Last Spring, Mike Pickett, Co-Director of Charis Bible Training Center (CBTC) in St. Petersburg, Russia, and CBTC staff members Mark and Sara Van Frachen, two apprentice leaders, an interpreter and thirteen students, set out on a missionary trip to two different areas of Russia. The team went to Izhevsk, located southeast of St. Petersburg (thirty-two hours by train) and Nizhny Chelny in Tatarstan, which is approximately an hour and a half southwest of Izhevsk. The team’s contacts on the field were local pastors in Izhevsk and the surrounding villages, Svetlana Holina and Pastor Alexi.
The students made use of the many hours travelling by train between St. Petersburg and their mission field destination by practicing their teachings with each other. On a Russian train, the compartments are all open, and since the team was spread throughout the train car, many people were hearing the Gospel whether they wanted to or not!
“The students literally ministered day and night on this trip,” Mike said. "Every morning and afternoon they were ministering in the local Bible School and in the evenings would split into different teams and teach seminars in the city and in the surrounding villages. Each and every student taught past our expectations, and brought such life to all who listened to them.”
Students witnessed people giving their hearts to the Lord and receiving the Holy Spirit each day as they ministered. At one village meeting a grandmother who attended received complete restoration of her hearing, and another woman was healed of cancer.
One day, the teams ministered in a small village of only thirty residents, and fifteen of the residents attended the meeting. Three of those gave their lives to the Lord, and the Pastor of the village was very excited and encouraged. CBCT missionaries gave the people of the village books and resources to further their understanding of Jesus and their relationship with Him. The team left the area believing that the residents would continue to be transformed by the materials.
After a productive time of ministry in Izhevsk, the CBTC mission team moved on to another Republic of Russia, Tatarstan. This is where one alumnus from CBTC, Natasha Starikova is now living and ministering. She started a satellite Charis Bible School in her city, Nizhny Chelny, and now has sixteen students enrolled each of whom is being transformed by the Word. Natasha and the missionary students organized a meeting where the local church body gathered for an all day seminar. Mike said that the people literally sat with their mouths wide open in amazement at the Word that came forth from the students. They had never heard about the goodness of God. Natasha has reported that as a result of the team's teaching, many more people are now interested in joining the Bible School this coming fall.
It was a blessing for the team to continue to nurture the relationships with local leadership that had been established by teams from previous years. The transformation in the lives of those who studied and received from the materials left by other CBTC mission students was evident. Area pastors testified to the fact that the materials have really impacted the way they are teaching the Word to their congregations. Svetlana Holina, one of the team's main mission contacts, is now overseeing one hundred and twenty village churches connected with the main church. Her goal is to start a correspondence Bible School in each of the villages. Svetlana has also requested that Mike and Carrie bring their leadership school curriculum to Izhevsk. She said, “We as leaders don’t know how to lead others with the Grace message. We’ve only led from law and works and we want to learn how to lead differently.”
Mike and Carrie are encouraged by these results, and are in the process of making plans to be able to visit Izhevsk more often throughout the coming school year. Follow the Pickett’s progress and updates by visiting, www.equipmin.com.