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From Pastor Dave

Reflections on Russia

Posted by Dave Proulx on with 1 Comments

Coming Home

Aimee, Maggie Hughes and I have just come back from Moscow where we served at a worship conference that's designed to equip, train, and encourage Russian worship leaders and pastors to lead their churches to become worshipping congregations. This is the third time Aimee and I have been able to go, and Maggie's first time going. We're exhausted, jet lagged, and behind in our work here. But in spite of that, our hearts are full from seeing all that Jesus is doing to build His church in Russia.

Here are just a few thoughts about what we experienced.

The Fruit of Discipleship

When Gerry and Marla Schroeder felt called to move to Moscow to begin investing in worship leaders and pastors, the road ahead seemed incredibly steep. The church was fragmented, worship services lacked purpose and direction, translations of American worship songs were inconsistent, and most of all, pastors and worship leaders didn't seem to have a grasp of the reason behind our worship of God. This broke their heart, so they saw this as the Lord calling them to do something about it.

Over time, God brought into their lives several pastors and young musicians who shared their excitement for seeing the church in Russia become a worshipping church. So Gerry and Marla began investing in them, and training them, and encouraging them. Then, one year, it finally became possible to bring over an entire American team of musicians and pastors to put on the first conference to train and equip large groups of Russians to do the same thing. Three years ago, Aimee and I had the privilege of being a part of one of those teams. Why us? I still don't know. But I do know is that God gave us a deep and abiding love for our Russian brothers and sisters in Christ, and a glimpse into the Body of Christ outside of our small American context.

Three years ago, the Russians who helped with the conference were loving, but reserved; growing, but not entirely confident; willing, but lacking experience. But what we saw this year blew me away! They were confident; they had a vision; and they led with authority. In fact, two entire general sessions were led by entire Russian teams. They led, and we followed. I saw with my own eyes what what it looks like when years of discipleship begin to bear fruit.

Here's just a taste of what that was like.

The Blood of Christ that Unites Us

Since this was our third trip, we had many friends in Moscow that we looked forward to seeing this year. But the depth of love we have for these brothers and sisters goes way beyond any typical friendships. We are truly united by the blood of Christ, and the bonds we share with them are greater than the bonds we have with our own families.

On the last night of the conference, Pastor Pavel, our host from Zelenograd Baptist Church, sat our entire team down and told us what it meant to the Russian Christians that we physically came to Russia. He reminded us of the political tensions that exist between our countries, and of the incredible witness our presence was to the church in Russia and to the watching world who doesn't understand how Americans and Russians can love or trust each other in times like these. But he reminded us that this is what the gospel does: it unites us. And it demonstrates that our hope isn't in this world, in its leaders, or in its politics, but in our King and in His Kingdom. We are citizens of heaven. And united in Christ. We are family.

The Unity of the Body of Christ

Pavel's passion for unity doesn't just extend to Americans but to his own people, too. While churches all over the world are divided, it's so much more destructive in places like Russia where there are so few Christians. And so, a few years ago, Pastor Pavel and a few others began casting a vision among the pastors of Moscow to do something about it. They began praying for one another, and supporting one another, and serving one another, just as Christ calls us to.

This vision for unity started to catch on in their churches and last year for the first time, several churches gathered for a unified worship service at a large arena downtown. This year, that same service was held while we were there, and we were invited to be a part of it. The theme for the event was "Standing on the Word of God", and we got to experience 25-30 Russian churches worshipping together, praying together, and taking communion together. It was incredibly powerful. (And it was 3 hours long!!)

But at that service, I also experienced one of the most moving experiences I've had as a pastor. All of the Russian pastors gathered together on the stage so that the people could pray for them, and so that they could pray for the people...and they invited me up to be a part of it.

So I stood there, along with 30-40 other pastors, most spoke no English, most I've never met. But we stood. Together. United under Christ, and united as pastors. We prayed, and were prayed for. It will be a moment I will never forget.

I know that Aimee and Maggie will have stories to share. Aimee taught her first class to women about being a pastor's wife and being in ministry. Maggie served each and every day by watching the children of several key leaders in the conference. Every person had their part to play. And God used each of us to do what He wanted to do there. But we were the ones who were blessed, as any of you who have ever been on a mission trip know.

The reason I share all of this with you is to let you know that Jesus is using this church to literally "Be His witnesses to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8) and to "go and make disciples". You each had a part in sending us: by praying for us, by giving to us, and by supporting us. Thank you for giving us this opportunity. And I look forward to see how else God will continue to use this church to reach those in our neighborhood, to those across the world.

in the meantime, let's keep praying for our brothers and sisters around the world.

Soli Deo Gloria

"To God be the glory"

Yours in Christ,

Dave, Aimee, and Maggie 

Tags: missions; russia; worship; discipleship

Comments

norm November 10, 2016 4:07pm

I am so glad Willa and I can be a small part of a church which has such an outreach-- thank you three for being so open and ready to do HIS service

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