Student Profiles

Student Profiles

Mother of three, Lydia Ratnikova, is a recent student in the master’s program of Christian Education, and tells us of her journey of achieving her dream to become a Sunday school teacher.


Since childhood, I had always wanted to be a teacher. I grew up in an unbelieving family and my closest friends were books. When I was 10 years old, my mother first learned about God. We went to church and the world of Christian literature, including the Children’s Bible opened up to me. I was learning so much and everything I learned about God fascinated me, although sometimes I was doubtful, Still, it was a great joy to visit Sunday school for the first time. I went every Sunday, kept notebooks neatly, memorized Bible verses, studied Bible stories, and it was so amazing to me that I decided that when I grew up, I would become a Sunday school teacher.

When I was 12 years old, I turned to God with tears. It was no longer a superficial faith but a serious conversion; nor was it a fiery sermon that prompted me to repent but rather, the simple words of the faithful preacher during the common prayer. I was baptized a few years later and continued going to Sunday school which only fueled my desire to have the opportunity to someday teach children the Word of God.

In 2000, I was invited to be one of the mentors at a Bible camp for unchurched children who had troubled backgrounds. Thrilled by this opportunity, I excitedly threw myself into this work, attending all the planning meetings and was intently focused on preparing materials. This work impacted me deeply. I had seen firsthand how important this camp was because it established positive relations with the children, giving them hope. I felt a huge responsibility to be a great Bible learner so I could be a great Bible teacher. I also wanted to be a role model for the children to help guide them in the Christian life, and to learn more methods of reaching more children.

At that time, I was a student at Moscow Pedagogical University, studying to be a philologist. I knew a lot about pedagogy and accordingly, the camp organizers asked me to conduct lessons for the whole Bible camp. What a challenge! It’s one thing to conduct lessons among Christian children, and quite another to teach teenagers from the street. To prepare, every morning I went to pray in a wheat field and asked the Lord to help give me the right words for these troubled teens. I am thankful for that amazing experience and I knew God would help me.

Sometime thereafter, I married and took a break as the joy and busyness of marriage and having children mandated that I take a step back from this work for about five years. I loved my family life but after our third child came, I thought perhaps my Sunday school service was over and my heart ached. However, the Lord always has his own plans. After my five-year break, I learned that there was a great need for a high school-level Sunday school teacher, so I immediately stepped into that gap. It was a blessing from God to me!

I have now been serving in this church for eight years creating lessons and curricula, as well as preparing programs for holidays. A year and a half ago, the church leaders asked me to hold a seminar to teach other Sunday school workers the methods and materials I had been using.  I was quite nervous about this request and knew I needed help in systematically teaching others, but was not sure where to find that help.

The answer was to study at Moscow Theological Seminary (MTS). In 2022, I entered their master’s program of Christian education taking courses in, among other things, Sunday school methods, how to train others, and creating entire Sunday school programs. I was very grateful for this and the detailed coursework they offered, specifically the in-depth instruction on how Bible teachers can find different approaches for different types of students in Christian education.

In September 2023, I became the director of the Sunday school, always staying mindful of how important it is to reach all types of children and sow the truth in their hearts.

MTS Helps Sunday School Teacher Achieve Her Dream