Are we missing opportunities to learn from churches on the mission field as we are supporting them?
As an evangelist, I have been involved with Eurasian Missions for a couple of decades. I became a Christian in Moscow, Russia in 1995 and have led churches in Russia and Ukraine before moving to the United States in 2004 and leading stateside. Because I have been involved with missions on "both sides of the pond" I had a chance to experience first hand the amazing impact of the spiritual and financial support of North American churches in a place where Christianity has been brutally persecuted and banned for 75 years before 1991.
Most people don't realize that every single leader, in dozens of churches in several countries in Eurasia, is a first generation Christian. The vast majority of the members are as well. Multi-generational wisdom is both needed and valued. We need more mature disciples to travel and spend quality time with disciples in Eurasia.
It dawned on me just this week, that I have spent a little over half of my spiritual life in the US. I never stopped investing in Eurasian missions and typically travel to Russia at least once a year. The churches and leadership in Eurasia have matured tremendously and have a lot to offer to the rest of our fellowship. Churches in North America should pay close attention to God's work in the Third World and actively learn.
Most of us know the story in the book of Acts of a "Mother Church" learning from a younger church in another country. In Acts, chapter 11, the church in Jerusalem sends Barnabas to Antioch, which was in modern day Turkey to learn about a new Holy Spirit inspired thing: they were baptizing non-Jews in Antioch. This was around 12 years after the founding of the church in Jerusalem. Thankfully the leaders in Jerusalem recognized God doing something new in this remote and new congregation. The church would have looked very differently if they hadn't paid attention.
God is doing many new and good things in remote places in our days. The church I serve in Austin, TX has been inspired by the church in Jakarta, Indonesia as they reach out to their communities by creating workshops organized independently by Christians who serve with their skills in a variety of spaces and topics. We're trying out the same concept through missional groups organized to serve people in a variety of ways: fitness, nutrition, professional growth, marriage, parenting, the arts etc.
Another good example is the annual all Eurasian worship conference that has been held for several years now in different cities in Russia. I have been invited to speak there a couple of years in a row and was blown away by both the impact and the quality of these annual gatherings. People travel from all over Eurasia to be part of it.
I realized that we don't have anything like that in the US. So we decided to imitate the Eurasian Churches and start the Animate Conference, an international worship conference based in the US, which is happening on October 13-15th in Dallas, TX. We're expecting people from all over, including Europe, Russia and Africa. Based on how it goes this year, we'll decide how often we will do this in the future. It's promising to be a very exciting time of learning and mutual enrichment, the list of teachers and speakers is amazing.
The Holy Spirit is moving all over the world, may we seek out those subtle and powerful movements and learn from anywhere and from anyone.
Below is a video we created to thank the churches that support Eurasian Missions that highlights the worship conference in St. Petersburg. Enjoy.