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Vasya’s Testimony

Guardian Zach from Class 1

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November 30, 2023

It is November 27, 2023. The day is cold. A fresh coat of snow blankets the ground. Myself, and the rest of Alpha team, are in Southern Ukraine. We reside mere miles from Russian front lines. Daily we hear the sound of explosions, as shelling harasses the city in which we reside. Even now, as I type, I hear the blare of air-raid sirens.


What is our purpose? Why work in this location? One purpose is the restoration of an old Soviet theatre, which has been procured by a local church. My purpose, as the Photo journalist, is to hear the stories of those whom have been affected by this brutal war. Specifically today, I am listening to Vasya, who is pictured above. He is recounting for me a story, dated back to the end of May, 2022. Setting the scene for his testimony is a Russian occupation.


“During the Russian occupation,” Vasya begins, “weekly inspections are held, in which soldiers rummage through our homes, searching the contents, intent on finding anything that might be liable to scrutiny. Despite this, I hold my own simple routine. Every morning, before the inspection is due, I read my bible, studying the scriptures, seeking what the Lord may have for me.”


“One particular morning, I am reading from God’s Word as four soldiers approach. An officer steps onto my front porch. I hand my passport to him. The officer’s eyes catch sight of my Bible, he picks it up, examining its contents. I implore the officer to be gentle. After a moment, the officer lays the Book back in its place. ‘Do you adhere to the church of Moscow?’ probes the officer, looking for the generic answer. In this moment to say anything other than ‘Yes’ could prove to be infuriating. However, I will say nothing but the truth, for I feel the presence of the Holy Spirit upon me. Hence, without fear, I begin to preach far beyond what his question requires — the Gospel — proclaiming that God created the world, and that all humans have been made in His image. I quote Scripture from Genesis, and even proclaim that God has his hand on Ukraine. I end with a direct answer, ‘I worship the one true God, Jesus Christ.’ The officers reaction is far different than I could’ve expected — for it was there, in the same breath that I said, ‘Jesus Christ,’ he commands that the troops stop their search, not only of my house, but of the entire village. They simply leave.”


“That evening, in a town meeting, I recount what happened. My neighbors listen in amazement. They ask questions about my Faith, they try to understand the power of God’s word. God used me in my village. He used me to tell my neighbors about Jesus and His Word. He used that story, that miracle, as an open door for my people to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Praise God!” (translated and paraphrased from Ukrainian to English).


Vasya concludes his testimony with adoration to God — throwing his hands to the heavens, and continually crying “to God be the Glory!” A wonderful reminder for us all. In everything, give thanks

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