Posted by: jakeschwarze | April 13, 2009

Community Bible Church in Sunriver, OR

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If I haven’t shared with you recently about the details of life it’s becuase we’ve been quietly waiting on the Lord to answer our prayers. He has been gracious and answered us in His perfect timing once again! It seems the Lord is moving us from Moscow, Russia to the Bend, Oregon area to serve the body of Christ in a likeminded church of 250 in the resort town of Sunriver! We sense the Lord is preparing this church for big things as we’ve gotten to know them and their heart for the Lord Jesus Christ. As the Lord has led us to this church and our hearts to be attached to such wonderful loving believers, we are still awaiting the absolute final word in May. But unless something drastic happens, we should be moving back in August.  I will be serving as Associate Pastor of Worship & Discipleship. God is good, we are thrilled and we prepare for the exciting future in back in America!

You can check out the church and my candidacy on these two links:

www.cbchurchsr.org

www.cbchurchsr.org/?page_id=62

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Posted by: jakeschwarze | March 24, 2009

My New Project

There is a young man named Simeon who is one day going to be a great pastor here in Russia. As the saying goes, “I’m no prophet, or son of  a prophet.” Infact, I’m more of a knucklehead than anything else, but even I can clearly see that he has something profoundly different than other Christians here. We hit it off immediately…mostly because he speaks english. Actually he was a very likable guy with real potential. And I could see him as a really good friend. I don’t have too many of those kinds of people here, so we invited him to our house a few times for dinner and then we began to meet for coffee and study.

I have had the priviledge to meet with him for 2 hours every week to study the Bible. He’s such an open young man. Open to be used for God. Open to God’s leading and transforming Word. Open to allowing God’s spirit move, convict and reveal the Glory of God to him. In meeting together, a few weeks into our study, he told me that even though he teaches a Bible study, yet he’s never studied like this before. I was literally shocked. I began to cry, asking him, “Why isn’t this stuff being taught in church? It’s the most basic element to our faith.” His excitement and dedication has fired me up to pour my life into him. We both do research and homework and then we use this to teach other bible studies.

In understanding that most Christian young people aren’t being taught this, I began to pray that God would let me lead a bible study in our church for college students and young married people. God has answered my prayer as we have a group of 6-10 people every friday at our house. God is good and using us in unexpected ways. I hope for the future salvation of many here. Did I mention that Olya translates for me? She is the best! She is growing by leaps and bounds in all areas, so I’m very proud of her.

Posted by: jakeschwarze | October 7, 2008

Lovin’ Autumn!

Here’s some recent pics from our October walks. The weather has been incredible and the leaves spectacular!

Posted by: jakeschwarze | September 24, 2008

Up and Running (with the Horses)

Just wanted to let all of you know that I’ll be trying to update more regularly on this page with life, activities and journal entries regarding ministry and lots of pictures! Below are some photos of during many road trips this summer with the Loshak family (Loshak is “Little Horse” in Russian).

Posted by: jakeschwarze | April 21, 2008

Our Wedding Photos

 

View many of the pictures taken on our special day by viewing:

http://www.photoreflect.com/pr3/thumbpage.aspx?e=3485664

 

Eric Kelley is a very gifted photographer and friend! Visit his website and blog: http://www.conomocity.com 

Posted by: jakeschwarze | April 10, 2008

A New Addition: www.jakesrussia.wordpress.com

Visit with me as I discover a world like no one has ever described before. Special thanks to Greg Christiansen, who regularly listens to my inner monologues. I will post them here now “PG-13 style.”

This is also my attempt to shake my fist at all you “facebook-ers”

Check it out: http://www.jakesrussia.wordpress.com

Posted by: jakeschwarze | January 4, 2008

How we got here?

Many of you know that God has given me a wonderful fiancée, Olya Kazakova, who will become my wife on January 26, 2008 at Grace Church in Napa. In February we will be leaving the country to serve the Lord as missionaries to Russia with Slavic Gospel Association (SGA). Isn’t it amazing to see how our loving Father unfolds the plans He has for each of us?

I was only 18 when God pulled me out of my sin and despair, changed my heart and gave me real purpose for living. For the next five years of college, I grew and served with my gifts in music, focused on church and campus ministry, while serving Grace Church in the summer as an intern.

My love for Russia grew and grew, and I continued to serve three years on staff at Grace Church as an intern of Junior High ministries, as well as in Music Ministry. Then I spent a year with Slavic Gospel Association in Illinois, started and stopped seminary, moved out to Illinois again, and was the leader of a worship ministry in a great church, while working in the real world.

Then along came Russia this summer. This fourth trip over there would prove most memorable for many reasons. After two incredible weeks at the orphan summer camp in Ufa, I spent another two weeks at a rehab center and churches, evangelistic meetings, and fellowshipping with other believers. At the rehab center, they asked me when I would come back. I had an overwhelming sense that God was going to bring me back there next year, but not for two days or two weeks, but for the whole summer, and with my wife. I thought, “My wife?!!” I explained this to them, and I did not understand it, but I believed it. And I didn’t even have in my mind anyone who I would marry!

In the course of the next two weeks, I found God’s answer to eleven years of prayer. He revealed to me that His desire was to send me a wife from a people I dearly love, and then send us to serve them and Him in Moscow. Olya and I will spend our lives together serving the Lord and each other as husband and wife, and for now that journey begins in Russia.

We are most certain that God has called us to go to and serve there for at least the next two years through SGA in their Moscow headquarters. I will be ministering through SGA in a variety of different ways, working closely with the staff. She will be finishing her studies at the University and helping with special evangelistic projects as well as serving the local church together with me.

Pray with us!!!

Posted by: jakeschwarze | July 23, 2007

Thurs – Sat July 19-21

Thursday Sergei, family and I left Sterlitamak to take their daughter Lena to the camp to serve as kitchen staff. We had a detour in Ufa where the van we drove needed some documents and repair done. We ran by the Offices and grabbed a guitar for the next few days. We never know when we’ll have a sound system for my background trax to sing, so I sing and play guitar as well. We were on our way to camp in the afternoon when Sergei swung the van to the left and we were in for a scenic journey took a scenic journey to the villages named Red Hills and Red Springs. We actually got a little lost and finally came to the church gathering in Red Hills rather late. Leonid Markevich’s oldest son Maxim is doing evangelism in this town trying to get the gospel into every home through visiting each home and distributing literature. We met for a service rather late but it was very nice to sing, share God’s Word and eat together. It is always a joy to be with the believers and enjoy fellowship. On our way back toward camp, I thought we would run out of gas as we were on empty and it seemed like the nearest village was hours away. But there was a gas station just in time. God’s timing is perfect. We pulled into camp about 2 am and were greeted by some of the camp workers (Emily, Marina, Radi, Artyom, etc.) It was a joy to see them again. I really missed them and I made sure to give hugs from the rest of the team as we greeted. We brought gifts of cake and candy and we enjoyed tea until about 3 am and then we found places to sleep. We had a great time just talking late into the night.

Friday morning we woke up at camp and I was greeted with Mark and Dima literally tackling me in my bed. Everyone I talked to said to me how much they missed the Americans and how much we added to the camp in way of our presence, helping with games, crafts corralling the kids, and bringing a good moral and positive attitude. Our just being there brought a great example of love for one another, love for the Russian staff and love toward the children. I think we were all amazed at how well we were able to communicate even with the lack of language. I’m sure we will hear more from the Russians on this in coming weeks when camp has fully ended.

We set out from camp with Lena, who decided to come with us to North Bashkirya after all. It rained most of the time, but the countryside is beautiful and wildflowers cover the landscape like a carpet. We visited a town of a couple thousand where we picked up the only believer there, an older lady. We then drove to another area with 12,000 people and picked up the 3 believers there and drove to another village and met 4 more believers. These people have no pastor and last met 6 months ago. I was the third American that ever visited them!!! This was the greatest shock to me. They have not had preaching or shepherding for 6 months!!! Unreal! We took communion and it had such great meaning to me as the sweetness of coming together has such great value to them. It made me really grateful for the fellowship I have. These precious saints need our prayers. They invited me to come back as I have heard countless times before, but there was great thankfulness in their voices and faces. Just imagine being the only Christian you know for years in a town isolated from many other believers. Pray for the Spirit to comfort these people and give them great endurance. This was probably the highlight of my whole trip!

Friday to Saturday: After this service we ate together and took pictures to remember our time. Then we hopped in the van for the longest drive EVER from the north of Bashkirya to the eastern most part, we arrived to brother Nadir and Lena his wife. It was 5am and I thought many times that we would crash. Sergei is a good driver, but it was stressful. Later that morning, after a good sleep we ate the typical breakfast/snack here (sliced sausage, cheese, kefir, bread, butter, tea, cookies), I learned that Nadir and Lena are missionaries from Sergei’s church in Ishimbai. They have been here in Uchaly for more than 2 years and have seen the attendance in their church dwindle from 30 people to almost none. Some have moved, gone to Charismatic churches or have stopped coming altogether. Sergei encouraged them that he to preach and not be worried about the results. The gospel must be taught regardless of what people want to hear. God will build His church. They have been discouraged, but what a faithful brother Nadir is. He and Lena have adopted all three of their children and are faithful there in Uchaly. He has been training with the Antioch Initiative training. I’ve noticed the little ways they’ve served us. They gave the large tea glasses to us and drank from the small ones. He waited up for us and had everything ready so that we could sleep. There was no service today but it was Nadir’s wife, Lena’s birthday so we went for a walk and bought presents for her. I sang 3 or 4 songs for her and then we were off again back to Sterlitamak. It was a 7 hour drive through the mountains. It rained most of the time and we had some car trouble, but made it back in one piece around 1 am.

To sum up the prayer requests:
*Pray for the believers in these remote areas who are very few in number. Who knows when they will meet again?
*Pray for Nadir and his dwindling congregation. He is a great man of God with a big heart for people.
*Pray for our travel. I literally have no idea what to expect, except the unexpected.
*Pray for the services on Sunday that will take place in Bashkirya. I love these people and they send their warmest greetings to the churches in Northern California.
*Pray for the many difficulties that the Christians face here with subtle persecution, lack of funding, lack of people, lack of church buildings and equipment

Posted by: jakeschwarze | July 18, 2007

Rehab Center and Services in Sterlitamak

The last couple of days have been really nice. I’ve been staying with Pastor Sergei Loshak at his house. I think I talked about Sunday at his church and then fishing in the evening, so I’ll tell you about monday, tuesday and today.

Monday I woke and spent time in the word and prayer. The day doesn’t start here in this family until 10am…. woo! But that only means we were up until 1 or 2 am. I went back to the rehab center and spent the afternoon fellowshipping with those believers. They are a great group of people. They are each there about 3 months at a time and they spend their day in God’s word, doing household chores, eating, fellowshipping and then studying the word more. We started out singing together and then they asked me to sing for them. And I sang almost the whole time. I shared my testimony and also preached to them about what Jesus says about humility and the way of true greatness. How our source of conflict is in our selfishness and that to bring harmony and peace, we must serve one another and not ourselves. After this, we asked each other questions about life and ministry. The man who was married on Saturday gave me and the translator a ride home and we celebrated Olga and Lena’s Birthdays with their family and friends. It was at the Loshak’s house and they played many games together, took pictures and ate so much food. I was amazed at how Olga served all her guests on her birthday. She is a great woman. I sang for the guests and then crashed for the evening.

Tuesday was more of the same. I woke to have quiet time. There’s not much of that in this little apt. with 6 kids. Whew! Did I say Olga was amazing? 🙂 I went back to the rehab center again. They want me to stay with them for a long time, so I thought it’d be nice to go back there. I don’t have many options with Sergei’s vehicle having problems. I preached on Isaiah 40 and Ps. 90 and how our life is short-we don’t want to waste it. I sang some and they sang for me. We had more questions and answers about favorite preachers, authors, life in american churches, what God is teaching us, etc… I also had a more deep conversation with a young man who encouraged me with his understanding of salvation, grace and God’s sovereignty. They invited me back there again today, but I am not sure about being able. I came back and watched a movie with the kids and went on a walk with the two older boys. They were like my two little body guards. On this walk with the kids, we were just leaving the apt and walking in the court yard when one of them pointed to a used drug needle on the ground, almost like it was nothing and the reality of drug use and problems here really hit me. Those at the rehab center gave me much to hope in. They loved the song about heaven (I can only imagine) and every time see them, they ask for me to sing it. These are a people that long for heaven, probably because life is so difficult. I stayed up talking with Sergei until 2am about theology and church issues again. When I couldn’t stay awake longer, we prayed altogether and then went to bed.
My newest realization has been that life is very extreme here. Everything is what it seems to be. Nobody hides what they are like behind a veneer of “moral goodness.” I think “the wall” coming down has shown the depravity of man in such a way that the people probably see their need for God all the more. So many people are drunk-I see it all day long. I think those who will be treated at the rehab center will be raised up to be great leaders in the church and evangelism. These Christians are a stark contrast to this lack of morality.

This brings me to today: Wednesday. I traveled in the evening with Sergei and his family to his church in Ishimbai. He asked me to preach on the need for harmony in God’s church. He is dealing with the differing of opinions on certain important theological doctrine. I tried to be led by the Spirit, and it seemed that the church responded well. My approach was Matt. 22:37 and having a right relationship with God being the basis for a right relationship with others. After the service I was able to answer questions that have caused division in their congregation. I guess they wanted a different point of view. Hopefully I didn’t feed any desire for them to be justified in their own opinions, but helped to love them through the issues and from every angle, desiring them to think biblically. I have a new love and respect for Sergei and other pastors as they have a difficult job in shepherding God’s people. Pray for true discipleship to take place here.

I hope this helps to bring light to the last few days. I know that we’ll be traveling to churches for evangelism and encouraging believers for the next 5-7 days around Bashkortostan. The last 3 days will be at camp and with the Zhuk family. God is good!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

After a good 2 hours of sleep, the team reluctantly woke up about 4:45am to head to the airport. I said my goodbyes and then crawled back into bed to sleep off an exhausting two weeks. Up at 11:00am, I spent some time in the Word of God and played the piano, and felt amazingly alone in a big room that normally was filled with our boisterous team. Now it was just me and my thoughts. “What had just happened?” I asked myself. I’m going to be the sole American left here and that is a little scary to think about having no one to relate to that understands my culture.
Emily (translator) arrived with Ben (Pastor Zhuk’s oldest son) and we are off to Sterlitamak to spend time with Pastor Sergei Loshak. Emily and I had a good conversation about life and people, dreams and what to do with our lives. It was nice to express these thoughts and frustrations. Also, the car was overheating. Car problems are normal here. It may delay travel for many. You never know what is going to happen when you are in Russia and this afternoon was no exception.
I knew I would be going to a wedding, but I didn’t think they would ask me to speak or sing there too. When we arrived, the ceremony had already happened and the reception was beginning. I changed into “nicer” clothes and then was told that I would speak and sing. “Here we go!” I thought. It’s never a dull moment. After a humorous time of guests presenting presents and playing fun games with the bride and groom, they left and the party continued for another few hours. We played Volleyball, sang songs, I heard testimonies from 3 men living at the rehab center (Ruslan, Andre, and Sasha). These men had some great stories, very similar to ones I’ve heard before in America. God is so good to save. The director there insisted that I stay for a week and we agreed on a couple of days. I’m not sure what he has planned for me there, but I guess God will make me ready. Maybe I’ll be doing more listening and receiving than talking or giving. After everything was done (10:30pm) we headed home to Sergei’s house for sleep. I stayed up with the family until 1:30 or so because they are so wild and crazy, even with church the next morning!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Up late and late to church we enjoyed a great time of fellowship. Things rarely start at the times they’ve been scheduled for. Oh well, that’s life here. I sang almost the entire service and spoke twice. Once was me sharing my testimony, the other was preaching on Ps. 90 (Don’t waste your life). I was blessed to be able to share the grace of God with them and encourage them to outreach and service to one another. I was told this was lacking in churches here. I think finding a church filled with servants is rare. I guess I didn’t realize that. When you surround yourself with those who love to serve as you do, you think that everyone knows the joy of serving others.
After the service, we came back to Sergei’s house and ate and slept and ate and slept some more. I really was tired from all the travel and stress. Later that evening (6pm), Emily’s folks came to pick her up to take her back to the 2nd camp. I said good-bye to her and realized that I was without a translator for a little while. Oh well. I feel like I can communicate enough to get by. Many times today people said, “You are not American, you are Russian!” I guess I’m integrating well here.
The family then decided to go fishing at the river, so we met up with some people from church and fished, swam, played volleyball and a game called “banya.” We left around sundown (10:00pm) and headed home. We ate dinner around midnight and relaxed. Sergei and I talked about his church and the issues he is dealing with. I could see that God has given him much wisdom in how he handles and cares for the flock here. Some of the issue were: Do we allow unsaved people to sing in the choir? Are we looking down on those who do not have salvation and discouraging them from attending the church service? I think he will handle these things well. We then prayed as a family in the living room before bed. These people have a love for prayer that is refreshing to hear and be a part of.

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