As many of you will know, we run Eurasian Ministries parallel to People International, believing this to be an excellent strategic fit.
We need missionaries to go to Central Asia because the task is so huge and the numbers of believers and churches so small, but we also need to be encouraging Central Asians to train Central Asians as gospel workers – and that is where the college in Kazan comes in, supported by our Eurasian Ministries arm. In case you’re wondering, Kazan is in the semi-autonomous region of Tatarstan, some 400 miles east of Moscow and north of the rest of the “stans”, but very much under ultimate Russian control.
With my management background, I don’t like bureaucracy at the best of times, so I entered another world as I filled in the application for the visa and struggled to work out every foreign trip I have undertaken for the last umpteen years with start and finish dates. After paying a small fortune in fees, and the embassy retaining my passport for 30 days (it’s another £100 or so if you want it back after 5 days), I was all set to go. No surly immigration staff for me, rather a younger lady who dared to smile at me, although it still took 10 minutes of checks before I was allowed into the country.
Arriving at the college in Kazan and my first night there, I discovered that the warnings about nearby trains had not been exaggerated. Every 5 minutes (24/7) a mile long goods train thundered past, which really did make my bed vibrate! During the next few days, I joined in with some of the lectures, spent time with students and staff and had the opportunity to start to get to know the set-up. It was the end of the year for the second year students, so an evening of graduation and cultural celebration was combined with present and former students taking part. It was really encouraging to see two (first rate) former students about to start working with the Tatars.
One of the days was taken up with the College Board Meeting, where we spent several hours taking some really important decisions. The college is in the process of a significant and wide-reaching review (think professional friendly OFSTED) with the aim of refocussing afresh on the core aims and values – training and equipping the best Central Asians for gospel ministry in Central Asia. The review report will be discussed by the board in November and the recommendations will be considered and an action plan formulated thereafter.
At the end of my time, I left the college with very warm feelings towards the work, believing very much that there is so much more potential to unlock for the work of the gospel and the glory of Jesus Christ. But I guess the real work starts at the board meeting.
- Pray for the staff and students at the college, that mature and effective graduates will serve in Central Asia and further the kingdom of God wherever they are located.