Gathering begins the healing from home
screams By Rachael Roberts
Ten churches joined together on Sunday, bringing
together nearly 200 Galt faithfuls for a Sunday
worship service with a purpose, to fight against the
spread of HIV/AIDS worldwide.
Hundreds of Galt faithfuls filled the Galt High
School Warrior Gym on Sunday morning; only they
weren’t gathered to cheer on any sports team.
Instead, the many hundreds had gathered to fight –
to join together as one church, one voice, and one
power – to fight HIV/AIDS, one child, one community
at a time.
The Gathering, as it was dubbed, was intended to
bring the worshipping community of Galt together for
an international outreach into a tiny African town.
In the end, the Gathering brought together the moral
core of a local community and began the healing
process at home.
“We’re here to praise the Lord and come together as
one church,” said Horizon Community Church Senior
Pastor Tim Stevenson. “It is amazing the Lord could
use HIV/AIDS to bring us all together. To bring us
together over a disease that can be stopped in a
generation with the proper education, nutrition and
health care needs.”
The climax of a journey that began a month ago with
seven local pastors on a 10-day trip to Lesotho,
Africa, Sunday’s ecumenical Sunday service served
two purposes, one international and one very local.
Locally, the pastoral association of Galt has been
pondering the issue of community unity and disparity
for months. Seeking a divine way to bring the many
compassionate and generous people of Galt together,
the association found direction through a World
Vision presentation on the HIV/AIDS crisis
“I was compelled, encouraged and inspired by Steve
Haas of World Vision,” said Stevenson, who inspired
the initial local inquiry into becoming a World
Vision church community.
It was Haas, the vice president of World Vision,
who served as speaker and preacher on Sunday, and it
was Haas who delivered the international plea to the
people of Galt to hear the cries of the suffering
and make personal the impact the spread of HIV/AIDS
is having, and will continue to have on the entire
“I wonder what God thinks when he looks on something
like this,” said Haas. “This is the church of Galt.
Something for which we lend our voices, minds,
hearts and talents.”
With 250,000 people dying each year from
AIDS-related illnesses, one every five minutes, Haas
characterized the disease as the ‘greatest
humanitarian crisis’ and said the deaths were one
crisis, the resulting 14 million orphans left behind
Haas shared the story of a boy who fails to realize
the heater on his fish tank has been turned all the
way up and when he wakes in the morning all of the
fish are dead.
“If only I had heard the fish screaming,” shared
Haas. “If I had heard them screaming, I could have
done something. For many years, the AIDS epidemic
has been like fish screams. The stigma and prejudice
– I don’t hear real well around HIV/AIDS.”
The fish are screaming. Known only as ‘the slims’ in
African villages that suffer a 33 percent infection
rate on average, the stigma of having HIV/AIDS even
in communities plagued by the disease is paramount
to social leprosy, according to Haas.
“What if 365 days a year, a 747 with 424 people on
board went down,” said Haas. “How would we react to
that? We lose more than twice that number each day
to this disease.”
With 28 million already dead, and the average life
expectancy in some African towns at a mere 35,
officials expect to see 25 million orphans stranded
“Some say the underbelly of Al Qaida is now in
Africa,” said Haas. “The disaffected youth there
have to have someone to follow, someone to believe.”
So how do small town citizens tackle such an ominous
foe? According to Haas, by personalizing it and
reducing it to people with faces, you can see the
lives you can touch.
“The numbers are too much. If you don’t
individualize it, you lose track of it,” said Haas.
“As large as it is, if I don’t personalize it, I
won’t see it. We’re going to have to see people with
HIV/AIDS as an individual issue. It has to come near
if we’re going to move against the disease.”
Why the church?
“Because you’re the greatest moral agency in the
world,” said Haas. “You love when no one else loves,
and the church has always been God’s vehicle to
reach the hurting. Who will reach out and touch when
no one else will touch?”
Acknowledging years of persecution against AIDS
sufferers from ‘the church,’ Haas said, “The church
that has been preaching sin, sin, sin, found members
of their own congregations dying,” said Haas. “For
too long has HIV/AIDS been relegated to self-made
In order to take action, Haas said each one of us as
the ‘world’s greatest compassionate army’ needs to
do three simple things.
Become informed about the disease.
“The church has heard,” said Haas. “The key is to
get the church to work now. Make a commitment that
you’ll have something to say in the future about
what you did to stop the disease.
“What did you do?” said Haas. “Say, I can do one. I
can get the disease down to that level.”
And, be an advocate for HIV/AIDS awareness in your
small groups, families and communities.
“That’s how you destroy a disease,” said Haas, “one
child, one community at a time. That’s how the
ripple of love and compassion goes forward.”
Nine Galt churches together
on a quest for healing
By Teresa Pearson
On Sunday, March 6 at 10
a.m., nine churches will join in faith to fight
against HIV/AIDS in Lesotho, Africa with a journey
that began in Lesotho at the first of the year and
that begins in Galt with an all community assembly
in the Galt High School Auditorium. Come join the
beginning of an international outreach effort like
Inspired by what Horizon Community Church Pastor Tim Stevenson said
was a call from God, seven local pastors traveled to
Lesotho, Africa on Jan. 30 to see what they could do
to help those in need in the AIDS torn African
Galt Pastors Frank Mack and Rick Keiser II from Family Life
Christian Church, Rob Patterson from First Baptist
Church, and Mary Sanders from Shepherd of the Valley
Lutheran Church joined Horizon Youth Pastor Kevin
Brown, Elder Randy Holtz and Stevenson on the three
week excursion to Africa.
Each will share of their experience in Lesotho and their vision for
Galt's assistance from so far away. Members of each
church will gather together on Sunday to learn of
how a single community in America can become the
salvation of hundreds of children in a community
plagued with disease and further burdened by a lack
of education, drought and an absence of material
resources. CLICK HEREfor entire story
Pastors' Vision Trip
From January 30 through February 11th, several pastors from
Galt went to Lesotho in southern Africa.
Our intent was to
bind our hearts and minds together (across denominational
and historical barriers) and minister together to precious
souls who have been devastated by AIDS.
On this map of Africa you can see an outline of
a small, land-locked nation called Lesotho (in
Southern Africa). We visited several sites in an ADP
(Area Development Project) called Melemeng.
February 14, 2005
Today, I participated in
a 30-minute phone interview with a Producer from
a prominent Christian Radio Network in America.
After our interview, she was planning to speak with
Tim Stevenson from Horizon Community
Church. Someone had sent the network
a news tip about our trip to Lesotho.
So she came to this website to learn more
tried to speak a bit 'lower' than usual so my
voice won't sound so tenor-ish
on the air. Actually, the Producer had called right when
I got home last Friday; she put off the
interview until this morning. So, I had time to
get all my materials together, in case I needed
to make reference. Funny, though, it seems like
I did a good job of stating the goals and
objectives in a way that you all would agree had
an air of "Ruth Nottingham"
about it. I spoke of the great hope we have of
sponsoring all 900 children on
one particular Sunday morning in March.
When she asked where folks might get more
information about our March 6th service,
I named names and said 'nice things' about all
who are involved.
Right off the tip of my tongue was stuff like:
"Well, they could phone River of Life 4
Square and speak with Larry
....or one could call the Shepherd of
Lutheran Church and
the ubiquitous Rev. Mary Sanders.
I suggested a call to
the New Hope Assembly of God and to
speak personally with
Dave Ross.....another Sender
in the mix.
Oh, I mentioned that Mary Sanders
would be a great female voice to offer sonic
balance to otherwise testosteronic timbre (I
didn't say all that....);
I did say that Pastor Rick Keiser
be the "Class Clown" among us
trip and that he could be reached at
Family Life Community Church along with
Pastor Frank Mack.
And....hey, I actually said, "They could phone
the Galt United Methodist Church
and speak with Pastor Craig Dale......"
Yes, the pleasant voice on the other end of the
phone line engaged me with other questions from
which she could locate useable soundbites.
"Is there anything else you would like to share?"
I had already given all the facts. I had shared
the hope of sponsoring 900 children in ONE DAY
(on March 6th).
So, I went ahead and added a note about the challenge of
accepting one another in Christ in order to work
together more effectively.
On Sunday, in both services, I reminded our congregation of one aspect of Rick
"In every small group, you will find
that there is one person who
needs a little extra attention.."
He called these folks the EGR
Required); Rick says that if
you look around at your group and don't
immediately figure out who the EGR
person is...then...guess what, you're probably
I think that I was
the EGR member of our Pastors'
Vision Trip. I asked many, many questions and
even accidentally broke a few rules along the
way. Still, since I've been home, I'm developing
a strong desire to see God at work in us and
through us. We could ALL use an extra measure of
Grace from each other. It won't be easy to keep
the main thing the main thing.
COMMUNITY WIDE CHURCH SERVICE
SUNDAY, MARCH 6th
at Galt High
with Steve Haas
and Ruth Nottingham
10 days in a
they can do.
Galt pastors: from left,
Tim Stevenson, Mary Sanders
discuss their upcoming trip as
part of a delegation heading to
Africa to assist with AIDS
education and prevention in the
small South African Country of
Through the efforts of Patterson
and other pastors,
representatives from a Lutheran,
North American Baptist, Southern
Baptist and non-denominational
church will head to Africa.
Pastors from Methodist,
Episcopal, Foursquare and
Assembly of God churches have
also helped finance the trip.
The trip is being coordinated by
Tim Stevenson, pastor of Horizon
Community Church, who said he
wanted the whole religious
community involved, not just his
"I called every pastor in town,"
Stevenson said. "I said, 'Guys I
need you to pray about
After explaining the idea, he
said, "Let's make this happen."
Six pastors will accompany
Stevenson on Jan. 30 to Lesotho,
a landlocked country surrounded
by South Africa, where 31
percent of the population has
AIDS, he said. With 1.9 million
people, Lesotho is slightly
smaller in area than the state
"We plan to make three-year
commitment to a township,"
Stevenson said. "We will have
children from that community up
for 'adoption' in Lesotho
Three other senior pastors will
accompany Stevenson --
Patterson, Frank Mack of Family
Life Christian Church and Mary
Sanders of Shepherd of the
Valley Lutheran Church.
Associate Pastors Kevin Brown
and Randy Holtz from Horizon and
Rick Keiser from Family Life
will make the trip as well.
"I anticipate that this trip
will be a life-changing
experience and that I will learn
and grow in ways I couldn't
begin to imagine," Sanders said.
Four other pastors were unable
to travel, but they have helped
raise money to defray expenses.
They are Craig Dale of Galt
United Methodist Church, Larry
Brand of River of Life
Celebration Center, Dave Ross
from New Hope Assembly of God
and Roger Wilkowski of St.
Luke's Episcopal Church.
The work will only begin once
the group returns. On March 6,
all eight participating churches
will cancel their regular
services and conduct a joint
service at Galt High School.
Participants will report on
their trip at the service and
discuss with their congregations
what Galt can do to help Lesotho
in its AIDS effort.
Patterson said he hopes that
even people who don't believe in
God, but want to help the AIDS
cause, will attend the March 6
Stevenson got the idea to go to
Africa after talking to Glen
Barnes, outreach pastor at
Lodi's First Baptist Church.
Barnes took his own trip to
Lesotho, a landlocked nation
surrounded by South Africa, a
year ago. Barnes was unavailable
Then Stevenson talked to leaders
at World Vision, a Christian
relief and development
organization dedicated to
helping children and their
communities worldwide reach
their potential by tackling the
causes of poverty.
Stevenson then hand-delivered
from church to church a video
and informational packets from
World Vision, specifically the
trip to Africa, Patterson said.
"I had to go because of the
personal interest on Tim
Stevenson's part," Patterson
Patterson's special goal was to
do something with a team of
pastors to bring Galt's
religious community back
"We used to meet every week for
prayer, and on the fifth Sunday,
we'd do something special,"
Patterson said. "That ceased to
For about a year, pastors became
busy trying to grow their own
churches and stopped devoting
the time to share time together,
"The (Galt) community is known
for competitiveness on a
political level, even between
the churches," Patterson said.
"It's an opportunity to keep our
jealousies in check."
Many church organizations --
including Patterson's own
Southern Baptist -- have their
own programs to help the needy
in foreign countries. But the
participating churches chose to
work with World Vision instead
of within their own faiths in
order to unify Galt, he said.
One day last summer, a group of
pastors prayed together at Galt
United Methodist Church. At the
next luncheon, they discussed
the idea of going to Africa.
Then the task of fundraising
started. It costs $4,000 per
person to make the trip,
One resident handed Stevenson a
$10,000 check, not knowing about
the trip to Lesotho.
"God told him to give that
amount," Stevenson said.
The donor said, "Tim, I don't
So far, $34,000 has been raised.
Some people gave up Christmas
gifts to make contributions to
the cause, Stevenson said.
"I am grateful to Pastor Tim for
doing most of the 'legwork,'
taking care of details like
flight times, which makes it
easier for the rest of us to
just hop on board," Sanders
"I am grateful to the anonymous
donors who have made it possible
for our travel costs to be more
reasonable," she added.
Stevenson said he plans to have
all seven pastors send daily
weblogs from Africa to inform
the community of their daily
"What I am really looking
forward to is our return home,
when there can be an exciting
and spirit-filled response to
this journey," Sanders said.
Anyone who wants to contribute
money to defray expenses may
contact one of the participating
Seven pastors head for Africa
to help with HIV/AIDS
International outreach program
By Teresa Pearson
- Seven Galt pastors are taking a trip to
Lesotho, South Africa to join a Vision Trip to
observe HIV/AIDS ministries in action and personally
connect with local pastors and congregations.
While in Africa, they will also establish local
connections to help provide the local people with
the donations given by parishioners of their
churches to educate, medicate and supply families
with bedding materials.
Galt Pastors will soon
off for Lesotho, South Africa to help those who
can't help themselves.
From left: pastors Rob Patterson of First
of Galt, Tim Stevenson of Horizon Community Church,
Mary Sanders of Shepherd of the
Kevin Brown of Horizon Community Church,
Frank Mack and Rick Keiser of
Family Life Christian Church; not shown is Elder
Randy Holtz of Horizon Community Church.
The seven local pastors who are able to go to
Lesotho, South Africa are Kevin Brown, Randy Holtz
and Tim Stevenson from Horizon Community Church,
Frank Mack and Rick Keiser II from Family Life
Christian Church, Rob Patterson from First Baptist
Church of Galt and Mary Sanders from Shepherd of the
Valley Lutheran Church. Also helping with the trip
are pastors Craig Dale from Galt United Methodist,
Larry Brand from River of Life, Dave Ross from New
Hope Assembly of God and Roger Wilkowski from St.
Luke's Episcopal Church.
"We were praying for a way to help those in need, to
make a difference in the world," said Stevenson. "At
just the right moment, we received a video and
information on the World Vision's Hope Initiative.
We all felt it was meant for us to show our
congregations and see if they also felt the same
After receiving an overwhelming response from the
members of each congregation, the seven pastors from
several different churches decided to make the trip
and start the process of giving to those who can't
The group will leave the United States Africa-bound
immediately after the holiday season on Jan 30. The
pastors are scheduled to leave from Sacramento
Airport for a 22-hour flight to South Africa.
At a cost of thousands of dollars, the group raised
more than $28,000 through congregational donations
and support to fund the international outreach
"We have families who have given up presents for
Christmas to help with this trip," said Pastor Kevin
Brown of Horizon Community Church.
The seven pastors will be joined in Southern Africa
by 40 other pastors from all over the United States
who are on the same quest. The group will be in
Africa for 10 days and travel back home on Feb 10.
The pastors have many different goals for when they
get home. Soon after arrival, they will have an
assembly of all the church congregations involved at
the Galt High School auditorium where they will
discuss the trip and the ways the congregations can
help with sponsoring a child or donating funds to
help with the area of Africa they have adopted;
"In announcing to the congregation what was being
planned, I explained," said Pastor Frank Mack, "we
all live in this bubble; we're safe here working,
not having to worry about food or clothing. But the
children there worry about those things and need
For more information or to donate to the trip to
Africa, contact the Horizon Community Church World
Vision Trip at (209) 745-0700.
December 22, 2004
This morning I've received three emails regarding
the Vision Trip. The three letters are copied below:
As I type, Dianne is paying for our plane
tickets. So we are GOING!!!!!!! No turning
back. Big article in the Galt Herald today
about the trip!
Have a great
Stevenson (from Galt)
Greetings, Team, and Merry Christmas!
It's a treat to think of you all as you prepare
for this trip and build the team. What a
blessing to see this demonstration of the Body
of Christ at work in Galt and reaching out in
support of brothers and sisters in
Looking forward to being with you in February.
Ruth (from World Vision)
Dear Pastors in Galt:
I stumbled across a document earlier today and was
reminded once again about what a great and
significant adventure we are embarking upon.
We were just beginning our C2C initiative to connect
US congregations to African children, churches &
communities to help turn the tide on HIVAIDS and
Barna's results were like a bucket of cold water on
our brand new initiative.
But we forged ahead and the US church IS "stepping
up to the plate" - on our first 4 Pastor's Vision
Trips (Oct03,Feb04,Apr04,Nov04): 50 out of the 67
participating churches deciding to partner with the
communities they visited to sponsor 3100 vulnerable
kids while generating over $6.1 million to fight the
HIVAIDS epidemic in Southern & Eastern Africa.
The Lord is at work as we walk alongside of our
African brothers & sisters on the "front lines" of
this battle. Thanks for being in the "foxhole"
December 13, 2004
Today, the pastors who are going on the Vision Trip
met at Horizon Church to discuss details of the
trip. Teresa Pearson,
a reporter from the Galt Herald was there to
begin her feature story on this momentous endeavor.
I have grown to love the individuals God has called
to shepherd His Church in Galt. I am in my eighth
year here; from the beginning I have enjoyed a
wonderful interactivity with different pastors from
these specific churches:
Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran
Galt United Methodist Church;
Horizon Community Church;
Family Life Community Church;
New Hope Assembly of God;
River of Life Foursquare;
St. Luke's Episcopal Church;
I view the aforementioned churches as different
sections of God's Garden here in Galt. Only time
will tell if how each of our churches
(including First Baptist Church of
Galt) will be
represented in the overflow of our trip to Southern
Africa. Key leaders and core members will have to
make the informed, intentional decision to transcend
certain historical, doctrinal, and other significant
differences in order to work together for a greater
I've made that decision.
Monday, December 13, 2004
Last night, at the Epicenter, we watched a video sent to Galt pastors by
For ten days in February, Y2K5, eight local
leaders (from different church backgrounds) will
travel from our town to southern Africa for a
Pastors' Vision Trip. During our ten days in
Lesotho, Swaziland, South Africa, (or other nearby
countries), we will visit sites where
World Vision has addressed the needs of AIDS
CLICK HERE for special VISION
I am compelled to go to that region
of Africa as a step of personal obedience to the
Lord. I have not yet been up-close to AIDS but do
believe this truth from God's Word:
"Religion that God our
Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to
look after orphans and widows in their distress . .
." James 1:27
By 2010, an estimated 25 million
children are projected to lose one or both parents
(founded in 1950)
is one channel for ministering to the needs of
HIV/AIDS hotspots around the world
(Africa, Asia, and Latin America).
Throughout my relationship with my wife, Cathy, I
have learned that generosity and compassion are her
most distinct attributes. Early on, I would try to offer
counsel that she not 'give' so much to others.
Funny... as I'd share
the logical thoughts from my
head, my heart would
begin to be touched by the purity of
Last February, when I came home from Liberia, I learned that Cathy had sponsored a
little, Indonesian girl named Hany
(this time through World Vision).
We had already been providing sponsorship for a
little, Tanzanian girl named Dorah
just been confronted with all the needs I saw in
Liberia (and knowing how 'stretched' we were already
financially), I wasn't thrilled with the idea of
another 'monthly' financial commitment. No, I
wouldn't have chosen that obligation for
myself...but I've yielded to Cathy's compassionate
gesture and have made room in my heart for Hany
Regarding AIDS, I
wouldn't choose (for myself) to move from the statistics about suffering toward those
who are actually suffering. I know that move will cost me! I'm asking you
(the reader) to draw closer with me
(and the other leaders from Galt)
and help us be faithful to God in our generation.
Pastor Rob Patterson where Galt is, he replies, "The epicenter of God's
activity in the
While pastors in Lodi might argue that point,
seven religious leaders in Galt recently returned from a small African nation
bound and determined to sponsor several hundred children to improve water
supply, sanitation and farming practices.
They have officially sponsored 10
underprivileged African children. On March 6, Galt pastors will challenge the
community to open their hearts and wallets to sponsor more
than 600 children.
Mary Sanders, pastor of Shepherd of the ValleyLutheranChurch, with a child from Lesotho she
is sponsoring for three years.
Sanders and the child are sitting in front of a Catholic school
in a Lesotho
village. (Courtesy photo) The community will hear all about it at a joint service involving nine churches
on March 6 at GaltHigh School.
At the service, religious leaders will tell about their trip to the small,
mountainous country of Lesotho, a landlocked nation
surrounded by South Africa. Lesotho has about 1.9 million
people and is slightly smaller than Maryland.
Led by Tim Stevenson, senior pastor at HorizonCommunityChurch, the excursion included
three other senior pastors -- Rob Patterson from GaltFirstBaptistChurch, Frank Mack of Family
Life Christian Church and Mary Sanders of Shepherd of the ValleyLutheranChurch. Associate Pastors
Kevin Brown and Randy Holtz from Horizon and Rick Keiser of Family Life also
went to Africa.
Joining them in the March 6 service will be churches that were unable to send
representatives to Africa -- River of Life Celebration Center, GaltUnitedMethodistChurch, New Hope Assembly of
God, St. Luke's Episcopal Church and Iglesia Rosa de
Sharon Assembly of God.
Steve Haas, vice president of World Vision,
will discuss what the Galt churches have in mind for the community.
Galt ministers toured Lesotho -- pronounced
"lay-SOO-too" -- during a 10-day trip in early February to find out
about a nation where 31 percent of the population is HIV positive, according to
the World Health Organization.
The saying in Lesotho, Keiser said, is,
"Thirty-one percent are infected, but everyone is affected."
At the joint service, the community will be asked to contribute $30 per month
for three years to sponsor a child from Lesotho.
Pastors originally thought they would ask Galt to sponsor 900 children, but
Keiser said the number of sponsors needed has been reduced to 650 because
people elsewhere have sponsored children.
Sponsoring hundreds of children "is definitely a God-sized
assignment," Patterson said. "We need the rest of Galt to step up to
A $30 monthly gift will pay expenses for a child's education and a social
worker for the child's family, which in some cases includes orphaned children
or single parents, Patterson said. Contributions will also be used to teach
farmers the basics of clean water wells, sewer systems and crop rotation, he
Patterson said he hopes the joint service will draw new Galt residents who
haven't found a church yet and people who aren't religious, but want to help.
The seven pastors left Galt on Jan. 30 for the 24-hour flight to Lesotho. That was the easy part
of the trip.
Getting to the five villages was quite an adventure for the pastors, who were
driven there by guides. The villages are on top of a mountain at about 6,000
feet, but the drive wasn't exactly like an easy drive to Donner
"I didn't know these Jeeps could travel this terrain," Patterson
said. "There were big boulders to go around. It was a surreal
Keiser said the road weaves around the side of the mountain and included one
spot where the road was washed out.
"You didn't look down, let's put it that way," Keiser said.
In Lesotho, husbands often spend
six months or more away from home in the diamond mines of South Africa, Patterson and Keiser
said. One reason HIV and AIDS are so prevalent, they said, is because husbands
will have affairs with South African women where the mines are, then transmit
disease to his family when he returns to Lesotho.
As in the United States, not all AIDS victims
caught it from sex, Patterson said. Sometimes, it's from family members
touching each other's blood.
To compound the problem, victims often don't seek treatment because of the
stigma attached to the disease, Patterson said. Victims are treated like
lepers, he said.
"The stigma is bigger than the sexual connotation," Patterson said.
Galt pastors were overwhelmed by the joy shown by village residents atop the
mountain despite living without running water, restrooms and sometimes no food
that day, Keiser said.
"The people of Lesotho knew how to welcome
people and how to love people," Keiser said. "They taught us how to
be content. At least they showed us their contentment.
"We are really spoiled in this country, and we forget how blessed we
are," Keiser said.
Pastors hope for a large turnout at next week's service, which will also
include music from a choir from several churches singing together and a band
from Horizon and River of Life churches.
"God's obviously doing something to bring these churches (in Galt)
together," Keiser said. "God could have picked anywhere, anytime, but
he picked here. We're going with it."
The joint service will begin at March 6 in Warriors
Gymnasium at GaltHigh School,145 N. Lincoln Way.
back on the computer here. Then,
after writing a
long letter to you all, the connection
failed. So, I'm gonna try
exciting story happened our first night
in Lesotho. We checked into a country
villa (where we would room by twos in
small circular huts). Well, Pastor Mary,
another lady, and I were talking outside
the hut when we saw a man being chased
by a security guard across our courtyard
to the right of us.
we heard GUNFIRE...in
close proximity. We quickly ducked into
the alcove in front of the hut. I peeked
around the wall and saw a man running to
the right of us carrying a automatic
rifle (a Russian
AK47) with his finger on the
tell if he was a good guy or a bad
guy...I had ducked back after a quick
been a robbery the day before that
involved the murder of some people at a
Post Office. The CDI had been following
these suspects when they decided to turn
into our villa. On foot, it was their
plan to hop the back fence and run up
into the mountain paths behind our
officers followed them and called for
the villagers to also pursue the
We heard a
great roar of voices from the road and
saw a crowd gathering. During the next
hour the sound continued and circled
around the road to the front of our
twenty minutes of listening to them,
we Galt guys headed into the crowd
to see what was happening.
Pastor Tim Stevenson
is such an imposing figure, a couple
guys grabbed his arms and led him to the
followed right behind him...like the
parting of the red sea).
They had the three men on the ground. An
officer was guarding them--waiting for a
police car, I guess.
dark, Tim stepped back;I moved in.
Then over my head, Randy Holtz (from
Horizon) shined a flashlight on them.
Two of the guys were quite bloody. One
was still; apparently he was the guy
that later I had learned had died.
beating them while I was there...but
maybe they had before.
told that nothing like that has happened
there in years.
(Editor's note: after Rob's story,
the editorial staff is encouraging him
not to use terms like "gotta run"
...until he is safely back in Galt.)
sends Greetings from Africa
February 7, 2005
It has been impossible to email until
now; we flew back from Lesotho to South
Africa and have met up with the other two
teams (one went to the Congo, the other went
We are supposed to stay here for two
nights (to hear reports, ask questions,
debrief, etc.). Of course there are many in
line to use this one terminal at the hotel,
so I'd better say goodbye.
I was the preacher selected 'by
toothpick' to preach to the gathering of
about 400 or more? on Sunday. It was an
awesome Sunday morning. For two miles on a
mountain trail, we were greeted and escorted
by boys on mules, five horseman, and a
hundred people walking alongside our trucks,
shouting with joy.
The trip home will be very long! Its a 19
hour flight to Atlanta.
What started as just a dream
has now become a reality. For many
years, the pastors in Galt have gathered on a
regular basis to get to know each other and to pray
together. We have shared our concerns for our
country, churches and city.
As we have focused on
have seen what seems to be for lack of a better term
an unhealthy ‘spirit of competition.’
This ‘spirit of competition’ can be seen from school
boards, city councils and athletic teams to churches
and local businesses. Sides have been drawn and
camps have been formed. It seems that no matter the
issue, there is always substantial disagreement.
In response, several of
the pastors called for a special time of prayer.
A “Concert of Prayer” was held at the United
Methodist Church where several churches gathered to
not only pray for our country but to focus on our
city as well.
Out of that prayer meeting
came the idea of the churches working together on
one project. We had no idea what that
project would be, but felt that the ‘spirit of
competition’ needed to die first among the churches
and thus fulfill the prayer of Jesus on his way to
the cross. He first prayed for his disciples but
then turned his prayer towards those who would
follow later, including those of us in Galt today:
not only for them But also for those who will
believe in me because of them and their witness
The goal is
for all of them to become one heart and mind— Just
as you, Father, are in me and I in you, so they
might be one heart and mind with us.
world might believe that you, in fact, sent
me." John 17:20-21
Could it be possible that God
would fulfill this prayer here in Galt?
Could God bring together different denominations to
work together to spread the His hope, mercy and
grace? Calls were made, funds were promised and now
eight churches, from eight different denominations
are working together with ‘one heart and mind’ to
make a difference in the life of a child, and in the
life of a community thousands of miles away. Could
it be that reaching out to help people that far away
will make a difference in our own community?
Seven of us will be leaving on
January 30th to
make the long 22 hour plus journey to South Africa
and then into Lesotho where
AIDS has infected
over 31% of the population.
You read that right, it is
not a typo.
of the population is infected with
AIDS. This is a
vision trip, a trip to look at the need, to see the
people, to make a three year commitment to a
community to bring medicine, food and industry to
return we will gather together for one massive
church service. All eight churches, maybe more,
will be canceling their morning services and will
meet as one at the Galt
High School Gym, to rally the church into
action. We will have the opportunity for people to
sponsor the children we visited.
There are 900 children
in Lesotho alone
who need to be sponsored. The churches will also be
making a financial commitment to a project that we
identify as the greatest need. A team will be
formed representing the churches to organize further
trips and projects over the next three years. All I
can say is that God is about a mighty work in Galt.
wrote that what we need to do is take a look and see
where God is working and then go join Him. I invite
you to join us in making a difference in the life of
a community half way around the world and in turn
creating a real community in our own city.
Horizon Community Church
is a letter we
received from a man who grew up in our church. He
shares our heart and
January 9, 2005
To all Christians in Galt:
Sharing God’s love in the wake
of the Tsunami
I don’t know if you read or heard about my challenge
to the community of Galt to help fund World Vision
in the Tsunami relief, or not. As part of that
challenge, I’m asking each of you to support this
relief operation. This drive will go until the end
We have three weeks left and I’m asking you to really get behind this. If
you would give a special offering (through your
local church designated for the
organization) at least one week this month, that
would be good.
It would be awesome if everyone to takes part in this relief
effort. We are using the address of to mail in
Christian Church Tsunami
Relief P. O. Box 486
Galt California 95632
or you can contact me,
Bob Coon, at 209.745-3405 and I will pick up the
offerings for the fund and put them with all the
other donations from the community.
This is not a church or denomination thing, but a GOD thing. It will be
sent as a gift from God’s children in Galt to World
Vision. I know this will glorify God.
Below is another letter we have chosen to publish.
Due to a fresh working relationship among local
churches for the upcoming Pastors' Vision Trip,
several have already given in
unison for Tsunami relief:
World Vision has been humbled by the response of our
corporate partners to help survivors of the Asia
tsunami disaster. One example is Seattle-based
Tully's Coffee, premium coffee roaster and
retailer, who has offered to help us raise $1
million to help the disaster survivors.
When you purchase specially marked
100% of the net proceeds will be donated to World
Vision's relief effort in eight countries.
Starting Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2005, and running
through Apr. 15, purchases
may be made at all Tully's Coffee stores in
Washington, Oregon, California, and Idaho. For those
elsewhere, Amazon.com is the exclusive online retail
location for the Tsunami Response coffees, at
Tully's Chairman Tom O'Keefe explains, "We at
Tully's Coffee are dedicated to supporting our local
communities and by partnering with World Vision, we
are all helping the global community in this time of
"World Vision is grateful for Tully's corporate
leadership and quick response to the people who have
been so devastated by the events of Dec. 26, 2004
President, World Vision U.S.
World Vision is a
Christian relief and development organizationdedicated to helping children and their communities worldwidereach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty.
My heart was troubled as I had wanted to visit my dear
friends in Liberia
prior to the South Africa trip. It doesn't seem as though my hope to
combine visits turned out to be realistic.
I grew to love the
entire Wesley family during my trip there in Feb. 2004 (the
infant pictured above was born while I was there--they named
the boy after me).
To my delight, a couple from our church, Mike
and Robin McCall, are planning to travel to Liberia
I will do all I can to assist them as our ambassadors to the
Wesley Family, the Greater Love Bible Baptist Church, and
the Greater Love Children's Home. It is a blessing to share
a heart for missions with so many other individuals.
Robin now has her passport; they are arranging for their
Yellow Fever Vaccinations, and currently raising funds with
which to purchase tickets. I hope that readers out there
will assist financially and make their mission trip happen
quickly. I have already pledged my financial support to
these willing workers. If you would help send them, please
AIDS CRISIS IN
Nearly 30 million people
in Africa are infected with HIV/AIDS. Sub-Saharan
Africa is by far the worst affected region; this
past year, there were approximately 3.5 million new
2.4 million casualties as a result of the disease.
In four southern African countries–Botswana,
Lesotho, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe–HIV/AIDS
AIDS has orphaned more
than 12 million children in Africa. If they are
lucky, relatives take in these orphaned children,
but frequently they are left to care for themselves
and their siblings. These children often work long
hours to grow food or earn a meager income, but lack
the skills and training they need to succeed.
Furthermore, they are vulnerable to having their
family lands taken away from them. They often have
to drop out of school.
More than 55 percent
of the people infected with HIV/AIDS in Africa are
women. For physiological and social reasons, women
and girls are particularly susceptible to the sexual
transmission of HIV/AIDS. Often bound by cultural
traditions where women hold lower social standings
than men, women cannot control the sexual behavior
(including adultery) of their husbands, and have no
voice in contraceptive choices.
World Vision's Response
To fight this pandemic
in regions like Africa, World Vision has launched
the Hope Initiative–a long-term campaign to reduce
the impact of HIV/AIDS through innovative prevention
efforts, compassionate care, and effective advocacy.
The campaign focuses particularly on the needs of
widows, orphans, and vulnerable children.
World Vision is working
in many African countries to prevent the spread of
HIV/AIDS to the next generation. We've created and
supported church and community youth groups that
share practical information on HIV/AIDS prevention
through dramatic skits and songs. World Vision has
encouraged chastity before, and fidelity after,
marriage to prevent sexual transmission. In Uganda,
this approach has helped reduce HIV/AIDS infections
by two-thirds. In Africa, we've been addressing
HIV/AIDS as part of a comprehensive program that
also deals with poverty, promiscuity, warfare, lack
of education, and other problems.
World Vision staffs work
closely with churches and community partners in
Africa to ensure that orphans and widows receive
agricultural and vocational training, supplemental
food when needed, and access to adequate health
care. We also work with communities to make sure
educational fees are met so orphans can attend
World Vision volunteers
personally visit widows and orphaned children to
support their physical, emotional, and spiritual
care. Volunteers also assist children in protecting
their rights to family lands. When needed,
volunteers help care for sick or dying parents, so
children aren't forced to bear this burden alone.
Our staff can help extend the lives of parents,
enabling them to care for their children, and
provide the assurance that their children will be
cared for after their deaths.
In addition to lobbying
for the rights of orphaned children and widows,
we've been lobbying for full funding of the
President Bush's five year, $15 billion program to
prevent and treat HIV/AIDS in Africa and the
Caribbean. We've also been petitioning for the
allocation of sufficient funds from the $15 billion
to enable faith-based agencies to create and expand
page has some songs that were written in response to
God's stretching of my heart and mind toward those in
other nations. Below, I offer information for those
willing to share this particular burden as it grows on