a testimony article feature
Ilya was born and raised in the underground Pentecostal church in the former Soviet Union until his family immigrated to Canada in 1988. On the way to Canada, we met in Vienna, Austria, where I was serving as a missionary in a refugee camp. We were married in 1991. In 1993, we felt God calling us to return to Novokuznetsk, Ilya’s home city in southern Siberia, Russia, to plant a church. At that time there were only four evangelical churches in the city of 600,000 people.
We started the church by going outside on the streets with a guitar, passing out tracts and inviting people to a local movie theatre for a service. Slowly, people started coming to hear the message. After four months a small congregation was formed, and 12 new believers were baptized. Within the first two months of arriving in Russia, four extreme trials occurred. Our first-born son, Joshua, who was one year old at the time, almost died from encephalitis after drinking contaminated water from a well. After two weeks of sustaining a temperature of 104°F and taking strong antibiotics, he miraculously recovered. Secondly, we had all our belongings stolen except for our guitar and a small umbrella stroller. This was a great loss as there was literally nothing to buy in the stores of post-communist Russia. Thirdly, one day as we were walking outside pushing little Joshua in his umbrella stroller, a car unexpectedly came from behind, hitting the stroller and knocking Ilya down. Joshua was thrown into the bushes. Ilya lay on the street in pain, his leg hit from the side; however, not a bone was broken, and Joshua was safely lying in the bushes without a single bruise! At that moment Ilya reached into his pocket for a tract and invited the driver to church. The fourth incident in this six-week period was that I contracted pneumonia in both lungs but thought it was only the flu. After taking Advil for two weeks and still running a fever of 104, I went for blood work and X-rays. Doctors discovered that both lungs were already filling up with fluid, which would have been deadly if it had gone undetected. For the next 10days, I received 40 injections of antibiotics. After recovering, I discovered that I was pregnant with our second child the entire time. Russian doctors instilled fear that the child would be born deformed because of all the strong medicine. However, by God’s grace, Jessica was born without any defects.
To read more, click here.