Our churches in Russia are challenged in ministry today due to culture, regulations, and their great distances. Despite the situation, in last month’s national report they record 63 churches with 2,800 members and over 3,100 in regular attendance.
Bishop Murza, who resides in the Moscow area, greeted me at the airport on my recent trip there and we flew immediately on to Yekatarinburg, which is just east of the Ural mountains on the Asian side of the Euro-continental divide near the beginnings of Siberia. While some may not be too familiar with this 1.5 million populace city, it is sometimes considered the third capital of Russia, after Moscow and St. Petersburg. This city has a two-hour time zone difference from Moscow and a four-hour time zone distance from my home near Frankfurt, Germany.
With a lot of snow and some freezing rain, we traveled to a pastors’ meeting of the region and visited three local churches in the greater area. We are thankful for the faithfulness of these pastors and their wives, who are leading growing churches. Several of them who have their own local church buildings and all are growing with youth and children’s ministries, as well as ministries to alcoholics and drug addicts in their cities. It is common for Russian pastors to adopt orphans and raise them with their own children. The pastors there were eager to hear of Church of God of Prophecy ministries in different parts of the world and send their greetings to the nations. I was able to lead several hours of teaching for pastors and have insightful discussions about their goals, visions, and challenges.
When we see the progress here, and compare it to ministry challenges in the West, we realize what treasures the Russian pastors are to our movement. In addition to a pastors and wives training meeting, we were invited to hold a leadership training session in a large local Pentecostal church in Yekatarinburg, where not only our leaders were present but leaders from that local church and denomination. Our churches in Russia are grateful to have a loving relationship with other believers and churches in their cities where they often cooperate and work together.
After five days, and several hours and miles of travel, in that oblast, or state, we returned back to Moscow by air. There, I visited the prayer meeting of the church where Bishop Murza pastors, where most of the members attend their weekly prayer meetings in a rented church facility. It was wonderful to see so many local members, young and old, gather for prayer and praise with a full worship band. While some songs were used to provide a worship atmosphere, the meeting was filled with prayer for more than two hours. This local COGOP church in Moscow is known affectionately as Bethesda and has members from scattered regions of the 12.5 million-people city. Many travel an hour or more to attend church, often in sub-zero weather, five months of the year.
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the BEAUTIFUL story
Obed Natán Chic Itzep was born in the city of Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa, Escuintla, Guatemala. He has served the church as a children’s and youth pastor, a clerk in his local church, and district Youth Ministries director. In 2019, he was appointed senior pastor of the Tierra Verde Church of God of Prophecy in Siquinalá, Escuintla, Guatemala.
SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP - PRAYERFUL LEADERSHIP
Look at the first two words in this article’s title, “Spiritual Leadership.” Now replace the word “spiritual” with any word that denotes effective Christian leadership—authentic leadership, compassionate leadership, visionary leadership, anointed leadership, fruitful leadership, compelling leadership, servant leadership, etc. This simple exercise reminds us that consistent, fervent prayer is essential to effective spiritual leadership.
Prayers Heard, Prayers Hindered
Caleb Madara Dondo serves as COGOP Kenya Task Force vice chairman. Brother Dondo is a teacher with a passion for teaching on the Holy Spirit, giving, and prayer.
Local Church Outreach 2020
As the coronavirus made headlines near the beginning of 2020, I heard an amazing message of compassion and care concerning early Christians running into the plague to minister with kindness to make a difference in the lives of those who were sick and dying. They were willing to move to ministry, even when it threatened their own lives. The message contained a powerful illustration of how those of us who follow the teachings of Christ respond in counter-culture ways to minister to those who are suffering and in need.
The Bible tells us to pray with all kinds of prayer (Ephesians 6:18). But not every kind of prayer is effective prayer. Sometimes, our prayers resemble a flea-market auction. We barter. We negotiate. We up the bid. We say, “I’ll become a missionary if you’ll heal me, God!” Or, “I need more money, more money, more money—I’ll tithe 15 percent!”
Consider Your Ways
When my wife and I first got married, we knew very little about managing money. We certainly did not pay attention to the verse found in Proverbs 22:7 that says, “The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender” (NKJV).
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A PEOPLE OF Prayer
Bishop Tim McCaleb, general presbyter for Asia, Australia, and Oceania, became a licensed minister in the COGOP in 1980. He held pastoral positions throughout Tennessee and Illinois before his appointment as state overseer of Oregon, Idaho, Utah, and Texas. During that time, he also participated in Assembly committees such as the Bible Doctrine and Polity committee and was Servant Partners Director for the International Offices. He holds a Master of Theological Studies from Vanderbilt University and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Houston Graduate School of Theology. He is married to Sheena and they have four children and many grandchildren.
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Mike, I received the latest issue of Prehistoric Times today. My family teases me that I get such a kick out of the fact that “the dinosaur magazine” has arrived in the mail. Thanks for doing what you do. It is a great distraction from other things that occupy us at the moment. Stay well, Tony Escobedo, Springfield, VA Thanks Tony, Ha, you think YOUR family teases you - I publish the dinosaur magazine! - editor
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