FEATURED AUTHOR: INTERVIEW WITH ANASTASIOS KIOULACHOGLOU
Meet the Greek author and consultant responsible for the foundation of one of the earliest
online forums dedicated to the study of God’s Word – the Journal of Biblical Accuracy – still sharing the good news to this very day.
B: For the last two decades, you have played a huge role on the Journal of Biblical Accuracy, a project that has reached dozens of colleges and thousands of people. How did it all start? Did you expect it to grow this much and last this long?
AK: It all started in 1995. I was doing my Ph.D. in Leicester, UK. I was involved much with the Christian Union of the University and had started fellowships in my home where I was teaching the Bible, focusing on the basics. Though just 5 guys were coming, to me this whole thing was very important. I had time then, as I had almost finished my thesis and I was fully absorbed by this fellowship. I thought to start putting into paper what I was saying, so that the guys have something written after we were gone, as the end of the academic year. But what I wrote started circulating among the students who were asking me for more copies. Soon I had about 30 students in my address book giving them a copy every time I was writing something. It was obvious that something regular was being built up, though there was no name to it and had no form. Then in January 1996 the following happen: I was going to print some additional copies. While I was picking up a copy from the printer, I saw a piece of paper with an email address on it. God speaks to us many times, usually through his peaceful assurance or still voice. But sometimes His voice is emphatic, clear and unmistakable. You know you have heard from Him and there is no mistake to it. To me this has happened 4-5 times in my whole life. One of those times was that time, that morning. Once I saw that paper my whole mind was filled with the following phrase: “get the articles on the internet!”, “get the articles on the internet!”. The funny things is that I had no idea what the Internet was! Perhaps I had heard the word once but had really no clue what it really was. Remember we are at the beginning of 96. Up to that time I had sent a couple of emails just to experiment. I had not visited a web page yet! Having this “command” very clear in my mind I went immediately to the help desk of the University’s computer room and asked them “how can I get something on the internet”? Then a very polite guy sat with me in a PC, showed me the “newsgroups” (Usenet), something like forums where you could post, and he took me directly to the Christian ones. Within a day I started posting the material to these groups. Immediately I started receiving subscriptions via email from all over the world! The same evening I decided that there will be a magazine with the name of “the Journal of Biblical Accuracy” (Biblical Accuracy was the topic I was focusing at that time). Within a couple of months I had about 100 subscribers, but no web page. Then a subscriber from Mississippi (USA), offered to set up a web page for me, which he kindly did. The web address was half a meter long but it did the job. Eventually I got my own domain name. Today what started that January exists in 18 languages, has about 6.000.000 visitors a year and about 80.000 subscribers. I didn’t expect it to get so big but I expected that it would be a fight to keep it going. At the same time I had decided that I would give this fight, as I considered it as one my mandates on this earth.
B: I understand you became a Christian almost thirty years ago, in a small group out of Thessalonica. Can you tell us a bit more about that transition and the impact it had in your life?
AK: Yes this was in 1991. I had a Christian background and education as a child but sometime in my teenage years I turned to agnostic. Internally though I was looking for the truth. I was always a truth seeker. Sometime in early 1991 I had a major crisis, which brought me to my knees. I told God: “If you exist, manifest yourself to me”. Within the same week my best friend at work told me about a Christian group and invited me to go. This was not like the strict Greek orthodox religious groups I knew and rather detested. In contrast, people looked normal and the God they were proclaiming was a Father who cared and loved man. They were saying that the Bible works. So when I read “ask and you will receive”, I thought: “let’s try it”. Within weeks God had changed my life, internally and externally! It was like He was listening to every little thing I was saying and cared to do it! As the Bible says: “you have tasted that the Lord is good” (1 Peter 2:3). This is how God many times attracts us to Himself. And this I will never forget. I have passed through extreme difficult times where God does not seem to be anywhere around. Prolonged months and years of wilderness. In those times I go back to those early days and to the miracles God has done in my life and take refuge there. Walking with the Lord is not always easy. Persecution will arise, even from Christians! Let’s not forget: “small is the way and narrow the path”. At the same time God never leaves us nor forsakes us. As I have come to know: Life is hard, sometimes very hard, but God is good. Both are true!
B: You’ve stated you’re an economist by education, with several years of expertise in that field. How do you manage to juggle your job with your work in JBA and with your family?
AK: It is a challenge all the way through. It was like this always. The last book was written in the train going to work. Basically all that I did the last years was done in the train and very early in the morning. In the past, before 2004, I was using the full weekend. 20 years ago in my army service I was carrying a desktop (there were no laptops at that time) in my luggage and was sending the new articles from primitive internet cafes. With the family obligations things are even more difficult but it is the way it is. In any case, I’m just one of millions of God’s people. If I don’t have the time to write something because of work or family obligations then somebody else will do. It is so in the body!
B: What led you to write a book? Do you plan to write more?
AK: Sometime in 2008 I moved from writing relatively short messages based on a topic to writing moved by “burdens” I had. I consider the last book, “the warnings of the New Testament”, the most important of what I have written. It was a burden I was carrying 6-7 years before I wrote it. Sometimes a topic is in my heart and mind for years before I pick up the keyboard to write about it.
B: What does the future have in store for JBA?
AK: I’m not sure. I’m just coming out of a huge trial. I will tell you another time about it. I have learned so much through it and this I believe will eventually come out in writing. What will it be about? Further on the narrow path and the small gate. Further on persecution and affliction because of the Word. We Christians are called to walk on the narrow path and not give up when persecution arises. It is the paradox we are called to live: a full of power and love God and at the same time a life which has lots of afflictions, though deliverance is there too. My message to my fellow brothers is don’t lose your courage. Keep on. Run the race of faith with patience and do not turn back. Run it to the end! Run it despite what may come against you. Faith is a journey. It will take you to places you may not want to be and may turn out much different than what you had thought and planned. Remember though that God is in charge even if it seems crazy at times. Let’s make sure we keep running so that at the end we can say what Paul said: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed
for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8)
BY DANIEL GOMES
ANASTASIOS “TASSOS” KIOULACHOGLOU
• Born in Greece, in 1969,
• Accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior in Thessaloniki, in 1991,
• Founds the Journal of Biblical Accuracy in 1996, while pursuing a Ph.D. in Leicester,
• Works as a SAP consultant,
• Wrote much of his works on the train to his job,
• Married, with three children.