Saturday, March 12, 2011
Thursday, March 10, 2011
We thank the Lord for each of you who prayed for us, encouraged us and financially supported us during our three month ministry trip to Switzerland, Russia and Kazakhstan.
It was God’s sovereign hand which directed Blake Purcell to visit our church; Reformation Church OPC, Castle Rock, Colorado. Following his sermon in the summer of 2010 we visited with Blake at a reception meal put on by one of our elders, Jim Mill. The opportunity to speak with Blake and to hear about the important work of the St. Petersburg seminary for Russian speaking countries in Europe and Asia, lead to us pray about a get to know you trip to St. Petersburg, Russia and Karaganda, Kazakhstan where one of the current seminary students serves as a pastor. The work that God has done through Blake and his family in Russia since 1992 was inspirational for us and the Holy Spirit moved our hearts to seek a way to serve these precious brothers in Christ. Starting a church, seminary and support ministry for various reformed churches that stretches 9 times zones in various countries which comprised the former Soviet Union is an amazing work of God.
We enjoyed our opportunity to visit St. Petersburg to meet the church leadership, part of the seminary staff and preach a few messages. The warm hospitality of the church families in both St. Petersburg and Karaganda was a blessing. The gracious invitations for meals and fellowship provided us with excellent insight into the challenges of Christians living in these two nations of the former soviet union. The richness of generations of faithful believers in Europe and North America is obviously missing in these cultures. It was a strange experience being a senior representative of the Christian faith for these many new believers.
In Karaganda, Kazakhstan I spoke in a couple English classes and at an evangelistic English bible study. At Joy Presbyterian Church we shared the word of God every day encouraging our brothers and sisters. We taught on Biblical Conflict Resolution, Loving God and His Church and Family Discipleship. We also had opportunities to share in specific conversations about the challenges these dear believers face in a godless culture. These believers are courageous and encouraged us greatly. We truly experienced what the Apostle Paul wrote about the Roman church.
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine. Romans 1:8-12
Our last two weeks in Switzerland were filled with illness and other blessings! Both Annina and I came down with a flu bug that turned into pneumonia for Annina and prevented her from returning with us to the USA. She is staying with her grandparents as she recovers. When she sees the doctor at the end of this week we will find out when she can return to the states.
During our last week in Switzerland I met with three present and former board members of Bildung zu Hause, the Swiss home school association. We discussed the home school movement in Switzerland including the threats to their current freedoms and the need for a Christian Home School conference. The men expressed the need for someone to take leadership of a German speaking conference that would include Swiss, Austrian and German home school families. As you know home education is illegal in Germany and many families are home schooling “underground” or fleeing the country. Home school conferences have been a tremendous encouragement and resource for us over our many years of home schooling. Currently there is not a Christian Home School conference being offered for German speaking home school families. Two of the board members have asked me if I would consider taking up the leadership of just such a conference. We would need to raise support to take up this calling and we are seeking for God to prayerfully confirm if we should do this or not. Currently a proposed date for the conference would be Spring 2012.
We arrived in Colorado with several delays, including an over-night stay at the Hyatt near O’Hare in Chicago courtesy of Swiss Airlines. We’ve unpacked, did laundry, sorted mail, repacked and did various other chores. We leave tomorrow for Arizona to attend the memorial service for my father Chuck, who is now with the Lord. We will be staying in Arizona for six to seven weeks to help my mother during this difficult time of transition.