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Monday, October 24, 2005

First Annual Russia Foursquare Leadership Conference

Conference attendees
We are back from our trip to Sochi, Russia. Sochi is a tourist city located in the southwest of Russia on the shores of the Black Sea. There are currently two churches in Sochi which are in the process of becoming a part of the Foursquare movement in Russia.

The first Foursquare Russia Leadership Conference was held in Sochi last week. About 45 leaders from several major areas of Russia attended. We were able to bring Vadim and Eduard, our church planting partners from the town of Zavolzha, and Pastors Igor and Olga Voronin, from the church Laza, here in Nizhny Novgorod.

Mike Larkin and Slava Naniyants, Russia National Leader

Jeff Roper our supervisor, and Mike Larkin, director of Foursquare Missions also attended. Mike was the morning speaker each day.

Time was spent in building ongoing relationship, casting vision for the future of Foursquare Russia, and ministering to one another. The second afternoon we held a business meeting to discuss the registration process for the churches and to elect/appoint regional representatives.
Nizhny Leaders at the Business meeting

Karen and I were able to spend an extra two days in Sochi relaxing before our trip home. The weather was cool and rainy but better than snow and ice, which we expect in Nizhny Novgorod soon. Unfortunately we both came down with some bug on our last day and we are still fighting the effects of this illness.

Karen and I: Note the Palm trees!

Below are some photos of the conference.

Russian Leaders from our city,
Nizhny Novgorod

Mike Larkin, Slava, Korean Foursquare Missionary to The Sakalin Islands, Russia, Yung Wan, and His Korean Pastor

Jeff and Debbie Roper our Foursquare Missions supervisors from America

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Book Reviews

The Key to Everything: By Jack Hayford

Recently I completed reading the book “The Key to Everything”, by Pastor Jack Hayford. Pastor Jack is also the President of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. . The book is published by creation House publishers and the ISBN # is 0-88419-415-9.
“The Key to Everything”, is an excellent book based upon the theme of giving. This is not another charismatic book on the blessing of financial tithing, but rather a book about the blessing of giving; giving love, forgiveness, acceptance, as well as giving financially. Hayford says that our attitude toward giving in any area of our life is the “key” to receiving the blessings of God. I was both encouraged and convicted while reading my way through this book. At no time does the book encourage manipulative or emotional giving.

In each chapter Hayford uses both personal anecdotes and scriptural teaching to share on different aspects of giving. I would encourage pastors to study this book closely and use it for teaching outlines in his or her congregation. The teaching is well balanced and Scriptural.

Territorial Spirits and World Evangelism: By Chuck Lowe

Territorial Spirits and World Evangelism is written by missionary Chuck Lowe, and published by Mentor/OMF. The ISBN # is 185792399-5.

In the last ten years a large number of books have been written about the theme of spiritual warfare and territorial spirits. Many of the books have been written by Peter Wagner or associates of his ministry. While I have a great deal of respect for Peter Wagner I do believe that at times he goes a bit overboard. Territorial Spirits and World Evangelism is a good counter-balance.

This book is described as “A Biblical, historical and missiological critique of Strategic-Level Spiritual Warfare”. I found it to be well balanced and reasonably well written. I do not necessarily agree with all of Lowe’s conclusions, but I do think that the book is a good balance to some of the wilder theories concerning spiritual warfare.

The book is written from a non-charismatic/non-Pentecostal viewpoint, and should be considered in that light. Lowe is not a cessationist in theology and at no time does he dismiss the idea of the need for spiritual warfare. He does however take exception with some of the current teaching propagated by Wagner.

Lowe offers his rational for a different approach to spiritual warfare, a model based upon the life work of James Fraser, a missionary to the Far East at the turn of the twentieth century.

Overall I enjoyed this book very much. I would recommend it to anyone who has read Wagner’s books on the subject.


Tonight we will take the overnight train to Moscow and then tomorrow take a 2 hour flight to Sochi, a town in Southern Russia, located on the Black Sea.

We will be attending the first Russia Foursquare Conference for pastors and leaders. We expect about 50 people to attend including pastors and leaders from as far away as the Sakalin Islands, near Japan, Novosibirsk, a large city in Siberia, Chelyabinsk, a large city in the southern Ural mountains, Krasnodar in Southwest Russia, our city Nizhny Novgorod and several other locations.

We will be taking four Russian believers to the conference. Eduard Galyanov and Vadim Salovov, as well as Igor and Olga Voronin, Pastors of the church Loza (the Vine), which we attend.

Eduard and Vadim are the two brothers who will be planting a Foursquare Church in Zavolzha. Igor and Olga, are good friends, great pastors and leaders who are interested in the Foursquare movement in Russia.

The conference will run from Monday evening till Wednesday evening. We will be out of email and computer access for the entire week (unless we are able to go to a computer cafe), so we will update this blog sometime after the 22nd.

Keep us in your prayers as we will be near the areas of Russia that have been having much terrorist activity. Last week Muslim terrorists attacked a city called Nal'Chik, and about 100 people were killed in total.

Friday, October 14, 2005

David Brainerd

David Brainerd was born in Massachusetts in 1718. As a young man he studied for the ministry. He felt a call from God to serve as a missionary to the Indian tribes in what was then the wilderness area of Western Massachusetts. At that time, young men who desired to enter the ministry, apprenticed under a clergyman. In 1742 David was licensed to preach the Gospel, and was soon thereafter appointed as a missionary to the Indian tribes. He only lived five more years, dedicating his short life to preaching the Gospel to the Indians of Western Massachusetts.
He died Friday October 9, 1747 at 29 years of age.

I will begin a series of posts from David's diary. I believe that the book is a spiritual classic and should be read by every believer.

Here is an excerpt from his diary dated October 17, 1742

Lord's Day, October 17. Had a considerable sense of my helplessness and inability; saw that I must be dependent on God for all I want, and especially when I went to the place of public worship. I found I could not speak a word for God without His special help and assistance. I went into the assembly, trembling, as I frequently do, under a sense of insufficiency to do anything in the cause of God as I ought to do. But it pleased God to afford me much assistance, and there seemed to be a considerable effect on the hearers. In the evening, I felt a disposition to praise God for His goodness to me, that He had enabled me in some measure to be faithful. My soul rejoiced to think that I had thus performed the work of one day more, and was one day nearer my eternal and, I trust, heavenly home. Oh that I might be "faithful to the death, fulfilling as an hireling my day," till the shades of the evening of life shall free my soul from the toils of the day!.
This evening in secret prayer I felt exceeding solemn, and such longing desires after deliverance from sin and after conformity to God as melted my heart. Oh, I longed to be "delivered from this body of death"! I felt inward pleasing pain that I could not be conformed to God entirely, fully, and forever. I scarce ever preach without first being visited with inward conflicts and sore trials. Blessed be the Lord for these trials and distresses as they are blessed for my humbling.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Terrorists in Russia

If you have not heard, terrorists attacked a city in Southern Russia today. The attack was in a city called Nal'Chik. 60-80 people may be dead. Russian news is not very reliable and the death and injury counts are generally not correct. We will be close to this area next week attending a conference. We will probably be about 8 hours away from this town.

The terrorists are from the break-away territory of Chechnya. There is a 150 year or older history of bad blood, murder and genocide between the Chechens and the Russians. Russia conquered this area over 150 years ago. Stalin killed hundreds of thousands in the 1940s. The Chechens were deported enmasse to Siberia in the 1940s. The whole area is a mess and no one knows how to fix it. Add to this mix Muslim extremists and you can understand why this area is in turmoil.

Pray for the believers in this area. Russian Protestants are in extreme danger there.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Life In a Russian Village

Karen and I live in Nizhny Novgorod, a city of about 1.5 million people. Depending on who you ask Nizhny Novgorod is the 3rd or 5th largest city in Russia. Russian cities are changing very rapidly. Ten years ago there were hardly any supermarkets and no malls outside of Moscow. Now nearly every large city has several of each. We have at least 10 supermarkets and five small malls in Nizhny Novgorod. Life in rural Russia however, has changed very little.

This summer we spent a week in the small town of Vacha. Vacha has a population of about 8000 people and is not really a village, but in Russia it is not considered a city, and there is no real Russian language equivalent for our word "town".
A typical street in Vacha.
As with many smaller Russian towns people live either in apartment buildings or wooden homes. The apartment buildings were built anywhere from the early 1930's and up to the present time. The building in this photo is of a typically apartment built in the 1940's. Russian apartment buildings can be pretty grim. The only comparison we can make to America is that they are like apartments in our inner city public housing projects.
A Soviet era apartment building (left) and a village home (below right).

In small Russian towns and villages many people live in traditional wooden homes. From the outside they look somewhat like our wood frame homes in America, but in reality the are log cabins. The log homes may or may not be covered with wooden plank siding. If they are in good repair and painted they are very charming. These log homes usually do not have running water and the bathroom facilities are "indoor" outhouses. The outhouse is a toilet room attached to the side or rear of the home. We stayed in such a home this summer.
All the household water must be carried from a local pump or well by hand. After you do this a few times, never have a shower, and use the outhouse on a regular basis, the charm of the log cabin tends to wear off.

Heat for these homes could either be hot water steam, or in the older homes there might be a traditional brick wood stove (pictured here) that is used for cooking baking and heating the home. In days past Russian families actually slept on top of these brick ovens on special built bed shelves. This would be good way to keep toasty warm on a cold Russian winter night.

That's me (Mike) in the light blue shirt, carrying water up the hill to the home where we stayed.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Time for an Update

We began this blog in June while we were in America. I mostly wanted to see how a blog worked and to see if it would be a worthwhile project.

Since being back in Russia we have been busy with life here. Language lessons, hosting an American team and just living our day to day life has kept us pretty busy.

Our son, Jon Mark, who is stationed somewhere in Kuwait recently wrote to me and said, "Hey what's the point of having a blog if you don't update it"? "Doh!. That point being well taken I will try and post regular updates and articles.

Today is Sunday, and in about an hour we are off to church. The picture is of Karen about 1 block from the church we attend.

Getting to church is a 40 minute bus ride and a 5 minute walk. We will be going to church today with Ira, a young woman who is a university student and a new believer. Ira is doing some interpreting work for us. Later in the day, back at our apartment we will be meeting with Edward and Vadim, two Russian guys who are in the process of planting a new church. This will be the second planted Foursquare church in Russia! (If you have any questions about Foursquare or planting churches just leave me a comment). Ira will interpret for us.

The weather today is pretty nice. Sort of like New England this time of year. Soon we will see some colder weather and snow. The days are getting shorter here. It is now dark by 7:00 PM. When we adjust for daylight savings time this month we will begin the long, dark winter days. We love Russia, but the winters can be a bit daunting.