Testimony of Conversion

Both my parents are Germans who were born in Russia. After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, the borders were open again, which led to many Germans from Russia returning to their homeland. This included my parents. Two years later, I was born as the second of three children into a family in which Christian values played a major role. However, the church that my parents and I attended was heavily influenced by Russian German culture. Much of what was preached and lived was pure tradition and legalism. In this church, I was exposed to the existence of the God of the Bible, but I was not exposed to the gospel of God’s saving grace found in His Son, Jesus Christ. There was a big emphasis on being outwardly pious, but ones inner condition was not addressed.

I remember very well how I used to listen to the sermons in the church services and firmly resolved to do what the preacher told me. But just as quickly as I resolved to do what I heard, I failed just as quickly in my endeavors.

When I was about seven or eight years old, I prayed one evening with my mother, as was the custom, asking Jesus to come into my heart. Yet after that prayer and my „apparent“ conversion, I experienced no change in my life. I was never told that I needed a new heart to be reconciled with God and that it is God who must work this supernatural work in me.

Thus, I continued to live in my sins. I lied to my parents, had fights with my brother, and was disrespectful to any authority figure in my life. At the same time, I was attending the meetings of our church, and in some cases I was also participating as a staff member. And the scary thing is that all this time I thought I was a Christian, because I asked Jesus into my life and attended church services.

But this constant failure, and trying to please God by my own strength, at some point made me give up faith and go out into the world to enjoy the things of this world. Thus, at the age of 15, I consciously turned against God in order to find fulfillment and joy in what the world had to offer. A year later, my parents divorced. This allowed me to live out my sinful urges even more and more intensely, because I didn’t listen to anything my mother told me. The divorce of my parents called deep depression in my mother before. And in this darkest hour of her life, she was allowed to experience her true conversion. Since then, she also began to pray and cry for me and my conversion. God should not let her prayers go unanswered. But unfortunately not immediately

So I started smoking and drinking regularly on weekends. It wasn’t long before drugs were added to the mix. And what at first only happened on weekends quickly became a habit. Crime, encounters with the police and difficulties with the state also came into play. And so my life went downhill rapidly. After a few years, I realized that even in these things I did not find the fulfillment and joy I had hoped for. During this time, a good friend of my brother approached me and my friends and asked us if we would be interested in talking to him about the Bible, and if we had any questions, he would be happy to answer them. Well, in God’s providence and by His grace, we agreed to meet him, even though everything seemed to go against the idea.

In these meetings, for the first time in my life, the gospel of God’s grace was proclaimed to me. I was told that God is a holy God, and I cannot approach Him because of my sin, and that I stand under His righteous wrath. But for this reason, He sent His Son Jesus Christ to this earth to live a sinless life as a human being, and on the cross, He vicariously took my sin upon Himself, and the wrath of the Father was poured out on Him in my place. I was told that in my own strength I would never be able to fulfill the requirements of God. The only thing I had to do was to believe in the work and person of Jesus Christ.

A few meetings passed after this truth was proclaimed to me. I wanted to learn more about this Jesus and what life with Him looks like. At the same time, I loved my sins too much to give up on them. Shortly after, a friend of mine was killed in a train accident. When I heard the news of his death, it became clear to me that if I were in his place, I would now be lost in hell for eternity. From then on, I began to read the Bible to search for God. Tired of my life and empty inside, one evening I found myself in my bed, crying out to God and praying that He would have mercy on me and intervene in my life. That he would deliver and redeem me from my misery and sins. God answered this cry and heard my prayer. That night I experienced how God took away the burden of my sins and I was born anew by His unfathomable grace.

Call to Ministry

My conversion took place in the fall of 2012. In the summer of 2013, I was baptized in a Baptist church where my brother was a member. Although I was still struggling with many sins and burdens from my past, God was gracious to me. I had a strong desire to read His Word and pray. I sought fellowship with my brothers and sisters and was able to experience how God freed me bit by bit from my addictions and sins. By His grace, I was able to increase in the knowledge of the gospel and grow in sanctification.

After several months, a preaching course was offered in my church, which I enrolled in. After I completed this course, I was allowed to lead the prayer meetings, and perform other preaching services in the church. During this time, the desire to serve the Lord in some form of missionary work grew within me. So I decided to go to a discipleship training school for a period of six months. I spent three months in Brazil and had the chance to get to know the work of missionaries. In Brazil I had the privilege to preach my first sermon. At the same time, the desire to serve the Lord full time kept growing in me throughout this period.

Having returned home in January 2015, my wife and I were allowed to get married in August. She went to a neighboring church, and when we got married, I decided to join that congregation. It wasn’t long before I was asked to preach in that church. However, after the first few sermons, I quickly realized that I needed further training if I wanted to be used effectively by God. I made the decision to get trained at the European Bible Training Center (EBTC), because this is a part-time Bible school that allowed me to continue my ministry in the local church.

Once I graduated in September 2018, I was ordained as an elder in the church with two other brothers in the summer of 2019. However, the desire to do missionary work and plant churches still lingered within me. And so, in January 2022, I received an email from my former Bible teacher, Martin Manten, with an invitation to a church planting workshop. After consulting with my wife and the elders, I went to this workshop in April.

Shortly after the church planting seminar in April, I got to spend a weekend with Pastor Peter Schild, whom I had the pleasure of meeting in 2018. I told him about the church planting project. Since then, we have been in regular exchange. I was able to take a lot of wise advice from him that guided me through the essential steps of church planting.

Following the seminar in April, we began to exchange ideas among the elders and to pray a lot about where we should plant a church. After much prayer and discussion, we came to the conclusion that there are hardly any biblical churches in the area around Stuttgart. The area was very influenced by pietism. But most of the churches have become liberal because of the Bible criticism. Thus the work began. God gave us a location in the town of Schorndorf, about 30 km east of Stuttgart, where we now meet every two weeks on Sunday afternoon. The interest is great, and about 30 people attend the meetings. At the beginning of 2023 we want to start holding services there and meet on a weekly basis. Me and another brother will be sent out as church planters at the beginning of February.

We are in close contact with the sending church, with Martin Manten from Switzerland, and with Peter Schild and the church in Frankfurt, which is of great help and encouragement to me.

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