Students started arriving about 9:30AM and the first session began at 10:30. 10 men are part of the class, along with Lena, our translator. During the opening session, I asked the men to introduce themselves—who they are, where they are from, and what ministry they are engaged in. Half of the group comes from the Holy Trinity Church in Anapa, where John Musgrave serves as one of the elders. Vanya, the pastor, and Kostya and Kolya, two of the elders, are part of the class. Several other men are part of a church/alcohol rehabilitation ministry in a village near Krasnodar pastored by Sasha. Around noon, Sergey arrived from Crimea. He traveled all night by bus to come for the day.
We met from 10:30 until lunch at 1PM. Then we reconvened at 1:45 and went until 5:10 when we broke for dinner. All told, about six hours of teaching today. I covered the first six chapters of Exodus from Moses’ birth up to the beginning of the 10 Plagues. Considering I am one-third of the way through my notes, I guess I am on track for a three-day class. Part of the time I lectured and part was filled with discussion and Q&A. There was much more discussion than in previous classes. John mentioned that the Anapa elders meet each week to dissect and discuss the upcoming sermon. Their training was evident in the quantity and quality of their questions. It made for a very interactive and interesting experience.
After dinner, I talked for quite a while with Pastor Sergey from Crimea. Due to the changing political climate, a large number of people not only left his church but the area as well. It has made for a challenging ministry. He asked a number of questions about how we do evangelism, Christian Education, special services, recovery programs, and more. Later, Pastor Sasha joined us for the discussion on recovery programs. Sasha’s ministry involves an alcohol rehabilitation center that makes use of a former collective farm. What they grow helps support the ministry.
As I listen to these men talk about their respective ministries and families, I am humbled by their commitment to Christ. My problems appear very pedestrian compared to their experiences.
Thanks for praying.