Feature

Windows to the Soul

Scrapbooking events are divine opportunities in Russia

By Anonymous

Then the C&MA began its church-planting initiative in the capital city of Moscow, Russia, our team considered several innovative ways to build relationships within this community. A new ministry was born when I met a young Russian woman who wanted to practice her English-speaking skills with me. We began meeting frequently in each other’s homes. I noticed that she took a special interest in my family photos. In fact, one of the first comments she made upon entering our apartment was, “You Americans sure like to hang pictures of yourselves in your homes, don’t you? To us, as Russians, this is a very strange concept, but I like it.”

She was familiar with photo albums, and we began looking at each other’s albums and learning about our families, friends and special memories. It didn’t take long before my new Russian friend discovered my scrapbooks (after all, it’s one of my favorite hobbies!). This young woman was taken by the bright pages full of stickers, stamps and detailed descriptions of the photos, and I could see that this would be something she, too, would enjoy.

Even before my family and I arrived in Russia, I had thought that scrapbooking had the potential to become a unique outreach ministry; now I was sure of it. Thanks to friends who had stocked my scrapbooking materials before I left for the mission field, I had enough supplies to share with her. So the two of us began scrapbooking together.

Creative Fellowship

In time our missions team planted a church, The Moscow Church of the Open Door. After our new church family began to meet regularly, we focused on ways to fellowship outside of Sunday services. Some ideas were evangelistic in nature or geared toward discipling new believers. We implemented other ideas simply to help us meet people in our community or provide a place where groups of locals can meet for fun and fellowship. Scrapbooking seminars for our congregation’s women and their friends fell under that category.

Even though my Canadian Alliance colleague and I didn’t make the seminars outwardly evangelistic, we presented the gospel to each of the ladies in a nonthreatening way. Prior to each event, we would arrange for a believer to casually share her testi-mony at the table where she’d be working. The Holy Spirit gently guided our conversations to topics such as trusting God in difficult circumstances and the wonderful joy of living for the Lord. We were always amazed at the Russians’ responses.

A conversation at one seminar stands out in my mind. A woman there worked as a nanny for Alliance missionaries. For some time this family had shared their faith with her, and she had attended a few events at our church.

After hearing the testimony at our seminar, this young woman leaned over to her mother and asked, “Mom, do you know God like that woman does?” The mother responded, “No, not yet. But I’m taking steps in that direction.” Today this woman not only knows the Lord, but she also leads the children’s Sunday school program. Both her daughter and son have received Christ.

The Lord is obviously using scrapbooking seminars as a vehicle for believers to share their testimonies and for seekers’ who are thinking about spiritual matters to be prompted. When our pastor’s wife shared of her personal struggle with a health issue, the women responded by asking, “How can you trust God through something so difficult?”

A new believer who is a lawyer shared how the Lord sustains her in the workplace, even when she is presented with unethical situations. The women asked, “How do you find the courage to stand up for what you believe in?” The Christians in the room affirmed the overwhelming joy and peace that God gives them through these trials.

Art for the Heart

My colleague and I have found that when people come together for a time of fun around a table full of photos of loved ones and special memories, they can’t help but get to know each other. Photographs truly become a window into the soul of an individual and can present an opportunity for sharing that may never come otherwise. When a woman holds a photo of a loved one who is no longer with her and shares the emptiness she feels inside, it’s a natural and genuine opportunity to convey the love of Christ.

We’ve been encouraged by members of the Alliance family in North America who have given generously to help the scrapbooking ministry flourish. This outreach would be less successful without the direct support of believers who have donated supplies such as special paper, stickers, stamps, pens, stencils and other materials that aren’t available in Russia.

What great joy we’ve felt as we’ve witnessed the excitement of women who attend our seminars. As each page is completed and a new work of art is passed around the table, the “oohs” and “ahs” confirm what a blessing this ministry is to all who are involved!

Cover artwork for December 2005 December 2005

More from this Issue

Past Alliance Life Issues

Share

Get Involved...

Pray.

We cannot “Live the Call Together” unless prayer is central to all we do.
Pray with us »

Serve.

Is God calling you to service? We’re here to help you connect your passion with God’s purpose.
Serve with The Alliance »

Give.

Help build Christ’s Church by supporting the ministry and workers of The Alliance.
Give today »