Pastors. Senior pastor Pavel Zhelnovakov

My testimony

I was born in a Christian family. In 1960, our family moved from the Caucuses to Mariupol in the Ukraine. Unfortunately, when I was young, I rebelled against Christ. But God worked through various methods to teach me in spite of this. Almost every Sunday in the evenings we hosted people at our home for services. I could not escape those meetings, so I was forced to be involved with them and they gave me food for thought.

Also, very often God woke me up (I have no other explanation of it) to hear my mother praying. She was and is a very intelligent woman, and she knew what to pray for. Because I was the youngest of six children I had to sleep in my parents’ room and therefore I could not escape hearing my mom’s prayers. Now as a pastor looking back, I can see that the Lord was already beginning to prepare me for salvation.

When I was around 16, I believed that God existed, but I insolently told Him to leave me alone. I felt that I could be happy without Him or His help. (May God give His mercy on everyone who acts blatantly and outspoken before Him.) At about this time, I became seriously involved in marine multi-wrestling. I had very high self-esteem as I was involved in this difficult sport of running, boat racing (on yawls), swimming, shooting, and rapidly moving under a sail. In a year I was a candidate to be a master of sports and the champion of the Ukraine on our team. It was a time of for me of great pride in myself and of feeling I was proving to God that I could succeed very well on my own, without His help. However, over the years since, I have been reaping what I sowed at that time. I have to deal now with having ruined my spine, and had to face the consequences of my pride. War with God is always costly. However, those who start this war, do not think about this cost later.

In 1994, I was assigned to be listed into the military sports reserves on a naval float on the Black Sea. But these plans were changed for me, and instead I ended up serving in the army on an anti-aircraft carrier on the Caucuses in the Department of Anti-aircraft Protection. In a year and half I became the vice commander of the platoon, the organizer of komsomol activity in the company, and headquarters coordinator. That time was characterized with wild drinking, fighting, and my beating up of older fellows in the army. After doing all this, it was only because of God’s mercy I was not judged. I was to be assigned by the army staff to be in prison for two years, but I did not end being imprisoned.

But some months later, I had a new set of problems despite being in an other department. I was sent by older soldiers to buy vodka so we could get drunk. They (older army fellows) already wanted to get revenge on me. As soon as I left, they telephoned the soldier on guard duty saying that I had stolen a car. All that finished very simply: I fought with the soldier who was on duty, but he was about to shoot me as one would shoot a wild dog. Now, I am ashamed for all I did at that time in my life. Now I was told that without doubt I would be sentenced to prison for two years!

At this point, my relatives and believing friends prayed and interested for me. I do not know what happened or who was praying for me after all of that, but I was released from the prison. I was sent to the other department to build an aerodrome in the city of Svetlograd. There the situation did not change a lot. Oh, God how stubborn we are! I was a driver there, and during the day I brought wine for soldiers, and at night I catered to the officers, brining them to places for their hanging outs. I really looked into the eyes of death lots of times during this time of riots.

Some months later, I eventually went to a technical school in a machine plant in the city of Stavropol. I got a new track GAZ - 66, regular clothing  (I mean not army outfits), and lined up with some special groups from Moscow. There, at that point, something started to change in my soul. I just wanted to live! Every morning I took off an army hat and asked God to save me. So I looked many times at the death. In the evening I set up a party with alcoholics of passed days and in the morning, I prayed to God again. My life started to loose its meaning and purpose. Everything was mixed up as a pile: vodka, debauchery and fear. I recognized I had lost my on race of life. I was bankrupt. It happened to me after an unfortunate suicidal at that time. I know that just God saved me from that. Some unexplained power pushed me to go forward with my own wrong way. I understood that ahead of me there is an unordinary pit. It was really scary and terrible out of that.

I remember that horror. It seems to me I hated the entire world, but at the same time I understood I need God. It was not easy time. I asked God to forget my words of nonsense. I just lost my own way of life and I am a bankrupt. I asked God for His mercy and love, because I am so alone and scared. I received His answer. The fear disappeared, as though someone’s hand defended me rotating to the other side. God obtained me! I am so grateful God, my parents, sisters and brothers. They won my fate from folly. Satan tried to bring myself to him one more time using deferent ways even appearing in his presence before me. It meant nothing to me, because my destiny was defined. Praise and glory my God!

Let my way of mutinously, being bankrupt and repentance will touch somebody’s heart making their way to come to God. If it happens so, that means my soul is rewarded ones again."

 

I was born in a Christian family. In 1960, our family moved from the Caucuses to Mariupol in the Ukraine. Unfortunately, when I was young, I rebelled against Christ. But God worked through various methods to teach me in spite of this. Almost every Sunday in the evenings we hosted people at our home for services. I could not escape those meetings, so I was forced to be involved with them and they gave me food for thought.

Also, very often God woke me up (I have no other explanation of it) to hear my mother praying. She was and is a very intelligent woman, and she knew what to pray for. Because I was the youngest of six children I had to sleep in my parents’ room and therefore I could not escape hearing my mom’s prayers. Now as a pastor looking back, I can see that the Lord was already beginning to prepare me for salvation.

When I was around 16, I believed that God existed, but I insolently told Him to leave me alone. I felt that I could be happy without Him or His help. (May God give His mercy on everyone who acts blatantly and outspoken before Him.) At about this time, I became seriously involved in marine multi-wrestling. I had very high self-esteem as I was involved in this difficult sport of running, boat racing (on yawls), swimming, shooting, and rapidly moving under a sail. In a year I was a candidate to be a master of sports and the champion of the Ukraine on our team. It was a time of for me of great pride in myself and of feeling I was proving to God that I could succeed very well on my own, without His help. However, over the years since, I have been reaping what I sowed at that time. I have to deal now with having ruined my spine, and had to face the consequences of my pride. War with God is always costly. However, those who start this war, do not think about this cost later.

In 1994, I was assigned to be listed into the military sports reserves on a naval float on the Black Sea. But these plans were changed for me, and instead I ended up serving in the army on an anti-aircraft carrier on the Caucuses in the Department of Anti-aircraft Protection. In a year and half I became the vice commander of the platoon, the organizer of komsomol activity in the company, and headquarters coordinator. That time was characterized with wild drinking, fighting, and my beating up of older fellows in the army. After doing all this, it was only because of God’s mercy I was not judged. I was to be assigned by the army staff to be in prison for two years, but I did not end being imprisoned.

But some months later, I had a new set of problems despite being in an other department. I was sent by older soldiers to buy vodka so we could get drunk. They (older army fellows) already wanted to get revenge on me. As soon as I left, they telephoned the soldier on guard duty saying that I had stolen a car. All that finished very simply: I fought with the soldier who was on duty, but he was about to shoot me as one would shoot a wild dog. Now, I am ashamed for all I did at that time in my life. Now I was told that without doubt I would be sentenced to prison for two years!

At this point, my relatives and believing friends prayed and interested for me. I do not know what happened or who was praying for me after all of that, but I was released from the prison. I was sent to the other department to build an aerodrome in the city of Svetlograd. There the situation did not change a lot. Oh, God how stubborn we are! I was a driver there, and during the day I brought wine for soldiers, and at night I catered to the officers, brining them to places for their hanging outs. I really looked into the eyes of death lots of times during this time of riots.

Some months later, I eventually went to a technical school in a machine plant in the city of Stavropol. I got a new track GAZ - 66, regular clothing  (I mean not army outfits), and lined up with some special groups from Moscow. There, at that point, something started to change in my soul. I just wanted to live! Every morning I took off an army hat and asked God to save me. So I looked many times at the death. In the evening I set up a party with alcoholics of passed days and in the morning, I prayed to God again. My life started to loose its meaning and purpose. Everything was mixed up as a pile: vodka, debauchery and fear. I recognized I had lost my on race of life. I was bankrupt. It happened to me after an unfortunate suicidal at that time. I know that just God saved me from that. Some unexplained power pushed me to go forward with my own wrong way. I understood that ahead of me there is an unordinary pit. It was really scary and terrible out of that.

I remember that horror. It seems to me I hated the entire world, but at the same time I understood I need God. It was not easy time. I asked God to forget my words of nonsense. I just lost my own way of life and I am a bankrupt. I asked God for His mercy and love, because I am so alone and scared. I received His answer. The fear disappeared, as though someone’s hand defended me rotating to the other side. God obtained me! I am so grateful God, my parents, sisters and brothers. They won my fate from folly. Satan tried to bring myself to him one more time using deferent ways even appearing in his presence before me. It meant nothing to me, because my destiny was defined. Praise and glory my God!

Let my way of mutinously, being bankrupt and repentance will touch somebody’s heart making their way to come to God. If it happens so, that means my soul is rewarded ones again."

I was born in a Christian family. In 1960, our family moved from the Caucuses to Mariupol in the Ukraine. Unfortunately, when I was young, I rebelled against Christ. But God worked through various methods to teach me in spite of this. Almost every Sunday in the evenings we hosted people at our home for services. I could not escape those meetings, so I was forced to be involved with them and they gave me food for thought.

Also, very often God woke me up (I have no other explanation of it) to hear my mother praying. She was and is a very intelligent woman, and she knew what to pray for. Because I was the youngest of six children I had to sleep in my parents’ room and therefore I could not escape hearing my mom’s prayers. Now as a pastor looking back, I can see that the Lord was already beginning to prepare me for salvation.

When I was around 16, I believed that God existed, but I insolently told Him to leave me alone. I felt that I could be happy without Him or His help. (May God give His mercy on everyone who acts blatantly and outspoken before Him.) At about this time, I became seriously involved in marine multi-wrestling. I had very high self-esteem as I was involved in this difficult sport of running, boat racing (on yawls), swimming, shooting, and rapidly moving under a sail. In a year I was a candidate to be a master of sports and the champion of the Ukraine on our team. It was a time of for me of great pride in myself and of feeling I was proving to God that I could succeed very well on my own, without His help. However, over the years since, I have been reaping what I sowed at that time. I have to deal now with having ruined my spine, and had to face the consequences of my pride. War with God is always costly. However, those who start this war, do not think about this cost later.

In 1994, I was assigned to be listed into the military sports reserves on a naval float on the Black Sea. But these plans were changed for me, and instead I ended up serving in the army on an anti-aircraft carrier on the Caucuses in the Department of Anti-aircraft Protection. In a year and half I became the vice commander of the platoon, the organizer of komsomol activity in the company, and headquarters coordinator. That time was characterized with wild drinking, fighting, and my beating up of older fellows in the army. After doing all this, it was only because of God’s mercy I was not judged. I was to be assigned by the army staff to be in prison for two years, but I did not end being imprisoned.

But some months later, I had a new set of problems despite being in an other department. I was sent by older soldiers to buy vodka so we could get drunk. They (older army fellows) already wanted to get revenge on me. As soon as I left, they telephoned the soldier on guard duty saying that I had stolen a car. All that finished very simply: I fought with the soldier who was on duty, but he was about to shoot me as one would shoot a wild dog. Now, I am ashamed for all I did at that time in my life. Now I was told that without doubt I would be sentenced to prison for two years!

At this point, my relatives and believing friends prayed and interested for me. I do not know what happened or who was praying for me after all of that, but I was released from the prison. I was sent to the other department to build an aerodrome in the city of Svetlograd. There the situation did not change a lot. Oh, God how stubborn we are! I was a driver there, and during the day I brought wine for soldiers, and at night I catered to the officers, brining them to places for their hanging outs. I really looked into the eyes of death lots of times during this time of riots.

Some months later, I eventually went to a technical school in a machine plant in the city of Stavropol. I got a new track GAZ - 66, regular clothing  (I mean not army outfits), and lined up with some special groups from Moscow. There, at that point, something started to change in my soul. I just wanted to live! Every morning I took off an army hat and asked God to save me. So I looked many times at the death. In the evening I set up a party with alcoholics of passed days and in the morning, I prayed to God again. My life started to loose its meaning and purpose. Everything was mixed up as a pile: vodka, debauchery and fear. I recognized I had lost my on race of life. I was bankrupt. It happened to me after an unfortunate suicidal at that time. I know that just God saved me from that. Some unexplained power pushed me to go forward with my own wrong way. I understood that ahead of me there is an unordinary pit. It was really scary and terrible out of that.

I remember that horror. It seems to me I hated the entire world, but at the same time I understood I need God. It was not easy time. I asked God to forget my words of nonsense. I just lost my own way of life and I am a bankrupt. I asked God for His mercy and love, because I am so alone and scared. I received His answer. The fear disappeared, as though someone’s hand defended me rotating to the other side. God obtained me! I am so grateful God, my parents, sisters and brothers. They won my fate from folly. Satan tried to bring myself to him one more time using deferent ways even appearing in his presence before me. It meant nothing to me, because my destiny was defined. Praise and glory my God!

Let my way of mutinously, being bankrupt and repentance will touch somebody’s heart making their way to come to God. If it happens so, that means my soul is rewarded ones again."

I was born in a Christian family. In 1960, our family moved from the Caucuses to Mariupol in the Ukraine. Unfortunately, when I was young, I rebelled against Christ. But God worked through various methods to teach me in spite of this. Almost every Sunday in the evenings we hosted people at our home for services. I could not escape those meetings, so I was forced to be involved with them and they gave me food for thought.

Also, very often God woke me up (I have no other explanation of it) to hear my mother praying. She was and is a very intelligent woman, and she knew what to pray for. Because I was the youngest of six children I had to sleep in my parents’ room and therefore I could not escape hearing my mom’s prayers. Now as a pastor looking back, I can see that the Lord was already beginning to prepare me for salvation.

When I was around 16, I believed that God existed, but I insolently told Him to leave me alone. I felt that I could be happy without Him or His help. (May God give His mercy on everyone who acts blatantly and outspoken before Him.) At about this time, I became seriously involved in marine multi-wrestling. I had very high self-esteem as I was involved in this difficult sport of running, boat racing (on yawls), swimming, shooting, and rapidly moving under a sail. In a year I was a candidate to be a master of sports and the champion of the Ukraine on our team. It was a time of for me of great pride in myself and of feeling I was proving to God that I could succeed very well on my own, without His help. However, over the years since, I have been reaping what I sowed at that time. I have to deal now with having ruined my spine, and had to face the consequences of my pride. War with God is always costly. However, those who start this war, do not think about this cost later.

In 1994, I was assigned to be listed into the military sports reserves on a naval float on the Black Sea. But these plans were changed for me, and instead I ended up serving in the army on an anti-aircraft carrier on the Caucuses in the Department of Anti-aircraft Protection. In a year and half I became the vice commander of the platoon, the organizer of komsomol activity in the company, and headquarters coordinator. That time was characterized with wild drinking, fighting, and my beating up of older fellows in the army. After doing all this, it was only because of God’s mercy I was not judged. I was to be assigned by the army staff to be in prison for two years, but I did not end being imprisoned.

But some months later, I had a new set of problems despite being in an other department. I was sent by older soldiers to buy vodka so we could get drunk. They (older army fellows) already wanted to get revenge on me. As soon as I left, they telephoned the soldier on guard duty saying that I had stolen a car. All that finished very simply: I fought with the soldier who was on duty, but he was about to shoot me as one would shoot a wild dog. Now, I am ashamed for all I did at that time in my life. Now I was told that without doubt I would be sentenced to prison for two years!

At this point, my relatives and believing friends prayed and interested for me. I do not know what happened or who was praying for me after all of that, but I was released from the prison. I was sent to the other department to build an aerodrome in the city of Svetlograd. There the situation did not change a lot. Oh, God how stubborn we are! I was a driver there, and during the day I brought wine for soldiers, and at night I catered to the officers, brining them to places for their hanging outs. I really looked into the eyes of death lots of times during this time of riots.

Some months later, I eventually went to a technical school in a machine plant in the city of Stavropol. I got a new track GAZ - 66, regular clothing  (I mean not army outfits), and lined up with some special groups from Moscow. There, at that point, something started to change in my soul. I just wanted to live! Every morning I took off an army hat and asked God to save me. So I looked many times at the death. In the evening I set up a party with alcoholics of passed days and in the morning, I prayed to God again. My life started to loose its meaning and purpose. Everything was mixed up as a pile: vodka, debauchery and fear. I recognized I had lost my on race of life. I was bankrupt. It happened to me after an unfortunate suicidal at that time. I know that just God saved me from that. Some unexplained power pushed me to go forward with my own wrong way. I understood that ahead of me there is an unordinary pit. It was really scary and terrible out of that.

I remember that horror. It seems to me I hated the entire world, but at the same time I understood I need God. It was not easy time. I asked God to forget my words of nonsense. I just lost my own way of life and I am a bankrupt. I asked God for His mercy and love, because I am so alone and scared. I received His answer. The fear disappeared, as though someone’s hand defended me rotating to the other side. God obtained me! I am so grateful God, my parents, sisters and brothers. They won my fate from folly. Satan tried to bring myself to him one more time using deferent ways even appearing in his presence before me. It meant nothing to me, because my destiny was defined. Praise and glory my God!

Let my way of mutinously, being bankrupt and repentance will touch somebody’s heart making their way to come to God. If it happens so, that means my soul is rewarded ones again."

Calling, ministry and vision

"I am 49 years old now. I have a very sweet wife, Anna and five wonderful children: Hellene is 23, Maxim is 22, Carina is 13, Alina is 8, and Timothy is 4 years old. God really has given me a happy fate. I am among those who praise God and serve His kingdom. Looking back on my way, I come to wondering and get excited as God led me through the circumstances. Many events were completed in beautiful puzzles as one picture. But it is now. How a thread of a fate is not simple.

Around in a year I stayed at my friends’ house in the outskirts of Moscow. I took a walk there coming toward a cemetery. I wanted to look at monuments. I believe it has a usage sometimes. There was a small Orthodox Church. I came over the Church fence and entered the cemetery which was there also. Right there at a tomb stone I believe I was called by God to ministry. I really felt that calling. On one tomb stone was described of the fate the whole family: parents and seven children. The youngest daughter was 7, the oldest son was 19. After the death of children parents died too. God Lord, free our life out of that experience. When I was staying there something happened to me. I was crying and praying there for long time. Some fire was burning me inside. I realized I would not be able to eat and sleep while on the earth wickedness and sin are preparing fear harvest. My fate was defined.

But, in that story was one more part, I did not know about many years. A group of people started praying nearly at the same time for salvation of Udmurtia. Those people were from Sweden, Solno from a Pentecostal Church. Among those people were dear people for us Shill and Sally Gernstrem. Now I am sure their prayers influenced my fate.

Years passed away and I am in Izhevsk in the spring of 1990. Because of Great God’s mercy and his provision I have a missionary commission from Him". The years passed, and in the spring of 1990, I had moved to Izhevsk, Russia with a missionary commission from our merciful and all- powerful God who provided all that was needed. How grateful I am to God for allowing me the privilege to share in His glorious kingdom here on earth! Now, as senior pastor of "Philadelphia" church in Izhevsk, I have the joy of seeing missionaries sent to various regions of the Udmurt Republic, and throughout Russia. Over the last several years, we conducted one year Bible College classes to train future pastors and missionaries. We hope soon to be able to complete the establishment of the largest Protestant church building in Russia, which will house dormitory rooms for boarding students taking Bible courses which our church conducts, class rooms, offices, sanctuaries, and a training facility to teach people essential working skills here. We are hoping to be able to share this 4 story building with other churches in Izhevsk who are also struggling with the problems of renting expensive theatrical buildings, and having to change locations as required from the owners. Reflecting on the joys and sorrows of my complicated past, I am amazed at how the Lord has blessed me, and His dream He has given me for Udmurtia. I am looking forward to 200,000 being saved in Udmurtia through the outreaches of Philadelphia church, and to sending out missionaries to different countries of the world. Perhaps you will feel I am just a dreamer with a great imagination, but that is not offensive to me because I believe that God is the God of the impossible. And my dream is to help implement spiritual growth and renewal in many churches of the world. May God be glorified in the years to come!

 

With love and prayers,

Pavel Zhelnovakov