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Gladstone native William Wood traveled home from Russia in November with his translator Andrey and prayer warrior Antonena, all missionaries in the remote tundra area of Komi.
The three were speaking to the Rozetta Baptist Church (and many other sponsoring churches and small groups) to let them know that their support dollars are making a difference.
The Rozetta Church is one of their biggest supporters.
"We pray, and we wonder how we can get a van," William said, and "someone out of your church says, "Here's $10,000. Go get a van!'"
William asked Antonena to speak. "She is very important as she is coordinator of all the Social Services in Komi and a liaison between the people and the governor. Komi is the size of Texas and has 35,000 people and is located north of Moscow 26 hours. It's an area where alcoholism is the number one killer, and where wives and children are often abandoned.
Antonena spoke through translator Andrey. She said:
"I greet all of you with the love of Jesus Christ. I'm happy to see your kind eyes. It is great to be here where your appreciation for William made it possible for him to be a part of my life. Your prayers encourage us and give us strength.
It gets very cold and I wear these deer skin boots. Sometimes its 48-50 degrees below zero. Last Christmas was pretty severe and we use traditional deer and moose skin to keep warm. It is very comfortable and easy to wear. In the District of Komi, the main religion is Russian Orthodox. Christians are a tiny minority. I repented in the Baptist Church in the capitol of Komi and then went back to my home town of Don. I was the only Angelic Christian there. I heard about the gospel from my sister who had heard it from a missionary.
The locals called me a cult or sect and told me I was preaching another faith, not ours. I started praying that God would send me a helper. In Komi there are 64 villages in a pretty large area and you couldn't physically go all places without a vehicle. In 2001, I had my first missionary arrive from the United States. That is why I have a warm feeling for the United States, they came with the gospel.
In 2003 I met William in a Baptist Church where I was saved and I invited him to come-and, praise the Lord, he found a house, and due to William, a church was born!
An Evangelic campaign was started and people would listen. Some families with severe alcoholism, quit drinking plus many social projects were started. A lot of needy people received help in our district.
The primary goal for William was that they hear the gospel in order to receive his help. So, many in our district heard about Christ! I've been working about 12 years now. At first they embraced us due to our work. Then many changed who were listening to lobbyist of the Orthodox Church. Now William is not allowed into any government run facilities. No tracts, no movies and no social help is allowed in them.
Antonena said there has been higher ups talk of firing her from the District Board but she says, "God has given me strength to carry on with my main goal-to spread the Word. Time and again God would encourage me with scripture and it helps me to know you are loving and praying for me.
We are praying for you as well and for America, that God will bless you. Please pray for us."
"Someday, when I get to heaven, I'm going to be shouting "Hallelujah!" for all the rewards you are going to receive for what you do!"