They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; these see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep (Psalm 107:23,24).
A Baptist businessman in Uzbekistan tells about
Dmitry Pitirimov, a Baptist lay pastor and computer programmer by
trade, believes it takes a miracle to be a successful Christian
businessman in today's Uzbekistan, reports William Yoder, Russian
Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists. In a conversation in
Berlin in early December he stated: "Without miracles, business
success is not possible. But we are believers, and believers believe
in miracles, right? If we attempt something in faith, then all is
In 1989, three years before Pitirmov became a Christian, a
US-American appeared in Tashkent. Together they quickly formed a
company selling and servicing computers. They were early on the
scene, in fact, they were the first private US-Uzbekistan Joint
Venture founded in still-socialist Uzbekistan. The business was
highly successful, but in 1991, the bank in which their profits were
deposited folded. The Uzbek Baptist concedes: "That was a big amount
of money which we lost forever."
The American departed, and in 1995 Pitirimov was able to officially
open a travel office in Tashkent. That was a natural development,
for he had spent years hosting both church and business visitors
from the West. He explains: "We had already worked for guests as
interpreters. We even obtained living quarters and food for some.
Many large firms in Uzbekistan got started with our help. I have
remained a programmer at heart, but the industry of tourism is
largely a matter of the Internet."
This Baptist cannot separate faith and business. He stresses that
his travel office – it has five employees - will only deal with
customers who come to Uzbekistan for morally upright reasons. "We do
not cooperate with tourists who come there to drink vodka or to deal
in prostitution - we do not need their money. So many of our
customers are repeat customers, and many indeed are Christians." See
Note: Lately the travel agency was shut down. Still I had remained in
WEB travel consultancy. Dmitriy Pitirimov.
The businessman also believes in the unity of all Christian
believers: "I do not think that we could unify ourselves in one
common house, but we can be unified in our struggle for a better
future in our country." He cites an example from Columbia/South
America, where the joint protest of believers led to a dramatic drop
in government corruption.
Dmitry Pitirimov has taken hard knocks as a businessman – but so has
his denomination. So many Russian-speaking Baptists have left
Uzbekistan, that the church now consists essentially "of a new
generation which joined in the 1990s". There are few ethnic Uzbeks
in the church and the several congregations consisting primarily of
Uzbeks "have many problems with the government. So when Uzbeks come
to the faith, they usually do so in secret."
But the businessman remains an unreformable optimist. "This may
sound strange," he admits, "but I believe only in a positive future
for Uzbekistan. I will continue to live there and also wish a
healthy future there for my grandchildren. We will pray and struggle
against corruption. We will proclaim the Gospel and that will change
our country for the better." He continued: "Our primary problem is
fear, and fear results in passivity. But if one believes in Jesus
Christ, one has no reason to be fearful."
Remaining in Uzbekistan is also a result of faith in God's promises.
Pitirimov recalled: "In 1993 I asked myself: 'Why are Russians
emigrating to America while Americans are coming to Uzbekistan to
proclaim the Gospel?' If I would leave too, it would mean that I am
dissatisfied with my salary or the lack of security. But I do not
want anything more – I am satisfied." The businessman therefore made
an agreement with God: If he has bread and the freedom to preach the
Gospel, then he will not go anywhere else. "I will remain where God
has promised to supply me with all that is necessary."
The Baptist reports that all the able-bodied in his small, 30-member
congregation are employed. "If a person has no work, we pray that
the person might find some. We believe God has a job for you, that
you can find it, and that he will take care of you. We believe that
if you want something important and you attempt to achieve it
honestly, then God will bless your efforts." The Baptist stresses
that his congregation is very much capable of funding itself.
Pitirimov sees summer camp as a wonderful opportunity to instill
Christian values in the young. Though they themselves number only
several thousand, the Baptists of Uzbekistan hold a summer camp
involving eight sessions with 70 children each time. Their Camp
Director states: "Kids need to feel that they are somebody and that
they can achieve something. And if they cannot use their gifts to realise the good, they will use them to
realize the bad. Kids are
the most wonderful gift we have".
With the wind in the back
and a real captain on deck,
it is mighty good sailing.
With dark clouds in the sky
and a storm drawing nigh,
you may have to start bailing .
With Jesus standing at the rail
and faith blowing in your sail,
you are able to conquer the tide,
'cause He is steering the boat,
He knows how to keep it afloat,
you'll surely reach the other side.
With His Presence so near,
we will never have to fear,
if we allow Him to have full control.
Putting our trust in Him alone,
following the charts He has shown,
we will be victorious after all.