A Twentieth Century Apostle To Eastern Europe
In the book, "A Man In A Hurry," James Alexander Stewart summarizes the life story of Basil A. Malof, a man chosen of God in the early years of the twentieth century, as an apostle to the Slavic people. Stewart was privileged to be associated with Malof in some of his ministry. The following introduction to "A New Open Door"printed below is gleaned from the book, "A Man In A Hurry."
Basil Malof was born in 1883 into a pastor’s home in Latvia, which was then a province of Czarist Russia. There was little religious liberty for evangelicals in Latvia at that time, but at the age of 15, Basil came to Christ, and at age 16 he preached his first Gospel message. It was while working in an office at the age of 18 that he felt the call of God to serve Him full time among the perishing multitudes of Russia.
At that time Russia had no evangelistic training school in which he could prepare for serving the Lord. But having heard of Charles H. Spurgeon’s "Pastor’s College" in London, Basil headed there for training. Charles H. Spurgeon was no longer living, but his son, Thomas Spurgeon, now in charge of the school, welcomed Basil gladly. Spurgeon and others at the school considered it an answer to prayer to be able to help prepare someone to reach the Slavic people. They were attracted to this highly-gifted, lonely young man from Latvia as he struggled to learn English. They saw in him a desperate desire to know God’s will and to live a holy life and to dig deeply into God’s Word. His passion to serve God grew as he read over and over the life stories of saints of God like Finney, Brainerd and especially John Knox. It was while at the school that Basil was introduced to extended periods of intercession, and prayer became a distinguishing mark of his years of service to the Lord.
While Basil was studying in London, the Welsh revival broke out. He wasted no time visiting the site of the revival and spent two weeks in its midst. During the time there he learned to know the Holy Spirit in a deep, intimate way. Basil was changed forever as he saw what it is to have God working mightily in the midst of His people. No longer could he be satisfied with ordinary evangelistic meetings. He longed for and sought for the spontaneous moving of the Holy Spirit, the fire and glory of God in every meeting, with the Holy Spirit in full control.
Graduating from the training school in 1907 with highest honors, Malof sought the Lord earnestly as to how to begin work in Russia. Fortunately the Emperor of Russia, Nickolas II, had recently issued a "Manifesto of Religious Liberty." Malof, then age 24, began work in the city of St. Petersburg among university students. He came in contact with some ladies of Russian aristocracy, who had come to Christ through an earlier evangelist, Lord Radstock of England, and soon Malof was holding meetings in the palaces among nobility, high-ranking officials and civil servants. He was able to mail out Bibles, New Testaments, magazines, books and Gospel tracts. Every two weeks he rented large halls in which to hold meetings. Here from 300 to 1000 people could be seated to hear Malof’s dynamic preaching of the Gospel. A number of working class people were completely changed, and these workers were in high demand by employers who valued their integrity. Malof encouraged the new Christians to be good witnesses to their employers wherever the Lord placed them, helping to propagate the Gospel farther.
In 1911 under Malof’s direction there was built and dedicated in St. Petersburg a large and beautiful Russian evangelical church, which could seat 2000 people. Here hundreds of people came to Christ. Not only did visitors who came to the city carry the Gospel back to their homes throughout the nation, but teams of preachers were sent out even to remotest places.
In 1913 Basil married Barbara Kovalevsky who had been converted in the meetings he conducted. She was a woman of high intelligence and deep spirituality and proved to be an able and faithful companion to her husband. She brought up their ten sons and three daughters to love and fear and serve God.
After the work in St. Petersburg was well established, Malof began work in Moscow. This city was considered the center of the state church. Under Malof’s preaching, a small assembly of believers sprang up, and these zealous new believers were encouraged to become soul-winners throughout the city. This greatly aroused the Orthodox Church leaders. Although many clergy of the Orthodox Church were sincere men, their teachings did not lead people to put their trust in Christ as Lord and Savior. The leaders considered it blasphemy that Malof neglected the worship of icons and did not practice their traditional religious rituals. They determined to destroy Malof’s work. This drove him to desperate prayer. The press also denounced him, but the people continued to flock to hear this anointed preacher who pointed them to the living Christ. The Spirit of God was mightily at work and streams of living water flowed out from St. Petersburg and Moscow across the land in wonderful life-giving power. Malof also opened a large church in Riga, the capital of his homeland, Latvia. Some of Malof’s associates who went forth with the Gospel, even to the most distant and remote areas, were put in prison and some were martyred. But thousands from every strata of society found life in Christ, and hundreds left the Orthodox Church.
Suddenly Malof was served with a notice from the military police that he was to be immediately arrested and exiled to Siberia. His wife would be left with their first child to care for, a three-month-old baby. Husband and wife, stunned and heavy-hearted at the frightful prospect, kissed goodbye and prison doors closed behind him. He found grace to lie down that first night alongside three filthy prisoners by thinking of his beloved Christ who was crucified between two thieves.
Two days later, due to an outpouring of prayer and of wide publicity concerning Malof’s arrest and sentence to Siberia, the Czar’s Cabinet changed his sentence from exile to Siberia to banishment out of Russia for life. He was given ten days to put his affairs in order, during which time he held ten revival meetings. At the last of these, 500 souls professed faith in Christ. Through evangelical leaders in the Swedish government, the young couple was invited to make their exile in Sweden.