Hello again to our dear family and friends!
The church here in Tambov continues on with many ministries and meeting times throughout the week. There’s the regular worship service and Bible studies on Sunday morning and Wednesday evening. There’s also the weekly evangelistic English class, as well as a weekly evangelistic guitar class.
Pastoring is always a challenge in any context. It’s especially the case here in Tambov, Russia. Years ago, I remember reading a book in which the author said “A pastor must be ‘subversive’ in a way. That is, as he ministers to the people, his effectiveness depends on not being recognized for who he really is. For he is always is striving and praying for an undermining of the kingdom of self in the people’s lives…and for an establishing of the kingdom of God in it’s place.”
It’s an interesting thought. I’m reminded of 2 Timothy 2:25-26, where the Apostle Paul describes what the Lord’s servant does: “….with gentleness, correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.”
We are always teaching and praying for people that, by the Holy Spirit, spiritual blindness and the distraction of material things will be overcome. The Holy Spirit has done much here over the years and He continues to do so. It’s been truly miraculous and a joy to see. Much more always needs to be done.
I just want to tell you about a couple opportunities God has given us to serve Him. First of all, around Christmas time, I approached the director of the school where my children go. I asked if I could give a little presentation of Christ’s birth in my son’s English class using the felt figures that I use for Sunday school. I gave her a little demonstration and she readily agreed. The next week, I was able to teach two classes the story of Christ’s birth and how He came to forgive us of our sins. It was the same text we use to teach our English class at church including the Russian translation. Afterward, we sang “Silent Night” with the guitar. The children loved it. The teacher also did and said the song brought tears to her eyes. “This was the best Christmas present I could have possible gotten!” she said. I know one boy definitely learned something from the song “Silent Night”, which includes the phrase: “Heavenly hosts sing Hallelujah”, because when the teacher said there would be no homework over the vacation, he shouted, “Hallelujah!”
I have been praying for a long time about how to do service to the poor or sick here in the name of Jesus. Well, there is an elderly couple that live above us in our 9 story apartment building. During the summer, the woman, Tatiana, became sick and was at the hospital across from the courtyard of our building. I was able to visit her and read to her some of the Bible. Later, she returned home to her apartment. I had always offered to bring some of my home-cooked food for these people, but they had politely refused. I knew they lived on a meager diet. Well, anyway, the man, whose name is Volodia, had a stroke and had to stay in a hospital for a while. When he came home, he could no longer go out and shop for groceries. So Ray and I now shop for all their groceries everyday and bring them to them… and I sometimes cook for them. Sometimes I read a little from the Bible and play the guitar and sing for them. They like the songs. Music has a special way of getting past the guards in people’s hearts and letting in the Gospel.
God is helping us in practical ways with another of our neighbors across the hall from us. My youngest 10 year old son, Bobby, is in third grade at the Russian school. He transferred to a new school with a third grade teacher that is almost a grade ahead of his old teacher. It was very difficult for Bobby at first to reach these high standards. His new teacher expected his Russian grammar homework to be turned in already checked by the parents and copied perfectly into his homework notebook. Even Bobby’s older brothers 14 and 16 years old could not guarantee perfect endings on every Russian word and perfect grammar, so our neighbor Valia is helping check Bobby’s work before he copies it in pen into his homework notebook. We have also been getting Valia’s groceries for her and now she is delighted to do something for us. Besides, she loves Russian grammar and proudly says that she did well in that subject while she was in school.
Thank you for sharing this brief moment of time with us. Thank you for all you do for us.
Please remember us in your prayers. We love you.
Ray & Rebecca Curran