A young medical student survives the metro bombing.
Dear NHI and friends,
Let me brief you on our Urbana 2009 experience in St. Louis. Now, three months later, several things I carried away with me stand out. I'll give you a brief description and some impression so you have a feel for what the conference was like.
Description: The conference was held in Freedom Hall, a large convention center with closed walkways to the indoor football stadium, home of the St. Louis Rams American Football team, where our plenary sessions were held. In the Freedom Hall exhibit center, our table was in the "urban ministries" section next to the Bookstore, across from World Impact, an inner city ministry, and adjacent to Freeset, a ministry to enslaved women. Observing different exhibits gave me a good idea how we can improve future exhibits at low cost. The Freeset people had photographic banners and backdrops that rolled up into a tent-size carry-on item. At our simple booth, we used a small flat screen to displaying an NHI slideshow presentation, a video of Angam's ministry, and a video featuring Paul Victor and his Capstone ministry. In Bangalore, Paul partners with Don Lee in discipleship ministry. We also had a display board with several display items and a gun-like bar code reader to register visitors to our exhibit. I had some fun with the reader. The highlight of our exhibit was Sharon Lee modeling a series of emerald green saris. People remembered Sharon! As I continue to correspond with students and others who visited us, my reference to Sharon always helps distinguish our booth from perhaps 200 others. We said hello to a couple hundred people walking by and spoke at length with 70 souls who let us zap them with the bar code laser. My decorum was perhaps a bit light-hearted in this, but I had some fun with the bar code reader. For the next 6 months I will follow up with these visitors by email, but initial response suggests people's mission radar is pretty selective. The way we are going to reach candidates is if they already know us or know someone who knows us. Nevertheless, we will keep the names and email addresses on file permanently unless people request to be taken off and we’ll monitor the bounce ratios.
(1) 17,000 missions-minded folks in one place will disabuse one of any Elijah complex.
(2) Almost 30% of the conference was Asian-American. Perhaps 30% of the leadership was, too.
(3) Great conference organization –Intervarsity really does an excellent job.
(4) Many young people, particularly young women, were keen to take part in the effort to rid the world of sexual and labor slavery among women and children throughout the world.
(5) Many desire to serve "the poor" and to help with "the environment" in a general sort of way.
(6) A lot of interest in China and India. Not much interest in Europe or the post-Soviet world.
(7) This was a pretty "intellectual" group which is probably a natural reflection of Intervarsity's ministry.
Conclusion: I've lived outside the USA for the last 17 years and doing Urbana was culture shock for me. Initially, I wasn't sure how NHI fit into the panoply of missions, but as I talked with many different people, I got a much clearer picture of where we belong and whom we can best serve. This was probably the most important thing I brought back to Moscow with me. You will hear more about it at the Retreat. Chris and I are also increasingly grateful to God that we've been able to commit ourselves to mission service for so many years. I think we all share in that expression of thanksgiving. May we never be weary in well-doing for in due season, we shall reap.
1 Thess. 3.8
This issue highlights the week Mark spent north of the Arctic Circle, in October. Vladimir Iakovlev, who had joined us in planting New Hope Church in 1995, invited Mark on behalf of the churches he worked with in the Murmansk region. Vladimir and his wife Sveta have a wonderful ministry with Pastor Peter Makarchuk and an association of independent churches that operate a drug rehabilita-tion center. They invited Mark to return for a month next year.
To the left, I've included photos in the photo album Step-by-Step in Murmansk Oblast.
Urbana 2009 and World Outreach Conference 2010
From December 27-31, 2009, NHI will exhibit at Urbana 09, the InterVarsity missions conference to be held St. Louis, Missouri. Check these sites for more information: www.urbana.org and www.urbana09.org. Then from 01-03 February 2010, we will participate in the World Outreach Conference for missions at Toccoa Falls College in Toccoa Falls, GA. We want to connect with people with whom we can partner in Russia, India, the Czech Republic, and beyond.
Our February conference in NE India with national associate, Angam Haokip, will not occur. Please continue to pray for Angam and for Don Lee who works directly with him in Bangalore. Angam sends missionary teachers and pastors from his seminary in Bangalore to penetrate Buddhist and Hindu frontiers in Assam, Manipur, and across the borders into Burma, Bhutan, and Nepal.
New Hope Church, Moscow
This fall the elders have spent significant time with Mark praying and seeking God's direction and help to find a permanent resident pastoral leader. The Young Adults remain a strong point in our fellowship, but too many people have become overwhelmed by life pressures in Moscow and have stepped back from previous involvement in the ministry. The Holy Spirit is helping the church to answer God's wake-up call.
Explanation: What are these humans doing? Dancing. Many humans on Earth exhibit periods of happiness, and one method of displaying happiness is dancing. Happiness and dancing transcend political boundaries and occur in practically every human society. Above, Matt Harding traveled through many nations on Earth, started dancing, and filmed the result. The video is perhaps a dramatic example that humans from all over planet Earth feel a common bond as part of a single species. Happiness is frequently contagious -- few people are able to watch the above video without smiling.
I visit this favorite place about once a month, but I don't quite have Matt's happy dance step down yet. MEC
Below, left: Mark and Marina Solovarova. Below, right: Sergei Solovarov
In June, Mark visited Marina & Sergei Solovarov in Prague. In 1996, Marina & Sergei came to Moscow from Petrozavodsk in Karelia (where Roman & Oksana Gulik now live and where Mark had taught in the church). They found a home at New Hope Church where Mark led Sergei to Christ. We sent Marina to extensive training with Sherry Ifft's Children's Ministry International (CMI) while she directed our children's ministry. Sergei played guitar in the worship band. In 2000, they left Moscow for a business opportunity in Petersburg. Sergei started a construction contracting company and did very well. Marina served the Russian ministry of CMI while earning a degree in Counseling. They were able to purchase an apartment in Petersburg and save enough for a second apartment in Prague. Why move to Prague? Prague has a large community of Russians who have sought better opportunities in the Czech Republic, the most Western Slavic nation, culturally friendly and relatively unobtrusive in the affairs of its citizens and guests. During the visit, not only was Mark treated as an honored guest, but Sergei & Marina expressed much appreciation for all that the church had done for them during an important transitional time in their lives. We talked about Chris and Marina working together in the future –a very real possiblity.
NHI will exhibit at Urbana 09, the missions conference sponsored by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship for North American college students every three years. An important first for us,this is the 22 "Urbana" conference since the first was held in Toronto in 1946. Urbana 09 will be held at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Missouri, from December 27-31, 2009. Three hundred mission agencies, including NHI, and more than 20,000 people are expected during 5 days of events. Check these sites for more information: www.urbana.org and www.urbana09.org .
Pray for Mark and Chris as we prepare for the conference. Our newest NHI associate, Conrad Weaver, will help us with a video presentation to be featured at our exhibit booth. Colleagues Don and Sharon Lee plan to be with us. Our goals for the conference are (1) to network with other mission agencies, and (2) to meet and encourage people who working through God's call to cross-cultural missions. To serve in long-term, cross-cultural missions God is calling both a new generation of young people and an older generation of new mission associates from those of us who came of age in the turbulent '60's. NHI has opportunities right now in India, Czech Republic, Russia, and we don't want to miss God's open door elsewhere.
Left-right: Tom & Elsie Reese, Warrenton, VA; Ernst Lutz, Rockville, MD; Lois & Tom Ford, Warren, PA/Moscow, Russia; Sharon & Don Lee, Campbellsville, KY/Bangalore, India; Mark & Chris Currie, Virginia Beach, VA/Moscow, Russia; Carl & Becky Byrd, Germantown, MD; David Onufer (friend of the ministry), Charlotte, NC; Jodi & Conrad Weaver with Spencer and Laken, Emmitsburg, MD. Not pictured: Jimmy & Hulda Bennett, Gaitherburg, MD/Pardubice, Czech Republic; Philip & Grace Lee, Bangalore, India.
This is a post from the Currie Courier, 1 September 2009, v.17.1
The Book of Nehemiah has often drawn me for encouragement and guidance on the subject of leadership. We held our annual New Hope International mission retreat in Williamsburg, Virginia, in June, with 16 people participating, including our missionary couple from India, another couple raising support to go to Russia, a new couple who joined our mission in January of this year, and a new Board member, plus our administrator, current Board members, and friends of the mission. We spent four days of Biblical teaching, worship, prayer, and presentations and discussions on discipleship, communication, building community across cultures, and raising support. We have been accepted to set up an informational display at the Urbana 09 missions conference, sponsored by Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, from December 27 to 29, 2009, in St. Louis, where approximately 20,000 people will gather to hear about missions around the world. At that conference, we are hoping to connect with other missions and to encourage people to enter the fields of mission. Our mission has grown from a simple non-profit organization set up in 1995 to serve the needs of the Currie family in Russia, to one that is providing support and guidance for other missionaries around the world, and so, during the past several weeks, I have once again been reading Nehemiah for encouragement and guidance in lessons of leadership.
In future newsletters, I will go into more detail about the various leadership lessons that I have gleaned, but let me begin with five basic lessons from Nehemiah. First, Nehemiah sought the welfare of his countrymen first, and not his own welfare, peace, or prosperity. He was a servant leader. Second, when he heard that his countrymen were in affliction, living in unfavorable conditions, he wept and mourned, fasted and prayed—he was passionate about the need of other people, and he turned to God first, knowing that the need was greater than he alone could meet. Third,Nehemiah acted in obedience, and with the favor of the King, even though that king was an unbeliever. He trusted God for guidance through the authority that was over him. Fourth, as he prayed and trusted God, he also had a practical plan for completing the work. Fifth, as the work progressed, enemies came against him repeatedly and ever more forcefully, attempting to stop the work through tactics of discouragement, fear, and physical threats. But through all the ups and downs, through the threats of his enemies and the complaints of his countrymen, Nehemiah steadily kept at the work that God had given him to do.
In like manner, we pray that we can keep steadily at the work that God has given us to do. Unexpected changes in visa laws have kept me in the United States while Mark travels back and forth to Russia, and to the other countries where our New Hope missionaries live, for extended periods of time. But these changes have led to an unexpected opportunity to further my education and acquire new skills that I will continue to use to help missionaries. We adjust to changing circumstances, trusting that God uses government authorities to open and close doors, always guiding us, so that the work consistently proceeds. And, like Nehemiah, with each change we pray, “Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands” (Nehemiah 6:9).