Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Arrested the Night Before Their Wedding...

The following experience, on (pgs 190-192 of the 2002 Yearbook), is about a couple in Ukraine who had their marriage plans (and entire lives), cruelly disrupted by the authorities for years.

Hanna Shyshko and Yurii Kopos (On the night before their wedding day, they were arrested and sentenced to 10 years of camp imprisonment. They were married 10 years later)

A Lofty Example of Faith
At times, severe tests of faith continued for months, years, and even decades. Consider one example. Yurii Kopos was born and grew up not far from the beautiful Transcarpathian town of Khust. In 1938, at the age of 25, he became one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In 1940, during World War II, he was sentenced to eight months of imprisonment because of his refusal to join a Hungarian army that supported the Nazi regime. In Transcarpathia, the local laws of that time did not allow execution of prisoners of faith. The brothers, therefore, were sent to the front lines where Nazi law allowed such executions. In 1942, Brother Kopos was sent under military escort with other prisoners including 21 other Witnesses to the front lines near Stalingrad, Russia. They were sent there to be executed. Shortly after their arrival, however, the Soviet army began to attack, capturing the German military troops and also the brothers. The Witnesses were sent to a Soviet prison camp, where they remained until 1946 when they were released.

Brother Kopos returned home, taking an active part in the preaching work in his home territory. Because of this activity, in 1950 the Soviet authorities sentenced him to 25 years in a prison camp. Under an amnesty, however, he was released after six years.

Following his release, Brother Kopos, now 44 years old, planned to marry Hanna Shyshko. She too was a Witness and had been recently released from prison after serving a ten-year sentence. They submitted an application for the registration of their marriage. On the night before their wedding day, they were again arrested and sentenced to ten years of camp imprisonment. However, they survived all these hardships, and their love endured all things, including a ten-year delay in their marriage. (1 Corinthians 13:7) Finally, after their release in 1967, they were married.

Yurii Kopos (spent almost a third of a century in Soviet prisons and labor camps)

That is not the end of their story. In 1973, Brother Kopos, now 60 years of age, was arrested once again and sentenced to five years of camp imprisonment and five years of exile. He served his term of exile together with his wife, Hanna, in Siberia, 3,000 miles [5,000 km] from his hometown of Khust. There was no communication with that area by motor or railway, only by air. In 1983, Brother Kopos together with his wife returned home to Khust. Hanna died in 1989, and he faithfully continued to serve Jehovah till his death in 1997. Altogether, Brother Kopos served 27 years in various prisons and 5 years in exile—a total of 32 years.
This modest and meek man spent almost a third of the century in Soviet prisons and labor camps. Such an extraordinary example of faith clearly shows that enemies cannot destroy the integrity of God’s loyal servants.

(Here's a similar experience on pg 183)

Arrested 10 Days After His Wedding...
Consider another example of great endurance. Yurii Popsha was a traveling overseer in Transcarpathia. Ten days after his wedding, he was arrested. Instead of going on his honeymoon, he spent ten years in prison in Mordvinia, Russia. His faithful wife, Mariya, visited him 14 times, each time traveling approximately 900 miles [1,500 km] each way. Presently, Brother Popsha serves as an elder in one of the local congregations in Transcarpathia, and his beloved Mariya faithfully and lovingly supports him.