Greetings from Russia!
I have just finished my first week here and there is so such to share. My time so far has been filled with insightful conversations, great people connections, a chance to preach on the joy of following Jesus, reconnecting with old friends and churches, and celebrating 25 years of God’s faithfulness with the Living Word Church in Yekaterinburg Russia. The church’s 25th anniversary was last weekend and the celebration of God’s faithfulness lasted three whole days. The highlight was a worship service that lasted for over 7 hours (with a short break in the middle). How is that for a cross cultural experience!
My second week is being spent in the city of Chelyabinsk Russia. Last evening I satdown with Pastor Ilya Slusin. I asked him where are you experiencing the greatest joyin your ministry and the greatest obstacle? His response was very intriguing. For the greatest joy he immediately thought of their children’s ministry. They have a new after school program that has begun in their church (they are one of the few churches in Russia that have their own building). The opportunity to provide a safe environment where children can not only be introduced to God but where they can be shaped and modeled into wonderful people of God this is where he finds the greatest joy and fruit in what they are doing. The greatest challenge is in the apathy that people can have towards “spirituality” (or their inner soul) when they are too busy focusing on material wealth and pleasure. As I sat listening to him I couldn’t help but think how familiar it sounded.
On one hand the church in Russia is very different than it is back in Rockford (yes you did read that correctly, a seven hour service). But on the other hand they seem to be experiencing very similar joys and obstacles that we face. There may be a lot more loneliness and hopelessness because of economic conditions here, but there is still the same level of humanness. The same need for intimacy, purpose, and a feeling of safety. All the things that God created for us to experience in relationship with God, something that people in America and Russia equally feel a lack of if their lives are lived apart from God.
Coming up over the next few days
- The church of God in Chelyabinsk Russia is beginning a new training program for all
their leaders. The first session will be this weekend. 2 days of intensive training on how
to lead home cell/small group ministry. I will be doing all of the teaching over these two
- On Sunday I will be preaching on the book of James. (The church here is beginning
a series on this book, I will be kicking it off with an overview of the letter and a sermon
on the first few verses).
- A meeting with the leaders of the national Christian student movement here in Russia
- Meeting with several different pastors/ministers to see how they are doing
- Meeting with church leaders here in Chelyabinsk to see how we might partner with
them on a future mission trip and joint training on children’s ministry.
- Drinking lots of tea, listening, praying, and sharing God’s encouragement in various
Thank you so much for your continued prayers and encouragement.
– Pr. Dan