From Russia with Love: Misha Zverev's Story
Misha Zverev is a missionary, but his story is not what you’d expect: he found Jesus through Christian missionaries in Russia, and later was called to reach people for Christ here in America. He currently serves at Grace’s Lake Nona campus.
“When I became a Christian, God gave me this amazing love for him and a strong desire to love others,” Misha says. It was not long after Jesus saved him that Misha began to talk about the gospel to others, usually strangers. “When people hear the truth that sets you free, they are attracted to it.”
MISHA WAS CALLED TO BE A MISSIONARY. SURPRISINGLY, IT WAS FROM RUSSIA TO HERE.
Misha was nineteen when he began to follow Christ. American missionaries came to his city in Russia to plant a church, and he was instantly curious. “When these missionaries came, I noticed they were different. I saw the unity inside of them and love for others, and I asked the question ‘what is a Christian?’ I started digging deeper and deeper, and eventually I found Jesus.”
Misha recalls the youth pastor he spend time with during the infant years of his faith. “I had a lot of questions,” Misha says. “I would help him in his garden, and I would ask him questions. He was like my coach. I realize now he was discipling me. Eventually, I came to the point where I was like ‘I want to do this, I want to serve Christ with my life.’’
He began attending Christian University in St. Petersburg, Russia. He learned English, met his wife Gina, and started a youth ministry before deciding in 2004 to move to America. He began sharing the gospel here.
“I am a foreigner, so when people hear my Russian accent, they are interested,” Misha says.
He tells stories of sharing Christ in the U.S.. “I would say ‘It says in God we trust on your dollar bill, is this true?” Oh my goodness, so many good conversations!” he laughs. He and a few of his friends even skipped Easter service once to do a bit of evangelizing. “We made cookies and decided to find someone who was not at church,” he says. They went to a trailer park, knocked on doors and said “Today we celebrate the risen Christ, and we don’t want to keep it to ourselves — we want to share it with you today, can we pray with you? We love you because God loves you.” Some fell to their knees, and others began to weep while they prayed with these foreign missionaries. “We do these things because our Christ did them!” Misha says.
Misha sees the major “sickness” in the American church to be comfort. “The Church becomes sort of lame at reaching those in the church who are in darkness,” he says. “Like Jesus said, ‘you do not put the light under the bushel.’ In America, the bushel is comfort. People in the American church are afraid to get out of their comforts. Only when we break out of that comfort and say ‘Here I am God’, then He will really start using you.”
Misha points to Acts chapter two. “The disciples are in awe in these verses,” he says. “They are in awe and God multiplies the church through that. They are in awe because they are experiencing the living God. Rather than living in comfort, we should rather live in awe of what God has done for us.”
Misha’s journey to serve at Grace started in 2004. That year, he moved to the United States with $100 to his name, and 90 days later, he and Gina were married. They joined Operation Mobilization, intending to serve in Russia, but when the doors closed there, they realized over time that God was calling them to be missionaries here. Since then, they have moved several times, spreading the gospel to a nation who desperately needs Jesus.
In 2016, Misha met with Pastor Ben Bailie to explore the option of helping with a church plant the Bailies were about to move to start: Grace Lake Nona. He met the leadership from Grace, and after praying with his family, they decided to uproot and move with Ben and his wife, Cynthia to Lake Nona. By serving with ApartmentLife
ministry and raising other support, they are able to devote much of their time to connecting with people in Lake Nona, along with volunteering their time to the church; they serve in some capacity on every team.
Misha challenges us to pray every morning that we can be a blessing to someone today. “The more you pray this prayer, the doors just fly open everywhere,” he says.
He also prays that we Christians will start to let go of the daily comforts we believe we are entitled to, and become more reliant on God. “We must praise Him for what he has provided us, and become quick to listen to the Holy Spirit.”
This story, written by Grace writer Andrew Schaffer, originally appeared in the Spring 2017 issue of Grace Magazine. Download the issue here.