For most who know me it should come as no surprise that I have a great passion for the land of Russia, in particular, the believers who are striving to grow in the Lord, share the radical life-changing power of the Gospel and raise Christ honoring churches where God gives them the ability.
Since 2000 I have had the privilege to go to Russia five times, serving and teaching in the cities of Kirovo-Chepetsk, Krasnodar and more recently Ufa which is in the Bashkortostan Oblast. Each time I teach pastors or preach in the churches I am totally amazed at the fact that God’s church is unique and one huge family. Oh, there may be some minor cultural differences, some contextualized vantage points about areas of doctrine and the odd traditional practice here and there, but behind all that is a body of believers who have been drawn by the grace of God into His family through the Gospel that came as a result of Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross.
Well, this week I will be traveling once again to Ufa with two other pastors, Bud Haskell from Hanford, CA and Henry Winkelman from Burney, CA. Now, in the past we have spent the lions share of our time teaching and training pastors, but this time we truly have our work cut out for us. Sadly the small group of approximately 1000 believers in Bashkortostan has suffered a significant schism. This division has taken place among the brothers with whom we spent hours ministering and teaching the Word. Our hearts are broken as we have a great love for all of them and for the church in that region.
This trip, therefore, is going to be different as we will be seeking to assess the conflict (division) and where necessary honor God by exercising Biblical Confrontation for the purpose of restoration. This will not be easy, but it is necessary. Much of this will not take place in a classroom, but around tables of tea and cookies, in homes, in banya’s and in the churches.
We covet your prayers and ask you to be praying specifically along these lines:
- Safety for our travel both to and from Russia and while we visit the many churches.
- Wisdom to assess the root causes of the division.
- Discernment to assess attitudes of the heart that are wandering from God’s Truth and embracing lies.
- Boldness to speak the Truth in love.
- Compassion for those who have been hurt by the conflict.
- Humility to not present ourselves as without conflict or idols of the heart.
- Endurance to labor for the Lord in a very difficult way.
- Joy as we go about His business.
- Conviction of sin on all who are involved.
- Encouragement as we strive to come along side those who are convicted from the Word.
At present I am sitting in the Domodedovo Airport in Moscow, Russia. Now, when I say “sitting” I mean ‘on the floor’ as I had to find power for my computer. But hey, it is great that I can get on-line. A little reminder, Domodedovo is where a Bomb went off a few months ago. The place is busy with people in heavy jackets and frowns on their faces bustling all over the place. God has given us a smooth ride so far, so I am thankful.
I will be keeping you updated.
Signing off on Thursday…ish…