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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Leadership Conference, Sochi

Russian Church Leaders

We recently attended a leadership conference in Sochi, Russia. Sochi is located in southern Russia on the coast of the Black Sea. In Sochi you can actually find palm trees, and only 40 minutes away are mountains where you can ski! Sochi is being considered as a possible location of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

We took the train to Sochi from Nizhny Novgorod. The trip is over 40 hours each way and we spent two nights and a day riding through the Russian countryside. We made the trip with our good friends Nickolai and Irina Tsaryov and their young daughter Anya.

The leadership conference was sponsored by American Foursquare leader Daniel Brown and his Commended to the Word ministry. About 50 pastors and church leaders attended this 3 day conference. We were all refreshed and encouraged by the teaching, fellowship and relaxation. Daniel Brown is an engaging teacher who challenged all of us to be servant leaders and deliberate disciple makers. We will be working with Daniel to see that several of his books are translated into the Russian language, printed and distributed in Russia.

Sunset on the Black Sea

Sochi Street Scene

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Ministry & Trip to Sochi

Michael, with Sveta our interpreter, preaching at Cornerstone Church

It is Sunday afternoon. We are all packed and ready to go to the train station. We will be making the 39 hour train trip to Sochi, in Southern Russia, on the Black Sea. We will be attending a conference for Foursquare Russian Leadership. The conference is sponsored by Coastlands Foursquare Church and Daniel Brown's Commended to the Word Ministry. We will be returning to Nizhny Novgorod net Saturday evening.

This morning we were at Cornerstone Church. Michael was asked to preach there this morning on short notice. Pastor Dmitry had to leave town quickly in order t visit a close friends who is also a pastor. The friend's wife died suddenly and unexpectedly, leaving behind her husband and two young children. Michael Preached from Mark 4:35-41 about "Trusting Jesus when you go through a storm".

If you think of it pray for this young pastor, also named Dmitry, that he and his children will find comfort in their relationship with Christ, despite their huge loss.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Drug Rehab Ministry

This week we were invited to teach at a local drug rehabilitation center. The center is operated by Cornerstone Church, and is just a little over one year old. The church has about 60 people attending on a regular basis. Most of those who attend are new believers.

The rehab is in a typical Russian village style house right outside the city. The facility is a bit rustic from an American point of view, but it suits the purpose except that the rehab really needs twice as much space. Currently there are about 20 people attending the rehabilitation and they all live in three of the four small rooms!

Here we are with the men and women who are in the rehab program

Pastor Dmitry Zaborski, the young man who planted the church, would like to expand the rehabilitation program, but there simply is no room to do so. He believes that they could easily minister to 50-60 addicts at a time if they had more space. Faith based drug rehabilitation services fill a drastic need in Russian society. There is a huge and continually growing drug problem here. It is estimated that possibly 100,000 people in the Nizhny Novgorod area are using hard drugs on a regular basis. We daily see reports on local TV news about young people who have died from overdosing, or committed suicide because of their despair.

We are building a relationship with Cornerstone church and Pastor Dmitry. We have been asked to teach weekly at the drug rehabilitation center, and possibly plan some seminars for the new church. In May Michael will be traveling to Samara, which is about 800 miles south east of Nizhny Novgorod. In Samara he will preach and teach at another Cornerstone church which will be celebrating their first year anniversary. Both churches are a part of an indigenous church planting movement here in Russia. The Cornerstone fellowship has about forty churches throughout eastern Russia. Most of the churches run a rehabilitation program. They are now targeting major cities in West Russia for new church plants. We consider the opportunity to minister among them a door opened by the Lord. Pray with us as we continue to explore this opportunity and pray for those who are attending the Cornerstone church’s rehabilitation centers.