With all of us at Buckingham wanting to find out a little more of what went on, here’s his report on the visit.
EP Russian Conference – Belarus
It was a joy to be able to return to Belarus for the first time since 2001. Approximately fifty delegates attended, drawn mainly from Belarus, but there were also some from Ukraine and Russia.
In Russian “EP” is short for “Gospel” and “Reformation”. Pastors Georgi and Slava Viazovski picked up on these themes in their addresses. Georgi spoke on the true nature of the gospel of grace and the gift of imputed righteousness through faith. Slava pointed out the need to walk in the footsteps of the reformers. He encouraged us to continually return to the true gospel in the scriptures, as well as drawing on the wisdom and insights of godly saints from the church fathers onwards.
Slava, with the help of other pastors, led a workshop on the need for those in the ministry to be both called of God and appropriately equipped through theological training.
This sparked a lively and constructive debate, particularly as few in the former soviet territories receive meaningful support from their congregations and opportunities to receive good training are extremely limited.
It is little wonder that Slava has a vision that God in His goodness may help the church create a reformed seminary for pastors in Belarus. Thankfully, there is an increasing body of reformed evangelical literature available in the Russian speaking world. Whilst cross-border issues are complex, we are hopeful that there will soon be a good flow of books as a result of this and earlier conferences.
The main conference speaker was EP author and pastor, Gary Brady (pictured, on the right). Gary brought three papers on wisdom literature. In discussing the Song of Songs he brought a challenge to us all regarding the reality and depth of our love on both a human and divine level. For Proverbs he provided an analysis of the structure of the book and practical suggestions on how to preach its contents. His final address on Ecclesiastes he demonstrated how it is a book particularly suited to our modern age. As well as providing a framework for the book, he gave an encouraging exposition of some practical principles for life from chapters 9 and 10.
The final paper was given by Roger Fay on the life of David Brainerd, a pioneer missionary to the North American indigenous population at great personal cost. Roger warmed our hearts as he demonstrated how this spiritual man was used of the Lord in a time of revival, becoming an inspiration to many later missionaries despite the brevity of his life.
As the conference closed, there was a real awareness of the goodness of the Lord and the blessedness of this time of fellowship and teaching. We trust that the Lord will go before us as we seek to plan further conferences in Belarus.