News from Our Russian Brethren
The following comments were compiled out of transmissions to our Committee on Missions from Pastor Schurganoff in December and January, and are reproduced here in his own words for the information of our readers:
Thank for your interest about our congregation, and also for your prayers concerning us.
Since July of this year we have a hall for meetings and worship services, as your Conference sends me money for a rent payment of this place. We have worship services and Bible classes each Sunday.
I work much with the church project correspondence Bible school also, as I distribute lessons of Bible study for several prisons, that the people there have an opportunity to study God’s Word. Each week I meet with prisoners in one of city prisons to speak them about Christ and to teach Bible study lessons for them. Already sixteen prisoners baptized for this time. Unfortunately, the conditions of life in our prisons leave to wish much best. The people in this prison needs in most necessary things, namely in clothes, footwear, written accessories, medicines. Our church helps these people as we can, but our help is very much limited.
Now we have for our church the large blessing from God, because two men have joined us in Holy Baptism. It is necessary to explain in our country, where atheism long dominated, the people come to Lord already in mature age. Therefore just now they accept Holy Baptism, and then, after study of Lutheranism bases, they also participate in Confirmation to be members of Lutheran church. This month one man, which was discharge from prison, also has come in our church. He studied our correspondence Bible courses earlier, and now he too wishes to join our church.
There is one more Lutheran group in small regional city named Nizhni Tagil. This group was formed due to our correspondence Bible school also. Now I travel there for worship services and Biblical classes two times per month.
I hope I can send photos of our worship services little bit later, as I have not the scanner and I need to ask other people to make scanning photos. I shall try to make pictures of our Christmas Worship Service then to send them for you and Conference. I shall try to make some translations of my sermons for the Conference, as soon as I shall have free time for this purpose. The special event for us now is a state re-registration of all religious organizations, as the new law on state registration is accepted by government. It is very difficult procedure, and I need very much to work above it now.
We continue training at the English school. In December the next educational semester comes to an end, when there will be preliminary examinations. I hope our English knowledge become much better and further we could study in Concordia Seminary of the Conference.
Our child feels much better. We continue treatment, recommended for him by the doctors. He can slightly speak already, but poorly moves still. The doctors speak it can be because of infringement of some functions of movement. Also I want to inform you my wife very seriously is sick. She has problems with her heart and she is in hospital now. After birth of child she had two heart attacks and now her health very bad again. I try as it is possible more often to visit her and to support, than I can. I hope and I pray, that God will give her simplification soon. Unfortunately, it is very difficult for me to hold her treatment in a good level, as there is no money.
I wish merry Christmas and many God’s blessings for you and your families, for all Conference ministers and laymens. Christmas here comes on January 7, which is December 25 on the Julian calendar. This day is an official feast and non-working day. I also thank God for your prayerful support of our work. May the Lord who was born to live among us in this sinful world in order to be our righteousness and to give His life to redeem us from sin’s guilt and punishment – and who lives again, still sharing our human nature, to bring us to heaven – grant you a glad new year in the assurance of His unfailing mercy, protection and help!
May we all continue to remember Pastor Schurganoff, his wife and little son, and his precious flock in our fervent prayers and to support the efforts of our Conference, as we together seek to hold up their hands in witnessing the truth of God’s precious Word to those who, for well over half a century, were, as the result of political slavery to atheistic communism, “strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). May the Lord of the Church continue to bless abundantly all their faithful labors!