Daryl Swartzentruber and Lauren Lutz lead the STINT Team in Ekaterinburg Russia. (My spell-check says it should be Yekaterinburg but I think Daryl and Lauren should know since this is their 2nd year.) This picture, however, is not taken into the Urals but was taken at Mount Sinai where they vacationed this winter. Daryl was quick to point out that their faces are glowing like that of Moses.
Daryl writes, “We just returned from our spring leadership retreat. Every year we gather believers from Ekaterinburg and from neighboring cities where we have ministries for a weekend of Bible teaching, seminars, and fellowship. This year we had about 40 students, and it was very encouraging to be around them and see their heart to grow in Christ and to reach the students of their cities. The theme was our personal relationship with God, and the speakers (mostly our Russian staff) did a great job of providing the students with solid food from the Word.”
“Such times are really good for Lauren and me,” Daryl goes on to say, “Because honestly, there are still a lot of things that are hard about life and ministry in Russia. We still have to deal with below freezing temperatures and the layer of snow and ice that has been on the ground for more than 4 months. We haven't had a lot of success finding English-speaking students at the universities we are working at, and as a result it has been difficult for us to build deep relationships and share our faith on a consistent basis. We are very busy, but don't always feel like we are busy in the right ways.”
Daryl concludes, “But whenever I step back and look at things as a whole, from God's perspective, I realize there is so much to be praise him for. We are on the verge of a genuine student movement here in Ekat, as we saw this past weekend at the retreat. Our team has grown closer together this semester, and all three first-year STINTers will be returning as a part of next year's team. Several of our students will be taking place in a summer project for Russian students. And perhaps most importantly, each of us have grown and are continuing to grow in our walks with the Lord. Those are the things that give us hope and help us to press on.”
Perspective from a mountain top is like that… things look different in the light of seeing the entire landscape.
Mountains play a significant role in scripture. Abraham went to sacrifice Isaac on a mountain. Moses was called on a mountain. He received the Law on a mountain. He died on a mountain looking at the Promised Land that he could not enter.
The Psalmist says that God dwells forever on a mountain. Isaiah tells us that in the last days the nations will stream to the Mountain of God to learn of His ways.
Jesus was tempted on a mountain, prayed all night on a mountain, gave a sermon on a mount and was transfigured on a mountain. We have victory because of what happened to Jesus on a mount (and of the empty tomb that followed).
No longer do we come to a mountain that cannot be touched and is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to a voice speaking works that those who heard begged that no further word be spoken. But we have come to Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, and the city of the living God. We have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. We have come to God, the judge of all people, to the spirits of righteous ones made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (Heb 12:18-24)
We live and lead in light of a different perspective. We may not see the entire landscape but we know the final outcome. We are under His grace and mercy. We lead others to receive the new covenant of His blood that was shed on a mount.
Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart....Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. – 2 Cor 4:1, 16-18