This is long overdue. One of the things Joel had me do in preparation for coming here was write out my testimony. So I did in English. Then, I got to translate it into Russian so Dima could send it to people interested in the Bible school and so I can tell it to people. Below is the English version of the text. Русская Версия
I grew up in the church. Sometimes I think that's more difficult than becoming a Christian as an adult. When you come in as an adult, you make the decision to believe and be baptized and you are committed to making that change. When you grow up in the church I think sometimes things aren't always so clear or firm.
I committed my life to Christ when I was 11 years old. I believed in God and I wanted to make sure that I would spend eternity with him. So I was baptized and began my Christian walk. Things went pretty well until high school and then I started questioning. As I got more into reading the Bible and better understanding of what Christianity is, I started to become disenchanted with it. I was reading what a Christian should be Biblically and looking around my church, suddenly realizing that the two didn't match up. I started to feel really down. Here I was, wanting to live out the faith and I felt like I was surrounded by hypocrites who showed up on Sunday morning because that's what good people do. By the time I was ready to graduate, I no longer cared. Force of habit and my parents' expectations were what kept me going to services.
I went to Russia as an exchange student right after high school. The first half of my trip I didn't really attempt to find a place to worship. I thought about God in the context of things I was seeing and doing, but most of it was brief and in passing. But God was working on me.
After I had been there about five months, something interesting happened. You see, I love to read and about this time, I ran out of things to read in English. The only thing I had left was my Bible. So I opened it at random one day and the next thing I knew, I was devouring the word. Reading for myself, I learned things that I never learned just sitting in worship every Sunday. I suddenly realized that I really missed being with other believers and so I made an effort to find a place where I could worship.
God worked on me and made me realize that it isn't my place to judge the hearts of men. It's his job. My job is to make sure that I''m right with him and that those around me can see the light of Christ within me. My journey since then has been filled with highs and lows. I am after all human. But God is always faithful to me and because of the sacrifice of his son, I can live with hope.