I’m sitting in the room rented for visiting pastors at the Office/Hotel and can smell the preparations for lunch. It’s a Monday morning after a rather busy Sunday. I’ve got the window open hoping not to attract too many flies, bees, or mosquitoes (those dreaded blood suckers).
Before I account for my day, let me cover the bit of news I have from camp. Indira was with them Saturday and told me a few things. Emilia will be with me today and give a more detailed report. These two sisters are great translators. They are sweet young ladies who love the Lord.
Indira related the account of the team’s arrival at camp to me. They traveled to the facility on Friday in two vans. The translators were in one and the Team in the other. It’s important to the story to understand one had been rented for only three hours. The gate was locked when they arrived. So, Indira being as petite as she is just hopped the fence and found the buildings were locked as well. The team began to haul their large bags of luggage over the fence. It was quite an ordeal to get it all into the camp. A young man came up while they were grunting and groaning. He had been in the banya. He said that the caretakers were out for a walk and would be back. He had thought they left the main building unlocked for him. Of course, after the rented van was gone and the team was situated in camp, the caretakers arrived. Indira and I laughed. That’s how the ministry goes not always smoothly, but the job gets done.
She also reported that the team seems to be doing well. The first day, they were still feeling the effects of jetlag but now are functioning well. They were busy preparing for the arrival of the children on Monday afternoon, which is today.
Please pray for Ken. He has some allergic reaction to bug bites, and these wonderful created creatures have found him with a vengeance. They seem to do that. Mosquitoes will leave others alone to fall prey on their tasty victim. Mom, please don’t worry. We are taking the steps to take care of him. He’s trying not to scratch the bites. God will sustain and protect him through this trial.
Sunday, Zhenya the Camp Director, led the Worship Time at camp. He’s one of the pastor’s in Ufa with a heart for young people. He’s also a Goodman Heating & Cooling distributer and installer. (He and his friend another Zhenya will install the heater in Uchali.) This was plan A.
Emiliya just arrived and gave me plan B. Ken’s better today. Zhenya stayed in Ufa leading his church. Ken preached twice and led the singing. Another words, God used him as a complete worship leader. He brought messages on James 3 about the tongue and I Cor. 12 concerning how God uses the spiritual gifts in the church. Emiliya said he did a great job. Praise the Lord. That’s so awesome. I can’t wait to see him tonight to encourage him.
She also reported that it has been raining a lot at camp over the weekend. Everyone is cold and wet. It has made it difficult to prepare lessons. However, this bothered Stephen, so he went onto the roof to try to patch it with plastic.
Keep praying for our Team. God is sustaining them through these trials. I can’t wait to see them tonight. I kind of feel like their surrogate dad for these few weeks. I am concerned about them and love them though I don’t know them very well. That’s what is so great about the Body of Christ. We are brothers and sisters in the Lord. What a great relationship that is. We all will spend eternity together with our Heavenly Father. That is a great prospect for us.
It appears that I will be arriving to camp about 9 pm tonight the Lord willing and the car is running. We are waiting for Pastor Zhuck to change the oil in his car. That means I have time for a nap, packing, and writing this report.
I just had lunch with Arkady. His English and my Russian are improving. We understood each other. Of course, we have sign language and a phrase book to help us. Also, he had to call Emiliya for some help in translation. Hey, there’s ice cream in the fridge too.
Now, I would like to report about yesterday. Indira and I had a glorious day serving God in two churches. It is wonderful to depend upon the Holy Spirit to use you ministering to others. God grace covers obstacles and difficulties. It was great to witness this again. Our goal is to be partners not prima donnas and the star attraction. We are to serve and not be served as we follow our Lord’s example. Our role is to help, encourage, and challenge our brothers and sisters in Bashkiria. We aren’t necessarily the experts. We should not have the attitude of being know-it-alls. I also need to tell you that my file of sermons was left in California. All my notes are home. I was planning to have a variety of sermons from which to preach here in the churches. Through my mistake and God great sovereignty I see He had a better plan than I. Oh, I forgot to tell you that I had last Sunday’s sermon with me. It’s a two part message, so I actually have two with me. Also, I remembered another from Romans 6:11-13 that I can do off the top of my head, and I brought Milton Vincent’s book “The Gospel Primer for Christians” that is a great resource besides being a devotional for me.
We started our day being taken with Arkady by taxi to the White River. We crossed the bridge you can see from the window in my room at the Office. There’s an nice beach there we used. They baptized five people today at the White River across the bridge you can see from the Office window and down a ways. There was a grandfather and his grandson along with three women. One of these was a gypsy. (There seems to be a great need for ministry amongst them.) This took place an hour before the morning service. Probably thirty people were on hand to witness this wonderful event in the life of the church. They sang some songs, Arkady read Scripture, and Leonid baptized the five candidates. They were dressed in white and the women had on head coverings. Leonid was dressed in a blue robe.
On the way back Indira and I caught a ride with Daniel Zhuck, Pavel’s son. He lives with his father at the Office. (Some of you don’t know that Pavel is Pastor Piotr’s brother. At the fall of the Soviet Union, he received God’s call to be a business man to support the local church while his brother was called to be a pastor. God has used both men well. Pavel owns the Office. It’s used for ministry and business as a office building and hotel. He has a kitchen staff of a cook and helper to provide meals for those using the building. The meals are tasty (R. kosh-ka) and nourishing. It’s not a restaurant with an elaborate and extensive menu, but it suits it purpose very well.
The service started late. The choir had to practice, the sound system was not prepared, and Leonid had to change. Leonid’s daughter ran the sound board, played piano for the choir, and sang in a trio. This seems to happen to all of us from time to time when you add something to the routine. They received the ones baptized into their church by praying over them (these prayed as well), Leonid preached about the importance of living a holy life before God & serving Him, later honored them with flowers and recognition, and gave them communion before anyone else. After my sermon, they had communion. Arkady and two other deacons assisted Leonid. Leonid prayed for the bread. Arkady prayed for the cup.
While Leonid was speaking, I was trying to figure out how to change last Sunday’s sermon to fit into this situation. I asked the Holy Spirit to fill Indira and I to accomplish this task. God guided me to give the plan of salvation and challenge the unsaved in the congregation to repent. (My title was “The Unpopular Prophet” from Luke 4:16-21.) Indira and I sat down with a sigh of relief. We both were amazed at what God had done. It was God speaking through us not ourselves. She told me later that she had not interpreted since last February and felt a little rusty. She had been focusing on her University studies in St. Petersburg.
After the service Leonid invited me to his new home. They are trying to build it in the American style. It houses he and his wife with apartments for his three sons. I hope I have the privilege to do so before I leave.
I also had the opportunity to talk with Andre Dzuba. He had been the pastor of the Ufa Baptist Church. There had been a split there. He is currently seeking to plant another church in Ufa.
Since Arkady’s wife Galina and there children were at camp, Indira and I went with him to Mado’s restaurant across the street for lunch. It serves Turkish styled food. I was able to order food that fit somewhat into my diet (more vegetables with less carbs and protein). Then, it was nap time. Praise the Lord for Sunday afternoon naps. If you don’t have that habit, you’re missing out on a great refreshing time. It makes it easier to serve God during a long Sunday.
On Saturday, I was told I would have the privilege to go to Ufa Baptist Church where Emiliya, Indira, and their parents attend. I had the impression that I would be preaching their too. I had spent some of my nap time going over the Romans 6 sermon. I was disappointed when I was told that I couldn’t preach but would be able to speak 10 or 15 minutes sharing about the Antioch Initiative. I remembered that it wasn’t about my personal disappointments but encouraging the brothers and sisters in their ministry. With that attitude, I had a great time. I was able to leave them with the challenge of reminding themselves of God’s work of the Gospel in their lives. Some of the congregation came up later to discuss my comments.
Sergei Interesov had a great expository sermon from Galatians 5:26-6:5. He tended to be long winded as we would say, but it was a very biblical message. Through the Holy Spirit’s guidance my talk and his sermon went together nicely. He exhorted them to live biblical, holy lives.
Indira’s mom, Gizelle brought dinner to the office for me. It was great to talk with her. She has influenced her daughters in their pursuit for the English language. She could be my interpreter anytime. She feels her English language skills are waning due to the lack of practice, but given the opportunity, they don’t completely go away.
I must conclude this report now as I pack for camp. I trust you understand these reports are rather first draft in their nature due to my schedule. Thanks for overlooking typos and grammatical errors. Microsoft spell and grammar check are good, but they don’t catch everything. My schedule is demanding and changes often due to the circumstances. Short nights and long days do not help the clarity of the mind. Thanks for praying for us. God is doing a great work here. It’s wonderful to partner with these precious people. I realize I’ve given you a lot of details, but my hope is that it will cause you to pray more accurately for us. Please remember this trip is a shared venture of ministry with you. We as a team are your representatives in Bashkortostan. We have been sent by you and God to do the His work in place of you. We are in this together. Thanks for being our partners with our Bashkiria brothers and sisters.
Submitted by Bud Haskell
Northern California Coalition Leader