My father sent me to America to get rich... but instead I got saved!
But what many don't know is that the year before I came to the US, there was another girl from Russia (we'll call her Alyona) who, just like me, came as an exchange student.
The only difference — she was placed in the family of a bank owner and I — in a poor family from Grace Baptist Church in Brookfield, MO.
At first, I envied Alyona, who received many gifts, made a bunch of fun trips and enjoyed plenty of entertainment.
Me? I was taken to church. A lot.
God gave me a host family, who were on fire for the Lord and served Him with all of their heart. On Fridays they organized youth meetings, Saturdays were spent on bus route visitation (yes, they took a lost foreign exchange student visiting with them!), Sunday and Wednesdays — worship services, on Tuesdays we had a workday at the church... I was around God's Word and God's people pretty much every day of the week. I was surrounded by the Gospel!
Because I've never even held a Bible in my hand before coming to America, my host mother immediately found me a Russian Bible. As I started reading God's Word and listening to sound Bible preaching, the Holy Spirit showed me that I was a sinner in need of Jesus. On April 16th 1994, three months after I arrived in the US, I trusted Christ as my Savior and was baptized shortly afterward.
Alyona never had the same opportunities as I had. As far as I know she has never gotten saved... This broke my heart.
But it was not till September of that same year, that God solidified my burden for my people. During our annual Mission Conference God helped me realize how blessed I was: I now had the treasure of my own Bible, the Holy Spirit, who guided me every step of the way, and the peace of God that passed all understanding... but the best part — God was my Heavenly Father and I was going to Heaven!
I asked myself: "What about my parents, my friends, people from my hometown?" They never had the same chance to hear a clear presentation of the Gospel. It was at that Mission Conference, when God broke my heart for the Russian people like Alyona, and called me to preach and start churches in my home country.
Sending Pastor Recommendation
Growing up as a child, the Russians were the enemy. Cold War, nuclear bombs, open hostility was the perception. When I went to Bible College, Russia was redefined for me as closed, the iron curtain, persecution. Then the unbelievable happened. The curtain cracked open. Slowly the door opened to Russia. It would take years for missionaries to be trained, funds raised, languages learn, years to get missionaries on the ground and in the field of Russia. God was at work. Little did I know that as Ronald Reagan urged Gorbachev to tear down a wall, God was raising up a young man in Russia.
Vladimir was on one of the first waves of exchange students coming to America. By God’s guidance and providence, Vladimir was placed with one of the families in the church I pastored. I watched the Lord save this young Russian. I watched Vladimir grow spiritually and soon follow the call of God to go back to Russia as a missionary. He married another miracle of God from our youth department, Debbie. I had the privilege to mentor Vladimir after Bible college and assist him in his final preparations for Russia.
As I took them to the airport for their first term, I was amazed at what God had done. God had raised up a unique missionary for a challenging task — the evangelization of Russia.
Several years have passed since that trip to the airport. Vladimir and Debbie have become experienced missionaries and have done a great job as servants to the Russian people. They have seen the Lord use their efforts to make a difference in many Russian lives and have introduced many to the Gospel of Christ.
As all missionaries do, Vladimir and Debbie need your help. They need your prayer and financial support. The door to Russia may not be open long. The task evangelizing Russia is daunting. Vladimir and Debbie are excellent missionaries for this task.
I highly recommend them to you. It is a privilege to be a part of their lives and I know that the Lord still has much to do with them. Join us as we try to make a difference in Russia.
Pastor John Clapp
Bible Baptist Church