Nothing special was planned initially for the month but preparation for big projects of the fall – the conference on Darwinism, Central Asia Regional Apologetics Summit and International Retreat of Eurasian Apologetics Society Coordinators. However God has His plans for the Kingdom’s growth.
The invitation from the agency for public schools teachers advanced training at Sumy to make aseminar on science and the Bible for the school teachers of the region was an unexpected door opening for us, as I wrote in the July newsletter. However it was not the only special opportunity God prepared for us. While we were packing and loading, Christians from Zaporizhzhia called looking for Creation evangelists for the youth camp at Azov shore, which is almost on our way home from Sumy! Amazing, how everything comes to work together!
God guided and protected us all the way during our trip across the country from South to North and back. However the first contact with the representative of the Soomy Institute for School Teachers Advanced Training was pretty chilly. The lady has warned us that our module ‘Science and Religion’ (they do not mention Bible in the curriculum) is included to the schedule of the training course on the recommendation of Ostroh National University, but we should not criticize Darwinian Evolution since it is scientific and approved by the state textbooks.
She actually was saying one thing, but meant another. The mentality shaped by the communist rule had shifted the meaning of many concepts here. People do not see often difference between arguing and abuse, criticizing and scoffing, etc. because abuse and scoffing were the methods of the propaganda against the Bible for many years. So, when the lady asked to not criticize Darwinism, she actually had no idea about the option of proper argumentation instead. Any way, the lady told us that we should tell the teachers that “science does not contradict religion because they never overlap” (the quote). I asked why she would not tell that to the audience herself. “We need you to stretch the message for entire day of classes” – was the answer, derisive but fair.
We understood that the lady did have a reason to worry – the issue is at the very edge of what is allowed to teach at the state school and she will be responsible if we say something in the way inappropriate for the state institution. We did not want to frame her or loose the door opened as well. So, we have started our classes with the origin of science – how foundational the Christian worldview was for it, then we moved to the limitations of science and finally we ended up with the philosophical and methodological problems of naturalism, including Darwinism. The audience was pretty skeptic in the beginning, but became much more involved very soon (see the pictures attached). The teachers were highly surprised by the very possibility of discussing the issues without insulting the opponents in the way communists did. Nothing was matching the propaganda they heard about science and religion relationships before, but everything was supported by clear facts and evidences. Their understanding of the issue was challenged scientifically.
We left Soomy at the same day night having no time to get any feedback. But four days later, when we were on our way home after the camp, the lady called us herself and with great excitement told that she has realized that we did tell the teachers everything we planned actually, but in the way that did not confronted formal policies. She told also that everybody was pleasantly shocked and excited, and our module got the highest (10.0) rating among all other courses! Praised be the Lord! Our hope that the message about the approach will be spread among other Institutes for School Teachers Advanced Training (every region of the country has one) and we will be able to bring the Creation Evangelism message openly to many other schoolteachers – the most strategically important group in the society! Please keep that opportunity in your prayers.
Right from Soomy our team went half-way back South to the Azov Sea Northern coast, where we spend extremely blessed time at the young adults Christian camp (see the pictures attached) teaching, preaching, leading discussions and doing workshops on various issues of evangelism, Creation, Bible, family and other aspects people were asking for.
On the other hand it was great to see how the network we are developing is working already. Some Christians in Petrozavodsk (Karelia District on the Russian border with Finland) were planning a great outreach event in the beginning of the month, while they found out that they need a message on Creation proclaimed for it. They contacted us, but our team had no opportunity to go there considering the distance and our full schedule. But we put Petrozavodsk brothers instead into contact with our network coordinator at Sanct-Peterburg, much closer to the region and they made the arrangements between themselves and the mission was accomplished with our minimal involvement!