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February - March 2006

A Church Building!

For over a year we have been meeting in our apartment. We have found that Russians are very hesitant to come to an apartment for a meeting. They seem to be afraid that we might be doing something subversive, and they don’t want to get involved in anything that might cause them trouble. With this in mind, we have been looking at various properties here in our town of Oryol for several months. I hoped to find a vacant lot to buy now and develop it as money came in. Most of the places we looked at were either too expensive or inconveniently located. We found a few lots that might have been suitable, but they sold right after we looked at them.

In January we looked at a nice property with a house. It was near the center of town on a main street, right next to a streetcar stop, and not far from a bus stop. It had a nice big private yard, and a recently constructed brick house big enough to use for services right away. The asking price was $52,000. I didn’t see any way we could raise that kind of money on short notice, so I didn’t really consider it as a realistic option.

I called my pastor to ask his advice about buying a vacant lot. He reminded me that a vacant lot would take a few years to develop before it would be useful. He asked me if there was a property that already had a usable building. I told him about the house we looked at, and commented, “If I had the money, I would buy it right now. It’s ideal.” To my surprise, he offered to help me find the financing, and advised me to buy it!

For the next two months, we consulted with realtors and lawyers, and went through a mountain of paperwork to be sure that the property was free of any legal problems. We bought the house, and on March 15, I received all the keys! We spent the next few days scrubbing the house from top to bottom in preparation for our first service! We bought 25 nice padded stackable chairs. We brought the piano and accordion over from our apartment, along with a few thousand New Testaments, our songbooks, and our Russian Christian books for the soon-to-be library.

March 19 was our first service in the new building. We had nine people with two first time visitors. We have distributed several thousand invitations to homes and apartment buildings in the area, and we are seeing more first-time visitors.

We borrowed $52,000 to buy this building. If you would like to have a part in helping us pay off the loan, please send your gift to:

Baptist International Missions, Inc.
P.O. Box 9215
Chattanooga, TN 37412

and designate it for “Ossewaarde - Project Russian Church Building”. All designated gifts will be directly applied to the loan and that will reduce the amount of interest we will pay.

You can see pictures of the property in an online photo album we have set up on our website. Go to www.donossewaarde.com and look for the link to “Russia property photos”.

Our friend Professor Yulia invited me back to the university to give my lecture on "The US Constitution and the Bible" to a new group of students this year. I gave each of the 65 students a gospel tract and a printed invitation with a map to our new building. They asked me if we could have a weekday Bible study in English. Nine students came - most of them were first timers.

Ruth and I met a nice couple, Oleg and Lubov, while visiting door-to-door. They invited us in and we had tea. We witnessed to them. Since then, they have been to our house for tea, and Lubov came to our Bible study with her daughter. Pray that they will be saved.

I finally received my permanent residency papers! That means I can stay indefinitely in Russia and enter and leave the country without a visa. The certificate is good for five years, and it is automatically renewable every five years. This is a tremendous blessing! Thank you for praying about this.

The area code for our telephone number in Russia has changed. When dialing from the USA, call: 011-7-4862-76-01-71

In the service of the King,
Don Ossewaarde