By: Vitaly Petrov
"The Story of how I betrayed Jesus."
My name is Vitaly Petrov, I am the president of the Trinity Video Seminary in Kursk, Russia. We currently have over 5000 students and over 2 million viewings of our lectures and materials that we give freely on several of our YouTube Channels.
We professionally record; Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctoral level courses, and dub over them in Russian and other languages, and make them available for people who live in The former Soviet Union and beyond. God has given us great success by having our lectures reach hundreds of thousands of people, both believers and nonbelievers. We could have only dreamed about this accomplishment during the Soviet Union time. Yet, back then, it was also a special time when your faith would be tested in many different ways. It was during these difficult times when my life was profoundly changed.
I betrayed Jesus.
I was a child of evangelical parents during the Soviet Union time. I am of my family's fourth generation to be Evangelical Christians in Russia that received their faith from the western missionaries almost 100 years ago. I was born near a prison when the communist Soviet Union was in power. In this prison, three of my grandparents spent years of their lives due to their Christian faith; some were even killed there.
I first prayed and accepted Christ when I was nine, when I prayed with my mother before bedtime. I then grew up as the fifth child in an evangelical Christian family. I soon found out that being a child of an evangelical pastor would be even more of a significant challenge.
The School Principal or teachers in the school where I attended would often call me for long talks of several hours to discuss my Christian faith. They would sometimes mock me in front of everyone in the classroom, mainly when they talked about faith and religion. Other children would also tease me and call me names like stupid when I played with them in the streets. Yet, as I got used to this, I learned that the best thing for me to do was to joke about it when they mocked me.
I remember a time after Biology class at school when a teacher "proved" to everybody that Darwin's theory was the only true origin of life, and there is no God. After the class, some of my classmates came to me and said: "See, there is no God. People came from a monkey!" Then I said no,” It is not true, but if you insist, then I will agree with you that all the nonbelievers came from a monkey, but God created all believers.” Yet, they didn't want to hear that truth, even though it was pronounced. Anyway, for a child to grow up in this hostile environment, it is challenging physiologically to bear, and I always wished to be like others.
I remember the day when I went to play hockey on the big frozen pond that was quite far from the village where I lived. Yet, it was a great place where many kids gathered and formed teams in the winter. There they would play all kinds of winter games. I was about 12 years old at the time. One day I came and saw there was a group of kids at play who had not met me before. They invited me to play with them on a team. They had no idea that I was a Christian believer and so they treated me as one of their own. It was a fascinating time for me, even though I had to walk a long distance to see my new friends. I loved to play and spend time with them, and they liked me since I was a good player and seemed to be a good friend for them. Yet, I did not tell
them that I was a Christian, and everything was okay.
One day when I came to play, I saw my friends sitting in a group and arguing about something. They saw me approaching and stood up, and one of them asked me a question in front of everybody: "Somebody told us that you are an evangelical Christian, but we did not believe him, is that true?" I was totally crushed because I understood what would happen if I told them the truth. I loved to be with them and didn't want any mocking and teasing anymore. I wanted to have good friendships like all the other kids. So, I said, "NO, I am not a Christian!" One of them immediately said to everybody, "See, I told you, he is a good guy, so let's go and play hockey." And everybody went to play, and I was supposed to go with them. Yet, something happened to me the moment I told them I am not a Christian! All my joy left me at once! I didn't want to play anymore. I felt so bad inside of my heart that I didn't want to do anything. I told my friends I needed to go home and I walked the long-distance home crying and asking myself, "Why did I do this terrible thing, why had I told them that I was not a Christian, while my parents and grandparents were willing to die before they would deny Christ."
I loved God, and I knew He loved me and died for me, yet what I did was very bad when I denied and betrayed Him and my family, who loved me so much. I was walking and crying and saying to myself that I will never do it again!
Brothers and Sisters, God forgave me of my betrayal, and He's loved me all my days! So much more than I could ever love Him! Moreover, Jesus has trusted me to lead this vast ministry, which is far beyond my abilities and my wildest dreams! Yet, just as the Apostle Peter, I will always remember this story of me denying Christ, who in His part loved me SO MUCH that He was willing to die for me!
I've told my kids this story so they would never do what I did. God's love and forgiveness are much greater than we could ever imagine. His wounds on the cross paid the price for our true repentance and for our salvation that may change our lives forever. So, that we can be faithful to His love and not perish with Satan who first betrayed God in heaven. Amen.
Vitaly Petrov, president of TVSEMINARY, Kursk, Russia, May 9, 2019