Overcoming Obstacles: A Reminder For Us All

Back in 2000 there was a funeral for Nadezhda Shatova, a Ukrainian Pentecostal living in California.  As noted below, on the surface there wasn’t anything extraordinary about it.  But one of her relatives shared the testimony about their lives–and the persecutions they suffered in the old Soviet Union–and this account was put into the piece below.

It’s a reminder of the price that many have paid for the Gospel, especially under regimes such as the USSR.  (This is the same "scientific" regime that brought you Lysenko!)  It’s also a reminder of why these people came to the US, for the freedoms that we seem to be so eager to throw away in the name of political correctness.

No matter what kinds of difficulties you may be suffering–whether persecution such as this, realising that the "game is up" in the Episcopal Church, or whatever, we present this piece as an encouragement to you.

By Vladimir Kupinich

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed." (1 Peter 4:12-13)

On the 24th of November, 2000 a funeral was held for sister Nadezhda Shatova who turned 60 years old when the Lord called her into his eternal land. Relatives and close friends, the members of the church she attended and many other brothers and sisters came to the funeral to express their sympathy to the family of the deceased and to the whole family of Feodosi Linchuk who had left for the eternal promise land of our Lord Jesus Christ a while ago.

Brothers in Christ preached the Word from the Scriptures that open to us the mystery of our eternal life with Christ: “Whoever believes in Son has life everlasting…" (John 3:36), "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on…" for" their deeds will follow them." (Rev. 14:16)

At the end of his life Apostle Paul said: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness." (2nd Tim. 4:7-8)

At first glance there was nothing extraordinary about the funeral. A lot of them are held at our church. Besides, the deceased sister Nadya did not seem to stand out among the rest of us. But when a minister from our church Adam Semenovich Bondarchuk asked Luba, the sister of the deceased, to tell us something about the deceased and about her life, sister Luba lold us that they, that is their family, went through great trials of faith and did not deny the Lord during some of the hardest times of the persecution of the Evangelical believers. When we heard her testimony, we were amazed and said: "They seem to be such ordinary brothers and sisters, but in reality they are true heroes of faith!"
Here is what sister Luba Kirakovskaya told us:

“My father and mother, Feodosi and Palageya Linchuk, who have already gone to be with the Lord, became believers in the early 20s when a missionary from America came to the Ukraine to preach the Word of God. Having received new life, my parents also received water baptism in the village of Ivanovtsi, Berclich region, Zhitomirskaya area. This was the time when persecutions against God and His people were beginning. Believers were hated and persecuted Komsomol leaders would try to make Christians turn away from their beliefs by beating them up, putting fear into them, slandering them in mass media, firing them from their jobs and sending them to prison. In spite of it "… more and more people were added to their number." (Acts 5:14) That is how a small church was formed in the village of Ivankovtsi, a full Gospel church. Church services were held in the houses at night. My father, Feodosi Linchuk, became the overseer of the new community, undertaking this dangerous labor in God’s harvest field.

Once, when the believers gathered together at night for prayer and worship and my father was standing at the table and preaching, they heard the glass shatter and a big rock flew by his head. If the father had not turned his head right at that moment, the rock would have hit his head and killed him. Anxiety came upon everyone after that incident. Brothers and sisters understood that they became believers in the Lord Jesus Christ at a very dangerous time. The father, however, being the pastor of the church, encouraged the believers not to get discouraged, but to stay together and love the Lord even more.

This was not the end of their trials, though. The "American faith", as they called it in those days, had to be done away with. Thus, at one of the Komsomol meetings it was decided to burn the house of the Linchuk family. They decided to do it at night so no one could get away. At 3 o’clock at night young guys poured gasoline all over the house and set it on fire. People in the house started panicking. The father ran to save the children. As soon as he took them out into the street, the roof fell in. When the barn caught on fire, the cow started mooing, but none of the .neighbors tried to untie it because they were afraid they would be treated the same way if they helped this family. So the cow burned inside the barn. This happened in 1939.

This tragedy was very painful for the Linchuk family. All of the belongings that were in the house burned. Feodosi found a little room and the family moved into it. The financial life was very difficult. The children had to kneel before the Lord and ask Him for bread daily.

Luba went on to tell how her father and mother got hired to work on the collective farm. They were not given any money for their work, just some soup and 400 grams of bread. The parents ate the soup at work and brought the bread for the kids at night. The children always eagerly waited for the parents so they could eat some bread once a day. One night when the parents were returning from work, they oldest daughter Manya who was only 5 years old ran out to meet them and said: "Anya is asleep. She kept calling for mommy and saying: "Mommy, give me some milk and bread", and then fell asleep." When they came to the house, they found their daughter dead, she had died of hunger. She was only 3 years old.

Dear women, you like no one else understand the feelings of a mother who looses her child to hunger without being able to do anything.

No one wanted to bury the child since everyone was afraid to help believers. You can imagine the heart of a mother breaking from grief and anxiety. One can understand why a song was put together about mothers:

"Your hair turned gray too early from grief…"

They did not have the money to get a coffin, but as best as they could they buried the dear child. Trying to save the rest of the children from hunger, the parents continued to go to work, and would tell the children that there is God in heaven who hears and knows all their troubles.

Time went by and new trials came into the life of the Linchuk family. Because Fedosi was a minister and held night services in the villages of Ivantsovi and Semenovka, he was arrested and sentenced to 10 years in prison in a Siberean camp. Palagea was left all by herself to take care of the family while her beloved husband was taken away by godless authorities. The mother tried to do her best to save her children from hunger and also from godlessness that was everywhere. At nights, when the children were asleep, she would stretch out her hands towards heaven and cry out to God to save her children and her husband who was in the camp.

The authorities decided to go further in their persecutions and take the children away from the mother and send them to an orphanage. The mother refused to give her children up and she was brought before court and sentenced to prison for 6 months. The children were left all by themselves and had to go through the valley of tears.

The oldest sister Manya (she was 14 at that time) took it upon herself to take care of the rest of the children. She found jobs wherever she could to feed us, – Luba testifies. She tried to dry little pieces of bread and send them to prison for her mother. Luba and her brother Vasili (he now lives in Portland. Oregon) went to the same grade. The teachers hated them because they were from a family of believers. More than once they put up students that were older to beat them up and drag them by their legs after classes.

The youngest sister Anechka who now lives in Sacramento went through a lot of mockery and mean treatment from her godless teachers. One day, when she was going home from school, some hooligans, students from her school, grabbed her and wanted to throw her into the river, but Nadya having heard the screams, ran out and defended her. Anya enjoyed visiting services, tell poems, sing in the children’s choir, visit the funerals and the sick. She was 12 then. Because she was so active in the church godless people hated her.

Today Anya has 2 daughters. The oldest one, Lina, is married and lives in Sacramento. Her husband’s name is Ghena. They live happily and serve the Lord. The youngest one, Larissa, is now 16, she sings in the choir of Nicoli Ribin and is interested in missionary work. The mother is happy for her children. Anya went through many troubles and tribulations, but the Lord will reward her in His Kingdom.

Time went by; the children grew up to become good Christians. They did not deny the Lord during the trial times. They survived the German occupation, the war, postwar destruction and in all of this they never went away from the Lord. The postwar years were not easy years either. The year of 1947 was especially hard. The Ukraine did not have any bread, so the people were hungry. One day Vasili, who was 9 at the time, asked his mother: “How many days one can live without bread and die in order not to be in constant pain from hunger?" When the mother heard those words, she took him inside the house and the two of them fell on their knees and cried out to God. At that time someone knocked on the door. They opened the door and several believers came in and said that God had revealed it to them that children were dying of hunger in that house. God gave them the address and they brought them enough food to last for 3-4 months. Then everybody kneeled before the Lord and praised God.

In 1948 mother returned from prison again which made the children’s life easier. Feodosi returned from the camp in 1949 after 10 long years of separation. The children were so happy to see their parents back. Feodosi resumed the work of the pastor in the villages of Ivanovtsi and Semenovka and did it for the next 17 years. The Lord took him back in 1996 when he was in Sacramento. The oldest daughter Mary went through a lot of hardships in her youth and died at a young age of 48. The second daughter Galya now lives in Sacramento and is faithful to the Lord. Th,e third daughter – Nadya Shatova – died this year. Her husband, Vasili Shatov, is grieving the loss of his dear wife.

When Nadya was still alive, she read the Bible every year. Here in America she recorded the Bible on the tape recorder (47 tapes) and left them for her sisters in order that they could listen to the Bible since their eyesight was going bad and it was getting hard for them to read. Nadya and Vasili have 3 children: Oleg who is married to Irina from the Semenuk family; daughter Marina who is a member of the local church and the youngest daughter Lana. They all are grieving over the loss of their deceased mother.

The third sister that Niidya has, Lubov Kinikovskaya, lives in Tennessee with her husband Edward. Nadya’s brother Peter lives in the Ukraine, with his family in the city of Vinitsa. He as well was sentenced to 5 years in prison for the Word of God and went through many trials and tribulations. Brother Vasili lives in Portland with his family. The youngest sister Anya has a daughter named Larissa. They all grieve the loss of Nadya, but they know that she is in Heaven with God.

Thus, dear grandchildren do not forget the blessed family of the Linchuks. To God be the glory for
ever!

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