I am leaving for my next three weeks in Russia on December 1st and will be back right before Christmas. My destination this time is the Russian Far East, which means I will be flying West all the way across the Pacific Ocean. with a change of planes in Japan. I will be crossing only (!) seven time zones vs. seventeen time zones if I were to fly over the Atlantic and then across all Europe and all Asia. I am already getting a little lightheaded even from merely listing all these locations, directions, and destinations! [Read more…]
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! To all who prayed for this trip and who sacrificially contributed to it – “spa-si-bo!” Without you it would not have been possible. Every little bit helped and every prayer was answered. Special thanks to those who also prayed for my health and quick recovery from a day-surgery I had to undergo only a week before the takeoff.
My doctor this morning at the post-op visit was very satisfied with the recovery progress. I just need to be extra careful not to lift anything over ten pounds, and to give myself extra time and extra rest during this whole journey. Somebody also suggested that I always have small bills handy for tips, and not to hesitate to ask for assistance with my luggage. This will be a slow-paced journey and I am mentally preparing myself for some humbling experiences on the road. (I need them from time to time.)
Having said that, I will have to cover quite a lot of ground: thirteen cities and towns in three countries, starting and ending in Kiev, Ukraine. I will be presenting the Historic Foundations of Christian Faith (FaithSearch Discovery) in seminaries, Bible colleges, churches, and also in state universities and teachers’ training centers. Some of them have been our ministry partners for a number of years and some will be opening their doors for us for the first time. As always, the audiences will also vary a lot – from regular church-goers to staunch skeptics, and from fourth graders to philosophy professors.
I am looking forward to meeting them all and ask for your continued prayers for their hearts and minds to be prepared by the Holy Spirit to receive the seeds of God’s Word.
This upcoming teaching trip will be very different from any other I have done before. First of all, it will be to a different country than the one I left in April of this year. Politically our two countries are now moving in exactly the opposite directions from where they seemed to be going only six months ago. There was so much hope and almost an expectation that the sanctions soon would be lifted, and that we would become good trade partners again. I am prepared to face some difficult questions from my audiences.
Secondly, I will not be traveling all alone. For the first week, a ministry partner from Grace Church will come along to teach in churches and (hopefully) in schools in Omsk and Bryansk. She will then take a train for Karelia while I will dive into a four-day in-depth course on Biblical History and Archeology at the World Of Life Church school in Moscow.
Thirdly, for my last week I will travel to the farthest point on the Russian map I have ever been before – to Kamchatka. I hope that teaching in their schools, churches… and prisons will leave me with some time to enjoy the natural wonders of this absolutely unique place on the planet.
I will then keep going East and will arrive to the USA from the other end – taking the Gospel With Evidence message all around the globe. Literally.
Thank you to all of you who contributed to this trip – in prayer and financially!
“It was like a wall was removed in front of me and now I have room to grow and a path to follow. Please consider yourself invited to speak at our City Youth Center next time you are back in Russia,” wrote a young man after attending a FaithSearch Discovery event in Ivanovo, 250 kilometers northeast of Moscow.
Their House of Nationalities city hall was not quite full, at which the hosting church expressed their disappointment. I was, on the other hand, very happy I didn’t have to use a microphone: the natural voice usually sounds more relaxing and inviting and brings more questions at the end. Ivanovo is known to be the first city in Russia to accept the Soviet power 100 years ago, but the people never ceased seeking the truth of God there. I was happy to destroy some walls of prejudice and barriers of ignorance for them. [Read more…]
It was intense: eight class sessions per day, four days in a row. All I could do between sessions was to eat, sleep, and make a quick walk around the building to catch some fresh air. Oh, yes, I had to also keep in touch with my event hosts to confirm, to cancel, to change, and to correct my future presentations. So far not one of them was deleted from my schedule, and two more added on my very first day in St. Petersburg.
Staying in a seminary dorm definitely has its advantages – it costs less than a hotel and it provides valuable contacts for future ministry. The only disadvantage is, of course, that these young men and women do not ever feel like going to bed and are willing to continue our theological conversations way past midnight. Luckily, I was teaching in two different seminaries and had a chance to catch some sleep on the overnight train between the two cities. [Read more…]
Four different presentations right off the overnight train from Moscow! I consider it a personal record. I started with two classes for 5th-graders on the validity of the Bible. It was fun and learning time. Fun for them and learning time for me – I forgot how much they are different from the 4th-graders and I had to quickly adjust my material to live up to their expectations. My last class in that school was for the 9th grade and that was again the whole different ball game – their critical thinking and interest in challenging every thing the teacher says kept me on my toes through the whole session.
My next audience (in the opposite end of the city) was only a few years older – cadets of the Military Medical Academy. But, again, what a difference in the way they listen and in the questions they ask. Some of them have already served in the army and even had combat experience. Thankfully, I was introduced to them by their chaplain-priest (also a Neurology professor) for whom they apparently had great respect and was able to build trust and to develop their interest in the FaithSearch Discovery material based on that very flattering introduction: “This is an elective course but I want you to take is as seriously as you can. You will need it when everything else you learn in this building may shake and even fail.”
At 6 pm I met my last audience on that long day – catechism teachers at the St. Petersburg Diocese Department of Christian Education. This was probably the easiest audience of all as they already knew most of the apologetics material in my presentation and all I needed to do was to show them and to train them in how it can be used in different settings – Evangelism outreaches, Bible classes, Sunday schools, missions projects, etc.
I am so glad my other days in St. Petersburg were not as crazy and I even had a chance to watch my first rugby game in a company of a minister from Wales, an Americas, a New Zealander, and another Russian guy. We (?) lost to England but in the meantime also had a chance to share our faith experiences and to develop some plans of doing ministry together.
I am taking a train for Moscow tonight and looking forward to my last three days of lessons, presentations, interviews and trainings there. From experience, they tend to pile up towards the end of the trip and I may still beat my own personal record.