As someone who loves history, I was always intrigued by the stories of our family line. I have a desire to retain as much information as possible to keep our stories, especially the testimonies of faith alive. Family history is like stamps on letters. They stick and get passed on.
I see it all over the Bible and in the Jewish culture today. They’re pros at passing on family chronicles. The genealogy of Jesus isn’t just a fun fact to tickle our ears, but instead an essential part of culture since before he came to earth. Each person played a role…
My great-grandma and her husband were devout Eastern Orthodox believers. They had icons in their home, which wasn’t uncommon during the Soviet Union. One day as she was gardening, she set her tool down and asked God to show Himself to her. From my grandma’s description, her mom got tired of religiosity. She needed to know if there was more to life.
but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth. Acts 1:8
Right then and there, the Holy Spirit revealed Himself to her, baptizing her with tongues of fire. He showed her that Jesus was the only Way, Truth, and Life. Filled with Holy Spirit, she shared the Gospel with her kids (my grandma was one of six), and they all received Christ as their faithful Savior, getting filled and baptized by the Holy Spirit. But that’s not where it ended…
Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Luke 6:22
As they began to pursue a life of truth and following Jesus, they were persecuted. My grandma recalls her own father, forcing her to kneel before orthodox icons and getting beaten after refusing to bow to anything/anyone other than Christ. My great uncle seemed to live as apostle Paul did. He was flogged, imprisoned, drowned, left for dead yet survived, and the list goes on.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:10
Aside from physical and verbal abuse, communism was oppressive. There were wars and
periods of starvation. On top of surviving physically, my great grandmother and some of my grandma’s siblings sat in prison often. We can look back at it now and say their faith was thriving, but at the time, it may have not seemed so. This was a reality for them for a long time.
They met in underground churches and had private prayer meetings late at night. It was dangerous for one to walk alone. My grandma, who attended these meetings as she could, often walked home with my grandpa (before they got married). Their love story is one that always inspired me.
Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:12
He told her upfront if she would marry him, Life would be hard. She did, and it was. As an evangelical missionary, he often traveled (even to prison), and she remained at home,
taking care of the household and his parents until they passed. During starvations, she told me, they would spend time in the fields gleaning whatever scraps of berries or edible grass they can find. In the midst of all this, they managed to have 16 children (consecutively – no twins or triplets!).
Communism ended in ’89. Along with the Revolution, a Jesus movement revival started. From my great-grandmother to my grandma, then to my mom and her 15 siblings, following Jesus to the end was truly lived out. When I think of how Christianity came to be in our family, I’m in awe of God’s grace. It truly is fantastic.
There are people all around the world getting persecuted today for having faith in Jesus. Even in America, where we have freedom of religion and speech. Persecution won’t stop – it’s the reality of being a believer. But this shouldn’t prevent us from going forward and pursuing Christ.
Though it’s a stressful subject, it’s not something for us to worry about. But instead to be encouraged and continue the good fight of faith, to pray unceasingly and rejoice in the truth. What is the history of your family? Is there a legacy of faith in your family that you can continue? …Or START?
I’m so thankful my parents carried on this faith and passed it to my siblings and me. I bet my great-grandma prayed into that!
I pray this faith-story inspired you!
In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 2 Timothy 3:12