An Open Letter to Pastors of Churches that Support SRS, and Supporters of SRS, from Eric Greene, Pastor of Thomson Memorial Presbyterian Church, Centreville, MS
As pastors we often address the moral crises of our culture, the need for repentance, and the new creation through the Gospel - yet often we are focused solely on America. Therefore, I want to share why I have been willing to commit between 1-5 hours a week serving on the SRS board, and the benefits of developing relationships with Eurasian pastors, like Ruslan Morozov and others, for the past 4 years.
I get more than I give when I serve with the Slavic Reformation Society
I started serving on the SRS board in 2012, after traveling to teach a course in St. Petersburg, Russia. Since that time I have found that developing relationships with those men and ministering outside of my culture in Russia equips me to minister better in my own culture in America. When I hear first-hand of how isolated, lonely, and impoverished are the Russian ministers, it makes me look at my small country church differently and more encouragingly. When the men tell me of the corruption and injustices in the Russian judicial system it helps me stay a little more balanced when I hear Americans complain about the injustices around us. Such depressing rhetoric or sermons come from those who do not know a Russian pastor and the world in which he lives.
I have found that a pastor’s world becomes very small and depressing if he only focuses on his small congregation. It leads to isolation and is not emotionally healthy. One helpful way to break out of that death-cycle is through SRS. It opens my small world up to know that the former Soviet Union with her 275 million Russian speakers, is still one of the greatest opportunities for the Gospel on the face of the earth, since the fall of Communism in 1991. I get to be a part of exploiting this open door for the Gospel in Russia, and to 50 million Muslims, which I’m sure many more American pastors would love to do.
My family has had several of these pastors at our house, and I am grateful that my children have been able to meet them and hear their stories. This picture, taken a couple months ago, shows my family with the Morozov family.
This experience encourages me to get out there and share the Gospel even among the most hopeless of my community. Ruslan and Olga’s example convicts me and tells me I have no excuse for not reaching out to the very needy here in Centreville, who are nowhere near as needy as those in Russia, and I am 5-times better provided for in America, physically and emotionally, than pastors like Ruslan and his wife Olga are. (For instance, Olga had contracted tuberculosis, because for the sake of Christ and the Gospel, she moved with Ruslan to a very broken down area that is rife with TB). So, I have nothing to complain about!
2. I view working for a mission like SRS as part of my regular job description in the Bible
The second reason I am committed to spending real time mentoring Russian pastors and raising money for SRS is because I look at this kind of work as a Biblical mandate for all pastors. In II Timothy 4:5 Paul commands Timothy to do the work of an evangelist. This word in the New Testament includes not just personal evangelism, but any and all work that is connected with international missions as well.
3. SRS is a wise investment for me, my family and my church
Part of our job as pastors is to find worthwhile ministries for our parishioners to support. After being disenchanted with various missionaries, our church found great encouragement with the opportunity to support SRS. Our church has given up to $25,000/year to the Russian church planters and general fund of SRS.
I invest in SRS because of the resources of experience and knowledge Blake and Cathy Purcell have after 26 years of wonderful ministry in a culture and language that now spans 9 time zones. Blake still works 1-2 hours a day in the Russian language to stay sharp and to keep his mentoring relationships with former and current students in the seminary. I simply have never met a family that was so totally given to the ministry for the glory of God, and in the compassion of Christ, than the Purcells - who are even now seeing some of their grown children continue the ministry in Russia.
At the same time there is much opportunity because “there are many adversaries” (I Cor. 16:9). A new law has been passed in Russia that greatly restricts the ability of missionaries to live in Russia, which will make Blake and Cathy’s ministry traveling into Russia from America all the more vital.
I also think it is important to remember that SRS is still the only known historically-rooted Reformed church-planting work in Russia, period. We are small but unique for the largest geographical country on earth, which is also one of the most powerful and prone toward evil.
How can you share in the same blessings that I have enjoyed through serving with SRS?
The board of SRS believes that good stewardship before the Lord leads us to have Blake and Cathy available to minister to Russian church leaders absolutely as much as possible. We believe God wants Blake and Cathy to continue to mentor pastors in Eurasia, and keep the pastoral training going in our SRS seminary, and to travel to them and live with them and coach them in parenting and ministry.
To see this happen we have to have more help on the ground by people like yourself in the USA to facilitate Blake’s fundraising efforts. Otherwise Blake will merely be living and traveling in the USA raising money for a ministry in Russia that he has almost no time to do. Or he will have to find other work to do. (At 57 years old Blake could go into brain surgery :-0 )
So let me ask you to consider being one of 10 pastors or supporters that commits himself to do the following:
- Join either the advisory board or executive board of SRS now. Our first advisory board conference call will be in 2 weeks. We need 10 new pastors to be on this call.
- Make sure all of your elders and deacons and missions committee members are on our mailing list. You may ask them now and send me their email addresses if they agree to receive our bi-monthly updates.
- Attend our face-to-face annual meeting at Quail Ridge Lodge, October 3-5, 2016, just outside of Louisville, MS.
- Contact 2 pastors whose churches are not currently supporting SRS and arrange for them to have Blake visit their church and preach and share the word. Also, have Blake preach at and visit your church as well if he has not been to y’all for 3 years or more.
- Contact 1 layman whom you think would have significant interest and ability to give a $1000 gift.
- Ask your church to have a love offering now of $1,000 or more so that we can have a reserve fund for SRS, and have a fall Intensive for new Russian pastors and students in November in St. Petersburg.
We the SRS board believe that if God raises up 10 pastors like you, to passionately work as unto the Lord on these 6 tasks, we can see SRS continue to grow and Christ-centered churches continue to be planted throughout the former Soviet Union, to the glory of God.
Please call me today at 255.288.0588 and let me know that you will be one of these 10 men to stand in the gap for the Gospel in Eurasia.
“I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land…” Ezekiel 22:30
Pastor, Thompson Memorial Presbyterian Church (PCA), Centreville, MS