My name is Yuri B. I was born in the USSR, a country where God could not exist by definition. But my family, on the side of my mother, refused to follow the government’s prohibition. She and her family were determined to stand fast and not deny Christ. My mother’s uncle was a minister, who until World War II, studied at the Baptist Seminary in Łódź, Poland. When Western Belarus became part of the USSR, all believers, especially ministers, were repressed. Mom’s uncle was twice in camps in Siberia for his faith (in total, he spent 9 years in the camps). He lived to be 95 years old and thus outlived his persecutors.
Because of this, in my family I heard about God all the time. In fact, despite the atheistic propaganda, I knew from a young age that God at least exists. Every Sunday I went to church with my parents, but God seemed far from me. More precisely, I was far from God. Gradually, God began to interfere in my life. Every Sunday, it seemed like the sermon in the church was directed towards me. It was becoming unbearably difficult for me to be in church because of the conviction I felt. I felt singled out. Once I went to a youth conference, everything was calm enough for my conscience, and I managed to return home to my church on the same Sunday. When I returned, I was asked by my home church and give a presentation of what I had learned at the conference. I tried my best to get to church as late as possible for the evening meeting to avoid fulfilling the request. I know that if I began to speak I would be heavily convicted. It was difficult to keep these thoughts far from my mind. The problem was that now every sermon was directed against me. So I decided that I would come to the end of the service and avoid giving the report.
Much to my regret, I arrived about half an hour before the end of the service. I was noticed and asked to tell how the youth event went. In a daze, I came forward with the Bible, began frantically looking for any fragment, wondering why I needed it at all. After all, I was just asked to say a few words about the conference. I quickly discovered a passage from the Gospel of Luke. For some reason, it turned out to be the parable of the prodigal son. I began to read it, not quite understanding why I was doing this since I was simply asked to briefly describe how the youth event went. I stumbled to the end of the passage, reading aloud, but I could not say anything other than the words I read in Scripture. I saw myself as the prodigal son and cried out to God repenting of my sin and, for the first time, trusting Christ alone to save me. This meeting happened on December 10, 1995.
Call to Ministry
A year later, I entered the International Baptist Seminary in Warsaw, Poland. Entering the seminary was not out of conviction, but rather at the request of my dad. I didn’t really want to go to seminary, but thinking that it would be an opportunity to study abroad, in another country, I agreed. The first semester was very difficult for me in terms of awareness of where I was. God used this stage significantly for my spiritual maturity and determination. For myself, I decided that if I pass the session in the first semester, then most likely it will be God’s will for me to continue my studies. I not only passed my first session but also spent 4 years getting my bachelor’s degree. In my 4th year, I was offered to start teaching at the same seminary. The seminary sent a letter to my church I came from asking for me to be released as a teacher. When the church was considering the question of how long I would like to remain a teacher at the seminary, I asked for 5 years. So I spent the next 5 years as a teacher of Greek, homiletics, hermeneutics, the basics of the Hebrew language, and other subjects while preaching at the local Baptist church in Warsaw.
After my time of teaching, I returned to Belarus in 2005 and returned to my home church in Western Belarus. In 2007 I married my wife, Angela, and after another 2 years, I was ordained to the office of the pastor, which I carry to the present day. I never really thought about the pastor’s ministry but admitted that it would be possible, and, perhaps, in my home church. I just did whatever ministry I saw a need for the church. I did not strive for some level of ministry or goal of my own. I simply trusted God for my personal maturity and the maturity of the church. God has a will, and He arranges everything as needed. Can this be called my calling? I think yes. God prepared me for this through natural processes. I was in full view of the church. Everyone saw my ministry, and when the time came, it was only necessary to settle the formalities and officially approve what was already in a natural way working. I was already doing much of the work of a pastor, even though I did not have. the title My wife and I have been married for almost 12 years, and we have 3 children. In addition to my ministry, I work during a portion of the year as a school teacher and freelance translator of the Polish language. At this moment our church is in the city. We have about 20 members, not counting women and children.