From atheism to Christ
I was born in 1957 in Khabarovsk, eastern Siberia, in an atheistic family. My father was a military pilot. I was 14 years old and had never heard about Christ.
When we moved to the Moscow region, I sought out a Russian Orthodox church, as something inside my heart impelled me to seek for the Lord. Now I know that it was a call from God.
I usually had nightmares after secretly visiting the Russian Orthodox church from time to time and I had no idea why. I did not learn anything there about Christ, but learned some things about Mary, the saints and church traditions.
I did not know exactly what I was looking for, but I wanted something pure and high and almighty. Now I know that it was all part of the calling of almighty God.
I asked my parents for permission to study at the seminary of the Russian Orthodox Church. What a shock it was for them! But I was not 100 per cent serious. I entered teacher training college in Moscow, where I bought my first New Testament and began to read it secretly.
I found some contradictions with what I had seen in the Russian Orthodox Church. In Matthew’s Gospel chapter 23, it is written, ‘Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. For ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation’.
This caused me to stop trying to find truth in the Orthodox Church. I did not know who the scribes or Pharisees were, but I saw through these clergies of those churches that I had visited. I could not attend there any more, but I had not heard about any other churches. Later, I heard about the Baptists, but we were taught that they were sacrificing their children and a very dangerous sect!
I continued to read the New Testament and even tried to write a book about Christ — a combination of four Gospels and my thoughts. I did not finish the book, which surely would have been a heretical one!
I continued to read, and found a lot of apparent contradictions in the New Testament, which I could not understand. I did not have Bible commentaries or other books about the Bible. Some time later, I had the opportunity to see the whole Bible for the first time, but no one could explain the gospel of Jesus Christ to me.
One day, while travelling from Moscow to Minsk by train, an old lady saw that I was reading the New Testament and asked me if I was a believer. I did not know what to tell her. We spoke about the New Testament and she invited me to her church and told me how to get there. She was the first one who spoke more or less freely to me about the gospel, without any hesitation.
It was not an easy decision, but after six months of struggling I decided to visit her church. But because of the bad bus connections I was so late arriving that I missed the service and never went back again.
I began to work in a school, where I took part in social activities and still wanted to learn something about religion. I applied at the Marx-Lenin University’s scientific atheism department, where I learned how to explain away the beliefs of God and prove that he did not exist. What nonsense! But it was there that I learned many useful things about religion and the Reformation.
I began to look for Protestant churches. There was a Registered Baptist church in Minsk, where I did learn more about Christ.
Then, in 1991, Perestroika began, and the unregistered churches left hiding and began to work openly. I visited the first evangelical meeting of an unregistered church. The following Sunday, I went there with my son, Slava, and a few days later I became a Christian.
Six months later I was baptised. At first my wife was opposed to my convictions, but God saved her too and, nine months later, she and my son were baptised. Two years later I went to study in London, where I was introduced to and embraced the doctrines of grace as found in the Bible.