ONE OF THE LAST STOPS at the east end of Russia's Trans-Siberian Railway is Khabarovsk. Rich in libraries, theaters, museums, and universities, it's a center of learning that draws people from throughout the Russian Far East. In the winter months when average low temperatures drop to a bone-chilling -10 F, Khabarovsk's snow-covered central square turns into a winter fantasyland complete with snow forts, ice sculptures, and delighted youngsters. Khabarovsk is also home to Rhema Khabarovsk Russia and Fountain of Life Church, pastored by David and Inga Maxey.
David Maxey moved to Russia when he was 17. He lived first in Provideniya, a tiny, remote village surrounded by seemingly endless mountain ranges just across the Bering Strait from Nome, Alaska. David originally planned to stay for a year before going to college. Circumstances stretched that year into three. While there he met Inga and began attending a church pastored by 1988 Rhema Bible Training College graduates Joe and Mary Purcell.
Eventually, David and Inga attended RBTC, with David graduating in 1998. The Maxeys rejoined the Purcells, who by then had relocated to Khabarovsk to pastor Fountain of Life Church. When the Purcells relocated to Singapore six years later, they turned leadership of the church over to David and Inga. The couple also serve as campus directors for Rhema Khabarovsk.
Location, Location, Location
Eight years ago, Fountain of Life Church purchased a small house on prime property in the heart of Khabarovsk. Its location next to a major road and several public transportation lines made it easy for anyone to come to services. Because the building accommodated only 50 people, the Maxeys held several services each Sunday. Immediately after buying the property, David and Inga renovated the original structure and started planning an addition. Their building program is nothing short of miraculous.
In Khabarovsk, many public officials believe the Russian Orthodox Church is the only true church, and churches like Fountain of Life are cults. Often city officials do not want Protestant churches building anything, especially near the center of town. One official with authority to approve the Maxeys' project rose from his chair, pounded the table, and screamed at David, "You'll never build that building!" At every step, officials did everything possible to stop the work.
Today the addition is about 85 percent complete. "We never paid one bribe for a permit!" boasts David. "They tried to run us around in circles until we were exhausted and gave up. But we never did. We just ran around in circles until they finally let us build!"
Fountain of Life Church has a thriving children's and youth ministry, as well as solid ministry to the adults. Around 200 people, including a woman in her 90s, call the church home.
God is moving mightily in Fountain of Life Church. Healings and testimonies of His goodness are shared weekly.
One testimony highlighting tenacious faith involves a young woman named Olga. Beautiful and petite, with finely chiseled facial features, Olga was on her way home after an evening church service. As she stepped into her apartment building elevator, she was brutally attacked.
Thankfully her screams drew the attention of her neighbors, and they ran to her aid. The assailant, however, escaped and was never caught. Olga was rushed to the hospital, and when David and Inga reached her bedside in the intensive care unit, she was unrecognizable.
The attacker had savagely pounded her face, which was badly bruised and blown up like a balloon. The whites of her eyes were blood red and her eyelids were so swollen that she could barely open them.
The doctors were very concerned about a large hematoma on her brain. They doubted she would see again and believed that if she did recover, she would be severely disabled.
Little by little Olga recovered. She completely regained her sight. Her face was just as beautiful as it was before the attack. But she had lost her senses of taste and smell.
"You can't imagine what it's like," Olga lamented to David and Inga. "Everything I eat tastes like oatmeal. There's nothing exciting in my life." The only odor she sensed constantly was a chemical one that she said "was driving me crazy."
David dedicated himself to believing for Olga's complete healing. He told her to wait for him after service every Sunday so he could pray for her. This went on for an entire year with no visible results. But the Maxeys and Olga would not give up. Her healing was gradual and today her senses of taste and smell have returned!
Rescuing the Children
Alcoholism is one of Russia's biggest social issues. In the days of the Soviet Union, the villages had a purpose. Today that purpose has vanished and villages are like ghost towns. The only reason people still live in them is that they don't have enough money to move. With nothing to do, they get drunk.
The Lord told David that to stop the vicious cycle of alcoholism, they should focus on the children. If they are reached at an early age and become strong Christians, they can grow up alcohol free. When they marry and have children, it's likely their children will also grow up alcohol free.
With this goal in mind, two years ago a satellite church was started in Giorgievka, a village 1 1/2 hours south of Khabarovsk. David delegated all of the ministry responsibilities for the Fountain of Life congregation in Giorgievka to Rhema Khabarovsk graduates.
"I oversee the satellite church, but I purposely don't touch it," David says. "I want to give the Rhema Khabarovsk graduates an opportunity to minister and grow. They've been trained, and now it's their time to do the ministry."
Every other Saturday, the ministry team divides the children into two broad age groups: 0–12 and 12–16. Volunteers love the kids and help them develop confidence, study the Bible, and play games. They also talk to them about the importance of gaining an education to improve their quality of life.
The results have been tremendous. An inner light now shines in the young people. The love of Jesus is winning their hearts. The adult outreach in Giorgievka is also growing, with 13 to 15 attending.
David and Inga are focused on reaching the lost in Khabarovsk. While it's illegal to pass out tracts, the Maxeys found that Alpha Course evangelism works in the Russian culture. Unbelievers are invited to church for food and fellowship and to hear thought-provoking lectures about Christianity.
God has moved mightily on David and Inga's behalf over the past 17 years. As they have reached out into the community, many lives have been forever changed. They're excited about completing their building program and seeing what God has planned for them next.
» FINANCES for completing the Fountain of Life building project, including furnishings.
TO LEARN MORE about David and Inga Maxey, visit davidmaxey.net.