Here is some news, and background, from the John Bull —

For several years, Karen and I have had a special interest in Russia, for reasons unknown to us.  Because of this, back in March 2007, Karen and I took a short trip to work with Family Homes in St. Petersburg, Russia.  God did a work in us while we were there.  Because of this, when we returned to the States, we prayed about what our next step might be.  We believe He asked us to go to St. Petersburg.

We packed our bags, sold our things and jumped on a plane to Russia in September 2008. We volunteered to help with a Family Home organization, called Road of Life.  A Family Home invites graduated orphans to live in their home and to follow certain rules and guidelines. During this time, the graduated orphans are provided with spiritual training and life skills by learning the discipline of assigned responsibilities, nightly Bible study and observing and being involved in a “real” family.


We served in one of the Family Homes for a 10 month period.  During this time, we had one college age student live with us for a month and a half and also a single mother and her daughter for about six months.  We developed a relationship with these girls and saw God change them in many ways.  He is continuing to work in their lives and we know that He is faithful to complete the work that He started in them.

bull-familyIn addition to staying in the Family Home, we were involved in regularly visiting an orphanage, a children’s shelter and teaching English/life skills in two dormitories.  These dormitories in St. Petersburg house graduated orphans while they attend a 2-year technical school.

In the spring of 2009, a missionary named Larry Orndorff and I began to meet weekly (when available) with Mike Cantrell with the purpose of deepening our walk with Christ and to be accountable to each other.  God established a good relationship between Mike and me.  I was challenged to listen more to the Lord and to trust Him.   God used the time in the Family Home, in the men’s group and other experiences to smooth off some rough edges in me that I didn’t even realize I had.

In February 2009, Karen and I were praying about whether the Lord wanted us to come back to St. Petersburg for the next school year.  We felt directed that He did want us back but not working with the Family Home.  We presented this to our advisory board in Texas (3 Christian Couples) and to Mike.  After prayer and counsel, we decided to come back but not to be a full-time volunteer with the Family Home.  The day we talked with the director of Road of Life about our decision, the Lord told her that we were not returning for a second year. We still have a good relationship with the participants of the Family Homes and continue to meet with them and help where can, but not on a full-time basis.

After we decided not to work with the Family Home, we wondered what God had in store for us.  With prayer and seeking the Lord, we believe the Lord impressed on us that we needed to trust Him and He would open a specific door for us.  We also believe that God does not call us to be isolated doing His work and we prayed about a spiritual covering and larger organization we should be involved with.


We believe that God was establishing our relationship with Stoneworks and asked if they would pray about us working together.  We both felt this wa

s the direction God was leading so as of September 1, 2009, we became employees of Stoneworks International.

After arriving in mid-August, our family has settled into a new apartment and reestablished some relationships from last year along with making some new ones.  We have plugged into the International Assembly and will be heading up the Family Fellowship in this church, which ministers to families and marriages.  I have also restarted my Russian language lessons and also teach English at a language school.

bull-elama-sergei-wideWorking with Stoneworks is a real blessing. Because of the relationships that Stoneworks/MIR has developed over the years and the projects they are involved in, it has made it easier to step in and try to take things further instead of spending a lot of energy trying to get things started.

For example, MIR/Stoneworks have been restoring and using an old Russian camp outside of St. Petersburg called Elama. I have had the opportunity to work with a hard working Russian Christian brother named Sergei. We have been maintaining the property along with laying out the foundation for two new buildings to be constructed next summer.

There are a number of projects that Sergei and I plan on working on during this year at Elama that will make the camp experience more enjoyable for the families, churches and orphans that get to use it in the summer.


Other projects that we are enjoying working with Stoneworks on are related to the logistical side of the ministry. It is important to have the correct documents and accounting of the projects and people that Stoneworks works with so we are developing more user friendly forms while improving the formats of the required reports. Hopefully, this will allow the ministry to grow without adding a significant amount of effort to keep up with paperwork.

As the Lord leads, we are looking forward to the plans and opportunities that await us in the future.

Visit the Bull’s blog to learn more about their family.