Thursday, June 7, 2012

Give us this day our daily bread

Have you ever wondered what kind of difference you are making in this world?  What real change are we making in this ungodly society?  The world certainly seems to be changing but not necessarily for good.  Purity and godliness are being replaced by hatred and humanism.  God’s name is used mainly as the butt of jokes or curses. 
Three Orphan boys in a local village
We have lived in community in Russia for 15 years where it is the lowest in human development but highest in suicide and alcohol and drug abuse.  Many times we have looked out our apartment window and witnessed the abuse of children by and drunken father and women being beaten a partner.  We have stepped out our door to bums rejected by society who lie bloody in our stairwell looking for a warm place to spend the night.  Orphans knock regularly on our door asking for food.  Men and women seek help for their relative who is addicted to drugs.  Seeing the needs of such a desperate society the question always comes to our minds, “What real change am I making in this world?”  
Through all the needs and desperation we believe daily every loaf of bread we give the hungry, every kopek (Russian dime) we give to the homeless, every person we show love, if done in the name of the Lord changes the world.
I saw a man in the hidden in the corner of a “Pradukti” (convenient store) counting the coins he collected throughout the day on the dirty floor.  He stayed hidden from the clerks otherwise they would have surely thrown the man to the cold street claiming it was bad for business.  After I bought a few small items I turned to walk out of the store then I spotted him counting his coins.  Begging on the street hadn’t made more him then a few dollars that day.  It was barely enough to buy a loaf of bread.  I couldn’t help but give him my few “rubles” (dollars) I had in change.  I handed him the money and said, “God bless you.”  He sat shocked barely able to say thank you as he looked at the bills.  He couldn’t believe the gesture seeing that the bills he now held were far greater value then the coins he had collected all that day. 
Homeless man passed out in front of a dumpster
A woman named Chu-du-ra rang my “domaphone” (doorbell) to our apartment.  She was asking for me but I didn’t remember her.  I went outside to meet her.  Something said to me, “Bring some money.”  She had been drinking and hadn’t eaten for a week.  She remembered me from church and said she came to me because I would always help any one who asked.  She was asking for money to travel to a near by village.  I didn’t know what she would do with the money but she promised it wouldn’t be spent on alcohol.  I gave her the money she needed regardless how she would eventually spend it.  
I asked if she had food for the trip.   She didn’t, so we went to the grocery store.   Looking as she did she wasn’t allowed to go inside but I went and bought her all sorts of prepared food, milk and bread.  Before we parted ways I reminded her of God’s saving power from addiction.  She was doubtful she could change but with tears in her eyes she listened to the words God gave me. 
Homeless women given a loaf of bread
Three Tuvan girls came to our youth ministry directly from the Children’s Tuberculosis hospital a few blocks from the church.  They had never been inside a church before and never heard of the love of God.  They sat and listened to the message simple and clear, God can change their lives.  During corporate prayer they had the opportunity to give their hearts to the Lord. 
They for the first time felt God’s power in their lives and were Spiritually fed.  We gathered around and laying hands on them prayed for their healing.  The Christian students in the group had much faith to their prayer because they hand already seen many healings take place in the past in the Tuberculosis hospital. 
I can’t say that I am a world changer but I can say that daily in some way, big or small, I give bread to the hurting and help those who are lost find Spiritual peace.  

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Church Plant with a lot of "Firsts"

Russian church planting team
Chrulock, Siberia A church plant with a lot of "firsts"

This was a church plant with a lot of firsts. It was the first time in which we had an entire region involved in the church planting possess.  It was the first time planning meetings took place months in advance.  It was the first time we used the "mother church" planting principle to start the church. And, it was the first time the national church alone strategically took the wheel to plan this church plant.

And they made sure their bases were covered.  They met with town officials and carefully chose and rented the hall in which we met.  They established who would be the new pastor of the plant and he made contacts and developed a core leadership before the crusade took place.

It was the first time the nationals alone did friendship evangelism in the city establishing love and care for people before the gospel was presented to them.  The locals knew they were concerned for their well being and they wanted to know why.  The new pastor and his leaders did friendship evangelism in the city, trimming trees, picking up trash, painting windows, and washing floors.  Even the local government took notice, and they wondered why.

Finally, it was the first time most of those in the city would hear the good news of Jesus' love and except Him as Savior. Needless to say, when the crusade was announced people cam out in record numbers.

I flew from the United States to preach the opening meeting of the crusade. My first stop was Moscow where I had brief meetings that morning with the leadership of the Russian Pentecostal church.  Then, in the evening I was off to Omsk, Siberia, and the region where we were planting the church.  The city was north of Omsk and was called Churlock.   From the airport we drove straight to the crusade.  I didn't know what to expect.  I have been involved in numerous crusades and church plants but never in which was my only responsibility to preach the message.  But, to my amazement, as I walked into the meeting my eyes feasted on the four thousand people waiting to hear the good news!

When worship began there was such electricity in the air that each of us stood in amazement and anticipation that God was going to do some thing extraordinary.   As I spoke from the pulpit, I knew it wasn't going to be my wisdom or simple words that would lead people to Christ.  It was unmistakably the Lord's service and through all of the prayer and preparation He was going to save meaning that day.  Solemnly, as I gave
the alter call and asked for those who were willing to give all to Christ over 900 people came forward to say, "yes".
It was truly a night of firsts.  We know that it was only the beginning of church planting in that region and that there will many more opportunities. And, I know, for God to see those He desires and that He created say "yes" to Him for the first time will never get old or tiring. He will continue making our efforts as exciting and as fulfilling as the first time because there is great satisfaction we when fulfill his purpose on this earth.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Saving Armenians in Siberia!!

Pastor Armen 
There are hundreds of thousands of Armenians living in Siberia with no gospel witness.  Armen Vazgenovich is a pastor reaching this people group in the city of Krasnoyarsk, Russia.  Here is Armen’s testimony is his own words. “My name is Armen Vazgenovich Matosyan. I was born September 26, 1967 in a non-Christian family. During my life however I’ve been seeing God through my dreams and visions. When I was 12, I experienced clinical death and I saw God at His thrown, and God sent me back. I finished a high school in Armenia and 1985-1987 I was in the army. I got to know God as my personal Savior in 1989; the same year I received water baptism and baptism of the Holy Spirit simultaneously.

After that I was thrown out of my house and rejected by my family because of my faith.  I started my ministry as a youth pastor in the town of Vanadzor, Armenia. Some time later I received a vision from God and clearly understood that He wanted me to go to Siberia and minister there. I didn’t understand why Siberia, but I was taught to be obedient to God in everything.  In several months, my family and I left Armenia for the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk.  Having come to Krasnoyarsk I met a lot of Armenians who lived and worked in this city. Making acquaintance with them, talking to them, getting knowing their needs I understood why Siberia. 
We started working with Armenian people, and in May 2001 the church was opened. Today we have 120 regular attendees in our church. Our church is considered to be an “Armenian” church but I would say that we are international church, because 30% of people in the church is Russian, Ukrainian, Finn, Estonian, Latvian.  Our church continues growing.
We have 22 new converts, this is the number of people who repented not only at Sunday meetings, but also in the middle weak services.  We have 70 mature believers, 50 growing believers and 17 leaders.
We want the word of God to be spread through Krasnoyarsk and the Krasnoyarsk region therefore we use all possible ways to tell people about Jesus.
Not long ago we began to publish newspapers in Russian and Armenian. We go to large and small towns and villages to share Gospel. We want to visit every place and witness to as many people as possible.  This is why we have opened a Bible school. My dream is to minister in as many places as possible because I see how desperately people need God in this region.  We have a wonderful worship team, they can sing in many languages and they use their talents to serve God and people going with us to different places of Krasnoyarsk region.  Thank you for your support and prayers.”

Monday, January 23, 2012

Earthquake hits Tuva, Siberia

As we were getting ready for a new year all seemed peaceful in our region of Tuva, Russia.  But, on December 27, at 11:22 pm, a 6.6 earthquake hit Kyzyl, Siberia.  
Being jolted from our sleep we awoke to our walls shaking and pictures falling.    There was nothing to do but stand in the safest part of the house and watch the walls breath.  We waited for what seemed like an eternity for the shaking to stop.  Once the force of the earthquake had subsided mass panic happened throughout the city.    People left their homes to stand on the streets in -30 degree weather.  Standing beside their buildings they didn’t realize what danger still ensued.  An hour later a 4.8 tremor hit and people ran down screaming, “It’s the end of the world.”  
For hours, people tried to find shelter from the cold, too scared to go back in their apartments.  They traveled to their relative’s homes in nearby villages for a warm place to stay in small one story wooden houses.
The news flashed on the Internet that an earthquake had hit Southern Siberia.  It only took our family a few hours to try and call us about the news.  At the epicenter, 60 miles east of Kyzyl, the quake rated 8.0 on the Richter scale. 
Throughout the night and into the morning we continued to feel aftershocks.  Schools were canceled and students at the local University were told to go back to their villages to start the holiday break early.  The University was too damaged to hold classes.  When all the shaking had finished and all the screaming and panic subsided the report came that no one was killed.  But, there had been  hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage to buildings and thousands of people were displaced from their homes.  The Governor of the region, who is a Buddhist by faith, addressed the community and three times gave God thanks.  God had spared our lives in our small Republic of Tuva.  
This New Year 2012 we are proclaiming the name of the Lord like never before.  Many Buddhist believers, after the quake, went to pray at the local Russian Orthodox Temple.  They asked for the mercy of God on their lives and the lives of their families.  People are searching for answers and want to find peace.   
If you want to help us in our efforts to rebuild Tuva and help proclaim the name of the Lord to people in need you can!  First of all, we need your prayers.  People are in great fear and need faith only God can give.  Please pray that this experience will awaken their souls and that they will respond to the Word of the Lord.  Secondly, we want to help rebuild buildings that have been damaged.  If you, or your church, would like to financially support our rebuilding and humanitarian aid efforts you can through our stateside missions account.  This is God’s time for Tuva to come to know the only true God.  
If you or your church want to support our disaster relief efforts in Tuva make out checks to AGMD in the Memo include Account #245678 Class 60
Mail to AGMD 1445 Boonville Ave Springfield MO 65802