Spiritually, it's one of the best things I've ever been to, we just kept digging deeper and deeper into one psalm. It's amazing how they got us so close in such a short time. And they just lavished us with so much love...
That was Mary Lee Roger's impression of the Come before Winter renewal in
. It was a Friday evening in mid-March and we were heading toward
the train station. Within the hour, Mary Lee and friends would be heading back
to Kiev, Ukraine where she and husband Jay Don serve with Ukrainian Bible
Institute. Later that evening I would catch another train back to Donetsk, Ukraine . Rostov-on-Don, Russia
|From left, Dawna, missionary intern serving in Kharkov; Mary Lee, Natalia and Natalya from Donetsk, Ukraine.|
The Come before Winter renewal team came to encourage, serve, challenge. What saints! (Photo credit: Mariana Long.)
As the Come before Winter website notes, Being a minister can be a cold and isolating experience. . . even for the most seasoned worker. When that ministry occurs on foreign soil, the stress only multiplies. Paul experienced winter. On the field in the first century, Paul writes to his friend Timothy: “Do your utmost to come before winter” (NKJV, 2 Timothy 4.9). Paul is grieving the loss of fellow workers, one who has deserted the work. “Only Luke is with me,” he writes. . .“Bring the cloak I left in
The first Come before Winter renewal was in
in 2001. Since then, two or more renewals have been held each year and the statistics are impressive. More than 500 women from 50 countries on six continents have been served. The Brazil renewal was the 24th overall, the third to be held in the former Kiev Soviet Union: The first was in in 2003 and the second in Novosibirsk , 2007. Several participants have been to all three.
|Tamika, left, who serves in Vienna, sharing family photos over lunch.|
The Come before Winter website continues, Today’s missionaries can experience winter. Today’s women in ministry can experience winter. . . Ministry, especially ministry in missions, challenges the hearts and souls of women around the world. Today, just as in the first century, some workers will leave the work, tired and discouraged. Those who remain will on some days long for a familiar face, a conversation with a kindred spirit, tools with which to work, and the comforts of “home.” Our goal is to bring what is lacking and to arrive before “winter.”
Charlotte Wright, team member from Austin said, We can not serve on the mission field but what we can do is come and encourage you women who do. A retired journalism teacher, Charlotte served as videographer of the event, her fifth renewal.
Charlotte encourages women to make the sacrifice to attend. Do whatever you have to do, beg your husband to watch the children for a week, just get there. You will go back home with so much more energy, both physical and spiritual energy, better able to handle what you have to do back home. I've seen it time and time again.
|Irena of Tomsk helps clarify the evaluation form.|
Worship and intensive Bible study were centerpieces of the renewal. We began and ended each day with prayer and praise. We studied the Psalms, particularly Psalms 90 - 106, known as Book 4 of the Psalter. We focused on Psalm 103, which – it just so happens – I have committed to memory. But now, having plumbed the depths of that psalm together, I appreciate it infinitely more.
|Esther serves in Crimea and Katie serves in Kharkov.|
Our singing was magnificent and I was thrilled to follow accomplished altos versus being the only one. To top it off, the renewal theme song, Bless the Lord Oh My Soul, was composed by our own brother, Kostya Zhigulin composer and director of Psalom, a spiritual music ensemble, based in
. St Petersburg
Each Come before Winter team includes a missionary ambassador chosen from the participants to attend the next renewal and pass along the cloak, a beloved tradition of the ministry.
|The Cloak held by Janet Allison, missionary ambassador to our renewal and Irena Rahminova, missionary ambassador to the upcoming renewal in New Zealand. (Photo: Mariana Long)|
The renewal wrapped up Friday afternoon, we said our goodbyes and en route to the
|The Arizona Restaurant in Kiev. The word that looks like PECTOPAH is Russian for restaurant, the pronunciation similar to the English word.|
I really loved the women sharing yesterday. (Each of us participants had three minutes to stand in front and share our thoughts from Psalm 103.) I thought it was wonderful and loved every bit of it. I loved the prayer appointments, the women sharing. (Each of us had a 45-minute prayer appointment with a team member.) I loved this time, the one-on-one with women. I had four of these. I looove meeting new people and I hope they let me come on another one, she said with a laugh.
|Masha from Perm visiting over lunch.|
It was really different, it was a really fresh approach, she said. I received new insights that will be very helpful to me personally and to share with others.
And that's the whole idea, to have been refreshed and equipped to return to our ministries and serve anew.
|With dear sister Jeanene Reese, right. Is there anyone more sincere, more genuine? What a tireless worker she is. Back in the early 70's we were classmates at then-ACC. And since then, I cherish each time our paths cross.|