Russian Outreach in London
In May 2001 a few people first met in a little flat in West London to pray and think about a ministry for Russian speakers in London. At that time I was in my first year at London Theological Seminary, seeking God’s will for the work that he would call me to do. It would be very unusual if I told you that the last ten years did not pass very quickly. Having said that, during these years we can recall numerous occasions on which we have seen God’s faithfulness and goodness to us.
Our ministry among Russian speakers in London is characterised by the fact that people are moving from place to place very often. It has its implications, particularly for building up a leadership team. But at the same time I rejoice that one man who spent some time with us is now an elder of a church in Ukraine and another is involved in occasional preaching in the USA. However, in the past three years we have seen more people from our fellowship making London their home. In order to remember God’s goodness during these ten years there will be a service of celebration on 4th June 2011 at 5.00pm and we would be delighted to see you at that meeting.
During the three winter months seven churches in the London borough of Tower Hamlets opened their doors to provide a night shelter for homeless people. Our church was one of those participating in the project. Each church made their building available for 15 guests to stay overnight, as well as giving them dinner and breakfast.
It was a great opportunity to hear some of the life stories of those guests with whom we were able to talk over dinner. Many of them ended up living on the street because their jobs came to an end and there was no other means of supporting themselves. A number of our guests were Russian speakers who later started attending our Sunday meetings. One man has expressed a desire to know more about the Christian faith and I am doing a regular Bible study with him at the moment. It is a privilege to see the way God’s grace touches the minds and hearts of people through this ministry.
In the last two years in our Russian Church we have had five marriages, which is a big number for a congregation of 60 people. I think that one of the explanations for this is that they have been waiting for their pastor to lead by his own example in this area too. I believe that – along with Maria and myself – they will never forget that a happy and lasting marriage is only possible if we follow the instructions of the marriage designer. We recognise that in our day there are strong pressures on Christian marriages from within ourselves and from the secular society and we can see examples of this in marriage breakdowns in our church and, not at all rare, in other evangelical churches in the country. With this in mind, the responsibilities of the body of Christ are to ceaselessly pray for and support young marriages, by all the means God has given us, that they will be strong and increasingly God glorifying.
My recent preaching through Exodus has been a blessing both for me and the Russian congregation. We were able to see together that salvation comes from God and is for his glory. As it was for Israel, so it is also for the people of God today. The promises of God stand unchanged:
You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exod. 19:4-6).
Taken With permission from Vision for Europe, May-August 2011.
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