The Western District Welcomes You!

Thank you for visiting the Western District Foreign Mission's Department blog. Our intent is to provide you, the pastors, ministers, and saints of the Western District and the United Pentecostal Church International as well as our friends who would like to visit a place to be informed of events happening in our district and to share their thoughts concerning missions with us. We appreciate you taking the time to look over our site, to read the different posts, and last but not least to share your thoughts.


Missionaries traveling in our district:

May 2012

~Dwane Abernathy - Belize, Central America
~Robert McFarland - Israel/Palestine

June 2012

~Robert McFarland - Israel/Palestine, Middle East
~Jason Long - Nicaragua, Central America

July 2012

~Crystal Reece - Tonga, South Pacific
~John Hemus - United Kingdom, Europe

August 2012

~Crystal Reece - Tonga, South Pacific
~Cynthia White - Jordan, Middle East


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

~Missionary Prayer FOCUS - April 1st - April 15th, 2011


Friday April 1st, 2011 - John and Nory Cogan - Philippine Islands

Saturday April 2nd, 2011 - Lynden and Kathy Shalm - RD Asia

Sunday April 3rd, 2011 - Mike ande Dianna Tuttle - RD Europe

Monday April 4th, 2011 - Bob and Judy Addington - New Zealand

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

~Featured Missionary and Country of the Week - *Amy Sawyer/*Belize


Amy Sawyer

Region(s): Central America/Caribbean

Field(s): Belize

Poster: download PDF

Website: click here to visit

Bio: An honors graduate of Jackson College of Ministries, Amy Sawyer has spent the past 17 years actively involved in missions. In 1990 she went to El Salvador as an associate in missions to work under the direction of Bruce Howell and later transferred to Honduras to work with her father and mother, Jerry and Brenda Sawyer. In 1997 she transferred to Belize where her primary work is directing the Bible school which she founded. Amy Sawyer received her appointment as a United Pentecostal Church missionary in September 2002. She was ordained by General Director of Foreign Missions Bruce Howell in a special chapel service at World Evangelism Center in February 2004. She is heavily involved in children’s and youth ministries. She is also the acting superintendent of the Spanish District of the UPC of Belize.


Area Coordinator: Brad Thompson
Superintendent/President: Jerry E. Sawyer

Population: 300000
Area: 8,865 sq. mi.
Capital: Belmopan
Languages: English (official), Spanish, native Creole dialects
Religions: Roman Catholic, 66%; Methodist, 13%; Anglican, 13%

Formerly known as British Honduras, Belize lies on the Caribbean, just south of Mexico and east of Guatemala. The nation is heavily forested with mahogany, cedar, and logwood trees. Britain colonized Belize in 1862 but granted it independence within the British Commonwealth on September 21, 1981. Lonely Planet’s World Guide states, “English-speaking, Creole dominated and with a thoroughly coup-free history, this tiny country has an atmosphere so laid-back it’s almost comatose.” The United Pentecostal Church in Belize is the outgrowth of contacts with the Maya K’ekchí Indians initially made by Paul Poole. He was pastoring in Princeton, Indiana, at the time and later became a missionary. In 1984 T. Wynn Drost organized the United Pentecostal Church of Belize. Frank Kellier, an associate in missions from Jamaica, made other contacts and established a church in Belize City. Now under the leadership of Jerry Sawyer, the church has 2,350 constituents, 25 ministers, 28 churches and preaching points, and a Bible school with various extensions.

Additional information:

History of Belize

The history of Belize dates back thousands of years. The area now comprising Belize was originally inhabited by Amerindian groups (Caribs, Arawaks, and Mayas). The Maya civilization rose in the Yucatán Peninsula to the north, spreading to Belize between the 16th century BC and the 4th century AD.

The Classic period sites flourished until about the 13th century, and suggest that the area had a much denser population in that period than it has had since. Post-Classic sites continued until contact with Europeans. Belize contains the archeological remains of cities such as Altun Ha, Caracol, Cahal Pech, Lamanai, Lubaantun, Nim Li Punit, Santa Rita, and Xunantunich.

First European contact

European contact began in 1502, when Christopher Columbus sailed along the coast of Belize but did not land on shore.

In 1511, the first Europeans set foot on what is now Belize: a small crew of shipwrecked Spanish sailors, who landed in what is now northern Belize. The groups galleon had run aground on the Alacranes reef near Cabo Catoche. Twenty people were washed ashore, and most of those were immediately captured by the Mayas and later sacrificed or taken as slaves. One of the prisoners, Gonzalo Guerrero, later defected to the Mayas, and married into a noble Mayan family. Guerrero married the daughter of Nachankan, the chief of Chetumal, and assumed the Mayan way of life. He and his wife had three children, who were the first Mestizos (mixed Amerindian-European ethnicity).

Though tradition has it that European settlement began in 1638, there are no historical records of Europeans staying year-round in the area until the 1670s. These early Baymen were drawn by the large stands of logwood, a valuable tree whose sapwood was widely used in Europe to dye clothing. In the early 1700s, mahogany also became a valuable export. Over the next 150 years, more English settlements were established. This period also was marked by piracy, indiscriminate logging, and sporadic attacks by Indians and neighboring Spanish settlements.

The British arrive

The Spanish Empire granted the United Kingdom rights to establish logging camps in the area, but not to set up a colony on this land, which the Spanish Crown wished to maintain theoretical sovereignty over. While not an official British colony, British use and occupation of the area increased. In 1798, the United Kingdom and Spain went to war, and the Spanish Governor-General of Yucatán sent a fleet of 32 ships to seize the British settlements. From September 3 through September 10 a series of battles was fought around the islands and reefs off the Belizean coast, after which the Spanish forces withdrew. This is known as The Battle of St. Georges Caye, and is celebrated as a national holiday each September 10.

The United Kingdom first sent an official representative to the area in the late 18th century but Belize was not formally termed the Colony of British Honduras until 1840. It became a Crown Colony in 1862.

In second half of the 19th century many refugees from the Caste War of Yucatán settled in the northern part of the colony.

According to the 1904 census of British Honduras, the principle towns of the colony at the time had the following populations: Belize City: 9969; Stann Creek Town: 2459; Corozal Town: 1696; Orange Walk Town: 1244; Punta Gorda: 706; San Ignacio Cayo: 421; Monkey River: 384; and Mullins River: 243.

In the 20th century, several constitutional changes were enacted to expand representative government. Full internal self-government under a ministerial system was granted in January 1964. The official name of the territory was changed from British Honduras to Belize in June 1973.


The government of Guatemala long claimed that Belize was rightfully Guatemalan territory, supposedly inheriting rights to the land from the Spanish Crown. Fear of invasion by Guatemala long delayed the independence of Belize. Finally the United Kingdom agreed to defend Belize from invasion if necessary after independence; this agreement led to full official independence granted on September 21, 1981, under the leadership of long time Prime Minister and independence advocate George Price. Guatemala refused to recognize the new nation until 1992

Belize City was hit badly by a hurricane in 1931, and suffered even more severe damage from Hurricane Hattie in 1961. This resulted in the creation of two new towns. The first was Hattieville, just inland from Belize City, which was originally intended as a temporary shelter for those made homeless by the hurricane, but which grew into a permanent town. The second was Belmopan, a community planned as the new capital of Belize, well inland and near the center of the country. The building of Belmopan began in 1962, and in 1971 the Belizean House of Representatives began meeting there. Although no longer the capital, Belize City remains the nations largest city and port. In the 1990s a new sea port was built at Big Creek, which soon became the second most important port after Belize City.

Tourism has become the mainstay of the economy. The country remains plagued by high unemployment, growing involvement in the South American drug trade, and increased urban crime in Belize City. The British army continues to man bases there.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

~Seven Truths for Pastors, Ministers and Leaders

Here are seven truths for you to be an effective Pastor/Minister and Leader:

1. It’s not what you say that matters; it’s what people hear. Just because you said it doesn't mean they heard it. Just because you wrote it doesn’t mean they read it. Be sure your message is received and understood.

2. There are lots of things you don’t know and lots of people who hope you don’t find out. The Pastor/Minister rarely hears the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. You’ve got to walk around, look around, listen, and ask direct questions.

3. Hire for character, train for skills. Integrity, responsibility, and the ability to work with others are vital competencies. You’ve got to screen out or weed out people you can’t believe or rely on or who are toxic to the team.

4. Settling for warm bodies turns one problem into two. You still have to get someone who’s right for the job, but first you have to deal with and remove the wrong person. If you can’t find the time to do it right, when will you find the time to do it over?

5. What you allow, you encourage. If you don’t enforce your values and rules, they’re not your values and they’re not rules.

6. Doing nothing is doing something. Indecision and inaction cause as much harm as poor decisions. Indecisiveness is incompetence.

7. It’s all about relationships. Your most important job is to get the most out of the people who work with you. You’ve got to be ready to be a pastor/minister, motivator, mentor, counselor, disciplinarian, or friend.

**Adapted from 'Seven Truths for Bosses' by Michael Josephson

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

~Failing Forward: Turning Stumbling Blocks into Stepping Stones


The best way to teach our children to succeed is to teach them to fail.

After all, if getting everything you want on the first try is success, and everything else is failure, we all fail much more often than we succeed.

People who learn how to grow from unsuccessful efforts succeed more often and at higher levels because they become wiser and tougher.

Two great American inventors, Thomas Edison and Charles Kettering, mastered the art of building success on a foundation of failure.

Edison liked to say he "failed his way to success," noting that every time he tried something that didn't work he moved closer to what did. Kettering talked about "failing forward,"* calling every wrong attempt a "practice shot."

Of course, failure is never desirable, but it can be useful, and it is inevitable.

The only way to avoid failure is to avoid the risks and challenges that help us get better as a people and professionals. The secret of success is learning to transform unsuccessful experiences from stumbling blocks to stepping stones.

Three qualities can turn adversity into advantage: a positive perspective, reflection, and perseverance.

First, learn from the inventors. Don't allow yourself to think of any failure as final, and never allow unsuccessful efforts to discourage you or cause you to give up. Remember, failure is an event, not a person. Even failing repeatedly can't defeat you unless you start thinking of yourself as a failure. The way you think about your experiences shapes the experience in ways that either stimulate or stymie further efforts.

Second, don't waste the experience. Unsuccessful efforts are failures only if you don't learn from them. Reflect on your actions, attitudes, and the results to discover the lesson within, and use that knowledge to guide future efforts.

Finally, persevere. Try and try again. Just be smarter each time.

~by Michael Josephson -
* Leadership guru John Maxwell has used this phrase for a title of a book, Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

~Featured Missionary and Country of the Week - Steve/Cheri Smith, Guyana


Steve and Cheri Smith

Region(s): Central America/Caribbean
Field(s): Guyana
Poster: download PDF
Website: click here to visit
Bio: Steve and Cheri Smith were pastoring in Illinois when they felt God’s call to serve in Guyana, South America. They served first as AIMers for a year and a half before receiving their appointment as full-time missionaries in 2002. Presently they have been working in Guyana for the past six years between AIM service, deputation, and are now into their second year of this term. Smith serves as the superintendent of the work and as the Bible school president. He and his wife both teach in the Bible school. She serves as the national Sunday School director, and they pastor two churches, including the headquarters church in the capital city of Georgetown. Their three children Alexia, Steven, and Cameron, are all involved in the work and enjoy serving the Lord in Guyana. He states, “We’re so blessed to be missionaries in beautiful Guyana, the ‘Land of Many Waters’.”


Cooperative Republic of Guyana

Area Coordinator: O. Steven Smith

Population: 700000

Area: 83,000 sq. mi.

Capital: Georgetown

Languages: English (official), Amerindian dialects

Religions: Hindu, 34%; Protestant, 34%; Islam, 9%; Catholic, 18%

The Cooperative Republic of Guyana, about the size of Idaho, lies on the northern coast of South America, sandwiched between Venezuela on the west and Suriname on the east. Brazil is Guyana’s southern neighbor. Tropical forests cover 80% of Guyana. An extensive network of north-south rivers drains Guyana’s highlands and flows to the sea. Politically, Guyana is the only nation state of the Commonwealth of Nations on the mainland of South America. Culturally, Guyana is Caribbean rather than Latin American, and it is considered part of the West Indies. The United Pentecostal Church of Guyana began as a mission of the UPC of Jamaica in 1976 with the appointment of Devon Dawson. It came under the auspices of the UPCI in 1982. It has 1,396 constituents, 15 churches and preaching points, and 26 licensed national ministers.

Additional Informational:

Background - Originally a Dutch colony in the 17th century, by 1815 Guyana had become a British possession. The abolition of slavery led to black settlement of urban areas and the importation of indentured servants from India to work the sugar plantations. This ethnocultural divide has persisted and has led to turbulent politics. Guyana achieved independence from the UK in 1966, and since then it has been ruled mostly by socialist-oriented governments. In 1992, Cheddi JAGAN was elected president in what is considered the country's first free and fair election since independence. After his death five years later, his wife, Janet JAGAN, became president but resigned in 1999 due to poor health. Her successor, Bharrat JAGDEO, was reelected in 2001 and again in 2006.

Guyana (pronounced /ɡaɪˈænə/ ( listen) gy-AN-ə), officially the Co-operative Republic of Guyana[1] and previously known as British Guiana, is a sovereign state on the northern coast of South America that is culturally part of the Anglophone Caribbean. Guyana has been a former colony of the British, Dutch, French and for 200 years the Spanish. It is the only state of the Commonwealth of Nations on mainland South America, and is also a member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which has its secretariat headquarters in Guyana's capital, Georgetown. Guyana is also one of the few Caribbean countries which are not islands. Guyana achieved independence from the United Kingdom on 26 May 1966 and became a Republic on 23 February 1970.

Historically, the region known as "Guiana" or "Guayana" comprised the large shield landmass north of the Amazon River and east of the Orinoco River known as the "Land of many waters". Historic Guyana is made up of three Dutch colonies: Essequibo, Demerara, and Berbice. Modern Guyana is bordered to the east by Suriname, to the south and southwest by Brazil, to the west by Venezuela, and on the north by the Atlantic Ocean.

~Japan EARTHQUAKE Udate - March 20th, 2011


TOKYO – Japan's police agency says more than 8,400 people are dead and nearly 13,000 are listed as missing after last week's earthquake and tsunami.
A week after the disasters devastated the northeast coast, the National Police Agency said Sunday that the number of bodies collected so far stood at 8,450, while 12,931 people were listed as missing.
The toll has been steadily rising as searchers find bodies in the wasteland left behind by the 9.0-magnitude quake and the massive tsunami it unleashed. At the same time, the number of missing has risen as survivors and relatives come to terms with the twin disasters and contact police regarding loved ones who remain unaccounted for.
The two lists may overlap. Many of the bodies collected so far have not yet been identified, police say. So it is possible many of the unidentified bodies will match names on the missing list once their identities are confirmed.
Please continue to PRAY for the nation of Japan and its people. They are in desperate need of our prayer. Also, please remember to PRAY for our missionaries families in Japan - the information I have received indicates they are all ok and for this we are thankful and give praise to God!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

~Update on EARTHQUAKE Devastation in Japan - March 17th, 2011

**The following is a Special Report from Compassion Services International, a division of the Foreign Missions Department of the United Pentecostal Church International.

Thank You For Praying For Japan

Dear Prayer Warriors,

I just want to take a moment to thank you for your continued prayer support for Japan. Often in tragic events as Japan has suffered recently, we tend to become overwhelmed with the constant images and needs. Please do not become weary in praying for Japan with all their current needs. We are depending on your prayers. Enclosed in this update is some information from our Northern Region Director.

Praise Report and Prayer Request

Dear Brethren,

Praise the Lord!

I would like to share with you most recent updates for brethren and churches that got most affected by the earthquake.

Brother Okunushi, leader of Ibaragi church told me that they were able to return home this last Sunday, a few days after they had been evacuated to the public facility.

He got in touch with almost all the saints there and thankfully found that they were safe.

In Ibaragi, electricity is back, but water is not running and due to the shortage of gas, they can't use a car.

Aftershocks still continue, however, they are grateful that they have been protected by the Lord.

As for the hardest hit Sendai, I talked with Brother and Sister Kon today and they were saying that they feel prayers sustaining and comforting them.

They expressed heartfelt appreciation to all ministers caring and praying for them.

Kons' and other members of Sendai church are all safe. Praise God !

Sister Kon also expressed that the earthquake was really frightening and due to lack of water, they have not only been able to take a shower but also wash their face and brush the teeth.

In spite of little amount of food distributed, their health has been sustained. They will still need to spend the night in the evacuated school because of aftershocks.

We hear reports that food, water and heat are what they are desperate for in most affected areas.

As I am writing now, there was quite strong earthquake in Kanto, Tokyo area. M 6.0

There is a brother in Fukushima saying that they have been evacuated to the elementary school about 20 miles away from where there were nuclear plant disasters.( This is getting really serious, so please pray.)

He reported that there are 800-900 people in the school ,many elderly and quite a few babies.

It gets unbearably cold at night and with just one rice ball served per meal, it is very tough on people physically.

He requests prayers for those people that he is with.

We truly appreciate your prayers and kindness.

Please continue to pray for our churches and for Japan.

Northern regional director


Click to Watch

A Final Praise Report

Contact has been made with Bro. Kepler and his family and they are safe. Please continue to pray for them and their family.

Edward Hosmer

Japan Network Of Prayer

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

~Western District - Update *Pastors on Missions trip to Spain

Service in Madrid

Bro. Gary Sones introducing Bro. Ken Sullivan, pastor from Citrus Heights, CA

Bro. Ken Sulllivan ministering in the Thursday night service in Madrid

Service in Burgo de Osma

Bro. Aubrie Birdwell, pastor from Ridgecrest, CA ministered in this service (no photo available at this time).

Sis. June Sones with saints from the church

More saints from the church in Burgo de Osma, Spain

The United Pentecostal Church of Spain, under the direction of missionary superintendent Gary Sones, is experiencing tremendous growth and Revival. They have approximately 5,000 constituents and over forty churches. Please keep this country and all the missionary families in your PRAYERS.

~Japan EARTHQUAKE update!

Earth-mapping satellites have been snapping photos of the aftermath of the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan last week. Combined with earlier photos, the images put the path of destruction carved by the tsunami into stark relief.

The natural color, high-resolution images show entire neighborhoods swept away by the waves. Airports and farmland are inundated, cargo depots have been turned into piles of rubble, and damaged nuclear facilities appear as apocalyptic shells.

In this image made off Japan's NTV/NNN Japan television footage, smoke ascends from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant's Unit 3 in Okumamachi, Fukushima Prefecture, northern Japan, Monday, March 14, 2011. The second hydrogen explosion in three days rocked Japan's stricken nuclear plant Monday, sending a massive column of smoke into the air and wounding 11 workers. (AP/NTV/NNN Japan)

SOMA, Japan -- The fuel rods in all three of the most troubled Japanese nuclear reactors -- each of which lost its cooling system in Friday's massive earthquake and tsunami -- appear to be melting, the nation's chief government spokesman said Monday.

"Although we cannot directly check it, it's highly likely happening," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters.

Water levels dropped precipitously Monday inside a stricken Japanese nuclear reactor, twice leaving the uranium fuel rods completely exposed and raising the threat of a meltdown, hours after a hydrogen explosion tore through the building housing a different reactor.

Water levels were restored after the first decrease but the rods remained exposed late Monday night after the second episode, increasing the risk of the spread of radiation and the potential for an eventual meltdown.

The cascading troubles in the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant compounded the immense challenges faced by the Tokyo government, already struggling to send relief to hundreds of thousands of people along the country's quake- and tsunami-ravaged coast where at least 10,000 people are believed to have died. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

~8.9 EARTHQUAKE Devastates Japan - Potential Nuclear Meltdown!


Hundreds Killed by Massive Tsunami After 8.9-Magnitude Quake Rocks Japan

SENDAI, Japan – Huge earthquakes rocked northeastern Japan on Saturday, a day after a giant temblor set off a powerful tsunami that killed hundreds of people, turned the coast into a swampy wasteland and left two nuclear reactors dangerously close to meltdown.

The United States Geological Survey said a strong earthquake struck just before noon in the sea in virtually the same place where the magnitude 8.9 quake on Friday unleashed one of the greatest disasters Japan has witnessed -- a 23-foot tsunami that washed far inland over fields and smashed towns.

Saturday's magnitude 6.8 quake was followed by a series of temblors originating from the same area, the USGS said. It was not immediately known whether the new quakes caused any more damage. All were part of the more than 125 aftershocks since Friday's massive quake, the strongest to hit Japan since officials began keeping records in the late 1800s.

It ranked as the fifth-largest earthquake in the world since 1900 and was nearly 8,000 times stronger than one that devastated Christchurch, New Zealand, last month, scientists said.

The official death toll stood at 413, while 784 people were missing and 1,128 injured. In addition, police said between 200 and 300 bodies were found along the coast in Sendai, the biggest city in the area of the quake's epicenter. An untold number of bodies were also believed to be lying in the rubble and debris. Rescue workers had yet to reach the hardest-hit areas, although Prime Minister Naoto Kan said he is sending 50,000 troops following the earthquake.

"The flood came in from behind the store and swept around both sides. Cars were flowing right by," said Wakio Fushima, who owns a convenience store in this northern coastal city of 1.02 million people, 80 miles from the quake's epicenter.

Smashed cars and small airplanes were jumbled up against buildings near the local airport, several miles from the shore. Felled trees and wooden debris lay everywhere as rescue workers coasted on boats through murky waters around flooded structures, nosing their way through a sea of detritus.

"The tsunami was unbelievably fast. Smaller cars were being swept around me and all I could do was sit in my truck," said truck driver Koichi Takairin, 34, who was pinned in his four-ton vehicle and later escaped to a community center.

His rig ruined, he joined the steady flow of mud-spattered survivors who walked along the road away from the sea and back into city. Smoke from at least one large fire could be seen in the distance.

But basic commodities were at a premium. Hundreds lined up outside of supermarkets, and gas stations were swamped with cars. The situation was similar in scores of other towns and cities along the 1,300-mile-long eastern coastline hit by the tsunami.

Japan also declared its first-ever states of emergency for five nuclear reactors at two power plants after the units lost cooling ability in the aftermath of the earthquake, and workers struggled to prevent meltdowns.

Two of the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Futaba town were in danger and could face a meltdown if all possible safety procedures fail.

Authorities said the breakdown happened after the quake knocked out power, turning off the water supply needed to cool the system. Although a backup cooling system was being used,

-from the Associated Press

PRAY for the nation of Japan and the people as they face this great tragedy!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

~Western District - Pastors on Missions trip to Madrid, Spain - Day One

March 8th, 2011 0900 hours - departed San Francisco International

Arrived in Alanta, GA at approximately 1600 hours, departed Alanta at 1845 hours, arrived in Madrid, Spain on Wednesday morning 0900 hours.

Bro. and Sis. Sones and Team are excellent hosts. Thank you! Stay tuned...more tomorrow!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

~Featured Missionary and Country of the Week - Ted and Patricia Grosbach/DRC

Ted and Patricia Grosbach
Region(s): Africa 
Field(s): Democratic Republic of Congo 
Poster: download PDF
 Website: click here to visit 
Bio: Former AIMers in Malawi, Ted and Pat Grosbach received their appointment to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zambia in May 1984. Unable to secure resident permits for Congo, the Grosbachs lived in Zambia, where he piloted his plane into remote areas to conduct leadership training and also taught in the Bible school in Lusaka. From 1987 to 1991 Missionary Grosbach visited the DRC monthly. However, upon returning from deputation, he was refused entrance until 1996. In the interim he flew to the border and met Congolese pastors for worship, fellowship, and instruction. In 2000, the Grosbachs moved to Botswana to fill the need of a resident missionary. When legal registration of the church was acquire, they moved to Lubumbashi, DRC, to give more direct supervision to the Congolese church. Pat Grosbach recently released their missions story, From A to Z.



Democratic Republic of Congo/Republique Democratique du Congo
Area Coordinator: Theodore D. Grosbach
Population: 62700000
Area: 905,351 sq. mi.
Capital: Kinshasa
Languages: French (official), Lingala, Kingwana, Kikongo, Tshiluba
Religions: Roman Catholic, 50%; Protestant, 20%; Kimbanguist, 10%; Islam, 10%; traditional, 10%

Formerly known as the Belgian Congo and also Zaire, the Democratic Republic of Congo lies in west central Africa. In 1877 Henry Stanley navigated the Congo River and explored the interior. Through Stanley’s efforts, King Leopold II of Belgium obtained personal title to the territory, an area one-fourth the size of the United States, and accumulated a vast private fortune from ivory and rubber through Congolese slave labor. Belgium eventually assumed control and granted the colony independence in 1960. Civil war ensued, and violence has marked the history of an independent Congo. Since 1997, the Democratic Republic of Congo has been rent by ethnic strife and civil war, touched off by a massive in-flow in 1994 of refugees from the fighting in Rwanda and Burundi. Field Superintendent Ted Grosbach leads the United Pentecostal Church of the Democratic Republic of Congo. After 17 years, he successfully registered the church in August 2002. He stated, “Last year the church baptized 520 people and 489 received the Holy Ghost. There are now 46 licensed ministers, 97 churches, and almost 6,000 constituents. The growth in the church really increased when we were able to become residents in 2002. We have begun a national youth program, children’s ministries, campus ministries, and women’s programs. Wings over Africa is flying into various areas of the country, conducting leadership training, church planting, and assisting with humanitarian aid. We also have an English literacy program with 150 students.”

Additional Information:

Established as a Belgian colony in 1908, the then-Republic of the Congo gained its independence in 1960, but its early years were marred by political and social instability. Col. Joseph MOBUTU seized power and declared himself president in a November 1965 coup. He subsequently changed his name - to MOBUTU Sese Seko - as well as that of the country - to Zaire. MOBUTU retained his position for 32 years through several sham elections, as well as through brutal force. Ethnic strife and civil war, touched off by a massive inflow of refugees in 1994 from fighting in Rwanda and Burundi, led in May 1997 to the toppling of the MOBUTU regime by a rebellion backed by Rwanda and Uganda and fronted by Laurent KABILA. He renamed the country the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), but in August 1998 his regime was itself challenged by a second insurrection again backed by Rwanda and Uganda. Troops from Angola, Chad, Namibia, Sudan, and Zimbabwe intervened to support KABILA's regime. A cease-fire was signed in July 1999 by the DRC, Congolese armed rebel groups, Angola, Namibia, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zimbabwe but sporadic fighting continued. Laurent KABILA was assassinated in January 2001 and his son, Joseph KABILA, was named head of state. In October 2002, the new president was successful in negotiating the withdrawal of Rwandan forces occupying eastern Congo; two months later, the Pretoria Accord was signed by all remaining warring parties to end the fighting and establish a government of national unity. A transitional government was set up in July 2003. Joseph KABILA as president and four vice presidents represented the former government, former rebel groups, the political opposition, and civil society. The transitional government held a successful constitutional referendum in December 2005 and elections for the presidency, National Assembly, and provincial legislatures in 2006. The National Assembly was installed in September 2006 and KABILA was inaugurated president in December 2006. Provincial assemblies were constituted in early 2007, and elected governors and national senators in January 2007. The next national elections are scheduled for November 2011.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

~Suriname News Flash - Feb. 2011

February 2011

Below is a brief report of some of our activities during February.

February 1

Trip to Nieuw Nickerie to check on building for congregation there.

February 3

One person baptized in Paramaribo.

February 5

Ministers in Training for active and potential ministers.

February 13

Church leadership meeting in Paramaribo.

February 25

Eleven inmates baptized at one of the prisons.

February 27

Friend Sunday in Paramaribo, with over twenty visitors. Bible study in central prison with sixteen people in attendance.

Thanks for taking the time to read our updates. We appreciate your prayers for our family and for the work in Suriname.

The Rhoads Family

Missionaries to Suriname


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

~Thai-Gram - March 2011


Thai-Gram                     March 2011

Thai Conference 2011

More than one-hundred forty filled with the Holy Ghost, over one hundred touched by God's healing power and seventeen baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins! All praise and glory to the one true God.

To view a slide show of the Thai Conference go here and scroll to the right hand side near the bottom of page: Click HERE

USA Team and Bible School Graduates

                       Brother Bunthean Ministering in Song

Women's Choir from Bangkok

Jordan Simmons Preaching

In the Name of Jesus!

If you would like to learn a little about the history of the Bible School in Thailand, and read the absolutely inspiring testimony about how God called Brother and Sister Jack Coolbaugh to Thailand click HERE! You will be blessed reading this faith-building story. ALSO, the Bible School needs Partners in Missions! Click HERE to help support the Thai Bible School. Bible school graduates are pastoring churches, starting churches, serving in leadership positions, they are helping to bring about revival and evangelism in Thailand!

The population of Bangkok is larger than 160 countries in the world!

If you haven't already, please add to your email's contacts/address book.

God bless each of you.

Thank you so much for your continued prayers and support,

Ed & Mary Simmons
Bangkok, Thailand

Ed & Mary Simmons
8855 Dunn Rd.
Hazelwood, MO 63042