Baptist minister talks about growing up in the USSR

By Jeff Lawson – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Much like many Americans, Jake Roudkovski and his family will begin their Christmas morning in church. Later, they will have their Christmas dinner and open gifts.

However, unlike many families, on Christmas day, Jake's mind may wander back to his native homeland, a place very far from America.

The Reverend Jake Roudkovski, is the interim pastor at First Baptist of Gulfport. This doctor of theology, is also a full time professor at the New Orleans Baptist Theolological Seminary.

There aren't many Baptist ministers here in the deep South, who grew up in the communist Soviet Union. Dr. Roudkovski tells a story about what happened when he was 17 years old, back in the early 1970's.

"I had a member of the KGB, the Russian secret service, approach me and wanted me to be a spy in the local church," Roudkovski said.

That local church, was his father and grandfather's church. Both men were Baptists ministers there. They had been imprisoned several times over the years because of their faith. It was an experience they would talk about with their children.

"They would just share how they were beaten and asked to renounce Christianity," Roudkovski said.

Because of his faith and the deep respect Jake had for his dad and grandfather, Jake told that KGB Agent, he would not spy for him. The soviet agent was not happy with that response.

"The threat was, if I refuse, I would not amount to anything in the system. It was intimidating, not knowing what would happen next."

Not long after communism fell, Jake never saw that KGB agent again.

In his late teens, Jake moved to America to go to college. Now, he has an interesting perspective on his new home, and this wonderful thing we call freedom.

"Just knowing that a person could live without the fear of religious persecution is a wonderful thing," he said.

The pastor calls America a nation blessed by God, but he also worries about the future of this great country.

"Just in the past 15 years, I am seeing how the country is moving more toward socialism," Roudkovski said. "That is what I escaped in the Soviet Union."

The pastor married a girl from Tennessee, and now his entire family lives in America, including his siblings and father.

His great-grandfather was the first person in the family to convert to Christianity. It happened in World War I, when a British soldier, who was also a Baptist missionary, befriended Jake's great-grandfather and told him about the Christian faith.

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