Oh the joys of writing a blog in an internet cafe here in Sevastopol! All instructions on screen come up in Russian so if I get anything wrong, like having no photos, then you know why!
I flew out on Saturday afternoon with Martyn Dunsford and a colleague of his, Martin, both from Hedge End to Kiev capital of the Ukraine. We went via Vienna. On the first leg of the journey I was seated next to 2 women schoolteachers from Kosovo, so they were Albanian speaking.
We arrived after 11pm and then by taxi straight to our hotel where we tried to get some sleep for 4 hours before waking at 4am to sort ourselves before catching an early morning flight with the Germen Wizz air to Simferopol the capital of the Crimea region. We call it the Crimea, and people here call it the Republic of Krim.
It was all go. Met at the airport, we then travelled by car with Adrain Birks from Woking to Sevastopol the main sea port in the Ukraine that the Russians use as a navy base. The people in the Crimea are all Russian speaking. This was all part of Stalin and other communist leaders plan to keep the Crimea with its ports and access to the Black Sea and then the Mediterranean under Russian control.
We went straight straight into a morning meeting held in a theatre hired from the local council. I had been here once before, 4 years ago. The worship was as wonderful now as then! Whilst everything is sung and spoken in Russian, when they sing their own Russian songs there is something special rather more than when they sing the songs we know that have been translated from English. Martyn spoke on the grace of God and then prayed for many people to be healed.
We left straightaway to be whisked away back to Simferopol for a meeting there.
The plans are not always clear rather one has to be happy with "going with the flow". We arrived in Simferopol and got into a lift to to a flat for a lunch before the meeting. The lift doors locked closed and the lights went out and we didn't move! I thought it was a power outage, a fairly common thing in some countries, but no. The power didn't come on and we were stuck in the lift, 5 of us like sardines in a can. It was a jam and none of us are small! In the movies James Bond forces open the doors with his fingers. We tried that but they were well and truly locked shut. Pitch black and all crammmed together remember, and one of the guys said he wanted the toilet! Fortunately our Russian driver was with us and he could read the emergency notice and phone for help. 5 minutes they said. It was a long 5 minutes. In fact it weas a lot longer. We phoned again. 5 minutes they said again! They we heard a voice in English with a South African accent. "I used to work with the Christan organisation Open Doors, he said, "but I don't work with them anymore!" We laughed. Fortunately the engineer did turn up and we were released from our "prison"
This was follwed by a wonderful lunch of what I have come to know as Slavic food. Grated cabbage, onion and cucumber with sour cream, grated carrot and other vegetables etc and then meat in small pastry parcels. I like it. The family who hosted us are the leaders of the church Yuri aand Vika. They are Tartars and gather a Tatar church. Now I wish I could up load the photos! It is their custom for their singers and the preacher to wear Tatar costume. And when worship started a 14 yr old girl dressed in her costume started to dance. Worship was in Tatar which is written in a version of the Russian alphabet. God was evidently present. Martyn dressed in a Tatar robe, preached, then again we prayed and prophesied over the leaders of the church and the people.
Yuri told us of a remarkable story how God has started a revival in a Tatar village. A Tatar lady was in hospital due to give birth to her 6th child by Caesarian. They gave her too much anasthetic and she went into a coma. They tried to revive her and in so doing broke 2 of her ribs that then pierced her lung. They started to fill with blood. By now they had put her on a life support machine. Still in her coma she saw a man with a long white beard and white hair come to her and tell her not to fear for she would be healed. She came round and began to disconnect herself from the life support machine. The nurses were horrified and said "What are doing? They said if you ever leave here alive it will only ever be with you on a life support system. She began to be afraid again. But once more the man with the white hair came to her and said "Don't be afraid you will be healed. She said this to the nurses who thought that she was losing here mind. Then some Russian people went by the end of the room one of them with an icon like picture of Jesus. She saw it and said that is the man who said he would heal me. At that moment she realised that it was Jesus who had come to her and she believed Him and was healed.
She also prayed for her a son of hers to be healed who had a physical disability and had never walked. He moved about shuffling on his bottom which caused him pain and many sores. In the night at home, the father heard a noise outside his bedroom of footsteps and wondered who it could be. It was his son who had never walked now walking! Just amazing what God does!
As a result the whole family have become Christians and 20 other families in the village have become Christains too. I wish you could have been there to hear it being told first hand and to meet the people. God is doing something remarkable with them.
I look forward with anticipation to the next couple of days.
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