God Hears Prisoners

A testimony

Olga Murga has three children and two grandchildren. She lives in the Ukraine. She is a evangelist as well as a pastor's wife. Her husband serves as Secretary of the Ukraine Union. 

Fifty prisoners of the Bucha prison do not come to breakfast, miss lunch and ignore dinner. Even though the food is not very good, it is almost impossible to get through the day without sustenance. The prison work program consists of hard physical labor. The prison officials are worried about this food strike. Fifty prisoners refusing to eat is unheard of.

These fifty convicts have little in common. They are sentenced to different amounts of prison-time, they have different life stories, they come from a variety of backgrounds. Many of them grew up in orphanages and have never seen their families. Some of them are hard-time criminals while others happened to make one mistake that started their lives rolling downhill. Because of their crimes, these prisoners are parted from their wives and children. They are sentenced to an empty restricted life in prison without any comfort. These people have never heard any­thing good about God and religion.

One day there is an unknown visitor. A Seventh-day Adventist pastor, Alexei Antonovich Sytnik, comes to visit the prison. This pastor is filled with God's love; he wants to share the Good News to all people, especially those who are suffering. Pastor Alexei takes Jesus Himself to every visit.

Every Sabbath the pastor happily preaches a sermon in his church in Barovary, near Kiev. He shares his experiences with people from different prisons with his congregation.

When Alexei visits the prison, the rude prisoners' faces grow kinder, their hearts become soft and they respond openly to God's love. Many of them accept Jesus as their Savior. Right on the prison's grounds a baptistry is built. The first men, former prisoners, but now forgiven by Christ, enter the water. A new church community is organized at the Bucha prison.

During one visit, Pastor Alexei brings bad news. His wife Yekaterina is seriously ill. She has been taken to a hospital and the doctor diagnosed a heart attack. She is getting worse and worse. The pastor now has many dedicated, faithful friends at the prison. He shares with them about his trouble and asks them to pray for his wife. He does not expect that his problems will be taken so close to heart by his friends. They remember all the times when Alexei's wife had to stay home alone with her little baby because her husband went and visited the prisoners. They decide not to just pray for the pastor's wife, but also to fast. Now you know why fifty prisoners refuse to eat for twenty-four hours. It is not a political protest, it is an act of unity with their pastor.

God hears the prayers of these faithful people. Yekaterina is released from the hospital and her condition improves.

But there is someone at the Bucha prison who is very unhappy with the success of God's work. The enemy of Christ, Satan himself, is working there. He begins to influence those criminals whose lives are ruined so badly, those who do not unite with God. They behave in a very rude way. They try to cause the Christian prisoners to use force and foul language. Jesus Himself has to teach the believers and give them strength to keep calm and be kind to others. The anti-Christians do all they can to make the believers turn away from their path, but all their attempts fail.

They are torn apart with anger. "Are you trying to play saints here, in jail? It's impossible!" But there is nothing impossible for the Lord. He strengthens His followers and helps them throughout their lives.

When the followers of the evil understand that they are too weak to desecrate the souls of God', children, they decide to do the extreme. They desecrate the baptistry, the baptistry built with love by the believers. There are more people who wish to be baptized, but now they have no place for baptism. The demons rejoice. They think that even if the baptistry is cleaned up, it will be impossible to fully cleanse it and people will hesitate to get baptized in it. The pastor is worried. But those who have experienced the power of prayer, start praying to God and asking for His help. They pray that God will bring disgrace upon those who desecrated the baptistry.

The pastor goes home and asks his wife to pray with him about the newborn prison's church community. And God answers their prayers in a wonderful way. On Sabbath, November 11, 1994, the pastor shares with his congregation the following information.

The officials of the Bucha prison decided to get rid of the old baptistry; those who participated in its desecration were ordered to dig a new one. The new baptistry was soon able to he used by those who wanted to be baptized. Perhaps, among them there were those who thought that evil-doing could stop the good news brought to the prisoners by the kind pastor.