SGA Ministry Administrator
Recently with my wife Elena, I was able to spend several days in Russia’s Samara region with the purpose of visiting and encouraging SGA-sponsored missionary pastors and their churches. Yet I found they visited and encouraged us as much, if not more.
In the beginning of our trip, we were able to visit SGA-sponsored missionary pastor Vyacheslav Tkachenko in Bezenchuk. This brother is filled with radiance and joy! Every day, he asks God to fill him with the joy of the Lord. You smile just because you are around him. He lives in the same building as the House of Prayer, so we were able to see the sanctuary. This is where Vyacheslav prepares his sermons, sings hymns in worship to God, and where the Lord gives him music to the hymns of which he never knew the melody. Vyacheslav shared with us how just a few weeks ago, his daughter Liza and her best friend, Tanya, repented before the Lord. We praised God together for adding the newly saved to the church!
One Sunday, we visited the church in Tal’yati. After the service, the church hosted lunch for us. Elena was sitting with the sisters listening to their testimonies, while I sat with the brothers. A little later, I noticed her talking to the younger girls. One of them was the pastor’s daughter (age 15) and another was an older woman who was 30 years old, yet part of the youth group. They turned out to be the oldest among the youth—everybody else is younger than 15. The older woman had just lost her father to a heart attack a month ago, and was still going through the grieving stage. The father was a man only in his 50s and it was an unexpected death. Later they went for a walk, where the girls were more open about their struggles of growing up in a small church with little fellowship with other like-minded believers. Elena encouraged them to keep each other accountable in their walk with the Lord.
During this trip, we noticed several God-ordained opportunities to encourage people. One such story happened in Priozersk, while visiting Dmitri Pavlov, another missionary pastor. Together with his wife, Dmitri and their young daughter live in a very small apartment. They unsuccessfully spent a whole day looking for a couch they could buy so that we could sleep in their kitchen. In the end, they called a sister in the church asking if she could host us in her apartment. She said yes, so after arriving on the train at 11 p.m. Dmitri took us there. It so happened that Galina’s daughter-in-law was also there visiting with her five children. One of the first words this young mother told Dmitri was “Dima, we have to pray for Dasha!”
Later, we heard the story of how over the course of the summer, 10-year-old Dasha’s vision has deteriorated from -1.5 to -8! This is a huge jump, which has brought much heartache to the family. We talked late into the night, and at the end prayed for each family member, including Dasha. We have seen the Lord’s hand in ordaining every detail of the trip and guiding us! We praise God for His protection, and for the opportunity to be a blessing to these faithful families.