Three weeks on the road passed like one day! I definitely overbooked myself for this last trip – not even leaving time to keep up with my travel log. From experience, I almost expected that at least some of my event will be canceled. Not on this trip. Plus a few extra speaking opportunities that I didn’t want to miss.
I started in Moscow with my largest crowd – almost 400 students of the Bible Institute at the Word of Life Evangelical Church. Two half-day sessions provided excellent time for going through the FaithSearch Discovery training in detail and with plenty opportunities for in depth discussion. These church leaders from all over Russia will be applying the training to their missionary, evangelism and pastoral service.
A teacher in the mornings, I had to switch to the student mode in the afternoons while meeting with my PhD advisors and passing their rigorous reviews and examinations of my thesis paper. The board approved my dissertation and set the defense date for December 13.
An overnight train brought me to Nizhniy Novgorod for teaching at the local Orthodox Seminary and Avtozavod Christian Education Center. Interestingly, those public school teachers showed more interest and excitement about the material than seminarians! Was it because the Good News were so new to many of them?
An overnight train back to Moscow for just one day – the time of sharing with my Orthodox friends and presentation of the FSDiscovery at the local Baptist church. A Muslim young man challenged me with the question of why the Prophet Isa (“blessed be his name”) calls himself the Son of Man 83 times in the Bible and only a few times hints to his Divinity? Somebody from the class offered an answer: “We called our speaker today by his first name “Oleg” many times but only once he was introduced as “Mr. Voskresensky” – does it make his identity less valid?”
An overnight train to Saint Petersburg brought me to my daughter Anya who is teaching English there this school year. What a special blessing for me, a teacher, to see her in this capacity! Through the local Teachers’ Training Center, each day a new group of public school teachers were trained in the FSDiscovery curriculum. Additional opportunities to appear live on the local radio and TV stations filled the rest of my days. That week seems to have passed even faster than any other time – despite of (or thanks to) long conversations with Anya late into the night discussing her and sharing my own teaching experiences and challenges.
My next overnight train took me to the city of Cherepovets which according to Wikipedia.ru is known to be “depicted as an epicenter of the machine-urban hell in The Dartz’ song of the same title”. Luckily, the train passed these gloomy industrial areas while it was still dark but the earth-shaking mechanic roars and sirens were heard all day and most of the night even in the city center hotel. What a contrast was it to the shining eyes of the teachers and university students at my classrooms when they heard the Gospel and studied the validity of the Bible! “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light” – Isaiah 9:2
Three hours on a commuter train and I arrived to Vologda – one of the oldest cities in Russia. Out of 65 churches the place used to have before the Bolshevik Revolution only 35 survived or have been restored lately. By Russian standards, however, this is very good and there is almost no place in town where you cannot see at least one or two of their onion-shaped domes. Meeting with and presenting to their Christian leaders, seminarians and school teachers made my heart sing!
One last overnight train trip and I am in the city of Archangel on the Arctic Ocean. Again, two events on each day kept me safe from the elements outside but gave me no time to see the place except for one quick run to the sea shore and back to the car that was taking me from place to place. God willing, I will be able to visit that area some other time again in a nicer weather. One of their school principles absolutely insists that I do: “How can a teacher consider him or herself an intelligent and reasonable person without considering these facts?! How can a History teacher be unaware of His story?! Please, come to our spring conference.”