testimonials

A Testimony of Life in the Land of Death

Kolyma - the word alone caused fear for the people of the former Soviet Union, and it was actually synonymous with: death. God allowed me to visit these places in May. I was inspired to see how God has sent light into this darkness. We meet a lot of people, each of them with his or her own story. I want to share one of them - a story of God giving life in the land of death.

Christian Summer Camps
Russia
13.8.2021

Yevstoliya Fedorovna Ivanovna - that’s her full name. Her husband was called Anatoly, a preacher and evangelist. They lived in Vologda in Central Russia. God gave them three children, one boy and two daughters. The Ivanov’s lived a simple life to the glory of God and tried to share the light of the Gospel with others through good works or through a word of encouragement.

In the 1930ies, atheism became the official religion on the former Soviet Union. Believers in the Gospel were forbidden to believe in God and to gather for worship services and prayer. They were declared enemies.

However, people were stretching out to God in those difficult times of darkness. Some of them began gathering in the house of the Ivanov’s, simply praying, singing and reading the Word of God. This place became like a warm hearth where people could warm their souls. Rays of the Gospel brought hope and light into their lives. Anatoly would share God’s Word, and Yevstoliya would always have a hot tea and something to eat for the visitors.

In the fall of 1937, six people of this small home group were arrested and convicted in summary proceedings. Two brothers were shot, one of them was Anatoly. The three children were taken from them and brought to an unknown location. Yevstoliya was sentenced to 10 years labor camp and sent to Magadan in the Kolyma region.

She was 34 years of age, and she suffered hunger and cold, and even more the loss of her family. It was her living faith in the living God that gave her the strength to do the hard work, day by day, and to just walk this way of suffering.

She never returned from Kolyma. In 1957, the sentence against her was revised. In a brief note sent to her by the government, it was acknowledged that she was unlawfully convicted, and she was acquitted. Just a few words. Only at the end of the 1980ies, during the times of Perestroyka, was she finally able to find her children.

Yevstoliya had spent all these years in the small town of Ola in the Kolyma region. No, she had not just spent her life, but she had lived it with living hope and prayer. Her house was again open for everyone, and everybody knew about her hospitality. And again, people were drawn to her house, because the simple stories of the Gospel she shared with them around the kitchen table and a hot pot of tea brought warmth to the frozen hearts of the people.

Among these people where three young ladies who visited Yevstoliya at the end of the 1980ies. They accepted Christ through her testimony. They became the first seed of a small church that was born in the town of Ola, about 40 km from Magadan, in the Kolyma region.

The church of Ola is a living church today, actively spreading the Gospel. It’s the fruit of prayers and faith. And it’s a testimony of life in the land of death!

In memory of Yevstoliya’s suffering, and to the glory of God, we want to help the church of Ola to conduct a Christian Summer Camp for 75 kids from Ola in 2021 and build a Prayer House and Hope Center in 2022.

Today, we know of 7 evangelical churches in the city of Magadan and in the Kolyma region. Our dear sister Yevstoliya has completed her life's journey of sorrow and passed from the temporal to the eternal. Jesus Christ was there to meet her!

Giving children a chance to hear about Jesus:

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God is acting at all times and even in places we consider hopeless. This summer, you can help the church of Ola (Far East of Russia) and churches in other countries to organise Christian Summer Camps for children. Your donation of $30 sends one child to a Christian Summer Camp in these countries: Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria, Pakistan, Bolivia, Turkey, Israel, Mongolia. Thank you for your help!

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