Pastoral Training Report – MTS
From Moscow: March 2021
At the end of February, the final sessions of the pastoral, Christian education and theological groups took place. Students prepared for the active defense of their graduation theses in September. It was good to be together after a long absence due to the pandemic restrictions.
Professors met personally with each candidate for graduation. They reviewed their finances, their homework and the plan for defending their final project to complete their program.
The faculty presented lectures focusing on church administration, religion and law, English, world religions and cults, pedagogical design, and music ministry, and homiletics. The students have access again to our fine seminary library.
Several evenings were devoted to much needed fellowship sharing experiences of ministry in local churches. They discussed their challenges spent time in prayer for each other’s needs.
We are grateful for your financial and prayer support!
Here is a collection of photos from our time together.
MTS Student – Alexey In His Own Words
Alexey is a preacher, youth leader, librarian in the city of Cherkessk (a city in the south of Russia with a population of about 127 thousand people).
Once, during my second year of study, I was on the bus home to Cherkessk when a troubled man climbed on board. He was dirty, swollen, and smelling foul. I began to pray for him. I felt a prompting to give him a pocket New Testament. All around him people were indignant, pushing him out of the aisle and trying to get him off the bus. But the man behaved meekly and humbly. When he got on board, he seemed to understand that he was a misfit. So, to be sure he would not disturb or contaminate anyone, he kept to himself, ignoring the unpleasantness of the other passengers. His entire demeanor impressed me.
I struggled. Somehow, it felt so untimely. I held back, ashamed to give him the New Testament as the public watched. I knew I should say something, but I didn’t. He left before I could give him the book.
For the remainder of my long journey on the bus, I prayed for him and wept.
I am sharing this because in our learning atmosphere at the seminary we talk with each other and tell stories from our ministry life. It is helpful to review these moments and think about how even failed opportunities can teach us. Before I studied with my friends in the seminary, this man on the bus would not have attracted my attention even for a moment. I would not have considered giving him the Gospel. But I do now.
That will not happen again.
My seminary training also helps bring discipline into my life. Before, I was never disciplined. I lived as I wanted. I ate when I wanted. I did not think about anyone but myself. Study has helped me discipline myself and take responsibility.
Today, the church has encouraged me to be involved in the educational process in our community. Our church library was recently restored and stocked with books. A long time ago, it was destroyed beyond repair. But my wife and I rebuilt it – from scratch.
From time to time, we travel into the city with our young people. We partner with the Gideons to distribute New Testaments and postcards and to greet residents on holidays.
In our own neighborhood in the summer, we go to the park between services almost every Sunday with our young people and families up to 50 years old.
We stay until late talking to people, testifying about the goodness and Good News of God.
(Translated from Russian)
Worship Service in Cherkessk
MTS Student brings the Gospel to the Russian Arctic
Demitry in his own words
Translated from Russian
I come from the Church of Evangelical Christian Baptists in the city of Novomoskovsk (population 122,306) in the Tula region. We have about 90-100 church members. I lead a small group of teenagers in the church and I am responsible for the musical ensemble. Music is a main focus in our church. We have several orchestras, ensembles, and a choir.
I grew up in a Christian family (10 children). At the age of 13, I responded to the invitation in the sermon and decided to become a disciple of Jesus. I began to read the Bible regularly.
Reading the 13th chapter of Luke at the age of 15, I realized my sinfulness and my lost state without God. No matter how good I might consider myself, without repentance I would be lost. That year I was baptized. I began to serve – helping to build a new church.
My heart burned to serve God and all people. In January 2020, God gave me a great opportunity – a mission trip to the Arctic region. I expressed my desire to go and thankfully, my pastor blessed me and our plan. It was difficult for me to make up my mind because of the risks, realizing that I just might not return. There were intense difficulties including severe frost that nearly disabled our car. But thanks to God, my brothers and I managed to arrive and then travel around the city. We distributed about 1,500 Gospels in the Yakut language.
It’s true. We were detained by the police and taken to the police station. But thank God, we shared our faith with the police, they let us go.
We reached Nizhneyamsk (the end of the Earth) and you can’t imagine our joy. The townspeople welcomed us, happy that we brought them the Gospel. They understood. It was for their sake that we came such a long distance and enduring the cold (minus -50 C).
Through it all, God worked on my heart and showed me that He controls everything. He takes care of me and taught me how to serve with humility.
Now, my team and I have traveled several times to organize children’s camps in Abkhazia (near Chenchnya), serving many large families there.
My brothers invited me to come and help in the construction of a church in Chechnya. God also directed me to serve the church in the city of Ostrov (Pskov region). The church is small. They needed help to develop both a music and youth ministry.
I try to seize every opportunity and respond to God’s call. Like Isaiah said, “Here am I – send me.”
Since childhood, I dreamed of serving God – perhaps even in another country. But as I read the Gospel of Matthew at the end of chapter 9, I realized that it starts with prayer. At the time, I was working in a nursing home – a good place to learn humility and how to share my faith. I prayed for my fellow workers, just as Jesus’ disciples prayed. God knows when it’s time to be sent. As I prayed, God began to open amazing doors for me.
I decided to study at the Moscow Theological Seminary. I really enjoy formal study of the Bible and Christian ministry. A good minister should be a competent student and skilled servant.
The tools and skills I have received in seminary from preparing a sermon to all aspects of pastoral care and service all have helped me a lot. It has inspired me and given me direction in leading a congregation. I enjoy studying very much. My time at MTS has stimulated much development and serious growth.
Please pray for me that I will understand my calling and live according to it. We are considering a trip to Africa. Finances are needed and most of the travel is at my own expense.
Pray also for our church, so that the kingdom of God will expand in our city.