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!

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