Mission Issues

Thinking and re-thinking missionary issues

Back home again!

Well, I’ve returned to my home after my time in Russia. I often compare the Russians to the people in Swaziland, the one difference being the colour of their skin. There’s a few other differences as well. The one is the Russian’s love for flowers, something which I have seldom if ever noticed in Swaziland. The Russians just love flowers and in spring people selling flowers have a blooming (pardon the pun) business. The other difference is the Russian’s love for dogs. In the building where the Bible Centre in Samara is situated (they rent some rooms in an office block) a big dog wanders around. It was a stray and the people in the office block started taking care of him. One things I have always noticed in Swaziland is that nearly everybody does have at least one dog but very few dogs are in a good condition. Most of them are extremely skinny and look unhealthy.
But in many other aspects these two groups of people are much the same: things like poverty, their musical ability (the Swazis are better, but the Russians are also good), their almost simple faith in God. And yet a few things happened on my visit to Russia that did show me that, in spite of the things God is doing through our church in Swaziland, we still have a long way to go in other aspects. On three occasions I was invited to share with groups of Russian church leaders the story of our ministry in Swaziland, how it had started and what God is doing for us and through us. On two of these occasions I was deeply humbled when the people who were present asked me for our bank details as they would like to collect money to help us in our ministry. What impressed me about this was that I know something about the financial situation of most of the Protestant churches in Russia. Their expenses are huge (in most cases they do not have their own church buildings and they have to rent buildings, mostly theatres or something similar for their weekly gatherings) and their income is low. Nobody would blame them if they felt that they would rather use the money which they receive just to survive. This is the reason why it surprised me so much that, in spite of their own poor financial situation, they are still willing to offer to help others. This made me think of the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 8:2-3: “Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability.”

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008 - Posted by | Church, Cross-cultural experiences, Giving, Home-based Caring, Mission, Poverty, Russia, Short-term outreaches, Swaziland, Tithing

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