Alexander is a faithful missionary pastor who has labored for years and through many changing times. Recently, SGA’s vice president of ministry operations, Eric Mock, met with Alexander while travelling in Ukraine. After learning that Alexander’s ministry both as a deacon and pastor spanned four decades, Eric asked him what he learned during Soviet times that he could apply today in these days of war in Ukraine.
Here’s how Alexander responded during their lunch meeting. . .
Ministry during Soviet times and the war now has similar challenges, but I have the same response in both. I was jailed for my faith several times during the Soviet years for short periods of time – about two weeks. Sometimes we held services in the forest, and they found us there, too. I had curly hair, so I was grabbed by my hair one time and dragged to jail. [It was especially difficult when he was required to sign on to the Communist Party.] I refused. Called in by the KGB, I was harassed and threatened. But the most interesting thing happened in the future. A colonel of the KGB repented in my home! I tell you, ‘God is stronger!’ This man later came to church and testified he followed God. He was then persecuted as well, but never backed down.
So now, during war, the same lessons applied. I accept that all is from God. The Bible teaches wars and rumors of war will come (Matthew 24), but we must just be faithful. Just like Habakkuk said: Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places (Habakkuk. 3:17-19). Along with my son Sasha, I visit front line regions in the south in Kherson and in the east to help them with aid, so that they would see that God is with us always and I tell them about Jesus. The one who carries on to the end will be saved!
I am a slave of Jesus. When war started, nothing changed. Cain killed Abel before weapons developed. The real war is in the heart. If you look at this fork, you can eat with it. But if you want, you can hurt a person with it. The issue is the heart. It’s not about finding peace through victory nor losing it through hardship, but only through Christ in our hearts. My calling did not change with the war. So I travel to the front villages and preach Christ and help those in need. I continue ministry in my church. But my unchanging call as a pastor is to preach the Word.
Alexander also wanted to share this story from his experience as a pastor . . .
A 90-year-old lady repented. This was about 14 years ago. She passed away five years ago. Adela said she heard a voice all night in her dreams telling her to call a pastor in [a Ukrainian] church. She woke up, but ignored it. The next two nights she heard the same voice in her dreams. The voice said to call this pastor, and he will tell you the Way. Still she resisted. Then on that Sunday morning, she told her daughter, who agreed to help. Her daughter thought she meant priest. But she said again, the voice said pastor not priest.
She came to our worship service and asked me to come. I gathered a few people and went to visit Adela. I was in one room telling Adela about the way and the others prayed in the other room. We talked for two hours. At the end, she kneeled and believed. She did not know how long she would live and wanted to be baptized right away. The next week we baptized her at home in her tub, as she could not get out to the lake. Much too cold to go outside. Her three sons came many miles from Russia for her baptism. They were not believers. And still none of her children believe. They said, “We have time like our mother.” Adela died at 104 years old.