Faith and Religion, Russia

Timur | A Former Russian Prisoner Finds Freedom in Mormonism

Watch the miraculous story of Timur, a former Russian prisoner that found faith and freedom in Mormonism.

Important: AFTER you press play, you can turn on the English subtitles by clicking the CC box (closed caption) at the bottom right of the video frame.

From LDS Living:

Timur, who lived in Rostov, Russia, in the turbulent ’90s, was the son of a very wealthy man caught up in the crime. His father had flirted with religion, taking Timur and his sister to a Pentecostal church on occasion. At age 10, Timur was playing on the fifth floor in a building construction zone. He lost his balance and fell. His playmates gathered round him, thinking him dead. Timur then asked them to pray for him.

“We don’t know how to,” his friends said. So Timur, flat on the ground, taught his friends to pray for him. “It was the first time in my life I had prayed out loud,” he says, smiling.

His father disappeared into the milieu when Timur was 14. When his mother contracted cancer just two years later, Timur was sent into the country to live with an aunt. It was there that he fell in love with the Bible. He then returned home to care for his mother, who passed away. Parentless at age 17, Timur himself was caught up in crime and ended up in prison, twice. It was at this time that an uncle introduced him to the Book of Mormon.

“I told my uncle that it was impossible to live like Jesus Christ,” Timur says. But his uncle simply answered, “You can,” words that continuously echoed in Timur’s mind. After being released from prison, he saw two missionaries on the other side of a busy outdoor shopping bazaar and fought through the crowd to meet them. Not long after, Timur became part of the second wave of converts, who were more prone to stay as increasingly favorable economic conditions in Russia prevailed.

With this second, steady but slower-coming wave of converts, an increasing number of native Russians started going on missions in spite of the challenges. For example, it is often best for potential missionaries to wait until they have finished college, because leaving midstream would mean starting all over, and maybe not even getting reaccepted. For the brethren, the challenge is compounded because of required military service—required unless one is currently in higher education, graduates in particular fields in the hard sciences, or doesn’t pass the physical. Many of the native missionaries sorted through the challenges anyway and served missions, often at a substantially older age during their service than their American counterparts.

One advantage Timur had: the military wouldn’t draft someone who had been in prison. He was free to go—and did, serving a powerful mission in Moscow through 2010.

Timur’s story is the first installment of five videos about Russian Mormons. Please help share his story! Pin it. Facebook it. Embed it. And send out emails.

Timur, a former Russian prisoner who found faith and freedom in Mormonism.
Timur, a former Russian prisoner who found faith and freedom in Mormonism.

This video is also up on http://мормон.рф (an all Russian site) and contains some additional biographical information.

I served my mission for the LDS Church in Russia, Vladivostok. About a year ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to help editing one of these  videos for the More Good Foundation. The other videos in this series can be found on the YouTube channel MormonRF.

To learn more about this project of filming Russian Mormons, please watch this video: