Alexander B. is a pastor in one of the coldest parts of Belarus. He lives there with his wife and two children. He has been doing this work for over 22 years, laboring to teach, preach, disciple, and lead his family. Pray for his efforts as he faces an extremely atheistic and pagan culture around him.
My Conversion Story
I grew up in a home where my mother and grandmother on the mother’s side had genuine faith in God. Unfortunately, all of my father’s family were convinced atheists. As a child, I would go with my mom to Central Baptist Church (the only Baptist church in Minsk). But back then my “spiritual eyes” were closed and all I did was study the appearance of the preachers and see if the color of their tie matched the color of their suit.
I remember that when someone in the church gave my grandmother one of the very first copies of the New Testament which came into our country after the fall of the Iron Curtain and the collapse of the USSR, she asked me to read it because she was illiterate. Sadly, I did not understand much, for instance, odd abbreviations like Mt, Mk, Lk, Jn, etc.
But the Lord was doing His work in my heart through the prayers of believers. I was into music for a while and even got to play at people’s weddings, but then all of a sudden I fell out of love with the type of music and songs I heard and played. I also got interested in strength sports, the Lord brought me to a point where my own strength failed me when one day I had to face a gang of tough guys one of whom had a knife in his hand.
It was precisely at that time that a handful of youth from that church I went to as a kid, invited me to a farewell party for a Christian young man who had to go to the army. I remember how much I was very impressed with the purity of relationships between guys and girls and the absence of alcohol on the table but, despite this, genuine and sincere joy, these guys had something that I did not know and did not have.
A brother from that group of believers gave me my first Bible. I started reading it avidly, alongside a novel by Main Read (I read a lot back in those days). I began to come to church, but this time it was my decision. The Word of God through the choir, sermons and, of course, through reading the Bible, touched my heart.
I prayed a sinner’s prayer to God in March 1990. I came into my room, closed the door behind me, got on my knees and began to pray: Jesus Christ came into my life and since then it has changed dramatically! I remember that when, back in 1991, “strict” brothers from the church elders’ board cleared me for baptism, I treaded air when I went back home! The Lord in His mercy allowed me to join the ministry of the church right away. I received a blessing from the brothers for a preaching ministry. I was also able to use my music skills in the church choir and string orchestra led by Pavel Obrovets. I even served as a youth leader in our church for a while and organized a number of evangelistic trips for youth all over Belarus. It was a blessed and fruitful time when I was able to spend all Sundays and weeknights (except one) in my favorite church (which was later renamed to Golgotha, or Calvary) where the Lord nurtured me and, looking back, as I understand it now, He prepared me for future ministry to Him in new places and in a new capacity.
Testimony of Call to Ministry
Five years after I was baptized, I received a blessing from our union to visit a little town named Svisloch, 50 km from Minsk, to preach the Gospel there. Back in those days, I was able to get a church registered there quite easily, and they started running various ministries and Sunday school. Although I went to that town quite often, I realized after a while that I had to live in the place where I was to do ministry. My wife and I began to pray about this but the Lord answered our prayer in a very unusual way. Back then, the northeast section of Belarus, the most atheistic region, had only a few churches (about five, I guess) and there was a great need for churches to be planted there. This was a new and unexplored field for ministry. My wife and I had a sincere and strong desire to do something that matters for eternity. That is how we ended up in a small town called in this region. In the fall of 1997, we left a team behind where we had lived for so long and moved to the very edge of Belarus, the north-east, the country’s coldest climatic point, to people whose hearts were just as cold to God. It has now been more than twenty-two years since we first came here.