Why Sasha Did Not Resign
Thirty minutes into our conversation, Sasha made a statement that truly grabbed my attention. He said, “Every October when we celebrate the anniversary of our church in Moscow, I say a special prayer of thanksgiving for Mike.”
I looked over at Mike Katzenberger, our Central & Eastern Europe Director, and he gave me a humble shrug that I interpreted as “Shucks, what can I say?” So I turned back to Sasha and said, “Please, tell me about that.”
Sasha pastors a vibrant, next-generation church in northern Moscow. Way of Grace is a fourteen year-old fellowship, but five years ago Sasha was ready to resign at the October church anniversary date. He said of that time, “I was exhausted leading the church. I felt betrayed and unsupported by the other leaders.” Mike told me later that the church wasn’t strong enough back then to survive Sasha’s resignation.
Mike, whose role is to support and inspire the growth of missional movement led by national leaders in this region, invited Sasha to CA’s Leadership Summit in Portugal that year. Sasha is not part of CA’s staff of church planters, so the invitation to Summit came with a heartbeat for God’s Kingdom in Russia. Mike opened the door for Sasha to talk about his frustrations and reasons for wanting to resign. Among other gracious Russian leaders, Sasha let down his guard and found a safe place of encouragement. Mike saw a valuable leader in need of help and hope.
(Pictured above: Mike, Sasha, and Sergey, another Russian church leader and dear friend of CA)
Sasha said, “Mike changed my perspective on people in church, and changed my expectations of the leaders involved in our congregation. Mike spoke words of wisdom that helped me see a better future. So I did not resign.”
Mike helped the other church leaders see Sasha’s need to rest and recover strength for ministry. Mike spent the next season coaching Sasha, stepping into Sasha’s home and ministry context in order to understand the unique challenges of leading this faith community. Mike knows full well that mentoring young, local leaders is vital to sparking missional movement across this vast land.
Five years later, Sasha continues to lead this growing and maturing church. Today the church enjoys strength of leadership that extends beyond Sasha’s guidance. While Way of Grace currently struggles in other ways, these are normal for a church in this stage of development. As an expression of the Kingdom, Mike reached beyond the scope of our CA church network, surrounded Sasha with gracious voices of encouragement, and served as a mentoring voice that kept Sasha in a growing and learning posture.
At each October anniversary, this blessed national leader says a special prayer of blessing for Mike, the CA leader who helped him through those dark days of ministry. And the missional movement continues…
Dudley Callison serves as President of Christian Associates International. He is a Licensed Professional Counselor, an ordained minister, and a Credentialed Christian Nonprofit leader. Dudley has been speaking, teaching and writing about following Christ for over 20 years. Along with Louie Giglio, Dudley taught Bible study at Baylor University which reached over 1,200 students weekly. Since then, Dudley has spoken at adult and student conferences, countless churches both domestically and internationally, and as a hired presenter for profit-based companies.