Kazan Federal University is one of the oldest and most respected universities in Russia. Established in 1804, the university is wellknown for excellence in science and mathematics, and boasts many famous alumni, including Ilya Ulyanov, the father of Vladimir Ulyanov (later Lenin), who also attended the university but was expelled for his political activism. However, his father, Ilya, graduated from the university’s Department of Physics and Mathematics in 1854, and had a special interest in meteorology. He wrote two scientific works—On the Benefits of Meteorological Observations, and On Thunderstorm and Lightning Rods.
Today students at the internationally recognized Kazan Federal University can still visit the meteorological observatory used by Lenin’s father, Ilya.
Two of those students are Timor, 18, and Albina, 19—both studying meteorology at the university. Young, intelligent, and motivated, Timor and Albina enjoy the challenges of being in such a rigorous academic setting. But in addition to academics, Timor has accepted an even higher challenge—sharing his faith in the atmosphere of a scientific university.
“All of my friends know about my faith,” he said, “but at times it is difficult to share, because some people don’t want to listen. And it can be especially difficult here in Tatarstan to tell people about Jesus Christ, because many people have another set of beliefs.”
But in spite of the difficulties, Timor hasn’t given up. One day while talking with his classmate Albina, he told her about his faith in God. He explained that the way to know God and His will for our lives was found in the Bible.
“After talking with Timor, I was interested in studying the Bible, because he told me that everything I was wondering about was addressed there,” Albina recalled. Soon she had a Bible of her own and began to study.
“I really liked reading the Bible, and when I had questions, I could ask Timor. Sometimes he answered directly, and sometimes he directed me to another passage in the Bible that answered my question. After a while he told me, ‘You know, there is a pastor, and he can explain many things.’ ”
Timor invited Albina to visit the rented hall where the Adventists meet each Sabbath, and she was delighted. “I loved Sabbath School,” she said. “It was very interesting—it’s a place where we can study the Bible together and discuss it. I also enjoy the beautiful music during the church service. I am very happy.”
Albina has been coming to the rented Adventist meeting hall in Kazan for one year now and plans to be baptized soon.
“I told her about my faith,” said Timor, “and then God had His influence on her heart. That’s why she’s here.”
Timor and Albina, along with the many other believers who are meeting in the small rented space in Kazan, are eagerly waiting for the new Seventh-day Adventist church to be built in the city center.
“Renting a place, rather than owning your own building, brings many challenges,” said Pastor Anwar Gindullin. “When you have your own building, the [government] authorities respect you, but when you don’t, you must go to the authorities frequently and give them documents showing that you are renting this building. You must assure them that your meetings don’t have any political intentions and that you aren’t connected to terrorism.
“And it is important to have a church building in the city center,” the pastor adds, “because it gives credibility and accessibility.”
At the moment, there is just one Adventist-owned church building in this city of more than 1.1 million residents, and it is located on the outskirts of Kazan. By contrast, the new church will be located in the heart of the city, just 70 meters [230 feet] from a major metro and bus transportation center.
“We plan for this church to be a real center of influence, busy meeting the needs of the community every day of the week.”
Plans include a large auditorium for worship services, a music room, a sports/fitness hall, a place for young people, and possibly a small café. Additionally, a children’s playground is planned for the area in front of the church.
“In this area of the city there are very few places where children can play,” said Pastor Gindullin. “We want them to have a beautiful place to play, a place where parents can rest and listen to nice music while their children are playing. We want people to get used to being at a Seventh-day Adventist center. It’s our dream.”
This new church/center of influence is one of the featured Thirteenth Sabbath Offering projects this quarter. Please plan to give liberally to help make this dream a reality for our brothers and sisters in Kazan.