Pastor Anatoly traveled recently to visit Andrei, another pastor HeartCry supports in the south of Russia. The first half of his trip report can be found here. Read part two below:
His commitment to staying and working where they are doesn’t mean, for Andrei and his family, that things are easy and smooth. Andrei says, “Evangelism is always hard to me. I battle against my flesh every time I go out to the city park to talk to people. We always go as a group of two or three. My faithful partner is brother Timofey (aged 68). I actually tell him at times that today I am not going to talk to anyone! But he is unwavering. He keeps pushing me even at my lowest points.” Another partner in Andrei’s evangelism is Nadya. A former member of the same church, in her mid-twenties this lady was drawn by the Lord to move and help Andrei and his family in their work. Pray for her as she is trying to settle some financial and legal difficulties even now. Andrei says that having Nadya with him in the street allows him to approach groups with women and children without raising unnecessary suspicions.
Evangelism is truly the heartbeat of Andrei. As we walked with him in the city park talking about this and that he almost spontaneously turned to two young men walking alongside and initiated an evangelistic conversation. They were quite open. We sat on the bench. He asked their permission to talk about something very important. What followed was a conversation about sin, God’s judgment, and Christ with so much earnestness and compassion that I felt like we were ushered into the very presence of God. Andrei left his phone number and we went on. He apologized that he hadn’t allowed me to join their conversation. I responded, “Oh no, I was too glad to watch him do what God uniquely equipped him to do!” Not all of our conversations turned out well though. People regularly call him a sectarian and threaten to call the police.
During my stay in his home, Andrei and I conversed for hours. One of the topics that often came up was their children’s faith. They have to share in all the difficulties of the missionary life of their parents. But as they are not converted yet, they see the cost but don’t have eyes of faith to see the future reward. “Why do we have to live in this simple house? Why can’t we afford this and that? Why did my dad talk to my friends about Jesus even though he met them for the first time? This is embarrassing.” During our last dinner together I spoke, with permission, directly to Andrei’s kids. I expressed that they probably don’t realize what a privilege it is to be raised by parents like that. I said I was personally privileged to spend these couple of days with them. I encouraged them to persevere so that they can eventually understand what God has been doing in their lives and see what fruit all this sacrifice will produce. On the drive to the airport, Andrei said, “You may not realize, but that had brought my kids on the verge of tears.”
Andrei and his wife teach me what it means to focus single-mindedly on Christ, his grace, and his cause. They are heavenly-minded while being much “earthly-good.” They willingly count many things in this life as nothing for the sake of achieving a greater purpose, for the sake of pleasing the One who loved them and died for them. They live in an area where people like to build high solid fences and gates around their homes. This reflects their attitude to life and relationships.
Would you pray with us today that many hearts can be softened and opened up as they hear the Good News proclaimed? Would you give thanks to our Lord that He gives his messengers faith and endurance to press on even in the midst of doubt? I know how brother Andrei would like to close any account about his ministry: “It’s all by grace!”