Soviet Witnesses

Jesus has given the task to his followers to go out in the world and to preach. The last centuries we do not have seen many Christians who really followed up this given task by the master teacher, rabbi Jeshua.

The last half century it were not only Soviet officials who tried attacking Jehovah Witnesses through their children. In many countries in West Europe their children also had to fight back.

It is lovely to hear that there are also people who are interested to notate all the effort that was put in such an important task of spreading the Word of God.

Emily Baran her countless little vingettes of poor, working class people who believed Charles Taze Russell’s predictions about the end times so strongly that they were willing to suffer losing their jobs and their families, imprisonment, and exile in order to remain loyal to Jehovah’s message, perhaps may inspire others also to start or to continue with bringing the Good News about the coming Kingdom of God .

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To take note of:

history of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Soviet Union

stories of people stubbornly defying a repressive regime that denies them basic religious freedoms

Jehovah’s Witnesses made little headway in the Soviet Union during interwar period > spread in large numbers in Poland + Romania

eastern territories incorporated into Soviet Union after Second World War > communists had to deal with large numbers of Witnesses who wanted to knock on their doors and tell them about Jehovah

Witnesses stubbornly kept preaching despite regime’s attempts to prevent baptisms, confiscate literature, and arrest preachers

July 6, 1949 = exiled 34,000 Witnesses from Moldavia to Siberia

“extremely difficult” conditions of exile >parents told their children = part of Jehovah’s plan

51yoeHb9gtL._SX300_Witnessing in Soviet Union was very dangerous

Witnesses joined seasonal labour brigades = to network with each other as well as preaching to fellow workers

large numbers of Witnesses in prison = obvious place to share the message

1957 40% received truth in prison and in camps

in prison = speak freely about God

downloadchildren of age preferred to go to prison than to join the army

avoided voting altogether or wrote “I vote for Jehovah” on the ballot

most atheist agitators didn’t know what they were talking about

asking the speaker questions s/he could not answer, such as “what is a law of nature?” or “can there be a law without a lawgiver?”

agitators gave up after only five or six visits

RUSSIA_-_Testimoni_Geova Soviet regime decided to register Jehovah’s Witnesses as an official sect => Witnesses refused unless the regime would allow them to knock on people’s doors and to avoid military service

Russian Constitution of 1993 said that conscientious objectors have the right to do “alternative civil service” instead of joining the army, but no law made this actually possible until 2004 and in the meantime Witnesses were still being sent to prison for avoiding military service

Ukraine > government recognized Jehovah’s Witnesses as religion >published textbooks claiming that they – like Satanists, Scientologists, and Mormons – were “banned” because of their “aggressive” and “light hypnotic methods.”

 

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And the Words became Books

Emily B. Baran. Dissent on the Margins: How Soviet Jehovah’s Witnesses Defied Communism and Lived to Preach about It. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.

WTcovThere is something deeply satisfying about stories of people stubbornly defying a repressive regime that denies them basic religious freedoms. In this fascinating history of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Soviet Union, Emily Baran gives countless little vingettes of poor, working class people who believed Charles Taze Russell’s predictions about the end times so strongly that they were willing to suffer losing their jobs and their families, imprisonment, and exile in order to remain loyal to Jehovah’s message. Jehovah’s Witnesses made little headway in the Soviet Union during the interwar period, but spread in large numbers in Poland and Romania. When the eastern territories of these countries were incorporated into the Soviet Union after the Second World War, this meant that the communists suddenly had to deal with large…

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