One Sunday after leaving church, Yevgeniy drudged home worn out and discouraged. He wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do. On this Sunday, one of the pastors taught about Mary, the mother of Jesus. He preached that Mary is like any person–sinful and in need of a savior. But later that same day, at the very same church, a different pastor made the opposite claim–that Mary was deity, sinless in the same way Jesus was sinless. Yevgeniy left church that Sunday confused, discouraged, and dazed–not only was he unsure of what to believe about Mary, but even more so what to believe about God’s Word. How can the Holy Scriptures be clear and infallible when two pastors at the same church teach two opposing “truths” about the same Bible?
Unfortunately for Yevgeniy and his family, leaving church confused and discouraged was an experience not foreign to them. Tragically, the sermons were only one point of confusion. Another area was that members of the church lived in blatant sin from week to week–all without confrontation either privately or publicly. Wasn’t the church supposed to be a community of individuals who strove toward holiness and Christ together? For Yevgeniy and his family, the church had proved itself to be disjointed, incoherent, and unabashedly hypocritical.
“Pastor Oleg showed me how to find God’s will by simply applying principles found in Scripture. After this conversation I clearly understood the sufficiency and authority of Scripture, which guides my life today.”
Six long years later, when Yevgeniy’s discouragement in the church had reached its peak, the head pastor of the church was replaced by Oleg, a graduate of TMAI’s member school in Russia. At this point, things at the church started to change. Oleg preached the Scriptures, exalting Christ and His Word as the inerrant, infallible, authoritative, all-sufficient Word. Because he preached the power of the Word, soon the false teachers were no longer allowed to teach. Oleg then preached on church leadership and installed a plurality of qualified and godly elders who proved themselves in ministry and whom the church affirmed. He preached on and instituted church discipline according to the Scriptures, thus confronting sin that had for too long existed unopposed in the body. Of course, Oleg’s reforms faced opposition, but soon people began to repent of sin, heeding the direction of Scripture, and those with hardened hearts left the congregation. God was purifying His church through the preaching of the Word by a man of the Word. Pastor Oleg’s faithful living and preaching transformed the lives of an entire congregation.
Today, some 10 years later, this church continues to pursue obedience to the Scriptures and sanctification in the Truth. But for Yevgeniy, not only is his church committed to biblical living, but so is he in his own life. During the purification of the church, Yevgeniy recalls his own transformative moment during a road trip with Pastor Oleg. Together, they were traveling 600 miles and were able to have extensive conversations about the Word. Yevgeniy recalls that time:
“Before the road trip I was looking for mystical apparitions and signs from heaven, but pastor Oleg showed me how to find God’s will by simply applying principles found in Scripture. After this conversation I clearly understood the sufficiency and authority of Scripture, which guides my life today.”
God used Pastor Oleg in mighty ways to save and sanctify His people. He is a faithful minister of God’s Word, teaching the Scriptures each Sunday and discipling men like Yevgeniy to walk in the truth. Today, Yevgeniy overflows with thankfulness for the faithfulness of Pastor Oleg and his ministry to the church; he states,
“To this day, the character of this godly man continues to impact me. He dedicates his time to serving people. He patiently listens to their needs. He demonstrates Christ’s love to them. I am constantly convicted of my sin when I watch how selflessly Pastor Oleg serves the church. I am so thankful for him.”
Pastor Oleg is a graduate of the Samara Center for Biblical Training, a TMAI member school in Samara, Russia. Because of the faithful prayers and support of our partners, TMAI is able to provide training to pastors like Oleg that equips them to accurately study, preach, and minister the Word of God. By doing so, trained pastors are then prepared and sent out to shepherd people like Yevgeniy with the Truth.