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We are a team of people trying to reach people in Ufa and Bashkortostan in Russia. It is no small task and we want your support!
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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Doing Nothing And Doing Too Much

     I am sitting at the breakfast table in my apartment while I write this blog, on this beautiful morning here in the city of Ufa. By this time over 9 months have passed since my arrival into the country of Russia. During my time here, the journey has been very interesting and it is good to sit back and contemplate a bit on these past summer months. So if you would like to, dive in with me, into my thoughts on all that has happened this summer.

     Doing nothing and doing too much can have the same consequences. I needed to take the time to slow down from so much that had happened throughout the summer. To be refilled with a new energy, heart, and passion for everything I was being a part of. Yet, I also saw how every time I was busy with something, that at the same time I was being taught as well. It is a beautiful exchange that takes place when we allow God to pour into us a knowledge, which we find from being out and about in the world around us. Whether I was still or moving, I realized that I must always be “still” and allow God to act through me, seeing that He truly is in control.

The last few days of June and the beginning of July I found myself staying very busy. For example:

I was out in the middle of the Southern Urals with a group of 50 kids who all wanted to learn English. I learned about different plants and different customs. Also, I ate raw cloves of garlic before several different meals.

The next 7 days of July were spent with a group of tourists from Virginia. I learned more about the differences in interactions with the public. Also, I learned about the deeper heart for friendship with locals who invited the group over for “banya”(Russian sauna) and “shashlik”(Russian cookout).

Then, for approximately 11 days, I traveled back to the Southern Urals, a small village called Aigir, for more time with kids, from all over Bashkortostan, who all wanted to know the English language. We shot off fireworks, wrote our own fairytales, and went on hikes to the top of peaks!

 Finally, every weekend, until this very moment of writing all of this down, was spent either in cities, such as Neftekamsk or Moscow, or floating/camping along the Inzer River with friends.

Wow…of all that time spent this summer, there was little time for growing and learning for myself , right? Actually, quite the opposite happened. Through every moment that was spent with new people and/or old friends, I was also being taught, especially when it came to new vocabulary. “To be Still” was to let go of everything I thought I needed to control and allow God to “show me ropes” of life. And “To Love” is not something I could just read about in a book and then live like nothing changed in me.  But love then compelled me to act, react, learn, teach, speak, and listen.  When I am filled by this love, which truly only comes from God, I long to experience its power and see the different capabilities it displays at work around me. I was able to learn so much about culture, custom, and even different personalities from every person I spent my time with this summer. This new knowledge then enabled me to approach differently in certain situations or even adapt to the conversation to allow better understanding for everyone.

Every moment I spend out on the streets, in cafes, at the university, at parks, and even simply in my apartment, I knew that God was with me through it all. He is always teaching me and showing me what it looks like to love people. Love, nothing I initially thought of on my own, is what compels me forward into this different culture and lifestyle. I look forward to continually learning and understanding more about this culture and language.

Kevin S. 
Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Good Confession of Faith

Last month we witnessed eight new believers being baptized by pastors of a local church.

A pool in a public sauna was rented for the event. Those of us there to witness the baptism crowded around the pool on a narrow walkway between the wall and the edge of the water.

Those who were baptized entered the pool two at a time. They were asked to reaffirm their confession of faith before being immersed by one of the pastors.

As each newly-baptized believer was raised out of the water we sang a song of praise around them.

It wasn’t but a few weeks later that one of the recently-baptized believers shared a testimony of how she had taken the opportunity to share her faith. We praised God that her obedience in baptism was quickly followed by her obedience in evangelism.

These newly-baptized believers already serve with the church. Give thanks with us for the conviction of the Holy Spirit in their lives and for the obedience of other believers to be disciple-makers.

We’re praying, too, that these eight new believers will be the start of a movement of God across the city, a chain-reaction of evangelism and discipleship.

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Colossians 3:19-22)

Shawn B. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Truth In The Light

Truth about the Light

Ufa has become a completely different world ever since the last of the snow melted and was carried off, by the cascading streams from the rains of springtime. Not only does the land 
itself look completely different and inviting, but, also, the people themselves have become 
more pleasant and inviting to the world around them. Children are no longer burdened by 
heavy winter clothing, unless you are 5 years old, and have begun their adventures in the 
streets, parks, and the rest of the city. Even the adults have somewhat of a jubilant 
perspective towards life, as the nature around them begins to blossom and accept the 
warmth from the sun.

What is it about sunlight, or light in general, that is so appealing to the general population?
Since the beginning of time, people groups' lives have revolved around light. Whether it was
celebrations, jobs, or even lifestyles, these all seem to revolve around light as their key 
factor. Especially, in a country where the lack of light outweighs the presence of light, there 
seems tobe a large difference in how people live and function on a daily basis.

One such event that drew the people out of the shadows into the light was Sabantui. 
Sabantui is a Bashkir holiday that celebrates the season of growth and life. After the winter 
season, the time for starting gardens, crops, and life outside begins. The Bashkirs like to 
celebrate this change in seasons by having a festival after the first crop has been planted. 
The word "Sabantui" is directly translated as, "Saban" being "plow" and "tui" being "wedding celebration". This holiday is traditionally celebrated to usher in the time for planting, growing, and harvesting crops.

On June 12, 2015, a few friends and I went out to a park to observe and even take part in
some of the festivities. We watched as men wrestled with colored belts to receive bragging
rights, men climbed telephone poles to receive a prize, women and children danced and 
sang, "Russian barbecue" was served, and people of all ages took part in carnival rides and horse rides.

I am looking forward to more moments, such as this holiday, to take part in with my friends
here. Just to know that the warmth brings the people out of their homes into the light, gives me encouragement to not take this time lightly. With how much more open people are to
ideas, conversations, and activities, should give us all initiative to make connections with the
people around us.

Light gives meaning to what we do. Light gives direction to our lives. Light reveals truth to 
the unanswerable questions. Jesus is the Light. He is the Light of man, the Light in the darkness, the Light that reflects the very glory of God. Nature reflects the power and presence of God.

Therefore, sharing this information with people should shed light on the fact that what they
worship (the sun, the trees, the rain, or the earth...etc.) is not who they should worship. The
Creator desires for us to realize His presence and longs for us to worship Him. Truth in the Light.