Wednesday, March 2, 2011
The Persecutor by: Sergei Kourdakov
Sergei Kourdakov (the author of this book) died on January 1, 1973, at the age of only twenty-two. Sergei was found dead in a hotel room, assassinated by the Soviet secret police for his failure to keep silent about the Soviet Union and his testimony. He was killed by a bullet from a gun.
And I want to make a quick little note that Sergei's birthday was yesterday. He was born March 1st, 1951.
Sergei Kourdakov was the king everywhere he went. He domineered in the boarding schools he went to. His father was killed by the communist government and his mother died shortly after of grief. One thing that deeply effected his life in those boarding schools was the death of his friend, Sasha, who died of starvation and lack of food and care.
"Of all that took place at Barysevo, [Sasha's death] had the greatest impact on me in changing my attitude and outlook on life. From Sasha's death, I realized many things. First, of all, that life is the survival of the fittest. It is a jungle. The strong will live. The tough will make it. The weak will lose or die. I walked out of that room vowing that if this is how life is, I will be the toughest, the strongest, the smartest."
Sergei had no religion, so he was easily influenced by the communist teachings and was persuaded to join. After he became a communist, he was an active member of the communist groups. All his boarding school friends were left far behind him. Most of his friends pursued drug selling and illegal work. Sergei could have, but he wanted to go far in life. In school he did well, in the communist group he had joined, he was the best. He attacked the projects and excelled in everything. He was a model pupil. It was because of Sergei's perfect record that he was honored on television as the number one communist youth in his province. Later, at age seventeen, he was paid by the secret police to head up a group of twenty strong men. Their job was simple. To inflict terror on Christians. And they did it well.
"At last she gave in and began sobbing. When I was so exhausted I couldn't raise my arm for even one more blow, and her backside was a mass of raw flesh, I pushed her off the table, and she collapsed on the floor." It was the girl he was beating that later changed his life.
"As my arm was raised, I heard her words: 'God, forgive this young man. Show him the true Way. Open his eyes and help him, dear God'. I was stunned. Why doesn't she ask help for herself instead of me? She's the one about to be finished off. I was angered that she, a nobody, would be praying for me, a leader of the Communist Youth League! In a flash of rage, I gripped my club tighter and prepared to smash it against her head. I was going to hit her with all my might, enough to kill her. I started to swing. Then the strangest thing happened. Someone grabbed my wrist and jerked it back. I was startled. It was hurting. It was not imaginary. It was a real squeezing on my wrist until it actually pained. I thought it was a Believer, and I turned around to hit him. But there was no one there! I looked back. Nobody could have grabbed my arm. And yet, somebody had grabbed me! I still felt the pain. I stood there in shock. The blood rushed to my head. I felt hot as fright swept over me. This was beyond me. It was confusing, unreal. Then I forgot everything. Dropping my club, I ran out, with the blood rushing to my head and a hot, flushed feeling in my face. Tears began flowing down my cheeks. I was too tough to cry, I thought. Crying was a sign of weakness. But now, as I ran from that nightmare scene, I was crying! I was bewildered, lost. I ran and walked, then ran some more, not remembering a thing. Hours passed. I can't recall anything beyond running and crying. But when I came to myself, it was dark. I realized I was carrying a heavy psychological load, which I cannot explain. It was as if my heart had been replaced by a heavy rock, pressing me down. There was something very wrong with life, with me. But I told no one."
Sergei realized something in his life was wrong. He knew he had to escape. He wanted to leave his job in the secret police and go to Canada. So that was what he planned to do. His plan was simple, or maybe not so simple. He decided to join the crew on a ship as a naval officer and swim to Canada once they were close enough to the shore. He needed to have endurance and strength for the many hours he would be in the freezing water trying to get to Canada's shores. And once he got to Canada, if he got there, would they (Canada) send him back to his home where he had run away from? Where he would be possibly beaten and friendless? His friends were probably mad at him for leaving, and he would most likely not be hired back to his job with the secret police. They wouldn't trust him now that he'd tried to escape. Was Canada to be his new home?(The picture of Sergei below is him sharing his story on television)
I really enjoyed this book. It's a very fascinating book about a boy with no parents who wants to make something of himself. Actually, in the The Persecutor, someone wants to make Sergei's life into a book, but Sergei doesn't think the story would be interesting enough. Also, it would expose all the things he and his friends did. And his friends didn't like that.
One thing I learned from this book is how fortunate we are to be able to worship God openly, without the worry of police and being beaten.
My favourite character was Natasha (The girl mentioned in the quote above, second from the top). Even after she was beaten she continued to worship God openly and go to meetings. Sergei ends his book with these final words...
"And finally, to Natasha, whom I beat terribly and was willing to be beated a third time for her faith, I want to say, Natasha, largely because of you, my life is now changed and I am a fellow Believer in Christ with you. I have a new life before me. God has forgiven me; I hope you can also. Thank you, Natasha, wherever you are. I will never, never forget you!"