Skip to main content

Winter Bible Conference 2017

Peter was hunched up against the window of the high-speed train to Saint Petersburg, trying desperately to see how the train rolled along the rails when we got the message: "the health department has closed the location for the conference, please pray."

Many of the 115 students and staff from 17 cities across Russia were already en route, like us, to our annual Winter Bible Conference when this unexpected news hit. We arrived in St. Pete, shaking the softly falling snow from our luggage and hats, not fully knowing what to think or expect for this year's conference. However, while we were flying across Russia's rails, praying for help and provision, staff in St. Pete had hit the ground searching for a new location to fit our demographic and budget - not an easy task. In the end, we got our answer and miraculously nobody was lost in the shuffle.

The opening meeting emerged from non-stop logistical, physical, and relational chaos and met an audience surprisingly humble, grateful, and ready. What an incredible moment. Just when it seems everything has gone wrong, God has done the deeper and more difficult work of readying our group to listen more intently, engage with more flexibility, laugh along the way, and fundamentally, to trust. Control had been wrenched from our tight fists and we all experienced an atmosphere of grace and joy - not at all what anybody expected at the beginning of this story. 

While not all the bumps were smoothed and connections made during the conference, the general flow of the conference seemed to move along on a different track - one we could not have planned and orchestrated better ourselves. One high point was a ministry market. Student teams from different cities set up tables to resemble a Russian market displaying tools, tips, and stories from their home cities. Some tables were elaborate in both content and style, others were simple, with just one or two students sharing about their home cities and friends. But what was most striking was that everybody had something to offer. Everybody had a place. Everybody had something to say. Everybody was heard. 

That evening, our main speaker shared stories and Scripture about the Student Volunteer Movement of 1886 and how this movement made an incredible impact on the world. He highlighted humble participants, even reading a few interesting and humble applications people submitted years ago for missionary and ministry work for which, by today's standards, they were grossly unprepared and under-qualified. His stories ended in a picture of one really rag-tag bunch of twenty-year-olds initially involved in the Student Volunteer Movement. Then, he held up a picture of our conference students and staff right alongside them. The lack of difference between these two groups was startling. Immediately following this talk, we had scheduled our annual "come help us change the world" recruiting talk. Typically we drag and coerce students to just hear us out on this, but this year, they flooded into the auditorium, already with a "picture" in their minds of all God could possibly do in and through them. It was reminiscent of a humble speaker in the 1950's with the same tag line and vision for the young people of the world. A seasoned staff friend sent this message to his wife just following the talk, "They want to get a group of young people together to change the world for the Kingdom, I think we should sign up."

And this is why we do what we do. Things don't go as planned and we rarely get what we expect, but when God shows up, it's worth being there.


Popular posts from this blog


At the time, it tasted like the perfect combination of spicy salsa over scrambled eggs, just the way I liked it.
But now, I can see, it's not only enduring 8 ruckus cousins piled on the floor for the summer,  but making their favorite breakfasts for them each day.
At the time, it was glimmer of the holiday decorations around the house;  the lantern and lights were always bright, inviting, always welcoming to me.
But now, it's a man who fought for the right to celebrate holidays in this country  whatever way we please, and embraces that right.
At the time, it was the delight of finding the extra few treats on  Halloween that appeared in my pumpkin and seeing the hand which slipped them in.
But now, it's a man who is generous and kind to his children's children.
At the time, it was the joy of walking from Holly Hills to have candy with Grandpa after school instead of going home to carrots and apples.
But now, it's a man who enjoys life and enjoys making life more enjoyable.
At the…

Maple Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Don't like brussel sprouts? No worries, these don't taste a thing like them! Our children asked for second (and third) helpings and as Dan remarked, they easily outshone everything else on the table. We took them to our Thanksgiving dinner as well as a Christmas party as they travel and reheat surprisingly well and complemented those more traditional dishes.

2 slices bacon
1 lb. brussel sprouts (thawed if frozen) sliced in half
1/2 an onion sliced into thin loops
Salt and pepper to season
3 TB maple syrup 3 TB apple cider vinegar *optional
1/4 cup raisins *optional

If using raisins, put them in a cup with the apple cider vinegar and set aside. (Raisins can soak over night for brighter flavor.)

In a cast iron skillet, cook 2 slices of bacon over medium heat. Remove bacon from pan to crumble once cool.

Using the hot bacon grease, add brussel sprouts and onion slices to the skillet and immediately season with salt and pepper. Adjust heat to medium low if…


Зарядки or “morning exercises” were a part of every good Soviet's morning routine. It's a tradition that continues to live on in most Russians' ideal schedule, particularly when traveling or vacationing in a new place. Hotels, camps, resorts all offer their vacationers morning exercise before breakfast each day. I decided that this would be a fun “optional” activity for our summer project, and apparently so did several other Summer Project participants - I was shocked when nearly 15 people showed up on our first morning! Every morning at 7:30, the brave fitness gurus and I would run together to the rocky shores of the sea for a 30 minute exercise routine I'd planned out the night before. We did just about every exercise I could think of, including, but not limited to the following: stretching, running, skipping, jumping, lunging, balancing, squating, push-ups, tricep raises, calf raises, holding a plank, leg extensions, wall sits, obstacle courses, and just about anyth…