Belarus - Slava V.
Slava is a pastor of a Baptist church in Belarus and the director of “Gospel and Reformation,” a ministry that translates and publishes sound theological resources into Russian. HeartCry began supporting Slava in November of 2011. Belarus is a ‘restricted’ nation with regard to the gospel and church planting. As a result the church there faces many obstacles.
As the head of a Russian Christian publishing house, I can firmly say that it is difficult to overestimate HeartCry’s involvement in the Russian-speaking world.
In the past five years, HeartCry has helped to publish ten substantial books containing 3,000 pages of the best Reformed theology of the past and the present. These include Loius Berkhof’s 900-pages Systematic Theology (which was published in Russian for the very first time in 2014) and four out of five of Paul Washer’s books. The last one, the fifth, should come off the press by Christmas 2015. HeartCry also supported the publication of books by S. Ferguson, D. A. Carson, E. Clowney, and P. Helm.
We do not give away books for free (but HeartCry will give books freely to the pastors they support). We sell them. Too often in the past we saw people getting free copies and never reading! We do not charge the whole price, but we expect Russian believers to pay something, which will motivate them to read.
Paul Washer’s book, “The Gospel’s Power and Message,” gave us a surprise. It was the first book in my fifteen-year experience of publishing ministry which sold out in only ten months! Usually it takes two years in our slow Russian market for a good book to sell out.
You may wonder what we do with the money, which we get from sales. We do not get bonuses! The staff salaries, including my own, are fixed. And they are not high. The sales money is used to sustain the ministry: to pay overheads and make sure that the new books are being translated, printed and distributed.
Let’s look at HeartCry’s involvement from another angle:
- In Russian speaking countries, most pastors are not fully supported by the churches and are expected to have a job. I am one such pastor. When you donate money to HeartCry and HeartCry passes it on to us to translate and publish books this provides a job for me. And what a job! One of my pastor-friends is a plumber. After hard physical work he has to switch to his pastoral studies and duties. I translate Reformed books and this work, is far from distracting me from my pastoral ministry.
- There are two more pastors who work in our publishing house. One like me is a translator; the other is the sales manager. So the same HeartCry funds are used twice: They not only pay for production of books they also pay pastors’ salaries. And by the way who can do the job of the sales manager better then a pastor who loves Reformed books?!
I of course have personal reasons to be extremely grateful to HeartCry and their supporters. They supported me through my doctoral studies in theology, which I completed in September 2014. The academic credentials open more doors to teach the gospel in Russia, Ukraine, and my own country of Belarus. HeartCry now continues to invest in the theological education of my fellow pastor Anatoly, who is a student in the Reformed Theological Seminary.
It remains to say that I not only translate books and then try to distribute them to others. I also use them in my own pastoral ministry. In the past two years in our church’s home groups, we studied The One True God and The Truth about Man by Paul Washer, as well as The Holy Spirit by Sinclair Ferguson. This year we are going to read together “The Church” by Edmund Clowney. These are all books published in partnership with HeartCry.
Anatoly is a gifted pastor and translator in Belarus. He used to teach English at the Linguistic University in Minsk and now is working with “Gospel and Reformation” to translate much-needed theological books into Russian. He is also currently taking classes by extension through Reformed Theological Seminary. HeartCry began supporting Anatoly (and his schooling efforts) in August of 2014. He is married to Anya, and they have two children: Vita (daughter) and Vladislav (son).
In the fall of 2014, HeartCry began to sponsor my studies as a distant student at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, NC. That opened up a whole new chapter in my life and ministry. HeartCry not only committed to cover my tuition, but also to release me from one of my two jobs and to pay for all the books I needed for my studies. In fact, I received not only those books required for my courses, but many other books that are useful for my personal growth and practical ministry! Even within just one year, and after taking four courses, my theological horizons were broadened immensely.
However, as time went on I realized that I had too many things to juggle. My work sometimes took me away from the church on weekends, and deadlines at the seminary lurked in my mind every time I tried to relax. I had been a writer for quite some time but I had to put it aside. In addition, there were many other things that had to be cut out. Even still, there wasn’t sufficient time for all my responsibilities. I prayed to the Lord for some kind of resolution of the tension that was building up, both within me and within my family.
The thing that I loved most about HeartCry was that they appreciated me as a person (with weaknesses and inabilities) rather than as a project that had to produce a certain ‘output.’ I was deeply thankful for the support I received and the schooling provided, and I couldn’t dare to expect more. However, this summer HCry proposed to set me free from my job. This way, I can fully focus on my seminary education and my church. It also gives me a ‘normal’ week where there is actually one day that I can fully give to my wife and children.
I am also thankful for the wonderful friendship that I have developed with Holden Barry, the HeartCry coordinator for Belarus. I am thankful for consistent prayer support. I am particularly thankful for all those who use their financial means to advance the gospel and strengthen churches in countries where they have never been and for the good of people they have never seen. May the Lord multiply the fruits of your love and generosity and fulfill all your needs!