Not the Reformation 500 You’re Thinking of

Joe Henegan | October 30th 2017

Most pastors have decided to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation with a special service or a sermon series. But not this guy—he's gone one step (or rather, 500km) further. 

At the heart of the Reformation was a desire to communicate the doctrines of grace to ordinary people—to put God's word into the hands of tinkers, farmers, merchants, mothers and milkmaids. And it was this same passion for helping everyone connect with the Bible in their own language that moved a 29 year-old church planter from Minsk to run 500km in just 5 days.

Taras Telkovsky was compelled to put on his trainers when he heard how the Belarussian government planned to celebrate the Reformation anniversary.

“This year marks the 500th anniversary of the Belarrussian Bible,” says Taras. “But instead of celebrating how the good news of Jesus Christ changed our country, the government wanted to draw more attention to the man that translated the Bible into Belarussian, Francysk Skaryna."

“When the Reformation reached Belarus we already had the Bible in our own language. It resulted in the so-called 'Golden Age' of Belarus, as the biblical message and its values transformed our people and country.”

Taras wanted to remind his country that it is the Bible itself which motivated the likes of Francysk Skaryna in Belarus, Martin Luther in Germany and William Tyndall in England to take great risks to translate the Bible into languages that local people could understand.

“I knew I should do something. I wanted to draw public attention to this magnificent event in the past and loudly declare that the Bible is not just a historical monument of ancient literature, but it’s relevant now and it’s the life-changing Word of the living God.”

By God’s grace and with the support of other Christians, the former athlete completed his feat in September this year—running the equivalent of almost 12 marathons over 5 days. The herculean effort drew national attention, with the media live-streaming the entire run.

What Taras is most excited about, however, is the gospel opportunities the buzz surrounding the run has provided: “I received lots of messages from the different people saying that they never read the Bible before, but now they want to read and find out why I think the Bible is so fascinating. Some people showed up at our church, some came to Bible studies. There have been so many great gospel conversations as a result of the attention.”

I wanted to loudly declare that the Bible is the life-changing Word of the living God

Taras gave up his career as a professional athlete by responding to the call to ministry and is currently planting a church in Minsk. You can find out more about his church plant here. (There’s an option to translate into English.)

What is the Reformation for you and how will you mark Reformation Day 2017?

Taras comments, "what is the Reformation for me? It is a moment in the 16th century when above the noise of human opinions, people heard the voice of the living God from the Scripture." 

Maybe you're not able to run 500km in celebration of the Reformation, but you can certainly practise the discipline of regular reading and dwelling in scripture that the Reformers fought to restore. Sit alongside the Reformers themselves using 90 Days in Genesis, Exodus, Psalms & Galatians with Calvin, Luther, Bullinger & Cranmer 

Or, rediscover the truths of the Reformation with Why the Reformation Still Matters by Tim Chester and Michael Reeves. 

Joe Henegan

Joe is our Marketing Manager. He lives in South London with his wife and two daughters and is a member at River Church Sutton - part of the Newfrontiers network - where he runs a small group and various outreach activities.

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