From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
CELEBRATION MARKS ANNIVERSARY OF SIBERIAN
05 May 1996 13:16:52
95194 CELEBRATION MARKS ANNIVERSARY OF SIBERIAN
by the Rev. Jim Campbell
Director, Chukotka Native Christian Ministry
Editor's note: Yukon Presbytery and several of its churches helped
establish and now support the Chukotka Native Christian Ministry (CNCM), an
outreach ministry of Yupiks in northern Alaska to Yupiks in Siberia. A
year ago CNCM conducted an evangelism training event for Christian Yupiks
in Siberia. Last week CNCM held a weeklong follow-up gathering. The
Presbyterian News Service thanks the Rev. Janice Stamper, pastor of
Savoonga Presbyterian Church, for sending Jim Campbell's account of the
gathering. -- Jerry L. Van Marter
SAVOONGA, Alaska--At worship May 30, five persons from Sereneki stood up,
mindful that one year ago they had come to St. Lawrence Island to the first
training session curious about Christianity.
From their curiosity has sprung a fellowship of 80 persons. Then they
laughed, "We have now been gone a week -- it is probably up to 90."
This week has been a whirlwind of Bible study, discussion, and
worship. We went from Christmas to Communion to a celebration of Easter
with the proclamation "Christ is Risen!" in Russian, Yupik and English.
There has been story after story of the grace of God through Christ.
There also have been stories of enormous deprivation. Food is scarce
and the ability to gather food has been limited by boats with motors that
have worn out. Recently two young men were lost at sea in boats whose
"God doesn't want suffering," said one Siberian visitor. If that is
so, then the people of far eastern Russia are near the head of the line to
be blessed by God's grace.
Three evenings concluded with Eskimo dancing, including the final
evening (June 3) after a community potluck. When the people of Chukotka
heard it was a potluck they decided to create a Russian dish called
Belimeni, using reindeer meat wrapped in pasta that is then boiled.
Throughout the week the discussions have focused on learning to
discern the scriptures. That in turn helps participants reflect on all the
different ways the Christian message is being proclaimed by so many groups
visiting Russia with the gospel. This has really been helpful.
The testimony of the people from Russia and Alaska has also been
helpful as they consider the wonders of God's healing spirit. God answers
prayers in different ways and in God's time. That truth was also very
important to ponder for the newly emerging Siberian church.
"We are here because we have so much to learn and we want to learn,"
said one participant. "We want very much to bring the spirit of this
training back with us."
For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
phone 502-569-5504 fax 502-569-8073
E-mail PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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