Donate | VOMBooks

Uzbekistan: Prisoner Not Forgotten

David Shestakov

Todd Nettleton of VOMRadio.net recently interviewed David Shestakov, a pastor from Uzbekistan who was imprisoned for his faith. Part of the interview is below.

Todd Nettleton: We are in the studio today with David Shestakov, former prisoner for Christ in the nation of Uzbekistan. One of the ways that The Voice of the Martyrs helps prisoners is by encouraging American Christians to write letters to them in prison. We told people, “Write letters to David Shestakov in prison.” Tell us about what it meant to you inside the prison when those letters started coming.

David Shestakov: I experienced a huge impact of these letters in many ways…In our prison they replaced the guards every year in order to prevent corruption. So new guards who came on duty usually beat up those prisoners who were imprisoned for “extremism,” like myself. They beat them first, then they introduced themselves.

When the new guards called me, at the same time a post office worker approached with a sack full of these letters. He started to yell, “This Shestakov; we are tired of him! We are tired of these letters!” Everybody came out of their rooms just to see what he was screaming about and why he was upset. He explained that I was receiving 100 letters a day, and everybody was tired of the letters. The new guards were impressed by the fact that I received such attention from all over the world. They were really polite to me.

Todd Nettleton: David, some of the people who wrote those letters are going to be listening to this radio broadcast, I would like you to speak directly to them and tell them what it meant that they wrote those letters.

David Shestakov: I was dreaming about this opportunity to say thank you out of my heart. I really admire what you have done for me and for my family, because these letters created different opportunities for me while I was in prison, as I said. Also, it encouraged me personally that I was not forgotten; that many people remembered me. At first I thought that I was left behind and everybody forgot about me. But receiving all those letters every day from all over the world encouraged me to go through these trials. Thank you very much for what you have done for me.

(Source: VOMRadio.net. Edited for length and clarity.)

Would you like to write letters of encouragement to Christian prisoners? Find out how at prisoneralert.com.


International Day of the Bible

The Bible tells about King Josiah, who re-discovered the words of God. He read the words to all the people of the land to turn their hearts back to God. (See 2 Kings 22-23.)

International Bible Week is celebrated during the week of Thanksgiving in the United States. This year, the International Day of the Bible will be observed on November 24. People will read passages of the Bible aloud in public.

Ask a mature Christian to help you discover a story or passage in the Bible that is new to you. Read the passage aloud.

As you learn more about the Bible, remember Christians in the following countries who could be persecuted if they read the Bible aloud in public. (The list is not a complete list.)

  • North Korea
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Turkmenistan
  • Somalia
  • Eritrea
  • Afghanistan
  • Iran
  • Syria
  • Uzbekistan
  • Qatar

Kids of Courage in Russia

KOC in Russia
Дети отваги
(Children of Courage)

The U.S.S.R. (often called “the Soviet Union”) was the largest communist country in the world. In the early 1990s, it broke up into many smaller countries.

People in the smaller countries have their own languages. But many still speak Russian, the language of the Soviet Union.

Russian-speaking Christians have started a children’s website using Kids of Courage stories.

Go to the Map of Visitors page on this site to see if anyone in the former Soviet Union has recently visited Kids of Courage. The countries formed when the U.S.S.R. broke up are: Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania.

You can find out what life is like for Christians in some of those countries in the Countries section of this site.


More About Pastor Shestakov

A previous post told about Pastor Dmitri Shestakov’s time in prison for his Christian activities.

Pastor Shestakov recently told a VOM worker about letters he received in prison from Christians around the world.

“The letters that you wrote…that was fantastic, because the prison was getting sacks full of letters. And when another sack was carried in, everybody knew that the letters were for [me]….

“I remember very well what happened when the first sack of letters came. The head of the security department called me in. He was in shock. I saw the letters scattered around the entire office. I myself was shocked. He was looking at the addresses of the senders: America, Australia…. He yelled at me, ‘Who are these people?’

“I said, ‘These are my brothers and sisters.’

“’Why are they writing to you?’

“I said, ‘I don’t know. They are praying for me.’

“’Tell them to stop writing.’

“I said, ‘How can I stop them?’

“They did not give me any letters to read…. When another sack of letters would come, they would call me in and yell at me. But after that, they did not beat me as much as they used to before the letters began arriving. They began speaking with me more politely.”

(Source: The February 2014 The Voice of the Martyrs newsletter)

Through VOM’s Prisoner Alert website, readers sent Pastor Shestakov 6,274 letters.

To Discuss and Do

  • Go to www.PrisonerAlert.com, Remember the name of one prisoner who is still in prison for his faith, and pray for him or her today. Ask someone to help you use the information on the site to write to a prisoner.
  • Watch a video of Pastor Shestakov.

Uzbekistan Update

ShestakovThe Shestakov family

Dmitri Shestakov spent four years in prison in Uzbekistan for his Christian work. Pastor Shestakov has three daughters: Vera, Masha, and Sasha.

You can find previous posts about his family in the following stories:

Pastor Shestakov recently told a VOM worker about some of his experiences in prison. “[My wife] came to visit me, traveling a thousand kilometers [about 620 miles] even for very short visits when all we could do was talk through the phone separated by the thick glass wall.

“She brought food and other needed items, but most important, she brought with her memorized passages form the Scriptures. I did not have a Bible there. It was a blessing, a huge blessing.”

(Source: February 2014 The Voice of the Martyrs newsletter.)

To Discuss and Do

  • What did Pastor Shestakov say was the more important thing his wife brought him in prison?
  • Find a Bible verse you would share with a prisoner if you could visit him, and memorize the verse.