Leadership Training In Russia and Ukraine

Leadership Training In Russia and Ukraine

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A rare but rewarding opportunity was recently accorded my wife and me to visit the Euro Asia Division of Seventh-day Adventists (ESD) to participate in leadership training for union and local field officers.
From February 17-28, I was privileged to present a total of seven seminars such as “Effective Team Relationship,” “Time Management and Planning,” “Managing a Church Organization,” and “Succession Planning,” etc. in the Ukraine and Russia of the Euro Asia Division with headquarters in Moscow, which comprises of 13 countries and 2000 churches.  Expressions such as “Your messages were good,” “Was what we needed,” “Great blessing!” “Thank you so much!” and “Hope you can come to my area” came from some of the more than 100 leaders representing the 9 unions, who managed to muster up enough English to express themselves. In fact, the president of the Division, Pastor Michael Kaminskiy, who assisted with translation commented, “The presentations were on point and addressed the needs of our leaders.” At the conclusion of the training, he expressed publicly his gratitude for not allowing the challenge of acquiring our visas to deter us from coming.
In looking back, I vividly recall the day in October 2015 while at the Annual Council of the General Conference in Washington, Artur Stele, a vice president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, who visited the Bahamas nearly two years ago, introduced me to the leader of the Euro Asian Division of Seventh-day Adventists, Pastor Michael Kaminskiy. It was then that I received one of the most intriguing invitations of my 34 years in pastoral ministry. Pastor Michael Kaminskiy asked, “Would you be willing to come to ESD to assist us with our leadership training for local field and union officers in The Ukraine and Moscow?” Initially, there was a feeling of excitement, however, as the time neared to travel and we encountered some challenge in obtaining visas for both places, coupled with not so pleasant news from Russia and Ukraine in the media, we wondered if it was God’s will to travel. In fact, out of concern, some of our friends questioned the timing of our visit.
However, believing that wherever the people of God are they are to be reached, I reasoned that, “If God protects my fellow colleagues there in Russia and the Ukraine, certainly He can protect my wife Denise and me.” So with the assistance of Mr. Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Bahamas, as well as the direct representation of Ambassador Alma Adams and Consul Deborah Saunders at the Bahamian Embassy in Cuba, the Russian visas were secured in Cuba.  The Ukrainian visas were eventually obtained in Washington.
Upon arrival in the former Soviet Union, we were warmly welcomed and hosted. Really, there was no time that we did not feel safe. We thoroughly enjoyed the visit to Red Square, Lenin Mausoleum, Orthodox churches and other places we had only seen on television.  More so, we enjoyed visiting our local churches and institutions. We spent a total of 10 days in the Euro Asia Division and are most grateful for the experience and privilege to serve and represent our union. We shall long remember the friendships made and especially the enthusiasm of our brethren in attending Sabbath school so early in large numbers.