With the start of school, regular routines are resumed. Programs and activities at our church also recommenced. It is delightful to work with the team of adults and young people who run our Sunday school program. Art and I yet again fulfill a support role to encourage this group with the experience God has given us through the years working with children’s ministries. They ask us for lesson ideas, to do crafts, to do English lessons with Bible themes, and even for cooking class! The cooking class idea came from one craft lesson where we “painted” pictures with different herbs and spices. The smell made all of us so hungry that the kids asked if the next time we could actually EAT what we made. After studying the Bible lesson on the potter and the clay and how God forms us into something for His use and glory, we took homemade pretzel dough, formed it into creations, baked them and ATE them. Now we are planning to do something with cooking at least once a month.
Since the kids already go to school Monday through Saturday then receive hours of homework, the S.S. team is trying to think of more interesting ways to draw the kids into the lessons and into church without making it feel like school even on Sunday.
September 7th, Sunday school opened with a special skit similar in storyline to Pilgrim’s Progress. Praise the Lord for a beautiful fall day to carry out the activity of journeying from the starting point-a corner of the church yard- through different “places” where leaders represented different characters, either ones to tempt and lead astray or ones to share the Truth and gospel. At one station, the children come to the cross and sing then are given a paper showing their admission into heaven, but the journey doesn’t stop after salvation –there is the rest of life. Sometimes we are tempted by the evil one who wants to cause us to doubt and leave the path, but the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, is there to encourage.
Was Art picked for the “evil” character because he is so mischievous or for the small amount of words he would have to say? Either way the kids love his teasing and fun and usually return for more.
Eventually, they finished their journey and went to heaven where angels invited them to the “Lord’s” banqueting table—yes, a real feast! Thirty-five children attended that Sunday and continue to come fairly regularly.
-October, our team had a monthly meeting, and Christmas program ideas were discussed. Traditionally, a list is made of all the kids then their names are distributed to the adults in the church who purchase small toys. This year we are trying to help the children focus more on giving than receiving. Please pray that details will come together in a timely manner to effectively accomplish the goal. Pray for the children’s hearts to be open and that we would have wisdom to know how to reach them.
Not only has the Sunday school started, but also choir. Meeting weekly with the folks in choir and singing praise together, even if we don’t always understand all the words or stay on the right notes, blesses and encourages Art and me. The people have lovingly accepted us. After each practice, everyone writes their prayer requests and names on small slips of paper which are folded then drawn from a container. To spontaneously write things for others to pray about on our behalf has challenged our language skills. Often someone offers to help me out by allowing me to dictate the idea then they write it in an understandable and proper form. Pray that we will glorify and edify each time we perform in our church, other churches, public gatherings, and conferences.
One other plan for our church this fall is to move from our current building and location to a more modern building a half hour across the city. The plan, developed to help resolve a conflict that started just before we moved to Ulan-Ude, has changed many times; therefore, we have not written a great deal about the situation. It is complex and has been in process for a while. Please pray for reconciliation between the church leaders, reconciliation between hurt church members, resolution to the conflict, conviction to those that need convicted, grace for all involved, and most importantly that the name of Christ would be glorified. Thank you for praying for us and for the ministries that the Lord has called us to be a part of here in Ulan-Ude.