On December 2nd and 3rd, we had our annual men’s conference in the Murmansk Region. To tell the truth, I had a really hard time preparing it. God is taking me through some major changes, including changes in my character, my attitude toward people, ministry, God, and everything else. So, the time of the conference found me in the middle of this transitional period, when I was in a pretty negative mood about churches and people. But I know it was a part of His plan.

I invited Sergey Latyshev, who was with me during my last visit to the US, to this conference. I asked him to lead worship and teach about the battles men face in their lives. Another man I invited was a pastor from Izhevsk, a city in South-East of European part of Russia. He is a great guy I met during our trip to Naberezhye Chelny last fall. He was to be a “headliner” for the conference.

Soon it became obvious that there would be very few people at the conference. For various reasons, churches and individuals I knew were unable to attend the conference. By that time, I had already passed the state of disappointment and pain related to those kind of situations and I have become comfortably numb. In addition to that, there was extreme financial shortage which made preparations even more challenging. Then put it all together on the background of the Arctic night, a very depressive season, and that was my condition at that particular time.

Nevertheless, the time of the conference had come. I picked up Aleksey at the airport and Sergey at the train station. This year we had the conference in Monchegorsk, 32 km south from Olenegorsk, the city where we usually had winter conferences. We decided to do that because the church association purchased a building there, which is perfect for those kind of events. I must admit, the guys from Monchegorsk and Olenegorsk did a great job helping prepare the conference. Some of them fixed the sound system, some cooked food for all and some prepared rooms for the guests. Great guys.

The worship team was one team that was unable to attend, so we had to make a team on-the-spot. Sergey was leading, Andrey from Olenegorsk was playing the guitar, and I had to play the drums, although I didn’t want to because I hadn’t played for two years. So, there were just three of us, but I don’t remember when I was worshipping and felt such a strong anointing. Yes, there were very few men at the first meeting Friday evening, only 18 registered. But that was not important anymore. God was there and that was the main thing which pushed all other things away. Aleksey was teaching about sonship, a powerful message. I felt truly blessed. I saw everyone was blessed. After dinner, conversations in different rooms and corners of that large building lasted to 4:00 in the morning.

Saturday morning, there were more men that came and about 30 guys gathered for the first meeting of the day. Worship was good again and Sergey was sharing his message about the battles in men’s lives. To illustrate his message he was wearing a T-shirt with a skull on it and a phrase, “Nobody said it would be easy.” After that, we had two seminars. Men had to choose between “Sexual Addictions”, led by Aleksey and my seminar, “How to love your wife and survive.” After lunch Aleksey continued his main message about sonship. At 5 pm everything was over.

Indeed, it was the best conference I remember. Yes, there were bigger numbers in conferences in the past, once we had over 120 men! But this one was powerful. Powerful in worship, in fellowship, in message. I’m thankful the Father has taken me through all that hard stuff to have this in the end. Although, I’m sure this is not the end.


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