Vladimir meets the KGB
His name was Vladimir and he was the grandfather of Alexi, one of our Russian translators. He was a member in good standing of the Russian Orthodox Church and his commitment to his family was a hallmark to his neighbors. Though he was never a member of the communist party, he became a devoted follower of the ”ideals” of Lenin and did all he could to promote the concepts of Leninism. Lately, Vladimir was becoming confused regarding his relationship with the church, because the civil authorities were talking in degrading terms about the church and its meaninglessness to life.
Vladimir cautioned his children not to talk of the church leadership that way since he was interpreting their conversation as rebellion against the church, and he would not tolerate that.
Nevertheless, Vladimir continued to attend his neighborhood church, located a few blocks from the family home. Rumors had been flying around the community about the close relationship between the church and the KGB. Vladimir had discussed this with his adult children and they told their father that these were not just rumors; the things they heard were true, and could be verified by simply asking questions. But, that presented another problem. Asking questions was not the best way to reach old age. The sons stated that the KGB had infiltrated the church through its priests and leaders and were using the church as a propaganda tool. Vladimir cautioned his children not to talk of the church leadership that way since he was interpreting their conversation as rebellion against the church, and he would not tolerate that. The Church, as far as he was concerned, was the only stable thing in Russia at that moment.
The family church was located in downtown Krasnodar, not far from the main market, one of the major meeting places in Krasnodar. Vladimir’s vegetable kiosk was located in this prominent market. The people could actually find and purchase necessary food items in this market from time to time. It was a very busy location. If you saw the right vegetable, and if you had the rubles, you purchased it right then because it would not be there tomorrow. Sometimes it was what you wanted, and sometimes it was not, but if it filled the Borsch soup pot; that was very important.
For the businessman who tried to be honest, cheating and price-gouging was not practiced. But, for those who were not honest, if they could ”cheat” without being caught, this brought supposed gain to them. It was during one of those ”sales” that Vladimir accidently cheated one of his friends. The friend did not notice, nor did Vladimir at that moment, but, while he was in the process of closing up his little vegetable kiosk, he thought about the business transaction and realized his error. This was very troubling to Vladimir, so he made the decision that the first thing in the morning, he would settle this account with his friend. It was while this transaction was on his mind that he determined that on his way home, he could stop at the church and chat with the new, young priest about both his business transaction and some other items that were on his mind.
He closed a little early and began his walk home, which would take him directly past the church. He looked forward to conversing with the Priest. Upon his arrival at the church, he was invited in and Vladimir and the priest had a very cordial conversation. The priest expressed great interest in Vladimir and his concerns and gave a listening ear to his older parishioner’s situation. In the conversation, Vladimir also raised the issue of the rumors he had been hearing from his children and his wife, regarding the priesthood and the KGB. The priest assured him that what he was hearing was not correct and the discussion ended with the priest inviting Vladimir back for more conversations. Vladimir was very happy as he continued has walk home from his small kiosk.
During the remainder of his walk home, he felt quite relieved and he was looking forward to sharing with his wife what had happened that day. He knew she would be pleased with his actions, since he included the church and the priest in his resolve to continue to be an honest businessman. Things were changing daily in Russia and Vladimir’s convictions would be an encouragement to his wife and his children. He was excited to share this good news with his family.
A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing
As he arrived at his home, his older son met him at the gate. There was obviously something wrong. Vladimir asked, ”What has happened? Is everything O.K.?” The oldest son (the father of the translator telling me this story), related to his father that just moments ago, KGB officers had simply come into the home, unannounced and uninvited, and had removed their Mother, Vladimir’s wife, from the home. It became quite evident to the family that while Vladimir was walking home from the church after talking to the priest, the priest had informed the KGB of their conversation, and before Vladimir could walk the short distance from the church to his home, the KGB showed up, removed his wife, our translators grandmother, and she was never seen again.
Unbelievable! Someone says? From our perspective, yes! But that is the history of the people, the Priesthood and the KGB. The Moscow Times, June 26, 1994, under a caption titled EX-KGB Returns Stolen Icons, records the following statement:
The head of the former KGB returned to the Russian Orthodox Church, on Monday 12 icons, mainly from the 16th century, that were stolen from the church over the last three or four years.
“It is not a gift but the return of the icons to their rightful owner” said Sergi Stapashin, director of the Federal Counter Intelligence Service, the successor to the KGB, as he gave the icons to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Alexi II, at a short solemn ceremony in Svyato-Danilov monastery, the official residence of the patriarch.
Alexi II thanked the service, known by its acronym FSK, and Stapashin personally, and said that the icons belonged not only to the church but also to the entire country. The event marked the first such public handing over of church property by the agency but the church and the KGB have long had close relations with many priests serving as informer’s to the agency (bold, Italics CFE)
That article, standing by itself, made me a bit nervous. In fact, I became angry that the church and the priesthood allowed themselves to be used in that fashion. But the article, and the story of my translator, makes me even more aware than ever of the tragic history of the people of Russia. No wonder they do not trust each other! No wonder it is hard to break into their lives and have them share with you their hurts and desires! Why would they ever open their homes and hearts to any one, let alone an American ”clergyman” who they do not know? How could they ever trust a priest or pastor again?
It seems that many homes in Russia in the era of communism (specifically the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, the Priesthood was the KGB. Can this tremendous hurdle of mistrust of the clergy ever be overcome? The most precious gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ, delivered by God to the Church, to be delivered to man by men, was tragically misused because of the depravity of man, using the ”office” of a clergyman, wearing the clothing of a sheep, covering the heart of a wolf.
The hurts will never be fully healed. The scars cannot be removed. The fear will always be present. The memory of loved ones, who went to confession at the church, but who never returned home, has not been easy to deal with in Russia. When the KGB became the clergy, the message of Christ was translated through the grid of a twisted, Godless organization, corrupting the message of life and freedom in Christ.
The actions of ruthless men poisoned the lives of the sheep of God’s pasture, and devastated the security and the truth of the church of God, the Body of Christ.
One cannot mock and destroy the
simplicity of faith in Christ.
One cannot mock and destroy the simplicity of faith in Christ, while posing as God’s appointed shepherd to the flock, and not expect a face to face confrontation with the Good Shepherd.
It will be an awesome, devastating, eternal catastrophe, for the false shepherds of the
KGB, when they stand before the True Shepherd of Eternity,
to give an account for their treacherous, brutal actions.
And give an account… they have and they will!
St. Daniel Monastery, also Danilov Monastery – Russian: Данилов монастырь, located in Moscow, Russia, is the residence of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. The monastery was founded by the Grand Prince Daniel about the year 1282. The monastery was closed by the Soviet government in 1930. The cemeteries were destroyed and the buildings re-fitted for secular use. After being returned to the Church of Russia in 1983, the monastery has been rebuilt and has become the spiritual center for the Russian Orthodox Church and the official residence of the Patriarch of the Church of Russia. Danilov Monastery was the last monastery to be closed under the Soviets and the first to be reopened under Gorbachev in 1983.