The 700 Club with Pat Robertson


Ukrainian Preacher Remembers Religious Persecution

By Michelle Wilson
The 700 Club

CBN.comSince biblical times, Christians have sacrificed their lives for the sake of the gospel: Christians like Aleks Tyshkevich, who lived life in fear because of his Christian beliefs.

"They tried to break my spirit by any means, and it was painful," Aleks says.

Aleks was born in Ukraine, Soviet Union, under the Communist regime, a system that denied God completely, a system where Christians were jailed, tortured, and even put to death because of their faith in God.

"They asked me, 'Do you believe that there is God?'" Aleks recalls. "As a kid, I said, 'Yes.' It was hard. It was very difficult. It was shameful, but I could not say no because my mom taught me."

Having faith in Christ was the foundation of the Tyshkevich family. Both of Aleks' grandparents were Christians. And Aleks' parents raised him with a strong faith in God.

Aleks"They always, always remind me about Jesus Christ," he says. "They said, 'He suffered, He was marked, He was in contempt of people, and He even died.' As a kid it was my strong belief, and I believe that nobody could take it from me, that faith in God."

Then he entered the Soviet school system. It was there that teachers tried to force Aleks to deny his faith in God.

"She spent 10-, 15 minutes with me outside, trying to convince me that there is no God, that I should be different, that I should do that and that and that. I wanted to say no. I don’t know where I got the strength to say yes. It was very difficult."

Under the Communist regime, Christians were denied many privileges.

"The government kept telling my father, 'You will get the nice apartment as soon as you say no to God, as soon as you stop telling people about God, as soon as you stop going to church or preaching.' My father was a preacher."

Aleks' father was an electrician by day and a preacher by night. His act of defiance by preaching the gospel could lead him to jail time. It was something that Aleks feared would happen one day.

"My father was going to preach, and we knew that today he would be arrested. It happened before my eyes, and I was so frightened because police came and arrested him. You don’t know for how long because some people got three years, some people got five years," he says.

Fortunately, Aleks' father only spent 15 days in jail. After his father was released and despite grave danger, Aleks and his family went right back to the underground church.

"We met sometimes in the forest during summertime," Aleks says, "and we had to go secretly undercover so that they wouldn't discover us. Usually they detected us, and sometimes they sent police. Sometimes the dogs surrounded us. They arrested preachers, arrested a couple of leaders, and let the rest go, but it was very frightful."

The iron curtain of Communism fell in the fall of 1989. The new government amended regulations for the church. Christians could now worship freely.

"It was a really big thing, and nobody, nobody could imagine that this giant would collapse," he says.

Aleks gets baptizedThis new sense of freedom brought boldness in the Christian community. Aleks went to college and became an electrician like his father. After graduating with honors, he enlisted in the military. When his duties were completed, he decided to make a public confession of his faith; Aleks got baptized.

"When I got baptized, it was a huge celebration, a lot of people with flowers. I always believed from childhood that there is God and there is no other way. Nobody could take this faith about God from me. It is one thing to believe in God and another thing to be a servant of God."

He married a Christian girl named Swevtlana and had three children. One day, while attending church, Aleks heard about a ministry that helped persecuted Russians come to America. They immediately applied with the American Embassy in Moscow. One year later their application was approved and they boarded a plane for America.

Their dream to worship God in freedom was to become a reality. Sadly, Aleks' father died two months before their departure for America. But he did see Aleks preach in his native country without fear before he died.

"I feel really good about that. Some people say that I do even better than my father did, and I’m proud about it," says Aleks.

Aleks now has the privilege of teaching his children about God without fear of persecution. In fact, recently Aleks baptized his youngest son.

"It was still in my mind and it was a little bit unusual that an almost kid, an11-year-old boy, be baptized freely with no restriction."

Aleks hasn’t forgotten his past. He is working with a ministry to help other persecuted Ukrainians.

Aleks and Swevtlana"God has done everything for us. Now we need to repay Him a little bit and as He said, 'Whatever you do to your brothers or to your neighbors, you do it for Me.' We need to remember that."

Aleks' message today is to prepare everyone for the return of Jesus and to prepare them for more persecution to come.

"We need to set our minds like Apostle Paul. Paul wrote to us to sacrifice if needed as our Lord did. I try to encourage people not to get comfortable in our houses and our nice cars and our jobs. That’s all temporary. We need to concentrate on Jesus coming and concentrate on heaven, where we will feel much better and we will we will be for eternity."

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