No, this isn’t a story about Russian-American espionage (sorry to disappoint some of you). After Christmas I had every intention of getting an update out, but to rephrase an old proverb, the road to the best of intentions is paved with detours called “sickness.”
We were hit hard with multiple back-to-back illnesses for most of January and February. Thankfully, it appears life is getting back to normal. I felt worse than I had in over 10 years, and to complicate things we were all sick at the same time. Being sick is bad enough, but being sick and having to care for sick kids is just buckets of fun. I’m sure many of you with children can relate.
But despite the fact that our home sounded like a tuberculosis ward for six weeks, the Lord still blessed us to serve and further the work that we do with InterAct.
Praise the Lord for healing, and please pray for a season of health and strength to continue the ministry.
A FAMILY CHRISTMAS
Christmas was a great time. We enjoyed the day together and we valued the special moments as a family. We, of course, missed our extended families, but the time by ourselves reminded us of the years we spent in Russia, which brought back great memories. Toward the evening, we made a trip about 25 miles East toward Mt. Hood to play in the snow. If a white Christmas doesn’t come to the Slawsons, the Slawsons go to a white Christmas!
THE ELISHA FOUNDATION (TEF) RETREAT
For several months prior we had been eagerly looking forward to being part of a retreat with The Elisha Foundation January 3-6 in Cannon Beach, Oregon. As you may recall from past updates, TEF has a wonderful ministry to the disabled community, and has already begun expanding the work internationally. InterAct is currently working to partner with them to see this work in Russia.
The long weekend was an amazing time, and the Lord opened up doors for us to both minister and be ministered to. We had the opportunity to lead a two-hour share time with parents. Disability opens up unique doors. The raw stresses that the parents of special needs children face often make them extremely open to pouring out their hearts when the opportunity arises. At the retreat there were both Christians and a few non-Christians. Greg Lucas, author of the powerful book Wrestling with an Angel preached, and the gospel was clearly proclaimed. We had the opportunity to have a number of deep conversations about the Lord with several other parents, many of which live near us here in Gresham. We hope to continue these connections.
This summer I plan to be in Russia around the end of June/early July and meet up with Justin Reimer the director of TEF. There is a church in the city of Krasnoyarsk that is interested in partnering with InterAct and with TEF to see this type of ministry expanded there. In Russia the difficulties that the disabled and their caretakers face are exceedingly greater than in the West. Children are ostracized, parents shamed, quality of life is poor. The pain and distress the parents of disabled children face often results in great tenderness toward the gospel.
One major project we are working toward in the next year is to see Wrestling with an Angel translated into the Tuvan language. This short, but powerful story of God’s sovereignty in the life of the father of a special needs sons is already available in Russian. In many native cultures like Tuva stories are very important, and this book has the potential to reach people in a very powerful way.
Please pray for this continued partnership with TEF and for the translation of this book into Tuvan.
GROWING THE FIELD
For the last three years we’ve really been praying that the Lord would raise up others who wanted to serve in Russia. Since we ourselves cannot be there now full-time, we want to do everything we can to see others placed there and equip and support them in whatever way we can. We are excited to announce that in the last few months we’ve seen two people apply to serve full-time on the Russia field! This is an exciting development that will serve to strengthen our team and the ministry we have in Russia.
Please pray for our new missionaries, that the Lord would use them to impact Russia for Christ.
GOD’S PROVIDENCE IN YAKUTIA
The Siberian Republic of Yakutia is where I fell in love with Russia, and where Cristy first visited Russia together. Though I’ve been there a number of times on short visits, we never made it to Yakutia to live long-term. But it’s funny how the Lord continues to bring this place and the Yakut people back into our lives.
InterAct’s work in Yakutia began in the mid-90’s. Our missionaries served there for over a decade working together with Russian Christians and native believers. The Lord worked though these collective efforts and since that time the church has expanded from 400 Yakut believers to well over 1000. In addition there are now five established Yakut churches and over 40 home groups!
During my first visit to Yakutia in 2002 I stayed in the home of a Yakut family in the little village of Namtsy. There I met a young man named Vova who was 14 at the time. We didn’t really communicate as he didn’t speak English or even Russian, but his native Sakha tongue. One night during my visit his father Ilya had asked me to explain Christianity to him. Through a translator I spent several hours going through the Bible, explaining the story of the gospel. It wasn’t until years later that I discovered that Vova, who had been listening quietly, was impacted by that moment, and the Lord ultimately used it in his conversion.
The Lord has grown Vova into a passionate follower of Jesus Christ, who not only speaks Russian fluently now, but English as well. When we still lived in St. Petersburg, he moved to the city to study at a Christian University, and we were able to renew and strengthen our friendship. The Lord blessed him with a wonderful Christian wife Tanya, and after several years of equipping and studying they are moving back to Yakutia to be missionaries among the Yakut people.
We are particularly excited about this in InterAct as Vova and Tanya have expressed a strong desire to parter with us in helping equip the Yakut church. Already we are in discussions to see the native church resourced there to grow further. So often we think of a “missionary” as someone from our own country going to another, but through faithful mission work, the Lord so often raises up “missionaries” from one’s own people. Praise God for his work!
Please pray for Vova and Tanya as they prepare to return to Yakutia, and that they would be used by him to spread the gospel among the Yakut people and strengthen the church.
There are lots of other things I do for InterAct to support the ministry not only in Russia, but on our other fields of Alaska and Canada. While these activities are not always the most exciting to write about, they are still a blessing to be a part of and see the Lord use.
New Website: InterAct’s website has had a complete overhaul! If you haven’t dropped by in a while, visit it on the web at www.InterActMinistries.org. I enjoyed working on this project.
New Videos: Another ministry I do for InterAct is put together videos that are used for presentation purposes, recruitment, project fundraising, etc. You can view these videos at InterAct’s YouTube channel at www.YouTube.com/InterActMin.
We are thankful for our partners in ministry. Without the support and prayers of other believers we could not do this ministry. You can find out more about supporting the work here.