The book of Acts records: “During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.” (Acts 16:9-10) In 1991 the Communist government of the USSR fell, and for the first time in over 75 years, the people of Russia were provided the opportunity to worship freely.
The United Methodist Church, concluding that God was calling us to take the Gospel message of love and grace to Russia, started a new church in Samara. Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church has been a faithful partner, mentor, and sister church from the beginning. This past June (June 22-30) HPCUMC sent a team to re-connect and deepen our relationship. Upon our arrival one of the pastors of Samara UMC said to me, “HPCUMC is our Paul!”
The Spirit of our living God is at work in profound ways at Samara UMC! From day one to the day we departed, the people of Samara UMC showered our team with Colossians 3:12-17 kind of hospitality and love! I was humbled to be in their presence, to receive their love, and to be encouraged in our common work for the Lord. Needless to say, there is no language barrier when it comes to sharing the love of God through Christ Jesus our Lord!
Consequently, Kevin Betts (trip leader and member of the HPCUMC Servant Leadership Board and Community Ministry/Global Outreach Team) and I had the opportunity to sit with Pastor Olga, Pastor Natalia, and Pastor Stas to discuss taking our relationship to the next level and came up with a 10-point plan. Sarah Krott, Anna Renfro, and Mary and Jeff Sheldon were also team members.
The 10-point plan is a guide for deepening our relationship with the Samara UMC. Will we achieve all 10 points, I don’t know; will we be blessed and be a blessing in trying? Absolutely. Details of the plan will be shared in the near future. As we look to the future, pray for our brothers and sisters in Samara. Pray that HPCUMC is found faithful to God’s calling as we walk this journey with Samara UMC. Pray that together we help God bring God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Stay blessed!