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Baptist World Alliance General Secretary Neville Callam visited the countries of Russia and
Georgia in the month of June.
Callam held meetings with regional Baptist leaders from various Russian states and members of
the Union of Evangelical Christian Baptists of the Russian Federation, and preached at the Central
Baptist Church in Moscow.
The BWA leader also met with Alexius II, Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia; Sergey
Popov of the Russian Duma (Lower House), Chair of the Committee of Public Unions and Religious
Organizations; Alexander Torshin, Vice Chair of the Council of the Russian Federation (Upper
House); and Alexander Kudryavstev, representative of the administration of the President of the
Russian Federation.
In his meeting with Alexius II, Callam said, “We look forward to strong ties of friendship between
you and the Baptists of this country as we seek faithfulness in God in the face of the monster of
secularism and the terror of sin. We are committed to spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ, the
hope of the world.”
Alexius II, the leader of Russia’s dominant church, appealed for a continuation of the Orthodox-
Baptist consultations on moral values, which last convened in February 2007.
Torshin invited the BWA leader to return for an extended visit to Russia in order to travel to
regions and territories other than Moscow. He also encouraged the BWA and Russian Baptists to
undertake concrete projects, such as farming, within the country. “We want a large number of Baptist
congregations throughout the country,” Torshin said. “We must support religious organizations, for
otherwise our efforts cannot succeed. Nothing will be accomplished without hard work – and Baptists
know how to work.”
In Georgia, a former Soviet Republic, Callam attended an Evensong at Tbilisi Cathedral with
Roman Catholic, Orthodox and international Baptist delegates, the Papal nuncio of Rome, and the
ambassador for the United Kingdom. He also attended the wedding of Baptist Archbishop Malkhaz
Songulashvili along with a large international group of Baptists from countries including the UK,
USA and Germany.
In reference to collaborative efforts between Baptists in Georgia and Baptists in other countries,
Callam said that “several Baptist groups maintain a constructive relationship with the Baptists of
Georgia, contributing signifi cantly to the extensive social ministry network operated by the Georgian
Baptists.” He said that “this network includes helpful diaconal ministries targeting the poor,
downtrodden, and abused members of the Georgian community.”
Accompanying Callam on his trip was John Sundquist, chair of the BWA Personnel Committee.
(Photos: The wedding of Malkhaz Songulashvili, president of the Evangelical Baptist Church of
Georgia; Meeting with Alexius II, Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia)


A tall, young white man with light brown eyes sat in front of me, across the desk. I asked him: “Did
you have contact with the Gospel before coming here?” Radamés answered: “If I had known the things
that I have learned from the Scriptures I probably would not have landed in prison. I come from a distant
rural community. We have never heard about Jesus in that neighborhood.”
I looked up Revelation 3:20 and asked him to read it. When we discussed it briefl y I felt he was ready
to take the step and I asked him. “Radamés, if you have felt that Jesus is knocking at the door of your
life, do you think you could answer him today?” With tears in his eyes he answered: “Pastor, I am so
new in these ways that I don’t know how to let Him in.”
I looked at his hands for a brief moment. It was unbelievable that those hands had killed another
person! And now he was trying to stretch the other hands of faith to open the door of his heart. “Just say
this prayer with me, Radamés...” and this tall “campesino” asked Christ to come in, clean up and stay in
his life forever. Can there be a greater emotion or joy in this side of eternity than that which I lived this
past Wednesday as I visited the prison and saw a man get a hold on eternal life?
Elmer Lavastida
Santiago de Cuba
September 11, 2008
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