Report on the Russian Bible School
Russia is a very big country. Its capital is Moscow. It has millions of Russians running around doing what Russians do. It is famous for people like Lenin, Stalin, Yeltsin and other names ending in –ov, and -ovsky that are hard to remember. Oh…and in Siberia it gets very cold in winter. This was about the sum of our knowledge of Russia. So it was armed with this extensive background research of the native habitat, and without maps, dictionaries, guide-books, or a word of Russian that we decided to visit the Bible school just outside of Moscow in August, 2002. It was an experience not to be forgotten.
The first thing you learn is that if you have come expecting luxury five star apartments, sumptuous food, and every creature comfort, you are going to be disappointed. The second thing that you learn is that if you have come expecting these things you have come for all the wrong reasons.
There were 130-140 Russians and about 20 or so visitors that were privileged to gather at some isolated campsite, about 1 ½ hours out of Moscow. The studies for the week were led by Brother Andrew Walker and Brother Malcolm Churchill, both from England. We delved a little into the last week of Christ’s mortal life, looking at each day of that last week and its lessons, as we arrived there ourselves in the week. Sitting outside in the shade of a canopy of trees provided a beautiful setting for the weeks studies. Each morning saw 1 ¾ hours of doing the readings (always vigorously accompanied by many questions and answers), followed by two hour-long talks before lunch, totalling almost four hours of listening, concentrating and thinking about God’s Word. Not surprisingly, it was only two days before people complained about the length of studies in the morning. It was felt that extra studies should be fitted in before breakfast to keep these people happy! People’s enthusiasm, breadth of knowledge, and keenness to learn was a highlight of the week, and a lesson to us all, that the time given to each of us is not ours to waste.
Another highlight was the baptism of 18 friends into the saving name of Jesus Christ. The banks of the slightly muddy river that ran along the campsite were lined with people, reminiscent of the crowds of John the Baptist’s day. Both young and old were added to the number of “such as should be saved”, with one elderly woman saying “I’ve waited a year for this day!” before being pushed under the muddy water! The reading of Romans 6 in six different languages was a great experience!
This report would be incomplete without the mention of Room 14. This was where all the young people went at night after the evening activity, to wile away the evening hours. From all sorts of card games, to cat-and-mouse, limbo, “Wink”, table-tennis, Russian billiards, animal games, and the singing of various Russian folk songs, not a dull night went by. Valentine’s guitar playing and Barney’s welcoming cushion when playing Wink stick in one’s mind.
A Bible School is not a Bible School without people. From Ludmilla, the woman with something worthwhile to say about everything, to blind interpreters, to opera singing brothers … this place is not short of real characters.
In short, it was a real pleasure to spend time with such a diverse part of God’s family. Their example’s of suffering, persecution, trial yet unfailing faith cannot be written in words. In sorrow and trouble, they always have cause for joy. Poor themselves, they bring wealth to many. Penniless, they own the world.
Thanks for the memories. May the God of mercy be with them all till our King comes in the clouds of his glory, when every nation and tongue will see him and be exceeding glad.
Bro. Nathan Lewis
[THOUGHTS ON RUSSIAN BIBLE SCHOOL] [BIBLE SCHOOL: MOSCOW August 2002
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