Here are some pictures from the class in Tsibanobalka. We had 11 students in the class on Romans 9-16. It was a great week.
Category Archives: House of Grace
If you’d like to know more about my recent ministry trip to Russia, download a copy of my report and learn more about what God did.
Sandzhik took us to visit a monument remembering those who were deported to Siberia at the beginning of WWII. Stalin was afraid the Kalmyks might fight for the Germans. The boxcar is what the people were transported in. The deportation took place in 1943 and the people were not able to return until 1957. The monument at the top of the hill has two faces. One side depicts the Soviet machine that chews people up and spits them out. The other side depicts the new face of Kalymyia. It was a sobering experience.
Friday evening, I was reminded of the scene from the movie, Chariots of Fire, where Eric Liddell goes for a walk with his sister, Jenny, in the Scottish Highlands. Jenny is concerned that by training for the Olympic Games, her brother is abandoning his commitment to missions in China. In his Scottish brogue, Eric reassures her otherwise. “Jenny, Jenny, God made me for China. But God also made me fast, and when I run I feel his pleasure.”
I have discovered there is a sense of satisfaction that comes from knowing you are using your gifts to help accomplish the plan and purpose of God. Through comments made by some of the students the past two weeks, I have sensed God’s smile on my life.
Sergey from Anapa said that he came away from the class with a bigger view of God. He wanted to fall at his feet and worship him.
Alexander, who runs an alcohol rehab center near Krasnodar, attended the class at House of Grace three years ago. Last year’s class filled up before he could register. John said he was adamant that he wanted to be in my class in Anapa this year. John said I’m developing a following.
Sandzhik from Elista said, “Good teach.” He invited me to return again next year.
Elsa said the study caused her to fall in love with Moses. While Elsa was not in the class, her daughter, Zanda, was. Zanda came home every night and told her mother what she had learned. Previously, she liked Daniel and Joseph but had not thought much about Moses. Now she had a new appreciation for Moses.
Mergen appreciated the life lessons I shared.
Tzagana said she learned that God can help her break free of a lifetime of bad habits such as worry. She said, “Mark crossed the ocean to teach me to trust God.” I responded, “If that’s all I accomplished this week, it was worth the trip.”
Natasha said all her family were Christians, but they were critical. She never considered it a problem until the lesson on Numbers 11 when she realized that complaining is a sin.
Slava thanked me for the lessons. He said he remembered a lesson on remembering when I had the class paint a rock. I realized he was speaking of the stones of remembrance in Joshua 4 which I taught in 2011. I was impressed and humbled he still remembered and valued the lesson.
John Musgrave said I have now accomplished Acts 1:8—I’ve taken the gospel to the ends of the earth. Elista, Kalmykia, may not be the ends of the earth, but you can probably see it from there. As part of the steppes region of the Caucasus Mountains, it is as flat as the eye can see. When I was teaching on God meeting with Israel at Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19), I said, “Imagine a mountain covered in clouds.” One person responded, “We can’t. There are no mountains here.” Too true. When we boarded the plane on Sunday in Elista, Naomi to take one last look. I said, “That’s the flattest horizon I have ever seen.”
Saturday afternoon we hung out at Cinnabon for a couple of hours to use the internet. I was able to get caught up on email and send out the daily reports I had written but was unable to send.
Saturday turned colder and it was snowing when we left the restaurant. I joked with John, “Don’t tell me this is preparing me to go back to MA.”
Sandzhik picked us up and took us to dinner at his home. We enjoyed a wonderful evening with Sandzhik and Elsa and their daughter, Zanda. We evaluated the week of classes, talked about possible future plans, listened to their dreams for future ministry, told stories, laughed, and enjoyed fellowship with fellow kingdom servants. We ended the evening by praying for the family.
On Sunday, we had an easy morning. We hung out at the house until Kolya picked us up for lunch. Afterwards, he and Sandzhik took us to the airport for our flight to Moscow.
I was more tired Sunday morning than I have been on the trip. I could tell the trip was almost over by the fact I was starting to let down physically. I didn’t have to be “up” to teach and I was feeling “spent.”
On the way to lunch, Sandzhik took us to see a famous Kalmykian monument that remembers the many Kalmyks sent to Siberia by Stalin in 1943. Many went to Sakhalin Island. That’s where Sandzhik’s mother went to while his father went to another location. Seems he was afraid they would fight for the Germans so he sent them away. They were not able to return until 1957. Sandzhik said his grandfather was sent to Siberia three times. The monument was very sobering, made even more so by the cold weather and biting wind.
We arrived in Moscow Sunday evening. Upper 30’s, raining.
We are now on our way to the next adventure. I’m headed home, John & Naomi head for Bishkek, Krygyzstan, and Lena goes back to her home in Anapa.
See you soon. Thanks for praying.
We wrapped up the class on Saturday morning, meeting from 9AM – 1PM. As I did last week, I started by giving them an assignment. I gave them one hour to study Deuteronomy 34 and Hebrews 11:24-28. They could spread out throughout the house and study by themselves without talking. When we met together at 10AM, I divided the class into 4 groups. They were to discuss how to teach them lessons.
We gathered at 10:45AM for tea. John & Naomi fixed their special red & blue jello with whipped cream. It’s a simple treat but the Russians go crazy for it.
During the tea time, the group gave me a gift to say “Thank you.” It was a Kalmykian wineskin. Sandzhik said it symbolized the fact that I poured new wine into their lives this week. I also received a book about Kalmykia. The wineskin especially will find a place among my treasured mementos.
At 11AM, the four groups took turns teaching the passages to each other. Rather than merely explain the passage, one person from each group preached a short sermon. Elza took some good natured ribbing for being a woman preacher. All showed good insight into the passages and delivered them with appropriate applications and challenges at the end.
I then explained how I used a funeral to teach Deuteronomy 34, similar to what I did last week. I also explained what I took away from Hebrews 11. We then looked at Psalm 90, the psalm Moses wrote at the end of his life.
I closed the class with two final stories. I explained that Deuteronomy 1:2 says it was normally an 11-day journey from Mt. Sinai to the Promised Land. But it took Israel 40 years because of disobedience and unbelief. The final lesson was the story of the bamboo in Malaysia I used in a sermon a few weeks back. I encouraged the group to stay faithful in their ministries.
After lunch, there were numerous good-byes, hugs, heart-felt thank you’s, and God bless you’s. I count it a privilege to have served these folks this week.
Tonight we will enjoy dinner with Sandzhik & Elsa and their family. Tomorrow we have lunch with Kolya, and then we fly back to Moscow. I head home on Monday while John & Naomi head for Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
Thanks for praying.