Baptists in Bashkortostan
06 Dec 2007
Bold are Peter on camera
P1 -- :05.5
The word “Baptist” sounds scary to many people. To be called a cult was the least offensive description. The Communist party propaganda circulated lots of negative rumors about Baptists, that Baptists were people who sacrificed children, who turned off the light and were involved in various types of immorality behind closed doors. And still many people believe that propaganda.
P2 -- :35
My name is Peter Ivanovich. I have been serving as senior pastor for all evangelical Baptist churches in Bashkortostan since 1993. At the present time there are 21 Baptist churches in Bashkortostan with a total membership of approximately 1000. Before the ‘90s there were only 6 small Baptist churches in Bashkortostan. And only after the establishment of democratic liberty and openness there appeared possibilities for starting new Baptist churches.
P3 -- 1:15
Growing up as Christians was very difficult, they were persecuted, and they suffered –this made a very big impression on me and was engraved upon my childlike heart. They knew that I was a believer at school, that’s why there was a lot of trouble and fear in my heart. But it strengthened me more in my faith that God exists. I really wanted to be true to Him, even though fear existed because of the negative viewpoint toward believers. President Khrushchev said in the late 50’s that there would be no believers left in our country in 20 years. This statement was frightening to me.
P4 -- 2:00
The persecution continued on to adulthood. When I enrolled in a technical school, my tutor gave me a negative recommendation writing in it that I was from a family of believers and that I was not a member of the Communist Party, that I didn’t have any kind of organizational skills, that I was introverted, etc. Obtaining a good job was difficult for a Christian.
P5 -- :03
Baptists are people who sincerely believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who believe in the Bible as the Holy Scripture, as the absolute authority and infallible Word, who strive for building up their lives upon the Words of God so they are in line with the Word and the commandments of God. Baptists believe in the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son and the Holy Spirit. Baptists believe that salvation is only through Jesus Christ. As the Word says “There is no other name under Heaven given to men by which we must be saved”. It’s only through repentance, through accepting Jesus Christ as the Son of God that a person can receive salvation and eternal life. The life of a Christian should be different both on the inside and on the outside. People should view Baptists as believers, as peculiar people. And, praise God, there are such Christians who witness to people about faith through their lives and people by watching their lives say that you are different, you are not like other people. We would like to live as you do.
P6 -- 1:20
The church is what God and Jesus Christ created. Jesus said, “I will build my church”. The church is not a human organization. It’s God’s creation. We understand that the church is the people chosen by God Himself for salvation … a people chosen by God for his glory, for serving Him. They are united by God Himself. They are brought together by Him. The church is the bride of Christ as the Word of God says. The Bible compares the church with the body of Christ and Christ is the head of the church. He directs the church, He takes care of the church, He, as Paul; writes, is preparing the church for the second coming. He is the enlightenment of the church. Jesus is our light.
P7 -- :025
In our churches we all participate by singing praises……….as a congregation……….as small groups …….and as solos……… We teach God’s Word through preaching …..and in classes. We value fellowship of believers as we share food and fellowship around a table……We consider Prayer a vital part of out church life. We pray from our heart…. we pray as a group……we pray individually…….
P8 -- :36
We Baptists, recognize 2 ordinances. In other churches it is called sacrament but we recognize them as ordinances. Baptism is a symbol of complete renunciation from this word’s ways. It’s dying to our sinful way of life and resurrecting to a new life. Baptism, as the apostle Peter says, is a promise of a good conscience. We recognize baptism as a necessary ordinance. Jesus Christ says, “Whoever believes and is baptized, will be saved”. Jesus said, “Go and make disciples baptizing in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”. We baptize those people who have come to believe in Jesus when they have reached an age of accountability. That’s why we understand that a person should be baptized only if he has come to believe in Jesus. For example, in Acts 8, as Phillip was baptizing the eunuch, he said to him “If you believe with all your heart, you may be baptized”. That’s why we do not practice infant baptism and baptize only those adults who, as we see, have been born again, those who have been born of the Holy Spirit and those who promise to serve God.
P9 -- 1:59
The Lord’s Supper is the second ordinance, which Jesus gave. He said “Do this in remembrance of me”. It reminds us of Christ’s sufferings. We partake of the bread and wine as symbols, which remind us of Christ’s body and His shed blood. The Lord’s Supper unifies believers. This is God’s action. There’s one body and we are the many members of that body, as the Word says. We are united together in the Church of Christ; we are united in our confession of faith. The Lord’s Supper provides us a time for self-examining.
1 Cor. 11:28 “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup”. It gives us an opportunity to examine ourselves, to check up on ourselves so we are always ready, so we are always vigilant. We should meditate upon the sufferings of Christ when we participate in the Lord’s Supper, when we partake of it.
P10 -- :03
Our Baptist churches are multiethnic and that’s the way church should be. Christ is the Savior of all people and of all ethnic groups. He is no respecter of persons as the Scriptures say. And the Scriptures also say that there is neither Jew, nor Greek in Christ but we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. There are probably far more than 10 ethnic groups in our churches. Now there are especially more Tatars and Bashkirs because 50% of the population of Bashkortostan is Bashkirs and Tatars. 22 % of the population is Bashkirs and 28 % of the population is Tatars. These are ethnic groups which consider themselves as adherence to Islam. Before the 90s we unfortunately had neither Bashkirs nor Tatars in the church. Since 1990 after the establishment of democratic liberty when sermons were preached more openly Bashkirs and Tatars started to come to the church. What is surprising is that Bashkirs and Tatars who came to believe in Jesus are sincerely taking care of their people group. They are trying to tell about Jesus Christ to their relatives, to their nearest and dearest. Practically always this is met with a lack of understanding and even aggression. There were cases when parents just turned their backs on their children or tried to keep them up at home so that they could not go to church or be baptized. They became hardened against them. But in time when they saw the change in their children, that they had become new people, that they had been born again, the parents gave in and other relatives came to the church. There are more Tatars and Bashkirs coming to God than other people groups. We also have Germans and Latvians. There are lots of local ethnic groups too: Chuvashs, Maris and Mordovians. They are also believers.
P11 -- 2:05
I do not know much about Muslim rules and laws. I see that it’s very hard for them to come to believe in Christ. Their teaching is harsh because the cross, for example, is a curse for them. The cross is the power of God for us. As the Word says the cross is salvation. And for Muslims the cross seems to be a curse. When they see a cross they do not want to talk, they do not want to listen. They accept Jesus as the Son of God, as Isa. But for them the most high prophet is Mohammed. By watching the lives of our Bashkirs and Tatars who believe in Jesus, I can see how hard it is on them, how hard it is to change their way of thinking after accepting Christ, whom Muslims do not accept as the Savior.
P12 -- :03
Living in the Soviet period no one even thought of the fact that a minister or pastor should be freed up from secular employment, that he should only serve the Lord. At that time no one even imagined or thought of sending out missionaries somewhere and providing for them. Growing up in that time, this was not part of our thinking, that churches should support their workers. The church was focused upon its concerns: the upkeep of its church building, remodeling and so on. That’s it. But at the present time we are preaching about that and saying that the 1st goal of the church is spreading the Gospel. There is a need for finances and offerings. It was only since the ‘90s that we started to speak about tithing and preach about that. It was hard for many people to understand this especially for older people who lived under totally different conditions. Young believers reacted to this favorably. Churches are starting to understand, churches are giving offerings and they are partially supporting missionaries. Many churches have started to partially support their pastors in order to give them more time for the ministry and preaching the Gospel.
P13 -- :01
Churches are also poor, taking into account the fact that we had 6 churches and now there are more than 20 but there are only 10 church buildings. Many churches rent buildings like our church does. We meet in a basement room of a 5-story building.
P14 -- :24
I, as senior pastor in charge of all Bashkortostan, would like to send missionaries to every town and city so there can be workers. We have not yet reached the point that we have enough workers to go work in every city. There are still 6 towns, which do not have Baptist churches yet. Such towns as, for example, Meleuz with the population of more than 60 thousand people, Uchali – 33 thousand people, Durtuli – 30 thousand people, Yanaul, Agidel, Bimak. My biggest desire is to fill up Bashkortostan with the glory of God through churches. We are constantly working on this as much as we can.
P15 -- 1:10
Our desire, our primary goal and task, which I see in my ministry, is the development of missionary service, the education of ministers, missionary and pastoral training for service. I have a vision that every city, every county seat and every town has a Baptist church where people can go worship.
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