Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Back in the USSR

Since I am teaching away once more here in Moscow I thought it would be a good time to reflect on what is happening to Protestant Christianity in this country--- namely that it is spreading like kudzu in all directions. It is especially gratifying to see so many of my students over here leading the charge. I have time to speak of only one example.

In 1995 Alexander Tsouserov and his wife Natasha came to Asbury Seminary to study and prepare to go be an important teacher and now the dean of Moscow Biblical Seminary. He was converted in a remarkable fashion in 1992 having been a former KGB agent here in Russia. He was an exceptional student at Asbury and I along with others persuaded him that he needed to do doctoral work in NT. We sent him to St. Andrews in Scotland where he did a top drawer degree, graduating last summer in 2004. He is now deaning and training many for minister here in Moscow, and his wife is leading the charitable arm of the seminary. It is amazing to see the transformation of Moscow and the church here, formerly dominated by the Orthodox Church with all its political connections and long coattails.
You will be interested to know that many, indeed almost half the students at this seminary are women--- some becoming teachers, some becoming preachers, some becoming chaplains, some becoming missionaries, some becoming Christian ed directors, some becoming co-laborers in the Gospel with their husbands. This is very remarkable since most of them come out of a contect (Russian Baptist) which has previously forbidden women to take some of these roles. In some ways it is like watching the Book of Acts unfold all over again with a new generation of Priscillas and Phoebes helping to lead the way. The Holy Spirit is only getting warmed up in Russia, and we must pray for a peaceful political situation so this can continue.

The other interesting thing to report is my discovery of so much remarkable Russian Christian Art--- no not icons. I am talking about the art of 19th century and early 20th century Russian painters like Ge, Ivanov, Pollenov, and Kramskoi. There paintings of Jesus and the Gospel scenes rival anything in Western art, but their work is hardly known in North America. I would commend their work and recommend the large book on Three Centuries of Russian Art--- which is in English/ The rest of the good books on these artists are in Russian.


Brian Russell said...

Hi Ben,
Thanks for the update. I did not realize that you are teaching in Russia this summer.

Please greet Alexander for me (I knew him as "Sasha"). He was in my Greek and Hebrew courses back during my time as a teaching fellow.

I will add you to my prayers.

Grace and peace,
Brian Russell

JohnDeere said...

BW3--- pls tell Sasha and Natasha hello from me as well. Let me know when you return to Wilmore.

J. B. Hood said...

Hey folks,

Does anyone know of a list of NT textbooks available in Russian?


J. B. Hood

Paul said...

If you don't mind a comment from a stranger (but one who has read and enjoyed some of your work),

I would point out, among any other considerations, that the number of women in seminary in Russia is probably due to the fact that women really run the country in most ways. For the last several generations men in Soviet and post-Soviet society have felt powerless, and thus have retreated, generally, from responsibilities.

This is one of those gross generalizations that gets folks in trouble, but I haven't so far run into anyone who would question it. The female to male ratio of people taking on leading roles in Russian protestant church I'll bet is much higher than 1 to 1, so the fact that 50% of the seminarians are men might be significant itself.