In our newsletter we shared concerning how our various partners in Ukraine were doing in the midst of the recent conflict. At the same time we have dear Russian friends and colleagues who are serving the Lord in Russia. Following is an update from Valera and Narina who are serving in St. Petersburg (StP). About fifteen years ago, Phil began serving their fellowship of churches in the Caucasus region. At that time they were in their mid thirties and Phil was able to mentor them and provide with materials to help them coach church teams and mentor leaders. Then three years ago they moved to St. P. in order to expand the ministry there. It has been remarkable to see what God has been doing through this faithful (and very energetic) couple.
Recently they sent the following:
“ Thank you, Phil and Nancy for your love and support. We came to StP without knowing anybody at all and this July we’re going to celebrate three years here. In this short time Valera has been invited to the church eldership meeting with all the elders of StP. Through our work with orphans we also got connected with the governor.
At the American school I’m working as a deputy head, we are teaching children of Japanese and Korean diplomats and consulates, as well children from the heads of Hyundai and Toyota. The Japanese consular is calling me Narina San! It seem what we accomplished in the Caucasus in 25 years we have achieved in 3 years here. We just came back from Moscow where we met with a small church from our Caucasus Family of Churches where we taught the eldership team. They enjoyed it greatly. In September they are going to visit us.
We baptized 14 people in June, one person from Tuva, two Buryats whose grandparents are witch doctors, one Armenian, two Ukrainians, and one Filipino lady. Amazing. We have also really enjoyed using your materials to prepare three couples for marriage: a Namibian couple, a Tunisian couple, as well as a German and Brazilian couple. Of course, we are in Russian and so there were also two Russian couples!. We are currently preparing a young man (from Guatemala) and his fiancé (from Russia) for their wedding next year.
Valera is also disciplining two young men (one from Nigeria and the other from Armenia). Like we did in the Caucasus, we are starting a teen club for 13-16 year olds with a team of 10 people: 4 guys 6 girls (South African, Russian, Dagestanians and Armenians). Our heart is overwhelmed with joy and love and thankful worship. Praise God and thank you for your support and input into our lives. We thank our brothers and sisters for their love and care.”
While their two older sons are grown, several years ago they adopted twin girls who are now teenagers, so they obviously have a busy life. It is exciting to see the international connections they have and the input they are making on the next generation. While all things “Russian” are suspect these days, its important to be reminded that Russian believers are also our brothers and sisters. Let us also remember them as they faithfully serve the Lord in the face of daunting regulations and some strong headwinds.