A Greater Joy

Mikhail [Misha] Khorev was a lawbreaker. As a young Russian pastor in the Communist Soviet Union, he faced two options: spiritual compromise or persecution and prison. He chose the latter and continued his "secret" and illegal ministry to Christians eager to know God. He knew well that "We ought to obey God rather than men." (Acts 5:29)

Misha's first day in Moscow's Lefortovo Prison began on May 20, 1966. For his "crime" of sharing God's forbidden truths with Christian families, he faced a two and a half year sentence. But God would use it for good! His fellow prisoners had plenty of questions for him, and many wanted to know about God, His forgiveness and His saving love. Their dialogue shows the hunger for hope in their hopeless world:

"What do you say, holy man?” They all grew quiet, waiting for my answer.

“I think,” I began, “the most important thing in life is to know God through Jesus Christ…”

“Why are you in here?”

I explained that my arrest was probably because of my work of preaching and teaching the gospel throughout Russia. They understood. When I mentioned that people in the "registered church" were responsible for my arrest, many nodded their heads. They were all too familiar with our government’s devious ways.

“Attention!" called the guard. "If I call your name, get ready for transport!”

I rose to get my bag when I heard my name.

“No,” the other prisoners protested. “Sit down. You have fifteen more minutes. We need to talk some more.”

“I want you to pray for my wife, Natasha,” insisted one man.

A chorus of other requests rained on my ears. As I knelt beside my chair, I tried to remember all the prayer requests.

The time passed swiftly until we heard the officer unlock the door. I shook hands with the men surrounding me. One said, “I was sentenced to six months for my crime. Now I am glad that in these six months I have met you.”[1]

Misha never saw those men again, but he prayed that God would continue His work in their hearts.

Between his lengthy prison terms, Misha traveled through Russia sharing the gospel and bringing encouragement to Christians who dared to attend the secret forest meetings. The fact that Stalin's "Ministry of Religious Affairs" had banned any biblical teaching in the presence of children didn't stop families from bringing their sons and daughters. God's comforting words meant more to them than the world's transient safety.

The plight of the Russian people under Communist tyranny may seem totally contrary to our "land of the free," yet we seem to be headed in a similar direction. Are we prepared to stand firm in our faith as our leaders purge Christian beliefs and values from schools, colleges, business and government?

"Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9