Like the reluctant but ultimately heroic biblical prophet Moses, Vasiliy Skorykh finds courage and direction in the word of God.
Growing up in the Soviet Union town of Sverdlovsk (today called Yekatrinburg), Skorykh is the son of a Christian pastor. Due to threats of imprisonment by the KGB, Skorykh and his family could only worship and pray under the cover of night and could only meet with other Christians in remote and hidden locations.
“There is such hunger to know Jesus, such a need for hope. I read in the Bible about Moses. He was nobody to Pharaoh. Like Moses I am nobody, but God tells me this is what I can do. I can give them hope with Jesus,” Skorykh said describing the mission work he provides with his 501(c)(3) organization called Answer in Jesus.
To explain his passions to provide hope to his countrymen, Skorykh described his childhood and young adult years.
“My father was pastor of an underground church for 32 years. He was put in prison because he is Christian,” said Skorykh. He described how the KGB locked him in an office and interrogated him for three hours, telling the then 17-year old that if he would help them find other Christians, they would help his dad avoid further imprisonment.
“But I refused. I really had just one choice: to be faithful to my dad, to be faithful to my faith. There was no struggle in my mind. I knew what I had to do,” Skorykh said.
And so he lived under constant threat of imprisonment himself.
“Three times that year, I was 17, the KGB tried to recruit me,” he said.
But he remained steadfast, and four years later he began to organize evangelical meetings.
“I had to get permission from the government – all communists. I prayed and prayed and the Holy Spirit told me, ‘Yes, you need to do this.’ So I had to do it,” he said.
After months of interrogation and red tape, threats, registration forms and run around – not to mention much prayer and fasting on Skorykh’s part – he finally got permission to hold the rally. And what a success it was.
“We thought 100 people would come. There were so many people in the building. They sat stacked one on another, so it was 750 to 800 and a few hundred more outside,” he said.
“All the people were so hungry. When we invited if anyone wanted to come to Jesus, raise your hand. All the people were standing, both hands raised. … The Soviet Union was changing. It started happening all over,” Skorykh said.
It was during a time of upheaval following the 1991 disintegration of the communist party in Russia that Skorykh and his family fled the country and found a home in Ramsey where they still reside.
Shortly after coming to America, Skorykh, who became a Pentecostal minister in 1997, established the Answer in Jesus ministry. Today, Skorykh returns to his Russian homeland two or three times each year, always bringing with him the hope and relief that only God can provide, he said.
“Tens of thousands of people do not know God in Russia. I feel I am an evangelist and I love church planting. My main goal is to open churches and prepare people to keep those churches going, to upraise the churches, to keep them going, keep them growing,” Skorykh said.
He also visits Cuba, a country which is very friendly to Russia, he said.
“The Cuban culture is similar to Russia. There they so love Russia – Russia built schools, hospitals, help so much. They love Russia,” Skorykh said.
Visiting villages and schools, clinics, hospitals and prisons in Russia and Cuba and having planted six churches in his homeland, Skorykh said his goal is to open 10 new churches this year.
Funded by support from churches and generous individuals, Skorykh said Answer in Jesus is looking for partners to provide ongoing support so that the outreach and rescue can continue.
“We trust, we believe we are doing God’s work. It’s hard work, but it’s the best time in my life,” Skorykh said.
To learn more about Answer in Jesus, visit www.facebook.com/answerinjesusmission.