On Sunday I preached at a small local church of about 60 people. Several things deserve comment. 1. The church was structured around three sermons! Time between sermons was spent on singing and prayer. I could only imagine a U.S. or Dutch church trying to have three different sermons on a Sunday morning :-) I was told that this tradition developed during the time of Soviet persecution when the churches never knew if their pastors and leaders would be arrested from one week to the next. There was a need for many people in the congregation to be trained so that the church would always have someone capable of preaching and teaching.
2. Prayer was heartfelt and genuine--mixed with tears. Between sermons there was time for anyone who wished in the congregation to lead in prayer. Although I could not understand the Russian language, prayer mixed with tears communicates in any language!
3. They had joy in the midst of difficulty. This was not a wealthy congregation; only two families in the church owned a car. After Ukraine gained independence some people who had connections in business became quite wealthy but the majority of the population in Zaporozhye did not benefit from this growth.