“We Christian believers, need a temple as we need the air, the water and the sun; we need a church in which to worship, to join our earthly prayers to those offered in Heaven…”
From September, 1979, to February, 1980, Orthodox Christian believers of the city of Naberezhnye Chelny, Tatar ASSR, and the neighboring villages, wrote three petitions to various authorities with the request that one of the closed churches within the city limits be opened and placed at their disposal. One church was being used as a mill, another as a warehouse; the closest "working" church was 40 miles away. All three petitions were accompanied by the original signatures of petitioners (nearly 500! ). It must be noted, with regret, that they were forced to appeal to secular, atheist government authorities. Receiving no answer to any of their petitions, the believers sent them to Samizdat to make them public.
Who are these courageous petitioners requesting that the Church of God be opened, and what is the content of their petitions? They write:
·.. Orthodox Christians [of Naberezhnye Chelny]: industrial workers, land workers, mothers of big families, participants of the Japanese, the Finnish and the Second World wars, the war invalids, workers decorated with government awards request that a church be opened for them where they could repent before they die and their souls may be saved by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Most Holy Mother of God, and by the prayers of Saints."
"We, the people of Naberezhnye Chelny, who believe in the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, need to have a church where we could grow strong in following God' s commandments, become worthy of partaking of the Holy Sacraments, where we could worship the Most Honorable and Life giving Cross of the Lord, glorify His holy Resurrection, perform the services of baptism, marriage and burial, and pray for the departed. The holy tree of life--the Church, by virtue of the living presence and action of the Holy Spirit within it, protects the peaceful and creative life of people, ennobles and strengthens the moral foundations of the family."
The Prophet Moses said: who has not known God in his lifetime, will know
Him after death. We who have chosen life to be lived in Christian Faith, Hope
and Love... wish to be delivered from the greatest evil: sin, and we believe in
the Divine words:
Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation. (Is. 12:3)
"Every smallest blade of grass glorifies God by its usefulness and beauty .... We too, in all our sinfulness need to invoke in the church the Infinite Father of all creation, of angels and men, and glorify His name .... We ask you: do not stand in our way, but help us to open a church.,."
"The life of a Christian is all repentance, praying, worship in the church; it is the life in God. A temple of God is the most preferable place of worship because Jesus Christ also worshipped in the temple. During common worship in a church devoted to God, the prayer is more fervent and pleasing to God."
"The church sobers us from the seduction of the world, from our intoxication with worldly passions and desires. It enlightens, sanctifies and purifies our souls and brings us closer to God and to union with Him. The temple of God must be honored as being worthy of love, as it was loved by God's holy men..."
again we implore you--show your love for your fellow-men, remembering our common
ancestors Adam and Eve, the Flood, the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed by
fire because of sin, the Last Judgment when the living and the dead will be
exposed by their own conscience. Please give us permission to open an Orthodox
church along With your assistance in carrying out this project!!!"
The entire story of these petitions bears witness to the fact that the plan of the atheist authorities to destroy the Church and faith in God most vividly manifests itself in provinces in villages, away from the center and the eyes of tourists who could tell the truth about the so-called "complete freedom of religion and believers' rights".
But most of all these petitions speak of the spiritual make-up of the petitioners themselves. In them we hear the incessant cry of believers who for decades have been deprived of an opportunity to glorify their Creator, who are starving for the living word of God and thirsting for the salvation of their souls through repentance, and for common prayer in the church, including prayer for their enemies...
It is tile faithful as these, who have grown strong through persecutions and have shed their fear that the atheistic authorities attempt to break by all available means.
Let it not be so!
(Comments and translations by "Orthodox Action'' in Australia; …)[OA/_private/oabot.htm]