This summer in the Pilgrimage Center “Crystal” (Voronezh) a new program “Academy for Spiritual Formation” has started. 40 participants, two leading speakers and the organizing team (11 people) have witnessed a wonderful God’s work, the one that is renewing, encouraging, strengthening and granting each person an opportunity to perceive the power of His never-ending love.
Academy for Spiritual Formation program exists for more than 40 years and is held in different countries, effectively assisting pastors, lay people and other church ministers in overcoming the times of spiritual drought, stagnation and burnout. This year, for the first time, the Academy has taken place in Eurasia UMC area.
Camp Crystal, chosen as a spot hosting the first Eurasia UMC Academy, as always fascinated everyone with its beauty: tall and slender pine-trees, white sand, birds’ twitting, the fragrance of grass and blossom in the air – it all contributed to perceiving God’s presence and feeling a part of God’s plan, His favorite creature.
When sharing testimonies, most participants who decided to take part in a new and unknown program were saying that their hopes and expectations had come true in full. Some of them wanted to get to know more about Christianity, others just wanted to recreate themselves, still others dreamt of finding new ideas and life perspectives. Practically everyone had a chance to hide himself or herself from a daily routine, taste solitude and find themselves in a Christian community, renovating its relationship with God.
The wise and touching yet simple and lucid lectures, delivered by pastor Alla Vuxta and bishop Eduard Khegay, helped us tune to meditation and realize that Sabbath and the QT (the time of personal prayer) are necessary spiritual practices for our lives.
The themes of the Academy were Scripture, Worship and Fasting. Each of 5 days would start with a morning meeting prayer and joyful praising God and end with an evening meeting prayer, which would plunge the participants into the silence and solitude until next morning.
Similar to the first Christians each day we would thankfully approach the table of Holy Communion and listen to a short message given by a sister or a brother.
Nadezhda Kiseleva (UMC Stavropol): «During the Academy it was crucial for me to feel related to the friendly family – our Church. I couldn’t even expect that I would be charged with spiritual strength, friendly support and love. Everything within the Program was important for me, especially the quiet time (the time of silence) when we could ponder over what had been said».
Tatiana Menshova (UMC Lida): «I’ve decided to participate in the Academy with the intention to renew my personal relationship with God, to get back the need for prayer and Scripture. I wouldn’t even expect such a wonderful outcome! Right now, I’m filled with the sense of freedom, thirst for God and complete joy. My spiritual practices approach has shifted from “I MUST” attitude towards a “LOVE-ORIENTED” one. Holy Communion is a special gift for me now».
Some participants wish to become a part of the organizing team next year. The preparation has already started. We keep on praying and hoping that this Program will be initiated in other areas of Eurasia UMC as well; through it, many leaders and ministers will receive spiritual, psychological and physical strength from God, so that they would spread the good news and commit good deeds in this world.
Katya Kim, bishop Eduard Khegay’s assistant
Photo: Katya Kim
Video: Fyodor Kim
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