The journey of Roman Popov began just as the Soviet Union fell in 1991 and God called his father to move his family from Moscow to the small town of Yakutsk east of Siberia. They were to serve as missionaries in the area where Roman's grandfather had been imprisoned for his faith for nearly a decade. It was here, at the age of 12, that Roman himself came to faith in Jesus and served alongside his family for eight years until he received his own calling to head back west to the town of Reyzan. Today, there are more than fifty churches in the area.
With republics collapsing and independent countries rising up all over the continent, a revival of faith was also on the rise. This moving of the Holy Spirit captured Roman, and he started his first church at the age of 20. In those early days of freedom, there was no formal seminary training available for new pastors. Therefore, Roman was trained and affirmed in the same way of his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather: Through the fervent prayer and fasting of elders.
"My generation, they are somewhere between Soviet Union and new Russia. The old ministries were under heavy persecution. It was survival. Our fathers and grandfathers knew how to live under persecution, but we do not know how to live with freedom. How do we build a church? How do we build a body? Not just technical. How do we grow under freedom and get back to the basics of what it means to be a Christian?"
Asking these deep questions-and moving from the mindset of wanting to see his brothers and sisters not only survive but also thrive-Roman knew the answers would come through a cultivated relationship with Jesus.
On a trip to the United States, Roman met with his friend, Mark Moore, who quickly invited him to be a part of The Journey. After only two retreats, Roman is already seeing how God is providing answers to those vital questions.
"I feel a deep connection to the Body of Christ. Our staff and many of our congregation our now doing daily Lectio Divina exercises, such a simple, but deep tool. And it offers a fresh understanding of the Gospel. The Leadership Institute truly cares and shows great interest in me, and this relationship has already become a big blessing."
Roman is already seeing profound changes in his own prayer life as well. His extended periods of communion (EPCs) have grown to over 5 hours at a time, and he no longer compares his prayer style to that of his elders or others.
"It's hard to explain. Using Lectio Divina with our church, my own prayer times, it's not something dramatic, it's not new information. It's a new transformation. We've been a part of programs that say 'This is the one way to do it' or 'This is the best way.' With what Jesus is teaching me through my EPCs and learning from my Journey mentors, it's not about style or technique. It's a new level of relationship with Jesus. More peaceful, more relationship."