As I reflect on the recent conference in Samara, Russia, that Paul Washer and I attended, I am thankful for God’s faithfulness. It is evident that the Lord’s hand is upon the church and training center there and that He was also at work during our week-long trip. The first three days were devoted to an annual youth conference, followed by a day of meeting with the HeartCry missionaries. The trip concluded with two full days of training students and pastors. In total, Brother Paul preached over twenty times. The Lord answered many prayers. There were no major obstacles, and the entire trip went exceptionally well. Thank you to all who prayed on our behalf!
The youth conference was reported to be their largest yet, with over 700 people from all over Russia attending. This is quite uncommon for the Evangelical community in Russia, and it came as a surprise to many. For three days, Paul centered his preaching around the theme of “Understanding the Gospel,” and he was able to answer several good questions from the youth. There were many reports of people being convicted of their sin and confronted with a biblical understanding of who God is for the first time. As a result, people turned to Christ alone for salvation. Glory to God! Also, many believers testified that their faith was strengthened and their love for the Gospel of Jesus Christ deepened as a result of the preaching.
HeartCry currently supports six men through the Samara Center for Biblical Training (SCBT). They were all present for the conference, and we were able to meet with each of them. It was a great encouragement to talk, pray, and fellowship with these men. All of them are SCBT graduates who have been sent throughout Russia and Kazakhstan to plant churches and proclaim Christ.
We continue to be impressed with SCBT’s high level of training, coupled with their ability to truly hold these men accountable with regard to both their lives and doctrine. Furthermore, all training is done through the local church – Transfiguration Church. At SCBT, the missionaries are taught Greek, Hebrew, hermeneutics, expository preaching, and biblical counseling. The goal is not to churn out big-brained theologians who are detached from the church, but to raise up and adequately train pastors to better know and love God, His church, and the lost.
Perhaps the most blessed time of the entire trip was the last two days, which were devoted entirely to training the SCBT students as well as many pastors from the surrounding areas. Altogether there were about one hundred men present for the training, in which Brother Paul focused his teaching on personal prayer, communion with God, and the minister’s life. This was a special time as the Lord drew near and made His presence felt among us. Brother Paul mentioned feeling especially helped in his teaching, and most of the men were greatly impacted.
Even though the trip was very brief, I glorify God that it was fruitful, and I trust that it will prove to have made an impact in His Kingdom for eternity. Pray for those who put their trust in Christ alone for salvation at the conference. Pray also for the missionaries whom HeartCry supports through SCBT. Finally, pray for the students and pastors who were at the training – that their living, preaching, and praying might reflect their sincere imitation of Christ.
At the beginning of December of 2013, HeartCry began supporting a new missionary in Eurasia – Alexey P. This brings the total number of missionaries that we support in Eurasia to fourteen. Alexey ministers in European Russia, specifically in the city of St. Petersburg. He is a graduate of SCBT and was sent out from his home church in Penza (west of Samara). He and his family have accepted a request by a small group of believers in St. Petersburg to plant a church. With a population of 10 million people, St. Petersburg is the second largest city in Russia; and the need for Bible-centered, Christ-exalting churches there is enormous. Alexey began his church-planting efforts in the fall of 2013.
During our time in Samara, Brother Paul and I had the privilege of meeting with Alexey and his family. According to the leadership of SCBT, he is a wonderfully gifted brother, who graduated at the top of his class. In our meeting with him, we were encouraged by his humility and his love for people. You can read more about Alexey P. on the HeartCry website.
by Dimitry R.
Transparency and Desire to be More Like Jesus
The following update from Dimitry R. is both encouraging and transparent. Here is a Russian pastor who genuinely desires to be further conformed into the image of Christ and is willing to share his struggles because he understands the necessity and power of others praying for him. Please read Dimitry's report and pray for the requests of our brother.
Peace to you dear mission servants! A new year has come, and the coming of our Lord is approaching. I decided to search my heart more diligently this year, to get rid of anything that is not pleasing to the Lord Jesus. Other than that, everything is the same – I am preaching on the third chapter of the Gospel of Mark, and we are finishing the Epistle of James in our small group. We have particularly enjoyed our study of James. By God’s grace, we have started noticing things that need to be changed in us. All of us are tempted today in the same way that the people in this letter were. As a result, the brothers and sisters have been sharing how God works in their hearts and teaches them to apply the Word in their lives. It makes me glad! In this letter though, I would like to share with you how the Lord is working in my own heart and ask you to pray for me.
Last Sunday, we had a young married couple come to our service. They came earlier than many members of the church. I came up to them to introduce myself. To my surprise, they said they had found out about the church from the internet and decided to come and visit. They explained how they were not Christians but wanted to attend a “lecture” of such kind. Also, they were expecting to see a lot of people. I answered some of their questions and told them about the service we were about to have. Unfortunately, many members of our church had not yet come and were running late. I felt discouraged, and deep down I started condemning my brothers and sisters for taking our service so lightly and for not being responsible enough to be on time. I immediately felt I was doing something wrong.
When we got done reading the Word of God and were about to pray, I felt that my grudge was not going away, and I knew it was really bad. I started asking the Lord to show me the true reason why I felt so upset. I realized that I could not preach until the issue was resolved in my heart. In just a few moments, it became clear to me. The true reason for my discouragement was my desire to look better and more successful than I really was – I wanted the glory. I repented and asked the Lord to help me avoid having the same problem during the sermon, but I still felt ashamed. As a result, I decided to confess before the church, which was fully assembled by then. The Lord gave me grace to tell them how I felt and how I sinned against them. Then we all prayed about our sins and our secret desires to worship ourselves instead of Christ. After that, I was able to preach like normal. It was one of the best services and prayer times we ever had!
Please continue to pray for me and for the work here, brethren, especially in the following areas.
- Pray for me to seek the glory of God when I prepare sermons; pray that I would hide behind Christ and His Glory when I preach instead of trying to show myself off or seek attention.
- Pray that I would always remember that I cannot do anything to build Christ’s Church if I do not have His power dwelling in my weakness.
- Pray that I would immediately be aware of my sin when I fall to the temptation of seeking for personal glory. Also, pray that I would not be discouraged when this happens, but that I would turn to Christ for healing, joy, and gratitude.
- Pray that I would have an ever-increasing burden and desire to proclaim Christ to unbelievers.
- Pray that I would always have a complete dependence upon the Spirit of God, that I would use only the means which are pleasing to Him, and that I would not fear people but love them.
- Pray that the Lord would raise up new pastors and leaders in the Church in Russia.