Also while in Yakutsk, we met with another pastor (of a different church). We arranged a meeting with him beforehand, but despite the fact that he welcomed us gladly, we unfortunately did not have a constructive conversation with him. Although he considers himself to be a church minister, he is a businessman and is very concerned about his business. While we were at his house, he was distracted by phone calls, and several times he ran out of the house to meet some people. In the end, having apologized for his busy schedule, he went about his business to the construction market; and we went back to Pastor Andrey’s church. That was the end of our communication with him.
Photo Gallery: A Trip to the North – Part 2
The Lord also blessed us with the opportunity to spend 10 days in Srednekolymsk. It is worth mentioning that Srednekolymsk is a city within the Arctic Circle, and it is an extremely wild and severe place that we experienced in person. Forest-tundra, which is literally full of lakes and swamps, produces an incredible amount of mosquitoes and all types of midges. To meet a bear in the city limits is almost a normal occurrence here. They can easily break into people’s houses in search of food, paralyzing people with fear. Winters are extremely cold, and summers are almost non-existent here. There is hardly any civilization, which we are so used to in big cities. Local residents experience difficulties in such areas of life, which we who live in big cities, are simply unaware of. There are no factories or plants here, and people do not produce anything. They just live here, and are fed by the local river and taiga (forest). The city itself makes a disheartening impression: everything here looks poor and shabby.
Observing all of this, one begins to understand how much Dan Van Schaemelhout, who labored there, was devoted to God. He came from Colorado all the way to Siberia many years ago. He was a true missionary from God. God blessed him abundantly, and his labor was not in vain. During his time there, Dan walked through the whole city twice, knocking on every door. He remained faithful to his calling to the very end. In May of last year, he died from cancer in Srednekolymsk and was buried in the local cemetery. It so happened that while we were there, I along with Brother Valentin (from the church) put a memorial plate on his grave. In the past, I heard several times about Dan, who labored in the Northern Yakut region, but I couldn’t even imagine that I would be in Srednekolymsk and would set a memorial plate on his grave. Truly God works in mysterious ways.
Although we went to Srednekolymsk by faith (we really didn’t know what to expect there), we were very pleased to meet people of the same spirit. We were warmly welcomed, and we had such a feeling that we were with our own family, who we knew for a long time. Srednekolymsk Baptist Church consists of only eight members: one brother, Valentin, and seven sisters. After the death of Dan, Sister Yulia (a missionary and translator who came from Ukraine with Dan) remained there to help with the church. Although six members are Yakuts, the meetings are held in Russian. It is also worth mentioning that in spite of some short-comings, Pastor Dan labored well at that church. As a whole, they are well instructed in the Gospel.
All of our time in Srednekolymsk was spent ministering. Every evening, during our stay there, we spent helping the believers: instructing, encouraging, and comforting them with the Word of God. During the daytime, sister Yulia organized various meetings with unbelievers, so that we could share the Gospel of Christ. We also had an opportunity to preach the Word at the local tuberculosis hospital. The Gospel was also proclaimed at the local telecommunication company, where the director did something unusual – he gathered all his employees at his office during work hours so that we could preach the Gospel to them. Also Sister Yulia set up a meeting with many Tajikistan workers, who came to Srednekolymsk in search of work. God gave us many opportunities to preach Christ to various people at stores, to those we met on streets, and to those who were introduced to us by the believers.
We also had the privilege of baptizing two fairly new believers in the Kolyma River. In addition, we had an opportunity to have the Lord’s Supper with the church.
Here is what I observed: the church in Srednekolymsk stands on firm Biblical ground, which is a rare thing in that region. They stand in the true faith of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. All of their hope and confidence is in the Lord. For all of this, I praise the Lord!
Therefore, remember them in your prayers. They are in need of your prayer support. Pray that the Lord would help them to stand firm in the faith, that they may grow in the knowledge of the Lord, and that they would be able to serve Him with joy. After Dan passed away, they became very discouraged. Please pray that God would bless them and provide us with an opportunity to visit them again.
Your brother in Christ,