Sunday, August 25, 2013

The “Valley of Death”

In 1983 27 year old Valentina was charged and convicted of the crime of transporting Christian literature.  Suddenly she found herself in a Siberian work camp that was ominously known as the “Valley of Death” because of its high mortality rate. But there in the midst of that prison camp, a place designed to crush the human spirit, completely isolated from the rest of the world, Valentina found a Christian sister, Natasha.  And together they discovered that God was bigger than any gulag.  

Together, in the middle of the night they would sneak out of their separate barracks and meet under the open heavens to worship God.  Freezing in temperatures that often plunged as much as 40 below zero, they would sing and pray for a few brief minutes before being compelled by the cold to sneak back into their barracks to warm up a little before going back out again.

Valentina recalls that “Sometimes we stood silently, just gazing together toward heaven. Nothing was dearer to us than heaven.” For five years she and Natasha worship God in the frigid cold under the open sky, and never did they feel abandoned by God. From time to time she would receive a letter in which would be a brief quotation from Scripture - verses that seemed to answer to a very specific question or need of the moment. It seemed to her that God Himself had personally selected those verses to be sent to her for that very time.

When in 1987 she was released, Valentina summed up her experience with these words. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”  (Romans 8:35-37).