Hello again to our dear family and friends from the Curran family in Tambov, Russia….Ray, Rebecca, Dara, Ray Jr., and Bobby.
The church here in Tambov continues on with many ministries and meeting times throughout the week. We are grateful to the Lord and to all of you for enabling us to plant and pastor Calvary Chapels in Russia for more than 20 years. We pray at this time especially that the deteriorating political situation between the United States and Russia would be reversed, or at least that it would not become a distraction or barrier to our church’s efforts to reach lost Russians in Tambov with the gospel. May the Holy Spirit move mightily throughout Russia at this time.
MINISTERING TO FOREIGN STUDENTS
Many foreign students from Africa and the Middle East study in Tambov universities where the tuition is more affordable for them. A few have been coming to our church services and guitar classes since the beginning of the year. Of note is a young Egyptian medical student named Youssef. Youssef speaks English well and enjoys talking to us. He is of a Muslim background of course, but claims to be a practical atheist. As time went by, he began to be very intrigued by Christianity as we explained it to him. The simple and powerful message of the Gospel and what Jesus did was so unbelievable to him, he said. He had no concept of a God of grace previously. Well, it was clear that he wanted to pursue it further, but he said he feared the possible repercussions from his family in Egypt if he converted to Christianity. Please pray for Youssef.
Another foreign medical student who comes to our church now is a young man from Ghana named William. He first came to our weekly guitar class that Rebecca teaches using our church’s worship songs. As William learned to play the guitar and the songs, he says it all inspired him to finally take serious faith in Jesus for the first time in his life.
I have been asking God of late, what I can do to share the gospel among my neighbors. We live in an large eight story building that houses 109 apartments. The neighboring complex houses even more people. I felt very restless one night to somehow share the gospel with someone before I went to bed. I decided I would just walk around the courtyard from one end to the other and see if God would do something. First I went into the neighboring courtyard and was just returning to my own, when I saw a group of neighbors that I knew coming my way. They said, “We are going into the next courtyard for our grandchildren to play because the afternoon sun is shining there now and it is warmer.” I decided to go along. We sat down on the benches and one of the women that heard me sing worship songs in my own courtyard said, “This is the girl that sings beautiful songs about Jesus and helped me when I broke my arm.” I said, “Shall I sing for you now? I’ll go get my guitar. No one has forbidden me to sing in this courtyard as they have my own.”
“Oh yes! Get your guitar,” they said. So now I had an opportunity to sing some worship songs from our church to my neighbors! As I sang, Raya, who introduced me, kept turning to the others and kept repeating phrases from the songs, “Jesus forgives us of everything….we will live with Him.” The rest of the neighbors gathered there nodded solemnly in agreement.
The children playing nearby especially enjoyed singing a Russian Christian song entitled: “All a gift” about all the free blessings God gives us and ending with the greatest blessing of all, salvation. The children requested that I play this long song four times in a row while they sang and even danced to it. The adults also seemed to never tire of it. Then Raya said, “Now tell us something.” So I repeated the Bible verse: “Jesus said, ‘In my house are many mansions…I go and prepare a place for you. I will come again and receive you unto myself that where I am, there you may be also.’” (John 14:2,3) Then I sang a Russian song entitled: “Jesus is coming again for us.” I read a few verses from the Russian Bible. One lady took a great interest in it. She ran back to get her reading glasses and turned the pages tenderly, reading the familiar titles of the books of the Bible. She stopped at the book of Psalms and said that when she was little, her father used to read the Bible out loud and she would always listen to it. She said that she had heard that Eve sinned by giving birth to her children. I said, “Lets see if it says that.” The woman read all that part of Genesis and said, “No, it doesn’t say that, does it.”
I find that Russians often feel uncomfortable about reading a Bible on a bench outside. I think they consider it more of a holy relic to reside only in the church. These people, if they believe at all, are mostly nominal followers of the Russian Orthodox Church. While there is a certain apparent respect for Jesus in many of them, they don’t seem to know how or don’t care to have a daily personal relationship with Him. How happy and surprised I was to see this woman boldly take the Bible in her hands and search for the answer herself from God.
This past Spring, I had the most wonderful opportunity to present the gospel at several English classes at a Russian public school here. My own children attend this school. The principal already let me do the Christmas story in flannelgraph back in December…and now she let me do the Easter story as well. These are the same stories we teach in our English class on Monday night and have a hard hitting gospel message. I was surprised that I got no complaints from parents about the Christmas story as it proclaimed Jesus as God Himself coming to the world to save people from their sins and how we too can be saved from our sins. This time I taught how Jesus became the sacrifice for our sins and rose again proving that He was God and how we may also live again after death if we believe in Him.
First the children read the accompanying Russian translation to familiarize themselves with the story. After that, I told the story in English slowly using the figures while the children listened and watched with understanding. After this, the children picked up the English version of the text and repeated it after me, practicing their English speech. Then we learned the familiar hymn, ”Christ the Lord has risen today”. We then sang it together using an illustrated song book that all the children could see. They seemed to enjoy it. It might have been the first time some children had ever heard the real Easter story and heard how Jesus, the Son of God died for their sins. I felt so privileged to be able to tell them. I taught 7 English classes in all from 4th to 10th grade. I am sure that the word of God will not return void in these children’s and teenager’s hearts. Please pray that they will have other opportunities to hear the gospel and one day respond to it as we all.
Our family is well at this time. Our daughter Elizabeth in California is entering her 3rd year at Biola University. Our oldest son Dara will be in his last year of high school here in Tambov, Russia. Ray will be going into 9th grade at the Russian school. Bobby will be entering 4th grade.
Thank you for sharing this brief moment of time with us. Please remember this ministry in your pr
With much love in Christ,
Ray & Rebecca Curran
U.S. financial support address:
(please indicate it’s for the Currans):
Calvary Missions International — Currans
6550 S.E. Alexander St.
Hillsboro, OR 97123
phone: (503) 642-2003