I started week one of my time in Nizhniy Novgorod by teaching a class for the entire student body of the local Orthodox Seminary. As it is often the case, most of the seminarians took it first as just one more of their Apologetics courses. They occupied the back of the large auditorium, and it took some time for them to realize what they were about to see and to hear: a completely new way of presenting the Gospel from strictly rational and historic perspective. A group of lay church leaders and catechism teachers were also invited to the event. They took the front rows and immediately engaged in the ad hoc Q&A sessions which were conveniently provided by the computer freezing after a dozen slides. (The hosts had insisted on using their system for the presentation.)
The next two days in Nizhniy granted me a blessed opportunity to teach classes at the State University for Psychology, Architecture/Engineering and History majors. Their interest in historicity of the New Testament was demonstrated by their insistence on meeting again the next day, for an additional event totally devoted to having me respond to their inquiries on the subject. As is almost always the case, some of my scheduled events were unexpectedly canceled due to state holidays, term exams, and other “totally unpredictable circumstances.” New teaching and sharing opportunities, however, presented themselves at the local radio station, at a home Bible Study group, at a community church, etc., etc.
As I was looking for a place to stay an extra night in Nizhniy, the Lord graciously provided a chance to minister to a family who recently lost their son to the war in Ukraine. Their tragic loss drew them closer to Christ, and by hosting me in their home they had a chance to ask many of their heartfelt questions about God and His love. I was honored to share my own faith journey and experiences with them, and to provide materials for and guidance in deepening their relationship with the Lord.