Orthodox America

  The Cry of the New Martyrs – “Personal Encounters with the Persecuted Church”

     Despite pouring rain, a sizeable crowd gathered on the afternoon of Feb. 16 to hear a lecture sponsored by the All Saints of Russia Orthodox Church in Burlingame, CA. David Ziomek, Executive Secretary of Keston College, USA, spoke about the plight of Orthodox believers in the Soviet Union and Keston's work in bringing their situation to the awareness of the free world. Mr. Ziomek cited facts concerning the thousands of churches closed since the Revolution, the difficulty in keeping parishes open, the critical shortage of priests (it is roughly estimated that today there is one priest for every 6,000 believers). He spoke of the various ways people come to faith in that militantly atheist country, giving the examples of the well-known Jewish converts, Zoya Krakhmalnikova and her husband Felix Svetov, both of whom have been arrested in recent years for their purely religious activity. Mr. Ziomek enriched his talk by drawing on his own experience several years ago as a tour guide in the Soviet Union where he had a number of encounters clearly demonstrating the miraculous vitality of faith preserved and growing in a suffering and silenced Church.

    The audience also learned how Rev. Michael Bordeaux, on a visit to Moscow in 1964, was asked by two women of the persecuted Church to "be our voice where we can't make it heard"; it was this plea which motivated the foundation of Keston College, a unique research center for the study of religion under communism. Keston has done more than any other organization to gather and disseminate reliable information about persecuted Christians in an effort to mitigate their situation and dispel the myth of "religious freedom" spread by the Soviet government. Keston deserves to be valued and supported.