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Christ Was There, All the Time

From Soviet Russia to the United States, one family has experienced religious freedom regardless of political government systems.
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Olga Spisovskiy, her son-in-law, Peter Klyachenko, and her daughter-in-law, Lily Spisovskiy, each represent a different Christian family who moved to the United States from Russia in the 1990s. In Soviet Russia, their families suffered religious persecution, jail time, horrifying accusations, and harsh rejections, even from their own families. Although their stories are sobering, their past experiences give them a unique and important perspective on religious freedom, both under communistic Russia and in the United States. Here's what they had to share about their experiences with religious persecution and their understanding of what true freedom looks like.

Your family lived for years as Christians under communism in the Soviet Union. What was that like?

Olga: The government installed small microphones into our walls. People would come to our house and say, "We need to check your electricity." We knew they weren't there to check anything. But we had to speak very carefully in the house, because we knew they were listening to everything we said, and my father was afraid of us being thrown in prison.

Olga, left, Lily, middle,  Peter, right

Olga, left, Lily, middle, Peter, right

My sister became a Christian at 18. At the time she was the head of her high school's Communist Youth Party, which was prestigious. She told the CYP director, "I cannot do this any longer because I accepted Christ into my life."

The school informed the KGB of her conversion, and as a result, the KGB spent years trying to take me and my siblings away from my parents, under the false accusation that my parents forced my sister to convert to Christianity. Every few months, my sister and my mother would drive to the state office so my sister could testify that her conversion was her own decision. Finally, when her story didn't change after years of questioning, the KGB had to give up. They had no case against my parents.

Also, a few times a month , the KGB would stop my father on his way to work and take him to their office. There, they would question him about the goings on of the church—details of meetings, who was attending. Those types of things. They'd hold him for two days without food or water. We used to say they wanted him to be like Judas; they wanted him to betray the church.

It wasn't a big deal for the KGB to operate this way. But for my father to agree to be that person would have killed him right then. He never told them anything.

My mama eventually went to the KGB officer in our area and said, "If you're not going to stop this, I'll tell everybody. I've had it. The whole world will know what you're doing to us."

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Ashley Emmert

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July 22, 2012  10:52am

I am now 62.I read the book, "Tortured for Christ" when I was 18 and the "Heavenly Man" 8 years ago. It gave me a glimpse of the difficulty and persecutions Christians have living in countries that reject the Christian faith. Their experiences are for real and painful but indeed they are willing to pay the price, even death just to stand for Christ. We who have experienced freedom sometimes take it for granted. I just pray we will be bolder in sharing Jesus to the lost.

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Original Anna

July 21, 2012  6:43pm

Interesting that a Christian school can't mention Jesus' name. Isn't that what a Christian school is about? And why are they spending time teaching those who are using them for a free education basically for their females. Muslims fill up Christian schools all over the world for a free education for their females and use Christians for this purpose. The females are married early and remain Muslim not Christian. Meanwhile millions of Christians are left out of an education and given no support by Christians while the schools give in to Muslims in the hope they will all convert which is a laugh. Christian children should come first, let the Muslims change their culture into an education for everyone and stop taking over Christian institutions and changing them to their whims.They know it's a religious school and should accept it as such just like a Protestant doesn't attempt to change a Catholic school to which they send their children. They expect the kids to run into Catholism.

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Patricia Greene

July 21, 2012  2:56pm

I can readily believe an American pastor actually laughed when told that those Ukrainians could have died for their faith.There is so much mushy, lukewarm Christianity, so much ignorance in general in the States that when I visit it turns my stomach. American Christians: wise up!!!!!!

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