Irkutsk, Siberia - Church Planter / Pastor
Gennady Mikhailov lives and ministers in the Irkutsk region of Siberia. Together with other pastors in the region, Gennady is diligent in evangelism and church planting among the many surrounding villages and cities. He is also the pastor of a wonderful church in the city of Irkutsk. HeartCry began supporting Gennady in April of 2012.
I was born into a family of unbelievers, where Russian Orthodox traditions and holidays were observed, but where God was never worshiped in a way that the Scriptures dictate. God started speaking to me first in 1986. I started a new job in a place where there was one believer working. This gave me the opportunity to become more familiar with the teaching of the Bible. I began to read some spiritual literature, along with the New Testament, and I was asking a lot of questions to believers with whom I came in contact. I was interested in talking about God and everything related to Him. Occasionally, I would visit a Baptist church in Irkutsk.
Despite this new-found interest in knowing about God, I did not truly know Him. I continued to lead a godless way of life. I was a guitar player in a rock band and enjoyed the life-style it brought with it. I sinned and drew pleasure from it even though I had a clear understanding that such a life is displeasing to God and that I shouldn’t live like that. I came very close to divorcing my wife, despite the fact that we already had two children. I was extremely argumentative and prideful. My proud heart was hindering my life and creating many problems, which made things quite miserable.
By God’s grace, one night, He intervened in a special way. I remember that night very distinctly: I returned home from another rock band rehearsal. I was drunk, and I had a big argument with my wife. I locked myself away from her in the kitchen and had my dinner alone. On the wall in front of me was a small calendar with Bible verses and short commentaries for each day. It was a gift from believers. I would often forget to keep the days current for weeks at a time, and I noticed then that the calendar was out of date. I got up from the table to remove some of the old pages, but a verse from Isaiah 48:18 caught my eye: “Oh, that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.” God spoke to me through this verse. I read the text over and over again, and it would always resonate somewhere in my mind. It wasn’t an audible voice, but rather, somewhere inside. I understood then that it was God calling me, and for the first time in my life, I knelt down and asked God to change my life and my heart. He broke me of my desire for sin and brought me to repentance before Him.
I woke up the next morning with a headache because of the alcohol, but I distinctly remembered the night before and my prayer. Moreover, I immediately noticed that there was a change inside me. The voice of my conscience became much louder. I could no longer tolerate the very things I could do and say the day before. I somehow instantly stopped cursing. I reconciled with my wife and began eagerly waiting for Sunday to come so that I could go to meet with other believers. My life began to change radically. I left the band and abandoned the music career. I am now a completely different man!
I was baptized in 1990 and became a member of a church in Irkutsk. God continued to work in me, and in 1998, I was ordained to be a deacon in that church. By that time, I was already preaching from the pulpit occasionally and participating in missionary trips and evangelism throughout Siberia and the Irkutsk region.
In 2000, I graduated from Bible school, and our church started a new church plant in a different part of the city. I was involved with this church from the very beginning, and I was appointed pastor in 2004.
Looking back on my past life, I am grateful to God for the way that He led me. I am thankful for all the joys and griefs, successes and failures. I am now filled with a desire to serve our Lord with all my heart.