Church Planter / Pastor - Siberia
Dimitry planted a church in 2010. He continues laboring there as the pastor along with his young family. Dimitry graduated from Samara Center for Biblical Training and is a part of their fellowship of pastors. He is regarded as being an exceptional preacher and teacher of the Word of God. HeartCry began supporting Dimitry in February of 2012.
Testimony of Conversion
I was born and raised in a family where God was discussed. However, when I turned 14 I was baptized in the Russian Orthodox Church, simply because it had become popular at the time. Of course, my life and convictions were not changed by Christ and I was still the same non-believing teenager as before, except now with a silver cross around my neck.
At that time in our country crime was sharply on the rise, and in order to defend themselves many teenagers joined gangs. I was one who was involved in these groups. My parents didn’t know this side of me. All I needed at that time was music, alcohol and occasional involvement in petty crime. When I was 20 years old my grandmother became a Christian. She signed up for a Bible study in a Baptist church which had recently opened near our neighborhood. She was later baptized there. She would try to tell me things about the church and about God, but I didn’t listen to her. Moreover I was suspicious that she was involved in a cult (since it wasn’t the Russian Orthodox Church).
At that time, everything in my life was a big disappointment to me, and I became more and more consumed by drinking. I lost all my friends through arguments and I was left without work. But God’s providence intervened. I was able to find a job, and my new boss had recently become a Christian. He constantly talked about God and about salvation. For some time my friends and I would laugh at him, but at the same time hearing him made me think more about spiritual things. My grandmother at the same time was praying for me.
After a few bouts with drinking I became sick of everything and I realized more and more that my future was not going to be a happy one. However, I still didn’t know Jesus and I didn’t want salvation from sin. I just wanted my life to be better. I wanted to prove to everyone that I could be better so that they would all envy me. Largely because of that, I decided one day to go to the service at the Baptist Church. I very much wanted to start doing “good works,” even if it meant using religion to help.
My true conversion did not yet happen when I was accepted into the church. I rarely went to church, I did not turn from my sins and I did not search after God. I liked the youth group in the church, especially since they seemed to take an interest in me. One day the pastor decided to talk with me. During the course of the conversation he asked me what was keeping me from repenting. I answered him that nothing was keeping me from repenting – although in reality I didn’t realize what real repentance was, nor did I really know what was keeping me from it. He then asked me to repeat the “sinner’s prayer” after him. After that I was introduced to other believers as their “brother in Christ” and I joined the worship group (since I played the guitar and sang a little). Sadly, I still did not know God and was leading a double life. I just wanted to prove to others that I could achieve something – even something small.
My true repentance took place later when someone was explaining Scripture in a particular seminar. I then understood that I was truly sinful and if God didn’t save me then I would perish. I was truly amazed and saddened by how sinful I then realized myself to be. After that, deep changes in my soul began to take place. My double life came to an end and I started to fight against my sin. I began studying Scripture by myself and that became perhaps my most cherished thing. In addition, fellowship with believers began to bring me joy and I made this a priority. Later, I was baptized.
Since that time I can’t imagine my life without the church and without Christ. Although my progress has been at times slow, I understand that I will never turn back to my old way of life. My parents and former friends didn’t believe what took place in my life and they waited for me to turn away from Christianity and be like I was before. But that never happened – by God’s grace! Praise God for His redeeming work!
Calling to Ministry
In order to assess my suitability for public preaching and church leadership I paid attention to two basic areas: The first is subjective (my personal desires) and the second is objective (the confirmation by the church that my desires are correct and are in accord with the will of God).
When I first started to think about church leadership about nine years ago my desire could be most likened to a desire for an authoritative position and honor which goes along with being “the teacher.” It’s bitter for me now to even think about it, but I had absolutely no understanding of the fact that the desire that is talked about in 1 Timothy 3:1 needs to be a desire to do good. This is the desire to serve God’s people selflessly and generously for their good, growth, and for their happy life in Christ. It is a good thing that at that time God stopped me.
Thanks to faithful preachers and pastors (their sermons and their example) my regard for and view of the ministry of church leadership changed. I saw how hard this work really is when it is founded on biblical principles. I saw how great a responsibility it really is since it involves people and souls who belong to God. But there is another thing which very powerfully influenced me: I saw how very much needed pastors are for every local church and what a blessing they are to the church when they minister according to biblical standards!
For a while I suppressed my desire for such church service because of my past experience. I didn’t trust myself. My heart already deceived me. But on the other hand, I couldn’t deny that I did have a desire to do this good, spiritual work and this desire only grew stronger and stronger. And in time this desire came more and more in line with a real love and care for God’s people.
At that same time my character started to seriously change for the better. This was noticed by my wife and ministers in the church. My wife and my most recent years in marriage are much more joyful than our first years and this is a great encouragement and gives us great cause for gratitude to God. Our children also have shown more obedience. I cannot say that everything is ideal in my life but since I needed to assess myself, I would most likely say that this is a positive area of my life. I have approached the study of Scripture and preaching with great care and this has had a great effect on me and on others.
Three years in the Level 2 program in Samara Center for Biblical Training gave me a good base and an understanding of Scripture and preaching. God allowed me to enter the program, put it on the heart of my wife, gave the opportunity, and for three years He supported me and my family there in Samara. Fellowship with the instructors and constant study of the Scripture not only helped me to look more broadly and deeply at ministry in the church, but it also helped prepare me for the ministry. I was given examples of how to truly work with people and disciple other Christians.
At that time I saw many capable people – people who were much more capable than I. This was important because it humbled me. I learned to be joyful for their successes and followed their examples. I realized that while I still do fear the condition of my own heart, I am confident that God has given me the love for and ability to meditate faithfully on the truth, apply it, and explain it to others.
With regard to results, praise God, I see some progress. People to whom I regularly preach have started to love the Scripture more and become better focused on their relationship to Christ. God is using me to strengthen their faith. Also ministers from other churches and the small congregation where I currently serve have confirmed my calling to pastoral ministry. After a trial period, my calling was confirmed through ordination in the summer of 2011. I now formally serve as the pastor of our young church plant, fulfilling the responsibilities of weekly preaching and shepherding, discipling, counseling, and evangelizing.
At times, I still feel unworthy of all of this. I ask for your prayers in that. But I see all of this as God’s gracious providence and will for my life.