Hello Dear Friends…
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 9 and taught another seminar from 11-4. 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 speaks 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 there that has done the same for three orphans and who also has done an anti-abortion ministry there 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 crises with their wives and had to leave the country just after a year of 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 in Russian 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.
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 require exhortations on the use of our tongue often 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 hear the weather has been terrible while we have been gone, which is crazy as it is 70 degrees and beautiful here! All the tulips and trees are in bloom and we are wearing T-shirts! Thank you all for your prayers and support and we sure look forward to seeing each of you when we return!
Blessings in Jesus,
Andie for the team