In looking for examples that relate to the theme of today's text, I came across this experience, (on pgs 114, 115, 118, & 119 of the 2008 Yearbook) which demonstrates the serious consequences that can result when a person is reviled and spoken of abusively by others. It's also unbelievable that after what the Russian government did to so many innocent people in the past, that they are trying to use the same 'defamation of character' tactics and slander once again, yet the Witnesses there continue to refrain from retaliation despite what they've been put through.
Charged With Tearing Off Their Daughter’s Ear
Semyon and Daria Kostylyev raised three children in Siberia. Semyon recounts: “At that time, Jehovah’s Witnesses were considered to be fanatics. In 1961, Alla, our second daughter, started first grade. One day while she was playing with the other children, one of them accidentally injured Alla’s ear. The next day when the teacher asked her what had happened, Alla kept quiet, since she didn’t want to tell on her classmate. The teacher knew that Alla was being raised by Witness parents and came to the conclusion that we beat her to force her to live by Bible principles. The school reported the matter to a public prosecutor’s office. The business I worked for also became involved. Investigations continued for about a year until we finally received a summons to a court hearing in October 1962.
“For two weeks before the trial, the Palace of Culture building displayed a banner that read, ‘Trial of dangerous Jehovist sect about to begin.’ My wife and I were accused of raising our children according to the Bible. We were also charged with cruelty. The court alleged that we had forced our daughter to pray and that we had torn off her ear with the edge of a pail! The only witness was Alla, but she had been sent away to an orphanage in Kirensk, a city about 700 kilometers [430 miles] to the north of Irkutsk, where we were living.
“The hall was filled with youth league activists. When the court adjourned for deliberation, the crowd caused an uproar. We were pushed around and cursed at, and someone demanded that we take off our ‘Soviet’ clothes. Everyone was shouting that we should be killed, and someone even wanted to finish us off right then and there. The crowd became more and more enraged, and still the judges didn’t appear. The deliberation lasted for an hour. When the crowd surged forward, one Witness sister and her unbelieving husband stood between us and the people, pleading with them not to touch us. Attempting to explain that all the accusations against us were false, they literally snatched us out of the hands of the crowd.
“Finally, a judge appeared with the assessors of the people’s court and read us our sentence: loss of parental rights. I was put under guard and sent to a corrective labor camp for two years. Our eldest daughter was also sent to an orphanage after being told that her parents were members of a dangerous sect and a harmful influence on her upbringing.
“Our son was left with Daria, since he was only three years old. After serving my sentence, I returned home. As before, we could only witness informally.”
(Semyon Kostylyev today)
“We Were Proud Of Our Children”
“Alla left the orphanage when she turned 13, and she came home to live with us. What a joy it was for us when she dedicated herself to Jehovah and was baptized in 1969! About this time, a series of lectures on religion was held at the Palace of Culture in our city. We decided to go to hear what they would say this time. As always, Jehovah’s Witnesses were the group most discussed. One of the lecturers held up an issue of The Watchtower and said, ‘This is a harmful and dangerous magazine that is undermining the unity of our State.’ Then he gave an example: ‘The members of this sect force their children to read such magazines and to pray. In one family, a little girl didn’t want to read the magazine, so her father tore her ear off.’ Alla was surprised, since she was sitting there listening to the lecture with both of her ears intact. She didn’t speak up, however, for she was afraid of losing her parents again.
“When Boris, our son, turned 13, he dedicated himself to Jehovah and was baptized. Once, he was street witnessing with some Witnesses his age, although our activities at that time were still under ban. They had no Bible with them and no Bible publications. Suddenly, a car drove up, and the boys were all taken to the militia station. After interrogating them and searching them, the militiamen found nothing other than a couple of Bible scriptures jotted down on paper. The boys were allowed to go home. When he came home, Boris proudly told us how he and the other brothers had been persecuted for Jehovah’s name. We were proud of our children, since Jehovah had supported them during a time of testing. After this happened, Daria and I were summoned by the KGB several times. One officer said: ‘These children should be sent to a juvenile penal colony. It’s too bad that they haven’t turned 14 yet.’ We were fined for our son’s preaching activities.
“Today, I live with my son and grandchildren who are also walking in the truth. My eldest daughter lives in Uzbekistan, and although she is not yet serving Jehovah, she respects us and the Bible and often comes to visit us. In 2001, Daria died, having faithfully served Jehovah to the end. While I still have the strength, I go with the congregation to preach in remote territories, searching for people ‘rightly disposed for everlasting life.’ (Acts 13:48) I believe that very soon Jehovah will fulfill the desire of each one of us, as written at Isaiah 65:23.”