Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Yearbook Experience - Dmitry Livy
(experience of Dmitry Livy, pgs 188 & 189 of the 2008 Yearbook)
It was 1944, six months before the end of World War II. I stood in a courtroom before a military judge because of my Christian neutrality. I was sentenced to death by firing squad, but the sentence was commuted to ten years of imprisonment in corrective labor camps. In January 1945, I was taken to a camp in northern Russia in the town of Pechora, Komi Republic. Among hundreds of other prisoners in the camp were ten of our brothers. Unfortunately, my only issue of The Watchtower was confiscated, and we were left with no spiritual food. I was so physically worn out that I could do no work at all. When we washed in the bath-house, a brother told me that I looked like a skeleton. Indeed, I looked so pitiful that I was taken to a medical colony in Vorkuta. After a while, I began to improve a little, and I was sent to work in the sand quarry. Before a month went by, I again resembled a skeleton. The doctor thought that I was trading my food for tobacco, but I told him that I was one of Jehovah's Witnesses and did not smoke. I spent more than two years in that camp. Though I was the only Witness, there were always those who liked to hear about the truth, and some of them responded to the good news. One time my relatives sent me a handwritten copy of The Watchtower. How was I able to receive it when each package was so carefully checked by the foreman? The pages had been folded twice and placed in the bottom of a double-bottomed can and covered with a thick layer of fat. The prison foreman pierced the can through and not discovering anything suspicious, gave it to me. This source of "living water" served me well for a time. (John 4:10)
In October 1949, I was freed before the end of my sentence, and in November, I returned home to Ukraine. We heard that several brothers had gone to Moscow to register our activities, but it seemed that the authorities were not prepared to recognize Jehovah's Witnesses in the Soviet Union. On the night of April 8, 1951, we were loaded into railway cars together with other families of Jehovah's Witnesses and sent to Siberia. Two weeks later we were deep in the heart of Siberia, in the village of Khazan in Irkutsk Oblast. The text from Isaiah 54:2, "Lengthen out your tent cords, and make those tent pins of yours strong," reached our heart. It seemed that we were fulfilling this prophecy. Who of us would voluntarily have moved to Siberia? I thought that we must make our tent pins as firm as we could. So, I lived in Siberia for over 55 years.
*The sacrifices that all of these brothers and sisters are making in such dangerous countries should really light a fire under us to do all we can...since we have so many freedoms that they don't. They put us to shame with what they've been willing to do and go through in order to spread the good news, while we have gotton so spoiled by all the comforts in this country. It's time to get busy. They need our help.