Tuesday morning: Dear prayer team, today will be a long trip: Kansas City-Minneapolis-Amsterdam-Moscow-Novosibirsk. Novosibirsk is in the middle of Siberia, the largest city in Siberia I think (at 1.5 million), and at the heart of that vast countryside. The event I’m going to is a summer camp for young adults, hosted by Sergey Shilovskiy, a young man with a powerful ministry to young adults in the Russian speaking world. Sergey has a close connection with IHOPKC, and his ministry is largely prayer-centered.
I am scheduled to do two camps with Sergey this summer — in Novosibirsk and Vladivostok. The latter will happen in August.
Schedule: Thurs/Fri/Sat I speak at the camp, then Sunday morning at a church in Novosibirsk. Then early Monday I start the trek home.
Wednesday 5:30 p.m.: Greetings from Moscow’s international airport, where I have a few hours to kill in the business lounge until my flight leaves for Novosibirsk. I have struggled with back pain and fitful sleep, but am here and don’t look too bad for wear, smile. I know the Lord is helping me. My WiFi connection here is slower than dial-up. I can’t figure out if my problem is a slow connection, or if certain sites are blocked.
Thursday 6:30 a.m.: Greetings from my hotel in the fields somewhere outside Novosibirsk. My body has no idea what time zone it’s in, I’m just happy to have arrived. My room is sparse and simple, but a whole lot better than the tents everyone else is in, smile. It’s odd, actually, to see a hotel like this in the middle of overgrown fields. There’s an electronic gate to the hotel parking lot, and a guard stationed at the gate all night long. And I have no idea why. There’s nothing out here. Flying here, the horizon on the northern side of the plane remained lit all night. I LOVE long days!
There’s no WiFi in the hotel, so they have given me a cellphone which I am using for a hotspot. Sweet. There is also no restaurant in the hotel, so all meals will be at the camp. I’m told there are close to 250 campers at this event, most of them from the host church in Novosibirsk, which is called Word of Life. Every once in a while it’s good to do something that is OUT THERE.
It’s nice to hear cows, roosters, and dogs in the distance.
Friday morning: Good morning! My hotspot has not been working, so I’ve been without internet access, but now it suddenly popped on again, so I am able to email, etc. Last night the Lord helped me so much, and I was leaning hard on him because of the strong language limitations of my translator. But somehow the Lord seemed to make up for the limitations of the context, because afterwards my hosts expressed an amazing connection with the message, it seemed to impact them deeply. So I am amazed again at how God can spread His word in hindering situations. It reminded me of how powerfully God spoke through David Brainerd’s drunk translator centuries ago. What can stop God?
After the service I did a video for them, because Tommy Barnett is coming to this church in September for a conference, so I encouraged folks to attend.
Tonight (Friday night) I plan to speak on the Luke 18 parable of the persistent widow. Please pray in to that. I have learned that I am not scheduled to speak on Saturday. On Sunday I will do one of the three services — they have services planned for morning, afternoon, and evening. Then my departure is around 2:00 a.m. on Monday.
Friday noon: You’ve heard that Russians are tough? This afternoon a heavy thundershower moved through. The rain just poured, the wind blew, and there were large hailstones in the mix. Not long afterwards, the sun re-emerged. During the storm, I was safely tucked in my hotel room, but was thinking about all the campers in their tents. Later, when I was collected for lunch, some folks were laughing at the lunch table. I was told they were laughing at how quickly the weather can change in Siberia. A squall that I thought would dampen their spirits only made them laugh. I’m a softy, these people are tough.
Saturday morning: It’s raining here this morning. I’m grateful for my dry room, and thinking about all the campers in their tents in this rain. The campers are brave souls! Last night’s service seemed to go OK. The translation process has been very challenging, and now I release to the Lord how the message came through. The pastor is changing translators for the Saturday morning service, and I hope it will be easier with this new translator.
After today’s 12:30 pm session, the camp will be over, and we will all pack up and return to the city of Novosibirsk, and will be looking forward to Sunday’s services.
Saturday 7:30 p.m.: We have now moved from the camp grounds, and are in the city of Novosibirsk, lodged at a very nice hotel. I brought the closing message of the camp today at 1:00 p.m., and the Lord graced me to speak on standing before the Lord as New Testament Levites. It’s been a number of months since I’ve given that message, and it spoke to my heart in a fresh way as I was delivering it. I think it was also meaningful for the campers.
There will be three services tomorrow at Word of Life church: morning, afternoon, and evening. I am scheduled for the 6:30 evening service.
I think I have a little more clarity on the Russian bill that has been passed by the Duma and now has gone to Putin for either ratification, amendment, or veto. It’s a bill targeting terrorism. Russian legislators are always careful, when trying to curtail the growth of Islam, to not infringe on the liberties of the Russian Orthodox Church. However, they feel no such loyalty to evangelical churches; in fact, they are quietly antagonistic toward evangelicals because the Orthodox church has labeled them sects. So if a measure to curb the influx of terrorism might place any restrictions on evangelical churches, it can quietly be viewed as a plus to some legislators. So the target is Islam, with fallout that impacts evangelicals but preserves the liberties of Orthodox churches. This is the impression I got from last night’s conversation with my hosts. They are hoping and praying that Putin will adjust those portions of the law that would restrict the activities of evangelicals (such as home group meetings, and praying and witnessing in public places).
Monday noon: Greetings from Paris airport. It’s been a bit bizzy, and I’m just now getting to this update. The closing service last night at Word of Life church was a blast. Great worship, some fun cultural songs presented, and good ministry in the word. At the close of the message, virtually everyone came forward to be anointed with oil and prayed for. Afterwards, there were a TON of pictures to be taken. I’m grateful to God for an excellent weekend of ministry.
I will be with Sergey for a second camp and conference this summer — August in Vladivostok. That will be a larger camp, and Lenny LaGuardia from IHOPKC will also be there. As well as Paul Zink of Jacksonville FL.
We were collected at 3:45 a.m., and my 5:50 a.m. flight to Moscow was thankfully on time. If you’re into it, here’s my airport story, ha. We arrived into SVO (Moscow’s primary international airport) around 1.75 hours before my departing flight to Paris, and so I’m thinking, we’ve got this one in the bag. Ha. The Moscow airport can be summarized with “hurry and wait.” I dashed to the carousel to collect my bags. Had to wait quite a while. Finally they came out, and I hurried with my luggage to the Air France counter. Which happened to be at the furthest terminal from where I was. I tried to be chill, but was sweating by the time I got there. Waited in that line. Finally got checked in. The next stop was the Customs line, where they process your passport for leaving the country. The operative word in that last sentence is stop. It took the longest time, but finally it was my turn. He processed my passport, and released me to go the Security line. Both lines at Security were long and real slow, so I chose one. And waited. A couple minutes later, the Customs officer who processed me comes and finds me, asks for my passport and boarding pass, and asks me to return to his kiosk. Another first for me. What could this possibly mean? I’m already sweating the clock. I could piece together that he was having computer troubles, and when he processed me it didn’t get into the system properly. So he was trying to do it all over again. He punched in some stuff, and from my new vantage I was able to watch his computer screen. Up came an icon for a floppy disk. Which meant the computer was thinking. The floppy disk just stayed there on the screen. Suddenly I realized why this stop to exit Customs at SVO is always eternally slow. It’s not that the agents are purposefully slow, it’s that their computer system is antiquated and slower than molasses. When was the last time you had a computer that brought up an icon of a floppy disk to tell you it was thinking?? Suddenly everything made sense. The guy could not make his computer work. So he finally gave my passport to another kiosk, and the other gal helped me out. I could tell by now that the whole system was jammed, and almost nobody was getting through Customs, and the lines were now very long. With very distressed passengers. I was so glad that the computer crash happened just in time that I was able to get through and make my flight. My plane was mostly boarded, but I made it on my flight to Paris! It’s stunning that think that the nation’s largest international airport at its largest city is using such archaic systems. Welcome to Russia.
So now here I sit in Paris with an almost 4-hour layover, and I’m listening to my patriotic music playlist while I write this to you on July 4 from Europe, smile.