October 25, 2020

I met Pastor Yuriy Chernyavsky in 2016 at a Christian conference in Bilten, Switzerland. We quickly found a common language and made friends with his family. His wife’s name is Danuta. He has five children: Anastasia, Maria, Natalia, Alexey and Dmitry. In 1991 during his military service in Leningrad, the Soviet Union, Pastor Yuriy came to believe in Christ. In the same year he arrived at Dnestrovsk, Transnistria, where he lives to this day.

For me personally, that trip to Switzerland was special, because at that moment the Lord guided me in the direction He wanted me to go in serving Him.

Having gotten to know each other closer as well as the ministry of Pastor Yuriy Chernyavsky, I had a great desire to visit Dnestrovsk and see everything with my own eyes. What I liked most was the simplicity in the methods of winning children’s souls for Christ. Sometimes, we, Christians, make things so much complicated coming up with an array of social projects and entertainment programs, and I thought to myself, “How different it is from the way John the Baptist and the Apostle Paul won souls. Why are so many ministries today more and more resorting to fleshly methods of attracting people to Christ?” This testifies only to one thing – the lack of the power of the Holy Spirit or its absence after all. I am not talking about pretentious expressions or how emotionally people act, claiming to have a special relationship with Him, but about the real power of God’s Spirit.

In 2 Corinthians 1:12, Paul writes, “For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.” I thought, “Paul, you didn’t have much money nor did you organize anything extraordinary, you preached the Gospel in simplicity in many cities of the Roman Empire and your ministry was fruitful.” And in the same way, I saw the Gospel being conveyed in simplicity to children in various villages in Transnistria.

Young sisters and Pastor Yuriy’s wife Danuta showed special zeal ministering to children. Nowadays camps are often organized mostly for believers. On the contrary, the church in Dnestrovsk come with the aim of spreading the Good News to a certain village, pitching their tents and holding meetings, which include the Bible reading, singing hymns and songs, acting out performances about the lives of the  biblical characters, and playing outdoor games. Over time, out of curiosity children from nearby houses come near to see what is taking place and eventually become part of the camp.

In one of the testimonies, Yuriy shared with me how they taught children that they were to shine light in their families, as it pleases the Lord. And when the children came back to their homes, and the parents saw a change in their behavior, they were even happy to send their children to such camp, although initially they were suspicious of it. Just picture a child coming home and saying, “Mom, do you want me to help you wash the dishes?” This surprised the parents, since before they had to beg them more than once to help them around the house. Now they take the initiative.

In one village, the children liked such meetings so much that they asked the ministers to come visit them every Sunday and hold meetings for them. The Lord blessed the ministry of Pastor Yuriy, and over time they were able to purchase a small old house, where they still hold Sunday services for children. In fact, this church is made up of children only with two responsible adult sisters and a minister who visits them on a weekly basis. I personally had the opportunity to attend one of those services, where I preached the Word to them. My heart was filled with joy at the sight of these little hearts listening attentively to the sermon and devoting their lives to Jesus. And what a joy it must be for our Heavenly Father! Having won these children for God, we will not have to go to preach to them in prisons. In such economically challenged and disadvantaged countries the temptation to engage in illegal business is quite high. This is the most favorable age to come to know the Lord while their minds are not yet stained with the realities of evil and numerous voices with many opinions, convictions, and beliefs.

We also see Christians gathering in simplicity during the early church. Luke tells us about this in the book of Acts 2:46, “… continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart.” Do we desire today to gather at the same table every day, where Christ is the center of attention, and where we can rejoice sharing the news of reaching the hearts of lost souls in this world? O, how I miss this kind of simplicity today!

Arriving in Transnistria, I did not even think that we would get together with young people and other brothers and sisters so often. You could see that simplicity of heart and pure sincerity. One day, I was pleasantly surprised. I was invited to a certain young sister’s birthday and she asked me to share the Word with those gathered. Honestly, I was even a little confused, because for a long time I had not seen that someone on his birthday would like to spend time talking about Jesus Christ and life in Him. In certain places, I even found myself in an awkward situation where I felt uncomfortable to ask a group of Christians to sing a hymn, let alone to meditate on and reason about the Scriptures. Thus, the youth in Transnistria filled my heart with joy so much that now I know that we do have a future generation of Christians who shine like bright stars in the dark world and earnestly desire to be closer in a relationship with the Lord.

The Apostle Paul also warned us, “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” (2 Cor. 11:3). Friends, do not let the devil lead you astray from that simplicity in Christ!

Since then we have been friends with Pastor Yuriy and his church. I am deeply convinced that it is urgently important for us as ministers of Jesus Christ to win souls today as never before. May such passion be awakened in the hearts of many followers of Christ!

Currently, Pastor Yuriy and his team pay visits to the needy and carry on with the ministry of evangelism primarily among children. We are happy to support them financially and thus participate in the ministry. We hope that we will be able to visit them this coming spring, and, if the Lord permits, to take part in further evangelistic services.

Max Volkov in Christ