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Sunday, June 29, 2008


It is 9:00 Pm in Nizhny Novgorod. In an hour we head to the train station. We will be traveling for the next two weeks. We will attend the National Conference of Cornerstone Churches in Achinsk, Siberia, Russia.

If you think of us pray for our safety and for a fruitful time as we meet with dozens of pastors and take part in a conference which will be attended by 1500 people.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Karen's Birthday

On June 20th Karen celebrated her birthday. Being a missionary means that you often miss out on sharing things with your natural family. This can be difficult at times, however, being a missionary also means sharing with a whole new family. On Karen's birthday we had 15 of our friends over for dinner together. Karen received flowers, cards and gifts.

On the following day in the church service Karen was one of several people who were called up front to receive a birthday blessing. Later that afternoon we went to the Homeless Social Center operated by Cornerstone Church. There we shared in a birthday celebration for one of the leaders, our friend Volodya.

Birthday Dinner with Friends in Our Apartment

Some of the Flowers That Karen Received

Cookout at the Social Center
Pavel & Ira
New Friends & New Believers

Karen Sitting with Friends Inside the Social Center

Picnic Wedding Celebration

Today the church celebrated two weddings by holding a church picnic in the forest at the edge of town. Everyone met at 9:00 AM and we caravaned together to the picnic spot, unpacked, set up and had a whole day together. It was a fun day. We ate all day long, played games and just enjoyed the fellowship.

At one point Karen and I were just looking around at everyone and we were amazed that out of about 50 people, 90% were former drug addicts and criminals. We were seeing living miracles in front of our eyes. People who had been the lowest of the low in Russian society, now transformed, filled with joy and having a purpose for their lives.

We are constantly in awe of what we see happening here. Lives being changed on a daily basis by the power of the Gospel.

Here are a few photos

The Two Newlywed Couples

One of the day's meals

Food & Fellowship
Praise & Worship

All 3 Former Criminals & Drug Addicts
Now They Share Their New Life in Christ

Karen and Friends

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bogorodst Rehab Center

This week Michael visited the Bogorodst rehab center along with Pastor Dmitry and several other church leaders. This center is located in a small village about 65 kilometers outside of Nizhny Novgorod. Last winter the church purchased a dilapidated village house and the land surrounding it. Several months ago we began building a new building on the property. This building will eventually house up to 25 recovering addicts and staff. Here are some photos from the visit. The house is being built on a cash basis. The church takes a separate offering every month to help pay for the construction. The hope is to complete this home before cold weather sets in.

Current Village House
This house is a 110 year old log cabin - termites have destroyed parts of it.
The white plastic cover is to keep the rain out. It has electricity but no running water.
It is heated by a brick oven

New Building
This building will eventually replace the existing old village house

Two of the Brothers

Summer Kitchen #1

Summer Kitchen #2
Rehab Garden
Both to feed the rehabilitants and to provide work therapy

Three Changed Lives

On Sunday three more brothers graduated from the first course of rehab. Sergei and Sergei are center and right and Sasha is on the left. The two Sergei's were drug addicts for over ten years and Sasha was an alcoholic. Karen and I have been privileged to be a part of the team that taught them during their course of rehabilitation. We have great hopes for these new believers and their future.

The rehab work here continues to grow. Every week we see new people enter the program and we also see amazing changes in lives as young men and women come to faith and begin to walk the road of discipleship. We, at times, also see the difficulties these young people face as they fight to break free from their addictions. Not everyone makes it and some continue to struggle despite their victory in rehab. If you read this, please pray for our brothers and sisters here. Every week on TV we see dead addicts lying in the street, killed by an overdose or by suicide. The battle is real and people's lives and destinies are at stake.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Kremlin

Last week Pastor Dimitry celebrated his 30th birthday. A group of us went to a local cafeteria and shared a meal together and afterwards we decided to go to the Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin and take a walk.

Many old Russian cities have a kremlin (fort). Typically Americans hear the word and associate it with the government and Kremlin in Moscow. The Nizhny Novgorod kremlin is a brick fortress almost 400 years old. The brick walls replace an earlier wooden and dirt stockade wall which surrounded the original city founded in 1220.

Here are a few photos from our time there.

View down Bolshaya Pokrovka Street
as we approach the kremlin

Celtic Style Cross
display within the kremlin

Flower Bed


Founders of Nizhny Novgorod

Same guys, closer view

Monument to those who died in WWII
WWII is known in Russia as
The Great Patriotic War

WWII era T-34 Tank
This tank was manufactured in Nizhny Novgorod
The plaque says that the tank was the
first Russian tank to enter the city of Vienna
as the Soviets conquered or liberated the city

One of many goverment buildings inside the kremlin

The Eternal Flame
most large Russian cities have one as a memorial
to those who lost their lives in WWII

View of the city from the kremlin

The Volga & Oka rivers

Saturday, June 14, 2008


The Apostle Paul is my favorite Biblical character. He was a real "man's man". Tough and tenacious. He was authentic, brave and single minded. Paul was a church planter and missionary and generations of church planters and missionaries have looked to him as an inspiration.

In the Christian world today, especially in charismatic/pentecostal circles there is much talk about apostles and the restoration of apostles to the church in the "last days." There are numerous self-appointed men and some women who today claim the title "Apostle". My bottom line thought on the whole thing is, I believe in that there are those in the Body of Christ who function in apostolic ministry, however, if you need to title yourself "Apostle" you are not one.

I know one leader here in Russia who has what could be considered an apostolic ministry. No one calls him "Apostle Sergei," and I think he would be embarrassed if anyone did. He has planted several churches personally and has discipled dozens of leaders and given birth to an indigenous church-planting movement which currently has about 40 churches and is adding 5 or more new church plants every year. That is evidence of ministry along the lines of Apostolic ministry in the Bible.

Here is a really good article which I think speaks clearly to much of what is being said about the "Apostolic Ministry" today.

I would love to know your thoughts. Post a reply or send me an email.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Ministry Trip - Tambov Russia

I just returned from a quick trip to Tambov, a city about 300 kilometers below Moscow and an 8 hour drive from Nizhny Novgorod. Karen stayed back in Nizhny Novgorod as she was scheduled to continue her women's ministry seminars on Saturday. I made the trip with pastor Dmitry and several others from Cornerstone church.

This was the longest drive I have made in Russia. Some of the roads were very good, but some of them were terrible, absolutely bone-jarring. At times we were reduced to going 15 miles per hour for 20-30 kilometers as we dodged pothole after pothole.

The weather was great for the drive, sunny and about 65. This is perfect weather for driving a car without air-conditioning. It was interesting to see some of the Russian countryside. Unfortunately because we were in a hurry I didn't get any good photos of the actual drive.

Tambov is a city of about 600,000 people and was founded about the time the Pilgrims came to America. It was a very clean and nice city as opposed to Nizhny Novgorod which is pretty dirty. There were lots of clean, landscaped parks and in general the city has a nice feeling to it. The drug problem is not as bad as in Nizhny Novgorod either.

City Street

We went to Tambov to join in the 2nd anniversary celebration of a local church which is part or the Cornerstone movement. I attended specifically to build some new relationships and to resources the local church with some teaching materials. We were able to gift to the church 16 copies of "Foundations of Pentecostal Theology" and 300 copies of the excellent small book, "Praying Effectively for the Lost."

The second book is by our friend, Lee Thomas. Lee was a Southern Baptist preacher for over 30 years. Today he is in the itinerant ministry teaching across America about prayer. Lee wrote this small book and has distributed over 1/2 a million of the books worldwide. His ministry graciously funded the translation and printing of the book in the Russian language. We recently received 10,000 copies of the book and have begun distributing them to churches with whom we have contacts. There is a link to Lee's ministry on the left side of this page. Lee is planning a trip to Russia next year to teach and preach for us.

The church celebration was fun and the relationship building was great. I stayed in the home of Pastor Valery and his family. There were nine of us in his small 3 room apartment for 2 days.

Here are a few more photos.

Pastor Valary - Church planter from Siberia
Our Friend Anna
talking about the book
Praying Effectively for the Lost

Sunday Church Service
The church meets in a rented auditorium