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Thursday, November 10, 2011

New England Update

We have been in New Hampshire for the last three days. We are enjoying spending time with family and friends.  It has been ajoy to see eight of our nine grandchildren.  Soon we will also see our ninth as all of our children and grandchildren with be with us to celebrate Thanksgiving.

The New England weather has been glorious since we arrived. The temperatures are in the low 40s at night and mid 60s during the day.  Even so late in the season the fall foliage and colors are beautiful.  New England is such a great part of the country.

Tomorrow we drive north to Breton Woods New Hampshire. We will be attending the Northeast District conference of Foursquare churches.  We are looking forward to this time with co-workers in the Gospel.  On Sunday we will be speaking at Harvest Christian Fellowship, in Berlin New Hampshire.

Time is moving quickly. In just three weeks we will be back in Russia among our many friends once again.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Our Latest Newsletter - November 2011

November 2011 Newsletter

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Siberian Ministry Trip Update and Summary

We have been back in our home in Nizhny Novgorod for several days now.  We had 1.5 days of  rest.  Tonight and tomorrow we teach in 4 different rehab centers. Next week we travel to the United States. We will be there three weeks, attending a conference and preaching in at least 3 churches.

We thought that we should give brief summary of our 15 day trip to Siberia. We don’t do this to say “look at what we have done,” but rather to give glory to Christ and be accountable to those who support us.

  • We traveled 4350 miles by plane
  • 1200 miles by car (Sometimes very fast)
  • We spoke 31 separate times – often for as much as 3 hours at time
  • We preached in 7 churches
  • We taught for 1 week in a missionary school
  • We taught two days in a Bible School
  • We preached in 11 rehab centers
  • At least 37 people publicly claimed Christ as their Savior
  • We prayed for and counseled dozens of people
We also received invitations to return to Siberia after the New Year to present two Marriage and Family Seminars, and to preach in many churches.

Thank you to everyone who prays for or financially supports us. We could not do this work without your partnership.

Morning Church Service, Achinsk Russia
Church of Praise
11 People repented and followed Christ that morning

Homeless Center, Achinsk Russia

Rehab Center, Nazarovo, Russia

First Snowfall

Prison Rehab Achinsk, Russia

Drug Rehab Center Achinsk, Russia

70 MPH down an icy highway.
When it was dry the driver would go as much as 95mph

Church program to feed the homeless
They also provide homes and rehab for those who choose to leave the street

Church Building - Bogotol, Russia
This church also operates a rehab center

Sunday Morning Church Service
Nazarovo, Russia
3 people claimed Christ as Savior that morning

Thursday, October 27, 2011

We Are Foursquare

This past Saturday, October 22, we completed seven days of ministry in the city of Novosibirsk. During those days we preached or taught 14 times, usually ministering 10-12 hours each day. We had the joy of teaching a group of 60 young men and women who are training to plant churches across Russia. We saw 15 people pray public prayers of repentance, and we prayed for healing for many people and counseled others. During the last session of Bible school men and women began to weep while listening to a message of forgiveness and healing from anger and bitterness. The Spirit of God has been powerfully in evidence during this time. We take no credit for this. It is the Spirit of God who is doing the work here.

After our last teaching session at the Novosibirsk Bible School we made a 6 hour trip by car to the city of Acino in the Tomsk region of Siberia. That evening we attended a gathering of Russian missionaries and leaders. We were also part of a small contingent of international missionaries in attendance, including one from Norway and one from Cameroon. On Sunday, Oct 23, Michael preached at the Acino Cornerstone church. This congregation was celebrating their tenth anniversary. The church is not large. There were about 60 people in attendance this day. When Michael called for those who would make a decision to publicly follow Christ ten people responded. It was a wonderful sight.
 In the Acino church
This cow was right outside the church.

Later in the day we went to the local rehabilitation center to minister. Before the teaching we had a time of singing and worship and the Holy Spirit moved in a powerful way. There was a call to pray for anyone who might have aids, hepatitis, or cirrhosis. All sixteen of the men who were present came forward for prayer and we prayed for each one. The teaching time was powerful as well. The Gospel message was given and you could see that these men were beginning to grasp the simple power of the Gospel.
 Prayer for the brothers for healing

From Acino we traveled 5 hours by car to the city of Kolpashovo. We ministered for 2.5 days in Kolpashovo, preaching at the church two times and at the local drug rehabilitation one time. We also visited several homes and prayed with the families. During our time in Kolpashovo we saw four people publicly repent and decide to follow Christ.

Karen speaking to leaders, and our co-worker Paulina

Praying for this family in their home

A small weekday evening gathering in the church in Kolpashovo

After leaving Kolpashovo we stopped in the small city of Krivosheino and spent several hours sharing a meal and fellowship with the small church there.

House church in Krivosheino

Last night we arrived in Tomsk, where we spent the night. In just a few hours we will leave by car for the 5 hour drive to Achinsk. We will spend the next four days in ministry in the Achinsk region. During that time we will speak in two churches and several rehab centers.

We covet your prayers as we travel and minister. Please pray that the Spirit of God ministers through us. Pray for safety as we travel the Russian roads. Also we ask that you pray for our finances. In January we will be losing one of our largest sources of funding. We will need to replace $450.00 in support per month. We trust God for this. We know that our time in Russia is not at its end. We believe that where God leads, He provides.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy

We have been in the city of Novosibirsk for 1 week and it has been a very busy week indeed. Every day we have been teaching a group of 60 Russian missionaries. These precious brothers and sisters are members of 18 teams who will go to Russian cities and begin new churches in the spring.

We love these young people. They are true faith missionaries. They will go to their target cities, find part time work and at the same time begin evangelizing. One year from now there will be 16-18 new churches reaching Russia for the Gospel! We are privileged to be a small part of their training.

We also have been teaching in the rehabilitation centers in Novosibirsk. Several of them are actually far from the city and it takes two hours by car to reach them them. Yesterday we drove for one hour on a mud road, slipping and sliding our way to a rehabilitation center.

On Wednesday Karen taught at one of the centers while I was able to go to the banya with a bunch of guys. Karen received her reward later that night when we were taken to the Novosibirsk Theater and saw a beautiful ballet. It was really a wonderful experience. Tonight and tomorrow we teach for a total of 5 hours in a local Bible school. Afterwards we will be on the road again to the Tomsk Region. In Tomsk we will speak 6 or 8 times in 5 days. We will preach in at least three churches, two rehabs and at another gathering of Russian missionaries. From Tomsk we will go to the Achinsk region and once more we will be speaking in two churches, several rehab centers and perhaps a Bible school.

We covet your prayers.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Holy Spirit ministry in Siberia

We are currently in the city of Novosibirsk, which is the largest city, and in many ways, the capitol city of the Siberian region of Russia. It is a city of more than 2 million people. There are few churches for such a large city, perhaps 25 in total. We are here to teach in the missionary school and preach in Cornerstone Church of Novosibirsk.

On Sunday October 16 we participated in the Sunday morning gathering where there were nearly 550 people present. The church has many young families with children. This is always delightful to see. In most Russian Protestant churches the children are brought to the front of the hall and prayed for before they are dismissed to the children’s meeting.

The church also has a really talented worship team. We enjoyed the time of song and praise very much.

Pastor Vasily Dotsenko led the service. Vasily is a former drug addict and criminal who came to Christ about 10 years ago. Today he is a powerful, but gentle leader.

His beautiful wife, Natalia, is the worship leader and is our friend and co-worker as she helps us with our translation needs. Michael had the privilege of preaching in the morning service.

It was an interesting time. The Holy Spirit moved in a quiet but powerful way. The message was very simple. The Scripture text was Luke 6:6-11. Michael asked that each of us put ourselves into this story. Each of us is like the man with the damaged hand in the story. Something in each of our lives is broken. Most of us live with shame, anger, bitterness and woundedness, however, just as Jesus met this man and made him whole, Jesus wants to meet us at our place of brokenness and He wants to restore our lives and make us whole. As the message began to draw to a close there was a real presence of the Holy Spirit in the hall. People began to weep as they realized that Jesus was truly there to bring wholeness into their lives.

In the Scripture passage Jesus ask the man to “Stand, come here, and stretch out your hand.” When the man did so Jesus made him whole. Michael asked everyone in the hall to do the same. Stand, raise their hands and ask Jesus to heal the broken places in their lives. It was a powerful moment. The Holy Spirit was present in a very real way. People were being touched and we believe that God did a healing work in many lives. Michael then called for those who had never publicly proclaimed Christ as Lord and Savior to come forward and do so. Nine people came publicly to repent and make a decision to simply follow Jesus. One young man was weeping openly as he gave himself over to the Lordship of Christ.

It was a wonderful, powerful, miraculous morning! Christ was glorified and people met the Risen Christ! The next day we heard many people testify to the fact that Christ touched their lives through this simple Gospel message.

Romans 1:16a For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Our Monthly Newsletter

October 2011 Newsletter

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Baptisms, Bibles and Babushkas


Today the three area Cornerstone Churches held a joint water baptism service. It was held outside the city in a sanatorium, or a "rest house".  A sanatorium is certainly not a resort, but it is a place to go relax and get away from things for a while.  This sanatorium has a large indoor pool so it was an ideal place to hold a large baptismal service.  A large place was need because nearly 50 people were being baptized!  Last week both Karen and I taught on the subject of water baptism in the churches.  Because  we both participated in the actual baptisms we have no pictures, but here are two photos of the teaching.  Karen baptized many of the women, and I baptized guys from several rehab centers.

The Baptismal Candidates.
 Almost everyone in this photo has been an addict, a criminal or homeless, or a combination of these.  The Cornerstone Church Movement does a great job reaching, discipling and releasing these men and women.  Many of them will either serve in a local church, minister in a rehab center or homeless shelter or join a team to plant new churches.

 Pastor Dmitry Zaborski
Teaching on the meaning of water baptism.
 Dmitry was part of a team which planted this church 6 years ago.  He is now the senior pastor.  8 new churches have been planted from this congregation and at least 100 leaders have been trained and released into ministry.  All of this and Dmitry is only 32 years old! We are honored that he calls us his friends and has asked us to work alongside him.

After the baptism we all shared a meal together.  It was wonderful to see the men and women from the Homeless centers.  Many of them have not been in a setting like this for many years.  They lived on the streets, ate garbage, and lived under buildings and in holes in the ground.  Today they sat at clean tables, enjoyed good food and were treated with real respect.  For many of them this is an awesome experience!


As we were leaving to go home we were walking to our car with a group of young leaders.  We could see them discussing something among themselves and finally one asked, "Karen, could you guys help us get some Bibles for the rehab center, we really need them."  We were happy to tell them that we had a box of about 40 Bibles in the car with us, and that they could have as many as they needed.  They were really happy to hear this.  The main church rehab center has a bunch of new people and consequently there was shortage of Bibles.  They took 16 Bibles and thanked us over and over again.  We would like to say "thank you" to our American supporters who helped us purchase these Bibles.  In December we will make another purchase of Bibles thanks to a $400 donation from one of our supporting churches.  There is a continual need to buy Bibles.  We could easily distribute 100 or 200 every month.

The team with the Bibles


On the drive home we decided to stop at a small grocery store to buy ice cream bars.  Seated on the steps of the store were 4 older ladies and a girl selling their garden produce and mushrooms that had been hand gathered in the forest.  I hopped out of my car with the camera because this is such a classic Russian site. Michael strode over to them and proceeded to charm them by talking to them.  Of course their objective was to sell something so as soon as he bent forward to pat one of the cats sitting in the center of the photo they announced that everything was for sale.  They would even be willing to sell him the 2 stray cats if he wanted them!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A day of testing aka Character Development

This past Sunday Michael and I went our separate ways to preach in two different churches.  Michael stayed in Nizhny Novgorod to preach in Cornerstone Church and I went to Gorodetz to preach in that Cornerstone church.  There was a conference in Moscow for Russian pastors and so we were asked to cover the churches while the pastors went to get refreshed.

We were both preaching on the subject of baptism because this coming Saturday both churches will come together for a baptism celebration in the olympic swimming pool of a resort.  “Resort” is somewhat of a euphemism for this place, but it was the only English word I could think of to describe it.  More about this will be coming in the next story.

It was a day of testing for me.  I enjoy teaching, but I am not a preacher.  My choice would be to turn down any invitation to preach, but I have told the Lord that if ever I am asked I will receive it as His request and do it in obedience.  That said, and sounding so very spiritual, I have to say that it is intensely uncomfortable for me and my self doubting goes wild.

The resistance to my task began before I left home.  Michael’s and my relationship, normally placid and peaceful, flared up into barking at each other. I don’t even remember what it was about.  Then, when I went out to the car it would not start.  The ignition was locked and the key would not turn.  Jogging the steering wheel is always enough to unlock the key, but of course, not this time.  It took 5 or 6 tries before it worked with each unsuccessful try causing my tension level to go up.

When driving to Gorodets there is only one, two lane bridge to cross the river and in regular traffic it can take up to an hour just to get across.  On any given Sunday though, traffic is light around the city so I estimated the time it would take to get to church accordingly, including the bridge crossing.  My plan was to arrive at church with my interpreter 15-20 minutes before the service started.  As expected, traffic was light and I breezed across the city to the bridge only to find that the police had stopped all outgoing traffic across the bridge. YIKES!  We sat without moving an inch.  In fact when this happens everyone stops their engines and gets out of their cars for a smoke.  After the longest ten minutes of my life I was just feeling the first pangs of nausea when I saw people getting back into their cars and starting them up again.  Very slowly we crawled the final kilometer to the bridge and then across.  The final trial on the drive came when we had to cross a double train track and had to wait in line for two trains before we could cross and continue on our way.

From that point on the road was clear, but we were still a little less than half way.   We arrived at exactly 11:05 AM.  Everyone was there and waiting for us. 

reading from a selected scripture

"Baptizing" a piece of cloth

The old has past away, behold the new has come

The service was good despite my inner turmoil and those who will be baptized this coming Saturday seemed to listen intently. They liked my object lesson.  When I ‘baptized’ a piece of white cotton cloth into grape juice they were able to visualize how our identity is changed, not by an outward action, but by Christ in us, indelibly changing our identity by His grace.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Another Wedding

On Friday September 23 we attended the wedding of our friends Mikael and Tatiana.  

Mikael is a new believer who came to Christ eight months ago when he entered the drug rehabilitation program.  We have been watching him grow in his new found faith for all those months.  He and his bride, Tatiana, had a long relationship together.  Once Mikael came to Christ Tatiana followed, and began serving in the church.  They decided to marry and legalize their relationship when Mikael graduated from the rehab course.   We were honored when they asked us to take part in the wedding and the party afterwards.

Here are a few of the photos that we took that day.

The Bride, Tatiana

Guests Arriving for the Wedding

The Wedding Car
with traditional decorations

Mikael and Tatiana

Exchanging Rings

You May Now Kiss the Bride

Communion Together as a Couple

The New Couple with Family


At the rehab center waiting for the Wedding Party to arrive

Karen and our Co-worker Sveta

Here They Come! 

Cutting the Ribbon In Order To Be Allowed To Enter

Part of Russian tradition is a fun game where the groom has to "purchase" his bride.  This takes place before the wedding.  Mikael did this, but after the ceremony we all went to the rehab center to allow the rehabilitants to join in some of the fun and, with a twist on the game, Tatiana had to "purchase" her husband from the center where he has been living.  This was done by laying paper foot prints up the long, entrance staircase.  Under each footprint (2 on each step) was printed a number or a letter.  She got to choose one footprint from each step and if it had a number she had to pay that many rubles to the center.  Her final debt was 100 rubles (about $3). There was a lot of laughter and fun.

Some of the Young Women Prepared a Skit and a Song

After the rehab center we all drove to a local river where many wedding parties go for photos. 

We counted 8 different wedding parties while we were there and more kept coming as we drove away

Mikael and Tatiana on the footbridge
Some of the Guys with Pastor Oleg (Pastor O 3rd from the left)

After pictures at the river we went to a restaurant for the Wedding Banquet
Here is the Couple as They Enter

A Traditional greeting of bread and salt is presented by the parents as a symbol of health, prosperity and long life. Both bride and groom must take a bite of the bread and the one that takes the largest bite will be the head of the family!

Let's Eat!