Getting to Know Today’s Unchurched

Do you ever invite your neighbors to come to church with you? You watch their house while they are away for a few days, you talk with them when you see them in the yard, your kids attend the same school and you wave at them on your way to work. But, have you ever invited them to come to church with you?

Acts 1:8 tells us that we have been empowered to be His witnesses and yet many people have not invited their neighbors to come to church with them. Maybe more regretful is that many believers today do not even know their neighbors. We are away from home most of the day – leaving the house in our cars and returning after work the same way. We are tired, have things that need to be accomplished, and so hurry inside as soon as we have parked and do not even come to know our neighbors. And, if we do, it is often on only a superficial level.

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Mr. Roger`s Neighborhood

A typical highrise apartment building where hundreds live … and normally there is a series of them in a row and sometimes even streets upon streets of identical highrise buildings all housing families who work somewhere close by or take public transport to work and home again. They have an excellent bus and train system in this city. Today we are in the city of Piatigorsk again ministering to the leaders of a number of churches.

Along with these mini-cities that exist all over the city you find small Kiosks scattered all over the place – street corners, down pathways that run between the buildings, clustered together near a vacant field. Simple tin `sheds`that specialize in a small number of products that people buy on their way to and from work. Most people shop daily for the food they need and it is neat to see the slower pace that allows them to visit their friends and relatives as they shop for their daily needs. Sometimes these small kiosks are all grouped together in a market place (picture a good sized park covered in small tin sheds and lean-tos displaying products from men`s underwear, toothpaste, deordant, shoes, and socks to finely finished leather goods from Italy. These markets are a definite experience and a place where you can spend a whole day and enjoy the people, the noise, the food and the party atmosphere.

More and more you can see actual buildings being built to house the stores and so you can walk into a food store that is well stocked and rivals anything you might find back home. Smaller selection of brand names but just as many products including Diet Pepsi. God is good! The style of clothing for teens and young people are identical to what you see in North America and the average person wears blue jeans and t-shirts with a hoodie just as you would see back home. You see fewer cars and more people walking, riding bikes, and taking the transit systems that exist in the cities and between cities. I can ride the train all night from one city to another and it would only cost me the equivalent of $6.50 American or Canadian. Not a large amount of money considering a short ride on a city bus here in Canada will cost you half of that. You can rent a sleeper compartment which we often do when using a train for 8 to 10 hours – my team members sleep and I work on the laptop or read as I cannot sleep when in motion. There transit systems are improvin and modernizing all the time and, at times on the major routes, would rival much of what you see in North America.

I love the pace of life here in the smaller cities and towns. The ability to walk to purchase almost anything you need as well as to move long distances by transit. Much simpler and more relaxing than the constant driving to everywhere that we do in North America – and sometimes just as fast. I like the way people relate in the neighborhood and take time to talk to others they meet and haggle with the merchant to bring the price down. It almost like stepping back to a more civilized time when people mattered and conversations were important; when neighbor knew neighbor and people were not always rushing to and fro going nowhere. Oh, they have fences around their homes (if they live in a separate dwelling) as they do like their privacy when possible but still it is much more like `Mr. Roger`s Neighborhood`than Law and Order Los Angeles. I like it.

Your continued prayers would be greatly appreciated – we move on to Mineralny Vody tomorrow. This is the city we flew into on our first night in the country. We are there for the Saturday and Sunday – leaders day and then general public services….


How it all began:

Ukraine’s geographic location between Europe and Asia was an important factor in its early history. The steppes were the domain of Asiatic nomads, the Black Sea coast was inhabited by Greek colonists, and the forests in the northwest were the homeland of the agrarian East Slavic tribes from whom, eventually, the Ukrainian, Russian, and Belarusian nations evolved. As the East Slavs expanded, they accepted, in the 9th century, a Varangian (Viking) elite that led them to establish a vast domain, centered in Kyiv (Kiev) and called Kievan Rus. It became one of the largest, richest, and most powerful lands in medieval Europe. In 988 Saint Volodymyr (Vladimir), grand prince of Kyiv, accepted Orthodox Christianity, and in this way brought Kievan Rus under the cultural influence of the Byzantine Empire. Inter-princely feuds, shifting trade routes, and recurrent nomadic attacks weakened Kievan Rus, however, and in 1240 it fell to the invading hordes of the Mongol Empire. The western principality of Galicia-Volhynia managed to retain its autonomy for about a century thereafter.

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The City of Yesentuky, Russia

Today we are ministering for a second day in the city of Yesentuky in the Cacausus.

This part of Russia is beautiful at this time of year. Their seasons are a bit behind ours in North America as they are located much to the south in the nation and so t-shirts and shorts can still be worn at this time of year (except if you are a team member – jeans and a button up shirt)…. Of course, if you travel up into the mountains you will need a winter coat. But, on this trip we are staying where it is warm. Last year we had a day in the mountains and it was one of the spiritual highlights of my life as we stopped to cook supper (6 pastoral couples, their children and two foreigners) on our way back down the mountains. The Holy Spirit showed up as we prayed and fellowshipped and changed my life forever.

So, hopefully you are enjoying a nice fall (spring) day in the nation where you live – we are enjoying our return to August weather here in the Cacausus and even managing an occasional short walk several times a day between events and then a longer one in the late evening after the day comes to an end – to unwind, relax, debrief, and simply get some exercise. A touch of “normal life” as they rest of each day could never be described as “normal.”

This time we are sticking to the valleys and plains with no day off or trip planned to the mountains. The pace we will be keeping and the location of the cities we are working in means we are here just to work. Beautiful countrysides and wonderful scenery as we travel from place to place, however. God’s hand is evident in nature everywhere we go. Once in the cities – they all look alike to me as we don’t do any sightseeing but simply go from meeting to meeting and thus see only buildings and streets – most not in the best of conditions. However, that is comparing it to what I experience in my nation which, of course, is not fair as they are two different cultures and approaches to life – like comparing apples and oranges.

The one thing that remains the same from nation to nation and even location to location within a nation is the presence and power of God and the love He expresses and shows towards each group of believers gathered to honor Him and learn from His Word. It is amazingly consistent and abundant. Here the people are really hungry for more of God and expectant that God will “show up” in power and other special ways. They love Him so deeply and with their whole body, soul, and spirit. Worship is powerful and God honors the hunger and the expectancy and does wonderful and often unexpected things. We always make room for God to interrupt what we are doing if He so desires – and He often does.

Your prayers are very important to us as we move from city to city and minister three major sessions a day with lots of one-on-one ministry inbetween the main sessions. Thanks for caring! Your support is very important to me!


The history of Belarus, or, more correctly of the Belarusian ethnicity, begins with the migration and expansion of the Slavic peoples throughout Eastern Europe between the 6th and 8th centuries. East Slavs settled on the territory within present-day Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, assimilating local Baltic and steppe nomads already living there, early ethnic integrations that contributed to the gradual differentiation of the three East Slavic nations. These East Slavs were pagan, animistic, agrarian people whose economy included trade in agricultural produce, game, furs, honey, beeswax and amber.

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Travel Day Within Russia

I have just arrivd in Moscow – a city of, they think, 10.5 million people (registered inhabitants) – and am waiting for the next flight that will take us to Mineralny Vody (a 3.5 hour flight) which is in the mountains in the south-west of the Russian nation. The mountains are called The Cacausus and the way of life there is, of course, different than you would find in many of the other geographical locations within the immense nation of Russia. Each area is unique. I am sitting with my administrator for Eastern Europe – Miroslav – as he has arrived early this morning by train from Ukraine.

In the area we will be ministering in for the first week you find many Muslims with mosques appearing on street corners and on hill sides even in some of the smaller towns and villages. The other dominate religion is the Rusian Orthodox Church which still has great power over the people and is often an arm of the government. Both religions are very controlling and keep the people in state of fear and uncertainty.

The born again Church is alive and well but often not visible due to using rented facilities such as cultural centers and convention halls. However, in general, they can still meet publicly without being hassled. Of course, we cannot advertise that we are here as we are tourists and foreigners and thus must keep a low profile. Our meetings are by invitation only except the Sunday morning services which are open to their congregational members and friends. No advertising.

We are living out of a suitcase as we will be relocating every 36 hours to another city to continue ministering to local leadership in each location. That means we will have no home base where we can set up and have a place to pray, read, write blogs … it will all be done “on the fly” often stealing five minutes here and there to pray with the team and doing blogs on laptops in the back seat of cars as we are driven to the next event. We have borrowed internet connecting “sticks” so we can connect to the web and emails without extreme roaming charges which would be what we would face if we use our own “sticks” and pay the roaming fees. Thank God for modern technology and that the leaders we work with are up-to-date in their technological abilities due to their need to be mobile as they work with a large Network and expansive geography.

Tomorrow morning we jump right into a full day of ministry in spite of jet lag and being tired. Our time is limited and the expenses incurred to travel here means we jump right in so as to be good stewards (managers) of both the finances the Lord supplies and the time we have here with these great believers who are living in rather difficult situations.

Your prayers, as always, are greatly appreciated.

Travel Day to Russia

Today I am on my way to Russia – a terrific nation where the Holy Spirit is touching hungry hearts and those who are actively seeking the Lord.I have already left home as you read this – up at 3:00a and to the airport by 4:30a. Flight to Minneapolis at 6:00a with several hours to wait in that airport until I pick up a flight to New York. There I wait four hours for a flight directly to Moscow. Once there I meet my administrator who will have come by train from Kirovograd, Ukraine (36 hours on two trains) and we have 7 hours to wait for our last flight to our destination. I will arrive late Tuesday evening their time … 33 hours after leaving home. Hopefully there is a shower and bed waiting.

By Wednesday morning we will be ministering three times a day in leadership meetings. Our topics are “team leadership” and teaching the leaders on “prophetic evangelism.” Basic materials I have taught before but with a new audience and culture there will be some last minute adjustments and changes… But the Bible material being taught will remain the same.

Adjustments always need to be made – as we relate to the audience we will be teaching – their ministries, their maturity, their level of knowledge on the subject – and to the culture in which they work. This, of course, means we have to ask questions as soon as we meet our hosts and begin to become aware of the “spiritual climate” as quickly as possible. Not as easy as it sounds at the best of times – harder when you have been travelling for two days.

My team will be ministering in a number of cities – Yesentuky, Kislovodsk, Piatigorsk, Mineralny Vody, Inozemtsevo, and Tikhoretsk. This means that over a period of 8 days we will be contstantly moving from city to city, changing audiences and having to sense in each place the spiritual atmosphere very soon after arrival and before the time when we begin to teach and minister.

After we are finished in the Cacausus we fly back to Moscow from Mineralny Vody and then are driven 250 Km. to the city of Ivanovo where we will be ministering for 3.5 days to leaders of another network of churches … having met the leadership couple at a seminar I ran in Moscow over a year ago during which time they received a prophetic work from our team. The word has since come to pass and they now lead the Network they are a part of and so have invited this ministry to minister to them … the topics are “the apostolic model for the Church” and “how to prophesy” … of course, in every location people will be hungry for and want us to prophesy over them. And, we will.

A full two weeks of ministry and then back to Moscow by car – and flights fom Moscow to New York to Minneapolis to Regina. Then a day of jet lag.

I hope you will follow along on our adventures as we post daily blogs about Russia, the people, the ministry and what is happening – and that you will be praying for us as we are working in a nation where the born again faith is not welcome and can be persecuted.

A Memorable Day When God Showed Up – Russia #5

One of the most powerful times of fellowship with the Holy Spirit and with other believers that I have ever been a part of was on a mountain in the Caucasus area of the nation of Russia. We were returning from a day of sightseeing and family time (we had 5 pastors and their families with us) and stopped in the middle of the mountain range by a very cold and fast running creek to start a crude fire and cook supper. An old-fashion Russian tea pot (the fire is fed by small sticks and branches and lit in the center of the pot in a cylindar so that it is 360 degree heat radiating outward into the water) made the best tea I have ever had and after preparing the food on the moss and leaves it was cooked on an outdoor fire and we sat in the cool (and somewhat dark) evening and ate together.

In spite of the language barrier and not wanting to always be asking my interpreter to work as he was enjoying a more relaxing day … I joined right in and watched – listened – and laughed for hours with them. The unity was wonderful. The love and acceptance between these leaders was blatently obvious and wonderful to behold. The unity I saw was almost spiritually and emotionally overwhelming. And then the Holy Spirit showed up and literally joined the fellowship already being enjoyed. You would have had to have been physically dead to have missed it. It was amazing. I shall never forget it. It was a spiritual experience – involving my mind, will, emotions, and physical body.

My first stop several days from now is to this same group of leaders and pastors. I will be working with them for 8 days and I know that the fellowship will be sweet and that God will do some very wonderful things while I am with them. I hope and pray that He will bless me, as well, in as deep a way as He did during my last visit. It impacted me for life as it was the first time in my life that I had ever seen this level of unity and acceptance, human and divine fellowship and interaction.

The Russian born again church may not have all that we in the west take for granted but they have something that we seldom experience. I would trade a dozen or more of our facilities and fancy programming for an hour of what they appparently experience quite regularly. They have something precious and powerful and I hope I am honored to share in it again this visit.

A Royal Command – Not An Option – Russia #4

Saturday before my next apostolic trip to Russia and I am slowly getting ready. Jesus said that, as disciples, we must “go into all the world and preach the Gospel making disciples of every nation…” and I am doing just that. I don’t consider it an option for believers who state that they truly and deeply love Jesus. Jesus said, “If you love Me you will obey Me…” To not be winning the lost means we are not obeying Him and thus show that we really do not love Him in spite of our words. We are living in simple but dangerous disobedience. Folks, the Great Commission is not an option but a royal command. Take it seriously, I do.

This trip I have been asked to teach on prophetic evangelism. This is a two-sided teaching. First off I will need to teach them the need to evangelize and that we do so in response to the love that Jesus has poured out from the Cross for us. To know that Jesus is the only way into Heaven and not to be telling others about this is a sin and needs to be repented of. In Russia, like North America, the majority of born again Christians are not evanglizing or seeking and saving the lost as Jesus commands we are to do. So, they are not walking in their God-given authority and neither are you. They are not flowing in the power that comes with the Baptism in the Holy Spirit because it was given to enable us to be supernatural witnesses for the Lord (Acts 1:8) and neither are you. The Church there, as here, needs to learn the important of evangelism and the need to make it a daily priority. As well, it must be something we all do internationally as it will never happen by accident no matter where you live in the world.

Secondly, I will be be teaching some of the basics of prophesy and the way that prophetic giftings work hand-in-hand with evangelizing the lost – showing them that Jesus is alive because He was raised from the dead on Easter Sunday. This includes teaching them that Jesus still speaks today (“My sheep hear My voice”) and that they can hear what He is saying to them about others (prophetic words) who cannot hear Him because they are not yet born again. I can give practical pointers and bibloical examples as well as lots of examples from every day events I find myself in as I go about running household messages, walking my dog, sitting on a park bench, doing my banking, flying on airplanes, buying gas, purchasing a coffee… and even some really funny stories where I totally failed to get the Gospel out in spite of trying and embarrassed myself.

Believers in Russia know little about the prophetic gift, the levels of prophecy, the fact that everyone can prophesy if baptized in the Holy Spirit and that God wants us to use this supernatural gift to impact lives for Him and His Kingdom. I will only be teaching some really basic or foundational aspects of these two rather large topics but that is one of the things apostles are to do (Ephesians 2:20).

I have also been asked to speak in some locations on team ministry. Very important because many of the pastors of churches are somewhat heavy-handed in their leadership styles, controlling, manipulative, and definitely one-man shows. So, again, the basics will need to be covered about Bible leadership, serventhood, qualifications, character, five-fold teams, looking for the grace upon someone to serve in a calling and not electing them by a democratic vote…. As well, of course, a presentation or two on the five-fold ministry of Ephesians 4:11.

And, in one location I will be speaking on the apostolic model of Church (book of Acts) as compared to or contrasted with the pastoral model we find in practice most places today. I have taught little bits here and there – once in Kazakhstan and one session in the School for Apostles and Prophets – Level One. So, this will go deeper than that but due to time restaints we will not be able to go into too much depth. However, I am currently writing a book on this subject and it will be translated into Russian and posted as an e-book simultaneously in Rusian and English on the web.

So, some major research to finish up in the next few days, some outlines to write and others to edit, lots of material (electronic and paper) to pack before early Monday morning when I leave for Russia.

Your prayers are greatly appreciated.


Dear Ralph!
Thank you so much for your apostolic ministry in our nations. I am from Ukraine but we all consider Russians – our close brothers and I feel so excited for what is waiting for them while you’ll be teaching in Russian churches. I have friends in Tichoretsk and will highly recommend them to attend the services where you will minister. As for Ukraine I hope to see you on our blessed land too. I am going to England as a missionary for because months but when I am back in March i will do my best to find out when and where in Ukraine you will be ministering – because your seminars are always a drop of fresh water for my soul. I can’t stop thanking God for you. Being present at only two conferences where you were a speaker changed my life forever!!!! ~natalya