If you don’t understand our vision well, it can sometimes seem overwhelming, because it really is big. But how else does a country change but when God’s people pray about big things? One more important piece of the larger puzzle came together this weekend for me, for our team, and for the advancement of the Kingdom here. Let me back up.
I read a book about ten years ago that made a huge impression on me, David Garrison’s Church Planting Movements. In it he described events happening around the world that I had never heard of: incredibly rapid exponential growth of house-based churches. The Southern Baptists seemed to be leading the way in this, and they even had a several week training available that I seriously contemplated attending. Then we started getting serious
about Russia, and the subject got dropped.
For a while. I would hear periodically about the incredible things God was doing in other parts of the world, and something in me told me that this was serious and demanded serious attention. Then two events happened so close together that I knew God was doing more. One happened when one of the young men in our core team showed me some videos translated into Russian of a guy named David Watson. Then I found out that our mission (Church Resource Ministries) had invited him to do some training for their leadership. Soon I learned that our mission’s president, Sam Metcalf, had adopted his Disciple Making Movements (read Miraculous Movements for a full and amazing description) as a major new thrust for our organization.
To make a long story short, I connected with the man in charge of this charge and over the course of several discussions, we decided he should come here this month to lead some training. This man, Norris Williams (right), has led training that had led to unbelievable church multiplication in several MidEastern countries. Along with him came David Broodryk, who has done the same in his home country of South Africa and several other African nations. So to say we had competent leadership here is a strong understatement.
Problem was I felt totally under qualified to host such an event, and I was plagued by doubts that it was a viable model here, given the resistance of Russians to the gospel. Was it even worth it? To my amazement we had nearly 30 participants, which amounted to my leadership team and primarily the team of another Russian pastor who has been patiently applying this model over the last year and a half since Broodryk came here the first time.
That was to be the least of all the amazing moments in the 4 day training we just had (Nov. 9-12). Next was the fact that after only the first day the trainers told me they felt like something special was already happening that they considered unique. By the third day enthusiasm was very high and they sent us out on the streets to talk with people. I hate street evangelism and consider myself a terrible evangelist, and my experience on the street didn’t go all that great. But the stories that so many others came back with were beyond anything I had expected. Whereas in most approaches to street evangelism the goal is a quick conversion, the only goal here is to find those interested in any kind of spiritual conversation. The conversations people had were amazing, touching, deeply connecting, and resulted in quite a few phone numbers given out. There was even one person healed of an eye disorder. What blew me away beyond that was that our trainers were also amazed at the results.
On the last day our trainers asked me to invite only a select few back, potential leaders, for a full day of strategizing. Again this group was comprised of some of my team and some of the other team. How we worked together without egos or agendas was remarkable to me and the trainers. As a result, we worked out an early near-term strategy and a plan to invite everyone else and others to bi-monthly meetings to move this movement forward.
To go from doubt in myself, doubt in our group, doubt in the model and doubt about Russia to the place where I am being told that God is doing something powerful and unlike anything they have witnessed before has nearly taken my breath away. My wife says she feels like a fundamental shift has taken place, not to displace what I have been doing, but to give our ministry new focus and hope. I can picture more than ever a Russia bowing its knees to King Jesus. How can I not be a part of that?