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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Pre-Christmas Update

Wow, it's Sunday night December 23 and it is only only 3 degrees F here tonight!

We have finally turned the corner on long winter nights. Today the sun came up at 8:30 AM and it was dark by 3:45 PM. From here on out we gain about 6 minutes of daylight every day. Only 3 more months to spring!

Speaking of spring, Cornerstone Church will begin a building project at the village land they purchased in the fall. The plan is to build a two story wood home to house a larger rehab center and then later possibly build a brick home. The church has decided to take a monthly building fund offering to help with the costs. If you would be interested in investing financially in this vital work which disciples new believers please let us know via email at

Today we saw 5 people pray to receive Christ at church, and we also saw one of the guys graduate from the first three months of rehab. The church is continuing to grow with new conversions every week. Attendance is over 125 each week now which is almost 3 times what attendance was last year at this time. This Sunday Pastor Dmitry announced that we will be going to two services after the New Years holidays. Tomorrow Karen and I will meet with Dmitry to just share a meal and talk about ministry plans for next year.

This new growth is being contested by the enemy. this week we found out that one of the rehab leaders, a good friend of ours and a great guy, had slipped back into drug use. If you think of it pray for this (unnamed) brother. Pray that he will repent quickly and be restored back into relationship with the Lord and the church.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Leadership Retreat

It's Monday evening December 17, and we are packed for an overnight retreat for leaders of Cornerstone Church. As we teach at the rehab center and are part of the church leadership we were invited.

We are looking forward to the fun and the relationship building. As we will be without a translator it will also help to stretch our language skills. Every time we go away our language teacher tells us that our language has improved.

We will probably have some fun, go the banya and while together talk about plans for next year. The church is growing rapidly. Since February it has grown from 50+ people to 125+ people on Sunday. Most of the growth is through conversion and discipleship.

Hopefully we will get a few good photographs and post them here later this week.

Mike and Karen

Friday, December 07, 2007

Trip to Siberia

On Tuesday evening the 4th we returned from a 10 day trip to Siberia. We were in the city of Novosibirsk, the largest city in Siberia and one of the 5 largest cities in Russia.

Our purpose in Siberia was to attend the regional leaders’ conference of the Association of Cornerstone Churches of Russia. The attendance at the conference was strong, at nearly 1000 people. As with most of Cornerstones’ conferences at least half of the attendees are former drug addicts, convicts and homeless people who have had their lives transformed by the good news of the Gospel.

We made the trip to Novosibirsk by train, with our friend and pastor, Dmitry Zaborski. The trip took over 44 hours, which is a long time to ride the train. We enjoyed our time, however, as Karen and I were together and we were with a good friend.

Here is Karen on the train playing a hand held game

Upon arriving in Novosibirsk we were given a one room apartment to stay in and then the next morning we where whisked off to a large boarding house on the edge of town for a pre-conference day with senior pastors and leaders. The day was spent just having fun, talking, worshiping and praying together, and eating. We arrived back at our apartment after midnight.

Young Russian Pastors
This is what young Russian pastors and old missionaries
do for relaxation

The next three days were spent in conference meetings. At each session there was wonderful praise and worship, with a world class worship leader and band. The main speaker for the conference was actually a pastor/missionary from Norway who spoke in English so we had the privilege of hearing preaching in English, a rare treat for us. The teaching and preaching was excellent and directed toward those in leadership in local churches and drug rehab centers.

Another feature of the conference was a Missions video showing a recent exploratory trip to China by leaders of the Cornerstone Movement. They are moving slowly but deliberately toward becoming a missionary sending church. They have plans to have missionaries planting the first trans-national church in China within two years. This is an amazing feat for a movement less than 8 years old! They are outward focused and determined to reach not only Russia, but other countries with the Gospel.

At the Conference
Worship Dance
Eating dinner with our friends
These chickens and a turkey were actually in the restaurant to give it a village ambiance. Where's the board of health?!!

Our return trip to Nizhny Novgorod was enjoyable as we were in the company of ten of our friends who had attended the conference. The long trip was made pleasurable with good conversation, lots of laughter, playing chess and eating meals together during the 44 hour return trip.

View from the train

While in Novosibirsk we received several invitations to visit other cities to teach new believers and input into the lives of local leaders. Because most of the pastors and leaders are still in their 20s, we are looked upon as spiritual parents by many of them. It is humbling and fulfilling to be able to speak into the lives of these dedicated young men and women. Whether they realize it or not they teach us much more than we teach them.