October 2004 : Russia
Home again. Late evening on 28 October I returned from Russia. The time went by so very fast. Dan Caudell and I arrived in Moscow on 8 October and boarded a train for the very restful 24 hour train ride to Perm. I am always amazed at how very well I sleep on the train. Normally I sleep for 5 hours 6 at the most but on the train I log in 8+. Maybe it is the gentle rocking that has its affect o me. Once we arrived in Perm we met with Pastor Edward Grabovenko, general overseer of New Testament Church. This Church is comprised of more than 90 churches and ministries. I have been blessed to have worked with this man of God for four years now. Each year I return I am impressed with the ongoing outreach work and the building of a strong leadership base. I was honored to address a gathering of the pastors of New Testament Church from all over the Prem region. These men and women are committed to bring the gospel to the places that are isolated from many things that people take for granted. Daniel and I taught in their Bible School and traveled out into the rural areas to minister to smaller communities and villages. We also traveled to a Muslim controlled republic called Bashkortastan. We were with Pastor Alex and his wife Natali in the city of Durtuli. They have done a very good work in the city and have planted six churches in the villages. Some of these village pastors that we visited and encouraged were men who were threatened and force out of the villages only to return and continue the building of the kingdom. On 16 October the remainder of the USA Team arrived; Pastor Jeffrey Sharp of the Norwich Worship Center, Pastor Jerry Davis, a powerful Black American woman pastor of the Tabernacle of deliverance and Praise, Douglas Chamess, Ranilo Brenan, Paul, Loring and Megan Hammond. The team’s first assignment was to conduct the five services that the New Testament Church holds on every Sunday. During this day many came to confess Jesus Christ as Savior, others came to receive prayer for healing and help. At each of the five services the building was filled with people. On any given Sunday this fellowship will see more than 3,500 people join in worship. During the next three days the team was divided handling responsibilities of ministering to Rehab Centers, Convalescent homes, and Orphanages. The pastors and I taught Bible school classes. On Thursday 21 October we traveled by van to the city of Izhevsk. On the way there we were met by three pastors who work with Bishop Yuri Degtyar. Bishop Yuri Degtyar began the work in this region in 1990 today more than 200 church and ministries are under his oversight. The team was divided into three different teams to meet again four days later. We were off into the rural areas once again. The teams traveled into villages that had never hosted an American visited before. In these rural villages many people received the Lord Jesus, experienced healings and the body of Christ was greatly edified. By God’s grace the teams were used by God to bring fresh life and strength to the pastors and leaders who are laying down their lives for these uttermost places. We closed out the trip by ministering in and around the city of Izhevsk going into several villages visiting Orphanages and Rehab Centers. The last place we visited the entire team was together. Pastor Valari the overseer of this rehab center was a man who came to Christ while in prison. He was notorious leader of a criminal gang. Most people had given up on him. But Jesus did not. Jesus transformed his life and now this man is being used to transform the lives of hundreds. The rehab Center also ministers to over 100 orphans. On this day the teenage orphans 13-18 years of age came to see the Americans and listen to them. The team wonderfully and with creative improvisation presented an up-to-date version of Esther and The Three Hebrew men. I know you are wondering how could this be connected, but it was and more than 30 of the 50 responded to the Lord and received Christ. What a great way to close out a trip. Then once again we boarded the train and headed back to Moscow and then home. I can not thank you enough for all your prayers. We are making a difference and you are very much a part of all we do.