Pastor Anatoly recently traveled to visit Andrei, another pastor supported by HeartCry, who is planting a church in Southern Russia. Read below the first half of Anatoly’s report from his recent trip. Part 2 of Anatoly’s report will be available next week:
It’s been almost two years since Andrei, his wife, and their three children moved from a large city in the West Siberia to a small town in the south of Russia. It is a peculiar region that is quite different from the rest of Russia. Situated between the Black Sea to the west, the Caspian Sea to the east and mountainous Caucasus to the south, it is a place that has its own flavor and spiritual climate.
Andrei was invited to move and plant a church by a small group of believers who were seeking to be ground in the biblical teaching. Their home church back in Siberia grew and felt too large. Their heart was for pioneer work. The timing of the invitation seemed right. Andrei also viewed their deployment to the mission field as a step for their own church’s maturity. He strongly believes that if a church confesses the gospel, it must have missions as its priority. If missions are a priority, then the church should be willing to give away one of its pastors to that cause. He was one of the founders of the church when it originally started as a small group. His wife added, “We felt we must go somewhere to do groundbreaking work, not so much develop further an established church.”
Even though they did their homework researching their new place, actual living among the people of the Russian south brought a lot of unexpected things. “We wonder if we would have made the move if we had known that the local ways are so different!”, they exclaimed. It was not only an adjustment to this couple in their mid-forties, but to their children two of whom were in their teens. Their elder son thrived in the new place but his younger sister was frustrated as she lost all her social contacts. Then she went to a local school where she was rejected by peers as an alien whose family keeps to a strange faith. The pressure was not only from students but even from teachers! In an effort to help her adjust, she is home-schooled at the moment.
Doubts began to grow as two family couples, who actually invited Andrei and his family there in the first place, started challenging Andrei’s teaching and character. A few months of turmoil resulted in those couples leaving with lots of complaints. They began to question: Were we actually called here? Was that God’s plan? Did we do the right thing after we came? Is the problem with us? Is there an actual sin in us that we are blind to? By God’s grace, Andrei and his wife stood that test and came out even more resolute that the Lord wants them here. From a human perspective, they have been greatly helped by their home church. There has been an ongoing intercession, online communication and personal visits (even though the distance between them is two days by train). Coming now as a representative of HeartCry, I had the joy and privilege of seeing what the Lord is doing through their ministry and to confirm that they are indeed on the right track!