Our Russian Connections

 

About three years ago, a young Russian family bought the house next door. We’ve enjoyed some conversations with Marta and Pyotr. Marta recently helped me with some gardening. I’ve enjoyed getting to know this sweet young mother a little better.

About one year ago, a Russian Baptist church began meeting for worship in the youth room of our church. Of course, we invited Marta and Pyotr to City on a Hill church. They haven’t gone yet. And then, this year, Mike learned a new co-worker is married to a Russian, Vitali. He told her about the church. Their family has been attending for about a month.

Meanwhile, we’re taking an Intro to Missions course in July. One of the assignments is to attend a culturally different worship service. Of course, we chose City on a Hill and had a good worship time with them yesterday.

This Russian church shared many things that I’m “used to,” such as praise songs led from the front, prayer by the pastor, and preaching. If I were to judge by the length of time given, preaching is highly valued. For over two hours of worship, we had two sermons which amounted to about 1.5 hours of the service. Vitali’s wife later told us services were three hours long in the Ukraine with three pastors each giving a sermon.

It was also obvious how much they valued children. They mentioned a few times that they wanted the children to hear the Gospel. Before children’s church, all the children stood at the front of the church. The pastor prayed for them (and for any that were absent) that they would follow Christ. After children’s church, the children were back in the room and often noisy and moving around.

The adults were very attentive. In general, the children didn’t distract them. I wasn’t distracted by the children either but concentrated on the pastor’s gestures and what I could hear from our translator, Vitali.

We were surprised when a woman got up after the pastor’s sermon and began what we thought was a 15-minute testimony. Instead, there was a song before and after her testimony followed by her 30-minute sermon.

We were also curious when we noticed an Asian family. It turns out the husband had won a “green card lottery.” They had come from Kazakhstan around January.  After two months in the States, they came to faith in Christ through this young congregation.

Vitali was an excellent interpreter for us. The church reacted in two ways.  During the second sermon, the man from Kazakhstan left his seat to sit near Vitali. He told us later that he wants to improve his English. The church had been praying for an interpreter, so two of the young men made a beeline for Vitali after worship.

We talked with Pastor Ivan before we headed home. He had a connection to Kazakhstan. The Russian government had banished him there for being a Baptist. Also, he showed the JESUS Film in Russia for about five years. He was very interested in taking his church to the JESUS Film tour on a Saturday at Cru headquarters.

Pastor Ivan works for a trucking company two days a week. It was a reminder to me that this is a frequent reality for many pastors globally.

It’s an encouragement to us that we could help this new church by inviting Vitali’s family to attend. We’ll continue witnessing to our neighbors and inviting Marta and Pyotr again to attend City on a Hill; we’re open to going with them if they’d like to try it. Thank you for praying for them to receive Christ.

NOTES:

  • The names have been changed.
  • Do you love Russia and Russians? You might want to check out our friends, Daniel and Ksenia, who work for Campus Crusade for Christ in St. Petersburg, Russia.

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