Thursday, April 15, 2010

Reflections from the whirlwind...

In 1st Kings 19:9-18, we have the interesting account of the prophet Elijah going through a bout of depression, hiding in a cave because the wicked Queen Jezebel was seeking to kill him. In chapter 18, we're told that Elijah had exercised profound faith against the prophets of Baal, had seen God send fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice and altar proving He is the true God and the people responded by seizing the 450 prophets of the idol Baal and killing them. After that great victory, Elijah is running for his life from Jezebel when the Lord wants to speak to him. God tells Elijah to get out of the cave and go stand on the mountain before the Lord. Elijah does so and God sends a whirlwind to tear at the rocks around, Elijah, then an earthquake and fire, but the Bible says God wasn't in the wind, the earthquake or the fire, but then there was this still small voice - the voice of God speaking to Elijah...

I kind of feel that way in the sense that myself, Wayne Tapscott and Vince Hammond have been on a whirlwind trip to Moscow. We'd experienced a wonderful Easter and then flew off to Russia to see the Lord's work there in Moscow with our international missionaries, the Cherry family. I can't speak for Wayne and Vince but I kind of feel like I've been in a cave for most of my life since this was my first trip to Europe. I've been to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, but most of my understanding is only of America. In the midst of this whirlwind trip, I heard the still small voice of God that convicted me to get out of the cave of my American comfort and accept more than just mentally that Christ came for the nations. That the Great Commission is not exclusive to the United States, but for the peoples of the world. I was broken to realize how blessed I am personally and how blessed we are corporately as a church. The greater Moscow area has about 15 million people living there. There are about a 120 Evangelical Churches there which means they preach salvation through Christ alone by faith alone. That may sound like a lot of churches, but the reality is this is one church for every 125,000 people! Clearly from a simple numerical point of view, many more churches must be started to reach this population of people. Lots of Orthodox Churches hold sway over the people teaching a dead religion that worships icons painted on old walls; but using religious terminology similar to ours, just in Russian.

I was humbled by the still small voice of God as I preached on Saturday afternoon to a small church start plant that began last November, the Dedication Church about the urgency of repentance. I was challenged by God that I need to repent personally of my pride. I heard the voice of God seeing and hearing this small group of believers worship in their native Russian tongue singing "God of Wonders" and "Blessed Assurance". While the words made no sense to me, I recognized the tune and there was drawn into worship of the Great God we serve who has this amazing plan that every tribe, tongue and nation will be worshiping Him someday in eternity. Realizing this little fledging church shares it's worship space with 21 other churches each weekend because the cost of real estate is so expensive broke my heart. Each church rents this room for a 2 hour block of time beginning early Saturday morning and continuing till some time Sunday night. Dedication Church happens to have it from 3-5 Saturday afternoon. 

I was humbled by the Bethany Church believers on Sunday, 80 or so crammed into a small room in a different location above a tire changing business. They also have 1 Bible Study classroom/kitchen and 1 small conference room. The church is not the building they assemble in, it’s the people; a people of all ages hungry for God and His word. A family of the people of God who emphasize the repentance aspect of salvation. They describe people in terms of those who have repented and those who have not. I saw their zeal and love for the Lord, their passion for and commitment to obedience to God and His Word, and I heard God speak to me of my relative lack of zeal, love for and passion to obey God and His Word. I met Pastor Zanin Alexander and his sweet wife Valentina, who would much rather live in the country doing something else, but stay in the city because God has called them to reach Moscow. 
I heard the still small voice of God saying to me He’s blessed me to be a blessing, that there is much more I could be doing to expand His kingdom and reveal His glory to others, not just in Moscow, but in Harford County. I believe a lot of Christians are trying to hear from God above the noise of our iPods, Christian radio, the busyness of our lives, and the show put on in the local church; but I’m not sure God wants to use that to speak to us and Elijah’s experience demonstrates that the voice of God is in the still small voice. I’ll be sharing more in the near future as we’ll hear both from the Maine mission team and the Moscow team on a Sunday morning. I urge you now to get out of your cave and stand on the mountain in front of the Lord and get ready to listen to the still small voice of God….from my little corner of the world to yours….

Pastor Ralph Green
Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Thanks for praying!!!

Prayer warriors,
Thanks so much for praying for me as I was preaching today in a Russian Baptist Church plant that only began last November. It has been a marathon day (after a restless night) and it was evident you were praying. The service started late because Pastor Andrei was scrambling around trying to locate a translator. The lady he had secured for this project realized she had already made a commitment and could not do this. I spoke to three individuals in succession trying to figure out who could translate literally minutes before the service was to begin. I had probably 2 minutes to speak with a young man named Maxeem who was scared to death but agreed to translate for me. I gave him a copy of my notes and he studied them while the music was going on and then he translated for me. He had never done this before and neither had I so we both had quite an adventure. I felt so badly for him because I at least knew what I was planning to say, he had to do this on the fly. Between Maxeem and the Associate Pastor who read the Scriptures for us, it appears the Lord blessed as I preached. Only the Lord could have worked this out. I think Maxeem was probably the most relieved of all when we finished and he made a hasty exit. He did a great job and Wayne Tapscott was able to catch him to thank him before he left for which I was grateful.

For my Faith Family friends, you would have been like me today, feeling like a proud grandpa or dad seeing Carly leading worship on the keyboard and vocals and Jack backing her up on the guitar in Russian! Carly is in 8th grade and Jack is in 6th grade. It was all I could to do keep from weeping watching these two serving our Lord Jesus Christ this way. What was amazing was they were singing praise songs in Russian that we would recognize in English, including "This is the air I breathe", "Blessed Assurance", and "God of Wonders". While it was being sung in Russian, I was singing in English and it was wonderful.
After I finished preaching on "The Urgency of Repentance" from  Acts 17:30-31. Pastor Andrei
sang a Russian song about repentance and another leader in church spent about 20 minutes challenging believers to tithe from many Scriptures and ended up sharing the Gospel again before they took up the offering! 

We returned to the Cherry's apartment for a Saturday night English club they lead for Russians who want to learn English through a Bible Study. Many times unbelievers come to this but tonight, it was four young women who are believers. We had pizza after the Bible Study and then 45 minute Metro ride back to our hotel, changed trains 3 times and our faithful Navigator Vince Hammond has steered us safely back every night. 
I'd post pictures, but I'm beat. Maybe tomorrow. We attend another Russian Baptist Church tomorrow (Sunday) and then a visit with the Pastor who apparently is the Precept Director for Russia. I hear he's an amazing expositor of the word. There is a huge need here for the love of Jesus Christ. Believers here describe salvation not by someone praying a prayer or walking an aisle, the say "He or she has repented." Believe all you want in their minds, it is whether or not you've repented. The sadness is people's faces as they trudge through life without Christ breaks my heart. The Cherry's are heroes to me. They are investing their lives into the Russian people so they may know Christ. It will be long, hard difficult work, but God is faithful to bring the harvest. We must pray, we must continue to give, but most of all we must continue to come to Russia.

To my Calvary family, I miss you and I will be praying for you as you gather in worship tomorrow. Wally Yocum will be be preaching and I know he will challenge and encourage you in the word. I'm looking forward to returning to be home with you, I love you and thank God for your heart and love for Jesus through missions.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor Ralph Green
Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church


Posted via email from Pastor Ralph

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The one who came back to say thanks...

By the time this article in our Way Newsletter appears in your mailbox, Easter weekend will be over and I will be in Moscow Russia on a mission/vision trip along with Wayne Tapscott and Vince Hammond.  I’ll talk about the Russian trip in a bit. In thinking about all of our activities with Good Friday, the Pancake Breakfast, Easter Egg Hunt (including all you who donated candy and eggs), our Palm Sunday musical with our choir, orchestra, praise band, childcare workers, ushers, flower committee and the myriad of volunteers to make all of this possible, well I wanted to just say thanks. I’m constantly reminded of the ten lepers Jesus healed from that awful disease and of that group of ten, only one came back to say thanks. I’ve determined in my life, I may not be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound like superman, but I can be thankful. I’ve determined I will have “an attitude of gratitude” and I want to be like that one leper who took time to say thanks. So if you volunteered or helped in any way, let me tell you that I appreciate you so very much for volunteering and serving however you helped out. I also want to say thanks to you who went out of your way to greet visitors and engage them to make welcome here at Calvary. This church truly is something special and it is my joy to serve as your senior pastor.  I can honestly say there is no place, any place, in any case, quite like or as special as this place! (Say that 5 times fast!). We had a wonderful weekend celebrating the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and I marvel at God’s goodness to us.  Somehow “thanks” here doesn’t seem to be enough, but I’m banking on our Heavenly Father to reward you appropriately in Heaven as you’ve been storing up treasure there.  

On Wednesday 4-7-10, Wayne, Vince and I departed for Moscow Russia. We are going to see Rhenn and Terry Cherry, their two kids Carly and Jack. The Cherry’s were members of our church in Houston at Faith Family Baptist Church under Pastor David Lino where I served as his associate pastor. I knew there was something special about the Cherry’s when I met them as you could just tell in their family, the Lord had done a miracle. Rhenn was a corporate executive with a major energy corporation and was on his way to being extremely wealthy on the fast track up the corporate ladder. There were some problems in his company with the head executives that he didn’t know about and the corporate dream life he was living crashed down around them when the company declared bankruptcy and went under. Rhenn was one of the last officers to go down with the ship so to speak and had the responsibility to help relocate employees if possible, handle the gut-wrenching process of laying off people he knew,  worked with and cared about, and then finally, he turned in his stuff and he was done also. During all this, the Lord got Rhenn’s attention under the ministry of Pastor David as we affectionately call him. God called Rhenn, Terry, Carly and Jack to be missionaries in Moscow Russia. Rhenn enrolled in the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Houston to prepare for the mission field. The Cherry’s received an appointment with our international mission board (IMB) and after graduation, left most of their earthly possessions behind, packed what they could put in crates and moved to Russia. For the last several years, they’ve been in heavy training in language school, and now have their assignment in Moscow with Rhenn supervising a group of IMB missionaries in Russia. I’ve been watching their ministry and I’m confident God has His hands on this special family. Our purpose for this trip is to see how we can partner with the Cherry’s in their work, specifically among Russian Baptist Churches to make disciples in Moscow. On 4-10-10 I will be preaching in a new church start called “Dedication Church”. It will be my first opportunity to preach overseas with a translator so I would appreciate your prayers and that the Lord would speak through me. On Sunday, we’ll be visiting another Russian Baptist Church to explore how we can assist these strategic churches before currently open doors might close in the future. While the door is open, we want to get involved as the Lord leads and if it is his will. Would you pray for the three of us to have wisdom and discernment as to the Lord’s leading and that we’ll be a blessing to the Cherry’s, and the pastors of these two key churches? You may have seen there was a terrorist bombing in a Moscow subway on Monday March 29th.  From what I hear, there is much fear and terror in Moscow and if you have no hope in the risen Savior, this is understandable. I can’t wait to tell you all about it upon our return. In the mean time, thanks in advance for praying, from my little corner of the world to yours…

Ralph Green

Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church

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