Andrew and Suzette Lewis, Evangelist and Women's Ministry Leader from the Toronto Church of Christ, travelled to Russia for the first time this past summer, representing the Canadian-Urals Missions Alliance and bringing great teaching, wise counsel, and fresh faith to the churches they visited in the Ural Mountains and Siberia. In the photo far left, the Lewises share greetings from Toronto brothers and sisters at the 25th Anniversary Celebration service in Yekaterinburg (above, center). Above right, Andrew and Suzette are pictured with Elya and Dima Belanov, who were converted as young marrieds in Novosibirsk, and now, as an experienced Evangelist and Women's Minister, they are living in Rostov-on-the-Don, Russia, for a period of six months to strengthen and encourage that church.
The photo above is Dima and Elya with a great young couple they have been training in the ministry: Georgi and Polina Diasamidze. Georgi is from (formerly Soviet) Georgia, Polina is from Russia. This has been made possible thanks to special contribution donations from the Canadian-Urals Missions Alliance -- without that support, Georgi and Polina would not have been offered a ministry position, and the church in Rostov would not be getting much-needed encouragement and refreshment: the Diasamidzes are assisting the Belanovs in strengthening the church in Rostov, and may remain there as part of the leadership team if that seems to be the Lord's will.
The Lewises worked hard during their trip to Russia! They visited disciples in their homes, like Andrei and Nastya Matveyev and their son Ilya, who have just recently moved to lead the church in Chelyabinsk of about 40 disciples. The Matveyevs' apartment is on the ground floor -- the photo top left show their three windows; the center photo is the front door and above right is the hallway between the front door and their apartment, which is the first one on the left at the top of the stairs.
Above left: Nastya Matveyeva and Suzette Lewis; Center: Andrei Matveyev and Andrew Lewis; Above right: Ilya Matveyev and Andrew Lewis, at the Matveyevs' home.
Andrew and Suzette spoke to several different groups in each of the cities they visited. Above left, Suzette shows photos of her family and the Toronto church to some of the sisters after women's midweek, in Chelyabinsk, where she inspired all the women with the story of her life (that's what they wanted most to hear -- how to stay faithful through trials!). The Lewises also met with the small group leaders. Above Center, Andrew is surrounded by some of the Chelyabinsk brothers after midweek; and in the photo above right, the Belanovs, Lewises and Andy and Tammy Fleming prepare to say goodbye to Chelyabinsk and drive a 215 kilometers (two and a half hours) to Yekaterinburg.
Above left: Andrew encourages single sister Anastasia Smirnova, who serves as part of the worship team in Yekaterinburg. Above Center: Andrew teaches a fantastic practical lesson to Yekaterinburg small group leaders on effective spiritual mentoring. Above right: the women in Yekaterinburg are delighted with all the dozens and dozens of small, thoughtful gifts and notes that the sisters of the Toronto church prepared for them! The Lewises lugged one entire gigantic suitcase FULL of these tokens of love and prayer. This made a huge impact on the hearts of the women!
Suzette and Andrew became like celebrities to the disciples in these Ural Mountain churches. The women were amazed to learn that Suzette works part time as a women's ministry leader and has a "day job" on the side as a prison warden in a home for teen offenders! The Lewises have done a great job as spiritual ambassadors, connecting with disciples who are isolated by barriers of distance and language from many of the resources that North American disciples could take for granted. We are so grateful for the way they poured themselves out non-stop during their visit! (Above, Suzette surrounded by some of the women from all three of the Ural Mountain churches outside the meeting place for the Yekaterinburg Church.)
The photo above shows Chelyabinsk. The Ural Mountain churches are Ufa, Chelyabinsk and Yekaterinburg, all within a few hours' drive of one another. Ufa and Chelyabinsk each have a membership under 50, Yekaterinburg is 130 disciples.
For almost thirty years, Canadian and US churches have faithfully supported mission efforts in the Eurasian churches, which began in Moscow in 1991 with a team of 17 people and spread to plant congregations in all the republics of the former Soviet Union Empire, totalling over 9000 disciples at the end of the 90's. There has been significant attrition in the last 20 years, due to many factors. Prayer and connection with disciples in stronger, more established, mature congregations is a great need to help the Eurasian churches overcome the unique challenges they face. If you have questions or want any more information than you can find on this website, feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your interest and your prayers!