This video was made in 2013, but it is applicable in most respects, except that we are no longer raising money for Nastya, who has married and lives elsewhere. What remains true is that God has expanded our ministry and reach, and so with this expansion comes the need for more resources to make it all happen.
Since moving to Russia in 2007, I have used my background in coaching and counseling to invest in the transformation of people the Lord brought across my path. This has included city leaders, orphans, Christians, people of other faiths, and people with no faith at all. I have trained many people in counseling, prayer ministry, biblical peacemaking, team building, all the while building relationships and trust among these groups of people. God has been really good, for these peoples’ stories are of amazing and life-altering change.
We now have a core team invested in the personal growth of others and in the development of the ministry as a whole. And around this core are another half dozen who are serving as volunteers at some level. Several others serve as teachers/trainers, and others come for training or ministry of various kinds associated with our other ministries to the community.
The blessing of receiving our ministry facility (which is actually an extension of our own living space, but separate) has been one of the biggest miracles of our time in Russia. Our new ministry space was immediately put to good use, and it has increased our ministry activity dramatically. Russians understand as well as we do the importance of have a safe place to minister to God’s people.
The ministry center includes a private office where we offer counseling, and a large common living area used to conduct trainings, hold meetings, and to allow for fellowship. There is also a separate kitchen, a critical need in the Russian culture for relationship building.
Summer (2018) has taken us by pleasant surprise, as both of our boys have been accepted to participate in two different 6-week experiences that we are all excited about. Kerith (16) will be going on an outdoor wilderness trip with an organization called Solid Rock Outdoor Ministries. The experience costs overall about $7000, but we got a scholarship for about $2000, leaving about $5000 of expenses to cover.
Simon (14) has been accepted to a music festival in Brevard, NC, the place where Diana and I met, actually. He has also gotten a scholarship, so we only (only!) need to cover half of the $7000 tuition. A friend of ours from Brevard has graciously created a GoFundMe page for Simon, which includes a video of him playing, and we have almost half of the deficit covered there.
As a family we are going to be taking most or all of next school year as a professional sabbatical in Budapest, Hungary – our first major time off in 11 years. I am sensing that it is time for a breakthrough to the next level for me – in relationships, in faith, in courage, and in expanding the territory God has assigned me. In addition to normal sabbatical stuff – working on my own spiritual growth and marriage and family matters, I will be working most of all on my curriculum. Not only do I want to complete writing, I want to publish part of it in English and Russian, and I hope to find a path to getting some groups in the US to try it out.
We need about $10000 in extra costs related to the change of venue for the next year. Ideal would be another $10000 for production costs related to the curriculum.
Diana plans to use her time to get fully certified as a Spiritual Director for her ministry to teenagers living abroad. Budapest happens to be the headquarters of her ministry, SHARE.
Three of my core team (Sveta, Olga, and Ilya) are highly interested and motivated to come to CRM’s worldwide conference in August. I think it is a fantastic opportunity for them to get a feel of my org and its mission, because they have recently become actively interested in becoming a national partner with CRM – what we call CoNext, as the vision of CRM includes the establishment of national movements that spread the Gospel staffed and funded by locals. This has been a real challenge of faith, but with their excitement behind them I authorized what little money I had to cover one of them to get the visa (assuming it will be given under these perilous political circumstances). What we didn’t have was a means to get them there and then pay for the conference itself. We have found resources to cover all costs except plane tickets for two of the three – about $900 each.
Ministry-wise, my dream would be to fund a few more staff part or full time for a couple of years, so that we can both take advantage of some wonderful talent God has given us (where people are so strapped that their volunteer time is very limited), and so that we can get some more momentum going forward. We are building our infrastructure slowly
but surely. Of course one always wants it to go faster. And I often think of how we can become more self-sustaining. We charge for our courses, but we don’t nearly recoup our costs, and in the provinces, where we have started to travel to minister, they are almost
completely without the ability to compensate us, even for material to any significant extent. It’s a pretty tough situation. The silver lining is that a full-time person costs only $500-700 a month.
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