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The Unexpected Call InterACTION - Winter 2020

By Lucas

Walking past the living room, I overheard my wife Jamie on the phone—her voice was full of delight and surprise, as if she was talking with someone she hadn’t heard from in ages. I was in the kitchen when she came in beaming after the call was finished.

You won’t believe who that was and what great news he had!”

She went on to explain that the caller was one of our former classmates, Li,* a Chinese student who had studied Russian language with us here in Krasnoyarsk, Russia in 2010. We spent a year studying the language and getting to know our other six classmates, all of whom were from China. However, Li was from the region of Inner Mongolia and was ethnically different from the rest of the students. Often, he seemed a bit distant from the other Chinese attendees and we sensed that he felt like an outsider.

*name changed

Lucas and Jamie along with Li and other Chinese students used these Russian language books for their studies.
He said he’s moving to Russia!” Jamie exclaimed, still clutching her cell phone.

“He asked how our family is and I told him thanks to God’s goodness we are doing very well. Apparently when he left Russia and returned to his hometown in Inner Mongolia, he was invited to a church by his friend. After turning down the invite multiple times, Li finally decided to visit. When he arrived at the church, he sensed the same warmth and love that he had when he’d been with our family. Before long Li repented, believed, and has been growing in Christ!” Our hearts were overflowing with joy at the news.

We often prayed for the salvation of those fellow language students. Our teammate, Vanessa, found a gathering of Chinese believers in the city and tried to connect them, and we’d invited them over for meals. Yet during their time in Russia, none of them made a confession of faith. It was an emotional good-bye when Jamie and Vanessa took them to the train station to head home. They had gifted our friends with notes including Bible verses and our prayers for them.

Due to the internet restrictions in China, we had lost touch with most of our classmates. So it was a great surprise to hear from Li, and to find out he was back in Russia to work on his master’s degree in Ulan-Ude. Providentially, we were already scheduled to attend our teammate’s wedding in the same city later in the year.

In September 2019, we arrived in Ulan-Ude. As a groomsman in the wedding, I headed over to the church early. When I neared the entrance, I saw a young man walking in the same direction. As we both approached the door, I said hello in Russian. He answered the greeting and then said, “What, you don’t recognize me?” Among his Chinese classmates, Li stood out as Mongolian, but in the Buryat setting he fit right in. I gave Li a hug and joked about how much older we both looked after not seeing each other for nine years!

As if God’s handiwork in bringing Li into the family of Christ was not enough, Li and his wife, Geriel* had already connected with both of our teammates in the city. In addition to that, while Li continues his studies at the university, he also volunteers with a translation project that is working on a version of the Buryat Bible. Although there are 500,000 Buryat people, there is still no complete Bible in their language.

*name changed

The Chinese students shared life with Lucas and Jamie.

God works in amazing ways when we remain faithful to Him. The time we spent with those Chinese language students was definitely not on our to-do list when we were making plans to move to Siberia. Yet by loving our classmates as Christ loves us, we had the privilege of being a part of God’s work in Li’s life. God was not finished with Li when he returned to China after language school. The seeds planted in Krasnoyarsk continue to grow as God’s story for Li’s life is being written.

I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused it to grow. So neither the one who plants counts for anything, nor the one who waters, but God who causes the growth.” ~ 1Corinthians 3:6-7 ~

Impacting the Nations

Lucas and Jamie are part of a small team of field workers with a huge burden for the indigenous peoples of Siberia. Long before Russia pushed east into Siberia, there were nomadic tribes scattered across the massive landscape. As Russia expanded eastward, some of these groups were attacked, some were colonized, and others continued strong in their traditional culture. For many of these indigenous groups, Shamanism continues to be a common way of life. Bound by the spiritual darkness of Shamanism the tribal groups live in fear of the spirit world. They are captives! There are more than 40 groups of people—descendants of those nomadic tribes who live with no gospel witness. InterAct needs people with a passion for discipleship who are willing to live a life of sacrifice in the cities and countless villages of Siberia.

Please pray for the urgent needs of our Siberia team.

  • Pray for the thousands of towns in Siberia with no believers.
  • Pray that God will sustain the health and spiritual stamina of our laborers in the field during the long, cold winter.
  • Pray that God would create a passion in local believers to go to unreached regions with the Good News.
  • Pray to the Lord of the harvest to send workers to the remote regions of Siberia.

Staff Highlight

Lucas and Jamie met as students at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and were married in 2003. Six months later they began an internship in Siberia with InterAct Ministries, where God opened their eyes to the forty plus people groups with no gospel witness. They returned to Siberia as full-time staff in 2008, beginning with eighteen months of Russian language study. They and their four children are presently serving in Krasnoyarsk focusing on relational ministry. The kids love life in Russia-especially getting to ride the train and playing on ice slides in the winter. Lucas serves as the Russia Field Director and oversees missionaries serving among the Tuvan and Buryat people.

Dales Reflections

Dale Smith, Executive Director

Divine Serendipity – God bringing people, places, things and events into your life that He will at some time combine with other (often seemingly unrelated) people, places, things and events that will benefit you or someone else. (A definition from “Divine Serendipity” – archive.constantcontact.com)

Often, we experience serendipitous happenings - a joyful and unexpected turn of events. Sometimes we are surprised as God arranges circumstances in such a way that we can only sit back and give Him glory. Such was the case for Lucas, Jamie and Vanessa in Russian language school. Initially, they had no intention of focusing on Chinese nationals during their training but God sovereignly arranged circumstances for the eternal benefit of Li. With hearts to be Jesus to whomever God placed around them, they loved and welcomed their Chinese classmates into their lives and even their homes. Almost a decade later they were privileged to see how God’s hand had been working to put people together from the distant reaches of the globe. The story of Li becoming a Christ follower is a beautiful picture of a “Divine Serendipity” in real life!

Pray for all our staff to effectively redeem each unique opportunity to love and share Jesus. Thank you for partnering with us as we seek to buy up every opportunity to impact lives for eternity – on the front lines, in language school or as part of our support team.

InterACTION is a publication of InterAct Ministries

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Created with an image by Wolfgang Rottmann - "untitled image"