Sunday’s theme could best be summed up in the phrase, “Sharing life together.”
In the morning, we worshipped at Holy Trinity Church in Anapa. The church was planted by Victor Semukhin and is where John Musgrave serves as one of the elders. The church is very unique by Russian standards, and/or American ones for that matter, in that they have a team of elders who serve together to shepherd the flock. Vanya serves as the pastor, and is assisted by Viktor, Kolya, and Kosta. Tall Vanya is an elder-in-training. Both Vanya’s, Kolya & Kosta were part of the class I taught the past three days along with two other men from the church.
John preached this morning on Hebrews 10:24-25. His main points were: (1) don’t neglect attending church and meeting together because we need each other; (2) encourage one another—when you come to church, be prepared to minister to others with a word of encouragement; and (3) spur one another on (irritate each other in a good way) to produce good works. He ended with a personal challenge to do each of these three actions.
Once a month, the church celebrates a Day of Unity with a potluck dinner at one of the members’ home. John & Naomi opened up House of Grace for the occasion. It was encouraging to see the lively conversations, parents holding their children, and people doing life together. There was a boatload of food highlighted by John’s grilled teriyaki pork chops. We were giving away bags of leftovers at the end.
The church is healthy and growing. Three years ago, there were about 30 in the worship service. There were 72 chairs set up this morning with 80 in attendance. Children were sitting on parents’ laps and people sharing seats. 60 attended the potluck this afternoon. Considering this was the first of March and the church is even larger in the summer, they are experiencing great growth pains.
I commented to Vanya that the church appeared healthy and growing. He said they were not doing anything out of the ordinary. They were just preaching sermons, training leaders, and sharing together. I pointed out he was practicing Acts 2:42-47 and God was blessing the church. I noticed a large number of children and young families in attendance. John said it was due to two elders’ wives (both named Oxana) treating children as a ministry and not just a babysitting service. (It validates what I believe about the importance of children’s ministry being a key component to growing a church.) It also shows the time and effort that John has put into leadership development over the past several years.
I received one of the better compliments I’ve received from Sergey as he was leaving the afternoon gathering. He is relatively new to the church and attended last week’s class. He said the class on Moses gave him a much larger view of God. While I was teaching simple truths, it made him want to fall on his knees and worship such a great God. It was a very encouraging compliment.
Tomorrow we begin the travel portion of the trip. We fly back to Moscow on Monday and on to Elista on Tuesday. After a day of recovery and preparation on Wednesday, we start the second class on Thursday. Stay tuned.
Thanks for praying.