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

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Responses

  1. Hi Jake.

    I saw you ‘ve been in Bashkiriya, in town of Uchaly. This is my home town. But I leave in Washington DC now and go to New Life Russian Church. I’m looking for christians in Uchaly. Do you have any contacts of Nadir and Lena? Do you know if they’re still living there?

    Thank you,

    Alsu Khisamova


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