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Friday, February 15, 2008

Ministry to the Addicted and Homeless in Russia

We are in the midst of a very busy week. It started with church on Sunday. The service was great and we saw 10 new people pray to receive Christ!

After church we took 2 of the workers in the Rustai rehab center to the market to purchase food and supplies. We then picked up several mattresses, some bags and 1 new guy who was entering the program and off we went on the two hour drive to the center.

Crossing the Volga River

On the Road to Rustai

After arriving at the center we shared a meal and spent a some time chatting. By the time we got home that evening we had put in a 12 hour day.

The next day we were supposed to have a language lesson but we received a call from our friend Vanya, asking us if we could drive another new guy to the rehab center. Of course we agreed and off we drove to the church office.

At the office we met this young man who was about to enter the rehab program. He was a wreck and you could see that he was under the influence of drugs at the time. Nevertheless he was willing to go into the program. We took two of the young women, Nastia and Ksusha along with us for the long drive to the rehab center. Ksusha, a young woman about 22 years old, graduated several months ago and is now one of the leaders in the program. Nastia a twenty year old had graduated from her first 3 months of the rehab program just the day before. She was beginning her second three month course and Ksusha was mentoring her.

Nastia at her Graduation

Ksusha is a really wonderful young woman. She has a sweet gentle spirit. It was amazing to watch her as she spent most of the ride to the center ministering to the young man who was entering the program.

Ksusha ministering to the new guy Uri before we leave for the rehab center

On the way back she spent time talking with Nastia about being a Christian and working in the rehab ministry. All this from a young woman who is less than 9 months old in the Lord!

Wednesday was a “free” day. Karen and I both spent it studying for some future teaching responsibilities we have.

Thursday, we had a language lesson and we also purchased a new printer – that will be a story all in itself, as the Lord taught us some cool stuff.

Today, Friday, we taught in the morning at Lesnaya Polyana, the first rehab established by Cornerstone Church here in Nizhny Novgorod. Currently there are 17 people in the rehab program at this center. We had a good time teaching and answering questions. We love doing this and look forward to it every week.

In the evening we went to the Social Center. The Social Center is a ministry to the homeless. Cornerstone Church has rented a large (by Russian standards) rambling, run-down home. The house has no running water and only an outhouse. It was formerly used as a home for migrant workers and amazingly we were told that up to 100 migrant workers had lived here at a time.

The Social Center for Homeless People

The home is being renovated bit by bit as money becomes available. To describe it as run down is being nice. By American standards it was a dump that should be bulldozed down. At this point it is home to 14 formerly homeless men, and 8 or so of the rehab workers. The house is divided into two separate apartments with separate cooking facilities, shared bedrooms and a shared living room

The Guys at the Social Center

We were proudly shown into the newly renovated “chapel” the largest room in the house where meetings are held and which also will function as a communal living room.

We experienced some of the sweetest worship I have ever been a part of. One of the brothers, a former homeless man who has become a believer took a really battered guitar and led us into the presence of God with two wonderful songs. It brought tears to my eyes.

Men, off the street and worshiping God

I taught on the subject “How to Trust God While You Are Going through a Storm”. After the lesson we had a time to answer questions and just get to know the guys a little bit more.

Tomorrow we have a pre-marriage class for three couples. This is another task we enjoy. One of the couples, Sergei and Anna will be wed next Friday.

On Sunday I will preach at church and then afterwards I will take four people and bags and supplies to the Rustai rehab center while Karen stays home and studies in preparation for a Women’s seminar she will teach next month.

We love living here and ministering to these wonderful people. It was touching tonight to hear one of the brothers say how we had helped lay the foundation of his Christian life. One year ago he was a struggling drug addict nearly destroyed by sin. Today he is a leader in the church and his wife, daughter, sister-in-law and mother-in-law also have come to Christ. Thanks for your prayers and support which keep us here in Russia

1 comment:

babygraceartfactory said...

This is a privilege to read. The love and calling you and Karen have for the people of Russia is compelling, even in descriptions of day to day doings. Obviously it's your passion, and I'm proud we support you.