Making Faith a Reasonable Choice
Marina Karetnikova, a professor and historian from St. Petersburg, spoke with commanding authority at the June 1997 women's conference in Moscow: "We cannot only sit and study the Bible--this is not enough. Three things are also necessary--work, prayer, and education." Professor Karetnikova is an educator. A solid, white-haired woman of nearly seventy, she loves to challenge Christians to use their minds as well as their hearts. Many atheists come to faith through discussions, she reminded us. We must not be afraid of debate.
Professor Karetnikova comes from a family of intellectuals. Her mother knew Stalin personally and gave him a book, the story of a conversion in the Volga region. "It was kept in the archives for 40 years," she told us passionately, implying that it must have been valued by this man who was outwardly devoted to atheism.
"I came to the church as an old woman," she said, but she has made up for lost time. She uses her considerable experience in education to teach the Bible. Beginning with just 25 people, soon 150 were crowding her apartment to study the Scriptures. They started with a children's Bible, simple to understand. Little by little she gathered more materials. One hundred staff members now use such materials in libraries all over St. Petersburg, giving personal direction to seekers. Because of Marina Karetnikova, libraries of Christian resources have been established in prisons, hospitals, factories, and even state libraries.
Professor Karetnikova exhorted like a grandmother. We must become familiar with all types of literature if we are to point people to God. "We must show our children how a Bible story applies to their lives, not just tell them a lot of stories." Her message is straightforward: "We need to think and analyze as Christians. We must be aware of the world."
Elizabeth Carlson is a journalist, wife, and mother, from Minneapolis, MN. She lived in Moscow from 1991 to 1993.
Written permission is required for reprinting or electronic distribution of any portion of the East-West Church & Ministry Report.
© 1998 Institute for East-West Christian Studies