In last month’s aLife magazine (C&MA publication), there was a very helpful article on frequently asked questions on Great Commission Sunday 2011.  I have placed it below for you to read.




Frequently Asked Questions

By Office of Communications, C&MA

1) What is Great Commission Sunday?

Great Commission (GC) Sunday is a celebration of what God is doing through the worldwide work of The Alliance. The practice of giving sacrificially to build Christ’s Kingdom—in times of abundance and of scarcity—has been an Alliance distinctive from the very beginning. GC Sunday is an opportunity for the U.S. Alliance family to express its commitment to pushing back the darkness in the remaining unreached parts of our world.

2) What is meant by “pushing back the darkness,” and how will GC Sunday help accomplish this?

Pushing back the darkness is a term recently adopted by The Alliance to describe our strategy for the final chapter of world evangelization. It refers specifically to taking the light of Christ to countries with little or no access to the gospel. A portion of the funds received from the 2011 GC Sunday offering will be used to send Alliance workers to places like North Africa and North and Central Asia, where less than 1 percent of the population has heard the liberating truth of salvation through Jesus Christ.

3) I regularly support Alliance missions. Why should I participate in GC Sunday?

On behalf of the thousands of Alliance workers and churches throughout the world, thank you for your faithful giving! You are making a powerful difference in people’s lives. GC Sunday challenges us to come together as the Alliance family to help initiate something that will change the face of our world for eternity. It’s an opportunity not only for those who have long supported Alliance work but also for those who may not yet have been challenged to help build Christ’s Kingdom here in the United States and half a world away.

4) What if my church recently held its Missions Conference? Do I still need to participate?

GC Sunday complements your church’s Missions Conference. It demonstrates the Alliance commitment to make the gospel accessible to all people. In North Africa and North and Central Asia, access to the gospel is hard to find. A person can travel for weeks—even months—and never see a church or meet a believer. By participating in GC Sunday 2011, church members will maintain their “Missions Conference momentum” by helping to bring the Bread of Life to those living in spiritual poverty.

5) What about Alliance work in other parts of the world? Is it on the decline?

Not at all! Alliance workers and churches in Europe, the Middle East, West Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia and the United States continue to “push back the darkness” in urban centers, rural areas and well beyond their own borders. In these regions, the Church has been established and continues to grow and mature—all because, years ago, the Alliance family sent and supported pioneer workers who answered the call to take Christ deep into these spiritually uncharted territories. Today, North Africa and North and Central Asia are among the new frontiers for the gospel.

6) What are the C&MA’s current financial realities and how could GC Sunday impact them?

Since July 2010, we have struggled to meet our reduced budget. Great Commission Fund (GCF) revenues from churches have declined by nearly $1.6 million during the first eight months of the fiscal year compared with the same period in fiscal year 2009. We are currently projecting a GCFshortfall of more than $1.3 million.

Because we are committed to meeting our current ministry objectives, the “first fruits” of the GC Sunday offering will be applied to the current shortfall. The National Office and field teams continue to work feverishly to reduce operating expenses wherever possible. Once our current ministry funding obligations are met, the remaining funds will be used to push back the darkness in some of the most spiritually desolate countries in our world, including parts of our own.

Please use the enclosed envelope for your GC Sunday Gift, or participate through you local Alliance church.


God has richly blessed the C&MA with an amazing history to what it is today.  It’s all about Jesus and obedience to the Great Commission he has called every fully-devoted disciple of Christ to make disciples, both locally and globally. I’m pleased that the C&MA has put together an excellent video series to be used in local churches to explain and rediscover the C&MA movement’s “Spiritual DNA”. Look for it coming soon to Atlanta Road Alliance Church!  In the meantime, watch the promo video below.

“What’s ‘pushing back the darkness'”? asked a lady.  The elevator doors closed.  The cable lines began to whirl and so did my thoughts.

Welcome to a day chronicled of council life at the C&MA General Council in Kansas City, Missouri.  This is my first attendance at a General Council so my wife and I were looking forward to it.  We’re greatly appreciative that our local church made it possible for us to attend.  Shout out to the Atlanta Road Alliance Church!  So let the chronicled day in the life of C&MA Council begin…

Let’s just say that before I even touched my feet onto the berber carpet of my hotel room this morning out of bed, there were reports on the news that tornado’s were going to touch down on Kansas City.  It was bound to be an interesting day, as it always is with God’s providence!  But first things first, we needed to register for Council.  After spending my quiet time with the Lord at 20 stories high from my room, and grabbing breakfast and coffee, we headed over to the convention center to register alongside the other C&MA workers who had their maps out getting their bearings.

The great thing about Council so far is that you meet many C&MA workers or should I say friends, or dare I say, well, family.  That’s what it is.  It’s similar to a giant family reunion (minus the giant spaghetti dinners).  It’s a common threaded theme that’s woven through these type of events.  For example, after we registered we ran into Andy Kerr on our way out.  And as we we were talking, a friend of his he knew from Beirut, named Haytham stopped to talk with us.  Small world.

Now, remember those tornadoes I mentioned?  Well, in the middle of our conversation, a convention center worker walks past us and said we all have to go to the basement because of a tornado warning that is a real possible threat.  Interesting.  So, we all head down to the dark cavernous basement.  But, it turned out to be okay because we talked with a convention center worker that we met earlier as we sat on the cold concrete floor.  Soon we get the “all clear” and we head back to the hotel to plan our attack for the rest of the day, now that we have our Council schedule.

Council doesn’t officially start until the evening session at 7:00 pm, so we decide to get lunch at Jack Stack Barbecue by the famous Union Station and then head over to the WWI Museum.  It’s Kansas City so we have to get something barbecued!  We arrive and the welcoming aroma of native Ozark hickory smoke delivers on it’s promise of melt-in-your-mouth flavor of a perfect burnt ends barbecue.  This beef had bark like an oak tree.  And of course, I see Bill Schmeissing from our Mid-Atlantic District there.  He couldn’t resist the barbecue too!

After lunch, we headed outside to a mix of sunshine and ominous dark and puffy clouds.  We walked over to the WWI museum.  To tell you the truth, I was blown away by this museum.  I love reading about WWII, but I never knew that much about WWI.  The museum, to say the least, was impressive and well worth the time to understand the nature and dynamics of the “war to end all wars”.  Learning about the various threads of tension that existed before WWI erupted eerily sounded much like our times today.  WWI was a dark time in Europe with trench warfare and new mechanized ways of fighting.  But there is much to be admired and challenged by brave men that rose to the occasion to fight against the darkness and tyranny of a nation.  Move your mind to a more spiritual context:  Should we not, as Christians, be emboldened and passionate for the Great Commission that Christ has given to us to make disciples of all nations?  Do we not have the “light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” to present to those lost in the darkness of their sin and self-justifying righteousness before God?  To be continued…

We wrapped up our tour with the WWI museum and hiked uptown back to the Convention Center; back to the family reunion.  The various ministry booths are now open so we decided to check those out.  We ran into Jason Ostrander and talked with him for awhile on a range of topics (from short-term missions to how some people say “coupon” differently.  It’s “coo-pon” not “cew-pon”!)  We then moved on to meet some new people and talked with Peter Burgo, editor for Alife magazine (the C&MA magazine).  They do a great job with the magazine and we checked out some of the new material they’re putting out for churches called “C&MA DNA”.  We then floated around to some other booths, talked with others, and then decided we better find something to eat before the 7:00 session starts.

Starbucks made the cut.  We head into the store, and of course, who do we meet?  Todd and Debbie Adams, missionaries from Indonesia.  My family and I had the wonderful privilege of having Todd stay at our home while he visited our church on tour.  It was great to see them.  Ironically, he was trying to call me to let me know that he finished the books I purchased for him, but it turns out he had the wrong number!  I just couldn’t believe that he finished the books in that short time span!

After splashing down a granola with coffee so bold to make your chest hair stick out, we headed back to the convention center.  And as you might have guessed, we met up with some more friends!  Moses, Bill, Allen, Rob, just to name a few, and Dr. Corbin, our District Superintendent and his wife, Linda.  In the midst of our conversations, we are told that the session is about to start.  So, like a herd of cattle, we move into the large auditorium hall for the beginning of the first evening session.  And of course, who sits behind us, but Mike Mercurio!  Did I mention that he married my wife and I?  Yep, he did.  The session began with an A.B. Simpson re-enactment and it was great to see all the missionaries, chaplains, and other international workers carrying the flags in the beginning of the service.  Ravi Zacharias spoke and he addressed pushing back the darkness from one’s own heart before we even look at pushing back the darkness in our communities, nation, and world.

One point in his address was observing the peace God brings in the midst of pain.  He mentioned a verse that has stuck out to me and that I shared with my daughter Sam recently.  It’s from 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  You see, our daughter Sam has been going through some testing for a medical condition that she will have for life.  And the thing that has been asked from every person we have met throughout this day was how our daughter was doing.  It was touching to hear how many people said they were praying.  God’s grace in Jesus Christ truly is sufficient as He many times supplies it through His people.  And this blessing flows from the fountainhead of the cross, including the blessing of Jesus’ presence ministered through His people.  God may not take away the pain, but the wonderful abiding presence of Jesus Christ is sufficient enough to walk through it.

And now, it’s off to bed as I type these last words by my desk lamp.  I close in remembering the famous quote by Sir Edward Grey on the eve of WWI. “The lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our time.”  Yes, we must not forget that we live in a world in spiritual darkness, but we have the light of Jesus Christ.

So, come back to the lady on the elevator… “What’s ‘pushing back the darkness'”? asked the lady.  The elevator doors closed.  The cable lines began to whirl and so did my thoughts.  The answer is not “what”, but “who” pushes back the darkness.  It’s Jesus Christ.

We had a great time at District Youth Retreat with other Christian & Missionary Alliance Mid-Atlantic District churches.  My heart is full from watching Jesus meet with each of the students.  …There was also a funny video shown at the retreat in which I didn’t know whether it was cute or creepy… you be the judge!  I introduce you to Marcel the shell…

Pray for those in Japan.  Click on this link (and scroll to the bottom of the page) to find out how you can give to relief efforts through the C&MA.  Also, below is a report from one of our C&MA international workers in Japan.  Praise God that all C&MA international workers are safe.  But keep those in Japan in prayer.


The following update was adapted from a communication sent by Harry and Jane Landaw, field leaders in Japan.

Dear Friends,

By now you have probably seen much coverage of the strongest earthquake in the history of Japan, plus the powerful tsunamis that are following. It is really terrible around Sendai and Miyaki-about 200 miles from Tokyo. The destruction is beyond imagination. After the 8.9 earthquake, 25-foot waves of mud came rolling in from the ocean and just cleared away houses and huge buildings, plus of course, many cars and people. Many are still missing.

Sendai Airport has 1,300 people stranded there. The huge tsunami waves came through the airport and totally annihilated everything except the main terminal.  Oh, how sad! As of this writing, 60 people have been reported dead, but the number will increase rapidly, we know, as so many were swept away.

A ship had 100 people on it-maybe a ferry or fishing boat-and it was swept away.  The earthquake in Tokyo measured 7.9.  We thought the building where we live would fall apart. We could see it shake as well as our car.

God protected us all.  Harry called all our C&MA workers, and all are fine. We haven’t heard of any C&MA churches destroyed. Pray that God will keep us all through the night, as more tsunamis are expected. We continue to have major tremors here since the initial quake at 2:40 in the afternoon; ours are minor compared to those in the north. A huge refinery in Chiba City is on fire. We had driven by it many times when we lived there. Trains are shut down in Tokyo, so people are stranded downtown by the thousands.

Thank you for your prayers. We thank God that we still have electricity and e-mail connections. We will keep you posted. God is our shelter in the storm and the comforter for the thousands who are suffering.

Grateful for your prayers,

Harry and Jane

For all Atlanta Road Alliance Church congregants… we will have daily posts from Jim O’Day giving news on the team in the Dominican Republic. 

Please click here for the posts!

Or you can go to our church website and in the right hand corner click on where it says ‘2010 Trip’.

Keep them in prayer as they serves our brothers and sisters in Christ in the Dominican!

January 30, 2010 was the date held for my ordination service and it was an event I will never forget.  Maria and I are overwhelmingly grateful to all that came and participated in this occassion where God’s fingerprints were felt.  In a memorable way too, since it snowed really hard that day!  To all that weren’t able to make it and wanted to, we understand the difficulty in driving with the way the weather was.  Thankfully, the Shermans videotaped the service so I’m sure it will be available to those that want to watch it.

It was an honor and privelage to be able to sing and worship God with everyone, to speak about how God called me to ministry, to hear the blessings of others, and to be charged with an encouraging and challenging message by Dr. Corbin, our District superintendent for the Mid-Atlantic District of the Christian & Missionary Alliance.

I am humbled by God’s grace and I am renewed by the joy of God’s glory in Christ.  Again, thank you to all who participated in this occasion.  I am reminded again of the resolutions I made as God was calling me into ministry, and I wholeheartedly renew them again by God’s grace.  To God be the glory!

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