"A Russian Martyr, Ivan Vasilyevich Moiseyev"

Chapter 5--Last Letters

The period shortly following the furlough tape appears to be the turning point in the persecutions of Ivan Vasilyevich Moiseyev. Up until that time, there seemed to be only sporadic and unsuccessful attempts to compel him to deny his faith, either by intimidation or physical torture. But shortly thereafter, as the following letters make clear, a definite conspiracy to kill him was hatched, a cold-blooded cabal which found its sadistic fulfillment on July 16, 1972.The letters themselves are eloquent testimony to the innermost thoughts of the writer. It is obvious, particularly in the last several letters, that he sensed the end coming, whether he had ostensible evidence of it or not. (According to a note by the translator, the unpublished sections of the letters make it clear that he was, on six or seven different occasions, given a deadline before which he must change his conviction; hence he must have known that his continuing refusals would sooner or later bring down full retribution upon him.) But the most remarkable thing the letters show is his composed and even cheerful reaction to the impending doom. There is, in his simple Russian prose, a transparent Christian love, a sense of total self-sacrifice and an almost Pauline manner of expression.

The first letter, dated June 3, betrays a deceptive calm before the storm:

June 3, 1972

"I greet you all with the great love of Jesus Christ. It is Ivan writing, the least of your brothers in Christ.

"I can write this letter in full freedom, since after the happy meeting with Sergei [apparently, from later context, another Christian soldier on the base at Kerch] there has been no trouble at all. I am certainly happy for it, but when there is no storm, no trials, everything seems so quiet. I am so used to trials.

"What a happiness, what wonderful joy there is far away from the earth. Brothers, I urge you always to go forward; don't be frightened even if you have to go through fire on your way to the heavenly goal. If your heart loves other things more than Jesus then you can't follow Him.

"Now I would like to tell you what the angels' bodies are like. We shall have bodies like this, too, if we are faithful unto death. I asked if I could see the angels and I saw them. I saw how they are dressed, which I told you about. Their bodies are not like ours; they do do not block your sight. You can see through them as through glass, and they are as pure as crystal both inside and outside. You can see everything inside. They do not have any sin, not even any faults. One day we shall have a spiritual body like this, too. When we have got such a body we will be able to see everything, even Jesus, the angels and the Father. Then we can know what they think, too. Oh, what a joy, what purity and love is there. Just think, everyone will be so pure. You can polish a piece of glass as much as you like, but it will still be dirty compared to these bodies. "I will be waiting impatiently for your answer. I wish for you all that you may walk forward towards the land of heaven."--Ivan

Unknown date

"Peace be with you, my beloved parents. Some of my brothers in Christ from Zaporozhe have been to visit me here. It was wonderful, even though some from the official Church have been reporting that I was preaching Christ.

"Though I am a soldier now, I still work for Christ despite trials and sufferings. Jesus Christ has given orders that the Word of Life must be proclaimed both in the city and at every meeting of soldiers and officers. I have been to the division staff and in the Special Department [Department of the Soviet Army dealing with 'special' problems such as political deviation, subversion and espionage]. It was not easy, but the Lord saw to it that the Word was received even there, even among the highest in rank.

"Those who live not according to the will of man but according to the will of God shall be saved. Take heed of the commandments of Jesus.

"Later I shall tell of more wonders and revelations which I have had."--Ivan

His next letter dislosed the existence of a colony of believers in the town of Kerch and another city.

June 15, 1972

"Greetings in Christ, dear parents. I got your letter. It was a joy for me. I would like you to know that I am in good health by the great love and grace of God.

"When I was home Ilyusha [Probably, the writer's sister] taught me a hymn. Ilyusha, keep on learning more hymns by heart. Teach the older people the hymns also so they can join in the singing. Yesterday I was in a meeting in Kerch and met the brothers in the congregation, which is not registered and is not a member of the Union [Union of Registered Churches, i.e., those approved by the Soviet government]. There was a brother there from Sochi [health resort city on the Black Sea]. They had heard about me even there. It was so good to meet with each other. All the friends here including the one from Sochi send greeting to all the brothers in Moldavian SSR.

"The Lord has shown me the way and I must follow it. But I don't know if I will be forced to give up--the fight is harder than before. But I am not afraid. Jesus walks before me. So do not be grieved, dear parents. I love Jesus more than I love myself. I know His presence even if my body sometimes trembles and finds it hard to obey. I don't even value my own life as much as I value Him. I don't walk around with my own thoughts but only with the Lord's will. If he says go, I go.

"Don't be sad if this is the last letter from your son. For when I have a revelation I hear the angels talking and I see--yes, I am astonished and find it hard to believe--that Ivan, your son, is talking to angels. I, Ivan, who was also a sinner and transgressor, but through the sufferings of the Lord I was cleansed of my sin. Now I no longer live as I want to, but according to the Lord's will.

"I also write to those who do not believe in our Lord Jesus so that they may know--even if they do not believe it--that there is a God, He who gave me life. And for you, Simon, my dear brother, so that you can know that the Heavenly Father will give you eternal life. Well, I am a little disappointed over you. Much has happened since last time and now I am far away from you. In order that you, too, Simon, might know that there is a God, I want you to know and believe that I have been speaking to the angels and have flown away with them out in the universe where an eternal life is waiting for us. May you also believe it, you who knows nothing about the other life. I write you because I have seen it all."--Ivan

July 9, 1972

"I send you my greetings, but they will soon stop. I feel a little weak, but I greet you with the love of Jesus Christ and the peace of God. They have told me that I must not preach about Christ, but I answered that I could not stop witnessing about Jesus."I wish that Senya and Galya [identities unknown, perhaps friends of the writer] would come to believe in the power of God and also experience it. I wish that they could clearly see that God exists as does everyone here. The superiors and the soldiers all talk about God's existence, and they are afraid, because they see wonders and God's power.

"I wish, too, that Grandmother would come to believe and that she would understand that the path she is walking leads to perdition. Stil Jesus Christ is calling, and he will give eternal life. Believe in the gospel. If you should hear that I am no longer free, then I want you to know that I have left a little notebook here in Kerch in which I have written down the wonders. You can go there or the brothers will come to you. Be true Christians. Jesus gives you of His strength power. Ask, for He is rich in everything and whatever you desire He will give it to you freely. I do not forget you in my prayers. The Lord be with you."--Ivan

July 11, 1972

"I greet you all with the love of Jesus Christ. It is Ivan who is writing to you. I love you so much. You should know that they have denied me any form of leave. But I still work for Christ with full power. I will not boast of it, but I want you to know about it so you do not forget me in your prayers.

L"On the evening of the tenth of this month I was preaching Jesus Christ and one soldier turned to Christ. I became so happy and was filled with such power. I give God the glory for everything. If we meet again I shall tell you all about it. I cannot write about it.

"Incidentally, I have a feeling, you will not see me again.

"If you think of coming here to see me, I can say it will be of no use. I will not forget you in my prayer. Maybe my last task is nearly behind me. Receive this sincere greeting from the least of your Christian brothers. Greet everyone. I do not expect an answer, neither do I ask you to write.

"Goodby and the Lord be with you, dear friends. I am thinking that it is difficult for you, but remember that I go to carry out Christ's commandment."--Ivan

July 14, 1972

"The greetings from your son will soon cease. They have forbidden me to preach about Jesus Christ. They do not allow me any rest. I have many trials. I have told them I cannot stop talking about Jesus Christ. I am obeying the commandment of Jesus. Trials are great and the sufferings are not easy. I have much to tell but it is difficult in a letter. Everybody here sees the miracles and says, 'Truly, there is a God.' I will go forward as the Holy Spirit and the angels lead me. The superiors and the soldiers say, 'There is a God,' because they see the miracles and His power.

"It has been a heavy storm. I was promised that I could see Sergei, and now look forward each day to this. I shall tell you about it afterwards. Ahead of us now is a Christian battle, and I go into this battle with the commandment of Jesus. Sergei must be here when we begin this fight. We must show how a believer should act and live. We do not know what will happen but we have prepared for it long ago.

"I want to send you, my dear friends, young and old, a verse from Rev. 2:10:

'Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, that you may be tested...Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life.

"Receive this greeting. Maybe it is the last one from your little brother Ivan."

His last letter was written to his younger brother Volodya:

July 15, 1972

"Little brother, I have received your letter but have been delayed in answering because there has really been a storm here. They have found and confiscated postcards and literature from Sergei. Now don't go tell this to mother and father. Just tell them, 'Ivan has written a letter to me. He writes that he is following the commandment of Jesus Christ to go into Christian combat and he doesn't know if he will ever return.'.

"Receive this greeting which may be the last here on earth from the least of your brothers."--Ivan

Chapter 6--Death of a Martyr

From the diocuments that follow, it is apparent that on July 16, Ivan Moiseyev was arrested by his military superiors, perhaps in company with civilian agents of the KGB, severely tortured, and then finally drowned in the shallow channel of the Kerch Strait.

As with the other material comprising this account, the attempt has been made to preserve the simple, peculiarly Russian flavor of the translation...the principal document, a semi-official report by 68 members of the so-called Council of Relatives of ECB Prisonhers, provides the main body of details:

"While serving in the Soviet Army, Unit 61968-T, our son and brother, Ivan Vasilyevich Moiseyev died on July 16, 1972 in the city of Kerch as the result of a horrifying and cruel torture because of his faith in God.

"Tortured and beaten, but still alive, he was drowned in the Black Sea in five feet of water, he himself being six feet tall. This happened under the supervison of first lieutenant V.I. Malsin. The certificate of death stated: '...caused by drowning.' The utopsy analysis concluded: '...death caused by violence.'

"On July 17 we received a telegram, saying, 'Your son has died in a tragic way. Please notify us when you will arrrive to claim the body.' We came to the city of Kerch and decided we would bury him in our own town. They showed us our son's face while lying in the coffin. Then the zinc coffin was riveted shut. We had come with our son Simon, who is a member of the Young Communist League. He was summoned into a special office where he spoke for a long time with the military superiors, but afterward he never mentioned a word of this to us.

"In order to be present at the burial and help with the transportation of the coffin back to Volontirovka, the captain of the military unit, V. V. Platonov, the commander-in-chief, and several soldiers from the unit came along. The coffin arrived in the city on July 20, 1972.

"Just when we got the coffin home we decided to examine our son's body and take some photographs. We began knocking off the nails reiveted into the lid. At this point captain V. V. Platonov and the commander-in-chief became uneasy, saying, 'We must go now. We are in a hurry.' They got into their car and quickly drove away. When the coffin was open, we started to take the clothes off the body to examine it, but suddenly our son Simon made great protests and tried to stop us by violence, saying, "Take pictures of him with his clothes on.' But we nevertheless took a look at the body. Around his heart there were six deep stab wounds made by a sharp object; on both sides of his head were open wounds; his feet were marked by severe blows and on his chest were large burns. He also had blue marks at the corners of his mouth.

"In the testimony of V. I. Malsin from his talk with Ivan's relatives was the following statement: 'in the morning on July 16 I was busy speaking to a gro0up of civilian guests. After noon I drove to the beach together with Moiseyev in the car with the license tag GAZ-69.'

"But, according to some soldiers who were eye-witnessesa, Malsin was driving the car with the tag PRAVDA, along with some unknown civilians [possibly KGB agents] and Moiseyev was following alone in the car with the tag GAZ-69, toward some unknown goal. When Malsin returned to the barracks, he told some of the soldiers, 'The death of Moiseyev was hard. He fought with death, but he died as a Christian.'

"When the body of Ivan was handed over on July 19, 1972, Malsin was heard saying, "This is the seventh pack of cigarettes I smoke today.' On the first of August 1, 1972, he was heard saying, 'My wife has lost 30 pounds in a week as a result of the incidents around the death of Moiseyev. Never again will I set foot in the car he was riding in.'"--(Signed) The Council of Relatives of ECB Prisoners

The second part of the 69-signature document of the Council of Relatives was the so-called "Open Letter to All God's Children Who Constitute the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ:

"We were all filled with grief upon seeing Ivan's family around the coffin crying. They could hardly recognize the features of their son. We were unable to comfort them, but they found comfort in the fact that we all have a Father, the Comforter, who is also a righteous Judge.

"Many people were gathered at the funeral of the tortured and murdered brother; some who had come from a long distance as well as local brothers and sisters. Together they all had a devotional for the Lord.

"The funeral took place in the afternoon of July 20, 1972, amid hymns and Bible readings. There were many wreaths with Scripture verses in the Moldavian and Russian languages, such as:

"For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."

"Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul."

"The ungoldly have been brought to light. Their wickedness has multiplied in the recent tragic death of our dear brother Ivan Vasilyevich Moiseyev.

"After having buried the body of our murdered brother Ivan we returned to our home with a holy desire to serve God yet more zealously--even unto death.

"Yes, even in our own day the 'extraordinary' has happened. Make this known to all nations who love the Lord, so that all who trust in the Lord and long to meet with Christ will turn to Him to defend and preserve the truth.

"Your brothers and sisters from the congregations of Slabodeyska, Benderska, Emokleiska, and Tirapolska [all towns in Moldavian SSR] present at the funeral on July 20, 1972 in Volontirovka." (68 signatures)

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