The following is from a tape recorded testimony from Alexander Borisov made in Moscow in July 1991. The interview has been rendered in places to better reflect smooth English usage. I met “Sasha” at the CYI conference in April 1991 and then again in July. I walked with Sasha in Red Square at midnight in April with Alexei Salapatov — also from Ukraine. I also made a tape recording of that conversation and it formed the basis for the following article: A Walk Through Red Square that was published the following month in The Forerunner.
– Jay Rogers
I am a student of physics at Kiev State University. I have been studying for two years. There were two parallel processes involved in my coming to know Jesus Christ: first, my study in a Rabbinical seminary; and second, my education at Kiev State.
Although I was raised in an atheistic home, I am Jewish and my uncle is a Rabbi. I didn’t know anything about God because my parents didn’t tell me I was a Jew. But I soon met with anti-semitism. This was a very great problem during the age of stagnation.
I began to study in a Rabbinical seminary two years ago. My field of study was apologetics of Judaism and debating with Christians. I studied for two years and got a diploma for passing the first step of Rabbinical education. Then I tried to practice my knowledge. I debated with Orthodox priests. They were afraid of me because I showed them scriptures about idolatry and compared it to icon worship. They called me “a devil.” I was very happy because I had such success in my field of study.
I was also studying in the university as a parallel education. One day in my dorm, I met some Pentecostals and I began to debate with them. I expected that they would be afraid of me and consider me an enemy. But it didn’t happen. Instead, I saw a great love which I had never seen before.
We began to debate and I showed them the same scriptures about idolatry. They told me: “We are full gospel Christians. We have no icons; we don’t bow before crosses; etc.” I didn’t know what I could say to them to prove my position. We became very good friends after that and we had many more discussions. They showed me prophecies from the Old Testament about the Messiah – Isaiah 53 and Daniel 9. Everyday in the synagogue we read a chapter from the Bible. But we never read Isaiah 53 because the Rabbis were afraid of this passage about the Messiah. I read this chapter for the first time with Christians.
Another factor that influenced me was that when I was in the synagogue, I did not have a serious attitude toward God. God was a formal substance for me. But when I began to have fellowship with Christians, I began to become afraid that God would judge me for my sins – I began to have a fear of God. I was very involved in sin before my friendship with Christians. But now I began to be afraid to sin. I tried to follow the Law, but it was very difficult. But I didn’t want to accept Jesus because I was afraid that I would lose my Jewishness. So I began to consider Jesus as “another way to God.”
Then one day as I continued debating with my friends, I couldn’t answer one question. I said: “God, if you want me to be a Christian, then I will be a Christian.” But in my heart I didn’t really want this.
Another time – I don’t really know what inspired me to ask this question – I said to my friend: “Do you think that in the future I will be a Christian?” I considered this question as a joke. I half expected him to say: “No, you are too strong in Judaism.” Instead he said: “I love you. I pray for you. I am sure that you will become a Christian!”
This posed a great problem for me. I could not reject this conversation, because rejection of love is an eternal sin and I was afraid to sin. I began to pray. I prayed all night and cried out to God, “What can I do? I cannot reject such great love.” Then I heard a voice saying, “You must accept Christ.”
I began to discuss with this voice, “But if I accept Christ, I will lose my Jewishness!” The voice said, “Don’t worry! Be Jewish and Christ will be your God. He will be as an addition – a very useful addition – to your Jewishness. Follow me and you will see that it will be good!”
So I decided to follow Jesus. I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and my God.