We flew out of Heathrow on a BA flight to Moscow which took just under three hours and then transferred to a S7 internal flight for a further two and a half hours down to Krasnodar. What a big country Russia is! However, this is not the beginning of the tale. Getting into Russia these days is not easy and obtaining a visa entailed a trip to the Russian embassy in London for biometric scans plus supplying letters of invitation and proof of hotel bookings before the authorities will even consider your application. Praise God, our visas arrived just days before we needed to travel.
Some twenty years ago I headed up a team from King’s which traveled down to the Krasnodar region just after the Communist bloc opened up to the West. We were to work with churches and evangelise the region. I was really not sure what to expect; in those days shortages were common and queues for basic food stuffs were a usual occurrence. What a difference two decades has made! Krasnodar is now a modern city with new buildings going up all over the city and the signs of the region’s prosperity are evident everywhere you look. Young Russians have embraced the market economy and are looking to the West and the Far East for products to import to enrich their lives. One young Christian man we met told me how he had started a building support business using a high quality product which he was importing. Despite all this the spiritual needs were even more evident than when I was there last. Prosperity has not brought much of what people might have expected.
Peter Ruck and myself had been invited to speak at the mission school in Krasnodar. This drew students from a number of churches in the city. All were keen to learn and become bolder in sharing their faith. We taught eighteen students of all ages for three hours every day after they had already completed a day’s work. Our sessions taught Biblical principles as well as getting the students to practice sharing their faith with skills they were learning. We encouraged them that the Gospel was not to be shared merely with words but in the power of the Spirit with signs following.
Our five days in Krasnodar passed all too quickly and we found ourselves back on a plane to Moscow where we were to attend the Tent 100 conference joining with tent evangelists from all around the ex-Eastern bloc nations.
On arrival at Tent 100’s centre we were invited to talk and share with the students from their mission school over lunch. This went on for several hours as we shared and answered their questions. Over the days spent there we were to have many impromptu conversations with spiritually hungry young men and women. This involved using Google Translate on our phones; praise God for modern technology enabling us to encourage and teach them!
On the Sunday we were privileged to take a trip into Moscow centre to Rick Renner’s Good News Church ~ a wonderful facility which was more like a five star hotel than a church building! There were around a thousand people there for the service all of whom worshiped God enthusiastically and listened intently as Rick shared on the love of God that we should share with one another. It was great to see so many people of all ages meeting together in the capital of a country where only twenty years previously such gatherings would have been deemed illegal.
The conference was an amazing and refreshing time meeting with other tent evangelists from all over Eurasia. We spent time sharing, planning future campaigns and receiving some great teaching. I was privileged to be asked to minister on a couple of occasions as well. We are looking forward to another faith filled year of adventure with God!
by Tim Grant