I love retreats, I love hiking, backpacking and fishing trips with the men. They help us grow in unity and trust, and of course they are a lot of fun! But they will be nothing good without small groups which meet on the regular basis. A small men’s group is a place where you grow as a man, where you open up your heart to the other men and let them look inside. It is a place where your character is being built. It is the anvil where God hammers you, and it is your choice whether you are available to his purifying process, or not. Because it is difficult, and sometimes it hurts.

nickel5That is why I am making a lot of effort establishing small men’s groups in the towns of the region. Right now there are four men’s groups in 6 towns in the region: Nickel/Zapolarny, Polarny, Murmansk and Olenegorsk/Monchegorsk. They are all different.

The group in Polarny is the youngest; we have only met 4 times. There are few of us, but each man represents his own denomination. There’s a Baptist, a Pentecostal, a 7th Day Adventist, a Charismatic, a non-denominational and non-church going, and an agnostic. Most of them have been here for decades, but never communicated with each other because of their denominational differences. Now we get together every week, and I’m excited to watch God serving us. We don’t have the exact day to meet because most men there are in the Military and work on shifts, so we have ‘sliding’ schedule.

olenegorskThe other group, in Nickel, is a little like that. The men from 2 churches of the town meet there, but the churches don’t get along very much. The men don’t care about that and meet. That is the oldest men’s group in the Region, we have been meeting for over than 2 years. I’m happy to see how God brings men together even if the pastors don’t like each other. There are always much discussion there because most of the men there are pretty much experienced in Christian life. I love that group!

The groups in Murmansk and Olenegorsk/Monchegorsk are not like that at all. There are mostly new believers with criminal past, who returned from drug rehab. It is very interesting to work with them, see how God is healing them, restoring their personality, masculinity, their relationships. Those are wonderful groups! We meet every Tuesday with the group in Murmansk, and on Fridays we meet in Olenegorsk.

Here is a picture report of my recent trip to Nickel.

1. The road sign says: Nickel 160 km (100 miles). This is the turn to Nickel road from Polarny road.


2. I hitchhike because my car is crashed.


3. The turn to Zapolarny. I got there really fast!


4. Only 28 km left to Nickel. I spent about 35 minutes at this spot. Probably the longest time at that trip.


5. The men in Nickel.


6. The way back. That guy picked me at 11.45 pm and took me right to my home, although he made extra 60 km for that, in the middle of the night! God has been good for me.


This is how a men’s group look like.