Sixth Annual Conference of the National Slavic District
Under the motto – “Believe!” – the Sixth Annual Conference of the National Slavic District of USA Assemblies of God was held. To “Believe” in Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior, “believe” in the completeness and usefulness of ones own ministry, “believe” in prayers and support of each other
104 ministers from 40 churches, representing 16 US states, guests from Canada, Ukraine, Russia, Nepal during four days had a fruitful communication during the Sixth annual conference of the National Slavic District of Assemblies of God USA. It was held on April 24, 2014 in church “Grace”, city of Dayton, Minnesota, where the pastor is Vasily Malets.
Seminars, business meetings, open discussion of problems was joined by one motto “Believe.” Believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, believe in the completeness and usefulness of ones own ministry, believe in prayers and support of each other. That is why in the fervent prayer of the Chairman of Slavic churches of Christians of Evangelical Faith in United States – the district superintendent – Bishop Victor Prokhor, unanimously joined by all the participants, brothers and sisters asked the Lord to “increase our faith.”
Faith leads to holiness, through Jesus Christ faith leads to God the Father, faith is a condition of soul and spirit, when you can proclaim out loud: I can do all things in Jesus Who strengthens me! – noted the first speaker at the conference, Pastor Alexander Pekun (Sacramento, California).
Indeed, the meeting was a great inspiration and a blessing for the brothers and sisters: quality seminars and profound sermons, heartfelt prayers and friendly atmosphere allowed all of the participants to become stronger in faith.
The conference also showed that the National Slavic District is an organizational structure, which aims to support the ministry of its member churches and raise them to a higher professional level. Specifically for this reason, the original guests of the conference: Evangelical Church whose pastor is Bogdan Malsky from Clearwater, Florida, and “Beth Shalom” church whose pastors are Yuri Popov and Rostislav Samoylich from Brooklyn, New York – at its completion became full members of the District.
“We are part of a big Pentecostal family of the Assemblies of God, which is 100 years old since the day of its foundation,” – noted by opening the conference, the Superintendent of the Slavic District, Victor Prokhor. – By combining our efforts and resources on the basis of the Scripture, we have preserved the faith of our fathers for our children and we spread the Good News not only in the USA, but also far beyond it’s borders. ”
For such a positive service to the Lord, Scott Temple, the director of ethnic relations of Assemblies of God, gave words of thanks and blessings to the Slavic District on behalf of George Wood, the president of the Assemblies of God.
The superintendent of the district of Minnesota, John Clarence, also welcomed the conference. “With all my heart I believe that the Lord has sent you specifically to the United States so that you would bring in a new spirit in the service to the Lord. You are part of the bigger, that is in the heart of God. Together we will be able to better fulfill the commission of the Lord. ”
As always, the focus of the conference – sharing experiences of pastoral and missionary ministry, work among youth and teenagers, organization of training programs and seminars. “Give wisdom not to ruin what You are doing, Lord” – the motto of the many excellent openings by pastor Vasiliy Lantukh from Atlanta, Georgia: general education school with a highest category, public clinics at the church, new projects involving work with children and teenagers – is by far not the whole list of the blessed church affairs.
About the ministry in camps and evangelism to the Alaskan Native Indians, Eskimos and Aleuts recounted pastor Sergey Ilnitsky from Anchorage, Alaska. “Like anyone else, they are in need of God” – said Sergey Ilnitsky. Missionaries from different corners of America under the leadership of the local church are witnessing about the Lord in the northern most state of USA.
Evangelist Carl Touchstone from Springfield, Missouri shared about “Network 2011” ministry, which has allowed through the Internet to reach more than 10 million people and tell them about Jesus Christ.
Pastors Yuri Popov and Rostislav Samoylich talked about evangelism among the largest Russian-speaking community in Brooklyn and New York.
Victor Potapchuk, director of “Voice of Hope” ministry (senior pastor Ivan Trachuk, Portland, Oregon), presented the partners of the international missionary ministry at the conference: the president of the international association of churches “Ray of Hope” senior pastor Sonam Bhutia from India, the coordinator of these churches in America and Canada pastor Peter Ray, pastor Mona Gurung (Atlanta) and Kishor Gurung (Minneapolis). Pastor Sonam Bhutia thanked Slavic churches for helping the ministry’s mission, in ordaining ministers, in establishing the “Ray of Hope” church union and shared plans for spreading of the Gospel in Asia (India, Nepal and Bhutan), USA, Canada, New Zealand and some European countries.
Director of the Youth Department of the Slavic District Pastor Roman Sheremeta spoke about improving the quality of services in Christian colleges. Drawing attention to the negative statistics (three out of four students leave the faith), he shared three principles that will be used in working with youth: unite, equip (give knowledge), ignite.
Director of the Education Department of Slavic churches union of East Coast, pastor Alexander Ruskevich also talked about the organization of the learning process among the youth and their need of receiving high-quality Christian education. “So that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. Born again and belonging to the Lord, filled with the Holy Spirit and having the knowledge of truth – young people should be presented before our Savior as such”, – the ministers noted (Acts 2: 17; 2 Tim. 3:7, 17).
Pastor Victor Tokarev (Springfield, Massachusetts) drew the attention of the conference participants that for a fruitful ministry, “the church must know the will of God and behave accordingly to this will” (Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 5:17).
“The leadership of the Lord will be for the duration of this conference and afterwards, because we perceive God, not only in His omnipotence, but also in the constant presence among us” (Matthew 18:20), reasoned pastor Vasily Malets.
“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be” – recalled the teachings of Christ bishop Peter Novik (West Springfield, Massachusetts). – Our ministers are not preaching false desires for earthly riches, passions and pleasures, but striving to acquire spiritual treasures which will enable members of the churches to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 6:19-31).
The guest of the conference, head of the Department of Education of Pentecostal Churches of Christians of Evangelical Faith of Ukraine, Viktor Voznyuk drew the attention of all those present, that the Lord has given them the right to be the children of God (John 1:12). And as God’s children, we are part of His family (the church), and must perform such work, so that “all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of truth.” This should be the focus of our ministry
(1 Tim. 2:1-8).
Further program of the conference – workshops on major areas of pastoral ministry, practical advices regarding conducting administrative work in the churches – also contributed to advancement of qualification of ministers, improving the church office work, the workshops became that training process, during which the participants acquired new knowledge for sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Pastor Scott Temple, citing a study of USA Today newspaper, called to leave doubts regarding the fact that people have lost the hope of salvation and are rejecting the Lord. “80 percent of Americans perceive the Bible as a Holy Book. Go to the people and give them the Word of God – said Scott Temple. – Tell them about the 4 truths of Jesus Christ, in which we believe. He saves: accepting the Savior, put your cares upon Jesus, do not let them displace His Blessings from your life. He heals: by touching the hem of His garment, in former times people received healing, but today we have a great opportunity – to touch His throne. He fills: leave fear – the Holy Spirit abides in everyone and will lead throughout life. He grows in us: accepting Christ and becoming children of God, we change for the better and grow in His grace, the fullness of which will be our permanent residence with Him in Heaven” (the Gospel to Galatians).
Pastor-evangelist George Davidyuk pointed out the challenges that may arise during pastoral ministry and decrease his potential. “Ministers will be tested in what they preach – he warned the conference participants. – Disappointment, poor response to criticism, imaginary popularity, unrealistic expectations, loss of fire and the desire to leave the ministry – these are the stumbling blocks. ” “Live as you preach, look for support from the Lord, – advised the pastor. – Listen to your heart and learn from mistakes; be humble before God and focus on His desires; constantly remember Who called you to the ministry and what the Lord has done in your life. ”
In the second seminar, George Davidyuk using the example of the Old Testament story about Joseph pondered what kind of heart should a minister have and with what it should be filled. “God brought us to this country, so that we can become the Josephs for USA and feed the people with spiritual food and quench the thirst of hearing the words of the Lord” (Amos 8:11) – noted the pastor.
Showing specific numbers, he showed how many people in the USA and in other countries are dying spiritually because they do not know Christ. “Do not be limited just by ministries in churches, develop missionary programs, ” – advised George Davidyuk.
And specifically about the missionary work spoke in a separate seminar pastor Zalli Smith – executive director of internal missions of Assemblies of God in USA. “The time has come to fulfill the Scriptures and to change the world, moving in the fulfillment of the Holy Spirit: preach the gospel, prepare disciples, expand the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, do everything to save mankind – such is the desire of our Lord, – said the minister. Reminding that more than one thousand missionaries are working only in America, pastor Zalli Smith called to “stand together, pray for one another, change believers and we ourselves should grow in faith” (1 Peter 2:9-10; Philippians 2:1-5).
“Our ministry – ministry of reconciliation. We are Christ’s ambassadors around the whole world and as though God Himself is pleading through us. Chaplains in the army, ministers in hospitals, missionaries among the athletes (even among rock climbers) – many believed in Jesus Christ, because missionaries were next to them, ” – noted pastor Zalli Smith.
The Deputy Superintendent of the Slavic District bishop Victor Limonchenko led a seminar about the organization of visits and receptions of senior ministers. The effectiveness of these visits depends on the correct approaches in the local churches, he said. Focusing on specific advices, bishop Victor Limonchenko also identified main priorities and objectives of field ministries. Among them are the preaching of the Gospel, support of pastors and ministers, mentoring and, if necessary, doctoring the weakened.
District Superintendent bishop Victor Prokhor during his seminar spoke about the challenges during the time of ministry that “lead to the loss of fire for the ministry and even to separation of churches.” Do not leave the Lord, follow His ways and do what is pleasing before His eyes, keep the commandments and His statutes. Our unification is designed not to fight with each other, but to serve one another, to support and pray for each other,”- drew the attention of the conference, bishop Victor Prokhor (1 Kings 11:38).
This friendly approach has allowed the district to successfully develop regional ministry. In connection with the quantitative growth of the churches belonging to the unification, and their geographical location, a decision was made for organizing two new regions of the District: Great Lakes region (territory of the USA adjacent to Canada) and the Northeast (from New York to Massachusetts). The Conference confirmed the post of the regional elders Pastor Gregory Kovalevich (Great Lakes region) and bishop Peter Novik (northeastern region).
Among the business part of the conference was the adoption of editorial amendments to the statute documents of the District, which now conform to the position of Assemblies of God USA as the central organization. Also, the certificates (licenses) of the Assemblies of God USA were awarded to a large group of church ministers who have passed a special seminar. By the way, at the current conference 24 ministers of different levels were being taught at a similar workshop.
Informational seminars were useful and rich such as: consultant of financial decisions of the Assemblies of God USA, Izumi Jordan spoke about the work of the pension fund; Jim Babbage – senior vice president of a major USA First Bank – spoke about the order of allocation of credits for the construction of churches; collaborator of the largest Insurance company in California Marian Self advised how to effectively arrange insurance for church activities and church assets.
The conference was concluded with a fervent prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord for all the days of the brotherly fellowship. “By joining the words of Apostle Paul, we declare that we walk by faith, not by sight, – noted the secretary of the District pastor Vitaly Zhelnovakov. – And faith gives us the energy and the strength to move forward, leads to specific results. And what pleases me: these are the results of our meeting.”
The next annual conference of the National Slavic District will be held in April 2015 in Portland, Oregon, at the church of pastor Ivan Trachuk.
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