The following is a report from Zhenya on a recent baptismal service for two converts wishing to join his church. Pastor Gennady was able to travel to help with the service and to celebrate with the church. Pastor Zhenya and Gennady both live and work in the Siberian region of Russia:
Greetings brothers. Praise the Lord for His mercy on us. We recently had the joy of holding two baptisms and thus adding two more members of our growing church. The weather on the day of the service was rainy. However, just before these two were scheduled to be baptized, the Lord sent the sun and everything afterwards went very smoothly. The grace of the Lord was especially evident this day.
Three years ago was when the first woman came to us. She had been through a number of extraordinary circumstances suffering great loss and harm. By the time she arrived at the village nearby, she and her small children had no money, no food, and no place to stay. A friend of mine, the one who introduced our church to this family, put us in touch upon seeing her circumstances. God put her in such a position that there was nowhere for her to go.
The friends she was going to visit nearby left this family with us. She moved around frequently living with my family at one point, living with my sister at another time, and eventually finding a more permanent place. God blessed her with work, helped her to register maternity capital, and found a home for her and her children. The Lord arranged everything in her life and she understands this, such that all of this is praise to God. These tragic circumstances and the opportunity the church had to help in such a time of need was used by God to bring about her salvation. She stated during her testimony before baptism that in no world could she dream of how much the church cared for her, and how God provided for her every need. She now attends our church meetings regularly, understands the basic truths of the Gospel, receives Jesus Christ as his Savior, and believes that only thanks to Him is she saved from hell and eternal damnation. After her baptism, she became even more joyful, rejoicing in these glorious truths.
The other brother who was baptized also has an interesting background. He is now he is 47 years old, although he “began to turn to God” when he was 22 years old. He explained during the service that the Lord began to work on his hard and calloused heart, even to the point of feeling like the Lord had called him to service in ministry over 25 years ago. Because this man was not yet converted, he asked God to allow him to live for himself by trying everything under the sun. Thus he set off through life his own way, but still from time to time he turned to the Lord in desperation when he saw the emptiness of his rebellious life.
Some time ago, probably about eight years ago, he came to our church seeking help. He was in need of a place to live so he stayed with us for two months. The majority of people who claim faith in Christ here in Siberia are Eastern Orthodox, and such was the case with him. At this time he does not believe he was converted. Eventually, he chose to leave our house and work with his brother in construction in a large city. He married an unbelieving girl and fell back into sin again. He began to drink heavily and his wife would not tolerate it: she kicked him out. He tried to move in with his parents, but because of his drinking, they would not take him. Through a series of events, God brought him to us in a state of deep grief, repentance, and humility, asking once again for our help and for God to save him. Finally, after all of this running, he declared he desired to live for God and turn from his sin.
We have watched these two young believers for evidence of fruit in their lives. Praise our Almighty God that he does not give up on those who refuse to listen to his voice. He works through local churches such as ours to bring about the salvation of many who are needy, broken sinners. The good news of Jesus Christ is truly the only message that can fix our broken world. Pray for these new believers and for our church as we welcome them into the fold! Pray that God would sustain their faith and mature them in the Word of God and prayer.