Orthodox America

  The Cry of the New Martyrs - “Persecuted but not Forsaken…”

      With the arrest in Nov. 1979, of Fr. Gleb Yakunin, yet another blow has been inflicted upon the already much-suffering Christians in the Soviet Union. A founding member of the Christian Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights, Fr. Glob has been one of the most outspoken defenders of the Faith, boldly criticizing the highest ranks of the Soviet Church hierarchy and accusing them of untruthful declarations an d lies about the so-called freedom of the Church in the USSR:

     Fr. Gleb became particularly known through his letter to the Fifth Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Nairobi, where he sharply criticized the silence of the ecumenical organization regarding persecution of Christians in the U S SR and pleaded for practical support from Christians of other countries.

     After Fr. Gleb's arrest and before his own arrest in January of this year, the well-known Moscow .priest, Fr. Dimitri Dudko, wrote concerning Fr. Gleb: "His path has been a thorny one from the very beginning. Ordained in 1962 he had served as a priest for no more than three years when his right to perform church services was revoked because of his "open letter" (to 'the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church),

 which exposed a number of abuses ... Every  time we have met, he has always shown a deep  concern and sense of involvement in the problems and position of the Church ....I have always been amazed by his exceptional unselfishness, humility which made the joys of others his joys, .Yet now this priest--this emerging type of priest so sorely needed in our times--has been deprived of all his rights... Everything possible must be done to restore this priest his freedom:

 He is guilty of nothing that could warrant his imprisonment" (ARC Newsletter No. 19). 

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.(II Cor. 4:81)

Fr. Glob was held incommunicado in Moscow's Lefertovo prison for seven months awaiting trial, before his wife was allowed to see him. Although he appeared to be in good physical health, he seemed rather detached--for example, not once did he ask about his children. When he was finally brought to trial in August, he was virtually given no chance to speak. Some witnesses who were to testify in his behalf were refused entry to the court. The presiding judge dismissed as "irrelevant" his attempt to explain the activities of the Committee which advises believers of their rights before the law. Fr. Gleb was found guilty of 'anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda' and was sentenced August 27 to 5 years of labor camps and 5 years' exile. Only his true love for Christ could have given him the grace to respond to his sentence as he did: "I thank God for this test He has sent me, I consider it a great honor and, as a Christian, accept it gladly." His wife and three children are left to fend for themselves. There is no social security for prisoners' relatives in the USSR.

As if this cross were not heavy enough to bear, there is talk that Fr. Glob may be faced with a second trial on new charges of violating currency laws and speculation (in icons, crosses, etc.) These trumped up charges only prove how desperately the Soviets want to silence Fr. Gleb and give a warning to others who might dare to speak out in defense of the Faith. But, glory to God, such brave men and women are still to be found on the Face of the earth. Undaunted by threats of persecution, exile and incarceration in psychiatric hospitals, these sons and daughters of the Living God are a witness to the entire world that the flame of true Christianity still burns in the hearts of men and that, indeed', even the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church of Jesus Christ.

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