95 Years Ago Ivan Voronaev Finally Reached the City of Odessa

August 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Books, Featured, News

51Sa1IcA8OL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_[1]Not So “Little Odessa” (from the book The Life and Ministry of Rev. Ivan Voronev)

By the end of the summer of 1921, Voronaev and Koltovich received their permits to return to Russia and on August 12, 1921 landed in Odessa.[1] It had taken Voronaev over a decade of traveling around the globe to return to his motherland as a Pentecostal preacher and fulfill the divine calling: “Voronaev, Voronaev. Go to Russia!”

The results of his commitment and sacrifice increased quickly. For the first three months in Odessa, he labored among the evangelical churches, sharing his testimony and preaching the full gospel. Then, on November 21, 1921 he organized the Christian Evangelical Faith (Confession).[2] In two years time, the new community had over 370 members and the news of the new Pentecostal teaching spread rapidly across the U.S.S.R. In 1924, the Odessa community organized a regional assembly and at the second assembly in 1925, the Ukrainian Union of Evangelical Christian Faith (Confession) was established.

By 1927, more than 350 Pentecostal Assemblies with membership of 17,000 strong were part of the Union,[3] which continued to grow and by 1944 exceeded 20,000 in Ukraine and 80,000 strong in the whole U.S.S.R.[4] Voronaev’s church in Odessa alone was reported to have over 1,000 members.[5] Government persecution was inevitable. Numerous publications against Voronaev’s work were circulated not only through Communist propaganda, but by some Baptist periodicals, who characterized the Pentecostal ministry as sectarian at best.[6] The Regime could not afford the meetings of large groups of people who were not part of the Communist Party. The Voronaev family paid the ultimate price of their calling for organizing and growing the Pentecostal community in Communist Russia.

In the summer of 1930 the repressions against Russian Pentecostals began. On July 6 (almost exactly 10 years after he left America for his prophesied mission to Russia) Ivan E. Voronaev and B.R. Koltovich, along with some 800 Russian pastors,[7] were arrested for preaching the Gospel through the support of churches outside the U.S.S.R., both sufficient reasons to be convicted in espionage and imprisoned in Siberian work camps.[8] Voronaev’s wife was also sentenced to imprisonment in mid-Asia. Their children were left without provision and no one to take care of them…[9]

[1] Ibid.,8.

[2] Ibid.,9.

[3] Koltovich, “Minutes of the Jubilee Meeting”, 10 and Evangelist (Odessa: 1928, No. 1) Quoted in Durasoff, 73 and Smolchuck, 4.

[4] Zhidkov, “On the Roads …” (Bv, No. 3, 1957), 62. Around 1936 Donald Gee, who had an extensive ministry at the Assemblies of God training program for ministers at Gdanks (Danzig), Poland, claimed some 80,000 Pentecostals in Russia in Upon All Flesh (Springfield: The Gospel Publishing House, 1947), 31. Both quoted in Durasoff, The Russian Protestants. For a more detail discussion on the growth of Pentecostalism in the U.S.S.R see V.I. Franchuk, Prossila Rossia Dozhdia u Gospoda (n/a: Kiev, 2001).

[5] McLeod, Hugh. Christianity: World Christianities c. 1914-c. 2000 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 97.

[6] Durasoff, 73.

[7] McLeod, 97.

[8] Burgess, Stanley M. and Eduard M. van der Maas, The New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements (Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 2002), 1179-80.

[9] For the situation in Russia and the story of the Voronaev children see Voronaeff, Paul. Christians under the Hammer and the Sickle (Wichita: Defender Publishers, 1935). Book was printed a total of 11 times in some three years time.

The Life and Ministry of Rev. Ivan Voronaev published in Bulgarian

November 1, 2015 by  
Filed under Books, Featured, News

51Sa1IcA8OL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_[1]We are pleased to announce that some five years after its first publication in English and Russian, our research on the Life and Ministry of Ivan Voronaev is now available in Bulgarian as well. This edition includes the Story of the Voronaev Children, the Correspondence of Ivan Voronaev plus a concluding chapter on the First Pentecostal Believers and Churches in Bulgaria. The book is published for the 95th anniversary of Bulgaria’s Pentecostal movement.

This book tells the story of the life and ministry of the family who brought the message of Azusa Street to Eastern Europe and Russia. The research has taken close to a decade to complete. It started with a brief article on the beginning of the Pentecostal movement in Bulgaria, where unfortunately most church archives were destroyed during Communism. Consecutively, the research led my wife and I on a long journey from the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives in Nashville, to the Assemblies of God headquarters in Springfield and the Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley.

We are grateful to the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center for making available the ministerial file of Rev. Ivan Effimovich Voronaev kept in their denominational archives. We are deeply indebted to Dr. Albert Wardin for opening the doors for research in Nashville and Berkeley, where most documentation referring to Voronaev’s ministry as a Baptist is preserved. We are also thankful to Oleg Bronovolokov of the Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary in Kiev, who helped with the input of various Russian documents pertaining to the Voronaevs.

Both papers included in this book were presented at two consecutive meetings of the Society for Pentecostal Studies in Minneapolis (2010) and Memphis (2011). The first paper, although heavily edited to fit the format, was published in vol. 30 (2010) of Assemblies of God Heritage magazine under a new title, “Ivan Voronaev: Slavic Pentecostal Pioneer and Martyr.” Some of the historical data we presented in the article was published openly for the first time. Our research was further mentioned in the December, 2010 AG Heritage editorial. The Bulgarian “Evangel” also published our translations of Voronaev’s correspondence.

In 2011, Vladimir Franchuk, translated parts of the Voronaev’s papers in Russian and included it in his book “Revival: from the center of Odessa to the ends of Russia,” thus making our research available to the Slavic people just in time for the 90th Anniversary from the beginning of Ivan Voronaev’s Pentecostal ministry in Russia. Partial information from these papers was also used by several recent studies concerning Pentecostalism in Europe and the life and ministry of Rev. Dionissy Zaplishny. Unfortunately, with all this interest, little attention was given to the second paper concerning the Voronaev children until now. The last chapter on the First Pentecostal Believers and Churches in Bulgaria is published for the 95th anniversary of Bulgaria’s Pentecostal movement.

Read about the legacy of Ivan Voronaev:

Arrest and Imprisonment of Rev. Ivan Voronaev (1930)

July 10, 2014 by  
Filed under Books, Featured, News

51Sa1IcA8OL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_[1]The (un)Forgotten: Story of the Voronaev Children
Missions & Intercultural Studies
Dony K. Donev, D. Min.

Presented at the 40th Annual Meeting of the Society for Pentecostal Studies

The enormity of the movement could not be left unnoticed by the Bolsheviks. After crashing every form of organized life in Russia, sentencing for life in the death camps of Gulag or simply shooting on the spot every leader and visionary of freedom, the atheistic government turned to the only organization apart from the Communist party that could still gather thousands of people – the Christian Church. The persecution of evangelicals was ordered from the very top and began with a full force.

First, in the winter of 1929, the Voronaevs were thrown on the street from their home on 22 Jukovskaya Str. and the father was constantly called and harassed by the Communist police. As soon as a friend took them in his home at 8 Arteoma Str., Ivan was arrested and beaten severely.

Over 800 Russian pastors were arrested and imprisoned in 1930. Some of Voronaev’s closest coworkers, among which B.R. Koltovich, were also taken away by the KGB and Ivan knew his turn was coming soon. His son Paul recalls him praying and “…. pleading with God for days for strength and courage…. Then it happened. It was a cold winter night, we were asleep. It was after the midnight hour. We were rudely awakened by a pounding at the door and someone calling with a loud voice, “Open the door, in the name of the law.”

After a thorough examination of their quarters the agents confiscated boxes of Bibles and religious literature and Rev. Voronaev was taken away.

“Mother walked silently beside him. In a moment, life had become a vacuum; husband taken from her, six children to care for, the youngest not even three years old. How could she endure it! …. Once more father embraced mother and tried to comfort her with the words “Cheer up, dear Katusha. God will take care of you … go back and take care of the children. Everything will be all right …”

For the next several months, Rev. Voronaev was moved around from prison to prison, “….battened, tortured, and kept without visitors or mail privileges. Then without trial, he was sentenced to lifelong exile in a Siberian prison.” On one rare occasion, his second oldest son Peter was allowed to visit him in prison for a period of 10 days. Peter took the difficult journey alone and travelled 11 days by train to Moscow and Kotlas, riverboat to Yst-Vym and secretly hidden on the back of a prison truck to the Siberian consecration camp of UFT-Uza reaching his father’s prison barrack at last. It was the last time any of his children ever saw him.

The (un)Forgotten: The Story of Rev. Ivan Voronaev’s Children

June 1, 2014 by  
Filed under Books, Featured, Missions, News

51Sa1IcA8OL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_[1]The (un)Forgotten: Story of the Voronaev Children
Missions & Intercultural Studies
Dony K. Donev, D. Min.
Cup & Cross Ministries International
Presented at the 40th Annual Meeting of the Society for Pentecostal Studies

Our presentation at the 2010 SPS meeting in Minneapolis opened a door for discussion of early missionaries to Eastern Europe with a special focus on Rev. Ivan Voronaev. But the story and ministry of Rev. Ivan Voronaev cannot be separated from his main supporter and partner in the ministry – his wife and children.

During the time of original research, it became obvious that Ivan Voronaev was successful in the ministry both in the United States and Europe only through the obedience of his family. They followed his call for missions, leaving behind the comfort of life in America. The Voronaevs sacrificed the future of their children for the unknown reality of Russia’s greatest depression. The strive for survival followed the imprisonment of both parents along with the virtually impossible task to re-immigrate from Russia and reunite in the United States, and the constant struggle to save their parents from certain death in Stalin’s consecration camps even when all hope was lost.

The Voronaevs’ story presents an early historical case study on Pentecostal missionaries and their children, not only as second generation believers, but as second generation Pentecostal immigrants as well. This example is particularly interesting since it combines both mission and immigration, as integral parts of the Pentecostal identity at the dawn of the movement. To add to this there is the relationship between missionary families and the mission-sending agency, on this occasion being the Missions Department of the Assemblies of God and in part the Russian Evangelical Diaspora.

In this context, the research on the Voronaev family has three distinct parts: (1) life in Russia and the imprisonment of the parents, Ivan and Katherine Voronaev, (2) back to America under the care of Assemblies of God Missions’ Department and (3) and the after years, with a special focus on the life and ministry of the oldest of the Voronaev’s children, Paul.

The research will utilize the available archive information at the Assemblies of God archives in Springfield, MO, as well as some Russian library material from Moscow and Kiev, which have become available after the presentation of our 2010 Voronaev paper. Special attention will be given to Paul Voronaev’s personal correspondence after his return to the United States and subsequent papers, relative to the story of the Voronaev’s children, published by him in later years. As Rev. Ivan Voronaev’s personal end is yet unknown, it is our hope that story of the Voronaev children, will provide a much needed closure to the life and ministry of one of the earliest Eastern European missionaries in Pentecostal history.

New Voices from the Past: The Untold Story of the Life and Ministry of Rev. Ivan Voronaev

April 5, 2014 by  
Filed under Books, Featured, Missions, News

51Sa1IcA8OL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_[1]New Voices from the Past: The Untold Story of the Life and Ministry of Rev. Ivan Voronaev
Missions & Intercultural Studies
Dony K. Donev, D. Min.
Cup & Cross Ministries International
Presented at the 38th Annual Meeting of the Society for Pentecostal Studies

The name Ivan Efimovich Voronaev is of a central importance for the development of Pentecostalism in Communist Russia and its Eastern European satellites. Voronaev was saved in his early life in Russia and then became a powerful Baptist minister, but after being persecuted for preaching the Gospel, in 1912 he immigrated with his family through Japan to the United States. Voronaev’s ministry touched both Baptist and Pentecostal churches from California and Washington to New York and Connecticut, before he undertook the difficult journey across the Atlantic, through Constantinople and Bulgaria to reach his native land. Voronaev established Pentecostal churches along the way laying the foundation of Pentecostalism in Eastern Europe. Although his story has been told many times, very little has been documented about his early ministry before he converted to Pentecostalism and launched what would become an international Pentecostal campaign reaching people from Seattle to Siberia (going eastbound). This present study reviews Voronaev’s ministry based on documents from the early period of his life, examining his connections with Baptist and Assemblies of God denominations in the United States. It then presents information about his mission trip to Eastern Europe, with a special focus on his stay in Bulgaria and the foundation of his work in Russia. But long before finding his place in the ministry, the story of Ivan Voronaev begins with his personal quest for identity in ministry, beginning with a search for a name…

Ivan Voronaev: The Death of a Hero is a Legacy to Remember

March 10, 2012 by  
Filed under Featured, News

ivan-voronaeffTHE LIFE AND MINISTRY OF REV. IVAN VORONAEV NOW WITH A SPECIAL ADDITION OF THE (UN)FORGOTTEN STORY OF THE VORONAEV CHILDREN

A more recent research, which came out after the writing of this first paper, proposed the discovery of a letter documenting Ivan Voronaev’s death on November 5, 1937. Such claim, especially coming from a single document, is the least to say suspicious, as it undermines the findings of leading Pentecostal historian, Vincent Synan (mentioned above) and the testimony of over 500 Russian Pentecostal national leaders placing Voronaev’s death some seven years later. It also contradicts the testimony of Voronaev’s wife and children, who continued to speak in defense of his release in churches all over the United States well pass 1937 (especially pass 1940).

If such document was indeed authentic, it is quite questionable that it has never surfaced before regardless of the numerous writers and researchers, representing at least a dozen of institutions and that many denominations, over the period of 100 years never came across such letter. Our team itself spent over ten years, with the help of friends and colleagues both in the United States and Russia, researching archived materials and documents, which had not been taken out of the boxes and shelves for decades, and we were not able to find even one concrete reference as per Voronaev’s time or cause of death. Not even his family knew, not even his children.

It was not until the 2010 Society for Pentecostal Studies meeting in Minneapolis, when this present research brought about that Voronaev could have in fact, under severe physical a psychological pressure, signed a document refuting his faith and work as a Pentecostal minister. This is part of history, which none of us would like to believe, but was completely possible under the Communist Regime and did occur time and time again in the lives of many Pentecostal heroes of the faith, making their testimonies not one bit less believable or inspirational. And though we strive to estrange from any conspiracy theory, this all looks very much like a political cover up and a clean house operation.

But who then, would have had such an increasing interest in recent years to go so deep into Bolshevik KGB archives, gaining access in offices and places where no one has been able to penetrate before? Certainly defending the honor of Rev. Voronaev was not at stake here, as no one, not even his most fervent critics for one moment believed his denial from the faith, as stated by the Communists. Such action was strongly refuted by his wife upon her arrival in the United States and even if it occurred in truth and reality as historical evidence, makes very little difference in the rich heritage Voronaev has left in Eastern Europe and global Pentecostalism.

So if Voronaev’s legacy was not at stake here, then whose? Perhaps, someone else’s honor had to be defended. Like the honor of an organization felt threatened by a story of its own, kept as a cold case for years now, but coming alive resurrecting memories and livelihoods and guilt? Or perhaps a party so mighty, so powerful, so strong that it could not bear the burden of martyrs it buried below? In all cases, such defensive and definitive action can come only from human organization based on man made polices and rules, which Voronaev rejected and fought from the moment he was saved from this world to the moment he was sent into the world to come.

Preview and Purchase at Lulu.com

LIFE AND MINISTRY OF IVAN VORONAEV

February 25, 2012 by  
Filed under Books, Featured, News

ivan-voronaeffTHE LIFE AND MINISTRY OF REV. IVAN VORONAEV NOW WITH A SPECIAL ADDITION OF THE (UN)FORGOTTEN STORY OF THE VORONAEV CHILDREN

This book tells the story of the life and ministry of the family who brought the message of Azusa Street to Eastern Europe and Russia. The research has taken close to a decade to complete. It started with a brief article on the beginning of the Pentecostal movement in Bulgaria, where unfortunately most church archives were destroyed during Communism. Consecutively, the research led my wife and I on a long journey from the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives in Nashville, to the Assemblies of God headquarters in Springfield and the Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley.

We are grateful to the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center for making available the ministerial file of Rev. Ivan Effimovich Voronaev kept in their denominational archives. We are deeply indebted to Dr. Albert Wardin for opening the doors for research in Nashville and Berkeley, where most documentation referring to Voronaev’s ministry as a Baptist is preserved. We are also thankful to Oleg Bronovolokov of the Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary in Kiev,
who helped with the input of various Russian documents pertaining to the Voronaevs.

Both papers included in this book were presented at two consecutive meetings of the Society for Pentecostal Studies in Minneapolis (2010) and Memphis (2011). The first paper, although heavily edited to fit the format, was published in vol. 30 (2010) of Assemblies of God Heritage magazine under a new title, “Ivan Voronaev: Slavic Pentecostal Pioneer and Martyr.” Some of the historical data we presented in the article was published openly for the first time. Our research was further mentioned in the December, 2010 AG Heritage editorial. The Bulgarian “Evangel” also published our translations of Voronaev’s correspondence.

In 2011, Vladimir Franchuk, translated parts of the Voronaev’s papers in Russian and included it in his book “Revival: from the center of Odessa to the ends of Russia,” thus making our research available to the Slavic people just in time for the 90th Anniversary from the beginning of Ivan Voronaev’s Pentecostal ministry in Russia. Partial information from these papers was also used by several recent studies concerning Pentecostalism in Europe and the life and ministry of Rev. Dionissy Zaplishny. Unfortunately, with all this interest, little attention was given to the second paper concerning the Voronaev children until now.

The (un)Forgotten: The Story of Rev. Ivan Voronaev’s Children

July 1, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, News, Research

voronaev_california1Our presentation at the 2010 SPS meeting in Minneapolis opened a door for discussion of early missionaries to Eastern Europe with a special focus on Rev. Ivan Voronaev. But the story and ministry of Rev. Ivan Voronaev cannot be separated from his main supporter and partner in the ministry – his wife and children.

During the time of original research, it became obvious that Ivan Voronaev was successful in the ministry both in the United States and Europe only through the obedience of his family. They followed his call for missions, leaving behind the comfort of life in America. The Voronaevs sacrificed the future of their children for the unknown reality of Russia’s greatest depression. The strive for survival followed the imprisonment of both parents along with the virtually impossible task to re-immigrate from Russia and reunite in the United States, and the constant struggle to save their parents from certain death in Stalin’s consecration camps even when all hope was lost.

The Voronaevs’ story presents an early historical case study on Pentecostal missionaries and their children, not only as second generation believers, but as second generation Pentecostal immigrants as well. This example is particularly interesting since it combines both mission and immigration, as integral parts of the Pentecostal identity at the dawn of the movement. To add to this there is the relationship between missionary families and the mission-sending agency, on this occasion being the Missions Department of the Assemblies of God and in part the Russian Evangelical Diaspora.

In this context, the research on the Voronaev family has three distinct parts: (1) life in Russia and the imprisonment of the parents, Ivan and Katherine Voronaev, (2) back to America under the care of Assemblies of God Missions’ Department and (3) and the after years, with a special focus on the life and ministry of the oldest of the Voronaev’s children, Paul.

The research will utilize the available archive information at the Assemblies of God archives in Springfield, MO, as well as some Russian library material from Moscow and Kiev, which have become available after the presentation of our 2010 Voronaev paper. Special attention will be given to Paul Voronaev’s personal correspondence after his return to the United States and subsequent papers, relative to the story of the Voronaev’s children, published by him in later years. As Rev. Ivan Voronaev’s personal end is yet unknown, it is our hope that story of the Voronaev children, will provide a much needed closure to the life and ministry of one of the earliest Eastern European missionaries in Pentecostal history.

Letters from Bulgaria: Overview of Rev. Ivan Voronaev’s Correspondence

August 1, 2009 by  
Filed under News, Research

voronaev_californiaThe following article comprises the available documents on the life and ministry of Rev. Ivan Voronaev drafted as a chronological outline for a longer paper, which will be presented at the 2010 SPS meeting in Minneapolis. The materials were gathered from several archives across the United States among which were three major ones:

(1) The Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center where Voronaev’s ministerial records and his reports to Pentecostal periodicals are kept;

(2) The Southern Baptist Historical Library & Archives, where records of Voronaev’s publication are preserved;

(3) The Graduate Theological Union of Berkeley, which holds in archive the California Baptist records, where much could be found about Vornoaev’s early minister in the United States (California, Oregon and Washington State) as an ordained Baptist minister.

1886: Ivan Ephremovitch Voronaev was born in Russia under the name of Nikita Petrovitch Tcherkesov.

1908: Having married Ekaterina Bahskirova, Tcherkesov received Christ as his personal savior, during a visit to a Baptist church service, while serving in the Tzar’s army. Shortly thereafter, he was court-martialed for his refusal to bеаr arms. In order to escape, he was provided with the passport of a Christian brother from the Tashkent Baptist Church, whose identity he took for the remaining of his life under the name of Ivan Ephremovitch Voronaev.

1910: Together with his family Voronaev crossed the Chinese border and remained for a short time in the city of Carbin, Manchuria, where he preached in the Baptist church and work in the bank of one of the church members by the name of Shubin.

August 25, 1912: The Voronaev family, along with their two children, after receiving visas for the United States through the consulate in the Japanese port city of Kobe, arrived in San Francisco. Voronaev began working with the First Russian Baptist Church in town, which was founded several years earlier on 928 Atkinson Street by S. K. Kunakov. Voronaev also worked as a typesetter, travelled and preached to the Russian communities in Los Angeles and Seattle, where he established a Baptist church and a mission. Meanwhile, he began publishing the “Truth and Love” magazine for the Russian speaking emigrants.

November, 1912: Voronaev is mentioned for a first time in the annual report of the North California Baptist Convention as a newly accepted minister.

February, 1913: A revival began among the Russian Baptists in Los Angeles and they requested the sending of Voronaev to minister among them.

September 18, 1913: The San Francisco Bay Baptist Association held its meeting at the Russian Baptist Church in town. Voronaev was represented as a pastor, who led the benediction. North California Baptist Convention ordained him as pastor in San Francisco. While living in town, Voronaev attended Berkeley Baptist Divinity School for three years, although school archives do not have his student records. Later on, when ministering in Odessa, Voronaev receives Assemblies of God ordination thanks to his seminary preparation and ministry as a Baptist pastor. In a handwritten request to Assemblies of God headquarters, he points out his date of ordination as October 17, 1913, while the ministerial certificate which he receives as evangelist and pastor in Bulgaria is dated March 10, 1920.

1914: S. Gromov assumes the pastoral position at the Russian Baptist Church of San Francisco, after Voronaev had left for unknown reasons. According to Voronaev, this is the time when he first hears about the teaching of Pentecost while ministering in Los Angeles.

November, 1915: Voronaev arrived in Seattle to begin work among the Russian emigrants and renews the publication of theTruth and Loveperiodical.

October 1916-1917: Voronaev was mentioned in the annual reports of the Baptist Convention of West Washington State as Russian missionary in Seattle.

October 1918: Voronaev was mentioned in the annual reports of the Baptist Convention West of Washington State again, but now as a pastor. The Russian group met regularly at the church pastored by Earners Williams who will later serve as Assemblies of God superintendent in the period 1929-1949. It was Williams who introduced Voronaev to the Pentecostal doctrine.

1917: A number of members of the Russian Diaspora in California and of the Russian Baptist community returned to Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution. The Baptist Church of San Francisco went through a period of church split in 1915-1916, noted in the record of the Baptist Association, as follows: “During the past year this church has passed through dark days on account of the interference of a man of the Pentecostal faith …”

November, 1917: Voronaev organized a Baptist church on Henry Street in New York. His family is befriended by their neighbors by the name of Siritz who are Pentecostal Christians.

1918-1919: The New York Baptist Association reports Voronaev as a pastor of the New York Baptist Church organized in 1916. The church has 10 members in 1917 and 18 in 1918. The 1920 report states that the church has remained without a pastor in the middle of 1919.

June, 1919: Voronaev receives the baptism of Pentecost after his daughter began attending Glad Tidings Tabernacle (Hall).

July 1, 1919: Along with some 20 believers, Voronaev left the Baptist denomination and founded the first Russian Pentecostal Assembly of New York, which held meetings at the building of the 6th Street Presbyterian Church.

Fall of 1919: In a cottage prayer meeting at the home of Koltovich, through the wife Ana, a prophecy was given: “Voronaev, Voronaev, go to Russia!” Voronaev ignored the word until several days later he heard them again while praying alone and obeyed the Heavenly call.

December 13, 1919: Voroneav sent the Pentecostal Evangel a letter which was published under the titlePray for Russia.

December 19, 1919: Voroneav contacted the Missionary Department of the Assemblies of God with a letter to H. E. Bell to inquire about Pentecostal believers and missionaries in Russia.

January 1, 1920: Upon Assemblies of God recommendation received in response to his last letter, Voronaev contacted J. Roswell Flower with a request for sponsoring a mission trip to Russia. In return, the “Evangelization of Russia” fund was open. In the letter, Voronaev changed the name of his church from “Russian Christian Apostolic Mission of New York” to “First Russian Pentecostal Assembly of New York.”

March 10, 1920: Assemblies of God issued Voronaev a certificate as apastor and evangelist in Bulgariavalid till September 1, 1921.

June 22, 1920: Voronaev notifies the Assemblies of God about his plans to set sail for Russia with his family on July 13, 1920. The Missionary Department marked the letter with the words: “He plans to return to Russia.

July 13, 1920: The Voronaev, Koltovitch and Zaplishnys families set sail on theMadonnasteamboat from New York to Constantinople. Along with them traveled a group of Kavkaz believers among which was the Bulgarian Boris Klibok.

August 10, 1920: After arriving to Constantinople, they had to wait for visas to enter Russia. Voronaev immediately began meeting with the Russian community in town recognizing the lack of Russian Bibles and Pentecostal churches.

August 15, 1920: „ ….with the help of God opened Russian mission here [Constantinople], and God our work blessed;” Voronaev wrote.

August 30, 1920: „…. we had first baptism with water in river. I baptized one lady wife of a Russian office. Glory to Jesus!

September 2, 1920: Voronaev sent the Assemblies of God a report about his work in Turkey, which is marked by the receiver withWorks among 100,000 Russian refugees in Constantinople.

September 1920: The annual report of the San Francisco Bay Baptist Association recorded the reuniting of the Baptist church split in 1917.

November, 1920: After waiting for three months in Constantinople, Voronaev arrive in the Bulgarian port city of Bourgas along with the Bulgarian Boris Klibok.

March 5, 1921: The Pentecostal Evangel published Voronaev’s report from Bulgaria where he has been holding Russian-Bulgarian revival services in various churches in the cities of Sliven, Yambol, Varna and Sofia. Seven had received the baptism with the Holy Spirit.

April 16, 1921: The Pentecostal Evangel published Voronaev’s second report from Bulgaria about services in Sliven, Bourgas, Plovdiv and the Baptist Church in Stara Zagora where the daughter of the Baptist pastor from Kazanlak received the baptism with the Holy Spirit.

May 14, 1921: Services in the Congregational Church in Plovdiv and baptismal service in the Martiza River.

June 11, 1921:In Bourgas, Bulgaria the Lord baptized with the Holy Spirit about fourteen souls. We have about twenty candidates for baptism with water, and about thousand Bulgarians and Russian were there and were much interested.”

July, 1921: The Latter Rain Evangel published an article under the titlePentecost in Bulgariain which Voronaev wrote about new Pentecostal believers in seven Bulgarian cities, his relocation in Varna to work with the local Methodist church and his plan to move to Odessa. The Pentecostal Evangel from the same month wrote, “God called Brother J.W. Voronaeff, who had charge of a Russian Pentecostal Assembly in New York City, to Russia.”

August 6, 1921: The Pentecostal Evangel reported Voronaev to be working “among Russian refuges in Varna at the Black Sea.” The same issue records Voronaev’s apparent intent to move to Odessa: “Brother J.E. Voronaeff writes that the Lord could use American missionaries in Bulgaria. At the present time He particularly needs two Americans, a man and his wife. Anyone who feels a burden for carrying the Gospel to the Bulgarian and Russian people can address Brother Voronaeff through this office.”

August 21, 1921: The Voronaev and Koltovitch families received the long-awaited visas for Russia and moved to Odessa.

Finding Ivan Voronaev (a.k.a. John Voronaeff) at the Graduate Theological Union of Berkeley, California

April 1, 2009 by  
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Our research on the life and ministry of Ivan Voronaev (a.k.a. John Voronaeff), one of the first Pentecostal missionaries to Bulgaria is about to be published after discovering the final group of evidences in the Bay Area of California. These documents are part of some Baptist periodicals which cover the time when Voronaev and his family completed their journey from Russia, through Manchuria and Japan, and reached San Francisco. The year is 1912.

Voronaev quickly becomes accounted to the Russian Baptist churches in the Bay Area and soon becomes a leading figure in the Russian Baptist Church of San Francisco. This relationship is quickly erupted when Voronaev receives the Baptism of Pentecost and moves north toward Seattle, Washington. All this and much more we were able to discover at the library of the Graduate Theological Union of Berkeley, CA directed by David Stiver and upon the recommendation of our friend and colleague Dr. Albert Wardin of the Southern Baptist Historical Library & Archives in Nashville.

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