Although he had never been there before, Private Ivan “Vanya” Moiseyev knew what awaited him at the Major’s office. The Communists were endlessly calling him to headquarters for talks, trying to “re-educate” him, to talk him out of his faith in God.
It was lunchtime. The sun was shining brightly in the blue sky and the snow was glistening. As Moiseyev walked along the snowy sidewalk, he praised God for this time alone, time to sing and pray.
The morning was so bright, at first Moiseyev didn’t notice; suddenly, it caught his eye. A bright star began to fall from heaven. Like a comet, it came closer and became bigger and bigger. He looked up to see an angel above him, bright and powerful. Moiseyev’s heart was filled with joy — and fear. The angel did not descend all the way to earth, but hovered about two hundred yards above the ground. He walked in the air above Moiseyev as though walking along the same road.
Then the angel spoke: “Ivan, go. Don’t be afraid. I am with you.” Ivan couldn’t speak, but his joy was like fire within him. Somehow he made it to Major Gidenko’s office and knocked quietly at the door. Major Gidenko, head of the Political Directive Committee, looked up as the young soldier entered. Ivan Moiseyev had been interrogated again and again by many others and had never backed away from his faith. Still, Gidenko was certain he could solve this problem.
“Moiseyev, you don’t look like a poor pupil to me. Why are you not learning the correct answers?” he asked.
“Sometimes there is a difference between the correct answers and the true ones,” Ivan answered. “Sometimes God does not permit me to give ‘correct’ answers.”
“So, God talks to you? Who is this God of yours?” As soon as he had asked the question, Gidenko regretted it. Ivan leaned forward in his chair, his face glowing with joy at the opportunity to share his faith.
“Sir, He is the One who created all the universe. He greatly loves man, and sent His Son….” Gidenko interrupted. “Yes, yes, I know the Christian teaching. But what has that got to do with being a soldier? Do you disagree with the teaching of the glorious Red army?”
“But you do not accept the principles of scientific atheism upon which is based our entire Soviet state and the military power of the army?”
“I cannot accept what I know to be untrue. Everything else I can gladly accept.”
“Moiseyev, no one can prove the existence of God. Even priests and pastors agree on that.”
“Sir, they may speak about not being able to prove God, but there is no question about knowing Him. He is with me now, in this room. Before I came here, He sent an angel to encourage me.”
Gidenko stared intently at Ivan. At last he spoke wearily, “I am sorry, Moiseyev, that you will not be reasonable. Your persistence will do nothing for you except bring discomfort. However, through the years I have found that men like you often come to their senses with a little discipline.
“I am ordering you to stand in the street tonight after taps are played. You will stand there until you are willing to reconsider this nonsense about talking Gods and angels. “Since the temperature is likely to be thirteen degrees below zero, for your sake, I hope you quickly agree to behave sensibly. Tomorrow we shall make a plan together for your
political re-education. You are dismissed.”
Gidenko expected Moiseyev to hesitate, to reconsider. Instead, he squared his shoulders and walked quietly to the door.
“Private Moiseyev!” When the soldier turned around, Gidenko noticed he was a
little pale. Then he had understood the order! “You will obey my instructions in summer uniform. That is all.”
That night, as the bugle sounded, Ivan made his way down the stairs of the barracks and into the snowy street. He recoiled from the icy blast of wind that burned his ears and made his eyes water. His thin, summer uniform was no help in the bitter cold. He glanced at his watch. It was one minute after ten o’clock. Tonight, he would have a long time to pray! But for the first time since he had been in the Soviet army, prayer did not come easily. He was worried. Could he stand out here all night? What if he froze to death? Would they let him freeze to death? What if he got so cold he gave in to their demands? The “what ifs” flooded his mind and left it spinning. He knew he had to think of something else.
Then he remembered the angel who had visited him that morning. The angel had said, “Do not be afraid, I am with you!” Suddenly he realized the angel’s words had been for tonight! Although he could no longer see him, Moiseyev knew the angel was still there with him. He began to pray fervently. It was twelve-thirty when he was distracted from his prayers by the crunching of snow. Bundled in their overcoats, hats, and boots, three officers were slowly making their way toward him.
“Private Moiseyev, have you changed your mind yet? Are you ready to come in and get warm?”
“No, comrade officers. As much as I want to come in and go to bed, I cannot. I will never agree to remain silent about God.”
Even in the dim light, Moiseyev could see the officers were amazed and confused. How could he stand such cold? “Do you plan to stand out here all night long?”
“I don’t see how anything else is possible, and God is helping me.”
Ivan checked his hands — they were cold, but not too cold. He could still move his toes easily. It was a miracle! He looked at the officers and could see that even in their coats they were already shaking from the cold. They were stamping their feet and slapping their hands, impatient to return to their heated barracks.
“You’ll feel differently in another hour,” the senior officer mumbled as they quickly turned away.
Ivan continued to pray for all the believers he knew. He sang Christmas carols. He prayed for every officer he knew and knew of. He cried out to God on behalf of the men in his barracks. But gradually his mind seemed to be floating somewhere outside of his head. As much as he tried, prayer eluded him.
Ivan was dozing on his feet when, at three o’clock, the senior officer on duty woke him and let him return to the barracks.
For the next twelve nights, Ivan continued to stand in the street outside his barracks. Miraculously, he did not freeze, nor did he beg for mercy. Ivan continued to speak about his faith to his comrades and officers. He sang about the glory of Jesus Christ in his barracks, though this was strictly prohibited. To those who threatened him, he replied, “A lark threatened with death for singing would still continue to sing. She cannot renounce her nature. Neither can we Christians.”
Soldiers around him were converted, impressed by his ardent faith. His commanders continued to interrogate him, trying to get him to deny Jesus. They put him in refrigerated cells. They clothed him in a special rubber suit, into which they pumped air until his chest was so compressed he scarcely could breathe.
At the age of 20, Ivan knew that the Communists would kill him. On July 11, 1972, he wrote to his parents, “You will not see me anymore.” He then described a vision of angels and heaven which God had sent to strengthen him for the last trial.
A few days later, his body was returned to his family. It showed that he had been stabbed six times around the heart. He had wounds on his head and around the mouth. There were signs of beatings on the whole body. Then he had been drowned.
Colonel Malsin, his commander, said, “Moiseyev died with difficulty. He fought with death, but he died as a Christian.”
The father of this Christian hero writes to us, “May it be that this living flower which gave the fragrance of its youth on the cross should be an example for all faithful youth. May they love Christ as our son has loved Him.”
Letter from Vanya to his parents —
written June 15, 1972
“My dear parents, the Lord has showed the way to me…and I have decided to follow it…. I will now have more severe and bigger battles than I have had till now. But I do not fear them. He goes before me. Do not grieve for me, my dear parents. It is because I love Jesus more than myself. I listen to Him, though my body does fear somewhat or does not wish to go through everything. I do this because I do not value my life as much as I value Him. And I will not await my own will, but I will follow as the Lord leads. He says, Go, and I go.
“Do not become grieved if this is your son’s last letter. Because I myself, when I see and hear visions, hear how angels speak and see, I am even amazed and cannot believe that Vanya, your son, talks with angels. He, Vanya, has also had sins and failings, but through sufferings the Lord has wiped them away. And he does not live as he wishes himself, but as the Lord wishes.”
We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling short- changed. Quite the contrary — we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!
Paul the Apostle
Martyred in Rome, 65 AD
(ROMANS 5:3-5 THE MESSAGE)
Source: Jesus Freaks