Donate | VOM Resources

Skiing to a Prayer Meeting

Russia

A Story from the 20th Century

The Soviet Union was a communist country that broke up into smaller countries in the late 20th century. Before the break-up, it was the world’s most powerful communist country.

During that time, Christians from all over the Soviet Union were sent to Siberia for punishment. Although there are also warm places in Siberia, it is known for being very cold. In some places in Siberia, when someone exhales, the moisture in their breath freezes solid and drops to the ground. (Source: Atlantic Monthly)

One winter, three Siberian students met secretly every morning at 6 o’clock for prayer. They rose early before school started and skied over snowy paths to a forest. They met in all kinds of weather, even when temperatures were below zero. They prayed for their country.

God gave their region of Siberia a spiritual awakening, and many more youth came to Christ. So many young people became Christians that they wouldn’t fit in anyone’s house for meetings. Soon many new believers were also skiing into the forest at 6 a.m. to pray.

(Source: Faith Despite the KGB, by Hermann Hartfield)

To Think About

  • What is a “spiritual awakening?”
  • The students gathered to pray for a mighty move of God in their country. Can you name some of the obstacles they faced in getting together for prayer?
  • Have you ever prayed for more people to come to Christ in your country or in a country where Christians are persecuted?
  • What obstacles do Christian young people in the 21st century have that might make it hard for them to get together for prayer? In what ways is it easier today than it was for the Siberian youth?

Singing in the Cold

Icicle

Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, the founder of The Voice of the Martyrs, told the following story about a man who was imprisoned for his faith in a country where Christians were persecuted:

“I met a Christian who had been in jail for 22 years. He was alone in a cell for 18 of those years. No books, no Bible, no anything. Just sitting in his cell. No letters from his family were allowed, no one ever coming to see him.

“For seven hours a day, they gave him a mattress to sleep on. Then they took the mattress out. For the other 17 hours of the day, he was not allowed to sleep even a little bit. He was not allowed to lie down on the cold concrete floor, to sit down, or to stand still. For 17 hours a day, he had to walk around the cell. The guards watched him through a peephole in the door. If he stopped walking, they entered the cell and pushed him so he would start walking again.

“After 18 years, they sent the man to work in north Siberia where the ice never melts. I asked the man, ‘After 18 years of suffering in your cell, then in the cold, how could you stand it?’

“The man did not reply in words. Instead, he sang a song that said, ‘The flames of the fire of love which Jesus kindled in my heart made the ice of Siberia melt. Hallelujah!’

“Later I was a welcomed guest in the home of a rich Christian in America. He told me, ‘I had such a bad day today. I lost a million and a half dollars in business deals.’

“’How much money do you have left?’” I asked.

“’I don’t know exactly,’ he answered. ‘Ten or 11 million.’ He was very unhappy.

“We get so attached to money and things, thinking that they are so important.

“But I had met the man who had spent 18 years in a cell and four more where the ice never melts, and he was not unhappy. He sang.

“All men stand before a narrow gate. One day we will have to pass through this gate. But on the other side is paradise. So let us prepare ourselves for it, beginning a life of joy and love now. May we live life with a shining face, a smile, and a song, as people who have an eternity of paradise before us.”

(Edited for clarity and reading level)

Note: Reports say that in some parts of Siberia, it is so cold that the moisture in people’s breath freezes solid and falls to the ground.

What did Pastor Wurmbrand mean when he said, “All men stand before a narrow gate”?