The Gospel in Russia

Posted: April 15, 2012 in Christian Living
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The following is from an email I received from a friend of mine who recently moved to plant churches in Chuvashia, Russia. It has convinced me even more how easy it is to recognize the opportunities God gives us to share the Good News of His salvation that is available to everyone and how much more we Christians need to be about our father’s business.

 

Hello from Russia!

I hope all is well. I pray continuously for my family and friends back in the states. I hope you are doing the same for us as we strive to reach people for Christ here in Chuvashia, Russia

We as Christians must be servants to others. This is the way Jesus lived and He is our example. Reaching out to others to help them while always looking for a way to sow the life of Jesus into someone else’s heart; this is the path of the New Testament believer. People are either missionaries or a mission field….there is no other way to look at it. Reaching out with the love of Jesus to every person we meet in our day to day activities is part of the strategy we have for Chuvashia. It’s called servant evangelism. This is an example.

I met Valentine (pronounced Val-ehn-teen) at the music store. I was there to look at electronic pianos for the little Baptist Church recently planted here in Cheboksary, Russia. I asked the store manager if I could play the instruments to judge the quality of their sounds. I played for about twenty minutes, touching on a variety of music and styles that were common for each varying sound within the instruments. As I stood to leave, I was approached by a man who identified himself as Valentine. He was about fifty and said that he was a very good drummer.

Valentine said he was deeply impressed with my playing and asked if I was available to play with their music group. I told him that I was not really interested in playing in a group, but thinking that this might be a divine appointment, I scheduled a meeting at their evening rehearsal Tuesday.

When I arrived at the rehearsal hall, Valentine and all the members of his group were there. Roman, a man about 55, was the lead singer and group leader. Dmitri, a young man that I would guess was in his late twenties played guitar. Nadia was a female singer in her late twenties. Jon, 56, played the bass guitar. Ivan, a man who I later learned was a neighbor to Baptist evangelist Chet Furrow, was also there. They told me that Valentine had spoken highly of me and upon his recommendation wanted me to help them with an upcoming concert. They said that they were unable to find a suitable keyboard player. I offered to play one concert with them for free (servant evangelism) as well as attend their rehearsals.

Since only Valentine had heard me play, they asked me to play something. So, trying to use the opportunity to the best advantage, I played Michael W. Smith’s arrangement of “Above All” and sang the song translated into Russian. They liked it. Testing my skills, then they asked me if I could play something faster. So I played the classical piece by Franz Listz, Paganini Etude no. 4, arguably the fastest piano music ever written. They were, at this point laughing that I chose a classical piece, but were none the less impressed. They asked me to play another song, so I played and sang a song that I wrote, entitled, “In Jesus Arms”. I thought that perhaps this, along with the Smith tune might provoke a spiritual conversation. After finishing, they asked me why I was singing songs about Jesus. This was my opportunity.

I told them that I had been a professional musician much of my life. I conveyed how I had achieved reasonable success in the states and had played with and shared the stage with many famous entertainers there. Despite this, however, I had a deep sense that something was missing. I told them how that, as a young man, I had believed that I was a Christian, even though I had never committed my life to the Lord. Then someone told me that I needed to be born again and at that point I knew that I needed to repent of my sins and to give my heart to Jesus.

I could see that there were mixed opinions in the room. So I simply asked, “Do you believe that Jesus died for your sins?” Being Russian Orthodox, they all, of course, agreed. “Have you all repented of your sins and given your hearts to Jesus?” A short discussion followed and I began to sense a certain discomfort in the room. So I simply said that Jesus died for them, that God loved them and was ready to offer each and every one of them the gift of eternal life if they would give their hearts to Jesus. No one at that time was willing to do anything in front of the others.

After the rehearsal, however, Valentine and Dmitri approached me outside and we continued our conversation. Valentine was convinced that he was a Christian because he was a member of the Orthodox Church. He believed in God, he told me.  I opened my Bible to the Book of James chapter two where it says, “You believe in God? Good! Even the demons believe that, and shudder.” “Believing is not enough,” I told them, “The devil and the demons believe in God. You have to repent of your sins and ask Jesus into your heart”. After a long discussion, we prayed together.  Valentine and Dmitri accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior, and offered themselves as servants to God.

All of this came about because I was willing to offer my services as a pianist to people who were in need. Always watch and be ready, because you never know when God will open a door to someone’s heart. God had been working in Valentine and Dmitri’s hearts for a while even before I met them. He called them to Himself and now they are children of God. Concerning the concert, I will be playing for free with them at the Cheboksary Community Auditorium on May 1.

Maybe Roman, Jon, and Nadia are next! Intercede in prayer for the people here in Russia. God is opening doors all around us.

Blessings to you, Mark

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