Before our eyes, from the ashes of the persecuted Russian Orthodox Church, there grows and is revealed a renewed creative spirit which no terror can extinguish. (A. Ogorodnikov)
The Lord hear thee in the day of trouble; the God
of Jacob defend thee. (Ps. 19:1)
The Gulag continues to swell with new victims of the Soviets' attempt to stifle the religious Renaissance whose growth in the lust two decades has been a tormenting thorn to the godless communist regime. Despite persistent efforts to uproot this thorn, they unwittingly provide nourishment for its growth, for it thrives in the soil of persecution. This thorn is all the more irksome as the majority of the participants in this Renaissance are disaffected Soviet youth with no previous religious background, who have been raised on Marxist-Leninist ideology. One such representative is Alexander Ogorodnikov who, until his arrest in Nov. 1978, was u leading spokesman for this movement.
His arrest came as no-surprise. A spiritual son of Fr. Dimitri Dudko, Ogorodnikov began to be harassed some years before when ' he was a second year university student. A denunciation was brought against him when it was discovered that he was wearing a cross.
He was working at the time on material for a film, "The Jesus People", on the religious
seeking of Soviet youth; this material was confiscated. The dean of the institute where Ogorodnikov was an excellent student, told him: "The cart has come for you...we are forced to expel you."
At the time of his arrest, Ogorodnikov was already known in the West as the founder of the Christian seminar (see below) and author of several letters including one to Dr. Potter of the WCC concerning the plight of believers behind the Iron Curtain. Prior to his trial in Jan, 1979, Archbishop Anthony of Geneva issued the following appeal to all Christians of the world:
"A day of sorrow has arrived for young Alexander Ogorodnikov. Alexander was born under the Soviet regime; the son of a communist, he was educated in a Soviet school and institute. From his early youth Ogorodnikov could not accept Soviet materialistic ideology. A dedicated patriot, he began his search for Truth at the age of sixteen. He studied the works of Russian Writers and philosophers, who in official Soviet terminology are labeled as 'idealists'.
"He became an active Christian and a faithful son of the Russian Orthodox Church. Together with his young friends, he organized a religious seminar to study the basic tenets of the Christian faith. There is nothing criminal in this according to any law, including Soviet law. But the Soviet authorities thought otherwise. In an effort to impose Marxist materialistic ideology on Russian young people at whatever cost, they began to persecute Ogorodnikov relentlessly with threats, accusations, insults, and even beatings. Finally, in November, 1978, Ogorodnikov was arrested. The Soviet authorities want him to renounce his faith, counting on the silence of Western public opinion and even the approval of those believers, who, while calling themselves Christians, by their indifference, approve the actions of the godless Soviet state. But it will not be so!
"Let all true Christians speak out in defense of Alexander Ogorodnikov, who is suffering for Christ!
"May God come to his assistance."
In September, 1980, Ogorodnikov was found guilty of "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda" and was sentenced to 6 years' labor camp and 5 years' internal exile. Ogorodnikov, 30, is married with a three year old son. Pray for him!
Unfortunately, we do not have Ogorodnikov' s current labor camp address. However, Christians are urged to write to the Procurator-General of the USSR saying that, as a fellow-Christian you are extremely disturbed to learn of the harsh sentence which has been given Ogorodnikov and request his immediate release.[OA/_private/oabot.htm]