Stories from Paul H’s Desk

The Green Forest

On that morning, as he would always do, the KGB officer gave a hug and a kiss to his daughter and went to work. It was the year 1937, and Stalin was „cleaning up“ the country from the „enemies of the Soviet nation“.  This was the category for those who did not agree with the ideology of communism. The „cleaning-up“ was supposed to be done by the special services – the KGB. When the KGB officer came home that night, his daughter noticed he was depressed, and she started asking him what had happened…

The young KGB officer reflected, when he had come to work in the morning, they had asked him and the other officers to take 22 „public enemies“ out to the forest immediately and to shoot them dead. Already when they had forced the 22 to get on a wagon, the young officer had noticed that these people, facing death, had behaved so differently from the many others he had taken to execution before. All the way to the forest called „The Green Forest“ they had been so peaceful, some had prayed, some had looked up to heaven, and then they had started singing this hymn all together with these strange words like: I wonderful stateroom I see there, or: our brothers are waiting and our sisters are waiting there, and: soon we’ll be there where Christ is… Their harmonic singing and these words had spoken of some inner power of these 22…

When they had arrived and lead them to the execution site, one of the 22, obviously an elder of these men and responsible person, had turned to the KGB officer asking him for a last favor. Neither rage nor words of curse had come out of his mouth. All this man had asked for was: let me be the last one to be shot, please. The cruel heart of the KGB officer had been shaken by these words, and he had not been able to deny the request. 

He would never forget what had happened next. This man had gone to each of the 21 lead to execution, one by one, had strengthened them and whispered something in their ears, obviously a prayer. And their eyes! They had been so different from the fearful eyes of all the other people executed in the past. There had been no fear in these eyes, no feeling of losing everything, no desire to take revenge. All he had seen in these eyes was peace and hope, blessing those who had shot them. Finally, they had lead the 22nd to be shot. He had been absolutely calm, had raised his eyes to heaven praising God for not only giving them the honor to die for the Gospel, but giving them power to accept death. He then had prayed for all whom they had left home, for the church, and he had asked God to forgive those who took the decision to shoot them because of their faith in Christ. He had blessed those who shot his brothers. Then they had shot him dead. 

The young KGB officer had not been able to get away from all that had happened, and when he came home in the evening, he didn’t know what to say when his daughter asked him – what happened, daddy? He lifted her up on his arms and said, you know, my daughter, today we were told to shoot 22 good people dead. They were somewhat like „believers“, „evangelists“, or „baptists“, and I got the order to do this in the forest we know as „The Green Forest“.
Daddy, his daughter said, how can I find this place? 
Why do you want to know, her dad wondered. I just want to know, she replied. 
He answered, in the place where we shot these good people dead, we carved a skull into one of the trees. If you find the tree – this is the place.

Years later, the daughter of the KGB officer met believers and accepted the Gospel. She had never forgotten the story her dad had told her, and she shared it with the church she was attending. The believers found the place in the forest „The Green Forest“ and set up a memorial stone as a testimony of faithfulness to the Gospel and the victory of Christ. 

The 22 had given their lives on October 29, 1937. 80 years passed. In June this year, a group of brothers went to Siberia to help build a Prayer House for the local church in the town of Kyzyl. One of the 22 shot had been the pastor of this church. After completion of the construction works, on their way back to the airport, the brothers stopped in „The Green Forest” and placed 22 roses around the memorial stone. They prayed and gave thanks to the Lord for this testimony of faithfulness, and for allowing them to continue the work He has once started…