Anatoly Alekseev

Photo courtesy of Vladimir Ievenko.

Alekseev, Anatoly Aleksandrovich (1927–2011)

By Aleksey A. Oparin

×

Aleksey A. Oparin is head of the therapy and rheumatology department of the Kharkov Medical Academy of Postgraduate Education in Ukraine. Deeply interested in Adventist history, he is the editor of two Russian-language journals, a medical journal and a journal on world issues.

First Published: March 21, 2023

Anatoly Aleksandrovich Alekseev was an Adventist lay member who accomplished many things for the Adventist church in Russia, including the visual materials for preaching the Gospel, such as paintings, postcards, books, and film strips.1

Early Life

Alekseev was born in Rostov-on-Don in 1927. His father, Aleksander Nikiforovich Alekseev, served for many decades as an elder in the local Adventist church. Alekseev learned the biblical truth from a young age. He grew up appreciating books, history, and geography.

During the Second World War, Alekseev was deported by the German forces to Gelsenkirchen, Germany, where he was forced to engage in hard physical labor. The alliance forces liberated him together with many other prisoners of Nazism. After the war, Alekseev returned to his native city of Rostov-on-Don, where he enrolled in an art school and graduated with flying colors. Then he applied to the Academy of Arts in Moscow. However, the news of his Adventist background came to Moscow, and his application to the Academy was denied. Then he tried to continue his studies in other cities, but all the heads of universities had the same condition for him, to deny his Adventist faith. However, his faith in Christ was more important to him than his career and fame. Finally, a door opened for him to continue his studies in Kharkov. However, he was not able to finish his studies because of school demands that clashed with his religious convictions. Although he had outstanding talents and won many exhibitions and competitions, he was denied an artist diploma.

In Kharkov, Alekseev began to take an active part in the ministry of the local church. He preached his first sermon and conducted the first Sabbath School lesson. The Sabbath School became his high calling, and he headed the Sabbath School in the Kharkov church for more than 30 years. Until his death, he prepared each Sabbath School lesson in the most thorough way, searching, if deemed necessary, through various dictionaries and encyclopedias. He collected an excellent library on history, religious studies, and geography.

Ministry

Alekseev’s remarkable erudition, efficiency and loyalty to the biblical principles were noticed by the head of the Adventist Church of the USSR, Pastor Pavel Andreevich Matsanov, who invited him to serve beyond his local church. Under Matsanov’s leadership, Alekseev produced slide films dedicated to the proclamation of healthy lifestyle principles and biblical truths. The following are some of the slide films: “The Family,” “The Poison of Life,” “Esther,” and “He Has Risen.” Alekseev made more than 600 illustrations for those films. Each slide was a work of art. Alekseev also invented and constructed a special device for replicating slide films. His is an excellent example of how technological achievements can be efficiently used in mission work.

Pastor Matsanov also tasked Alekseev with designing and printing Adventist Samizdat literature. Alekseev was engaged in many other projects, especially those requiring artistic skills. Thus, he designed a diploma for the pastors entering ministry. He produced several paintings on biblical topics. One of them was titled “The Sermon of the Apostle Peter in the Catacombs”. Noteworthy is that the ancient Christians in the painting looked like members of the then members of the Adventist church in Kharkov. Today, this painting hangs on the wall in the house of Pastor Matsanov’s daughter in the city of Belgorod.

Alekseev compiled several prophetic maps and charts, including “The Bible and World History” and “Events of the Last Days.” The Adventist members use many of them today. He worked as an artist at the Department of Human Anatomy of the Kharkov Medical Institute, which became famous when one of its directors, Academician Vorobyov, took part in embalming V. I. Lenin’s body. Alekseev helped Professor R. D. Sinelnikov, the Institute director, release a four-volume handbook of anatomical charts, which was used by many students of the USSR and other European and Asian countries. This truly unique atlas is believed to be still unrivaled. Alekseev’s painting “Christ Heals the Sick” decorates today the central building of the Kharkov National Medical University. Another picture, “The Prophet Ezekiel,” found its place at the Department of Human Anatomy of the same university. Today, after A. Alekseev’s death, these paintings remain living witnesses of his faith and continue to preach instead of him.2

Later Years

Alekseev was particularly fond of Ellen G. White’s book The Great Controversy. He had studied it for many years. He possessed various editions of this book, not only in Russian but also in English and German. He always underlined that The Great Controversy is the most important book after the Bible, that it reveals the mechanisms of world history, being an unsurpassed work in the field of history and philosophy of this world. He often expressed concern that some members, especially young people, having received a little bit of theological education, neglect to study this book and more readily give ear to liberal theologians, whose works often discredit Ellen G. White’s prophetic authority. Short before his death, Alekseev was happy to know that The Great Controversy was declared a Missionary Book of the Year and hundreds of thousands of copies were printed in Russian.

Anatoly Alekseev died on June 24, 2011. In spite of heavy rain, many people attended his funeral, including pastors and lay members of the Kharkov churches and officers of the Eastern Dnieper Conference. His life sets an example of a lay church member who was able to accomplish many things for his church, including the visual materials for preaching the Gospel such as paintings, postcards, books, and film strips.

Sources

Oparin, A. A. Yubileinyi god. Ocherki istorii adventizma v Khar’kove. Khar’kov: Fakt, 2006.

Yunak, D. O. Istoriya Tserkvi Adventistov Sed’mogo Dnia v Rossii (1886-2000) (v dvukh tomakh). Zaokskiy: Istochnik Zhizni, 2002.

Notes

  1. This article was translated from Russian by Vladimir Ievenko.

  2. A. A. Oparin, Yubileinyi god. Ocherki istorii adventizma v Khar’kove (Khar’kov: Fakt, 2006), 55.

×

Oparin, Aleksey A. "Alekseev, Anatoly Aleksandrovich (1927–2011)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. March 21, 2023. Accessed June 18, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=DD82.

Oparin, Aleksey A. "Alekseev, Anatoly Aleksandrovich (1927–2011)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. March 21, 2023. Date of access June 18, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=DD82.

Oparin, Aleksey A. (2023, March 21). Alekseev, Anatoly Aleksandrovich (1927–2011). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved June 18, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=DD82.