Friday, January 19, 2007

Christian Resource Ministries-Russia

From their website. I will be going to Kursk. 6 hours sw of Moscow.

Despite the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989 and the ultimate fall of Communism in Russia in 1991, despite incessant economic, political and social crises, the Russian Federation continues to be a major voice on the world’s stage. Russia makes up more than 10% of the earth’s land mass, but contains less than 3% of the world’s population; it is a land of contrasts and contradictions that often defies description.

An admixture of European and Asian cultures and mentalities, many consider the growth and strength of the church in Russia to be a strategic link in world evangelization. But despite the heroic evangelistic efforts and influx of missions resources since Communism's fall, evangelical Christians today make up less than 1% of the Russian population in a Church that is severely marginalized in the society. Even the dominant Russian Orthodox Church, with its nationalistic ties and the cultural sympathy of most Russians, considers less than 5% of the population pious believers. Generations of totalitarian oppression, atheism, and propaganda have left the society skeptical of the truth and relevance of the Gospel--and especially of its Western expressions and methods. This heritage has left the Russian people mistrusting and narcissistic, and the Russian church divided, rigid, and insular.

Since 1991, CRM has envisioned long-term teams in Russia, who would not settle for the "open window" missions mentality. CRM teams have taken the time to make language acquisition a priority and the development of Russian churches under Russian leadership the invariable principle of ministry. First working in St. Petersburg, then in Irkutsk and Kursk, CRM teams have worked alongside national training facilities and a variety of Russian churches and organizations to encourage the integrity and depth of Russian leaders and the development of their vision for the impact of the Gospel in their land. This is slow, personal “soul” work--tilling the soil over the long haul for the fruits of genuine church growth.


Anonymous said...

Head of Russian Orthodo Church Praises Growth
By Jim Heintz

The Associated Press

MOSCOW — The head of the Russian Orthodox Church praised the growth of the church in a Christmas Eve message Saturday, and later presided over services at a Moscow cathedral that symbolizes the faith’s revival after Soviet rule.

The Russian Orthodox Church, like some other Orthodox churches, including the one in Serbia, observes Christmas on Jan. 7 because it follows the Julian calendar for its liturgical schedule instead of the Gregorian calendar, adopted by Roman Catholics and Protestants and commonly used in secular life around the world.

Patriarch Alexy II, dressed in golden robes and an elaborate miter, presided over Christmas Eve services at Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral, which was torn down in 1931 under Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and reconstructed in the 1990s.

In a message released earlier in the day, Alexy expressed satisfaction with the growth of the church.

“Ever more people are returning to the homeland faith, churches are filled with parishioners of all ages, millions of people are reading spiritual literature and taking part in church affairs,” Alexy said.

The Russian church has seen a strong revival since the collapse of the officially atheist Soviet Union in 1991. It now claims more than 27,000 parishes and 700 monasteries throughout the former U.S.S.R


May you help and not hinder the revival of the Orthodox Church in Russia and the former Soviet Union.

May you see the Faith of the New Martyrs of the Church come to the fulness of the Gospel as I and many former evangelical Protestant have here in the United States through the missionary efforts of Orthodox Christians here in America:

More Americans joining Orthodox Christian churches
The Associated Press

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Greg Mencotti worried he'd never find a spiritual home.

The Sunday-school teacher grew up Roman Catholic then lost his faith. Eventually, he returned to Christianity, this time as a born-again Christian, spending years worshipping in a Methodist congregation. Still, he felt his search wasn't over.

That led him to the Antiochian Orthodox Church, a denomination with Middle East ties that, like all Orthodox groups, traces its roots to the earliest days of Christianity.

Today, Mencotti is one of about 250 million Orthodox believers worldwide — and among a significant number of newcomers attracted to this ancient way of worship. The trend is especially notable because so few in the U.S. know about the Orthodox churches here.

"I was like most Americans," said Mencotti, who was urged by his wife to explore Orthodox worship. "I didn't understand anything about Orthodoxy."

In the past, their growth had been largely fueled by immigration, with churches forming mainly along ethnic lines. Some converts came to Orthodoxy through marriage to a church member.

But now about one-third of all U.S. Orthodox priests are converts — and that number is likely to grow, according to Alexei Krindatch, research director at the Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute in Berkeley, Calif. A 2006 survey of the four Orthodox seminaries in the country found that about 43 percent of seminarians are converts, Krindatch said.

There are no exact figures on the rate of conversion across the 22 separate U.S. Orthodox jurisdictions. But when Mencotti began attending Orthodox worship, the church was packed with converts, including the church's pastor, the Rev. John Dixon.

Orthodox churches in Washington state, too, are seeing more newcomers from previous faiths.

Cliff Argue, who works with the Washington Orthodox Clergy Association, which has about 25 member churches, doesn't have numbers but says, "It's safe to say that many of the parishes, if not all the parishes, are seeing increased number of converts in the church."

In the past, most who converted did so after marrying into the faith. More recently, though, Argue says, Orthodox churches are seeing people who may be searching for something they aren't finding in other faiths, or people who want to join because of changes in practice or theology in their own denominations.

Part of the attraction, he believes, is that the Orthodox church "is pretty much the same as it's been for 2,000 years."

The Rev. John Matusiak, pastor of St. Joseph Church in Wheaton, Ill., part of the Orthodox Church in America, said his parish has grown from 20 people in the early 1990s to more than 600 today, with the overwhelming majority of new members younger than 40.

Krindatch's research found that one-third of the more than 200 U.S. parishes in the Antiochian Orthodox Church were founded after 1990.

Matusiak said growth is especially apparent in suburbs and commuter towns. "People in Wheaton weren't flocking to Orthodoxy because there was never a church here," Matusiak said.

Many converts credit the beauty of the liturgy and the durability of the theology, which can be a comfort to those seeking shelter from divisive battles over biblical interpretation in other Christian traditions.

Dixon, who was raised an Old Regular Baptist, an austere faith of the Southern Appalachians, said his conversion grew from his studies about the origins of Christianity as an undergraduate at Marshall University. The turning point came when he first attended services at an Orthodox church.

"As soon as I came in that day," he says, "I knew I was home."

Convert-fueled growth, though, has its challenges.

Like converts in all faiths, the newly Orthodox bring a zeal that can be unsettling for those born into the church, who tend to be more easygoing in their religious observance. Parishes run the risk of dividing between new and lifelong parishioners, Krindatch says.

And some worry about converts' impact on the churches. They are entering the parishes at a time when many lay activists across Orthodox denominations are pushing church leaders to let go of ethnic divisions and pool resources so they can better evangelize in the United States.

The Rev. Joseph Huneycutt, author of "One Flew Over the Onion Dome," a book about conversion, and the editor of OrthoDixie, a blog about Orthodoxy in the South, said he was drawn to the faith by the beauty of its rituals and its teachings.

On his first visit, he said the church was filled with the smell of incense and the sound of the chanted Divine Liturgy. The altar was largely concealed by the iconostasis, a large screen or wall hung with icons of Christ, Mary, angels and Apostles. And worshippers received Communion from a chalice and spoon.

"I had become convinced that the Eucharist was the center of Christian worship — ancient Christian worship," Huneycutt says. "Once I had reached that point in my personal walk with Christ, there was no going back."


Orthodox Church in America:

Antiochian Orthodox Church:
In the U.S., Orthodox Christians are a fraction of religious believers, numbering about 1.2 million, according to estimates by Orthodox researchers.

tammi said...

This is awesome. What an awesome, life-changing, God-honoring experience for you, and those you touch in Russia.
I watched a Dateline or something when I was 12 years old about Russian orphans/orphanages and from that moment, I knew I wanted to adopt from Russia myself.
I applied for a missions trip in college to go to Russia and work in orphanages. The interview went great (and I don't do well at interviews) and I felt really good about it. I was sure I was a shoo-in. I didn't get picked for the trip and was totally devastated. It was one of the most disappointing experiences of my entire life.
We had planned to adopt first, have our own kids later, but life happened and we were "surprised" a few times against our own plans. I still dream of adopting one day.
You're living my dream and I'm excited for you. Hope all goes well and can't wait to check your blog for future updates.