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Friday, July 25, 2008

Karen's Father

Karen & Her Dad

Karen's father, Eliot N. Eames went home to be with the Lord yesterday. It is a bittersweet time for the family. I am in Russia while Karen is in America with her family. Eliot will be missed. He was a great husband, dad, grandfather and great-grandfather. Even more, he was a dedicated follower of Christ. Karen's missionary service is a legacy of her father.

Eliot as a baby (c. 1917)
Boston Public Garden early 1950s
Eliot, Thora, John & Steve
Eliot & Thora

Eliot with his three children
Steve, Karen, John

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Dead Man in the Park

That's how the news began yesterday. There was a dead drug addict lying in the park near a school. Lying next to him was a used needle and some drugs. Children from the school had found him, told their teachers and the authorities came to see. No one was surprised, he was just another dead drug addict. The kids had seen the body and didn't seem concerned or bothered.

The next story was about two more dead addicts. One was found dead in an apartment, needle lying next to him. The third young man was lying in a pool of blood, in an apartment stairwell. The neighbors who were standing around said he OD'ed and fell dead, down the stairs smashing his head.

I was really shocked when the next two features were about a drug addict and an alcoholic, both young males. The young addict, while high on drugs, had thrown himself out of a ten story window. His body lay broken on the sidewalk while people walked by as if it were an everyday incident. One young neighbor said, "Yeah, he was an addict, what do you expect?"

The last young man had also gone out a window. Whether it was suicide or an accident was unclear.

Five young men.


In one day.

This city is in a fight for itself and most people hardly notice. Young people are killing themselves with drugs and alcohol because they have no purpose to live any other way. It is in times like this that I realize how desperately important the drug rehab work of Cornerstone Church is. Because of the outreach to addicts and their families, lives are being changed. The church receives over 30 phone calls every day asking for help. Those who come and enter into the program have a great chance of becoming free from their addictions when they hear the Gospel and come to understand that they were created with a purpose, for a purpose to love and be loved by their Maker.

We are in a war here. We covet your prayers for both Karen and I and the Russian church that we serve.

Michael & Karen

A Living Addict
We came across this man on a walk one day

Drugs lie on the steps beside him

Saturday, July 12, 2008

We're Back

Actually we have been back in Nizhny Novgorod since late Tuesday night. We arrived by train at 11:10 PM after a 50 hour train ride from Achinsk, Siberia

We attended the annual Cornerstone Church conference. It was a great time as 1500 radical Russian believers gathered for a time of fellowship, worship and inspiration. Riding the train 50 hours each way is pretty tiring, but the conference was worth it. We loved being with so many young believers.

Karen with our friend Natasha - from Novosibirsk

At the opening of the conference the lead pastor asked everyone who had previously been a drug addict but was now clean and serving Jesus to stand. Over 80% of the congregation stood. We looked at these people in awe knowing that we were seeing over 1000 living miracles.

Some of the "Miracles"

The speakers were great, the worship times were awesome and we enjoyed the friendship and fellowship of some really wonderful people. Karen and I stayed in the home of Pastor Oleg, the 32 year old pastor of the Achinsk church. Oleg has been a believer for 7 years, coming to Christ after several years of drug addiction. He now pastors a church of over 400 people and the church operates three rehab centers and a center for homeless people. 2 years ago they purchased an old, nearly destroyed factory building and they are in the process of renovating it for their church building.
Our Young Friend
Pastor Oleg
on the platform in his church

The conference was actually held outdoors under a "tent" made of used vinyl advertising banners stretched over a metal and rough lumber framework. The church managed to find enough chairs, benches and other assorted seating for everyone. One businessman donated 500 new chairs to the church right before the conference.

The "Tent"

Worship Under the "Tent"

The weather was great everyday except for Saturday. We had several downpours and some high winds. At one point the rain was pouring through the roof, causing many to get wet and some of the equipment needed to be covered. We thought that we might have to move indoors, but the weather calmed a bit and the conference went on.

It's Difficult to See in the Photo
but Rain is Pouring into the Tent

Young Russians in the Worship Choir

Throughout the week we shared meals and fun times with old and new friends. We also received invitations to speak at several churches in central Russia in the fall.

Sharing a Meal
With Russian Pastors

This is Baked Sturgeon
A Russian Delicacy
It was served in honor of the Birthday of
Pastor Sergei
Apostolic Leader of the Cornerstone Movement

Some of Our Friends from Nizhny Novgorod
After the final church service on Sunday a group of us drove out to the river and enjoyed a picnic, Russian style and a delightful swim