Photo: Recent seminary graduate Erdene Bandanov and family
This update was shared by Rev. Matthew Heise, who serves as a missionary in Russia, Georgia, Mongolia and other locations in Eurasia.
“The graduating class this year at the Theological Institute of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ingira in Russia was not as large as usual. We only had two students defending their theses on Feb. 17, but we give thanks for what God has done in their lives!
“One of the students was Erdene Bandanov — Erdene used to be a shaman in the villages of the Republic of Buryatia, out in Russia’s far east, along the banks of Lake Baikal. I have related in the past how Erdene came to faith in the one true Lord, Jesus Christ, after despairing over the fact that he was possessed by a demon. He craved power over people, but soon realized that worldly power meant that he was under the control of one more powerful than him — the devil. Through prayer, the Lord expelled the demon from him.
“These past few years, he has been studying diligently and now, upon graduation, will serve the Lutheran congregation in the village of Toksovo in the Leningradskaya Region. I will miss my conversations with Erdene, a fascinating student who is dedicated to bringing the Word to a primarily Russian congregation, while also doing outreach among his fellow Buryat people who have emigrated to St. Petersburg.
“Erdene once told me that when he had come to faith in Christ, he and some fellow Christians followed a group of shamans to a local mountain where they were performing their rituals. He told me that he and his friends just shouted out continually, ‘Hallelujah!’ and praised the name of Jesus. The shamans despondently began to descend down the mountain, as one told Erdene, ‘You are frightening away the spirits!’ Let us pray that Erdene will continually be used by the Lord to scare away the demons who once bound him as he proclaims true freedom in Christ to the people of Toksovo.”