Attending were Dave Baker (Asia), John Elliott and Tim Waddle (East Africa), Fred Kellers and Mark Mickelson (Nigeria), Melvin Rhodes and Tom Clark (Ghana) and Vic Kubik and Johnnie Lambert (Eastern Europe and Scandinavia). Also in attendance were Doug Horchak, Jim Franks and Joel Meeker. Discussion included improving the efficiency of our work, Youth Corps and the Good Works programs.
The reports given by each senior pastor were inspiring and encouraging as it could be clearly seen how God is working with people who are facing unique challenges. Some of the difficulties the Church faces in these areas include poverty, scattered and often very isolated brethren, the difficulty of building local leadership, language barriers and the struggles some have faced because of religious persecution.
A major focus of the discussions this year was the need for advance planning and setting goals five to 10 years into the future. Mr. Franks clarified the need to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each area, and then formulate plans to achieve the goals that have been set.
The Youth Corps program is doing a good job at filling needs in areas such as summer camps in Africa. Time was spent discussing additional opportunities for young adults to serve some of our brethren in the developing world. Good fruit has been born from Youth Corps service, and plans are already underway for the programs that will be offered in 2008.
More information on the programs and photos and commentary from previous programs are available on the Youth Corps Web site at www.ucgyouthcorps.org.
A discussion of the Good Works program clarified its purpose, and also the procedures for submitting additional needs for consideration. The Good Works Web page lists the current projects and where they stand in terms of funding needs. Since its inception, the Good Works program has provided $300,000 for projects in places like Kenya, Ghana, the Philippines and Mexico, as well as providing assistance to brethren who were affected by Hurricane Katrina in the United States.
To improve efficiency, focus was also placed on fiscal responsibility. Some of the costs for each area are fixed, but travel costs may be able to be improved. Various suggestions were discussed for ways to secure airfare and accommodations at lower prices. For example, home office employees who travel have found that leaving from other nearby airports has enabled them to save significant sums on airfare. There are also numerous Web sites that offer discounted airline tickets.
One of the most pressing needs in Africa is for further education and training for the leaders. Most of the leaders and potential leaders in Africa cannot realistically travel far, and entrance visas for many Western countries are difficult to obtain. So the suggestion has been made that the Church consider an all-Africa conference.
Pastors and elders from East and West Africa as well as those in Southern Africa could gather for classes and training. Nothing like that has been done before in United, and the possibility is quite exciting.
Based on the numbers and costs involved, Ghana was proposed as a likely location, and Melvin Rhodes will be exploring the possibilities more fully on his next trip. UN