Missionary tells of life in Russia and Ukraine

ROB KNOWLES

THE Diaz Dutch Reformed Church in Port Alfred held a special breakfast meeting on Saturday morning to introduce missionary Willem van der Colff, who has been carrying out mission work in Russia and the Ukraine.

“It is the power of God that each true believer carries within him that we tell people about,” said Van der Colff. “Christians must learn to use this power to make the world a better place.”

Van der Colff, who was born and raised in Paarl in he Cape, attended a Stellenbosch church one day in 1993 and learned a passage that would change his life forever.

SPREADING THE GOSPEL: Christian missionaries in Russia and the Ukraine, Willem and Alla van der Colff, visited Port Alfred last weekend and Willem spoke about their mission work at a special breakfast organised by the Diaz Dutch Reformed Church Picture: ROB KNOWLES

“It was Ephesians 1:19,” he said. “That passage was the most powerful I had ever read. It tells me that, within each one of us is the power of God. The passage says that the same power that raised Christ from the dead is available to all true believers.

“If that power was within me, I had to use it to bring God’s message to others. That was when I first thought of becoming a missionary.”

Van der Colff left for St Pietersburg the following year.

“I was always fascinated with Russia,” he said. “The history of the Tsars and the political and religious history are so interesting.”

However, nothing had prepared him for what Russia was truly like, and Van der Colff said there was nothing in St Pietersburg at that time – no food in the shops and no work for the people.

However, when former Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, made a prediction that Russia would be entirely under Islamic control by 2050, Christian leaders around the world began to worry.

Van der Colff explained how the Russians are proud of who they are.

“I cannot see Russia turning to the West,” said Van der Colff. “Although St Pietersburg is technically the centre of Eastern Europe, it has its own identity that it fiercely defends. The same is true of the Ukraine where I now live. They will never become a part of the West. But they are very keen to learn about Jesus Christ and many have become Christians.”

“God has empowered our generation to make a difference,” he told those at the breakfast. “We have the power to make an impact on society, and the church has a very important role to play in getting the message out that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

Van der Colff met his wife, Alla, in the Ukraine and the couple now live near Odessa and have three children together, Johan, Vova and Annamarie.

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