Greetings from 35,000 feet above the ground! My plane just started its descent in Amsterdam and the “ding-dong” in the cabin woke me up. I am catching up sleep after the last two very short nights in Moscow. As always, the last days were packed with the events that had been postponed and delayed over my three weeks in Russia. This time, I did my last presentation in a youth camp in the forest near the city of Zaraysk (literally, “Behind the Paradise”), 150 km South-East of Moscow last night and was driven from there directly to the airport after a couple of hours of sleep in somebody’s tent. Only half of about seventy young men and women in the camp were believers or from believers’ families and the camp’s leadership was especially interested in giving all of them our material on day one so that they could think about it and discuss it for the rest of the week. They also invited me to come to Zaraysk again in the winter for their regional pastors’ training. “It would be wonderful to have the FSDiscovery presented in all of our camps next summer!” – suggested a youth pastor.
This was exactly what I was doing a day before in Petrozavodsk, Karelia at the National Orthodox Missions School – training church leaders and missionaries from all over the country who to use our materials as an outreach tool for reaching non-believers with the Gospel. That day consisted of three three-hour long sessions with lots of discussion and with a distinct practical application focus. Most of the material already was familiar to my listeners but the “how-to” of our presentation and its clear inner logic definitely caught their attention. “I love digital technology! We can adapt this presentation to any audience, any format and any setting in just a few minutes!” – said one of the participants.
One day and five time-zones back in the Irkutsk, Siberia, I had a chance to introduce our ministry to, at first, a rather reluctant group of Orthodox clergy. When I contacted them about organizing a training in their city their response was: “In the middle of the summer church life usually slows down. It is not a good time for such a thing” (compare it to there reaction of a priest from Krasnoyarsk, Siberia: “In the middle of the summer church life usually slows down. Let us stir it up!”). However, they agreed to have my presentation done even if for a small group right in my apartment. It was, in fact, a cell with a vaulted ceiling in the basement of a beautiful 18th century “Siberian baroque” church that has been for centuries used to keep bodies before the funeral. It was a bit chilly there but I completely enjoyed my stay in it, especially that the temps outside stayed in the high nineties all week and, of course, because of some very special kind if night dreams I had each night (just kidding). There was, indeed, something special in projecting the presentation of the Gospel with Evidence on a curved surface of my cell ceiling and speaking in a normal, soft, not a lecture-style voice to the people seating only a couple feet away from you. I pray that my trainees will now be proclaiming it out loud throughout the city!