Reflections on the journey thus far
Going global – I flew on British Airways from Seattle to Moscow and then on S7 from Moscow to Anapa. On the Seattle – London leg, BA showed a commercial for HSBC bank before every one of their movies. The background music is “Thank heaven for little girls.” The commercial portrays a young girl setting up a lemonade stand while her father helps her in the background.
The girl paints a sign that reads, “Lemonade – $.50.” Her first customer is a Chinese woman and her preschool son. She looks in her wallet and only has foreign currency. The lemonade stand girl responds, “I take Hong Kong dollars.” She then greets the woman in Chinese and speaks to the boy in the same language. They smile in appreciation. The dad comes out of the house, drinks a glass of lemonade and the girl holds out her hand for payment. A tour bus with foreign speakers pulls up and the dad runs back to the kitchen to make more lemonade. The commercial closes with a view of her new sign that includes the price in US Dollars, Hong Kong Dollars, British Pounds, and German Marks. The announcer closes, “In the future, HSBC believes that all business will be international.”
It caused me to reflect; shouldn’t the same be true of ministry? Isn’t the gospel intended to be international as well? Doesn’t the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) say that we are to make disciples of all nations?
Thankfully, I am part of a church that believes the gospel is to be proclaimed locally AND internationally. Which is why I found myself on a plane heading for Russia to train pastors and leaders.
Commitment to train and equip – John & Naomi Musgrave operate the House of Grace, a guest house for pastors in Tsibanobalka, Russia, near Anapa on the Black Sea. They are also involved in Holy Trinity Church in Anapa where John serves as one of the elders.
Shortly after arriving, John invited to join him for an elders meeting. The church is currently without a “formal” pastor, so the three elders plus an elder in training serve as the leadership team. (One of the men, Victor, is “pastor elect” and is taking classes at a Bible college in Krasnodar, where my translator, Misha, serves as Academic Dean. It is a six-year course with three two-week courses per year.)
The elders meet on a weekly basis to pray, evaluate, plan, and shepherd the church. The meeting began by discussing how the various home groups were going and if there were any issues, needs, or people to pray for. The men then prayed for the church. Following that, they debriefed the previous Sunday worship service and gave feedback on John’s sermon.
The four men are preaching a seven-week series on the life of Joseph. John preaches 1, 4, and 7 of the series. Victor preaches two of the sermons, and the other two men one sermon each. It demonstrates a commitment to making sure all elders are “able to teach” as well as spreads out the leadership responsibilities. In addition, one of John’s convictions is that Russian churches should be led by Russian pastors. Thus, John is training and equipping these men to lead and shepherd the congregation. Over time, Victor and the other men will preach more and John less.
Attending a meeting in another language is not the easiest thing to do when suffering from jet lag. For the most part I was able to stay awake and track with the discussions. But I did find myself fading and nodding at various times.
Leadership retreat – Part of the ministry of House of Grace is serving as a retreat center. Various groups rent the facility and John & Naomi provide the meals. When I arrived, a church from Krasnodar (about three hours away) was holding a leadership retreat. The pastor, elders, deacons, and small group leaders were present (about 14 men). While I could not understand the content, I was impressed by the seriousness of their discussions, the passion of their prayers and worship, and the commitment to using their time well. The retreat began on Sunday and wraps up with lunch today.
Cleaning – After the Krasnodar group leaves, the house will be cleaned from top to bottom and laundry done in preparation for the next group arriving on Thursday This is the class I will be teaching. Helping clean will be a good way for me to serve as well as getting over jet lag.