Behold, children are a gift of the LORD; The fruit of the womb is a reward. Psalm 127:3 NASB
I finished my opening presentation in St. Petersburg, Russia with those words, and waited while my translator, repeated them in Russian. As I left the podium I was met by a young Russian girl whose face was filled with tears. She quietly asked me to talk more with her after the session saying, “I have never heard this before.” I was pleased and somewhat surprised by her strong reaction to what I had said. It is hard for someone who has grown up in a country where we hear about God’s Word often to anticipate the effect scripture has on those who are hearing it for the first time. This generation of youth in Russia and the other nations of the former Soviet bloc has grown up never hearing about Jesus. Abortions are the major form of birth control. Crime, and alcoholism is rampant since the August economic crash because the people have no God to turn to. My heart broke for this young lady and her generation. She had never heard the wonderful promise of Jesus.
On the Saturday and Sunday after the St. Petersburg conference and before we left for Moscow, I spent time with young Russian high school and university students I tried to pour as much knowledge about the Lord and the sanctity of life into them as I could in the short time I would have with them. They are bright, eager and excited about all they have learned. I know they will be effective ambassadors for Jesus to their generation.
That is what it is all about – the next generation. God is a generational thinker. The most important thing about the human rights conferences in St. Petersburg and Moscow, Russia was not what I said in the somber halls of the Duma (Russian Parliament) but what I was able to pour into young Russian students. Russia is open now but we must not waste the opportunity the Lord has created for us. I found Russia to be a nation of beautiful, empty churches. The nations of the former Soviet Union are in desperate need of discipleship. When the door first opened many missions crusades told the people about Jesus but did not stay long enough to teach and disciple. Thousands have not yet heard and others have accepted Jesus but have not been taught His ways.
I left Moscow after almost two weeks of conferences and flew to Riga, Latvia to join Keith and the teaching team for the teacher training conference. How honored I was to work with people who have a vision to reach the next generation. Life Coalition has invested in the people of Latvia — in Peter a local pastor with a generational vision to reach teachers and in Larry and Debbie, missionaries who came to Riga almost ten years age and never left. We are building on people who are already established and respected in the area.
The work in preparation for the teacher training began months before the event. Letters were sent to teachers all over the nation inviting them to the conference and describing the nature of the training. Each teacher was promised bibles for her classroom. The response was tremendous. We stamped and packaged bibles for hours. The hall where the conference was held will filled to overflowing and still they came. They came from big cities like Riga and small towns and even smaller villages. Teaching them was a delight. Have you ever gotten up to speak and every one is fully attentive – not one movement– not one sound – for the entire duration of your talk? They seemed to hang on every word. One elderly gentleman commented, “What you say is good – I will teach it to my grandchildren.” They were also generational thinkers.
Before I came to work with Life Coalition International, I taught college students, some of them teachers, in a large university. What a difference! Every principle of education that works is grounded in God’s Word. Here, I was able to teach educational principles using scripture to illustrate each one. I did not have to be “politically correct” (translate that as scripturally ignorant) one time. Praise the Lord!
Even after the conference was over God kept opening more doors of opportunity for us. One day we visited an orphanage and played and prayed with the children. Keith and two pastors who were members of the team spoke in different churches. I had the opportunity to talk to a ladies meeting in a church. Most of the women in this church were new believers. Many had heard about Jesus at one of the teacher’s conferences. Because of years of hopelessness caused by the oppression of Communism these women had been abused, abandoned and broken. Many had abortion in their past. I wanted to pour the oil of the Father’s love over these women. Because so many are broken so I taught on the love of the Father and how Mary broke the precious vessel of oil over Jesus. “there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard; and she broke the vial and poured it over His head.” Mark 14:3b NAS. I wanted them to understand how much God loves them and how sometimes a broken vessel is more useful because of it’s brokenness. I prayed with them and cried with them. One woman, who had come for the first time with a friend accepted Jesus and her Savior.
God has given Keith a great vision and it is bearing fruit in this next generation.