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Russian Pastors Visit Grace

By Harold Workman

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   From April 26 to April 30 Grace UMC was host to two UMC pastors, Vladimir Ilyukhin and Valeri Patkevitch, from Volgograd, Russia. Volgograd is a city of one million people located 560 miles south of Moscow.  We toured the Loaves and Fishes facility with the pastors.  They clearly understand this need, and noted that there is no such pantry operation in Russia by the government.  We also toured Alden of Waterford.  Here the pastors were shown the needs and help provided to senior citizens.

   How are we helping these Russian churches to spread the Gospel?  First, our contribution is critical to providing the means for Vladimir to serve as pastor.  He must work nearly full time in a factory to help support his family and provide ministerial time.  His daughter is two years old.  His wife must stay home, as new mothers cannot work for two years until the child is eligible for the state day care system.  

   One outreach approach that is underway is to remodel the basement of Valeri’s church to have games and activities of interest to young people.  Members could invite non-Chris-tian friends in for a good time, without any religious pretext.  If an attendee inquiries about Methodism, then the first step has been taken. Another very important aspect is our involvement with the Methodist congregations.  The Russian government portrays the United States as a body that desires to steal its resources and destroy its economy.  Our monetary contribution and our visits in person or via Skype,  provide hope to these people who strive to live out their commitment to Christ.  It is important to note that not one of the adult members of these congregations were born into a Christian family. They have all been baptized de-spite contrary pressure from their own parents and friends.  We must provide support for their Christian beliefs.

   The Russian pastors are greatly appreciative of those who came to the meet-and-greet dinners.  For those persons interested in continuing a dialog with Russia, plan on joining  us at our  Russian Initiative Committee’s monthly Skype meeting with the pastors.  Contact LuRay Workman (luray@wowway.com) to be notified of Skype sessions.