From KGB Agent to God's Ambassador

March 30 2016

Testimony of Sasha Tsutserov

My parents were members of the Communist Party. They never spoke of God or the Bible. However, when I was five years old, my grandmother insisted that I be baptized in the Orthodox Church. This was all done in secret — miles outside of Moscow, inside a dimly lit sanctuary. Although I was young, the Holy Spirit touched a hidden yearning in my heart for spiritual reality.

Russia had lost virtually all traces of Christianity during 70 years of Communist captivity. Her legacy to me was one of atheism. I became a member of the Communist Party and secured a position in the KGB. I had a beautiful wife Natasha, a precious daughter Julia, good friends, a bright future, and all that I dreamed of as a young man.

Julia befriended an American girl whose father was a missionary in Moscow. Soon after, Natasha was engaged as their private Russian language tutor. As the head of my home and a KGB agent, I felt obligated to investigate these foreigners who had made such an impact on my family. I was awestruck by the humanitarian aid distributed by their church. And I was irresistibly drawn to their joy for life, for each other, and for the Lord. Step by step, I began to realize their generosity and joy stemmed from their love for God. At first, I gave God a 50/50 chance: since no one could prove God’s existence, then no one could deny Him either. I stepped away from my aggressively atheistic realm. Then, while praying at one of the church retreats, I had a vision. I saw God standing on the top of a mountain. I felt I was a jar of clay. God was pouring down pure gold of the Holy Spirit right inside of the jar – me. From that moment on, I needed no evidence for God’s existence, for I knew God in Jesus Christ. I came back home that day. My wife Natasha met me in the door and said, “What’s wrong with you?” I said, “What’s wrong with me, honey?” She said, “You are smiling!” You see, I had never smiled before. But that day Jesus made me smile. Now, my smile gave me away. I did not know any better than to admit that I became a Christian. She, in turn, confessed to me that she had become a Christian even earlier than I did only she was scared to death to talk about it with her husband, a KGB agent! In July 1993, I was baptized and openly proclaimed my faith in Jesus Christ.

I soon realized I could not keep both my faith and my job, so I quit working for the KGB. We – as a part of a team of ten converts – planted a church in Moscow. And I also knew God had called me to ministry in education. But there was no school in Russia offering a degree in Biblical Studies because the Communists had prohibited theological training. Therefore, I had to study abroad. In 1997, I graduated from Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, with a Master of Divinity degree (mentored by Dr. Ben Witherington, III). In 2004, I earned a Ph.D. in New Testament at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland (mentored by Dr. Richard Bauckham). While studying, I also worked at the Moscow Evangelical Christian Seminary by consecutively taking each and every position the school had – from a secretary to the provost.

Today, I am a full-time minister - director and professor of the Moscow Seminary. We are raising a whole new generation of Christian leaders from scratch. Under Communism, more than 200,000 Christian leaders were martyred and nearly 40,000 church-owned buildings were destroyed. I now have realized a new dream. Not the dream I sought as a young man; that dream did not include God. But the dream of you and me, together, training men and women to evangelize the lost and plant churches across Russia and the former Soviet Union is becoming a reality!

~Sasha Tsutserov

To support Sasha, director and professor of Biblical Studies at the Moscow Seminary, please donate online here.

To support the ministry of MECS, you can donate online here.

Tags: mecs, moscow seminary, russia, kgb,

Busy Jewish Student Needs Prayer

March 22 2016

As a Jew, about once every three months, I like to participate in the Jews for Jesus campaigns. With my Jewish brothers, I teach the New Testament on Saturdays, in addition to my regular church responsibilities on Sundays.

This semester at MECS, I have some classes I enjoy and some that are not as practical. One class that is useful in ministry is my counseling course. I am involved in ministry at a Center of Social Adaptation (our church reaches out to its inhabitants). There are many abused people in recovery at the center, and I want to apply some of the knowledge and skills I’m gaining in counseling there.

I really enjoy my church music and Russian language & rhetoric classes. I also love our church leadership course! It is based on the history makers curriculum and led by a true leader – pastor of a church and doctor of ministry. It is awesome!

Sometimes it can be tough to carry on with all the responsibilities in my church, along with Jews for Jesus ministry, and the seminary course work. Thank you for your prayers and financial support.

—Yakov Efremenko, MECS student

Moscow Evangelical Christian Seminary was founded in 1992 by One Mission Society. MECS’ reputation as a premier theological training institution continues to grow as former students spread the word. The seminary offers theology, church ministry, youth ministry, and camp ministry degrees at both the master’s and bachelor’s levels. While studying, students enjoy a hands-on experience as part of their course work, in addition to service in local churches. The seminary is located in Russia’s capital city, Moscow, and is directed by Dr. Alexander (Sasha) Tsoutserov. Currently, there are approximately 100 students studying at the seminary.

If you'd like to donate to MECS, click here.

Tags: seminary, russia, mecs, students, jewish, jews for jesus

Seminary Classes Practical for Ministry

March 17 2016

Vasiliy Kazennyh is excited about Jesus. He is a student at the Moscow Evangelical Christian Seminary (MECS). Vasiliy recognizes the value of his classes at MECS and how they will help him in his future ministry. He says he chose MECS because it is so local church oriented. The seminary emphasizes being involved IN ministry WHILE studying. Vasily says each class is relevant to practical ministry situations.

Vasily is also involved in ministry at his church, training the school-aged children in evangelism. He says one of his favorite parts of this ministry is seeing these tender souls accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior!

He also volunteers at a charity shop to help in the community and his fellow MECS students. Vasily says, "Our students come from all over Russia and the former Soviet Union. They are poor. To cover their basic needs, we collect used clothes, shoes, etc. and distribute them (at a fraction of the cost) among the needy students. (All the proceeds help support ministries of the seminary.)"

Thank you for advancing the kingdom of God in Russia through the Moscow Seminary!

OMS began work in Russia in 1993, sending short-term teams with CoMission. We then inaugurated MECS in September 1993.

The students of MECS are special … and are becoming the leaders of the Russian church and the nation.

If you'd like to support MECS and students like Vasily, give here.

Tags: russia, seminary, mecs, moscow evangelical seminary, students,

Russian Student Says Thanks

March 9 2016

“Thank you so very much for participating in advancing the Gospel in Russia!”

Ivan Beshlyaga is a student at Moscow Evangelical Christian Seminary (MECS) in Russia. Here’s his testimony:

“The church the Lord helped me plant in Nizhny Novgorod (a city of 1.5 million people, 250 miles East of Moscow) is doing great! Each Sunday, about 50 come to worship. We have three Sunday school classes after each service: one for kids, one for new converts, and one for those preparing for church membership and baptism. On Mondays, we have our leadership team meeting. On Tuesdays, our cell groups meet in homes. On Wednesdays through Fridays, we are devoted to our Bible school studies (to prepare church members for mission work in other towns and villages). And on Saturdays, we do our Youth Club and evangelism, (we actually do evangelism every single day of the week.)

“The seminary teaches me a lot for ministry. I am currently working on my thesis.

Natasha, my wife in purple, is now also a student at MECS, studying counseling, as well as being six months pregnant with our third daughter. I covet your prayers with her doing it all simultaneously, studying at the seminary and taking care of our family and the church. But I am excited that we will soon be able to minister together as a team.

“Our studies at the Moscow Seminary are only possible through your help, my dear coworkers in Christ. I am thankful. And I want you to know that your investment in me pays back in the form of souls of Russians being saved by Jesus Christ the Lord.”

To support Ivan and other students like him at the Moscow Seminary, click here.

Tags: moscow seminary, mecs, russia, theological training,

Seminary Students: Doers of the Word

March 4 2016

Editor’s note: This month, we will feature the ministry of Moscow Evangelical Christian Seminary (MECS). OMS began work in Russia in 1993, sending short-term teams with CoMission. OMS inaugurated MECS in September 1993.

The students of MECS are special … and are becoming the leaders of the church and the nation. Look for testimonies of the students in the coming weeks...

The students of the Moscow Seminary take Jesus’ charge, “You are My friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:14) literally.

The Bible teaches, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans in their distress” (James 1:27). And so, not only do our students and graduates reach out to orphans with the Gospel in state orphanages, but they also get kids out of orphanages by adopting orphans into their own families.

Jesus appeals, “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in” (Matthew 25:35). And so, not only do our students preach the Gospel to the homeless, but they also feed them.

There are 234 student-ministers studying at the seminary “to prove themselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers” (James 1:22). They need your help to continue. Click here to donate online or you can make your check payable to One Mission Society, P.O. Box 1648, Monument CO 80132-1648, account #301710.

By Sasha Tsutserov, Director of Moscow Evangelical Christian Seminary in Russia

Tags: russia, mecs, seminary, orphans, feeding homeless,