Back to Issue

ASI Abroad

City Outpost, Tolstoy, And A Modern Conversion Story

Alexey Ostapenco


Mrs. Natalia, from the Moscow suburb of Fryazino, has been to Our Home Lifestyle Center and Medical Missionary School in Ukraine at least eleven times that she can remember. She fell in love with the institution, a member ministry of both ASI Europe and OCI, on her first visit in 2006.

At the turn of the 20th century, Mrs. Natalia’s grandfather, a military lawyer in the Russian army, became friends with Leo Tolstoy, a renowned Russian writer, and was touched by Tolstoy’s understanding of the gospel.

“You think very much like Tolstoy,” Mrs. Natalia would often say to me after morning devotionals or evening meetings at Our Home. “He would probably have become an Adventist if he had lived in our time.” As she told me stories of famous Russian writers, Tolstoy especially, I tried to share gospel truths with her.

This past winter, Mrs. Natalia became sick and was hospitalized in Moscow. Soon after her release, she traveled to Our Home with a friend. The next morning it was my turn to conduct morning devotionals and patient counseling. She was eager to talk. Spoiled relationships between Ukraine and Russia had made her very upset, but she believed Our Home would be the same “home” for her as it always had been.

On this visit, Mrs. Natalia was very interested in the Bible. Although her eyesight had dimmed, she could read passages from the New Testament. By the end of her second ten-day session she asked me, “What shall I do?”

“I don’t want to tell you what you should do,” I replied. “You should ask God, and He will tell you what you should do.”

“No,” she said, “I want to know what you think.”

“You know what I think. You should become a Seventh-day Adventist,” I smiled.

“But I know so many good people in my church. We have a very progressive Orthodox church, which in many respects thinks as you do,” Mrs. Natalia countered. “Wouldn’t it be a betrayal if I changed churches?”

“Nobody would force you to break friendships, but you should make your stand for the Lord.”

“Is there an Adventist church in Fryazino?”

It turned out that there is a 30-member Adventist congregation in that town, with many children and a new church building. I phoned the pastor, and he said that he and his church members would be glad to welcome Mrs. Natalia.

Now we pray that Mrs. Natalia will find her way into God’s remnant family. We praise God for this opportunity to serve busy city people from Our Home outpost.