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Сhurch in transition (by Denis Kozlov)

3 August 2011 No Comment

Church in Transition:

I recently visited Pastor Igor Sokolov, one of RRR’s leaders, to see how he and his church, Harvest Church, were doing.  During our time together, he told me how he completely changed the way the church conducts itself.As many of you know, most Russian Churches do not have a facility of their own where they can host activities. They typically rent a place to meet for the main services, which can be two or three times per week. So, the hope of most pastors and churches is to acquire a facility available 24/7.

At the end of 2010, Pastor Igor started negotiations with a Korean organization that owned real estate in the Saint Petersburg, and, in early 2011, they were able to reach an agreement and moved into a great facility.  It’s taken a while for them to become accustomed to a new way of ministry by utilizing their facility as much as possible. As such, the church launched a number of ministries to reach out to those in their immediate neighborhood.

Their new ministries include:

1)  Offering free counseling sessions for abused women with a certified counselor who is a member of Harvest.

2)  Launched a men’s training program to teach leadership skills based on a variety of programs, including John Maxwell’s leadership program. The men’s ministry is led by Pastor Igor, who, aside from having credentials, is very passionate about training men.  Pastor Igor is one of the keynote speakers at John Maxwell’s seminars in Russia.

3)  Launched a club for people who desire to learn English. English is very popular in Russia and very much demanded by the marketplace. Many seek to acquire English skills to improve their chances of finding a better job. The club is headed by English-speaking church members.

Harvest Church is extremely missions-minded. And, though summer can be slow for most Russian churches because many people go on vacation or spend their weekends at their “dachas” (summer houses), Harvest Church decided to make deliberate advances to go to all the different cities, towns and villages that surround Saint Petersburg. The put together small teams of church members who would visit a town to evangelize once a week. Their goal is to visit fifty towns to distribute New Testaments and Christian literature, talk to people and invite them to whatever local church there is, and, if possible, lead some to salvation right there. Harvest’s efforts are going very well, and of the fifty towns and villages they’ve targeted, they have already visited 30.

Personal Transitions:

Aside from the recent transitions in the life of the Church, Pastor Igor and his wife Angelica are experiencing a bit of a transition in their family life.  On a recent visit to Angelica’s home town in the region of Karellia, they learned that a distant relative has been leading a horrible life because of alcohol addiction. They also discovered that this relative had a teenage daughter who experienced the horrors of an addicted.  Needless to say, the daughter’s lifestyle was inturmoil.

When Pastor Igor and Angelica went to that village, they found that the house was in shambles. There was no food, no locks on the doors, and empty vodka bottles were strewn all over.  The mother lived with two men who were abusive toward the woman’s daughter.  In fact, one of the men severely injured her by throwing a big mug and hitting her in the head with it.

When Pastor Igor and Angelica saw what was going on, they were horrified, so they began spending time with her.  When their visit was nearly over, they talked the girl’s mother into letting her daughter (Lera) go with them back to Saint Petersburg for the winter holidays to stay with them for a week and to see the city.  By the end of Lera’s visit, both Igor and Angela were 100% sure that the Lord was leading them to adopt her.  Though there are many, many details of this story, let’s just say that the end result is wonderful.  Lera happily agreed to become a new family member and Igor’s daughters received her warmly into the family.  Since then, she has become a Christian, is now involved in all kinds of church programs for youth and attends a Christian school.  Lera received both a new physical family and new spiritual family in one package, and, in her case, it was a dramatic transfer from a painful world of anguish, darkness and despair into the light, love and hope that she now has in Christ with the help of Igor’s family and church.

This is a great story that I just had to share with you.

My Transition:

Many of you know me, and you may have noticed that I love to laugh with my friends. But, for many years, my teeth have been a source of continual frustration. Over the years, I lost many of my real teeth, and, for years, I have been trying to fix them.  Two years ago, one of my front teeth broke off.  To fix it, I needed to go through a complicated surgical process that I could not afford.  So, I learned to live with it, smile less, and cover my mouth when I laughed, which was hard for me because most of the things I do in life I do by talking to individuals and groups (translate, preach, negotiate, coordinate).

Various dentists told me that the day would come when another tooth next to the missing one would break, too.  I dreaded that moment.  Eventually, that day came, and right in the middle of a mission trip as I was helping brothers from the US minister in Russian churches, it happened.  I was mortified because I felt that there was no way anyone would want to hire an interpreter with my new-found look to work with them.  To make a long story short, those American brothers who were ministering on that trip took pity on me and immediately told me that they would help me financially with any dental procedures I needed—and they did.  It’s been a month since I started to re-learn how to smile again, and I pray this work will stay for a long time.  R

Praise the Lord and thanks to a brother from Ohio and a family from Oklahoma that helped me with this problem of mine.

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