We had a full schedule planned where we were to present a marriage seminar in the city of
Our trip began with an overnight train to
From the airport we continued by car, about 300 kilometers further east, to the city of
Pastor Zhenya and his wife
Karen and I had three exciting days in Sharipova. Every evening we taught a seminar about building “Foundations for a Healthy Marriage”. The Sharipova church is small, less than 30 people, so we were surprised and pleased that 40+ people came out every night for the seminar, many of them unbelievers.
First Evening of the Seminar
Teaching with our Interpreter, Valentina
she was very nervous, having never worked with an American before
On our second day in Sharipova we were interviewed by the local TV station and they ran a 2.5 minute spot on us that evening on the local news! On the last evening Karen and I spent over two hours praying for people individually at the conclusion of the seminar.
We were hugely impressed with this new church and its pastor Zhenya. In a very decrepit shell of an apartment building that lacks doors and most of its windows, the church has a youth ministry. The city allows the church to use two rooms that have heat and electricity.
This is the Building - like a destroyed housing project
Our apology for the poor picture it was taken at midnight
This small church remodeled these rooms and here they have a large children and youth ministry to the poorest of the poor in a poverty stricken city. Most of these children come from broken families with addicted or absent parents. Some of the young girls are being pimped as prostitutes. The church holds youth services, Sunday School, after school fun programs and provides food for kids who never get enough to eat.
Youth Rooms the Church has remodled
Kids do crafts and eat here
Pastor Zhenya wants to hold a summer camp next year for these kids. The church could use ten tents. Pastor Zhenya didn’t ask for our help, but if you would be interested in providing a tent or two let us know. They can be purchased here for about $75.00 - $100.00.
On to Achinsk
We left Sharipova on Saturday morning and drove to Achinsk were I preached in two services on Sunday. The Achinsk church is large and has two services with a total attendance of almost 600 people. Despite being sick with food poisoning, and losing my place in my notes, the Holy Spirit moved and ten people repented that morning, some of them weeping as they prayed and asked Jesus to be their Lord.
Preaching in Achinsk
I was really sick
Signing Bibles for Teens after the service
Before the national conference began on Thursday,we attended a gathering of Russian leaders at a hostel outside the city for two nights. It was a fun time of relationship building and some teaching. We all went to the banya, and we had a large cookout Wednesday evening.
With Pastor Oleg from Achinsk
He is a former drug addict who now leads a 450+ person church
Karen with Russian friends
Russian Pastors - all former drug addicts
More Pastors & Leaders
On Thursday we returned to the city for the start of the annual conference. The conference was attended by over 1500 young Russian believers. The first night pastor Oleg asked everyone who had once been a drug addict or alcoholic to stand up. About 1400 people stood to their feet! The atmosphere was charged with excitement and joy as they have had their lives dramatically changed by the Gospel.
At the Conference
The blue tint is from the plastic roof on the pavillion
Friday and Saturday were conference days. We had times of really wonderful worship and the teaching and preaching sessions were great. Karen and I were pleased when one of the pastors, who was from
Saturday afternoon we said our goodbyes in Achinsk and drove 4.5 hours west with another young couple to the city of
Lena and Maxim
We drove with them to Tomsk
Tomsk City Limits
While there we attended two church services and ministered in two of the church rehab centers. The Tomsk Cornerstone church is the first church that was planted out of Achinsk ten years ago and today the church is more than 650 people. The church publishes a monthly magazine, hosts a radio program and has many other ministries as well as over 100 house groups meeting during the week.
Sunday Church Service, Tomsk
People who responded to call for Repentance
Our friend, Pastor Oleg Tikonovf
Fromer drug addict and criminal - now leads a 650 member church
With our friend Alonya - City Center - Tomsk
This building houses recovering addicts and homeless people
This Building is being slowly built out - for offices and rehab ministry
The church has plans for a 2000 seat auditorium on this property
Karen with sisters at the prison halfway house operated by the church
Here we are with the entire group of former prison inmates
They now have hope for a better life -
Thanks to Jesus Christ and a church who cares about them
1:00 AM Tuesday morning we were taken by car 100 kilometers to a train station were we caught a 4:00 AM train to
Brothers and Sisters
at the Krasnoyarsk rehab center
The smaller brick building in the center
houses the Krasnoyarsk rehab minsitry
Early the next morning we headed to the airport for our long trip home and after traveling nearly 3000 miles in 18 hours we made it back to Nizhny. We were tired but, pleased with the great things that God had done. Despite the length of this post we could tell many more wonderful things that happened on this trip, but those stories will have to wait for another time.