From Communism to Christ
Hello everyone from St. Petersburg,
I was born and grew up in communist Russia. My father sincerely believed in communism, and he told me that the most important thing in my life was to become “a good person”. I was never to find out exactly what he meant, because he died when I was 11... He used to tell me lots of things that made me think about God, and when I bluntly asked him if God exists he said that he honestly did not know. From then on I did not have any peace in my heart about my father’s soul. He was a “good man”, but I thought, “If there is a God – is he with Him?”
Later I became a “believer” and began to attend the Orthodox Church, even though it was only visited by very old people who had nothing to lose in the event of persecution by the authorities. I visited many different churches, met many people and even stayed at a monastery at one stage, but I could not get anything clarified – all was mystery, incense, “Queen of Heaven”, “teachings of the fathers”, etc. [Here is some information on what is wrong with the teachings of the Orthodox Church] However, God always answered my prayers.
God always answered my prayers!
Then I realised that I had a very selfish attitude towards Him – I asked for what I needed and received it, but didn’t think about His will. There had to be something He wanted from me. I remember standing in an Orthodox church amongst all the gold and candles, and really asking God to show me what He wanted me to do. Many doubts still arose in my mind: who was I to even question the authority and centuries of established traditions, teachings of the church fathers, etc? I asked God to bring me to an “Assembly” (wondering why I used this word which was unfamiliar to me). I was embarrassed as I realised how hypocritical my life was. On the one hand, I did not hide that I was a ‘believer’ (which absolutely shocked some people), and yet, on the other hand, my life was no better than anyone else’s. I understood that the act of going to church did not make me a Christian, and I saw more and more hypocrisy in the church, especially when I began to study the Bible.
At first I did not have any Bible at all, and when I decided to buy “the illegal book” for a quarter of my monthly salary, “by chance” I met some Americans, who gave me a brand new Bible as a present. There was no way I could call it a coincidence! The Americans also told me about having a “personal relationship with God” and this phrase affected me greatly. I could not get it out of my head… not icons, not “saints”, not even the church – but only Jesus Christ as mediator between man and God. I felt physically relieved, as if I had been freed from some heavy burden. I began to devour my New Testament and had many questions. My new friends generally gave me answers and explanations by opening the Bible and showing me the scriptures.
There was still the feeling that something was missing...
Everything seemed to be fine; I was blessed with a job I could never have dreamed of - I travelled a lot and enjoyed what I was doing - but there was still the feeling that something was missing. I became too busy to open my Bible and realised that things had to change.
Then a Danish man approached me in the Kremlin. He told me that I had “grown out of” tour-guide work and that it was time for me to change my life. He was very persistent and the next day organised an invitation for me to go to his country! After many insistent phone calls from him, he managed to persuade me to take a holiday and visit Denmark.
When I asked my boss for my deserved holidays (one month) she refused, because the work was scheduled for months ahead, and there was nobody else to cover for me. So I resigned (even though this was an unthinkable act, because I really loved my job so much). To cut a long story short, in November 1990 I found myself going to Copenhagen. I prayed and put the whole journey into the Lord’s hands.
Copenhagen was “nice”, but I did not “click” with it. Very soon I began to consider going to Germany to see some friends there, or - after I got to know some Russians - moving in to their place (all of them were political refugees and were sure that I should stay in Denmark). Looking through papers in my notebook, I noticed a scripture written there: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God…” (
ROMANS 8:28). This scripture jumped out at me. I knew that God was speaking directly to me at that moment and I stopped worrying.
On a Saturday night, the day before I was meant to move with my new friends, I was walking along a central street when a young lady gave me a leaflet and said it was about the Bible. I thanked her and returned it because I could not understand Danish, and anyway I was already a “Christian”. A man with her asked me quite abruptly, “If you say you are a Christian, do you have the Holy Spirit?” Nobody had ever asked me a more puzzling question… How should I know whether I had the Holy Spirit or not?
If you say you are a Christian, do you have the Holy Spirit?
All I knew from the Church and from the Bible was that there is a Trinity – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. However, I had never considered having any personal connection with the Holy Spirit. Then Stefan (the man who questioned me) told me about the Day of Pentecost and how the first apostles received the Holy Spirit, and that nothing has changed; people receive the Holy Spirit in the same way today! He invited me to come to a Christian meeting the next day and drew a small map for me. I told them that I honestly could not be there because I was moving house that day.
On Sunday I arrived punctually at the appointed place to meet one of my Russian friends to travel together with him to my new place. He arrived an hour late (his bicycle had been stolen) and he drew a map for me so that I could travel alone on my bicycle. To my great surprise the drawing reminded me very much of the one I had received the day before (which was still in my pocket). I compared them and was amazed to see that the Sunday meeting place was exactly on the route to my new accommodation! Since I was now travelling alone I decided to go to the meeting on the way.
By the time I arrived, the meeting was already coming to an end, and I listened to some final scriptures (I recognized that they were directly from the Bible, which proved that these people preached only the true word of God, and this was very important for me). Then they took bread and cup (communion), and Stefan spoke in some eastern sounding language. I asked him later how many languages he could speak (he was a German, lived in Denmark, and spoke English to me). He explained to me that during communion he had spoken in tongues, and that it was a language he did not know. I was quite moved and impressed with the spiritual life of these Christians. However, the idea of myself speaking in tongues seemed to be something quite unreachable.
Later, Stefan’s wife Ella told me about her Catholic background and how untrue her baptism as a child was; about how she had to repent and get baptised properly as an adult, with full immersion under water, and that after this she received the Holy Spirit. (See
I applied this Biblical truth to myself and was shocked to realise that I could not consider myself to be properly baptised. I attended the next meeting on Wednesday, and when asked if I wanted to receive the Holy Spirit I answered, “Yes, of course!”, although I did not think it would happen. So they laid their hands on me and prayed for me… Suddenly I began to speak very fluently in an unknown language, and I understood what Jesus meant about “rivers of living water” (
The next day I was properly baptised in a swimming pool.
This is how the Lord led so many things in my life and eventually brought me to the right place where I was to get saved! Praise the Lord! I was able to stay in Denmark for another 3 months to learn so much more, having resigned from my work in Moscow and been freed from my obligations there. My story reminds me of the believers from the book of Acts; they believed, but did not know about the Holy Ghost. When they did hear about the Holy Ghost, the following happened: “And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.” (
The Lord has really blessed me, and I am now married with two lovely children.