Lessons Learned

A friend, Shannon Taylor, recently posted an item that is a great encouragement to people who are leaving their home country to serve in Christian ministry:

Seven Years Later…

Today marks seven years from August 1, 2006, the day I boarded a plane and moved to Asia. What a ride it’s been – full of growth, challenges, adventures, tears and joys I never would have imagined! Recently I was asked for some advice by a young woman considering going into full-time missions. That got me thinking. So to commemorate seven years, here are 10 important lessons I’ve learned along the way.

1. BE FLEXIBLE. One can’t say enough about this when living cross-culturally in places where the western values of planning and preparedness don’t always reign. And it’s especially important in a developing country where politics is crazy, city-wide strikes are common, and you may or may not have electricity or water (which isn’t clean even when you do have it) at any given time.

2. LAUGH EASILY & OFTEN – ESPECIALLY AT YOURSELF. If you can’t do this, you’re gonna end up crying far too often… like when you accidentally say something really embarrassing when trying to speak in a foreign language, or when you have absolutely no idea what people around you are talking about, or when there’s no room on the bus and the driver tells you unkindly to climb on the roof, or when you’ve forgotten to bring your own toilet paper into the asphyxiatingly stinky squatty potty during a power outage (keep in mind frequent GI issues in such countries), and the candle inside goes out and it’s pitch black and there’s no water to flush or wash your hands (true story). Continue reading

The Purpose of Scripture

Recently sent by a friend —

Our deeply held conviction is that everything in Scripture is for the purpose of bringing us into a deeper and closer relationship with the Lord, so that we may truly know Him and be conformed to His image and that He may truly know us, as He indicates to be so essential in Matthew 7 and as Paul says in Galatians.

The goal on every level is to surrender completely to Him, so that His lordship may be complete.

This is the purpose of all the truths of God’s Word.

The problem for many Christians over the ages has often been that Scripture has been interpreted in a way that nullifies the purpose of our obedience to Him and to His Word. Continue reading

Roman Kurshonkov: I simply fell in love with Jesus

Here is another testimony of a young man from our church in St. Petersburg, Street Cry:

Roman is 31 and a second year student in our school of ministry. He plays drums on our worship team and participates as a drummer and a passionate evangelist in a couple other Christian bands doing evangelism concerts in clubs and on the streets of St. Petersburg and other cities. Here is his story:

“I was 15 years old when a music group started forming in my high school and I asked to be a part. No one could really play an instrument but we all had a lot of zeal and a great passion for learning. That sufficed. As probably does every musician each one of us wanted to become popular and famous, have money and fans, especially if they are girls.

At the same time, we had a more noble motivation, at least I did. I felt that there is power in music and it influences the hearts of people. I wanted to bring people joy, love… So one of us could play guitar – just a couple chords, the other studied bass. Honestly speaking, I really wanted to be a lead guitar player in our band but I was asked to be a drummer and so I agreed. Continue reading

God’s Love in Action

Olga and I have three young ladies from our church staying with us, Zhenya, Anna and Natasha.  I’ll post some pictures of our ‘new family’ soon.  Natasha works at Crimson Sails, a Christian children’s shelter.  Here’s one story of the way the Lord uses His people to save the lost. This is from Street Cry’s update

Dasha (in the photo at left) was sent to this Christian shelter by her district police station officer.

Her alcoholic mom’s alcoholic boyfriend attacked Dasha with a knife.  She managed to escape almost without injuries with her grandmother’s assistance. With no time to even get dressed properly, and without a coat or boots, this young child ran through the snow and frost to the police for help.

As the police inspected Dasha’s home, they found a destroyed apartment, with almost everything sold in order to buy alcohol.  There was no food and not only Dasha did not have a desk to do her school homework but she did not even have a bed where she could sleep.  The court case began by denying Dasha’s mom parental rights.  While the case proceeded, Dasha was placed in the Christian shelter.

Very soon, she received Jesus and began attending Sunday school at our church.

Continue reading

The Face in the Mirror

More from Liz Hulley

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.

James 1:23, 24 (NIV)

This verse came to shouted at me one morning recently as I finished up my Bible reading.  The cares of the world were already infiltrating my thoughts, and I felt as though I had been studying the Word in vain.  I had to approach the Lord all over again and ask for forgiveness.

What does it mean to forget what one looks like?

It’s absurd.  The only time I didn’t recognize myself was after I got contacts and looked at myself in the mirror the first time.  I had only seen myself in glasses for most of my life.  I think one would have to be literally blind to not know oneself.

It’s sad.  Being uncertain about one’s identity can be heart-wrenching.

It’s careless.  I am not promoting vanity here, but not being familiar with one’s appearance may say something about character.  Maybe it’s a lack of organization, lack of attention, or lack of purpose.

I believe that the Living Word often works in our hearts undetected.  We don’t always experience an emotional or otherwise conscious reaction.  Yet when we test our hearts, I believe we will find evidence as to whether or not the Word has taken hold.

The passage in James is talking about action.  Good deeds testify about one’s faith.  We could also talk about bearing fruit.  But there are also simple commands in the Bible such as casting all our cares upon Him.  Surely this also is an act of obedience, and a starting point for other acts of faith.  If I can’t emerge from my prayer closet with an attitude of trust, perhaps I haven’t paid attention very well to what I’ve just read in the Bible.

Arkady Ledkov

Here is some news from our church, Street Cry, about one of our members —

Arkady Ledkov (photo on left) has been part of our church, ministry and staff for a number of years.  Several months ago we sent him out with the laying on of hands to reach the people of his ancestry.

Arkady was born in a small Nenets (a national minority) village of Karataika in the Arkhangelsk region – the far North of Russia beyond the Polar circle.  His people are nomads, their main trades are still reindeer herding and fishing.

Nothing edible grows up there except for wild berries and mushrooms.  The villages are isolated from civilization – there are no roads to reach them. Continue reading

Words of Truth

Olga and I have been considering new opportunities in Estonia, and a friend in the US, who will move to Russia soon with her family, sent the following note.  We are blessed to have friends who consider so deeply the things of God and share them so freely to encourage us.

I’m not sure these thoughts will be of relevance for you guys, but it’s what I have to offer!   Continue reading