Tag Archives: baptism

The Murderer Who Became a Missionary


An Excellent Read – repost from the cripplegate

The Murderer Who Became a Missionary

PersecutorSome time ago, when preparing a sermon on the life of the apostle Paul, I came across the story of Sergei Kourdakov. Today’s post is adapted from the illustration I used as the introduction to that sermon. 

The year was 1969.

A lot happened that year. It was the year Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. It was the year my parents got married. And it was the year that John MacArthur became the teaching pastor of Grace Community Church.

It was in that same year that 18-year-old Sergei Kourdakov, a Russian orphan who had distinguished himself as a leader in the Communist Youth League, began his term at the Soviet naval academy. Given his natural leadership ability and his commitment to the Communist cause, it was not surprising that Kourdakov was soon approached by the KGB, who put him in charge of a secret branch of the city’s police force.

As a secret KGB unit, Kourdakov’s squad of fellow soldiers was largely tasked with targeting church meetings and the Christians who attended them. These “believers” posed a threat to the state and to communism itself, or so Kourdakov was told. As such, they had to be found and stopped by whatever means were deemed necessary.

Over the next two years, Kourdakov would carry out more than 150 raids on Russian underground churches and Christian communities. On one such occasion, he and his men hid while an outdoor baptism service was being conducted. As soon as the baptisms were over, his men attacked. The Christians, of course, did not fight back. But that didn’t stop Kourdakov’s unit from treating them with brutality. Within minutes, all of the believers were beaten and bleeding, lying on the ground.  The pastor himself was dead, his body floating in the river where he had just performed the baptisms.

As the attacks continued, Kourdakov was shocked to notice that many of these believers were young people – even as young as he was. He was also startled by the fact his raids were not effective in stopping Christian meetings. To his surprise, people who were beaten and arrested at one meeting would later be found attending subsequent meetings.

It seemed that the more he persecuted the church the more the church grew.

In each of these raids, in addition to beating and arresting the believers, Kourdakov and his men would confiscate any Bibles or other religious literature they found. These would either be destroyed or sent back to KGB headquarters.

One day, Kourdakov himself was curious about what these Christians were reading. So he picked up one a few pages of Christian literature and snuck them back to his room at the naval academy.

What he read shocked him. The pages were from the gospel of Luke, and they changed his life forever. Here is what he said of that experience:

At the first opportunity I had, lying in my bunk at the naval academy, I opened up those pieces of paper and began to read them again. Jesus was talking and teaching someone how to pray. I became more curious and read on. This certainly was no anti-state material. It was how to be a better person and how to forgive those who do you wrong. Suddenly the words leaped out of those pages and into my heart. I read on, engrossed in the kind words of Jesus. This was exactly the opposite of what I had expected. My lack of understanding, which had been like blinders on my eyes, left me right then, and the words bit deeply into my being. . . . Through the days and weeks ahead, those words of Jesus stayed with me. I couldn’t shake them, hard as I tried. I wished I hadn’t read them. Everything had been so organized in my life, but those disturbing words had changed something. I had feelings I never had felt before. I couldn’t explain or understand them. (Sergei Kourdakov, The Persecutor)

He was now conflicted. Soon he began to realize that the communism to which he had dedicated his life was nothing more than an empty façade.

With the words of Christ piercing his soul, Kourdakov knew he had to get out of the KGB, and if possible, the Soviet Union.

Soon he had his opportunity. After graduating from the Soviet Naval Academy, he was stationed on a cruise ship patrolling waters off the western coast of North America. He thought that if his ship came close enough to land, he might be able to jump overboard and swim for shore. On September 3, 1971, Kourdakov jumped off of his ship into the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean. The next morning he washed up on the coast of British Columbia. Amazingly, he was alive.

While still on the Soviet ship, Kourdakov had purposed in his heart that once he escaped he would serve the very Jesus he had persecuted so vigorously. True to that promise, he began attending an English-speaking church in Toronto, Canada. He also visited a Ukrainian church where he was given a Russian Bible.

Kourdakov immediately recognized the Russian Bible as being the same type of Bible that he had often confiscated from the believers in Russia. He asked where it came from, and was told that it was distributed by a missions organization known as Underground Evangelism—a California-based ministry that helped to smuggle Bibles into communist countries.

Soon after, Kourdakov himself moved to California where he worked with Underground Evangelism.

Incredibly, the man who had persecuted Christians, who had been involved in the beatings and even murders of believers, was now helping a missions organization do the very thing he had once violently opposed!

God had graciously brought Sergei Kourdakov to faith in Christ. Just a few months later, the Lord would take him home. On January 1, 1973, Kourdakov was found shot dead in his room. Based on threats he received before he died, he was almost certainly assassinated by KGB agents who wanted to silence him.

Kourdakov’s testimony is pretty remarkable: A man who violently persecuted the church for a cause he thought was right, only to find that the cause he had so passionately pursued was false and he had actually been fighting against the truth.

Confronted with the words of Christ, his heart was dramatically changed. He left his former life behind, and joined the very movement he had been persecuting, promoting the work of Underground Evangelism so that more Bibles could be sent back into the Soviet Union. In the end, he was killed by the agency he had formerly served.

In many ways, the story of Sergei Kourdakov parallels the story of the man whose life we will be looking at in our message today. That person, as you might have guessed, is the apostle Paul.

Leave a comment

Filed under Inspirational

UNITED IN THE FAITH: EVIDENCE OF HOLY SPIRIT PRESENCE


William Andrew Dillard

HEBREW HONEYCOMB
UNITED IN THE FAITH: EVIDENCE OF HOLY SPIRIT PRESENCE
An exceedingly marvelous thing occurred on the Day called Pentecost long, long ago. It is recorded in Acts Chapter Two.
The baptism of the Lord’s church in Holy Spirit presence and empowerment fulfilled Jesus’ promise to His little flock to impart to it the Comforter Who would lead it in power and illumination throughout the age.
Some folks question whether that same Holy Spirit continues with the Lord’s churches today or should the church be praying for a Pentecost repeat.
God’s promises never fail. There will not be a repeat of Pentecost anymore than there will be a repeat of Calvary’s cross. But the evidence of Holy Spirit’s presence is not as religious men of carnal minds think or in the antics of religious charlatans who appeal to the flesh nature. The most solid and obvious evidence of continued Holy Spirit presence, to the mind of this writer, lies in church members’ spiritual understanding, acceptance, and agreement with the faith once delivered to the saints, Jude 3. This distinguishes the Lord’s true churches from all other religious bodies on earth. And while the Lord’s churches are not cookie cutter entities, in many respects they are highly unified in core doctrines which the entire religious world rejects out of hand. Consider these specifics: 1) The hereditary depravity of the total man, 2) Salvation by grace through faith plus nothing else; 3) Eternal security of the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ; 4) Baptism as a burial in deep water of a professed believer by the authority of a New Testament church; 4) The perpetuation of the local, visible nature of the church, and its origin by Jesus during His personal ministry on earth. Other points of unity might well be mentioned, but these are all held as basic Bible truths by the Lord’s true churches. While being emphatically denied by the religious world at large, they are the basis of the churches assembling to worship and to advance the work of the Great Commission. How may this amazing thing be true? Could it be that the people in the Lord’s churches are smarter than everyone else on earth, especially those in other religious communities? Surely, that is not so. Thus, herein lies the marvel of the age, the greatest and most obvious evidence of the abiding work of the Holy Spirit in modern day churches of the Lord. These spiritual things are not carnally discerned. Their knowledgeable acceptance in the hearts of God’s people together with the marvelous unity and harmony they provide fulfill the quest of the spiritual student searching for such evidence. Though he certainly could, he actually needs look no further than this for irrefutable evidence that the Holy Spirit abides with His churches, and has done so since Pentecost.

Leave a comment

Filed under Commentary

183 – July 01 – THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY PAST


 

They paid the price for their faith in Norway

King Christian the sixth sat on the throne of Norway and Denmark when Soren Bolle immersed Johannes Halvorsen on July 1, 1742, in the river that flows through Drammen. On July 8 Halvorsen immersed Bolle, Nills Buttedahl, two others, and then Bolle immersed his wife. This was not done in secret but openly before the eyes of everybody, in order that they might show the world that they were “the true disciples of Christ.” There were no Baptists in Norway, and the state church was Lutheran, but Bolle, having prepared for the Lutheran ministry, was dissatisfied in his learning and could not subscribe to the doctrines of the state church. This has happened from time to time during the ages, when groups of people have come to the knowledge of believer’s immersion without any connection to Baptists elsewhere. The first person to administer the ordinance had never been immersed. He then immersed himself (this is called “sebaptism”). In almost every case, those whom he baptized lacked the assurance of the validity of their baptism due to a lack of succession. Nevertheless it wasn’t long until the wrath of the State Church backed by the government came upon them. Bolle said, “In regard to infant baptism, “my heart would rejoice if anybody could show me out of the Bible, one word that speaks about it, because what we say or do must be founded on the scriptures…because they shall judge me one day.” All of these men suffered in prison and the confiscation of their goods for their faith.

Dr. Greg J. Dixon: From This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 269-70.

The post 183 – July 01 – THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY PAST

 appeared first on The Trumpet Online

.

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Church History

165 – June 14 – THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY PAST


 

Brief Ministry in Violent Times

 

Daniel Fristoe was one of a number of effective preachers who were called under the preaching of David Thomas. He was a product of the ministry of the Chappawamsick Church around which swirled controversy and violence from certain citizens in Stafford and Prince William Counties, Virginia.

 

On June 14, 1771 Fristoe was ordained to the regular work of the ministry, one day after John young was haled into court in Caroline County for preaching without a license. According to Fristoe’s diary, the day following his ordination he met with the brethren in Fauquier County where they examined some candidates for baptism. 16 persons were adjudged proper subjects for baptism. The next day being Sunday about two thousand people came together. After the preaching, thirteen others were examined and deemed worthy of baptism. Fristoe baptized twenty-nine people before this great multitude.

 

While in Philadelphia as a messenger Fristoe was seized with the smallpox, from which he never recovered. He died far from home in the thirty-fifth year of his life.

 

Dr. Dale R. Hart: Adapted from: This Day in Baptist History. Vol. I. (Thompson/Cummins) p. 244.

 

The post 165 – June 14 – THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY PAST appeared first on The Trumpet Online.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Church History

86 – March – 27 – THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY PAST


 

 

Baptists struggled for liberty
1778 – On this very day, two young evangelists Isaiah Parker and Samuel Fletcher, were persecuted by mobs as they attempted to preach on the streets of Pepperell, Massachusetts, according to an entry in the diary of Isaac Backus.  Unwilling to surrender to the pressure the young men visited Pepperell several times during the spring and summer.  During a visit on June 26, however, a real blowup took place as six converts presented themselves for baptism.  On Sept. on that year, Backus makes an entry concerning a letter from the Baptists at Pepperell which was discussed by the Warren Association.  The setting according to Backus, “They met in a field by a river side, where prayers were made, and a sermon begun, when the chief officers of the town, with many followers, came and interrupted their worship.”  He went on to record that the owner of the field warned the “rowdies” to depart but they refused to go.  One of the Baptist preachers reminded them of the liberty of conscience which is generally allowed, even by the powers that we were at war with; and one of the officers said, “Don’t quote scripture here!”  Then a dog was carried into the river, and plunged in evident mockery.”  A gentleman in town then invited them to his house for worship that was near another river.  The mob followed and took some whiskey and more dogs and began to plunge them into that river in obvious contempt for water immersion.  At that point friends warned them that for their safety they should remove themselves to yet another area for the baptism of the converts, which they did.  But even then they had to endure more abuse at the close of that service.  The result of this opposition only strengthened the resolve of our forefathers neither did they ever believe in coercing converts.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson /, pp. 124..
The post 86 – March – 27 – THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY PAST appeared first on The Trumpet Online.

1 Comment

Filed under Church History

68 – March – 09 – THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY PAST


 

The importance of Baptism
1790 – Susanna Nun, Edmund Botsford’s first wife died, though only thirty-nine years of age.  Botsford was born in England in 1745 and at the age of seven lost both of his parents.  His aunt became his guardian and sent him to board with a Baptist lady who had been a dear friend of his mother.  Through that he was early influenced in spiritual matters and also the reading of Bunyan’s writings.  In time he lost interest in the spiritual and became careless in his living, enlisted in the army and at the age of twenty, sailed to Charleston, S.C., arriving in 1766.  There he came under the influence of Rev. Oliver Hart and the First Baptist Church and was converted to Christ on March 13, 1767, and baptized.  He was licensed to preach by the Charleston church in 1771.  Pastor Hart trained Edmund, friends provided him a horse, a saddle, and clothing to continue his training under the Rev. Pelot at Eutaw.  However, the pastor of the Baptist church at Tuckaseeking, Georgia died and they invited him to lead them.  His ministry was primarily as an evangelist at that time in 1772.  Even though a “Regular Baptist” Botsford preached at the Separate Baptist Kiokee Church, in Georgia and became great friends with Daniel and Abraham Marshall.  He stopped at the home of Loveless Savage for directions to Kiokee and invited Savage to go with him at which Savage said that he wasn’t very fond of Baptists because they think that they are the only ones that are baptized.  Upon inquiry as to how he knew he was baptized, Savage said that his parents told him that he was.  Botsford said, “Then you do not know except by information.  It bothered him so bad that he later allowed Daniel Marshall to baptize him and began preaching the same day.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson /, pp. 98.
The post 68 – March – 09 – THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY PAST appeared first on The Trumpet Online.

1 Comment

Filed under Church History

04 Mar 2014 – THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY PAST


He Forsook All To Follow Christ
1557 – At Cologne on the Rhine, printer, Thomas van Imbrock, was arrested as a God-fearing man, for the sake of the truth of the Gospel. He was imprisoned and interrogated concerning his opinions on baptism and marriage. He so skillfully answered their objections with the Scriptures they stopped the questioning   and moved him to another prison. His wife wrote him and exhorted him to contend for the truth in a godly manner and remain steadfast in the truth. His conscience was clear from offense before God by forsaking his wife and child, and all earthly things to follow Christ, rejoicing that God had found him worthy to suffer for His name. Two priests debated him concerning infant baptism.  One believed infants who died unbaptized to be lost, the other believed they would be saved. They vehemently urged him to repent which he did not, He said, “The Scriptures teach nothing of infant baptism; and they who will be baptized according to God’s word must first be believers.” Three times they called him a heretic and brought him to the rack, but did not torture him. He was brought before a superior authority who tried to persuade him to recant. To cause someone to recant was of greater value to the oppressors of God’s truth than the martyrdom of one of His saints. This is why so much time and torture were given to persuade someone to deny his Lord, instead of just putting him to immediate death. Faithful Believers always represent that which the satanic, immoral forces of the world hate and bring forth from them the most violent and cruel conduct. Ultimately, Thomas was condemned to death by the highest court and was beheaded on March 5, 1558. He was a faithful, preserving witness of Christ and sealed his testimony with his blood at the tender age of 25 years.
Barbara Ketay from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 91-92.
The post THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY PAST – March 5th appeared first on The Trumpet Online.

1 Comment

Filed under Church History

57 – February 26 – THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY PAST


 

First baptisms in the Shenandoah

 

1770 – A BAPTIST PREACHER IMPRISONED FOR PREACHING WITHOUT A LICENSE IN VIRGINIA IN 1770 – February 26, 1770, was the beginning of the three-month imprisonment of John Pickett, mentioned in the entry for January 14, in the Fauquier County, VA Order Book for 1766, pages 242 and 243.  The prison was a two room log building 18’ long and 16’ wide, dovetailed, with layered wood of good mortar between each log. There was a brick wall between the rooms with a fireplace in each room, secured with grates above and below to prevent the prisoners from escaping up the chimney.  The only ventilation was a window 12 inches square in each room.  These colonial prisons were like ovens in the summer and freezers in the winter, certainly not “country clubs” of our day in comparison.  Many of those early preachers lost their health from these conditions and never recovered their strength.  The opposition of John Pickett was at times fierce.  Some times when he would preach in a grove of trees in the Culpepper area the, Anglican Church parson would appear with his supporters, sit a few yards in front of Pickett, and take notes of what he considered to be false doctrine.  The parson would call him a schismatic, a broacher of false doctrines, and one that held up damnable errors.  This was done to hold him up to public scorn.  Often it backfired, in that it caused people to be sympathetic toward Picket.  At that time, many were disgusted with the state hirelings, among whom there were those of disrepute.  Some who were attracted by this confrontation and debate were converted to Christ.  After Pickett was released his zeal led him to continue his labors around Culpepper and over the Blue Ridge.  It is reported that the first baptisms to take place in the Shenandoah, there were as many as fifty who followed there Lord in this ordinance.

 

Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 79.

 

The post 57 – February 26 – THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY PAST appeared first on The Trumpet Online.

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Church History

53 – February-22 – THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY PAST


 

 

 

Lady Moody

 

Memorial – Brooklyn

 

A Noble lady persecuted

 

1644  – LADY MOODY FLEES RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION IN ENGLAND TO BE PERSECUTED BY PURITANS IN AMERICA – 1644.  On February 22, 1644 John Endicott wrote a letter to John Winthrop, Governor of Plymouth Colony from Salem, Mass. that Lady Deborah Moody had been “excommunicated” from the Congregational Church at Salem and that a Mr. Norrice had informed him that she intended to return to Plymouth which he advises against, “unless shee will acknowledge her ewill (evil) in opposing the Churches & leave her opinions behinde her, for she is a dangerous woeman.  My brother Ludlow writt to mee that, by means of a book she sent to Mrs. Eaton, shee questions her owne baptisme, it is verie doubtefull whether shee will be reclaimed, shee is so far ingaged.”  Gov. Winthrop stated that she left “against the advice of all her friends.  Many others affected with Anabaptism removed thither also. On her way from Mass. Lady Moody stopped for a time in New Haven and made converts to believer’s baptism and encountered once again religious opposition.  Mrs. Eaton, wife of the first Governor of New Haven Colony, was one of the converts, and she too suffered persecution from the Congregational Church at New Haven.  She firmly denied that baptism was to be administered to infants.  Lady Moody was the widow of Sir Henry of Garsden in Wiltshire, England and came to America because of religious persecution and then received persecution from the hand of the Puritans, who themselves had fled persecution, after she got here.  She settled in Lynn, Mass., where she purchased the estate of Mr. Humphrey, one of the magistrates.  She had intended on being a permanent resident, but soon became a Baptist.  In Dec. 1642 Lady Moody, Mrs. King of Swampscott, and the wife of John Tillton were all tried at the Quarterly Court “for houldinge that the baptizing of infants is noe ordinance of God.”  Perhaps because of her position in society she was not banished from Mass.  However she determined to seek shelter among strangers and in 1643 moved to New Amsterdam (New York), a settlement that was formed on Long Island, and she took a patent, which, among other things guaranteed, ‘the free liberte of conscience according to the costume of Holland, without molestation or disturbance from any madgistrate or madgistrates,

or any other ecclesiastical minister that may pretend jurisdiction over them.”  It is believed that Lady Moody died on Long Island about 1659.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 73.

 

The post 53 – February-22 – THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY PAST appeared first on The Trumpet Online.

 

 

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Church History

47 – February 16 – THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY PAST


 

 

Baptism_

The importance of baptism

AN ANGLICAN BECOMES A BAPTIST AND WALKS 120 MILES IN WINTER TO BE BAPTIZED – Dan Taylor, was baptized on February 16, 1763 having walked 120 miles in winter to do so. Several Baptist ministers had refused to baptize him because of his belief in the unlimited atonement of our Lord, but he continued to search until he heard of a society of General Baptists in Lincolnshire. Taylor had begun working in the coal mines of England with his dad when he was just five.  He learned to read at an early age and often took a book with him into the heart of the earth.  He grew into a sturdy man but undersized which he blamed on not getting enough sunshine during his growing years. His family was not very religious, though members of the Church of England, but had Dan confirmed when he was 16. In a few years he became a lay Methodist preacher and delivered his first sermon in 1761 but his study of the bible led him to desire believer’s baptism. By the next autumn after his baptism he had become a General Baptist pastor in Wadsworth but he found that those churches were generally cold, and with his passion for souls he felt out of place. Withdrawing from the Association, Taylor with nine other ministers founded the Assembly of Free Grace General Baptists, which were nicknamed the “New Connection.” The group affirmed their faith in the natural depravity of man, the obligation of the moral law, the deity of Christ, the universal design of the atonement, the promise of salvation for all who believe, the necessity of regeneration by the Holy Spirit, and the obligation upon repentance of immersion. Taylor traveled 25,000 miles, mostly by foot, on preaching tours. He would average on those trips, 9 sermons per week. He believed that any day he did not preach was a failure. Fearing his sight was failing, he memorized a great portion of the N.T. He established an academy, which later became a college to train men for the ministry. He authored 45 publications, some sizeable volumes. He established the General Baptist Magazine in 1798 and served as its 1st editor. He died on Nov. 26, 1816 at 78. In 1791 the “New Connection” merged with the Baptist Union in England.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 64.

The post 47 – February 16 – THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY PAST appeared first on The Trumpet Online.

Leave a comment

Filed under Church History