It's been another normal, unpredictable and busy week in Russia.
Last Sunday morning, due to a combination of different things, we saw 62 people at our morning meeting. These included 50 adults! Twenty up on the week before. Numbers were up so much (bearing in mind its only our 8th Sunday morning meeting since starting in September) because Nadia, our translator, was announcing her engagement, which brought in 8 visitors. Also, another church were not able to meet on Sunday so a crowd of about 15 turned up to ours...plus we had 7 visitors of our own not related to these two other groups. So we ran out of chairs and space very quickly. Oh Lord, what joy it is to serve you!
Last weekend we also helped host the church in Kolpena through two evenings, once on Saturday for a seminar on the prophetic and then at their church meeting on Sunday evening, where we were able to pray for many sick people and had a few of them give testimony there and then on the spot, saying that power or heat had passed through their bodies! Amen, more Lord.
It was a great time of seeing what God was doing, all the same time as I was realising that it's the work of the Holy Spirit that is so vital, and nothing from ourselves. As I was standing on the main doors on Sunday morning, welcoming people in, in the moments between anyone arriving (there were lots as I'm there for 30 minutes) I was just singing the phrase "It's all about Jesus!"
It's so hard to keep dying to yourself, to keep laying down your dreams, hopes, abilities even. To serve in such a way that just allows Jesus through the Holy Spirit to meet directly with the people you are reaching, because what they most need IS Jesus....not you! So when things were going wrong in the set up on Sunday, when I couldn't load the presentation onto the computer that I'd been working on in the week and it made me frustrated, I had to come back to the thoughts that its just about Jesus.
I soon face a long time out of Russia as we travel back to England to have our second (& last!) child before returning home to Russia in April 2010. The thought of being away for so long is hard. It also reminds me of the fact that its not my work, but God's. We've invested so much here already, that to leave for a season you can tend to feel things are linked to you in someway. And while relationally that is indeed the case, the mantle for His church in St Petersburg has always been God's, and therefore nothing is changing in that regard, as God is going nowhere! And thank God for that!
Next week is set to be a week of a couple of 'firsts'. On Thursday, I am teaching my first English class, having sat in with Hansie last Thursday in preparation for covering his class this coming week while he is away. It'll be a good experience but pushes me out my comfort zone. And then next Sunday, even more out my comfort zone, I'm preaching for the first time at Hope church and in Russia! Agh!
Dave Henson has likened preachers bringing 'beef steaks' when they have preached in the past. I do fear more about being just a side salad! But yet again, thank goodness it's not about me! All I intend to bring next week is the wrapping paper. I can bring words, bring description, explain things, but I'm only ever going to be the wrapping paper, and if God doesn't turn up in power to confirm the word I felt He put on my heart, then it'll be wrapping paper WITHOUT a present in the middle! The Holy Spirit is the one who'll bring the gift, so my prayers and planning this week are going to focus very much on asking God to be there in power next Sunday, so that He does a work in the hearts of those there that I just will not be able to do.
I've had a hard week Russian wise....actually, I've probably had a hard week in general. But I seemed to hit a point on Wednesday when it felt like my brick tower of understanding came crashing down so that I forgot it all rather than just the last brick. It all seemed muddled up. The teacher then suggested a different approach, which does seem to be helping, so that Thursday lesson was a lot better. But I feel under attack. The enemy certainly wants to over load me. If it's not through my Russian (or lack of..), it's about my writing. Or if not through that he's throwing temptation my way, so much that I have to swim through the stuff sometimes.
All these things remind me therefore of the fact that God is doing something right, and very powerful, in St Petersburg. With this, and with his amazing help, I can push through, stand my ground, and see the enemy flee.
I'm not really sure that much what this post has been about? It's a muddled entry on various things, but that reflects life in Russia, where routine, or even normality, is a thing you leave at the airport (eg Heathrow) on your way out because they just don't function in the same way here...so you just kind of need to get used to it....which you never can, because its never the same....lol...it's kind of just acknowledging that an unroutined, changing lifestyle is actually the normal standard routine...if that makes any sense.
Oh well, I've had my time and think I've not said very much. Be blessed anyway, Tim.