St. Petersburg UBF
December 26, 2012
St. Petersburg was named after the Apostle Peter. It was founded by Emperor Peter the Great as his “window on the West.”
On December 20, St. Petersburg UBF celebrated their Christmas worship service at the center. More than 40 members filled the center including several guests who came for the CIS coordinators’ conference (P. Abraham and Sarah Kim, David Byun with several members from Astana, Isaac Lim from Osh, Mark Phang from Bishkek and Stephen Ahn and 2 Korean staffs).
Stephen Ahn delivered the meaningful Christmas message from Luke 2:1-14. He proclaimed “The Good News of Great Joy, Jesus!” interpreted by Sarah Han Jr. In today’s world we don’t hear any joyful news but always much sad news. But we had great joy and peace because of the good news of the baby Jesus born in a manger in Bethlehem.
Ruth Thompson from Chicago shared her heart moving testimony based on Romans 3:22. She followed her father Mike Thompson (NEIU, Chicago) when she was in 8th grade 3 years ago. She told how wonderful life had been in Chicago CBF with many Christian friends. But in Russia she had to suffer to overcome the Russian language which she never spoke before, many hard tests, colder weather with no friends and no mother (Her mother passed away in 2004.) Her brother Charles even struggled with depression. But she confessed that before she confronted so many hardships, she did not know Jesus personally. But through her hardships she could meet Jesus who came to suffer to forgive all her sins. She learned that she could trust in Jesus in any situations. Then she could overcome her school studies, gradually getting the highest scores in three difficult subjects. Now she knows she must study hard for the glory of God. Her one word was “My righteousness [is] in Jesus.”
There was another graceful testimony by Joanna Han, the second daughter of M. Caleb Han, who came to pioneer St. Petersburg with M. Sarah 22 years ago. She shared her tearful testimony. When she grew up, she began to wonder why she had to suffer so much because of her father’s decision to be a missionary in a foreign country and why she should not enjoy life as other kids did. Many ‘whys’ bothered her while she failed her exams to move up to the next year’s classes in medical school. She became very fatalistic and shameful. However, God used her difficulties to have more time to think of God, his grace and love through deeper testimony writings and prayer times. Jesus met her through Mk 10:45 showing her that he came to serve and to die to forgive all her sins. Mk 11:23 gave her a challenging spirit by having faith in God. Isaiah 41:10 encouraged her not to fear anything because God is her Father. God restored her spirit and enabled her to enter St. Petersburg University, majoring in international relations. Now she knows that she lives for the glory of God and asked prayers to have one to one Bible studies with other students and to serve St Petersburg music team well.
For the celebration of Christmas we had a special violin solo by Petra Han (Sonata #6, Mendelssohn), a piano solo by Joanna Han (Chopin’s Nocturne), a joyful dancing trio by Ruth, Joanna and Petra and St. Petersburg members’ powerful chorus. P. Abraham Kim gave a very encouraging announcement appreciating M. Caleb’s beautiful co-working with M. Mike Thompson and his brother Daniel who married Rebecca, a Russian shepherdess. He asked us to pray that both Sergei, who presided, and Natasha might find perfect spiritual co-workers. A big dinner with abundant food was served by M. Sarah, Natasha, Rebecca and Anya. We were full of joy and peace.