With very mixed feelings I want to introduce you to Vlad and Ella Nevjidovsky and their family. Mixed because Vlad and Ella are immigrating to the Florida next week. We are happy for their hopes for a better life, yet know that our church movement in the former USSR desperately needs families like theirs. Below is an interview I conducted with Vlad yesterday. He has been a ruling elder and preacher in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of St. Petersburg since 2002. He has a wonderful wife, Ella, and three talented and godly children, Alina (19), Pavlik(18) and Evalina (7).
An interview with Vlad Nevjidovsky
where were you born and what was your childhood like?
I like to say I was born in prison. My mother and father both had been in prison in the Kemerovo Region of Siberia. And when I was born my mother was in exile there. Ella was born in Xavarovsk. Both of our fathers died before we were five years old.
My heritage is Czechoslovakian. Ella’s roots are Ulch, an Asiatic hidden people group.
My mother hated communism and Lenin, so I did not fit in well in the Soviet Union in the 1970’s. I got kicked out of kindergarten for throwing dirt on Lenin’s statue!
how did you come to Christ?
I was sent to a youth prison as a 16 year old for taking a shot with a .22 pistol at a street light. In prison some evangelists visited us and showed the Jesus film. I prayed to God for the first time, and that turned my life completely around. Soon I spent a huge amount in order to buy a Bible in prison, four packs of tea and two packs of cigarettes! Upon my release I attended a Baptist college for two years in Xavarovsk, where I met Ella. She had come to Christ desperate to find hope in life living with an alcoholic mother.
how did you get involved with SRS?
We married in 1995 and moved to St. Petersburg so that both of us could attend a Christian university there. In 2000 my comparative religion teacher invited Blake Purcell to come lecture on the Reformation and Reformed churches in Russia. Through my own study I had come to believe in covenant theology, but you were the first person I met who understood it from the Scriptures and we began attending the Reformed Church of Saint Petersburg.
how has SRS helped you and your family?
Of course, at the risk of flattering you and Cathy, I have to say that you were the first relationally-mature Christians we ever developed a relationship with. What I mean is that you would rebuke me as an older brother while still keeping a good relationship with me. I had never had that before.
Also, you began very early to teach us that we should give our children a Christian education. I was totally skeptical until our children were in seventh grade. Then I saw that public school was influencing them more than Ella and I. We began to homeschool them after you invited Scott and Andie Davidson to teach on home schooling. They showed us what we needed to do it and how to trust God for their future, since we knew no home schoolers in Russia. This year I produced a few videos on homeschooling showing how we are doing it with our seven year old, Evalina. Here is one on creationism.
You also trusted us in the ministry, and ordained me as a ruling elder in 2002. Since then our home has been open for meals and fellowship. I usually preach about once a month at church. My wife, Ella, is very evangelical and open about sharing the Gospel with unbelievers. Our entire family volunteers at Club Butterfly working with handicapped kids and their parents.
why are you emigrating to the USA?
We resisted this for years, even though most of our good Baptist friends emigrated many years ago. First of all, it was plausible because we saw them do it. Second of all, we have tried to buy property and live with some hope of financial stability in St. Petersburg, and it has proven too difficult. My own a cleaning business that cleans inside and the outside of commercial businesses. But I even when I work for government agencies, they want me to pay them kickbacks, so I feel like a criminal just for doing regular business. I am sick of the corruption here that is only getting worse. It was probably the birth of our third child, Evalina, in 2009, that convinced us that for her sake, we needed to immigrate while we were still young enough to learn a new way of life. We want our children to grow up in a country where there is hope for an honest future.
how can friends of SRS help you all with your new lives in America?
We would like to live and minister in the Presbyterian and Reformed world, so we are looking for a home church that wants to help immigrants like us whose English is weak.
Secondly, we need to find a place that not only I can work for an hourly wage, but that has a growing economy where I could eventually start my own business, maybe in commercial cleaning.
Thirdly, we need to find a Christian high school for Alina, 19, and Pavlic, 18, there they could attend, learn English, and prepare for college. Again, we hope Alina can get a full scholarship in music to a university. Here is a video clip of a solo she played this year.
Finally, pray for us. We leave our homeland on May 14, 2016!
'I bought a Bible spending four packs of tea and two packs of cigarettes (a huge amount of our prison allotment).'
Slavic Reformation Society
PO Box 694
Pella, IA 50219
The Slavic Reformation Society is a mission of North American churches initiated in response to the great commission of Jesus Christ, which is to make disciples of all nations of the earth. (Matthew 18:19, 20)