Having arrived to Moscow at about 5:00 PM, our group of six got split up into two groups of three, mine consisting of Mark Turkov, Alex Vavilin, and me. A family from РБЦ (Russian Bible Church) in Moscow graciously allowed us to stay at their flat while they’re on vacation. So the three of us were dropped off and left to rest.
We decided to wait until night to sleep, even though we were delirious from the long flight. So after getting a feel of the place, we walked out to see what this part of the city is like. Mark and I braved a walk into the great unknown, but there was one goal in mind: pass out some Gospel tracts. This was Mark’s idea. I was a little apprehensive and nervous about talking to strangers. But we came upon a little neighborhood park and saw some benches. We sat and prayed. Without God giving us strength, we wouldn’t be able to do it. But God reassured of his presence, so we got up and looked for someone to talk to.
There was a young man with a backpack walking not far from us. “He looks like he’s in a hurry,” I thought to myself. But Mark was already on his tail. We took long, quick strides to catch up. Mark greeted him asking a few general questions about what he was doing. The young man was open, and let us know he’s not a student, but a doctor walking home from work. Mark then proceeded to introduce himself and me. The young man, Artem, introduced himself and shook our hands. We continued walking in the direction Artem was. Hopefully the main street Mark and I were used were following up until this point wouldn’t too be hard to find again. Artem continued in his fast pace into the narrower apartment complex streets.
We let him know we’re here from America in order to serve at a children’s camp. Then Mark asked him if he’s religious, and proceeded to give him a tract. Artem stopped and we continued the conversation. “Religion is something a person turns to when they are really pressed to do so. I’m a doctor and in my profession we don’t really go into the spiritual side of things,” he said. “So you just believe only what is material exists, right?” I asked in return. He agreed and further told us how he has had some Christian friends in the past who have explained to him the many Christian dogmas. In short, he wasn’t very interested in our message. “I already know all this stuff,” was his reply, when Mark briefly explained how having a relationship with Jesus is the most important thing and we would like to tell him more about what it means to know God personally.
“I am Orthodox. Well, I was raised in an Orthodox family, so I guess I believe, but as a doctor I just don’t get into it.” He explained how we (refer to Mark and I) talk about knowing God personally, but Orthodox Christians go to God through priests, icons and other means. Mark pulled out a little “business-card” with our Church’s information on it. We were standing in the middle of a parking lot. Tall 14-story apartment complexes were all around us, but there were trees that blocked most of them out of sight. There was also a multicolored play-structure in a small grassy park nearby.
“Here’s a card with our information,” Mark said. “There are sermons and all kinds of resources for you to find out more about this, but we really believe this. We want you to know there is a spiritual realm and that you can be saved from sin to have a relationship with God.” He thanked us. We thanked him for his time and were off, back to the street from which we came.
A & Y
“That was so cool! He was so open and willing to talk to us,” I said as we walked in the direction of the street. It wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be, though to the next young man we approached, it seemed queer that we would ask him what he’s up to. He was a student most likely walking home, but he didn’t have time and turned us away. Mark and I kept walking.
We saw another young man. And as and aside, there were others, some older some younger, some with families, some girls, but we decided guys about our age would be most appropriate to talk to in a situation like this. Ali, as we found out later, was sitting on a bench seemingly waiting for someone. Again, Mark asked a few general questions and then we said we’re walking around passing out gospel tracts. “Are you religious?” asked Mark. “Yes, I’m Muslim.” Mark quickly tracked back and asked if he knew anything about Christianity. The young man knew next to nothing, but he did know who Abraham was. So starting from there, Mark explained briefly the story of Abraham being commanded by God to take up Isaac, his son, to offer him as a sacrifice. Then without much more detail, Mark explained how that was a metaphor about God who would send his Son Jesus Christ to die for the sins of many.
“Have you heard of this news? It’s called the good news,” I said after Mark explained a little more about who Christ was and that he had to die for our sins to free us. “I’ve never heard this,” he said. Mark and I glanced at each other for a split second. “He never heard this,” I thought to myself in astonishment.
In the course of our conversation, a girl came up and sat next to Ali (most likely the reason why he was waiting on the bench). We had also given him a tract, “What does it mean to be a Christian?” There were a few moments that he was so intently reading the tract, that we just stopped talking and waited. We told him a little more about ourselves and gave him a card with our Church’s website on it. We then thanked him for his time and left.
Another opportunity, and such interest! This was spectacular. Mark and I then found a large тарговы центр (market area, or mall) and entered in. The first store we entered was expensive, but we only found out after taking a jacket off the rack and a lady coming up to us to show us where the price tag was. It was 22,000 rubles or roughly 300 dollars. The lady laughed at our reaction and asked if we wanted to try it on. We said, no, laughingly, and with that a conversation began with Yelena. We said we’re from America and (to my surprise) she said she wouldn’t have guessed (one or both of us have an accent, but I guess she didn’t hear it). We then told her the reason we were in Moscow and gave her a card as well. She was kind and asked a few questions about America. The conversation didn’t last long, but we were glad that she at least got some information about our church. Perhaps Yelena, along with Artem and Ali, will listen to a sermon, hear the gospel, repent, and believe in Jesus Christ.
These are the people who have either heard the gospel, or now have a chance to. Please keep them in your prayers, and may God’s kingdom spread.