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‘Co-laboring’ in Moscow

MOSCOW (BP)–Early on a chilly summer morning, Southern Baptist missionaries Brad and Lori Stamey shiver with a small group of Christians on the bank of the Moscow Canal.

They cheer as two women emerge from the canal’s frigid waters -– yet smiling with joy. Anastasia, 80, and Mariana, in her 30s, are the first believers baptized through a mission congregation sponsored by Good News Baptist Church.

Mikhail (“Misha”) Chekalin, pastor at Good News and leader of Moscow’s 28-member Baptist church association, baptizes the women. Genady Krechin, pastor of the mission church that meets in his apartment, stands on the bank with the Stameys.

“Watch what Misha’s doing,” Brad urges Krechin, who will soon be ordained. “You’ll be doing it next summer!” Krechin grins, several gold teeth flashing in the morning sun. It’s a moment to savor because the two have met at least weekly for more than a year in a Paul-Timothy relationship. Now Krechin is ready to lead his young church -– and mentor his own Timothys.

“You can talk about rapid reproduction, but that’s about as rapid as it happens here,” Brad explains. “If the Lord starts a church-planting movement here, things will be happening so fast we won’t be able to keep track of it.”

That’s a day Brad and Lori long to see. For now, though, they’re working patiently and methodically with Chekalin, Krechin and other Russian church planters to begin at least one Baptist congregation in each of the 16 sections of Moscow’s Northern Administrative District –- home to more than 1 million people. Krechin’s congregation, in an area where 85,000 people live, marks the third such church start. Thirteen sections still lack a single church.

“It’s overwhelming,” Brad admits. “You can get discouraged here, and we have -– several times.” Reaching the district with its endless blocks of apartment buildings, however, is a lot less overwhelming than reaching all of Moscow. That was the Stameys’ assignment when they returned to the city in 1998 as career missionaries after serving a two-year term as journeymen in the early ’90s.

“Winter here is just devastating for morale,” Brad says of Moscow. “It’s not just the snow and the cold, it’s the lack of light. The sky is gray. The trees are gray. The buildings are gray.”

They’ve learned, however, that God uses their presence to encourage others.

“He’s doing more than we realize sometimes, working in peoples’ lives and drawing them to Him,” Lori says. “We hope our presence will result in lots of churches being started, but our job is to be obedient to what He gives us to do. It’s His job to start the churches, and He will in His timing.”

Meanwhile, more light is shining in the Northern District as the Stameys and their “Co-laborers Team” of Russians and missionaries spread the Gospel. Aided by Southern Baptist volunteers, they have prayerwalked most of the district and delivered thousands of cards to apartment dwellers, offering free Bibles and invitations to evangelistic events. People who respond become prospective members of seeker Bible studies and prayer groups, which may, in turn, become churches one day.

The work may be slow, but it’s laying a solid foundation.

The Stameys ask for prayer for spiritual awakening in each of Moscow’s major districts, for wisdom as workers “seek the seekers” and for the Russian church planters God is raising up.
For more information about working with the “Co-laborers Team” in Moscow as a volunteer, prayer supporter or “church champion” dedicated to reaching part of the city’s Northern Administrative District, e-mail [email protected].

    About the Author

  • Erich Bridges