The Moscow Seminary continues full-fledged even behind the Iron Curtain. We train 554 full-time and 668 part-time student ministers from Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Armenia, Estonia, and Russia. Pastor Dmitry Ryabov, a church planter and student at the Moscow Seminary, wrote this letter below (please, allow pictures in with a click over the top of the letter). I gladly forward Dmitry’s letter to you for you to have a sense of the fruit of proclaiming the Gospel in the former USSR:
My name is Dmitry Ryabov. My life is like a carpet. Its threads taken by themselves are nothing special. But being woven together they reflect the wonderful design of the Creator.
I was born in 1973 to a family of simple folks from a village – my father worked at a plant and my mother at a hospital. All the way through my childhood and adolescence I was always looking for something – for a book that would show me a way out of a difficult situation or an older friend who would give me wise counsel. But, no matter how hard I tried, this emptiness, vulnerability, and constant search for answers would never end. I smiled on the outside but cried on the inside. I was the life of the party on the surface but lonely and lost deep down. But there was a quiet voice speaking to my soul in the desert of my life.
In 1991 missionaries arrived at Moscow Tech University. They sang praises and preached the Bible. And I realized they were referring to the One who had been speaking to me all these years – the Lord, Lord God the Almighty! It was like Someone turned the light on – I was filled with peace and joy of Christ!
I became a missionary – went to Kyzyl, Tuva [4641 km South-East of Moscow, Russia], planted a church there and became the pastor of the church. The church grew to 300 in attendance, we built a building and planted a couple of daughter churches in the area. But one day I heard the voice of God saying, “It’s Time. Move On!” And so, in 2005 I moved to Nizhny Novgorod [438 km East of Moscow, Russia] and planted the Cornerstone Church there.
In 2006 I was called to come to Moscow, to take the role of the Evangelist at the Word of Life church. Only … my wife suddenly died leaving me with 2 kids – Abel, 9 and Sophia, 6. This blow devastated me rather – I was confused and depressed, I was a walking dead. But Jesus visited me one morning and raised me back to life and ministry. The Lord sent me to Kaluga [191 km South-West of Moscow, Russia] to plant yet another church. I followed the call and became the pastor of the church I planted. I got married again and together we had two more kids – Michael and Olivia.
At the age of 40, I had a burnout – the fire for ministry was put out. And nothing worked – neither revivals nor conferences. But the Moscow Seminary did! The moment I was enrolled I found myself in the very epicentre of God’s will. My life changed, I became “like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither” (Psalm 1:3). The Lord restored me for ministry through the seminary and now I am going full speed. I follow the example of missionaries of the Bible – form and lead teams of young evangelists on missionary journeys a couple of times a year. We proclaim the Gospel in both northern and southern regions of Russia and also in Siberia. The focus of our outreach is atheists. The goal of our ministry is to plant new churches.
To support the training of ministers like pastor Dmitry Ryabov at the Moscow Seminary, please make a cheque payable to One Mission Society, put RUSSS somewhere on the cheque, and mail the cheque to One Mission Society UK 114 Holywood Road, Belfast BT4 1NU, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom. (It costs the seminary £900 a year to train a student-minister. This investment is cost-efficient: It costs 40 times less to train a minister in Russia than in the United Kingdom and 80 times less than sending a missionary to Russia from the United Kingdom. This investment is secure: Statistically, 9 out of 10 students sent to the United Kingdom to study will not return back to Russia.)