Wednesday, January 25, 2023
Today on the show, we tell the story of the evangelical revival in Russia and Madame Chertkov.
It is the 25th of January 2023. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. I’m Dan van Voorhis.
This isn’t a mailbag episode, but it does double duty as a show that can answer a listener's question and tell a pertinent story about a remarkable woman who died in 1922.
Troy in Bloomington, Indiana, listened to the Weekend Edition show on the Siberian Seven- those persecuted Pentecostals near the end of the Cold War. He wondered how on earth Pentecostalism got to Russia if it began at the Asuza Street Revival. Troy also told me that Rex Grossman is from Bloomington, and in this season of playoff football, Rex reminds us that you don’t, in fact, need a good quarterback to get to a Super Bowl, to win one (that Super Bowl for the 2006 season was a disaster).
OK- so, let’s hold a few different threads out. The Azusa Street Revivals were the most notable of the global Revivals in the early 1900s, accompanied by Glossolalia (speaking in tongues). Through international connections often associated with global mission movements, we have revivals in LA, Kansas, North Korea, and Wales.
William Fettler was the son of a Baptist pastor who was born in Latvia. He would be called to the ministry and attend Charles Spurgeon’s college in England as the Welsh revival was taking off- Evan Roberts of the Welsh revival spoke to Fettler and others at the college. Back in Russia, he would come into contact with Lord Radstock of England. Lord Radstock had come to faith during his time as a soldier during the Crimean War. This would connect his own personal faith with those in Russia who were once his enemies. He would become known for his time as an evangelist in Russia, and here he connected with a Russian Countess- Madame Chertkof. One of Madame Chertkof’s sons had been tutored by a Lutheran- he died young but implored his mother to investigate Christianity- and thus began her decision to find Christians with whom she might converse and ultimately convert. Her husband Grigorii Ivanovich was an aide-de-camp under Tsar Nicholas I, and the subsequent Tsars were family friends. But her son, Vladimir, fled to England as an exile who supported Leo Tolstoy. Vladimir Chertkof would become the editor for the famous Russian works. And so, we have the Russian connection to England through Madame Chertkof and Lord Radstock.
Through her connection to Radstock, the countess would come to know Queen Victoria and her husband Edward. But Madame Chertkof became uneasy with the wealth her family had amassed, and so She opened her own estate in Russia near the Winter Palace for the serfs. She eventually moved into the slums to work with poor Russian women. She set up sewing shops for the women to work and earn a wage, and she herself visited prisons and would read and speak with the infirm in the prison hospital.
Despite her service to the poor, she was still of the noble class, and when the Russian Revolution began, she was forced to flee, penniless, into Finland. Madame Chertkof’s English estate was called Slavanka (Russian for “place of glory”) and was on the beach in Southbourne in Bournemouth- that’s on the southern coast of England- a beach estate between Plymouth and Brighton. Her friends purchased the estate from her to provide her with money and use it as a Christian conference center- the Bournemouth Conference Center. When the grounds were no longer suitable for conferences, the trust- today known as the Slavanka trust- sold the land and has used the proceeds to fund a ministry that today supports residential and educational Christian projects in the UK and beyond.
As for Madame Chertkof she lived just a few more years and in relative obscurity- comforted by her faith. She would die on this, the 25th of January in 1922.
The last word for today comes from Luke 1- Zechariah’s Song:
“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come to his people and redeemed them.
He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David
(as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us—
to show mercy to our ancestors and to remember his holy covenant,
the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear
in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 25th of January 2023 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org.
The show is produced by a natural enemy to those in Bloomington- West Lafayette’s own Christopher Gillespie.
The show is written and read by a man all in on the Bengals and Joe Burrow becoming the best Quarterback in football in the next two years. I’m Dan van Voorhis.
You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.
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