The Way of The Cross
In his excellent book, The Insanity of Obedience, Nik Ripken tells about meeting Dmitri in the former USSR. Born of Christian parents, Dmitri found himself and his family living under communism in an area where the nearest church was a three-day walk away.
He started teaching his family one night a week, reading from the old family Bible…It seemed a natural progression to sing, and also to pray. And a Bible study turned into real family worship…
Neighbors began noticing and some of them asked if they could come and listen to the Bible stories and sing the familiar songs…A small group began gathering…
Local party officials came to see Dmitri. They threatened him physically, which was to be expected. What upset Dmitri much more was their accusation: “You have started an illegal church!”
“How can you say that?” he argued. “I have no religious training. I am not a pastor. This is not a church building. We are just a group of family and friends getting together. All we are doing is reading and talking about the Bible, singing, praying, and sometimes sharing what money we have to help out a poor neighbor. How can you call that a church?”
“I got fired from my factory job,” Dmitri recounted. “My wife lost her teaching position. My boys were expelled from school.” When the number of people grew to seventy-five, there was no place for everyone to sit. Villagers pressed close in around the windows on the outside…
Then one night as Dmitri spoke, the door to his house suddenly, violently burst open. An officer grabbed Dmitri by the shirt, slapped him across the face, slammed him against the wall, and said in a cold voice: “We have warned you and warned you and warned you. We will not warn you again! If you do not stop this nonsense, this is the least that is going to happen to you.”
A small grandmother took her life in her hands, and waved a finger in the officer’s face. She declared, “You have laid hands on a man of God and you will not survive!”
That happened on a Tuesday evening, and on Thursday night the officer dropped dead of a heart attack. The fear of God swept through the community and at the next house church service, more than 150 people showed up. The authorities couldn’t let this continue, so Dmitri went to jail for seventeen years.
It is a painful story of long, heart-wrenching separation; sons growing up without their father in the house. One man who refused to let go of Jesus—one man who refused to stop telling the good news to his family and neighbors…who walked the way of the cross.
Read the book to learn the exciting ending of this story