Today was a great day. We continued to move about camp working with Russian students and interviewing them (Speed Dating). It is so interesting to see and hear all the answers that we have been getting. Today our questions focused on Dreams. The students had just studied Daniel 2 and Nebachanezzaer’s Dream. Many of the students had never heard this story before. They thought that it was very interesting that God would reveal this dream to Daniel proving that Daniels’s God was the one true God. The students are really beginning to understand what it means to stand true to our beliefs. We asked several students what they would sacrifice for a friend? Many of them said, “I would sacrifice everything but my faith”. This was very encouraging to hear. As the days go by, the gospel is being shared in bits and pieces. The camp staff wanted to slowly build relationships with the students and slowly work the Gospel into the teaching because so many have no church background that sharing the Gospel right from the start would have been overwhelming. Please continue to pray for our team and the students. Pray that we continue to find favor with the students and build relationships that are genuine and authentic. We want them to see Christ in us. Our actions and behavior are being watched more than our words. They think it is very strange that we would travel half way around the world to work with Russian students. When we tell them that we feel that God called us here, they see a real life connection of God working in the life of Daniel and his working in our lives by calling us to Russia. This has caused the Bible to become more relevant to them. Also pray for the students. There are 15 students from an orphanage here. They are hearing about God for the first time. Many of them were very cold and distant at first. They really have never felt loved. This camp and the staff have showered them with so much love they are beginning to see that they are lovable and worth loving. The last night of camp I will be preaching on God’s love for us and how unique we are. This will tie into a very clear and intense presentation of the Gospel. Please be praying that I will be clear and bold as I share this great story of God’s love and redemption. In 2010, all the students from the orphanage accepted Christ by the end of the camp. Pray that we will see the same results this year.
One of the neatest experiences of our trip is the transformation that I have seen in my daughter Emily’s life. She has really blossomed. She has come out of her shell. She is for the first time initiating contact with students and other American and British leaders. She is getting great joy out of helping the Russian students learn English. She is beginning to exercise her Spiritual Gifts in a new way. I believe that this will be a trip that will shape her life and ministry for the rest of her life. It has been a great honor to minister with her. She is not just my daughter, she is a partner in ministry. I am very confident that God will use her in a might way for the kingdom in years to come. It really makes me proud to she her blossom not only as my daughter but as her Youth Pastor. I love her so much and can not wait to see what God has in store for her in the future.
Our team has really grown closer over the past 6 days. We have gotten to know each other better and also shared in the experience of seeing God work in the lives of everyone at camp. I believe that God has also worked in our lives individually as well. We each have heard from God in different ways and through different experiences. This trip will shape our team and how we approach ministry at TBC in the future. This will be a trip that we will never forget.
This camp is really a great example of a local church being Missional. The church that started this camp is a Baptist church in the heart of Moscow. The word “Baptist” has bad connotations in Russia. Baptists are thought to be a cult. The fact that Baptists are Evangelical is contrary to the teaching of the Russian Orthodox Church, but that did not stop Edward and Sveta from planting this church in 2003. The name of the church is Reconciliation Church. They do not even want to use Baptist in the title of their church. The vision for the church and camp was to take the message of Christ to the city of Moscow and reach into areas unpenitratted by the church. They strategically look for ways to be the “church” in the community in which they are planted. The are practicing Incarnational Ministry in a city where only 1% of the population attends church. Church and the Bible are not considered to be relevant to a people who have just recently had the freedom to hear the Gospel. Missionaries first came to Moscow in 1990 after communism fell. They are just now beginning to see fruit 23 years later. This is the first generation to hear the Gospel. It is very critical that they pass the message on to future generations for the Gospel to remain alive in Russia for future generations to enjoy. It is very tough but rewarding work. Russian people, especially this generation (teenagers) are hungry for the truth. They really want to believe in something bigger than themselves, but they must see it lived out. Teenagers in Russia and America are very similar. They are both are part of the “show me” generation. They want to see that Christianity is real and works before they choose to follow Christ. Being real and authentic is the best way to communicate the Gospel both to Russian and American Students. Relational Apologetics is the BEST and ONLY way to make an impact in this generation. In the US, we are only one generation away for the Gospel dying out. The same is true in Russia. We must make the most of the time we have now. We can not wait. Time is not on our side.
My challenge to you is to be “salt” and “light” where you are planted. We must daily live out our faith in front of those we work with, go to school with, or hang out with. We MUST be real and authentic. Are you being “salt” in your community? Are you “light” in the place where you are planted? If not, why? If we fail this generation, our grandchildren and great grandchildren will pay the price. Just as our descendants will be paying off our huge National Debt, they will also being paying for our sins and unwillingness to pave the way for the truth of God to be preserved and passed down. Are we willing to let future generations perish? Are we willing to let the Gospel die because we are lazy and selfish? The future depends on us. We must carry the mantle of the truth and hold it high for all to see. Then we must be able to pass it on to the next generation. We must train them to be witnesses of the truth and love of God. So lets not let them down. Take some time this week and purposely and strategically find a way to live out your faith in your community.
I am very interested in what you think about this analysis of our world and this generation. Please comment on this blog post. I would love to discuss and hear your ideas on this subject. God Bless and more updates will follow in the days to come. Thank again for your prayers, support, and love!!!
Russia Mission Team