Many have heard Andrew's series Don't Limit God, a teaching based on Psalm 78:41, through which Andrew shares how taking our limits off God allows Him to do greater things through our lives. Mike and Carrie Pickett, directors of Charis Bible Training Center (CBTC) in St. Petersburg, Russia, know that there are no limits for our God, and they are believing for huge increase over the next five years; specifically the launching of one thousand bible schools throughout Russia.
This is not a pie-in-the-sky, random goal for the Picketts; momentum toward this vision actually began building several years ago when Carrie was introduced to Pastor Svetlana Holina from Izhevsk, Russia at an annual pastor's conference in St. Petersburg. Since their introduction, CBTC has had a standing invitation to bring students to Izhevsk. The Lord led the Picketts to accept the invitation two years ago, and the timing as it turned out was divine. The area, nearly 2000 miles southeast of St. Petersburg, is home to more than 120 churches, and at the time was full of hurting people. A prominent church Bishop had been removed from his position, and the people were suffering through the associated fallout. During their mission trip the CBTC team ministered to those hurting people in Izhevsk and the surrounding villages, and successfully developed relationships with local pastors, leaders and other missionaries. Mike and Carrie also met the newly appointed leader, Pastor Vitaley, and developed a strong connection with him right away.
On their first visit to Izhevsk the CBTC team gave away twenty-five packets of Andrew’s teaching materials and books, translated in Russian. These teachings included Spirit Soul & Body, Identity in Christ, The Believer's Authority, Christian Philosophy, Integrity of God’s Word, and True Nature of God. The team was happy to leave the materials and considered them spiritual seeds.
A few months later at another pastor's conference, Mike and Carrie learned that the materials they had left behind were put to good use, and had begun to yield fruit within the Izhevsk church community. Pastor Svetlana showed her appreciation at the conference by greeting Carrie with an enthusiastic hug. She told Mike and Carrie that the materials were transforming lives, and that they needed more. Thankfully, the Picketts had prepared additional materials to give to Svetlana. Mike and Carrie also made arrangements for a second trip to Izhevsk with another CBTC team.
During their second trip to Izhevsk in March 2010, the pastors and leaders which the team met with explained that while they were tremendously blessed by the materials, they did not know how to minister the message of grace and faith effectively. They asked the Picketts for more instruction and oversight.
Mike and Carrie sought God for wisdom on how best to equip these pastors. Over time the two were led to the conclusion that the best way to prepare them would be to teach an intense version of their CBTC Leadership School curriculum. When Carrie called and presented the idea to Pastor Svetlana, she was overjoyed. Earlier the same day, Pastor Svetlana and other church leaders held a meeting with the Bishop expressing their needs. The group had prayed together, and an hour later, Carrie called to offer the idea of the Leadership School; another divine moment.
Mike and Carrie explained that the vision for the new Leadership School is to help encourage and train the pastors, leaders and missionaries who desire to grow deeper in grace and faith. The school is focused on retraining the leaders first, and will then move on to the "how-to" of teaching grace and faith to their congregations. There will also be training on how to start, lead and operate Bible schools in their churches.
The first installment of the Leadership School took place in October 2010. Forty-five pastors attended, and the Picketts covered an extensive amount of foundational material. The pair also gave the students an assignment; prepare hour-long individual messages on Spirit, Soul and Body in time for their next meeting in February 2011. Future trips include February, May and September.
Mike and Carrie continued to hear testimonies of how lives are being transformed during their time in Izhevsk this past October. Pastor Sergey, a student of the Leadership School shared how he had been so impacted by Andrew’s Spirit, Soul and Body DVD course that he and his church decided to raise funds to reproduce Andrew's material. They raised enough money to make 1000 copies of the course, packaging and all, and they distributed them in surrounding cities and villages free of charge. They anticipate hearing great things as a result of their outreach.
Multiplication is the word that comes to mind when one considers the impact the Gospel is presently having in Russia (2 Timothy 2:2). And that is why one thousand bible colleges within the next five years is a goal within reach of our limitless God.