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Update from the President: May 25, 2017

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Update from the President

May 25, 2017

The highlight of this past week was Ambassador Bible College graduation on Sunday. Student Body President Alexander Love delivered an outstanding student discourse and Darris McNeely gave the graduation address, entitled “Run with the Horses” (Jeremiah 12:5 Jeremiah 12:5If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein you trusted, they wearied you, then how will you do in the swelling of Jordan?
American King James Version×
). It will be posted in the “Featured Sermon” section of our ucg.org website.

This year’s class was exceptional. We had international students from Australia, India and Chile. We had a few disabled students who other classmates rallied to help successfully complete the academic year. One was a deaf student. Students and other volunteers signed for him in class as well as church services and social occasions. It was truly an act of love throughout the entire year.

Many thanks go out to our faculty and to music director Ken Shoemaker, who created yet another majestic student choir. Many people made this year the great success that it was.

ABC Continuing Education

Beginning this past Monday morning, our ABC faculty welcomed 31 students to the annual 5-day Continuing Education Program, and we have enjoyed the presence of these students in the office, as they have been attending classes throughout this week.

Online Pastoral Development Program

We started the first class of the Online Pastoral Development Program this past Tuesday night. This is an extension of the on-site program that we have held at the home office for two years now for our newer ministers. The online program will feature a bi-weekly web-based seminar from the subject areas of our Ministerial Education Program: 

  • Beliefs and Doctrine
  • General Ministerial
  • Personal Life of a Minister
  • Congregational

We have invited 40 ministers to take part in this program, and our first evening went very well. Gary Petty spoke about conflict resolution and reconciliation. The atmosphere for the class is collegial, positive and offers fresh, interactive insights.

The United News will feature an article about our entire Ministerial Education Program in the next edition.

And Now, a Word to Our Sponsor

I have very recently come across an incredible document. It is a letter that my father Igor wrote on July 18, 1949, which was one day before he, my mother Nina and I boarded a US Navy troop transport vessel in Bremerhaven, Germany, and left for the United States. We were refugees at Camp Lyssenko in Hannover, and this letter was to our sponsor Dr. Alexander Granovsky, University of Minnesota Professor, who was responsible for inviting us to the United States and guaranteeing work for my father.

Here’s what my father wrote:

Bremen— Grohn
Monday, July 18, 1949

Highly respected Sir Professor!

I am happy to inform that on the 19th of this month we will completely leave these inhospitable camps, which all got into our skin during these past seven years. I don’t know whether you realize, Sir Professor, what a great favor you’ve done for me and my family by taking us out from that cursed German nest, and we are, those who experienced those seven years in those camps, had eaten not one ration of bread or ladle of soup, which was given from their hands as if to the lowest of people. We appreciate the great favor that you have shown us. At the earliest opportunity we will thank you properly. On Tuesday, 19th of this month we are sailing off from Bremen to New York. Our ship is named “General Muir.” With my wife we together are a bit anxious about how the American society will accept us, how we will be taken, but I think we are not the first ones to go through this.

Bye then. Stay well and greetings from us to all your family.

With great respect to you,
Igor Kubik

This letter is preserved in the family archives at the University of Minnesota of Professor Alexander Granovsky.

When I read this letter, I was deeply moved. In this brief missive, my father encapsulated gratitude, hope, anxiety and relief from demeaning suffering during seven years of life in Germany from 1942 to 1949. My parents survived work camps, concentration camps and refugee camps in Magdeburg and Hannover, Germany. They left Germany forever on July 19, 1949. At this time, I was not yet two years old.

After arriving at Ellis Island in New York, my parents took a train to Faribault, Minnesota, where my father was given a job in an apple orchard. The three of us eventually became naturalized U.S. citizens. After a year in Faribault, our family, now four, moved to St. Paul. My father became a diesel mechanic and then for the remainder of his life a carpenter, a trade that ran in his family. God later called him to the Truth and he was converted and baptized along with my mother.

As I was growing up in St. Paul, Minnesota, my parents always instructed us children to show deep respect and gratitude to Dr. Granovsky, who we would see from time to time. He was our savior. Without him, we could not have lived in the United States and would be doomed to refugee camps or be sent back to the USSR.

I have been aware of our family’s history, but seeing this newly discovered letter really impressed me and made clear how thankful we should all be for a much greater liberation and salvation that we have all been given.

We have a great Sponsor who has called us from literally a dead-end world, whether personally or as a civilization. God the Father has called us, yes sponsored us, and brought us to Christ: “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44 John 6:44No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
American King James Version×
).

We live in a suffering world where most people have not yet been “sponsored.” Yet, they, too, will have their opportunity for hope and home. For those of us who have been sponsored, it may be a good time to let our Sponsor know how thankful we are to be rescued from an environment of evil, sin, death and a world held captive—to a liberated world. Do we take our status of freedom and eternal life for granted? Tell our Father “thank you” for becoming citizens of the Kingdom of God.

The Apostle Paul similarly tells us to remember our “alien” status before our calling: “Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands—that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:11-13 Ephesians 2:11-13 11 Why remember, that you being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12 That at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who sometimes were far off are made near by the blood of Christ.
American King James Version×
).

Dr. Granovsky sponsored about 100 other families to come to the United States. His altruism led some of the immigrants to do the same for others. My parents later sponsored people from various places around the world to come to America. I have done so myself. There is a lesson in showing gratitude by helping the disadvantaged and vulnerable in like fashion.

The spiritual lesson here is that we, as those who have become disciples of Jesus Christ, make disciples as Jesus commanded: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19 Matthew 28:19Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
American King James Version×
).
Here are other links about this story: 

Finally…

Please take time to read the recent letters from Council of Elders Chairman Don Ward and myself which are available online in the “Latest Updates” section of the United Church of God Members page at https://www.ucg.org/members .

May God the Father and Jesus Christ grant you grace and peace in the coming week. We pray for you. Please pray for us.