Wednesday, March 3
After my first decent night’s sleep in over a week, we enjoyed a second face-time with S. over instant coffee, a "sausage" and 3 eggs sunny side up (really a bologna omelet), toast, and jam. I’ve found that knowing the language here doesn’t mean that a person can communicate with waiters or shop owners any better than we can. However, we got something close to what S. ordered for us.
S. delved into a preview of the material that he would share at the conference later this morning. He wanted to address a problem: 2nd, 3rd, and ensuing generations of small groups stop reproducing and evangelizing. S. introduced a strategy that a friend from Japan is employing: NINJA Groups. A NINJA Group is a group of no more than 3 people and a leader who agree to pursue some intense disciplines every week; such as, engage in evangelism (or service), read 25
chapters in the Bible, report back to the NINJA group with total transparency.
The purpose of the NINJA groups is to preserve the original DNA of passion and service for the Lord with key leaders.
After breakfast we headed out to the conference and I gave my 30 minute devotional to the gang from Jn. 16, through an interpreter. You would love to meet this guy (my interpreter). He has such a cheery disposition. I’d especially like to get to know him better in the future. People who know both Russian and English said that the interpreter’s version of my talk was better than mine (they laughed so I think they were kidding). Really funny, guys.
After an early lunch, the group broke into 2 discussion groups (Turkic language and Russian). We walked a few cold blocks back to the hotel. My cold is letting up a bit and is allowing me to sleep, so I napped while Jeff and S. went weight-lifting.
I found out later that Jeff tugged on weights while S. was giving his testimony to someone at the gym. We don’t know if this was the same guy that S. told us is a male stripper (I assume S. means that he’s not the kind of stripper that removes paint, but I refuse to conjure any other images in my Pastoral mind). I think the Kazakh word for that is YUCK!
After Jeff’s and S.’s new afternoon ministry time, that I’ve dubbed Weights and Witnessing, we went out to eat with the church planter boys at Chuck’s Roadhouse BBQ (actually Chuck’s was what I dreamed about during my naptime). Instead (back to reality), we ate supper at a restaurant that could have boasted "the Best Pork Kabobs east of the Caspian Sea". At least that would have been my marketing plan for their lip-smacking kabobs.
The rest of the evening was ours and we spent about an hour and a half of it trying to get my last posting loaded onto the Blog (the internet is running slow, unlike our intestines). I haven’t yet seen what they have on TV here so I did some channel surfing while waiting on the internet.
Some TV programs here are rip-offs of American programs. I’m so proud that the very best of American programming (aka, Reality Shows) are of such high quality that other countries can’t wait to copy them! (I’m piling on the sarcasm here).
Well, we had 10 gift bars of this awesome Kazakh chocolate to bring home before Jeff (like Satan) tempted me to share one with him. Now there are 9 (sorry, Missions Team that bar was intended for you!).
Seriously, it’s an honor to spend time with these church planters. They are earnest about evangelism and multiplication. They do it, they pray over it, they measure it, and they mean it. This calls me back to my authentic Xian roots.
Tomorrow, Thursday, is our last full day here. S. will meet us at the restaurant at 7:30am. We’ll connect with an American from Iowa for lunch, after the morning sessions. I think we’re supposed to do some bowling in the afternoon.