The first Adventist health food store in St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg, Russia
February 1, 2015
“Smokva” (The fig tree) – under such intriguing name a health food store was opened in St. Petersburg February 1, 2015. Today many people are paying attention to healthy eating. Due to environmental degradation healthy eating habits and products we consume become even more topical with each passing year. In response to this need, dedicated brothers and sisters of the Seventh Day Adventist Church from the north-western part of Russia, have started to open health food stores and sanatoriums. Last autumn a store was opened in Tver, now in St. Petersburg.
There is an inscription on one wall of the store: “We are what we eat.” And the store staff, headed by its manager, Oleg Smirnov, acquaints visitors with familiar and new to them, health foods, as well as with recipes of simple and wholesome food. Breaking the stereotype that a healthy diet is the lot of the chronically ill and the elderly only, young people also visit the store. Could the useful products be tasty as well? And what way the store team has gone through to this day? Let’s ask Chekh G. Nikolai, the general manager of the shop.
A: The idea of a healthy diet is not new. Around the world, people have long come to the conclusion that nutrition is an important component of a healthy and fulfilling life. But we do not want to limit ourselves to the sale of healthy foods and health club meetings. We want to change lives of people who visit the health club and come here for health food by focusing their attention in a spiritual direction. We also want to show them kindness, and not only human but God’s. And best of all God’s love can be demonstrated through our attitude towards people. We believe that the opening of this store and club is only the first step and there is still to be new projects.
Q: What is this store is different from those of secular stores?
A: It would seem that this store is no different from the others, offering a vegetarian meal prepared with certain recipes. However, we offer not only a healthy diet, but a whole set of principles of a healthy lifestyle, including trust in God. Therefore, through the daily physical food, we want to tell people about other principles, revealing the good God’s purpose concerning man.
Q: Nikolai, what are your plans for the near future?
A: We are people of large-scale. Currently, we are preparing for the opening of another store in the Moscow district of St. Petersburg. We would like to open a few shops that will cooperate. We also acquired premises in Krasnoe Selo, where we plan to open a health office, a shop, a cafeteria and Spiritual Center. We have been dreaming about the opening of the Adventist sanatorium. In the village of Bolshaya izhora, Leningrad region, we are doing internal works in two houses acquired for sanatorium, and we believe that in the near future, our dream of a sanatorium will come true.
Q: Do you have a vision of how to make not shops and sanatorium “a product of internal use” for church members only but to involve people who have no contact with the Seventh-day Adventist Church?
A: That’s why we have opened our doors! The way to the Lord not always goes through the house of prayer. Sometimes this is not easy for a person to cross its threshold. We believe that through our good attitude people will express a desire to learn about God. Our first priority is non-commercial one, but we want to open the door of hearts, to find way to the heart of people through social service.
In his address to the first customers and store employees, Pastor Victor Tanasevich Manilich, said that the Church will not always have such wonderful opportunities to serve people therefore it is important to make maximum use of them. Inviting the audience to prayer, Pastor Manilich quoted a passage from Psalm 90, a prayer of Moses, “Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children. And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it. “(Psalm 90: 16-17).
The fig tree can grow on poor land, rocks, and stone walls. It lives to 60, and in some cases up to 300 years. Let this project takes root and expands, despite the “soil” of external circumstances.
Mariya Vacheva, Communication Department of the Northwest Conference