ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
Life is never dull as a missionary to Russia. Most of the time, we go through the political turmoil from inside of the country, wondering if it will get bad enough for them to start deporting American citizens and not just diplomats. It is, however, a new experience to be going through the uncertainty of Russian politics while stuck outside the country we have come to call home. We continue to pray for Russia to open the border to American visa holders, so that we can return to Russia as soon as possible once our scheduled meetings end in June. We are beginning to suspect that Russia’s desire to keep Americans out is more a result of the political tension between our two countries as opposed to the official reason: too many Covid cases in America. We also covet your prayers concerning a new set of laws that was recently enacted limiting freedom of religion in Russia. In 2016, freedom to evangelize and engage in mission work was severely limited. Many missionaries were deported in the aftermath of that law, but now parliament has updated the law to limit freedom of worship even further. It is yet to be seen how the law will be enforced, but many lawyers and journalists point out that the letter of the law could be used to bar any foreigner from participating in any religious activity in Russia whatsoever. Technically, we could be deported for simply praying. It also increases the restrictions placed on Russian church goers who are not recognized as members of established, registered churches. Many unregistered churches are preparing to move underground, and several entities that monitor freedom of religion in various countries have concluded that, due to the 2016 law and the updated 2021 law, they can no longer classify Russia as officially open to the Gospel and missions. The church in Domodedovo plans to discuss the law in detail once we are able to get back to Russia. We cannot discuss the details over the web for security purposes. Please pray for wisdom from God on how to proceed with these new regulations in place. It will be a challenge to balance the mandate to “let every soul be subject unto the higher powers” and “we ought to obey God rather than men.” For now, we still have the papers to be legally present there, so until that is no longer the case, we will trust God to help us stay and do His work.
HOME BY MICHELLE
Home has been an enigma for me for years now. Since my husband grew up as a missionary kid, home was always a loose term for him. I grew up knowing the consistency and dependability of a home. I recently heard a sermon where he mentioned the feeling of being home, settled and secure. For years, when we would travel back and forth, I would say I was leaving home to go home. When we travel in the States, we say home is where we lay our pillow. A sweet girl in Russia once asked me to honestly tell her where I feel more at home, America or Russia. I struggled to answer. The familiarity of America is nice. I am bolder, and feel more relaxed, but perhaps to the point of complacency. I struggle with a feeling of a lack of purpose. I miss our church family. I miss some of the quirky things about life in Russia. Over the years, it has gained its own familiarity. In Russia, I feel challenged and directly tasked with reaching a hurting people. None of those things include a building. There are days I struggle, wondering what it would be like to walk into a structure, and feel settled and secure, knowing it won’t change. My heart longs to have something consistent. A sermon I heard recently challenged and convicted me. Is the cost too great? Is the sacrifice too much? As I consider all Christ has done for me and consider eternity, I must answer that it is not. Never once have I gone hungry, or been left without a roof over my head. Faithfulness is not too great a cost! For Heaven is our home, and what a settled and secure place indeed!