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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Preaching the Gospel of Grace

We just returned from an afternoon of teaching at the Rustai drug rehabilitation center. After a two hour drive from the city we arrived before lunchtime and were greeted at the gate to the center by Ksyusha, one of the young leaders. She had been standing outside in the cold praying that God would help her and give her wisdom in how to deal with one of the newest rehabilitants. Ksyusha, herself, is only about 10 months old in the Lord. As she was praying we pulled up to the gate and she greeted us with a big, warm smile and said that we were surely God’s answer to her prayer.

Ksyusha had been praying for this young woman, a declared atheist, who is resisting the faith based approach of the center. We encouraged Ksyusha to be patient and to not try and force this woman into praying a prayer of salvation without understanding what she was actually doing.

We had a time of noisy, boisterous worship and prayer. The singing was out of tune and the praying was really loud, but the joy and enthusiasm of the young believers is contagious and refreshing.

Our friend, Olga Loukmanova, was with us as a translator. None of the group had met her so we had fun introducing her. Then Michael taught from the Gospel of John chapter 3 which is the story of Nicodemus. Michael was teaching the difference between religious knowledge and personal faith. Everyone listened intently and took notes, and afterwards we had a question and answer period. These young believers ask some of the toughest questions!

Listening to the teaching

Five of the rehabilitants were less than 2 weeks old in the Lord, the oldest only 1 year in Christ! Olga is about 15 years old in the Lord and remarked to us what great fun it was to teach such young, impressionable believers.

On the way to the center we had noticed that the car was overheating so before we left to go home we asked some of the brothers to check it out. The diagnosis – bad water pump and possibly the timing belt was going. The advice – don’t drive the car. We were 100 kilometers from home and we really needed to get back to Nizhny Novgorod. Part of the worry was that we were in the middle of a forest with no cell phone service. If we broke down we could be stuck for hours in the 10 degree winter weather. We laid hands on the car and prayed for mercy and off we went.

Through the Russian Forest

On the way back through the forest we picked up a man whose car had broken down and learned that he had been waiting for 4 hours for someone to drive by that he could flag down. We were the first Americans that he had ever met.

We have a busy weekend planned and now we have a car that we can’t get repaired until at least Monday. Despite this we both said that this was great day and we wouldn’t trade places with anyone. We love being here and ministering to these precious young men and women.

We covet your prayers for safety, for our financial needs, and for workers to enter the harvest in Russia.

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