26 March, 2007

Russian Woman Recounts Tales of Persecution

TULA, RUSSIA

For Lena Korikova the memories of years past are still fresh and painful. But despite the suffering she endured she feels it is important to talk about her experiences.

"It's hard to speak about what happened to me and to my friends." She said. "We suffered great persecution for our beliefs. I still remember how things were so many years ago. You couldn't trust anyone. Your friends, your neighbors, those closest to you, you never knew if they were going to report you or turn you in for something. You never knew who was listening in on your conversations or who was, perhaps, watching you on some hidden camera."

Among a number of things Korikova had to keep secret were her Christian books and tapes that she dearly cherished.

"I was always terrified that they would show up at my door one day and start looking through my books and my music." Said Korikova. "I had some things that I knew would get me in trouble. I kept them hidden, or had different covers on the fronts of them taped on, but they could have been easily removed. I just prayed every day they would not find me out."

She also told stories of what happened to others who were found out.

"I remember waking up one morning only to discover that my dear friend was gone." She said. "She had been 'sent away,' they told me, because she was a 'problem.' They had caught her with her books and music, meeting secretly with others like herself. I never saw her again, and to this day I don't know what happened to her."

Such was life for Korikova during her years at Pensacola Christian College
where she and others who held to Reformed and Calvinistic beliefs struggled each day to survive and to not be found out.

"I had a copy of Calvin's Insitutes of the Christian Religion, but I knew that I could let no one know." She said. "So I covered them with brown paper and wrote 'Charles Finney's Systematic Theology' on the outside. Thankfully no one ever looked inside. I also had tapes of sermons by James Montgomery Boice which I labeled with different titles so that people would not know. One day my roommate borrowed one of the tapes, but thankfully she thought it was a mistake. She brought back the tape and told me, 'I think someone copied over this sermon.' I thanked her and told her I'd take care of it. That was a close call."

After graduating from P.C.C. in 1996 Korikova returned to her native Russia to serve in a Christian ministry to orphans in her native town of Tula. Four years earlier she had been recruited by a group from P.C.C. who was searching for international students from Russia just after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

"I tell stories of things that happened when I was a student and the older generation here in Russia cannot believe that it is true." She said. "They say things like 'How can this be true about America?' and 'I thought America was a free country.' But I tell them only the truth about what happened. Life was very hard, and I was scared."

Today, Korikova is happy in her ministry, but she still struggles with feelings of what happened to her.

"I know those days are over, but they still haunt me even today. I still look around suspiciously when I read some of my books, wondering who is watching me, wondering if someone is going to report me to the authorities and I'll be called into Dean of Students' office."

18 comments:

Tom said...

Speaking of which, I wonder who serves as the Grand Inquisitor at Libery University these days?

Chris said...

Ah, fell for the old "bait and switch". Nice misdirection, Tom. :)

victor said...

At the beginning I thought that you were writing about persecution under communist government when Soviet Union existed.
But when I was first introduced to reformed theology I used to hide "Calvin Institutes" also from my family and church who are thoroughly strict Arminian in their theology and fiercely oppose "straw man" made Calvinism.

Coolhand Luke said...

This 'Lena" was not a student at Pensacola Christian College when I was there (1992-1996). How can you give credibility to someone who is not honest about who she is?

?Talk to me ?Lena? or whoever you are.

Tominthebox News Network said...

Victor,

That's what I hoped you would think of at first. Often times legalistic fundamentalists use the Stalinist-type tactics of a repressive regime to control others.

-Tom

Anonymous said...

Lena, I don't know what you're talking about. I've got a friend that's been there a long time, and you ain't never been there. Who are you? You a Putin (fraud)?

victor said...

Tom,
you're absolutely right that
"Often times legalistic fundamentalists use the Stalinist-type tactics of a repressive regime to control others."

I've been in that kind of a church and experienced it on my own skin, and there are plenty of them in Russia.:)
But Mr. Putin doesn't really like them.
Da blogoslovit vas Bog vo Hriste

Tominthebox News Network said...

To all the people questioning the existence of Ms. Korikova's existence and testimony: Lena Korikova is not her real name. It was changed for this story to protect her identity.

-Tom

pilgrim said...

I was expecting this, having been a Tominthebox News Reader for a while now. I figured it couldn't be about repression in the USSR or in modern Russia--as this site is satire, but it was well done, and I enjoyed the satire...

Anonymous said...

Tom, you're one crazy guy in a box.

White Knight said...

Had me going, but, when I was at Bob Jones University in the early 70s, we 'Reformed' types did hide all the good stuff (heretics like A.W. Pink, Spurgeon, etc.) in various places to avoid suspicion. This was at the height of the Lordship Controversy when several of us (and a prof or two) were 'removed' for espousing radical views like Christ being Lord and Savior.

Anonymous said...

White Knight,

I graduated BJU in 2000. While I was there, one of my friends was secretly slipping me books about reformed theology. He would put a book cover-side down and slip it to me while saying, "don't tell anyone where you got this". :) One of them was a book by A.W. Pink!
Amazingly enough though, I wasn't reformed until I was at BJU. God can use anything! :)

Jeff said...

Ah yes, the fear of the Calvinist Book Police at PCC... It is a tragedy and we need to remember the persecuted in our prayers!

Rhett said...

Too funny!!

PSRuckman said...

I think there was a reason that we fourth graders called PCS "Prison Camp of the South." :-)

Fundamentally Reformed said...

You forgot about: the music police and the Bureau of Dress Inspection.

Very funny post, in one sense. Quite alarming and sad in another.

Thanks.

Pitchford said...

Ok, I'll be the wierdo that finds out about the post months after everyone else, but comments anyway...

I seriously remember hiding out in the boiler room with friends at 3:00 A.M. to discuss Calvinism, perpetually worried about being found out by security or student life. Several of us had a signed letter from the dean of students threatening us with the pain of immediate expulsion if we were caught discussing election, Calvinism, or any related topic, on or off campus. And this wasn't PCC, but a far North fundy college.

Sad

Andrew said...

I just finished my freshman year at pcc. They kicked out most of my friends because they were reformed. They preached about calvinism being a heresy, called John MacArthur and John Piper heretics from the pulpit (and even said they doubted their salvation!)
Needless to say, I am looking elsewhere for biblical training.

So persecuted they the saints which were before us.