Saturday, August 25, 2007

Russian Reflections after Re-entry

I was on the phone to Canada yesterday and my friend Marj was giving me a bit of stick for not blogging enough. She's right, I've been getting lazy. Time to type!

So I'm back from Moscow. It was an amazing experience and it has changed me. I've been thinking about what I would write in this blog for a couple of days and to be honest even as I type I am not sure what I am supposed to say and what I am supposed to treasure in my heart.

Maybe I should start by telling you what we were doing and why we were there.
On Monday morning at 5am Malcolm (Regional Director YFC Eastern Europe) and I left Belfast and flew to Moscow via Heathrow. Malcolm is a visionary leader who is pioneering new ministry through local teams of youth and childrens workers working with Kids at Risk. YFC have a small team in Moscow and the purpose of this trip was meet with senior church leaders and organisations to talk about strategy and partnership in working with these broken young kids in Eastern Europe. YFC's vision in this region is to equip local churches for working in this specific area of ministry. It was an action packed three days beating around Moscow and its underground metro in temperatures in the high 30s. Here are some pics.
This is Pastor Pavel Okara. He leads the Pentacostal Union in Russia. This is a movement of about 3000 believers worshipping in churches all across the nation. Pavel was an awesome man of God with a real heart for Jesus. The Pentacostal church is one of the strongest protestant churches in Russia. Although everything here in terms of church is small. Only about 1 or 2 % of the population is evangelical. These guys like most of the guys we met are amazing, serving the Lord and reaching the world, but the reality is they are only scratching the surface. Moscow alone has only 200 churches for its 15 million of a population, thats the equivilent of 1 church for every 75,000 people, slightly different that here in Ulster. Russia needs the gospel.
This is Malcolm and I in Red Square. Amazing to stand in the bastion of Communism on our way back from McDonalds. It was a beautiful place to visit. Today the Kremlin (over my right shoulder) is occupied by Mr Putin, another power crazed Russian leader, we need to pray that his successor will be more open to God. Christians here are really up against it. The state church and the government call evangelicals a Sect and make it nearly impossible for the work of God to gather momentum as they make the believers jump through lots of hoops to do their work. While we were there the YFC Moscow team had to send copies of their proposed Day Camp (next week) to the local government offices to be checked for religious content! Really..we don't know how blessed we are.

Here Malcolm and I are with two amazing servants of Jesus. Pastors Pavel and Marina Savelyev lead Dew 'Rosa' Church in Moscow. It is a large charismatic church which is pioneering Alpha and Youth Alpha into Russia. They are doing some amazing stuff working across the denominations (rarely done here, in some conversations it sounded just like home). This year for the first time Alpha has started making a movement into the state Othodox Church. That's big news...but don't tell to many people. The Priests who have started using it are being thrown out of their parishes.

From left to Right this is Nick (our amazing guide in Moscow) Director of YFC South Russia, Pavel Torchuk (Russian Minstries) Malcolm and Marina (Moscow YFC). It was such a privilege for me to meet and hang out with these amazing believers. These are the guys who are the real greats in the Kingdom of God. They are really giving their all for Gospel. Another wee snap in Red Sqare.

This last guy hugging Mal and I is Pastor Eugene, leader of Baptist Youth for Russia. This guy was really interesting. I was drawn to his passion and strategic mind but at the same time frustrated by his outdated approaches to ministry and his dislike of other churches outside of the Baptists. Our meeting with Eugene was a tough one but a great learning experience for me in Russian Christian Culture.

So what did I learn on my travels...God is Lord over the nations, It is possible to live for Jesus fully, the world still needs reached with the love and grace of Jesus, Russia needs missionaries, McDonalds tastes the same everywhere, Russian people are beautiful, the church in Russia needs annointed for its mission, prayer works and Jesus is Lord.

Being in Russia has led to some deep stuff happening in my own life and heart. I need to treasure it in my heart for a while and then I'll hopefully get to share it with you all.


dave wiggins said...

good work Steve. its good when stuff stirs your heart so much. funny, in Ukraine a few years ago the highlight was getting back to McDonalds in Kiev. Sad.

shannon mccready said...


Ran into your blog by chance, while searching the McCready name. It's great to hear of another McCready who has allegiance to Jesus and His Kingdom. I used to work for YFC in Buffalo, NY and now have planted a church for the next generations in Asheville,NC.
God will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them! (Heb. 6:10)
God bless from a very distant relative across the pond,

shannon mccready