PERM – On July 7, a Tchibis camp site at the suburbs of Perm looked like a concert venue. 2,500 people postponed their affairs for the weekend to gather together for a picnic. This year they had an great reason for it: Pastor Edward Grabovenko’s, the Head bishop of the Russian church of Christians of Evangelical Faith, birthday.
Pastor Edward turned 50. Many kind words, birthday wishes and words of gratitude were expressed by the members and ministers of the church to the pastor and the mentor. Everyone who wanted to, wrote their words of appreciation at the good wishes book.
A word of greeting from Edward Grabovenko was in the program. Pastor Edward’s middle son David Grabovenko shared a word that God is the God of peace was. Bishop Vassily Evchik preached about obedience, “It is important to hear the voice of God. When God speaks about your calling, you should do your best to fulfill it. Pastor Edward is a good example of obedience to God, the New Testament church is a result of his ministry”. After the sermon bishop Vassily Evchik prayed for Edward and Larissa Grabovenko, he thanked God for the ministry of Head Bishop.
Pastor Ivan Borichevsky brought greetings and best wishes from New Testament Church of Moscow area and Moscow Night Church: “You are a blessing for the Russian Church of Christians of Evangelical Faith, thank you for being humble and open to God. You are an example of the dedication to God for all of us, we’re happy to have fellowship, ministry and friendship with you”.
After the service a picnic lunch was served to all guests. The church’s performance groups prepared a concert. The Russian folk songs band “Living Water”, the older generation choir “Consolation” and solo musicians presented their performances.
Every guest found an interesting leisure activity: trampolines, water makeup and petting zoo for kids, action games and quests for the teenagers, power exercises and workshops for the adults.
Several sports grounds were set, where all physical culture and sports fans could train under experienced trainers’ supervision. There were soccer, volleyball, tennis and basketball tournaments.
“We loved the archery setting, the cool relay races, just everything is very cool, thank you” – says Vassily very emotionally.
The organizers decorated the platform with multiple bright balloons and colorful ribbons. The clown animators were entertaining kids.
After the concert a “Light to the World” movie was demonstrated (the LUMO project).
“The eras and generations pass, but the warm, sincere and, I would say, reverential attitude to the church is the constant value, — says Victor. — I’m happy to be a part of it”.
On this day – old and young, naughty and curious – all people united for prayer and friendly fellowship.
Young student from Africa, Mustafa, shared smilingly about moving to Perm and the Urals winter frosts: “Even though I’m very far from the sun, I’m always warm here. I’ve put on my folk costume on purpose, today is the birthday celebration in our common home”.
“The New Testament Church is my life, my family, my heart dwells here. For the last three years I’ve been ministering at Perm church. As soon as I move to Perm, I began to participate in the children ministry, and since then this place has become my second home” – shares Maria Vorobiyova, bank transaction officer, minister of children’s Sunday school.
“For me the church is the place where each one has something to do, you’re accepted the way you are, and you’re supported. I love our ministry to teenagers and our team, I can see us grow. I thank pastor Edward for the decision to come to Perm. If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t be here today”, — says Anastasia Pastukhova, geologic engineer, minister to teenagers.
“Church is people, dear and significant to me, driven by the purpose of serving to Jesus Christ. Pastor Edward is a mentor and a friend, he distinguished a minister’s calling in me even before I started, he helped me to move forward. He gave me many instructions, when I made mistakes. After some time I came to realize how wise and timely those instructions were. Now I know that I’m on my way to fulfill my calling” — says Natalia Melekhina, Charity church thrift-store director.
“Our church is our family, we’re all different, and it would be boring, if we all would be alike. We can learn from each other, we can perfect our best qualities: love, patience and firmness. The beginning of my ministry was at the time of studies at the Bible training center, I had to minister at the prayer group at that time, at the counseling ministry and as an administrator. I liked the latter the most. I keep thinking the ministry is very spiritual, gives opportunity to grow spiritually fast and strong, you have to deal with people, to accept them the way they are. You learn to combine love and order. Even if you just come to the church services on Sundays, the Grabovenko family is an example for you. All of us know what they had to go through in the beginning of their ministry. The word that Pastor Edward shares always deeply touches my heart and prompts to change and follow the Lord. My family and me to some extent are the fruit of pastor Edward’s ministry and his dedication to God” — Artyom Susekov, programmer, ministry administrator.
Irina Bulatova-Arnautova, Daniel Ponomaryov
The Russian Church of Christians of Evangelical Faith