Mike & Carrie Pickett
- Taking the Limits Off in Russia -
Jamie and I made our first trip to Russia this last fall (2008). We were with our Charis Bible College team in St. Petersburg, and it was awesome.
Carrie Nordquist is a CBC graduate who went to Russia as a young single girl. She worked with Sean and Lisa Michaud to establish our first Russian Bible school in Murmansk, a hundred miles above the Arctic Circle. She found her American husband to be, Mike Pickett, in Russia, and they married in 2006. She has been directing our Bible school in St. Petersburg for the last seven years. Mike and Carrie are also assistant pastors at a Russian church in St. Petersburg, and they minister in drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers too.
Judy Gonnerman went to Russia with her husband, Bob, and two boys, David and Joshua, in 1999. After Bob’s death, Judy was right back in St. Petersburg and continues to be a great asset to the school (and a wonderful cook, I might add).
Nicola Appelbe, CBC class of 2002, has also been a part of the St. Petersburg school for four years. She took a brief absence to be with her dying mother in the States but is now back in Russia working with orphans in the state-run orphanages.
We now have a new couple, Mark and Sarah Van Frachen, graduates of CBC, who have been in St. Petersburg for a short time. But they have already made a big difference, and they will allow the school to continue to function as they rotate with the Picketts in and out of Russia to accommodate the new immigration laws.
I am really proud and humbled by these graduates who are serving the Lord in difficult conditions compounded by the culture and language. They are laying down their lives for the Lord and the people who so desperately need the true Gospel. These are true heroes of our day.
Our student body in St. Petersburg consists of forty-one students from twelve different nations. The vast majority of them are studying at the university to be doctors, lawyers, or professional people who will be leaders when they return to their countries. The church that the Picketts minister in has twenty-one countries represented. We can reach the world through this one school.
Our meetings there were great. It was awesome to see the effect our five Russian books had on the people. They were thrilled. Of course, many of them were just getting the books, but there were many wonderful reports of how the Lord had used them to change lives.
We now have twelve home and church Bible schools established in the Ufa area, where the Michauds ministered for a number of years. One woman from there told me how she had been saved for a long time but came into a totally new relationship with the Lord as a result of getting the materials in her own language. This is why we are doing all we can to produce more books and other teaching materials in Russian.
I was very impressed with the level of maturity I found in our students as well. They showed me in many ways that the ministry they are receiving in the St. Petersburg school is just as good as what we have at our home base. In many ways, they actually surpass our U.S. students. Part of that may be that they are just less distracted and see the need greater than many of us in the West do. But their attentiveness, questions, and comments showed me beyond a doubt that they’ve got it. They know the true Gospel. Hallelujah!
I can’t put into words how satisfying that is to me. I’ve labored for four decades to impart these truths to people. I know there are thousands who have really got it, but I don’t always hear or see those results. But I have been with these students, and I know that they are being transformed and trained to transform others with the Gospel. Raising up leaders is the only way we are going to truly impact entire nations. It’s happening.
While I was there, I met with Trinity Broadcasting Network Russia. Their broadcasts are in Russian, and they try not to have many American preachers on, because the style is offensive to many Russians. But they like my laid-back approach and think I would be a real asset to their programming.
They have offered me a daily slot on their network, which reaches all of Russia. That’s 11 time zones; nearly 420,000,000 people; and 160 countries!
TBN Russia is one of the biggest mission ministries for Russian-speaking people, even in remote areas of Siberia, Mongolia, and Muslim countries, as well as in Russian prisons and orphanages.
One hundred forty million home dishes receive TBN’s signal from its six satellites, and it broadcasts through four hundred secular cable networks and television stations in Russia and Common Wealth of Independent States (former USSR) countries.
The price of the broadcasts, translation, dubbing, and running a Russian office to receive calls, letters, and distribute materials will run about $10,000 per month. That may sound like a lot, but I pay much more than that for airtime in some U.S. cities that don’t reach one-tenth that number of people. I think it’s a great opportunity.
I have given the go-ahead to our Russia team to start the office, and we are negotiating with TBN Russia to secure the airtime. It’s not a done deal in the natural, but I believe this is where we are going. This will not only reach millions of Russians with the true Gospel, but we know there will be many opportunities to establish Bible schools all over Russia.
To those of you who are currently supporting AWM World Outreach, thank you. We couldn’t do any of this without you. Although there is some revenue generated by the Russians, Hungarians, Indians, Belizeans, and Ugandans, it is not enough to pay all the expenses. Your gifts are what enable us to have a world impact. On behalf of those we are reaching and who we will be reaching, thank you. And thank you also from the Lord. Great is your reward in heaven.
For more information about Charis Bible Training Center in St. Petersburg, Russia, read “Charis Around the World” in the Fall/Winter 2007 Gospel Truth magazine.