Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chick-fil-A is in Russia!

Not the sandwich or the cow but the people, the philosophy, and the heart are here in  Novosibirsk.  It has been a great week thus far of sharing Bible based, God breathed principles learned from their business but applicable to all of our lives.  On Monday, we had 70 young leaders show up and, interestingly, 80% of them were Christians.  Operation Mobilization – Russia, Children’s Hope Chest – Vladimir, Reconciliation Church – Novosibirsk, Church of Christ – Barnaul and Novosibirsk, Baptist Church – Novosibirsk, and Kemerovo Christian Center were all present as part of the body of Christ.  Also present were the owner of Russia’s finest coffee shop chain, Traveler’s Coffee, one of the owners of New York Pizza and many members of the Novosibirsk Rotary Club, City Government Administration, and one of the most influential youth leadership organizations in Novosibirsk NOT called YouthReach International!


Unfortunately, none of the 6 CFA team members luggage arrived with them and unfortunately they won’t arrive before they leave on Saturday.  One set of comfy, though worn, travel clothes were the norm for most of the team when we started the seminars on Monday morning.   This team has enjoyed a new facet to their Russian experience that no others we have ever hosted here before have experienced; that of a retail experience!  Suits and shirts and slacks and shoes all look very indigenous on our Texas, Oklahoma and Georgia visitors for they were bought here.  What could have been a justifiable chance to whine and complain has turned into an opportunity to remember our hearts should be much more well dressed for what we are doing than just our bodies.  This group has been tremendous in every way among some trying circumstances.  Do we expect anything else from the good people at Chick-fil-A?


Today is the second phase of the SERVE training.  This is the first time we have done this training in Novosibirsk so everyone who is here today has already been with us either earlier this week, last year, or the year before for the SERVE 1 phase.  In other words, these 32 high level business leaders who are here today are deeply invested in what is being offered.  Advantageous to YouthReach International is that we are networking with higher and higher level leaders and are gaining trust and partnership with these very strategic people.  Best of all, we are able to begin or continue sharing the hope of Jesus Christ with them as we work together to mentor orphans, fund surgeries for orphans, build playgrounds at orphanages, provide life skills training, and befriend these dear ones of God for all of their lives.



Above is a picture of the CFA team along with me, Nastia Shishkina (the official year round face of CFA SERVE in Novosibirsk), Olga Formanchuk who is our treasured interpreter and in the front center is Igor.  He’s a business man in Novosibirsk who was challenged, vocal, and impacted by the training yesterday.  We noticed after we were finished yesterday that he hung around in an almost voyeur like way.  I asked him if would like to have his picture taken with us.  He smiled a huge, child like smile and simply said, “is it possible?”  It’s a new day here in Russia where passionate, successful, open, caring business leaders are willing to share not only the keys to their success but also a simple smile and picture together after a long day of learning.  I sent him the picture shortly after he left the conference center to which he replied late last night, “thank you for sharing what is important to you.  It is now important to me.”


Isn’t that the goal of proclamation of any sort?  I think so.  Be it how to grow a business or so much more how to know God, we want what is important to us to be important to them.  Slowly, intentionally, and with great care it is happening.


Your prayers are appreciated as we continue this very special week.  We finish our Novosibirsk work today and then move 5 hours northeast to Tomsk, Russia, tomorrow to share for the first time in this great Siberian city the SERVE teaching.  You’ll hear more from us soon about that.


Thank you all,

Rob on behalf of the YouthReach team and the Chick fil A WinShape 2011 SERVE Russia Team



Rob Browne

Director of Russian Operations

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