‘We need to turn back to the Bible’

Longtime leader wants Christians to remember priorities

Vladimir Glukhovskyy

Vladimir Glukhovskyy

KIEV, Ukraine – On March 5, 1953, Kiev police arrested a Christian youth leader named Vladimir Glukhovskyy.

That Sunday morning, as the 27-year-old railroad worker sat waiting for his prison sentence, a news bulletin hit the police station radio like lightning.

Josef Stalin was dead.

Stalin had starved at least 7 million Ukrainians in a man-made famine 20 years before. So while most Ukrainians breathed private gasps of relief, Vladimir sat on a train bound for one of Stalin’s gulags in Omsk, Russia.

Vladimir would spend 6 ½ years at Omsk. During 12-hour workdays, he hauled building materials for what would become Russia’s second-largest factory complex. It was tough work, but much better than his original sentence – death. Moscow reduced that sentence to 25 years of hard labor.

Vladimir addresses the Mission Ukraine general session late last year.

Vladimir addresses the Mission Ukraine general session late last year.

“For sure, my faith became stronger,” Vladimir, now 89, said in a raspy voice via a translator. “None of us were unhappy or anything like that. If someone found something in your pocket, like Christian literature, you would get more years in prison. But nobody worried about that.”

Vladimir’s sentence, along with thousands of others, was further shortened by a special committee appointed by Nikita Khrushchev, Stalin’s successor. After his release, he returned home to Kiev and became an assistant train engineer (only communist party members got lead positions). He married, raised his family and became a leader within the Protestant community of Kiev, which today has hundreds of churches among several denominations. His son, Anatole, 49, serves as one of the main consultants for Mission Ukraine 2015 (see main article).

While Ukraine continues to strain under the weight of new Russian threats [link], Vladimir said the biggest challenge facing the church isn’t political, but personal. He reminisced about times past when he and other young people in Kiev were “so much on fire for evangelism,” when members of his church choir knew 1,005 songs by heart.

“I don’t see that today,” Vladimir said. “Our biggest spiritual challenge now is really not to lose our focus on the Bible, on keeping our own soul in tune. Paul teaches us through faith, we have access to the Lord. But after that, what is the process of our becoming like Him?

“I don’t mind if our country goes through some tribulations. That will only help us, because we need to turn back to the Bible.”

Leave a Reply