Yura Belonozhkin reports on his recent men’s retreat in the Far North of Russia

Last night I got back home from our winter retreat.  It was just amazing. The best retreat so far. We were 23 men from 10 towns in the region.

We gathered in an abandoned miner’s village 260 km (160 miles) from Murmansk in an abandoned school building where a drug rehab center is now located. The weather was perfect: -10C, a little wind.

We started at 7 pm with worship. Many of the guys didn’t know each other and I didn’t know many either. As we worshiped together the Lord was bringing us in unity, that was great. There was anointing, I could feel it.

Then we had a session of 2 lessons: Manhood in the State of Confusion, and Father Wounds. One of our speakers got sick and couldn’t come, so I had to teach it all alone. The message touched the guys’ hearts a lot, especially the Father Wounds class. After the classes we had a short prayer and then had late dinner (we finished at 10 pm). During and after dinner there was a lot of discussion on the message.

The day ended at 2.00 am, when we finally made skis for the guys who came without them. That was both challenge and fun. we had to use anything we could find in this school building to build skis able to survive at least one trip.

The next morning we got up early, had a half an hour worship, quick breakfast and proceeded to the forest. Then the real fun started.

Many had never even tried to ski before! That was such a sight! On the 1st kilometer 2 guys broke their newly made on-the-spot-constructed skis and had to walk all the way there and back. They were lucky that the path was hard enough to keep their weight. There was much fun on the way there. Many interesting conversations, many jokes, a few broken skis, very much labor and sweat.

Finally we made it and got to the lake which no one of us had seen before. The map was correct, praise God! I suppose this lake had never experienced such a fame – 22 men at a time came there to fish. And we got some success: we caught 1 perch.

But that wasn’t the reason for us to go there. The reason was to come through all those experiences together. On the way back there was even more fun because we had to slide downhill on those clumsy forest skis. We all were covered with snow, wet, tired, sweaty but very happy.

That night we had the meeting at 9.00 pm. We had a class about Mothers: Overly Bound by Mother Wounds. It caused much discussion, so we didn’t have time to finish it that night because I had some more plans for the rest of the night. I said a short word about men’s issues – relationships, pornography and stuff like that and invited everybody to confess and pray. As it usually happen there was a long pause and I was almost positive that there are only perfect men in the room.

But God told me clearly – if they are here, they have issues to pray for. And even more – if they don’t have a chance to bring this area of their life to light here and to pray about it here, then they won’t have this chance in their routine life, so I kept inviting for them prayer.

And it began. We prayed till 11.30 pm, and that time wasn’t enough. We have never had that kind of approach before; this time the prayer was individual. The person who wanted prayer came to the middle of the room, sat on a chair, confessed whatever he wanted to confess – most very serious things: porn, adultery, drunkenness, drug addiction, suicidal tendencies. Those were Christians! And we prayed individually for everybody.

Sunday morning we started from worship and then continued our Saturday session. I finished the Mother Wounds class, there were some questions about it, but right after that we continued to pray. And prayed till lunch. After lunch we had time for testimonies, and many guys shared what God had given them here and at the previous meetings. That was a great time.

After that we worked a little – helped the rehab guys demolish a wooden construction at their yard and carried the remnants to the heating area to be used as fuel wood.

We left this place at 6.00 pm on Sunday touched by the Lord, purified, changed, encouraged. That was the 1st retreat when a man accepted Christ.

Thank you all for your prayer, your support and care.

God bless!