by Steven R., Russia
A few years ago, my wife Natasha and I realized how much Russian pastors’ families need fellowship. We pastors meet regularly, but we talk “ministry,” not personal issues. We value our children but seldom discuss or even see them. One pastor’s wife told Natasha she lacked any peer with whom she could talk about difficulties.
So, we began to invite pastors and their families to our home. This summer, 20 adults and 25 children came to our third annual Baptist pastors’ family conference. Some stayed at our house and some at a neighbor’s. Sharing big houses as families contributed to our growth in relationship.
Natasha and I led discussions to help the adults become better acquainted, while our children led activities to facilitate the same for the kids. The children’s aspect of this conference is vital, as many of the churches are small and the pastors’ children have little to no fellowship with Christians their age.
On the last day of our 3-day gathering, Natasha led a wives’ discussion and I led one with the pastors, followed by a BBQ and a kids-vs.-parents soccer match. At the close, the senior bishop reminded us the more time we spend enjoying each other as peers, the less we’ll need for solving crises.
One afternoon during our conference, we all went bowling. Most had never bowled; a few pastors questioned the spirituality of it. Interestingly, one of the more skeptical pastors ended up bowling in two lanes while his quiet and reserved wife aggressively knocked down as many pins as possible. It was the first time in my 23 years of ministry in this country I’ve seen that many pastors and their families having a wonderfully hilarious time together. One child told her mom, “It was the best day of the year.”