In the imaginations of millions, Siberia is a dark, hard, cold place. While it is cold, some of the warmest times of my life have been spent at kitchen tables in the homes of Russian and Buryat people, drinking cup upon steaming cup of tea and sharing the stories that make up the tapestry of our lives. Siberia is a boundless region full of life, multiple cultures, fascinating history, unlimited stretches of taiga, steppe and tundra, coursing rivers and the pearl of Siberia, that vast inland sea called Baikal.
A place isn’t really a place without its people. Through them you come to know the history, names and character of the land. I have spent eight years in Siberia, learning Russian, acquainting myself with many of her peoples. In 2003, I married my wife, Yulia, who comes from the Buryat people, one of many proud native ethnic groups who have called Siberia home. I now call Siberia home, and her people, my people.
Being a part of a people, you can’t help but love them, and desire their welfare. You want all the peoples of earth to know whom the remarkable, hospitable, resourceful and delightful people of Siberia are. Be they Buryat, Russian, Tuvin, Tatar or Yakut, or any of the many peoples who thrive in Siberia.
And so our hearts are for the people. We seek to honor them, promote their welfare and love them as their Creator loves them. Practically we do this by engaging in Buryat culture, championing it, and loving the people where they are at regardless of their spiritual worldview for this is what our Lord has called us to. One of our goals is to improve the welfare of orphans in our city. Together with a local wrestling coach and friend who has opened a wrestling school for orphans, we will develop a mentoring program. Mentoring relationships will be a great step toward keeping them out of a life of crime, where most orphans end up. Finally, we actively participate in the lives and development of the people of our church community, called “Love of Christ”.