by Steve Hale
The City of T’ver
T’ver, Russia is about 2 1/2 hours by train north of Moscow. It is the old city of Kalinin. Kalinin was Stalin’s second in command, and was responsible for thousands of deaths. Russian historians estimate that Stalin exterminated at least 30 million of his own people.
So, in 1991, this ancient city changed its name back to T’ver. Tver is one of Russia’s most revered cities. It has an important military school, army base, and a large university. The city has about 500,000 inhabitants.
Most of the people here were friendly. Those of us who went to Krasnoarmeisk in 1994 noticed that the people here were generally more affluent and less humble. Nevertheless, the Lord richly blessed our efforts as 23 were baptized into Christ while we were there, with another one obeying the gospel shortly thereafter.
We had reported 25 baptisms, but two of those who promised to be baptized have yet to follow through.
We faced many obstacles on this campaign. First, the heat was nearly unbearable at first. Temperatures around the 100 degree mark (F) made this particular summer the hottest in over 100 years!
Second, the School of Linguistics at the University did not provide all the interpreters we needed. Our set-up team in March was promised this would be no problem. For several days, several on our team had to work with no interpreter, (final exams was the explanation) which is very frustrating.
Third, the Russian Orthodox Church opposed us with all their being. The first Thursday night of our campaign, a Russian Orthodox Priest came to the meeting. lmmediately, about twelve Russians left. The R.O.C. also came down on Colossians Sergi Georgevich, who rented us the auditorium in the House of Officers.
The previous night, nearly everyone raised their hands for a Bible study. This night, hardly anyone would raise his hand. They were intimidated. This priest and I had a lengthy study in the lobby outside the auditorium. His interpreter and I studied two other times, and made some significant progress.
Fourth, we were kicked out of the Hotel Volga. The reason we were given was that the 1000 year celebration of T’ver was about to begin, and they need the space for their “International Guests.” So, who were we?
Fifth, several team members got sick on the campaign. My Cindy was invaluable!
Ronnie Morrison and I had to pull the trigger on several key decisions to keep the campaign together. The Lord blessed every decision, and what looked like a disaster turned into a glorious victory for the gospel.
First and foremost, the people of Vver were exposed to relentless gospel truths. The men preaching did a magnificent job! Bobby Dockery, a marvelous gospel preacher, writer and student of Christian Evidences, was superb. Let us never forget that the gospel is ‘the power of God unto salvation.’
Our team taught faithfully and fully the gospel plan in their individual studies. The V.B.S. with the Russian young people was an enormous success, as the children marveled at the amazing stories of the Bible!
Second, we enjoyed unusual team unity. In the face of so much adversity, our team remained understanding, flexible, patient, and positive. These nineteen ‘foot soldiers’ for the gospel were just topnotch.
Third, we got help from a most unusual source. Colonel Sergi Georgevich is a staunch atheist, but he is also a man of honor. He told us the R.O.C. was: ‘sitting on me like an elephant would an ant.” The Bishop demanded the Colonel to kick us out of the House of Officers, but he refused.
The R.O.C. has tremendous political and social clout in Russia. The Bishop even put pressure on the Colonel’s superiors, and they in turn, put pressure on him. Still, the Colonel would not budge.
The Colonel even asked us to-bring him religious library for his officers! This we did, and so, these military men will be exposed to the gospel by written page thanks to the Colonel. He is one of the most noble men I’ve ever met. Period.
Fourth, Sergei and Seir, father and son, and two faithful Christians from Moscow, were just wonderful to us. They worked tirelessly at any task they were given.
Fifth, my friend and missionary in Moscow, Mitch Covington, got us New Testaments and Bibles at great prices from his supplier. Mitchell gave us thousands of tracts and commentaries on the book of Acts!
Sixth, the love we as Christians had to one another won a great number of the interpreters to Christ ( John 13:33-35). Nine were baptized our last full day in T’ver, and seven of those were interpreters. These interpreters came to our last devotional, where we shared our love for one another.
Lastly, your prayers on our behalf were answered! God richly blessed our efforts. We praise Him for 0 the good that was done ( I Corinthians 3:1-7). Thank you for helping us share Christ in T’ver!