'Dark clouds now hang over our brothers in Christ in Russia. Illegal, arbitrary acts like a whirlwind are uprooting from the Russian people, in the midst of spiritual rebirth, their instructors, the true apostles of Christ at the present time, the best sons and daughters of the Russian people.
These strugglers have dedicated their lives to acquiring freedom for the Orthodox Church, to defending the rights of believing Christians, to serving the Lord by preaching and deeds, uncompromisingly following His commandment of love for neighbor. But officially they are not being accused for their actual Christian activity, but for a crime against the State, for "betrayal of the fatherland," so as to drive away the thousands who have gathered around them, so that they might disperse in fear before the mighty of this world, saving their own lives.
We know, that Vladimir OSipov and Igor Ogurtsov, who are languishing in the camps, are being given over to a slow death. We know that by every possible means the authorities are persecuting believing Christians, are giving them a murderous treatment in psychiatric hospitals, are making a spectacle of children who are believers. We know that in December, 1978, a priest, Father Nicholas, was killed in a beastly way in the Turkmen city of Chardzhou. We know that after being fired from their jobs, after many illegal searches and threats, the founders and many members of the Christian seminars of young people have been arrested during the past fourteen months.
On November first of last year a heavy· blow was administered to the Russian spiritual rebirth by the arrest of Fr. Gleb Yakunin, the chairman of the Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights and, finally, by the arrest on January 15 of this year of Fr. Dimitry Dudko, the spiritual father and instructor of many thousands of confessors of the faith of Christ, whose sermons and talks are widely known in the West, and not only to Russian readers. Many others have been arrested also. And all this at a time when, in view of the Olympics being held in Moscow, the domes of closed churches are being gilded and Soviet hirelings continue to sing praises to the "religious freedom" in Russia.
One can only bow down before the courage of our honest, fearless strugglers for the Truth of Christ, who for its sake and for the sake of the spiritual rebirth of their people risk their lives, consciously going to sufferings in the firm conviction that the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church, that in the place of everyone who is arrested there will arise many tens of new workers.
ii In noting the arrest of Fr. Gleb Yakunin, Fr. Dimitry has written: "The guards are seizing the disciples of Christ..." Yes, they are seizing them, in fear of the approaching resurrection of Russia, in order to prevent it. Foreseeing that he also was soon to share the lot of his friend and fellow struggler, Fr. Dimitry · cries out to all believers, as he says, "from the place of Golgotha and the upper room into which the risen Christ entered through locked doors," and asks us to increase our fasting and prayer for all the persecuted in Russia and show them all possible help; he asks us to oppose every undertaking that aids the persecutors.
And now Fr. Dimitry himself has been arrested,
None of them has murmured against his cross; they accept all misfortunes and sufferings whether of themselves personally or of their people as the Providence of God, as a trial of their faith permitted by the Lord.
Can we, Orthodox people bound by the ties of spiritual kinship with our Orthodox brothers in Russia, remain indifferent observers of their sufferings?
We (in the free West) are sleeping now, lullabied by a feeling of our own prosperity and often stupified by the ideas of our enemies.
But now there resound, ever more loudly, the voices of our brothers in the Russian land, their appeal for help. Will they not awaken us from our ruinous lethargy, will they not cause our quarrels to cease? Will we stand together with them for the Truth of Christ and Holy Orthodoxy, or will we hide in silent inactivity behind the backs of their persecutors?
The appeal of our strugglers for faith is addressed first of all to us, the members of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, which they call, with love and trust, the preserver of the traditions of Holy Orthodoxy. They are extending their hands for help first of all to us, but we are silent. Will we not have to give an answer to God for this silence of ours?
Many have already responded to the appeal of Fr. Gleb and Fr. Dimitry. Let us also love those who have loved much; let us help the families of prisoners who have been left without means for existence. As is well known, during the illegal searches these families were deprived even of their last money and possessions, which were poor enough without that.
Dear brothers and sisters: as the spiritual father of the Brotherhood of Orthodox Action in Australia, I appeal to all faithful children of our Orthodox Church with the sincere request to give generous material help to the sufferers and their families and to support those laboring for the spiritual rebirth of Russia.
May the grief of our brothers (who have suffered for us also) open our hearts, so that we might remember the commandment of Christ to love our neighbors.
May our fervent prayers be joined to their prayers for the resurrection of Russia, and let us remember the words of Fr. Dimitry:
"IF RUSSIA IS NOT RESURRECTED, A NEW GOLGOTHA THREATENS THE WHOLE WORLD."
May the Lord strengthen all of us in this good work!
Priest Vladimir Evsukoff
Holy Protection Cathedral
Melbourne, Australia (Reposed June 29/July 12, 1980)
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