Sergei Bessareb (2004) - Church Founder
For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength. 1 Corinthians 1:25 (NRSV)
Sergei spent 18 years in prison for organised crime, but while behind bars, he met Christ. Upon his release he became an itinerant preacher until finally moving to Isfara in Tajikistan in 2003. Along with his wife Tamara, Sergei hoped to begin the first Christian church in the mosque-filled city. The couple’s vision became reality and soon their house church grew until they were worshipping in a small building.
At 9 pm on Monday 12 January 2004, Sergei was alone at prayer in the church. As he knelt, in burst gunmen showering Sergei with Kalashnikov rounds. Hearing the shots, Tamara rushed in; her husband died moments later.
It is likely that Sergei’s active evangelism and church planting were the motivation for his murder. Yet if the killers had intended to hinder the local church in Isfara, they were greatly disappointed. The event only served to motivate the Christians in the city to further Sergei’s vision and enlarge the church, while throughout Tajikistan many prisoners who heard his story have committed their lives to Jesus.
Calamity clarifies and comfort confuses, persecution purifies and prosperity pollutes!
Dr Patrick Sookhdeo is the International Director of Barnabas Fund and the Executive Director of the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life
Originally appeared on Isaac Publishing
For Other Heroes of Faith Articles -