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.)[Read more…]
Vladivostok is only (!) nine time zones away from Minnesota — if you travel West. Due to the sanctions, however, there are no flights into Russia from that direction at this point. My route, instead, will cross the eastern half of North America, the Atlantic Ocean, all of Europe, and almost all of Asia. A total of eighteen hours in flight plus seven hours on the bus–with multiple layovers–will bring me to my next destination: the Russian Far East.
I will then teach and preach at local parishes and be a keynote speaker for their week-long Regional Youth Conference. Schools will still be out of session, but teachers will already be coming back for conferences. I will catch four of them (conferences, not teachers) before I leave again, making my way back across two thirds of the globe.
“It is not cold enough for Oleg here in Minnesota, so he leaves for Siberia next Sunday. Let’s pray for him!” – announced our priest jokingly after the service. It is not, in fact, that much colder in Russia these days, and I feel well prepared for the trip. What does indeed give me the chills is the temperature of the political relations between our two countries that is most reminiscent of the Cold War years. I will have to be extra cautious not to engage in any potential confrontations or heated discussion with my audiences and to concentrate on the most important and meaningful subject of my presentations: the Word of God.[Read more…]
I am back in MN… one day early than expected. It did not occur to me until I landed in Chicago that I would actually gain a whole extra day of my life if I keep going east from the Far East of Russia all the way back home. Well, I needed that day to recover from a very busy travelling and teaching schedule of the last three weeks.
Two classes in the city of Bryansk – one in the Orthodox Diocese Center and one in a Baptist church – presented an opportunity to try my new material on friendly audiences. Most recent archeological findings (first publication in August of 2017) of the rare chalkstone vessel workshop discovered in Israel’s north provided a tantalizing link to the New Testament story of the Wedding at Cana, where Jesus performed his first miracle – transforming water held in six stone containers into wine. I loved to see the faces in my audience enthusiastically responding to this new evidence of historicity of the Gospel. [Read more…]