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Monday, May 6, 2013

Pastorgraphs: “Eurasia”

E-Vangel Newsletter
May 6, 2013

Pastorgraphs: “Eurasia”

Methodist Bishop Eduard Khegay of Russia and Eurasia knows better than anyone what John Wesley meant when Wesley said, “The world is my parish.” Khegay has responsibility for overseeing Methodist congregations and missions in a region that covers eleven time zones. The Far East District alone is larger than the United States. And if that is not enough of a challenge, throw in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belorussia,  Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

Bishop Khegay (photo center) is young and energetic, much like the emerging population of Eurasia. He speaks English fluently, and because he is the first Russian-born citizen to hold the episcopal office in Moscow, he doesn’t have to leave the country after every 90 days and have his visa renewed.

Bishop Khegay was guest speaker at the Russia Initiative Consultation XVI held at Christ United Methodist Church in Memphis, TN, April 26-27. My friends Larry Sieck (right) and Winston Wade of Hope UMC in San Diego and I (left) were in attendance. San Diego area Methodists support missions in Far East Russia. Last Friday night, Anita and I had the pleasure of joining a group from Hope and Foothills United Methodist churches of San Diego for a pot luck dinner with Bishop and Mrs. Khegay and their daughter, Liudmila. (The Bishop is in San Diego for a meeting of theCouncil of Bishops before returning to Moscow.)

United Methodists from Russia and the United States gather once every other year to plan and support Methodist missions in Eurasia and Russia. There are approximately 100 United Methodist congregations in what was formerly the Soviet Union. This year’s Consultation in Memphis featured a live worship service via teleconference with ten Russian Methodist congregations. Bishop Khegay presented an update on The Roadmap that seeks to help Russian congregations achieve self-sufficiency by 2015. The next Consultation in 2015 will be held in Russia.

While American Methodists see the lack of material blessings (refer to last week’s E-Vangel), Russia is experiencing a spiritual revival that comes after a generation of “godless” communism. Sure, there are lingering social problems and political/religious opposition; but Bishop Khegay says things are getting better. While many American Christians sit in ornate, almost empty cathedral-type sanctuaries, small apartments all over Russia serve as church houses, packed wall-to-wall with those hungering and thirsting for the Love of God and fellowship with other believers. Rev. Patrick Friday, Director of the In Mission Together (IMT) Partnership Program of the General Board of Global Ministries, reminded us in Memphis that the Wesleyan revival and Great Awakening that followed grew when there were few church buildings, where circuit riders traveled from house church to house church. That is a microcosm of what is happening in what we call the Third World, where Christianity is experiencing its greatest growth. (Photo of the crowded, youthful Svetlaya Methodist congregation in Far East Russia that we support. They worship in an apartment.)

I am encouraged that Russian churches are embracing technology, perhaps faster than their American counterparts. As we saw in Memphis, technology can bridge the miles that separate us. Using the free ooVoo teleconferencing service, we were able to hold a joint worship service with ten congregations in Russia in nine different time zones. One congregation was at their church at midnight so they could participate. We saw their faces, heard their voices, and joined our hearts in praising our Risen Lord.

Because the nearest Methodist congregation may be 300 hundred or 3000 miles away, I pray our Russian pastors will not feel isolated, and that Russian Methodists will know they are not alone. Please join me in praying for and supporting our sisters and brothers in Eurasia, and especially Bishop Khegay as he leads and labors in this vineyard.


Pastor Bill

From the Quote Garden:

“I’m always inspired by the final part of the novel by Leo Tolstoy “Resurrection”, where the main character Dmitriy Nekhludoff who has committed many sins comes to the understanding of meaning of life in Christ. Here is an extract form the novel:

“The husbandman imagined that the vineyard in which they were sent to work for their master was their own, that all that was in it was made for them, and that their business was to enjoy life in this vineyard, forgetting the Master and killing all those who reminded them of his existence. "Are we do not doing the same," Nekhludoff thought, "when we imagine ourselves to be masters of our lives, and that life is given us for enjoyment? This evidently is an incongruity. We were sent here by some one's will and for some reason. And we have concluded that we live only for our own joy, and of course we feel unhappy as labourers do when not fulfilling their Master's orders. The Master's will is expressed in these commandments. If men will only fulfill these laws, the Kingdom of Heaven will be established on earth, and men will receive the greatest good that they can attain to.

"'Seek ye first the Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.'

"And so here it is, the business of my life. Scarcely have I finished one and another has commenced." And a perfectly new life dawned that night for Nekhludoff, not because he had entered into new conditions of life, but because everything he did after that night had a new and quite different significance than before. How this new period of his life will end time alone will prove.”

Sisters and brothers! Christ has Risen! It changes everything. Forever. It has changed my life. Some time ago God led me off the way of egoism and personal advantage and set me on the way of ministry to people. Let every Sunday remind us of Easter, of the Resurrection of Christ, of the strength and courage and of God who can change every person.”

Christ United Methodist Ministry Center
“Christ in the Heart of San Diego”
3295 Meade Avenue - San Diego, CA 92116 - (619) 284-9205

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