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Russia Initiative UMVIM team to Stavropol Builds Clinic, Gazebo and Fellowship

By John Speight

On the last day of June 2004, twenty-three people led by Pastor John Speight met at Dulles airport bound for Stavropol, Russia. Most of the travelers were from Christ Church in nearby Fairfax Station, Virginia, yet other team members came from North Carolina, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky and around the state of Virginia. Some were nervous, others were excited, and one person had never flown before. The team members, ranging in age from 18 to 79, all had one thing in common - they could hardly wait to see how God was going to use them to touch the hearts and lives of children, youth and adults in Stavropol.

The mission to Stavropol had a two-fold purpose. Our number one purpose was to meet with the members of the Stavropol United Methodist Church and offer hope, encouragement, friendship and fellowship to our Christian brothers and sisters. Throughout our time in Stavropol, we worshiped, prayed, and sang together. Twice during the week, we split into small groups and ate together in their homes. Our second purpose was to offer assistance to the local community. This goal was accomplished by building a medical clinic in a boarding school for deaf children, and building a gazebo for the children at a local orphanage. The team brought $25,000 worth of medicine and medical supplies, and several thousand dollars of clothing for children. New whiteboards were purchased for classrooms at the boarding school, as well as other much needed school supplies.

One of the surprising ways God worked through the team didn't even happen until the group had been back in the United States for six weeks. Due to a scheduling conflict, the prescription medicine that was brought by the team could not be delivered to the intended hospital in Stavropol. When the terrorist attack occurred in Beslan, killing 325 children and adults and wounding hundreds more, the medicine was immediately taken to Beslan to be used by doctors to treat the wounded. Although there is no United Methodist Church in Beslan, the church was indeed present through this much needed gift.

(September 29, 2004)