Monday, June 11, 2012

The Morning After: An Interview with Eugene Bakhmutsky

I am fully committed to preaching. I believe it is the way God has instructed us in order to reach the world. Proclaim God's Word. It has been my belief that every week at church should be a time of preaching. But yesterday, I went outside the norm and did a question and answer with Eugene Bakhmutsky, my Russian friend. Here are some of the highlights.

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Question: Tell us about your family history and how you came to Christ. 

Answer: His great grandfather was killed for his faith. Both of his grandfathers were sent to Siberia as a form of imprisonment. From the time that he turned five years old, his family made him memorize the Scriptures because they knew at some point he might be imprisoned. Being imprisoned for your faith would mean that he would have no copy of the Scriptures. Therefore he wanted to have as much memorized as he could. He also shared that when he was young, he remembered in church being a calendar where people would sign up to borrow the one copy of the Bible that the church had. You could have it for a few days at a time and then you would bring it back. When their family would get it for a few days, they would copy as much of the Bible as they could. They had almost a fully copied version of the Bible.

My Takeaway: We are the opposite in many ways. And maybe their church is now as well. But we have so many Bibles that it is no longer special to us. I wonder what it would be like if we only had the Bible for a few days at a time. Would we read it? Would we cherish it? Would we study it? Would we memorize it? Would we write it? I think so. I only wish I treated it like that today.

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Question: What is it like to be a Christian in Russia today?

Answer: They are preparing their people that it will be necessary to pay the price. He spoke of the high calling it is to be a member of a church. He said that they ask each of their members to share the gospel every week, to give generously, to attend regularly, and to be involved in a small group. If people are not willing to do that, they are not going to join their church. He also mentioned that each of his elders have been interviewed by the KGB in the past year. They know that all of their phone calls are recorded, which might seem scary to us, but not to them. He shared that they share the gospel each time they are on the phone because they know that the agents will be listening and recording their conversation. That was really funny.

My Takeaway: We need to prepare for similar persecution in America. In many ways, I want it. I think it would purify the church if we were to have a little suffering for the gospel. It is only a matter of time. As well, maybe we do not have much of it because of the lack of boldness we have for the gospel message.

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Question: What is your perception of American Christianity? If you could give one word of encouragement for us, what would it be?

Answer: Eugene was very reluctant to answer this question, even though we have talked often about it personally. He simply did not want to look like he was coming in and judging American Christians. He said that he has met some very godly men and women in the church in America. But overall, he thinks the love for Christ is declining in our nation. He gave a few examples of why he thinks this. But then his word of advice was that we should be bold for our faith. We should share the gospel with much more boldness than we currently do.

I asked him if he thought he had the gift of evangelism. He simply said that he is a Christian. Jesus said that if we follow Him, He would make us fishers of men (Matt. 4:19). He said that making excuses about having a gift of evangelism versus not having one is not good. It makes us rationalize as to why we do not talk about Jesus to the person we sit next to on the airplane or the person who lives next door to us. Christians talk about Christ. That was his point.

My Takeaway: I need to be bolder for my faith. I need to share the gospel with more clarity. I am extremely convicted that I do not share Jesus like I have been called to do. I think it has become easy for me to say that I am sharing the gospel when I am just being kind and nice and showing the love of Jesus. I was humbled and convicted.

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There were many other questions that I asked him. If you want to listen to the entire interview, you can find it HERE (usually posted by Tuesday afternoon).

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