Gospel in Moscow, Russia
What a weekend in Moscow! On Saturday evening we rolled into Russian Bible Church for the end of a three day youth conference, entitled “For the Sake of the Gospel,” gathering over 1000 youth and youth leaders from all over Russia. As I rode the old elevator up to the 5th floor of a office building, where the church meets, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I exited the elevator, saw the crowd, heard the music, and was overwhelmed as I met the next generation of believers in Russia. In the crowd there was great warmth and vibrancy; a passionate desire to worship God; and a compelling focus on the gospel. So excited for the next generation of the church!
On Sunday morning we attended this Russian Bible Church, a young, growing and thriving church, that doubles in size every 2 years. Now 500 members. This cultural relevant body of believers is biblically focused and passionate about sharing gospel to their friends, co-workers and neighbours. RBC, because of this, is preparing to plant 10 churches in the next 10 years in many cities of Russia, with the first one being planted next year in southern Moscow.
After the service, we had the privilege of meeting with both the lead pastor and the leadership of this church. We quickly discovered that with this great growth and gospel transformation they are facing discouraging opposition. Within this context, I had the privilege of sharing with them of how our very own Harbour staff and elders regularly and intentionally share stories of God at work through his gospel. As well as how our leaders actively and intentionally encourage one another within our meetings. All of this, to keep what God is doing at the forefront of our minds, so as to gain perspective in ministry. This was of great encouragement to these leaders as they seek to use these ideas in their staff and leadership meetings!
If you’re reading this :)….please pause now to pray for this church and its leadership! That the gospel would continue to transform lives and that the leadership would have wisdom as they charge forward to plant churches. In addition, pause to pray for the youth of Russia, especially as they move into leadership of the church. That they would continue to be biblically and gospel centered.
There are many who need to hear the gospel of Jesus!
Now off to Novosibirsk, Russia….Siberia…. And there is snow:).
In Christ, Mark
The Gospel at Work in Kiev, Ukraine
Over the first part of this last week, I have had the privilege of visiting Kiev, Ukraine, and attended a conference which focused on the Reformation. Next year is the 500 year anniversary of the Reformation, and the Ukrainian government has signed a commitment to celebrate the reformation as a whole country. This so significant and is a great opportunity for the evangelical church in Ukraine to capitalize on this celebration to communicate the gospel in all its fullness to their neighbours and church. And so, the conference helped the church and its leaders to grasp the five affirmations of the reformation: Only Christ, Only Grace, Only Faith, Only Scripture, Only Glory to God.
During my time in Ukraine I have had the privilege to meet many pastors and believers. Two stand out in my mind…..The first is Nadia. Although not a church leader, she is an instrumental part of what God is doing in Ukraine. Nadia has faithfully served in the regional ministry centre, by preparing meals for 22 years. With hospitality and love, she served the team and I with numerous meals (and she makes a mean espresso:). Although we were unable to speak very well to each other (except a little through Google translate app) I was struck by her love for the gospel and her constant service to Jesus and his church, even in the midst of a difficult life lived. As we left the ministry house, she gave me a big Ukrainian bear hug, and pieced together in English “I love you.” Not only had she encouraged me, I had encouraged her.The other is Peter, who is a faithful pastor of a small church 200 km outside Kiev. A gentle Ukrainian man who is passionate and persistent in sharing the gospel. Over 15 years ago he sought to share the gospel with many young adults. They did not believe, but he loved them and continued to communicate the gospel. Just a few years ago he bumped into a woman who was one of these young adults from the past. They recognized each other, and she went on to communicate that through him, and his faithful communication of gospel, she had since trusted in Jesus. She, now a grown women is greatly involved in her church and God has had a great impact through her in her church and community. With this news, this great big Ukrainian man broke down in tears as he was overwhelmed by what God had done through him. His persistence in communicating the gospel had shown fruit.
In Ukraine, I came seeking to encourage those I would come in contact with but I wonder if I have been encouraged more. Encouraged to continually and faithfully serve Jesus and his church. Encouraged to communicate the gospel faithfully and persistently.
Now in Moscow for the weekend. More stories to come….
In 12 days I (Pastor Mark) will be getting on a plane in Toronto to make my way to Ukraine and Russia. This is the first of a handful of posts that will allow you to join me on the journey!
This is an opportunity for me to Lead Out! I am looking forward to meeting and encouraging the pastors that I will come in contact with. Pray that God would use me in the lives of these leaders.
I am also excited to witness how these local churches are leading out; evangelizing and planting new churches, even in spite of the recent law that was passed, making it illegal to publicly evangelize.
For the last 18 years, my dad has faithfully served as the Canadian Director of Slavic Gospel Association. (now retired) He, the organization and its supporters, have invested into the local church leadership within these countries.
On our two week trip, my parents and I will be visiting three cities: Kiev, Moscow and Novosibirsk. (see map below) I am excited to see and experience what God is doing in this part of the world; how the gospel is making a difference and changing lives.
In addition, we are traveling with D.A. Carson. D.A. is a theologian and professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He will be the keynote speaker for Pastors conferences in the 3 cities we will be visiting.
Here is a brief itinerary:
Oct 16 Depart
Oct 17-20 Kiev
Oct 20-24 Moscow
Oct 24-29 Novosibirsk
Oct 30 Arrive back home