“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5 (ESV)
Lately my lunch has consisted of a sandwich with iced tea. Of course a more fancy way of putting it would be to say that I am having the best of honey ham, smoked turkey with domestic Swiss on soft Italian bread that has Hellman’s mayo and French’s mustard for a spread. I wash it down with an Arnold Palmer iced tea and complete it with Oreo’s for dessert but at times it is really what I am reading that I wind up having for lunch. On this day it is a book titled “Live Like a Jesus Freak” and I just finished a story about a 20 yr old Russian solider named Private Ivan “Vanya” Moiseyev.
Private Moiseyev is a Christian serving in the Red Army in 1970 when he called to the Major’s office during lunchtime. The sidewalk he walks on is snow-covered, the sun is out and Ivan is singing, praising and praying to the God who has won his heart. However Ivan knows what this is going to be about…why will he not denounce his faith and take on a godless acceptance into a communistic society. Why will he not accept being re-educated. But before he gets there he sees an angel who says to him “Ivan, go. Don’t be afraid. I am with you. “Then comes his sit down time with Major Gidenko… “Moiseyev, you don’t look like a poor pupil to. Why are you not learning the correct answers?” the Major asked.
Now there isn’t enough room in here to go through the entirety of this conversation but As the Major acknowledges that the private has been exposed to “Christian teaching” he presses him to see if he disagrees with the teaching of the glorious Red Army. To which Vanya replies, “No, sir.” Then the Major asks “But you do not accept the principles of scientific atheism upon which is based our entire Soviet state and the military power of the army?” “I cannot accept what I know to be untrue. Everything else I can gladly accept.” Answers Vanya. I love the submission to the authority placed over my new found friend, Vanya, and his willingness to stand firm on The Rock, BUT….
The punishment that Vanya will have to endure is not pretty. First this Major has Vanya stand in the cold Russian winter night for a span of 13 nights in nothing more than his summer uniform. He begs for no mercy however he doesn’t freeze (an angel has gone before him) and as he is threatened while singing praises to Jesus Christ he replied, “A lark threatened with death for singing would still continue to sing. She cannot renounce her nature. Neither can we Christians.” Soldiers were converted by him as they were impressed by his faith. BUT because the commanders couldn’t re-educated Vanya he was subjected to torture in a rubber suit pumped with air so his breathing became difficult. Eventually his body was sent to his parents in 1972 riddled with wounds that included six stab wounds around the heart. The note sent by Colonel Malsin (Vanya’s commanding officer) said, “Moiseyev died with difficulty. He fought with death, but he died as a Christian.”
I recommend that you seek this story out and read it in its entirety. As for me and my lunch it all seemed like rubbish compared to what my friend Vanya went through for his faith. This made me mad and sad all in one shot. I wanted to cry for this man I never meet but then I turned my gaze inwards and asked myself could I be this kind of Christian. Vanya’s life made my trials and alleged tribulations seem like nothing and all I do is complain about things that will serve no Kingdom purpose. Geez…what a wretched man I can become with my trivialized sense of Christianity. How about you? Can you boldly stand in the gap like Vanya and have people converted just by the example of your faith or are you, like me, at times sitting on an ash heap going, “Oh woe is me?” I pray that we all can brush off the ash and take a stand in the cold Russian winter’s night. Amen? – Chris Hughes is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and is a weekly Freedom Fighter blogger
Think About This: “Faith is the highest kind of reason after all, for faith goes straight into the presence of God.”—A.W. Tozer
This Week’s Verse to Memorize: Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked. 1 Chronicles 4:10