Hitler, Stalin, and the Power of a Transformed Heart

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I met Zina today. She is 93 years old. Kishinev Bible Church has an elder care visitation program that regularly visits these forgotten ones. Over 75 are on their list. Zina was born in 1923 in a small village which is now part of Ukraine. Moldova had unified with Romania in 1918, but the merger made a pathway for the emergence of Soviet Moldova. Russia always had an interest in the Romanian culture. Zina grew up in a very difficult time.

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In 1939, the Stalin-Hitler Pact was announced. A few years later Zina was married and she and her husband were able to secure their own home. Then, Moldova was named the Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic. Romania joined forces with Germany in an assault on the Soviet Union. During that time, Zina’s home was bombed and completely destroyed. After the war they were able to find another home…much nicer than the first. But Moldova was returned to the Moldovan S.S.R. Due to her husband having a friendship with a Jew, the anti-Jewish purging that began in Chisinau in 1903 was still in full operation, and Zina and her husband were taken from their home and sent to the work camps in Siberia.

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While at the camps, many people froze to death due to the harsh winters. Zina and her husband shared a small cabin with a curtain partition to provide some separation between two families. They received one log per day for a fire. The fire would never last through the nights. Their water supply would freeze solid until the next fire could be available. Zina’s right arm became frostbit. When faced with amputation, she refused, telling the doctors that she wouldn’t be able to care for their baby. Her arm healed.

Eventually they were released from the camp and moved back to Chisinau…into their home! Then her husband died. Her son died. The Communist government seized her home, as they did many others without any payment, to make way for a school. They gave her the apartment that I visited today…probably 10×15…generous of them.

Zina is a woman who has many reasons to be bitter and angry. But then she was introduced to the person of Jesus Christ through the ministry of Kishinev Bible Church after a neighbor in her apartment building invited her to the worship service. Lost two homes, her husband, her son, victimized by two evil regimes…but found Jesus because of a neighbor in an apartment building that she didn’t want to live in.

While I was assisted by an interpreter, I could almost understand her. Not her Russian words so much…but she had a sparkle in her eye and a burning passion in her heart for Jesus. That communicates in any language.

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