Imagine growing up in a communist society where you’re constantly ridiculed for your faith.
When the leaders in your life such as the Principle and teachers constantly call you up in front of your peers to scold you about how ridiculous your beliefs are.
Try to envision a place where the unregistered leader of the church of your country can be imprisoned majority of his life for being faithful to Christ and close out his days in an Yakutia camp.
This was every day life for Peter Kulakov, who has recently became the senior pastor at Ooltewah Seventh-day Adventist Church, as a child growing up in the Soviet Union.
Reflecting on his childhood Peter disclosed that baptisms were conducted in the dark and bibles were hidden under the double floor of an outhouse.
This is likely due to the confiscation of religious properties which is well-associated in Soviet history since the revolution after 1922.
Peter’s family is no stranger to persecution and ridicule. His father and grandfather both did jail time for the testimony of Jesus and His uncle died in a Soviet prison.
In such European territories it is considered shameful and a disgrace to be a christian and mocking and scrounging are sure to follow all that will accept Christ.
Upon entering the military in 1992 Kulakov appeared before a counsel of officers and boldly declared he could not serve on Sabbath(Saturday) because it was a violation of his conscience and beliefs.
Many were in disbelief at his boldness, as it was well known no one gets days off in the military, yet Peter stood firm on his foundational beliefs.
Afterwards Kulaov moved to the U.S.A. seeking religious freedom and has since then Pastored churches in Indiana and Metro- Atlanta.
In his first 3 weekly sermons at Ooltewah; Peter has shared the stories of the persecutions of his childhood and early life.
Instead of being resentful however Kulakov says he is grateful for the persecution in his upbringing because it has strengthened his faith and prepared his for a lifetime in ministry.
Peter has not forgotten his Russian roots. He has a faith-based television program that broadcasts in Russia, and visits Eastern- Europe several times a year to hold evangelistic meetings.
The story of Peter Kulakov can be an inspiration to us all. When facing various trials we tend to say “why me?” However, Peter’s attitude exemplifies that the persecution has prepared him to better serve the Lord.
You know, it makes me think of this verse in the bible.
And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. – Acts 5:41 kjv