May Trip Report: Ukraine, Latvia, Russia
It is always fun to visit new places and to meet new people. It is a special blessing to be recognized and greeted by old friends. This last trip had a little bit of both.
In some places in Ukraine and in Russia, our ministry is already well known and it is even expected that we will provide the training which they have already included in their teaching curricula and academic plans. New classes of students or fresh groups of school teachers are already there for me whenever I can find a spot in my teaching schedule.
Of course, as the word gets out about this “amazing material that should be standard for every teacher’s training” (school principle in Ukraine) I must include new Universities, new Teachers’ Training Centers, and new Bible Colleges into my tours. Local ministries are now inviting this “internationally renowned speaker from Moscow” to come and show support of their own Christian ministries and programming on University campuses and in other secular settings. My official status as an aspirant-researcher with the Russian Academy of Education is opening these doors of opportunity–doors which are usually extremely difficult to penetrate. A University in Uman, Ukraine, just started their Christian Ethics classes this year and asked me to come and build for it a strong foundation by teaching the FaithSearch Discovery course to their students and professors. How could I refuse, even if it did mean stretching my schedule and adding some very long hours on a very slow bus?! As validation of my choice to accept the invitation, it was a great joy to see the students’ faces light up in response to the truth of God, and even more so to hear their questions on the real meaning of life!
It was also very good this time to see some of the results of our ministry through the media. First, I discovered that they are replaying our previous audio recording of FaithSearch Discovery over their channels–over and over again due to ceaseless listener requests! Second, they also had to put it on their Web site for free downloading. People leave very positive comments there, like this one: “Thank you very much for posting the amazing recordings of O. Voskresensky. There are people among my relatives for whom this very course, in this very presentation style is ‘by doctor’s prescription’ (a Russian saying).” I was even a little surprised when the Radio Maria asked me to bring their listeners up to date with the progress of our ministry over the course of the year. “Of course, they said, our listeners remember you and your teaching (FaithSearch Discovery)! We replayed it already so many times!”
Yes, it feels good to be so… popular, but it is much, much more rewarding to realize that your efforts have been multiplied by the Lord calling other talented teachers–and their responding!–to take up in their hearts the task of spreading His truth. At one of the training sessions in St. Petersburg, a public school history teacher walked up to me and said, “I came to your presentation again today just to thank you for the material you gave us last fall. I have been teaching it for the whole school year and already see the results: my students now are speaking about their faith very openly and confidently. I am so glad you are able to continue your ministry and train many others. Thanks.”
Not only to continue, but to expand it! I visited Riga, Latvia, for the first time on this trip, and taught the FaithSearch Discovery class in their Bible Institute and at their church. Naturally, they want me to come again this fall to teach it in their State University and other schools. I am also invited to teach FaithSearch Discovery there next April at their National Teachers’ Conference for hundreds of teachers at a time! The language does not seem to be an issue as they will translate both the Surprised by Faith book and the FaithSearch Discovery presentation into Latvian–for free!
This trip also included St. Petersburg and Moscow, where I presented at one of the largest Evangelical Churches “Slovo Zhizni” (Word of Life); and to Teachers’ Continuing Education Centers, public schools, and other ministries.
Here are some of the exciting responses I received from those audiences:
So many Christian leaders these days are only relying on their own inspiration and an emotional appeal. Thanks for giving [our future leaders] a tool that will also engage their audiences’ mind and will. It is extremely important especially for the younger generation. —Dean of the Slovo Zhizni Bible Institute
When you asked this question (“Why Are We Here?”) the whole perspective changed. I was not simply listening to one more lecture; I was looking for the meaning of life! And, frankly, when you suggested a rational answer to the question of faith I was almost sure that you were going to fail. I know how tough, skeptical and almost cynical our crowd is. (I am one of them.) Thank you for presenting the faith in the best and the most reasonable way I ever heard. —University student
My own faith journey was long and difficult. I am so happy that our students will be given such a wonderful opportunity to make it faster and easier, thanks to your seminar. I can tell how much labor and time was put into making it [FaithSearch Discovery] but let me assure you: it was completely worth it. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! —Public School Principal
Being also a public school teacher, I was always looking and hoping for material I could present both in the church and in my high school classroom. Tonight my dream came true. I will be teaching it next school year. —Student from the Moscow Baptist Seminary
Oleg Vladislavovich, I was lucky to attend your Seminar “Otkrytie” [FaithSearch Discovery] yesterday in Cherkassy. It was indeed a “discovery” for me. You answered the questions that bothered me for a long time. I found my own path to faith not long ago, unfortunately. It has been a long journey because I had to search for everything by myself, intuitively. Yesterday I received lots of answers. Too bad, I lost so much time wondering in the darkness. Thank you for giving me the light and the encouragement. I hope your work will help many to find the right path in their lives. Thank you. —A note I received after teaching FaithSearch Discovery to the Ukrainian History and Philology teachers in Cherkassy, Ukraine
—From Oleg Voskresensky