Just spend a few minutes talking to Philip Renner, and one thing comes to mind: passion. Passion for worship, discipleship, and Russia, the country he called home for over 25 years. In his adopted country he’s become a worship artist of Hillsong proportions, writing passionate anthems in the Russian language, teaching at conferences, and leading thousands in prayer and song.
His band and ministry Renner Worship has reached beyond the walls of their home church, Moscow Good News Church. Over the years, he’s been a youth pastor, a songwriter and vocal coach for Russian MTV, and a worship artist touring all across Russia and the neighboring countries of the former USSR. Now he’s returned to America, hoping to help spark another revival.
Quite a journey for the young husband and father of two, but maybe it’s just another chapter in an already long and fascinating story. After all, as Renner would say, “When you hear God’s calling, you have to go.”
It was the early 90s. The Soviet Union had fallen, and Rick Renner, Philip’s father, discovered he could read the Bible in Russian. “He speaks fluent Greek, and Russian and Greek are very similar in the way you read it,” Renner explained, recalling his father’s stories of finding a Russian Bible at a conference. With a laugh he adds, “He stole the Bible for a night, read it all night, and that’s really when the fire started to burn.”
Not long after that, while serving at the first Bible school in post-Soviet Russia, he could feel the tug of God saying, “Welcome to your new home.” Being a missionary was never his goal, and there were very real dangers at the time. “He was sure mom was gonna say, ‘No,’ because she was having nightmares about the KGB chasing her. But she said, ‘For sure. This is the Lord.’ So we moved.”
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