From Communism to Christianity: A Miracle in Sergey’s Life
About Sergey Kolinkovsky
We met Sergey Kolinkovsky (along with his brother Sasha, featured in an earlier issue of Faces of The Back 40) at the Lviv, Ukraine airport when we arrived for two weeks’ teaching in Ukraine, accompanied by long-time ministry partners Ed and Alice Kraft.
Sergey, who speaks four languages, was our interpreter during our three week visit. He proved to be untiring, easily interpreting workshops for 8 hours a day and then during additional meetings well into the evening. Moreover, Sergey is anointed to convert English words into Ukrainian and Russian with ease and exceptional speed.
During our time together Sergey was in a long-distance relationship with a Ukrainian Christian girl whom he had met in his ministry travels. They were serious, but he didn’t let his interest interrupt his work. The relationship flourished. Sergey and Luda have since married in April 2015.
Sergey and Luda recently completed their time at seminary in Irpin where he was a professor. They have moved to Lviv to begin ministry there. Sergey has become an example of God’s spiritually healthy leaders in eastern Europe’s war-torn country of Ukraine. Join us in praying for Sergey and Luda as they serve the Lord across that entire country by training men and women to walk closely with Him.
(You can follow Sergey and Luda on Facebook.)
My name is Sergey Kolinkovsky and I am 27 years old. I was born into a non-Christian family. My grandfather was the minister of justice (attorney general) of the Chuvash Republic and the Head of the Supreme Court in Moscow during the late 1970s. It was a time of great persecution for Christian believers in USSR, but especially for evangelical Christian Baptists. Before her death, my grandmother pleaded with my parents, “Please never go to the Baptist church.”
My parents didn’t have children for 10 years and during that time, my mother began seeking God. Together with a friend, she borrowed an orthodox priest’s belt imprinted with Psalm 91 and copied out the words. Soon after she began praying the psalm, she became pregnant with my older brother Sasha. She wished to have one more child and continued to pray. Seven years later, I was born. My mother was so happy. She asked my father, a doctor and a colonel in the Soviet army, to find a Bible for her. He did … and he paid three months’ wages for it.
My Work Life
In 1991 the USSR collapsed. Total economic destruction ensued. My father continued to work but was not paid. He used all his money to buy potatoes and a little sunflower oil so we would not starve that winter. I found ways to help the family. I collected leftover bread from the military base. I brought it home, softened and warmed it over boiling water, and sold or traded it in the market place for money, other food, or medicine for my mother who was ill at the time. I found work after school, reconstructing old green houses, working 8-10 hours at a stretch for $3. At age 17, I took a job selling shoes. One year later I became a manager of the three largest shoe shops in the city.
My Introduction to Christianity
In 1999 my family attended a barbeque at a nearby lake with other military families. We noticed a baptism service on the beach. Some of the other men and boys in our group wanted to beat up the believers, and I did too. But one elderly lady, a military doctor, stood before us and said, “Please, leave these people alone. Don’t spoil our holiday.” Miraculously, we agreed.
A year later I was invited to see the film Jesus. At the gathering I recognized the same pastor who had been baptizing new believers on the beach. After the movie, the pastor invited us to his church. My mother and I attended – and we were shocked. We had never been in a Baptist church, but communists had told us that Baptists kill their babies, drink their blood, and offer human sacrifices. The pastor spoke to us after the service and shared the truth. Soon, my whole family attended church regularly.
Though I was strong and athletic, in 2001 I became very ill with a high temperature. After three days my legs became paralyzed. I could not move for two weeks. Doctors were not able to help. But the pastor visited me. “Jesus Christ loves you,” he told me.
Who am I? Why does Jesus the Creator of whole Universe love me? I wondered. I needed to learn as much as possible about Jesus, so I read the whole New Testament in one week. I understood that I was a sinner and accepted Jesus as my Savior.
In that joy and hope I prayed, “Dear Jesus, if it is your will, heal me…but let be Your will in everything.” The believers in church fasted and prayed too. A doctor prescribed medicine one day and visited the next day – only to find that my leg muscles started working without it. The doctor was shocked. My father was stunned. My mother cried. It was an answer to my prayers.
That Sunday I shared my testimony in the church. On that day my mother accepted Jesus. Three months later my father professed faith in Christ and one year later my older brother became a believer too. The doctor sent me to several hospitals for examinations, all proving that I was completely healed.
In my family, there were two miracles. The first was that I was healed without medicine. The other was that my father, a lifelong communist, accepted Christ. Today my father is a member of Gideons International. He has distributed more than 5,000 New Testaments to military personnel. My mother serves in the music ministry at our church and leads an international women’s prayer ministry. My brother Sasha is a medical doctor and well-respected teacher in his church.
At age 15, I shared my testimony with classmates and teachers, leading many to Christ. A year later I passed exams at Irpin Biblical Seminary. Today I serve as GTU’s field director in Ukraine, an academic dean in Kyiv Christian University, and have been seminary professor and lead translator at Irpin Biblical Seminary near Kiev. I also serve as assistant pastor at a church in Lviv.
In November 2014, 30 60 100 MINISTRIES offered the Spiritually Healthy Leader® workshop at our church. Nearly 25 leaders attended and it was an overwhelming spiritual encouragement for all of us. Pastors have gone on to use the material to mentor younger pastors in applying these principles into their life and ministry. Some of the women used this material in small groups and shared it with others. The workshop was recorded and we distributed copies to 42 people. We pray for future workshops to be held here again so we can continue to grow with more useful and practical information. Thank you for sharing this amazing workshop with us.