From Siberia – Two Testimonies and One Report
Pavel Setchov, youth leader in Tobols
I was born in 1978 in the south of Russia in an area known as the Caucasus, in the town of Zhelyeznovodsk. When I was only five years old my father left my mother to bring up three children on her own. He sometimes returned home aggressively abusive and drunk, leading to physical violence. So from childhood I learnt the evil effects of godlessness.
At the age of fifteen I repented of my sins and was baptised in the evangelical church I attended with my mother. She had prayed that one day I would become either a Pastor or a missionary, and had given me my name in honour of the Apostle Paul!
As soon as I had the opportunity I applied to study in a Bible Seminary in north-western Russia. I studied hard and finished with distinction.
In the year 2000 I was invited to Tobolsk by Pastor Timothy Oleinik, to serve among the numerous young people attending his church. This was a very active group, and I gained much experience participating in their evangelistic and teaching activities several days each week. Every year they hold a summer youth camp near the Ural mountains also inviting young people from outside the church. For more than ten years now I have been their leader.
From 2000 to 2006 I studied at the Kiev Bible Seminary by correspondence course, and graduated with a Masters Degree. In this year I married my wife Tanya; we have a son, Daniel, and await a baby daughter later this month, God willing.
One of my main aims in my youth ministry is to encourage them to become future leaders, missionaries and preachers of God’s Word. Another priority we have is to go and preach Christ in places where there is no gospel witness. There are many such in our region. We also go regularly to visit small groups of new believers outside Tobolsk in need of help and encouragement. Twice a year we hold special meetings to help children from broken homes and disadvantaged backgrounds. Lastly, we seek to sow God’s Word among Muslim (Tartar) communities in and around our town, and hope for a harvest in the future.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who pray for and support me in my service to the Lord in Siberia; may God bless you all!
Alexander Leporhin, Assistant Pastor, Tobolsk
It was in 1993 that I first heard the gospel of Christ in the church in Tobolsk. In the year that followed I had fellowship with believers and went to their services. In 1994 I left Tobolsk to study at the University of Saratov. There were no believers there and during the next three years I drifted away from all thoughts of God. I formed the conviction that I must make my future here in Saratov and never return to Tobolsk. However, after graduation this feeling suddenly disappeared, even though my first class degree would have given me great opportunities in this city. So I reluctantly returned to Tobolsk to work as a teacher, disappointed, and feeling that life had lost its meaning.
I began again to meet with believers at the church and after several months I repented and was baptised on 1st May 1999. In the same year I felt God’s call to work among children in our club ‘AVANA’, and as leader of our summer camp and special events in the church. To equip me for this role I took a course run by ‘International Christian Camps’.
In the autumn of 2000 Pastor Oleinik invited me to join the leadership team as his assistant. I took part not only in the administrative affairs of the church but also in pastoral matters. I organised small group Bible studies for married couples as well as for some of the young people. In this year I also took my first steps as a preacher of the gospel. As soon as I was saved I felt God’s call to serve im in this town. I experienced a sorrow in my heart for lost souls and a desire to bring them the glad tidings of Christ’s salvation. Praise God, I saw his blessing on my labours in his field and several lives transformed by his grace.
On 16 September 2001 I was ordained to the pastoral ministry of the church by the laying on of hands. Looking back I can see how God has chosen the path I should take and brought me to this point. I also discovered that, during my studies in the city of Saratov, several people in the church were praying for me! In all these events I see God’s hand on my life.
God has given me my wife Oksana, my faithful helper in this ministry and the mother of our two children Maria and Sergey.
At first I was very nervous in the pulpit, but now I have lost my fear; God has opened my lips to proclaim his Word with boldness. The Lord has also had mercy on our family circle – my father, mother, sister and mother-in-law have in recent times all come to faith in Christ! It is a special joy for my wife and I to see the lives of those families we are working with transformed by God’s grace. The Lord laid on my heart the desire to take an active part in the work of our Rehabilitation Centre for alcoholics and drug addicts. We have seen positive results, several broken and damaged lives completely restored and delivered from their addictions.
The vision of our church is to reach all the citizens of our town with the gospel, and to prepare the members of our church to live fruitful lives of service to God’s glory.
Report from Yuri and Larisa Poltavets in Yaroslavl
Dear friends in Christ!
We praise God that our eldest son Roman was married to Yekaterina on 13 September in our local church. All week the weather had been cold and grey, but on the day the weather turned sunny and warm! It is now September and time for us to start planning for the new year. As we review the past year we are thankful to God for his blessing on the work we have undertaken. We had many different, interesting and useful experiences. We led regional meetings for our youth on the theme, ‘The Bible our Guidebook’; about eighty attended. Another conference was on the theme of ‘Service’. We have a huge region to cover, comprising the two counties of Kostroma and Yaroslavl (about the size of Wales or Maine.) However, we fulfilled our objective to visit all the churches for which we are responsible once every quarter. In each of them we spoke about the importance of the Christian family unit, and how to sustain it in these promiscuous times. Young people in our day are tempted to follow the current fashion of casual sexual relationships, which destroy the whole concept of the Christian family. We also stressed the need to marry ‘in the Lord’, and to let the Word of God rule the marriage relationship.
We invited an evangelistic group from the Ukraine to visit seven of our main towns. They sang Christian songs and testified how the Lord had worked in their lives. Several people responded and opened their hearts in repentance and faith.
As usual during the month of July we held three separate camps for children and young people. In all about ninety children attended, many of them from the families of unbelievers. We were responsible for all the transport, catering, recreation activities and Bible teaching. By the end of July we were pretty tired! In addition, the evangelistic group took meetings for children in some towns and villages, not in churches, but in public places where ordinary people are gathering. By these means many people heard the gospel for the first time, so we pray God will bless the seed that has been sown during this summer’s activities.
This year we want to try to follow up all those children and young people who have heard the Word, by holding meetings for them in our regional churches. We want them to know that we remember them and care for them.
We would like to thank all those who pray for us, support us financially and with food parcels, a visible sign of your loving care and concern for us. Thank you dear friends for your fellowship, which means so much to us and our service here in Yaroslavl.
Taken with permission from the Slav Lands Christian Fellowship, Winter 2012, 38 Hayesford Park Drive, Bromley, BR2 9DB.
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