Counted Worthy 38
“Rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer for His Name!”
Protection and Deliverance from Bolsheviks
I lived in the time of the Russian Bolshevik Revolution, which took place in 1917. I was only 16 when our lives were turned around, and the country that we lived in changed before our very eyes. Whereas there had once been a measure of freedom to worship the Lord, even outside of the Orthodox Church, we later had to meet in secret. We had to keep undercover and be very careful about who we talked to about our faith.
I grew up in a strong Christian family, with parents who loved the Lord and did what they could to always help their neighbors and be witnesses of their faith. We held small gatherings in our humble house. We were simple people, and didn't have a lot of earthly possessions, but we were happy. I was one of six children, and my name is Anya.
This is my story of how Jesus protected me from almost certain death in the labor camps of Siberia so that I could go on for Him and live a life that would glorify Him. Even though my accomplishments might seem small, yet the ripple effect was very great, and to this day faith lives on in the hearts of those who were touched by the sample of love I showed them, and who in turn passed it on to others.
I wasn't completely delivered from the fires of persecution, but I was kept through them-and though Jesus did call my parents to their heavenly reward, He delivered us children and gave us the grace and courage to carry on, despite the heartbreak and loss.
Because my parents and our family refused to accept the Communist way, we were looked on as dissenters. In those days many thousands died for a number of reasons. Those who didn't conform were looked on as expendables, and it didn't matter who or where they were.
It was a hard time for many, and every family felt the touch of heartbreak in one way or another. Many loved ones were taken away, never to be heard of again-often sent off to Siberia. But the Lord's hand was strong on behalf of His children-His true children who loved Him as a personal Friend and Savior and who cried out to Him for help and deliverance. My story is but one of many stories, and not particularly outstanding on its own, but what the Lord did for us was miraculous and nothing to be belittled.
We knew that it was only a matter of time until something would happen-what, we didn't know. They had already started making things difficult for us, and we were having a hard time subsisting on the small amount of food we could grow in our own back yard.
We had to survive on what we could, and it wasn't easy, but we never lacked for something to eat, even though it wasn't always plentiful. My two older brothers and father were quite innovative and found ways to bring in what we needed-through hunting, trapping, and other means.
One day, my father did not return home from his work of logging in the forests. We inquired as to what had become of him and were told that he'd been arrested and taken in for questioning. We knew this was not good news, because many who were taken in for questioning never resurfaced, and their fate was unknown. We prayed earnestly and desperately for our father. I found out much later that he'd been sent to Siberia, and hadn't lived much longer, due to the hard rigors of the labor camp. It seemed our life got even more difficult after this. My mother succumbed to illness and passed away. But she did not complain, and until the end kept faith that the Lord was in control and would somehow take care of us children.
My two brothers and I had to take care of the house and the rest of the children-our three young siblings. My eldest brother was barely 20 by this time, but he was a wise and mature young man, no doubt because of the battles and tests that we had faced. He also had strong faith. I prayed daily that he wouldn't also be taken away. We talked about what we would do if that happened. We talked about leaving our home and escaping further into the countryside, but we couldn't imagine how we would survive, and how we could properly care for the three younger ones-the youngest being only eight. We also knew that it would be quite conspicuous if all six of us left, as we were kept under close watch.
The “Reds” had hoped that taking our father away would help us realize that they were serious, and that we children would conform to their ways. They thought they could break us. But we were not about to be pushed around, and Father's disappearance only made us more determined to hold on to our faith. We had a strong foundation in the Bible and knew that we were suffering persecution for Christ's sake. We were glad that we were counted worthy.
The next big change occurred when they decided to “re-educate” us children-in other words, brainwash us with their doctrines. We had stopped letting the younger ones attend the local school when we realized that all they were receiving was communist indoctrination. This really angered the local officials, and we found ourselves all getting hauled off to a boarding school closer to the city. It looked more like an institution or prison to us, and we dreaded being separated, as was always the case-the boys in one section of the school and the girls in the other. They also wanted to separate us older, more incorrigible ones, from the younger ones, who were more “malleable”-or so they thought.
It wasn't an easy time, and we all spent nearly a year in this boarding school. I found out later that, like myself, my older brothers had at times been put in solitary confinement because we continued to speak of our faith and would not “conform.” Many times we were told that we would be sent to a labor camp in Siberia if we did not change our ways. I knew that that would likely mean death, but I was not deterred.
In the midst of this adversity, I felt the Lord's comfort and presence very near. In fact, I was even blessed to see visions of the Lord and of one of my personal guardian angels, which encouraged my faith that I was not alone. I was told in these visions that we would not be in the prison much longer, and that the Lord would make a way of escape for us. How I didn't know, but it would have to be nothing short of a miracle. And whether they would let my younger brothers and sister come along was also not known. We were under the State's care and had no say in what was to become of us.
My older brothers ended up getting away. It wasn't like an escape from prison, because we were not under lock and key, though the compound was guarded and you couldn't just leave at your own will. But they came up with a plan to leave together by cover of night, and from there went to find some of our relatives-my great-uncle and aunt. These people lived quite some ways away, and had heard no news about us or what had happened to us, so it was quite a surprise for them when my two brothers stumbled into their home one evening, after an obviously long and difficult trip. They recounted all that had happened to us since our father's disappearance.
My great-uncle and aunt were fairly well off and had a lovely house. They didn't share the same Christian faith we had, but they were kind-hearted and wanted to do something to help us. They weren't hard-core communists, although they kept up this appearance on the outside. They were older-in their late sixties-and didn't want to jeopardize their position or rock the boat. It was during the following weeks that, together with my brothers, they came up with a plan. And wonderfully, through the samples of love, faith and courage they saw in my brothers, they both accepted the Lord into their hearts as their personal Savior and Friend.
They contacted some of their friends of influence, and went to the boarding school. Through a series of events they got legal custody of the three younger children. I was over 18 by this time, and thus considered an adult, though I was still being kept at the school. They were very angry with me and treated me even more harshly after my brothers' escape, and that's when I was sure they would send me off to a labor camp. I didn't mind, I knew the Lord would take care of me, or take me Home, but I was worried about my younger siblings and wanted to make sure that they were taken care of.
But just when it seemed like the inevitable would happen, my great-uncle and aunt appeared on the scene, and because of their standing and the influential backing they had, the school authorities had no option but to release me into their care as well. It was a joyous reunion when I saw my younger brothers come through the door. I had caught glimpses of them from time to time, but had never been allowed to speak with them. The compound was large and you weren't allowed to go where you pleased. My sister was closer, but our personal contact was very limited. We were so happy to see one another again, and embraced and cried. I just couldn't stop thanking the Lord in my heart for all He had done. I decided to be quiet about it, not wanting to risk anything coming between us and our freedom now-the freedom to live together again as a family.
We were taken to our great-uncle and aunt's home. They became both parents and grandparents to us children, and we spent the next years very happy. We kept the Lord's love and faith in our hearts, we read the Bible together, and in time, won others to the Lord as well. We remained clandestine and God protected us throughout the continuing troubles around us, in order that we might be a light to others that needed Him.
My older brothers both married and started families of their own. I decided to stay with my great-uncle and aunt, and to care for them as they grew older, to repay them for the kindness they had shown to us. We spent many wonderful moments together in the last years of their lives.
I married in my thirties, after they had both passed on, and had two beautiful children of my own, whom I did my best to raise in the Lord's nurture and admonition. I felt though that I had already raised a family, as I had cared for my younger siblings and watched them grow and go on to lead good lives.
When my time came to leave the world behind and enter into My Savior's Kingdom, I was happy, knowing that I had done what I could, and seeing the fruit of my life and labors behind Me. Jesus never failed me and my loved ones. We did have hard times, but He always kept us through them, and we lived to tell the tale, and to lead others to Him and His love.
Copyright © 2005 by The Family International
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