A Great Big Thank you!
Paideia Missions returned from our most recent Russia ministry trip and we wanted to say thank you for your generous giving and prayer support. Please enjoy this journal-style report of all that the Lord accomplished!
April 29th, 2015…
After nearly 30 hours of travel our team of 16 made it safely to St. Petersburg. The night before we departed, we had our first team meeting in our home. Many of our group met for the first time and we were able to devote some time in prayer together. After a good night’s sleep we all met at Denver International Airport and made the long journey together. We were greeted in St. Petersburg by our dear friend Pastor Oleg who arranged transportation to St. Petersburg Christian University for us – the location of the conference and our resting spot for the first 6 days. There was much work to be done in the two days leading up to the conference such as stocking the kitchen, making name tags and folders for the attendees, setting up literally a ton of books at the book table, planning lunches for nearly 300 people and coordinating with our local team of conference planners. We had very little time to get over jet lag so the days seemed quite long and the nights way too short, but God was faithful to give us the strength we needed.
May 3rd, 2015…
Well , we survived the conference! Nearly 140 families attended and we were greatly blessed to hear encouraging feedback from countless people. There is such a felt need in this area for Christian curricula, teaching on family discipleship and child training – especially for the families of pastors as they greatly influence their flocks. Thankfully the children’s program went much more smoothly than last year as we had a great team of Russian mom’s who planned all the activities, crafts, lessons and snacks for each classroom. Many of our team members were in charge of the outdoor play time so they wore themselves out playing soccer, Frisbee and jump-rope each day! Although there was a definite language barrier, it seems there is an international communication that happens when you play with children! On Friday evening we had a meeting of pastors and leaders who are interested in forming a leadership team for future Family Discipleship Conferences in Russia. In a small basement room nearly 20 of us gathered and brainstormed ideas for the future of this ministry. It has been our deep desire to see a multi-denominational and sustainable vision realized for our ministry in Russia, and this meeting showed us that this is very possible. One of the biggest topics discussed was the relationship between such a ministry and the local church. Many of the Russians have seen the damage first-hand that is caused by an overemphasis on para-church ministries at the expense of the local traditional church. Much of our discussion was focused on how to form an inter-denominational ministry that would serve to build up the body of Christ and drive people to become accountable members of local churches. As a result of this conversation, we began to wonder if a future gathering of pastors in the area was the next step in building an organization that would provide the much needed support for home education and family discipleship resources in the area without compromising the very valuable position of the local church.
The next morning we enjoyed worshiping with the saints at, The Word of Truth, a local church and had a great meal with Boris, who was our main conference coordinator there in St. Petersburg. We are hoping to help him and his family come to America for a visit next summer as he has great potential to serve in a leadership position in the future. Tomorrow we will hop on a train to the city of Vyborg where we will meet one-on-one with many of the families whom we built a relationship with on our first trip to Russia in 2012. There is a large concentration of homeschooling families in Vyborg and they always provide us very valuable feedback for our ministry efforts.
May 8th, 2015…
I am writing from a bus on our way from Vladimir to Moscow. There is so very much I want to share with you about the events of the last five days. So many stories of God’s faithfulness to sanctify his people. Our last night in Vyborg was spent with about 50 people crammed in a house sharing their testimonies of God’s refining work in their lives and gaining a vision for generational faithfulness and family discipleship. At midnight we then boarded an eight hour overnight train from there to Moscow where we arrived at 9am and taught another seminar from 11-4 at Moscow Bible Church. We got a good night’s rest at the Eurasian Theological Seminary and boarded another train to Vladimir, which is an ancient ring city east of Moscow. The only problem is that we had trouble with the train tickets and as the train pulled away we saw three of our team members standing on the platform having missed the train! Thankfully, it was Phil Wilson – the only one of us who spoke a little Russian – and his two daughters. It was a bit stressful at first but later we even saw God bring good from all the confusion! Arriving in Vladimir we were met by our dear friend Marina, a single woman in her thirties, who serves in the church in countless ways. She also fosters a young boy named Ilya who was living in terrible conditions in an orphanage while both parents were in prison. She plans to care for him and homeschool him until his mother gets out (his father will not get out until he is an adult) then Marina will disciple his mother and teach her to parent Ilya. There is another older single woman in the Church that has done the same for three orphans and who also has led an anti-abortion ministry for the past ten years! They run a hostel for foreigners to support themselves. Both of these ladies, along with their homeschooling pastor, coordinated the seminar we taught and invited families from all over the region. We taught from 9-6 the next day and were so encouraged by how hungry these families were. Our team each shared personal testimonies with the group and cared for the children.
The next day we attended church with them and then split up into small groups to share dinner with various families. Scott and I visited with the pastor and his family and they shared very openly about the challenges their family has faced over the past year and the lack of teaching, mentoring and encouragement they receive. The church was a Wesleyan church planted by Americans 15 years ago but the first three pastors had medical emergencies with their wives and had to leave the country just after a year or two; so the ministry was turned over to Pastor Anton at the age of 26. He is now in his mid thirties with three children and shows tremendous maturity and has a clear vision for his family yet is starving for encouragement and resources. We were able to give them a whole suitcase of books and homeschooling materials in the Russian language and they were very grateful. We were so glad we came to invest in this church and pray God will return us there again someday.
May 11, 2016…
So now it is Monday and we fly out from Moscow to return home tomorrow. Our team has been stretched in every possible way – emotionally, relationally, spiritually, and physically. Our schedule for this trip has been more packed than any other trip and we have averaged 5-6 hours of sleep each night. But despite all this, there has been tremendous unity and growth. We have had great devotional times together and have a prayer card system of how we are lifting up each other in prayer. There have been many feisty ‘discussions’ among the team members which have regularly required exhortations on the use of our tongue, but it has been a privilege to see them process and communicate truth, especially in comparing the homeschool movement here with what we see in the States. Seven of the team members had never left America so you can imagine how stretching this has been for them! And there is no way we could have accomplished this without each one of them… From grocery shopping and food prep, to setting up book tables and sound equipment, to working with the kids programs, all of them have been a great blessing to us and the churches we have visited. We have come to realize that our ministry was not only to the Russian believers but also to one another on the team. We have found that living in a foreign culture provides countless opportunities to exhort and encourage each other towards righteousness!
What is in store for the future??
At every turn it seems the Lord is confirming the need for ongoing ministry in the area of family discipleship in local churches. We are praying about a short trip to St. Petersburg in the fall for just Scott and Andie to have a 2 day planning meeting for a 2016 Family Discipleship Conference, as well as a possible “leadership summit” for local pastors to help communicate the vision. We have met so many pastors who long to learn more about discipling and educating their own children, not to mention the sheep under their care. We are planning on hosting our annual 5K fundraiser at our home on Saturday, July 11th and would love for you to join us! We are also seeking regular, monthly supporters for Paideia Missions, so if that is something the Lord lays on your heart, please contact us.
Once again, thank you for your invaluable partnership with Paideia Missions and for all the financial gifts you contributed to make this trip a reality. It is truly an honor and privilege to labor beside you in the Kingdom of God!
Blessings in Jesus,
Scott, Andie and the Kiddos
www.PaideiaMissions.com || 720.236.2540 || firstname.lastname@example.org