region of the City of Angels Church! Our charge is to evangelize what is known as the San Fernando and Santa Clarita Valleys, which have a population of 1.8 million lost souls! Indeed, there are so many waiting in what we’ve dubbed the “Valley of Decision” to make the greatest decision of their lives – to make Jesus their Lord!
It was an incredible Sunday Service as the 19 North Region disciples had an attendance of 30! We gathered on the campus of California State University Northridge (CSUN) – a college of nearly 40,000 students – as we are already a recognized campus organization! We want to express our gratitude to both the West Region and the AMS Region as they were willing to send some of their strongest disciples to help “jump start” this new frontier! A special “thank-you” as well to Kip & Elena for coming to our Inaugural Service and helping in so many ways! We are very proud of the wholehearted devotion of the North Region disciples! Continue to pray for us as CSUN opens this week, and as we prepare for our Bring Your Neighbor Day next Sunday!
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The new North Region of the City of Angels Church
meets at CSUN for just $19 a Sunday!
Kyle Bartholomew: Greetings from the Central Region! Today was incredible as Nathan, a CSULA student, was baptized into Christ! He pleaded with God in prayer to give him a “purpose for his life” just two days before the disciples met him! After being met, he came to Bible Talk and then eagerly studied the Bible everyday! We are awe-inspired to baptize someone that both the Holy Spirit and the angels of God have so clearly been preparing to hear the gospel! (Acts 8:26-29) Pray for us as many more are on the way!
Jason Dimitry: Good news from the South Region! 2013 has started off with a bang as two have already been baptized, with Lord willing, three more for this coming Sunday! Our first baptism of the new year was Rosa. She is the cousin of our three month old “fruit machine” – Mario! Already Mario has baptized two of his close friends and capped it off with his amazing cousin!
The second baptism of the year is a dear friend of mine named Brian. Brian thoroughly counted the cost, completely surrendered all to Jesus, and was baptized today! Please pray for us as we too will be praying, fasting and faithfully working hard for our Bring Your Neighbor Day this coming Sunday!
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The South Brothers welcome Brian into the Kingdom!
Melissa Podczerviensky – the South Central Region’s newest Intern: What a wonderful day today has been!! Service was amazing from start to finish!! Some noticed a difference in today’s service… Maybe it was the warm, sunny day… Or maybe it was the anticipation of not one, but TWO incredible miracles that we witnessed at the conclusion of Brother Cory’s powerful lesson!
Today, two young, zealous Singles declared, “JESUS IS LORD!” The first was Richard, who “received the message with GREAT eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day.” (Acts 17:11). He was met on Christmas Day and has come out to every activity and service since then! Richard knew that he needed to get right with God, but wasn’t sure if he could hold to the commitment. At the end, Richard saw it was no longer an option, but a necessity to live for Christ finding faith to surrender everything through the Scriptures!
Another great miracle occurred with the baptism of our new sister, LaRon! She was invited out to the West Region for Women’s Day 2012. She began studying, but with the temptations of the world, LaRon quickly walked away. She shared through many tears today that she’s been “running from God” since she was 17 years old. She put an end to the rebellion and shared how this time she’s “ready to live for Christ” for the rest of her life! And we are excited to be “partners in the gospel” for the rest of our lives as well!!
More refreshing good news from around the globe…
Lola Lof of Kinshasa: Greeting from the Democratic Republic of Congo – a nation of 72,000,000 lost souls! When Congolese disciples of Jesus get together, something great always happens! This was the case this morning for our Sunday Worship Service as more than 360 attended! The atmosphere was very electric as we heard a powerful sermon about We Are Priests Of The King by our dear brother John Itetsi from the East Region. We were challenged as “priests of God” to sacrifice ourselves to obey God’s great commission to “go make disciples!”
Of note, we ended the service with the restoration of our awesome friend Laurette, and the baptism of Nicole, the eighth person to be baptized from the family of our awesome sister Mamie Cecile – the “bulldozer” in terms of family baptisms in the Kinshasa Church! And to God be the glory!
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Kinshasa is a bustling city of 8,000,000 lost souls!
John Malnegro of Manila: Mabuhay! “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” (John 4:23) God is moving powerfully in His new remnant church in the Philippines!
First of all, I want to praise our God for our Women’s Ministry Leader – Gina Dela Peña – and my awesome wife, Anna! Both of them are tirelessly working side-by-side in helping out our dear sister Kim restore her “first love” for our Lord Jesus Christ! Kim fell away after five years of being a disciple, but after she realized that she totally needed God in her life, she started coming back to our former fellowship – the Metro Manila ICOC. The first time she came, she was very excited to be reunited with the disciples, but she couldn’t believe what she saw… The very people that she looked up to before were no longer the same disciples she once knew… In Kim’s words, this was largely because of the all-pervasive coldness during the fellowship. And, so she decided to sit from afar, without hope.
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Gina Dela Peña, Anna & John Malnegro, and
Alvin Panlilio – the Leaders of the Metro
Manila International Christian Church!
She watched the whole church with tears and began to ask these two questions to herself, “What had happened to the church that helped me change my life?” and “Where’s the church that I had left some years ago?” Then, Kim heard about Kip and the new movement! She contacted Kip through Facebook (just last week), and Kip replied in an instant, informing her that we have the remnant church already in the area! She immediately joined us for our Mid-week Devotional, and in tears (not of sadness this time, but of joy) was the first person to share during our good news sharing that evening! She praised God for leading her to us!
Today in our worship service, she brought her business associate Bon to church… And Bon studied the Bible shortly after the service! Truly, Kim is “a true worshiper… the Father seeks!” Another exciting piece of news: Melvin, our brother Jason Alejandro’s employee, is now very close to getting baptized! The brothers are giving all their hearts to make him a sold-out disciple of Jesus! Truly, God deserves all the praise and glory for what He has done for us this week!
Jay Shelbrack of Chicago: “At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come for everything is now ready.'” (Luke 14:7) Here in Chicago, we are preparing for an incredible banquet in many ways! First, we are actually having a “great banquet” this coming Friday for the disciples to eat and showcase their many talents. It will be a great family time together!
We are also preparing workers for God’s banquet as we put on two new Interns on Staff this month! The first, Victor Montano will be assisting us in the West Region as a Campus Intern. He was converted off Triton College a year ago in November, and is an accounting major there now. He has also managed a Dunkin’ Donuts for several years and worked for an accounting firm while being a student and leading a Bible Talk! Also coming on Staff, Kenneth Cook (“KC”) will be working with the North and Downtown Campus Ministries. Since being converted in March, he has been personally fruitful with three people! One of the men he recently converted has also been personally fruitful!
We have restructured our Singles Ministry with Nana & Maiya leading. There will be five main focuses for the Singles: the Mature Singles, the Single Parents, the Latin Singles, the Professional Singles and finally the AMPS (Arts, Media, Professional and Sports) Ministry, which all will work together to grow our Singles Ministry. Also, we are upgrading our Web Ministry as it has brought great results. This Sunday alone, eight visitors came who first found us on the web!
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Nana, Maiya, Sabrina, Victor and KC – the Singles and
Campus Leaders for the dynamic Chicago Church!
Finally, after today, we have to seriously consider moving to a new location, as we are running out of chairs and space! We already exceed our capacity by 70 people and are beginning to consistently have an attendance over 300! The Latin Ministry alone, led powerfully by Juan Carlos & Bety, had an attendance of 130 today! There is a great excitement in the air with all these ministries beginning to excel, and especially so, since our campus ministries are beginning their new semester! Please pray that we “make every effort” “to save as many as possible.”
Steve Ranga: Greetings from the sold-out disciples in Syracuse, New York! God revealed one of His mysteries to the East Coast disciples this past weekend – the mystery of the power of His love! 54 willing disciples jumped aboard busses, trains and cars traveling five hours to the “City That Never Sleeps” thus joining the fired-up disciples from the newly planted Boston Church and the great New York City Church for our 2013 Northeast Winter Workshop entitled, Entrusted To the Saints.
God’s love was truly evident in each disciple as they greeted each other with that same powerful love which is only made possible through the Holy Spirit. All the speakers were used by God to convey the messages that God has “entrusted to [His] saints,” the messages of love, unity and righteousness! We are very grateful for the vision God gave to the Smellies to host the Winter Workshop in New York City! The Syracuse disciples are not only fired-up because of this incredible life-changing weekend, but they are also fired-up to witness another one snatched out of Satan’s killing grips a second week in a row, as Nashez was added to our Campus Ministry through the waters of baptism! Please continue to pray as God continues to bring in the harvest!
Matt Sullivan of Orlando: “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.” (Matthew 11:12-13) God is moving in Orlando! We have had over 100 at service two weeks in a row – 111 yesterday! The last seven weeks, we have seen 11 people baptized and many, many more are getting close!
Our awesome Campus Ministry (which is now officially a club at UCF!!) started out the semester powerfully sharing with 20 every day to find “as many as possible” to study the Bible. The campus now has 14 students studying the Bible and three are very close! We kicked-off the year with our Prayer Goals being laid out before the church, and we – with the power of our God – are “forcefully advancing” to reach them…
For example, one goal is to officially start an AMS Ministry led by Anthony & Elizabeth Eckels. Last Thursday, they rocked their first Bible Talk with 11 visitors! Many of whom were musicians and artists met at Full Sail University, which focuses on the Arts & Media! Several are now studying the Bible! In addition, Elizabeth is taking a Sculpture Class… She is already well-known to be extremely talented in the art world, and was asked to present her work at the Crealde School of Art and at the Albin Polasek Museum – a very prestigious museum and famous for attracting some of the best artists around! One of the guys studying is a very talented musician, and after service yesterday, he simply said to me, “Ok, so now I want to be part of this church… What do I do?” The real “Magic Kingdom” forcefully marches on! Our God is amazing!
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Anthony & Elizabeth Eckels – Orlando’s
talented AMS Ministry Leaders!
Tina Nwachukwu: Bonjour de Paris! It’s been a great week here in Paris, France! The Scheideckers – our new church leaders – were invited to London to speak for their 2013 Winter Workshop. It was a very uplifting experience for them to be with our sister church. We are so very grateful to the London disciples for all their hard work and sacrifice, and knowing that Paris has another SoldOut Discipling Church in Europe – just a little over two hours away – makes all of us here rejoice!
We were also encouraged by Didi Diop (who Blaise Feumba baptized several years ago) preaching an incredible lesson called, Quand On A La Foi… (When You Have Faith: You Believe, Obey and Pray)! On another note, Carol who was baptized just six days ago is an incredible woman from Mozambique! She speaks three languages (English, Portuguese and French) and she is a doctor, who came to Paris to advance her knowledge in cardiology! She has great conviction on the Word of God and is willing to give-up everything to be where the Kingdom is! Carol is an extreme blessing to the saints!
More good news is that one of our Campus Interns, Cassidy Deaves, who was willing to give-up financial stability back in LA to be on the mission team, has been praying for months that God would bless her with money to pay her debts. With patience, sacrifice and a surrendered heart, God blessed her with a check in the mail that has allowed her to pay off most of her obligations! We truly serve an awesome God!
Evan Bartholomew of San Diego: The disciples in the Mission Bay International Christian Church are very inspired, as today, we concluded our Second Annual Winter Workshop! We are super grateful for DJ & Kacie Comisford, Mason Fetelika & Nathalie Moningka, and Larry & Christy Wilson, who drove down from LA to speak during this awesome weekend! Also visiting us from the City of Angels Church were Dave Swann, Dale Bryant and Kensey Perkins! Dale drove down to take part in the baptism of David Bryant – his dad – at the conclusion of our Saturday Morning Session!
Kensey came to be with the church for the Winter Workshop since she will be moving down in February. Much to her surprise though, Bobby Merritt asked her to be his girlfriend… to which she excitingly said, “Yes!” Bobby is one happy brother! With the theme of the workshop being The Dream, the disciples here are convinced – more than ever – of the amount of work that needs to be done to see Jesus’ dream realized in THIS generation! Please keep us in your prayers!
Ricky Challinor of Portland: Good news from the City of Bridges!!! God is working in great ways here as His church is increasing numerically and geographically! (Acts 12:24) So proud of Marcos & Elizabeth Lopez, who lead our Latin Ministry, as they have set a Prayer Goal for all their Bible Talks to double in number! God is quickly at work: the South Latin Bible Talk has split into another Bible Talk, and the Lopezes are now working to train-up an incredible Bible Talk Leader in Canby! Also of good news is our Teen Ministry! Gordo Esparza and Erin Corbin are doing a great job, as Josh (the Lopezes’ son) was just baptized!
Lastly, our Campus Ministry is expanding to a new campus! We have daytime and evening Bible Talks at Portland State University, but now we also have a daytime Bible Talk at Portland Community College (Cascade Campus) led by Daniel Morales and Keisha Lathan!!! Please pray for the church to have explosive growth to glorify our God!
Michael Williamson: Greetings from snowy London Town! This weekend, London saw the most beautiful flurry of snow that covered the entire city in a frosty, white blanket. Freezing temperatures have chilled the UK for the past week, but our Winter Workshop entitled, Seek First His Kingdom set fire to all of our souls!
Thursday was incredible as we all gathered at St. Pancras Station outside the Eurostar, the longest undersea high-speed railway service in the world (which connects London with Paris), to welcome Philippe & Prisca Scheidecker (the leaders of our Paris Church) and their ten year old daughter Rebecca! Blaise Feumba opened our Winter Workshop on Friday evening with a passionate speech entitled, Walking With The King. Blaise challenged us this year to understand you can’t “seek first the Kingdom” unless you are first seeking the KING!
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Blaise Feumba passionately preaches the Word!
Saturday was powerful, as we heard inspiring speeches from Yomi Bello, Patricia Feumba, Philippe Scheidecker, Michael & Maria Hart, and not to mention, my lovely wife Michele! We shared our 2013 Prayer Goals to reach 200 members at the end of this year; to officially start a Teen Ministry; to raise up a Deacon Couple to lead our Children’s Ministry; to initiate an AMS Ministry; and for every member to personally convert a minimum of two souls this year! We also have plans to expand the Singles in the East; set-up a Singles Ministry in the West; add more Interns through raising our pledges; as well as hosting the best European Missions Conference ever!
Despite conditions that canceled over 260 flights and shut down many key rail stations within the city, our members were undeterred, as they didn’t make it to service on time… but EARLY! LOL! Pray for us as we are counting the cost with three people this week!
Ron Harding of Washington DC: Greetings from the Capital of the United States on the eve of the Second Inauguration of the first Black president! The city is buzzing with visitors from all nations, waiting to see this historic event. We are expecting an estimated 800,000 people in Downtown DC. Interestingly, 30 minutes before our service, the fellowship was buzzing with visitors from several countries: China, Singapore, Nigeria, and of course, the United States. The singing was powerful, and I’m sure lives were changed with a lesson entitled, A Worldly Point Of View where we worked through the Scriptures to gain the Lord’s view on trust, forgiveness, love and respect. Also, we were all so happy to have Brad Mathews from Charlotte place membership today! So, in the first three weeks of 2013, the Lord has blessed us with five additions: two baptisms and three place memberships! Please continue to pray for us, as we are fast approaching our goal of “100 for the Lord!”
Carlos Vargas of Madrid: “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18 NIVUK) 2012 was an incredible year in the Lord for the Madrid Church! At the very end of the year, the Lord allowed us to reap a harvest with the baptism of Marisol, Miguel’s sister! Marisol is an incredible college woman – very energetic and full of vision! So in 2013, the Lord has “given” us the plan of “forcefully advancing the Kingdom” on the campus!
Also this last December, our Father gave us another meeting place for Sundays that is a more formal environment, and which enables us to host more friends. On the first weekend, we had 18 in attendance! Now more and more friends are joining us for worship! Keep us in your prayers, as we are very encouraged and inspired by what the Lord is going to do in Spain and in all Europe this year! And all the glory be for our Almighty God and His Messiah!
Jeremy Ciaramella of Phoenix: Greetings from the Valley of the “Son!” Our guest speakers for our Winter Workshop were Chris & Sonja Chloupek of LA. They did a phenomenal job giving all their hearts on both Saturday and Sunday! Amy & I are proud to work alongside the Chloupeks and the other leaders here in building God’s church in Phoenix! Our theme Scripture for this year is Micah 6:8, “He has shown you what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God!”
Friday was very powerful! Not only because of Chris’ strong charge for Bible Talk Leaders entitled, The Bible Talk That Loves Mercy (because it understands judgment), but also because of the excellent job that all of the leaders did in giving practical challenges on Bible Talks: Family Atmosphere, The Lesson And Discussion, and Fellowship And Follow-up – many of which we learned from our own attendance at the amazing LA Winter Workshop.
Saturday, the Men’s Program invigorated the brothers as Chris called us to Walk Humbly With Your God! The sisters had an awesome time on Saturday as well, as Sonja preached powerfully on God Will Lift You Up! Then in both of the Men’s and Women’s Programs, Chris Schultz and Mark Garrido “hit it out of the park” when they preached that we make a pledge to God for our weekly contribution, and then get creative – through faith, counsel and prayer – in raising money for Special Missions!
Sunday was stellar, especially the welcome which included the “Wedding Invitation” for Josiah & Kristen’s wedding – a heartfelt video they had put together about the “love story” of the journey in which God led them both to be together! The singing was inspiring – especially Sandy Lunde’s solo of Amazing Grace! Sonja again gave her heart for an encouraging communion. And who could forget Rick Romney’s insightful contribution talk regarding how foolish we must look when we “rob God!” (Malachi 3:6-12) Of course, Chris’ sermon, He Has Shown You What Is Good had us all laughing, and yet very convicted, on who we need to be for God in 2013! Thanks for all your prayers, support and for the powerful example set in LA – we imitated it and God blessed it! To Him be all the glory!
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Josiah & Kristen’s wedding invitation video was
a stirring reminder of how awesome it is to
find your soul-mate in the Kingdom!
Andrew Smellie of New York City: “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” (Jude 3 emphasis added) Greetings from the saints in NYC! God blessed us with an incredible weekend, as we were able to host the Boston and Syracuse Churches in New York City for our 2013 Northeast Winter Workshop, entitled Entrusted To The Saints!
All of our classes and services were held at the historic New York Hotel Pennsylvania in Midtown Manhattan, with panoramic views of the city from the 18th floor that made our meetings feel like we were in the clouds! As a result of the dynamic classes, the disciples were challenged to grow in their faith and boldness in order to be true “contenders” and not “pretenders” of the gospel! The Worship Service on Sunday was electric and our attendance was almost 240 souls! Highlights include two baptisms (from Syracuse and NYC), as well as the appointment of Drs. Kenneth & Cheryl Chin and Mike & Pam O’Donnell as our first Congregational Shepherding Couples of the New York City Church!
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In a moving and historic ceremony, the Chins and the
O’Donnells are appointed as the first Shepherding
Couples for the New York City Church!
In the last four weeks, God has added five souls to our number with the baptisms of Sergio (Campus); Marisela (Single); and Anais (Campus); as well as the restoration of Carlos & Alexye Palomino (Marrieds)! To God be the glory! It is exciting to be united in “vision & dreams” (Acts 2:17) for the new year, as we protect “the truths” that our Father in Heaven has entrusted to us! Pray for the harvest! We love you!
Dearest Brothers and Sisters: What a phenomenal start to 2013 – especially all of the incredible Winter Workshops! Please be praying for the opening of the International College of Christian Ministries this coming Saturday, as well as for Sunday’s Bring Your Neighbor Day in Los Angeles! And to God be all the honor, glory and praise! Amen!