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We Greet You With The Birth Of Christ by Rick Ives

17 December 2012 No Comment

Merry Christmas to you all, or, as we say in Russia – S DNIOM ROZHDENYA EESOOSA CHRISTA (I GREET YOU WITH THE BIRTH OF CHRIST).

We had a team recently return from Russia, which included my wife Heather. I stayed home and took my daughter Anastasia hiking for a week in the hills of Kentucky. We had a wonderful time. So did Heather and the team of 11 who were in Russia.

We hope you enjoy the photo enclosed of the Ives’ family. We have been sending these photos each year since 1993. So, yes, I have a lot less hair. Heather is more beautiful than ever, and Anastasia continues to grow into a young woman of beauty and grace. And me…well…at least I am alive and well—cancer-free for 20
months. Praise the Lord!

When Heather and I lived in a dirty, little 450 square-foot flat in the little village of Morozova, Russia, we would travel by train weekly to an even smaller village, Nyevskaya Dubrovka (it means a grove of oak trees by the Neva river). That insignificant looking village was actually very well known in Russia because it was the sight of intense fighting between Russians and Nazis when Hitler attempted to conquer St. Petersburg during the Great Patriotic War (we call it WWII). Against all odds, the Russians beat back the Nazis, and St.Petersburg was never conquered, although it was circled and cut off for many months. But, other than
that, the little village was not much to see. We went there to conduct a crusade. During the crusade, many Russians were saved and we started a church in the local culture house. That all happened in 1992; our first year in Russia.

As the years went by and we returned to the USA, the pastor we installed to lead the church in Nyevskaya Dubrovka—a wonderful and gentle man named Sergei Lepehov—went home to be with the Lord. He lived most of his life as a staunch Communist/Atheist, and he finished as a joyful Christian who was very strong in
prayer and loving in all things. With Sergei gone, the church dissolved, and the believers were left without a church. It is a sad but common problem in Russia where there is still a need for thousands of new churches.

When the team was recently in Russia, Grant Edwards was speaking in a church in St. Petersburg. Some folks went to him after the service and told him they were part of the congregation in Nyevskaya Dubrovka from 20 years ago. They actually remembered Grant from one of his many visits with me, and it turns out that they
have been faithful to the Lord for all these years! Today, they have to take a long train ride and then subway ride each Sunday just to get to church. What a blessing to see good fruit 20 years later.

Friends, you make this fruit possible in Russia. The story of these folks could be told all over Russia, and you have helped us go, preach, train and equip pastors, start churches, and many thousands have been saved. You may never know all the good you have done with your prayers and gifts, but the Lord does. Thank
you.

I ask every year at this time if you would consider a special, year-end financial gift to RRR, and I ask again now. We have many great opportunities in front of us: taking the gospel to new cities, to drug addicts, orphans, to train more pastors and to start more churches. Any help you can give at this time of year would be greatly used and appreciated.

During our first year in Russia, the Mayor of Morozova, an atheist named Alexander Astafev, went out into the woods, cut down a pine tree, and hand delivered it to Heather and me at our flat as a Christmas gift so we could have a Christmas tree, which was not the custom in Russia under communism. That was
one of the greatest gifts we have ever received. It was like a miracle. Through the ministry of RRR, Mayor Alexander, his wife and children were all saved! God blesses in so many ways. I pray He blesses you in great ways this season and always.

Bog Blogaslaveet Vas (God Bless You) – Rick and Heather

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