Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Yearbook Experience - Pavel Sivulsky

(experience of Pavel Sivulsky on pgs 200 & 201 of the 2008 Yearbook)

*this is an especially historic experience, because the convention that the KGB investigator is talking about was the largest International District Convention ever held (with over a quarter of a million delegates) at Yankee Stadium in New York. And my mom, uncle, and grandparents were there in attendance! So the KGB investigator was trying to convince this imprisoned brother that a convention of this size could never have been pulled off without the help of the CIA & American government, to try and shake his faith. Which backfired of course. =)

In 1958, I was arrested for religious activities. Accompanying me to the train, the officer said, "Look at your wife for the last time because you will never see her again." In Irkutsk, I was placed in a special cell only large enough to stand in. After this I spent six months in solitary confinement before my trial. During interrogations held at night, the investigators did everything to undermine my faith in the Bible and my trust in God's organization. I was accused of participating in the illegal activities of Jehovah's Witnesses. Sometimes violence was used, although the main method was usually ideological conditioning. I begged Jehovah to give me the strength to stay firm. He was always with me. During a routine interrogation, the investigator called me into his study and said: "Now we will show you what your organization is doing. Then you can see if it is God's work or not!" Looking at me intently, he continued: "This year your convention in New York was attended by 253,000 people in two stadiums. If you consider the scale of this event, you know that it was impossible to pull this off without the support of the CIA. The convention lasted eight days. Delegates attended from various countries, traveling by plane, train, ship, and other means of transportation. Could all of this have been possible without help from the authorities? Who could pay for a convention held in these enormous stadiums for eight days?"
The investigator strewed the table with photographs. In one of them, I saw happy delegates in colorful native dress embracing one another. Another photo showed Brother Knorr giving a talk, and yet others showed the baptism and Brother Knorr giving the baptized ones the book "Your Will Be Done on Earth." We had not received this book, but we learned about it later in The Watchtower. Looking me in the eye, the investigator said: "What does this book discuss? The king of the north and what awaits him. How could Jehovah's Witnesses have organized this independently? We know that these events are attended by the American military to learn from your example how to organize army movements. We also know that one millionaire donated a large sum to hold this convention. Millionaires don't just fling money around!" The investigator could not even imagine what I was feeling at that moment. I felt that I was attending the convention without ever having left the prison. I felt new strength flooding into me. I had needed something like this so much! And Jehovah generously blessed me in a special way. I was ready to endure further.

Video with photos & audio clip from the Divine Will International Convention held at Yankee Stadium in 1958.