Here are some of the things that God seems to be laying on my heart for the new year that I hope to pursue, given that some of the most significant aspects of our transition appear to be behind us.
One way of formulating my overall vision is to say that I hope to be used by God to impact the leadership of the city in multiple spheres of society in such a way that the Holy Spirit brings visible revival, with change measurable by any test, especially impacting the lives of the orphans.
Let me try to do that again with fewer words:
Empowering leaders in St. Petersburg for Kingdom impact in all sectors of society.
Rather than try to describe what that looks like long term, I want to give a sense of short term direction that fits within this mission. That work seems to be falling into 3 categories so far.
Within the church. My service to the Christian community has started, and I think rightfully so, with service to our own local fellowship, called Harvest. The pull has clearly been on training opportunities I can bring that come out of my counseling and coaching background. I didn’t want to tell them what they needed, so they told me that they wanted help in how to solve problems biblically. And thankfully, that class has been well received. Now I want to do more than just offer it again. My plans are somewhat radical: start immediately duplicating the knowledge God has given me by investing in others who can teach the class and grow into trainers of trainers themselves. Already, for example, in this class we have represented two individuals trained in psychology, one of the associate pastors, and a mature teenager who all show promise as leaders who can become messengers of this awesome life-changing material.
One such opportunity is likely to be for a mission training school nearby that focuses on the practical side of missions, which is very uncommon here. My January, therefore, may be dedicated in part to working in parallel with one of my students to teach this class there.
Otherwise, I have a list of pastors and other Christian leaders, including Orthodox, I want to meet and listen to next year to find out where the needs are and where I might find other open doors.
Orphan work. The purpose of my teaching at the Harbor was to get to know the kids and the program first hand in order to see where my gifts might fit in most appropriately. We have done some reshuffling, and I am now tutoring one of the boys, Yuri, alone at home. This is also a great opportunity for him to interact with my family, both for the sake of his English and for his appreciation of family life. I’m also gently introducing some coaching into our meetings to see where that will go. His English is relatively good, his intelligence is very high, and he already professes faith in Christ.
Additionally, I will be coaching one of the male mentors, Vadim, starting next month as a way of exploring both how coaching might be used for the whole staff and for how it could be used for the program participants themselves. I’m really excited about the potential here.
Outside the Harbor, I feel the need to do some research into the other ministries and secular entities serving the orphans and street kids. The street kid problem is radically different from even a year ago, as it appears that the government has actually done something good for a change and established homes for them based on a European model that works fairly well. I need to know more.
Barely 100 paces from our house is an orphanage for school-aged children. I intend to find a way to meet the leadership there and begin serving, to include bringing at least Diana and Lydia along over time.
Business. As early as March when I was here, I met an extraordinary South African woman, Colleen, who runs a business to serve the management training needs of other businesses in the city. They teach everything from English to how to get ISO 9000 certification. What I love is that Colleen’s vision for her business is totally Kingdom oriented. My relationship with her has been slowly growing over the last couple of months, and we are now looking intently into how to formalize a partnership for mutual blessing. My aim is to see her company (her mission, really) have deeper penetration into the secular business community. The possibilities are tremendous.
Diana began serving at the baby orphanages a couple of months ago, but it is now on hold due to the stresses of getting settled in as well as health problems that have been plaguing her much of the fall. She is hopeful that she can resume her service there in the next several weeks.