Under the 70-year rule of atheistic communism, Christian believers endured severe persecution, with many giving their lives for their faith in the Lord Jesus. Many others were sent into internal exile in remote regions and lived in the most difficult conditions. When the older generation tells us of these things, it seems like it would have been unbearable. But God preserved His church in a miraculous way.
The believers humbly carried their cross and expressed love to their persecutors. And they planted seeds that even today are blossoming to God’s glory.
One day, we went to visit prisons in the North Caucasus. We had to visit the prison administration to receive permission, and a general of the directorate met with us. He was a rather elderly person with grey hair, but he was asked to continue his work because he has much experience, a kind heart, and respects his co-workers. As we sat at the meeting table, he began to tell us about his life and we were amazed. We finally understood why we were being treated so respectfully.
The general was once a young militia officer in Kolyma, which is a place that many political and religious exiles were sent. It was a difficult place that the authorities did not maintain, with a lot of snow in winter and mud in the spring. Several Baptist families were sent there and he was put in charge of them. He told us that when he checked up on these families as part of his duties, they always met him with hospitality. He never saw gloomy faces and their homes looked tidy. Women were of gentle, kind spirit and the children obeyed their parents.
When the next spring came, they began on their own to fill an embankment on the streets after a day of heavy labor to cope with mud and deep puddles. The other villagers did not come out to help them at first, but then their consciences got to them and they began to come out and help put the streets in order. In time, this village became the best village in Kolyma. He witnessed how godly Christians behaved in their places of work. Other people stopped using bad words when the believers were near.
Many years had gone by since then, but the general still remembers their names. He concluded by saying, “Those believers were Baptists. That is why I know your faith very well and that it teaches kind things. That is why the doors of our prisons are open to you! Then unexpectedly, the general’s secretary came in with an official award—we all received medals that read, “For contribution on behalf of the penal system.” He shook our hands and thanked us for the work that the churches do.
I was so thankful and deeply touched by his words about the testimony of these believers who are now with the Lord. Their names are unknown by us now, but the light they left behind continues to shine and bring forth fruit!
Pastor Oleg's church reached more than 250 people through SGA-supported Compassion Ministry, and some have started attending church services!
God opened a door for Mikhail and his team to hold a children’s summer program in a remote village that was only accessible by aircraft.
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