By Dr. Ernie Campe, Treasurer MTEE
On April the 10th I flew to Moscow, Russia where I had the privilege to teach in MTEE’s first Doctoral Program in that country. After a lengthy flight that routed me through Brussels, I was met by the Director of MTI (Moscow Theological Institute), Sergey and his wife Irina. They were very delightful and pleasant hosts for the days before class began.
On Sunday we attended a church with a very unique program for spreading the gospel and starting new churches. They open rehab centers for addicts and as they are saved and rehabilitated they start a church with that group. The parents and friends of the reformed addicts come and a church is formed. They have five satellite churches which have been started this way.
It was also Easter Sunday in Russia; they follow the Orthodox calendar for celebrating Easter. So this year I was able to celebrate Easter twice. As is customary, they asked me to bring a greeting at the end of the service which I did. I spoke specifically to the people in the rehab program and asked them to stand. I spoke to them as the father of a former addict. I told them that I never stopped loving my son during his ordeal and God has never stopped loving them. They are in this rehab program because of God’s love. Their addiction does not define them and their past does not define them. Nor should they be afraid of tomorrow or sobriety because God is with them, He will never leave them or forsake them. The message was well received.
I was asked to come back to preach on Tuesday evening. What was interesting about this service was it was broadcast online to their five satellite churches. There were about 20 people in the church where I spoke but over 200 online.
Monday I got to tour Red Square and the Kremlin complex. It was very interesting and reminded me of all the May Day celebrations I have seen on the news with the tanks and rockets driving through the square. Moscow itself is an impressive city that is very open with a great deal traffic. It has a population of over 12 million.
Teaching took place Tuesday through Friday. We had ten men and five women students. Two ladies had come from Vladivostok which is all the way on the Pacific Ocean – eleven time zones away! I taught on “Ethics and the Church in Culture.” We had some lively discussions. The Russian students are very intelligent and strong in their opinions. It was challenging for me as a teacher. We had all our meals at the school but on Friday night we had a Russian barbeque with ribs and pork. That was a wonderful meal.
Saturday morning I got up at 5:00 to begin my journey home. It takes 24 hours of awake time whether you are coming or going. My trip was a wonderful experience and serves as a constant reminder that the people of God are everywhere, but we are one body. There are no Russians or Americans, we are the church, the body of Christ and we are one.