In the early 1980’s I traveled to the former Soviet Union with a ministry bringing the forbidden gospel to that unchurched land.
Looking back on that fast-paced and harrowing trip, I realize that God was preparing me for future ministry that I could not even imagine. I experienced a deep heart connection with the people I met and knew I would be back someday.
My wife was invited to Belarus (another part of the former Soviet Union) in 2010 to observe several humanitarian aid projects requiring attention. She traveled there for the first time in 2011 and was hooked. Through MSW (the ministry we both serve), she established an ongoing ministry to further assist hospitals, orphanages, soup kitchens, and churches. I was excited about the positive impact these outreaches were having in Belarus. VISIT MUSIC ON A MISSION, BELARUS
In 2016, the opportunity arose to accompany her on one of her trips. I saw the hands and feet of Jesus reflected in tangible ways through the work of MSW. While traveling in Belarus, I met Pastor G. He introduced me to other pastors and leaders, arranged meetings with church staff members, and scheduled me to speak in several churches. The churches were all welcoming and excited to have me return again when possible.
A year later, to my great pleasure, Pastor G. asked if I would speak at the Pastors and Church Leaders Conference in Armenia. He had been planning this event for months, and was excited about the response he had received throughout eastern Europe.
Armenia? Where is Armenia, I thought? I admit I had to find it on the map.
He explained that this conference was held in Armenia because it would attract pastors and leaders from not only Armenia, but Belarus, Georgia, Russia, Lithuania, and other eastern European countries. I accepted the invitation and started praying.
Standing on the stage a year later, listening to Pastor G introduce me, I thought: “Lord, why am I here? There are so many here who don’t know me.” Then the tears began to flow. I experienced the very same heart connection that I had felt on my first trip to the former Soviet Union, so long ago.
I thought: “Stop it, Richard! What will they think? Little did I know how those tears would connect our hearts. Throughout the conference, I recognized how God had been preparing me for years to shepherd others. And that’s what I did at that conference.
Pastors and leaders from all over Eastern Europe came together to worship God and receive teaching, encouragement, and counsel. That conference was a defining moment for Discover Hope’s ministry outreach to Eastern Europe and Armenia. CLICK FOR MORE TRAVEL IMAGES FROM ARMENIA
Since 2018, we continue to care for the souls of pastors, church leaders, and churches – locally and throughout Eastern Europe and Armenia.
Although COVID-19 has limited our travel temporarily, our weekly written ministry resources continue to be distributed. We connect with church staff leaders through technology like Messenger and Zoom, offer spiritual direction, encourage pastors, and regularly minister to congregations online.
In 1980 I couldn’t have imagined how God would bless us so that we can bless these dear ministers and church leaders. I’m amazed and grateful for this opportunity, and thank you for your prayers and interest as I follow God’s leading in Armenia.