Major General Vycheslav Borisov was a loyal communist soldier and a devout atheist until his Soviet helicopter was shot down over Afghanistan in 1984. As the chopper plunged toward Earth, the general said his first prayer.
“My prayer was, `Dear God, if you exist, save me and I will use my life for you,'” General Borisov said.
Of the 12 men on board, only General Borisov survived. He was in a coma for six months and eventually recovered fully. The 62-year-old retired Russian general is now an ordained minister and an evangelist who will speak Monday night at Monclova Road Baptist Church.
Speaking from Dallas in a three-way telephone interview with an interpreter, General Borisov said that in his moment of crisis he prayed to the Christian God because the Soviet Union historically has been a Christian nation and because of his experiences in dealing with Christian soldiers.
“Because of my position, I was supposed to persecute those who were believers,” he said. “There were a handful of secret Christian soldiers and the KGB would send them to me to change their minds. They would witness to me and that is why I cried out to God.”
When he awoke from the coma, General Borisov returned to his military post and began waging spiritual warfare.
“Many considered that I had lost my mind after the crash,” he said.
Eventually, the servicemen realized that the general was sincere about his new faith and they began paying attention to his Gospel message.
“It was very successful because the soldiers perhaps need to hear about God more than anyone else due to the dangers and because the service is so hard and they're serving far from their family,” General Borisov said.
“As they find their faith in God it gives them tremendous peace in their heart. It unites soldiers. It improves relationships. It helps them in the most difficult situations.”
The general said his wife and two daughters initially were “very surprised” at his conversion but as he witnessed to them, they also became Christians and are now active in his ministry.
General Borisov, who retired six years ago and then graduated from a Moscow seminary, travels frequently, especially in the United States and Russia, to preach the Gospel. He will be speaking at 14 churches of various Christian denominations on his current three-week U.S. trip.
One of the general's primary goals is to distribute Russian-language Bibles in his formerly communist homeland, where possession of a Bible used to be punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Working with a Branson, Mo.-based ministry called Revival Fires International, General Borisov said he has passed out nearly 2 million Russian Bibles. One Bible costs about $4 to print and copies of the New Testament cost about 60 cents each, he said.
The general is excited about an upcoming sailing trip down Russia's largest river, the Volga, scheduled for July 14 to 23. “It will be a very special ministry trip,” he said. “We have already rented a ship and we will take around 50 American Christians and distribute over 50,000 Bibles. We're going to preach and teach and evangelize and pass out Bibles.”
General Borisov speaks at 7 p.m. Monday at Monclova Road Baptist Church, 7819 Monclova Rd. Information: 419-866-0773.